Chapter TEN by Richard Millman
Tyler Wolf felt a warm droplet of liquid splash on his naked belly. He opened his eyes to be greeted by by the vision of Shelley Anderson’s sweat streaked face smiling down from above him. Another bead of sweat ran down the bridge of her beautifully sculpted, delicate nose and after hanging on its tip momentarily, dripped, warm and salty, into his mouth.
“Good work-out?” he asked her.
“For you maybe,” she quipped back and wriggled her hips playfully as she felt him starting to recede.
Her cell phone rang with a tone that she recognised as a call from John Allenby. Without releasing Tyler from the firm hold that her legs had over his hips, she reached over and deftly swept her Samsung from its resting place on the bedside table.
“What’s up?” she said as she hit the talk button.
John Allenby’s familiar business voice came on the line,
“ Get your fanny down to my office, right now!”
Shelley giggled into her phone,
“ My fanny,”
and here she paused for emphasis, smiled and winked down at Tyler to make it clear that she was using the British and not the American understanding of that particular word,
“ is otherwise engaged.”
“Well dis-en-gage it and get down here now!” Allenby hissed in a pointed and staccato, loud whisper,
“Philip Sanderson is here and we are in the shit!”
The color evaporated from Ms. Anderson’s recently rosy cheeks.
“Trouble?” asked the muscled Australian court master beneath her.
“Trouble.” agreed Shelley.
Fritz Mallinson lay listening to the early morning ripples gently lapping against the hull of his two- million-dollar, fully automated, mahogany-lined, self-sailing, luxury yacht.
His wife Anne lay snuggled against him as the first rays of the sun broke over the yardarm, dancing reflectively off the beautifully burnished aluminum beam and bouncing through the open cabin door onto the lovingly crafted, inlaid ceiling of their very own state room.
All was well in the Mallinson world. Even the wet patch underneath his behind, the product of their early morning love making, was a source of happiness.
Fritz reflected on the unlikely path that had brought him to this time and place, here today, moored a mile off of the Copacabana.
Himself and Anne.
He thought back twenty five years to the day that he had dropped out of MIT, frustrated by the regimen of curricular learning.
To the generosity of his true, true friend Pat O’Neil and how Pat had persuaded his dad to give Fritz the use of the old machine shop behind their family garage in South Boston.
His days of near starvation as he tried and failed, tried and failed, tried and failed again to perfect his concept of intelligent, safe, personal transportation, using new concepts in remote flight, A.I. and unit to unit communication.
He smiled as he recalled his clumsy attempts at asking the pretty waitress in the local diner for a date and his amazement and feelings of churlishness on discovering that she was a current MIT student working her way through college.
He looked fondly down at her and remembered the day that they had together driven the ugly duckling that Pat and his father had helped them construct – the first I-CARUS, out of South Boston.
The fear and then the joy as they had both driven and flown it at the old airfield out near Walden Pond.
And of course the sheer disbelief just two years ago, when after years of polishing and tweaking, of lack of faith from mainstream industry, of self doubt, but of perseverance and encouragement, they had both stared with incredulity at the check made out in their name, for $1.8 Billion – yes Billion with a ‘B’ – for the sale of their company I-CARUS Inc. (www.icarus.com) to the newly formed Google-Saab division, bringing to fruition and to the world Fritz’s original concept of a world of safe, self-piloting vehicles that combined both flight and ground based transportation.
Personal freedom literally combined with flights of fantasy.
Since then he and Anne had turned their attention to his other love – Squash.
Even through his years of impoverishment he had managed to keep playing, sneaking on the courts at Harvard, MIT and Tufts – his equipment gradually becoming more and more ragged, holes in his shoes, replacing strings in his workshop using a vice, a dart and old strings from broken racquets to repair and replace his broken ones. Superglue and epoxy held the cracked frames together.
Then they sold I-CARUS and everything changed.
He had seen Squash languish for years. No attraction to TV, so no investment. No money – no infrastructure. No infrastructure – no recognition.
Crazy – how could the world’s most vital sport not get the recognition it deserved?
And then one day, over coffee, he and Anne had hit an idea. What if they could gain a worldwide TV audience for Squash? How would things change?
He and Anne went back to Boston, to the old beloved machine shop. They started experimenting. They got an old I-Mask shield and pulled apart some Dunlop balls. They looked at the Reactolite technology. They researched radiation, night vision and reflective light spectrums. They mixed compounds and painted dots and stars and dashes and swirls on old pieces of cardboard. They developed microscopic nano prisms. They went and visited the original master of Squash television production – John De Lierre and talked with him for days, finally getting a smile out of the old boy as he remembered the crazy, heady, early days of excitement before the lack of critical funding made continuing the experiment impractical.
For nearly two years he and Anne worked like mad people, consumed by the task.
And then the breakthrough! The incredible nano prizm technology microscopically enmeshed in the polycarbonate ‘lexvue’ lens of the new Viper shield from I-mask combined with the amazing Swirl series of Teleballs from Dunlop:
Raspberry Ripple, Zebra ( for traditional courts), Sea and Sky and Fritz’s personal favorite – the Lemon and Lime. Each ball had an attractive lighter colored swirl of specially treated secret formula compound, cleverly heat-sealed in the brilliant, darker colored base rubber. The secret formula reflecting infra-red rays that were shone from tiny beacons that were cunningly installed in and around the court, invisible to the naked eye but, seen through a ‘lexvue’ lens making the ball appear to brilliantly shimmer as each shot was struck and the ball spun through the air.
After that the developments came with rapidity. The ‘Lexvue’ Video camera lens allowed the viewing public the world over the same extraordinary ‘shimmering’ view that the players had.
Then came the contract agreement between The Tennis Channel, Al Jazeera and Squash TV that resulted in the birth of Squash Channel.
Major investors saw the potential. The IOC saw the investors. Then came the 2013 Olympic inclusion.
And the spin-offs were still coming. Everyone was buying the Viper now. The players, the TV companies and of course, the live crowds were buying them.
Who wouldn’t ?
Watching Squash through the Viper whether live or on TV with the new UHD3D ( Ultra High Def 3 dimensional) video tech developed with advice from John De Lierre, was like going from black and white to color or maybe even from silent film to talkies.
Of course Buckler had been a pain. His grimy sensationalism had brought the world’s finest sport into the gutter. But one had to grudgingly admit that the coverage in the ‘comic’ press of the world such as the Sun in the UK and the National Enquirer in the States had only added to the financial and popular flood that Fritz and Anne’s innovations had produced.
Then again they might never have got off the starting blocks without Zeus. The amazing Philip Sanderson had put his extraordinary energies behind Fritz and Anne’s work. He had recognized immediately the earth shattering implications and had used his position as the Director of World Squash and as the game’s leading Referee to bring together the media, the sport, the fabulously wealthy Prince Hamza al Omani of Kuwait and the International Olympic Committee.
And so here they were, he and Anne; the shock haired, red headed, dropout inventor and his beautiful, brown eyed, MIT graduate wife – snuggling and secure in their glorious water-born palace, The Icarus, a mile off of the sights of the Avenida Atlantica and one of the most famous beaches in the world.
In less than two days they would attend the most spectacular grand opening of a tournament glass court that the world had ever seen. An event where the technology that he and his most brilliant and darling wife had invented, would once again showcase Squash to the world. The life-sport that, more than any other pursuit that mankind has as yet devised, demands and develops the assets of a human being – mentally, physically and emotionally.
Squash – the vehicle for both human maintenance and advancement.
Anne dug Fritz in the ribs.
“Hey – are you still here?” she teased.
Fritz squeezed her even closer.
“ Yep – still here. You haven’t got rid of me yet.”
Simultaneously they both stopped and involuntarily looked up at the ceiling.
Almost imperceptible at first, the sound grew until they both recognized the guttural hum of a powerful boat engine.
“ Coming this way?”
Fritz voiced the question on both of their minds.
Anne grabbed the willow-green chiffon wrap that she had cast aside as they slipped into the bunk the previous evening.
“ Better put on some trunks,” she said and headed for the stairs.
As he stood in the spacious quarry stone tile shower in Shelley’s room, rinsing the last remnants of the shampoo out of his hair, Tyler pondered on the cause of the ‘trouble’ that Shelley was now being confronted by downstairs.
“ I hope to God it has nothing to do with the stuff I passed on to the Singapore syndicate and the Russians, “ he thought, unconsciously reaching down to rub the now blue-black and purple bruise on the side of his leg where ‘ those fuckers’ had stuck him with some sort of hypodermic.
A sick feeling rose in his gut and a shiver of fear electrified his spine as he tried to shut out of his mind the match fixing and illicit pushing of EPO that he had now been involved in for more than three years.
Shelley knew some of what he was involved in, but she had no idea that the syndicate and the Russians were involved – did she?. Surely she just thought it was some dirty doc who was trying to feather his own nest.
But dirty doc’s didn’t have ‘associates’ like the Russians.
Zeus sat stony faced at John Allenby’s desk. His steel grey eyes bored into Allenby and Anderson like lasers. Lasers that were actually searing through flesh, bone, brain and even the soul.
For Shelley and John it was like an interview with the Headteacher meets an introduction to the head of torture for the Spanish Inquisition.
Shelley’s blouse was firmly buttoned up. Zeus – real name Philip Sanderson – Head of World Squash – was not someone who had ever succumbed to any of her charms.
After a stellar career in the feared and famed British regiment – the S.A.S – Philip Sanderson, universally known in the armed forces and beyond as Zeus, had left the service and joined the British based multinational arms manufacturer, HASP Industries International Company Ltd.
Starting as a consultant and ambassador for the company he had, in relatively short order and after a number of board room shuffles, emerged as the Chairman of HASP.
Then after a reputed seven figure golden handshake he had retired, still only 58 and turned his attention to his lifelong passion – Squash.
Unable to play openly while in the SAS because of the regiment’s incognito requirements for its serving members, he had been fortunate in being able to access the army’s living legend, Robbie Robinson. The seemingly ageless Robinson had trained with Zeus in secret and had honed the SAS man’s game to a level that was certainly competitive with any other player of his age in the world, by the time he left the service at the age of forty-two.
Sanderson was a Yorkshireman. The son of a Church of England Vicar from Wakefield, he was a lay preacher and had a deep faith.
In the extremely unlikely event that it turned out that God was not an Englishman – or at the very least British, Zeus would certainly be available as a most suitable stand-in.
Sanderson ran a gnarled, leathery hand over his bronzed equally leathery forehead and through the last remaining tresses of his once wiry mane of hair. Although the head was sparse, the disconcerting wild, silver-and-black bushy eyebrows were like metallic shrubs sprouting from his forehead. His rumbling voice, toned somewhere between Sean Connery and James Earl Jones, growled across the room at the Event promoter and the Head of the World Squash tour, who while not actually visibly quaking, looked distinctly uncomfortable.
“Well,” he intoned, “ what a Mare’s nest you two have made out of this event.”
“I’m sorry?” quizzed Allenby, not knowing the expression and then immediately regretted opening his mouth.
“A load of old Codswallop, a Sow’s ear,” Zeus said pointedly and finally with feeling :
“an unmitigated cock-up!”
Sanderson didn’t wait for any further comment from the pair and continued,
“In a few minutes we will be joined by an acquaintance of mine, Special Agent Donald McDiarmid of Interpol. Between the two of us and with your unreserved assistance,” he carefully emphasised the word ‘unreserved,’ “we will try and rescue this disaster, although…,” he said inhaling with feeling, “ things may have moved beyond our immediate control.”
Shelly and John looked at each other – both wondering a) how much Sanderson knew about what they had been up to collectively, b) how much each other knew about what they had been up to individually and c) what in the hell the words: ‘beyond our immediate control’ could possibly mean?
Their inquiring glance was interrupted by a sharp knock on the door.
“Ah,” said Zeus, “ that will be Special Agent McDiarmid now. Kindly get the door John.”
“Great!” thought John as he went to the door, “ a fucking fastidious Scots investigator- won’t miss a trick.”
John opened the door and froze, momentarily stunned, as he looked at the individual that stood there expectantly, waiting for Allenby to invite him in.
John caught himself and proffered his hand,
“John Allenby. And you are Special Agent McDiarmid?”
Allenby said this last piece more as a question than as a confirmation.
“Correct,” said a voice, with the merest hint of a Portuguese Brazilian accent.
Allenby flashed Shelley a wide-eyed expression of surprise as he opened the door fully and a man of quite unique physical features stepped into the room.
Donald McDiarmid was around five-ten. He wore a pair of Nike trainers, faded black jeans, a black round necked t-shirt, and a light, well-worn, well creased canvas jacket that looked as if it was completely unaware of the existence of washing machines.
What had stunned John however, was the man’s physical appearance.
Donald McDiarmid was beautiful. There was no other word for it. And his skin was the color of the purest cocoa. That in itself was not that surprising. But his hair, which was swept back into a short ponytail, started the same deep cocoa color at the root but rapidly turned golden blonde.
Zeus held out a welcoming hand,
“ Naldo, so nice to see you again after all these years.”
The detective clasped Sanderson’s hand in both of his,
“ Likewise Philip. It has been too long. I am sorry we could not meet under the more pleasant circumstance.”
Sanderson turned to Shelley and John and by way of explanation said,
“ Special Agent McDiarmid and I are old acquaintances from our times in our respective countries’ armed services. I was on secondment in South America and he was part of my force. He is a ferocious warrior.”
Neither Anderson nor Allenby showed any indication that they had registered these remarks. They were too busy staring at McDiarmid like school children.
McDiarmid smiled shortly,
“ I see that the combination of my name and my appearance have surprised you, “
he offered and went on,
“ In Brazil you will find every combination of feature, Caucasian coloring with Afro features, South East Asian with Indian sub-continent coloring, Red Hair on Afro-Caribbean heads and, like me, dark coloring with blonde hair.”
Shelley collected herself and tried to be polite,
“ Yes, you seem to have a marvellous lack of discrimination here.”
Naldo McDiarmid laughed strangely,
“ Well I suppose you might say that.. The Portuguese certainly didn’t discriminate when they arrived here with their slaves. They simply fucked everyone and everything. I suppose we should be grateful. My scots ancestor simply followed their lead. And my family have retained the our ‘scottishness’ ever since.”
“ Perhaps we should move to the business at hand,” Sanderson interrupted.
McDiarmid settled into a chair beside Zeus and the atmosphere in the room once again became almost unbearably heavy.
“Let’s cut to the chase,” Sanderson breathed ominously and eyeballed Allenby.
“Charles Buckler is dead. Hotel security found him murdered in his room early this morning. They say some local hoods from the Cidade de Deus favela slums did it but Naldo here has other thoughts which he will explain in a minute.”
Zeus had noted the odd expression on John’s face at this news – more one of irritation than of grief. He clearly wasn’t surprised.
“ Yes John, we know that you paid Buckler to muddy the waters of Squash to gain attention for your events and to try and raise the marketability of your business. We know you even had him bad mouth you to try and hide your relationship.”
Allenby squirmed in his seat and tried to look away from Shelley’s incredulous gaze that was almost physically piercing the side of his head that was toward her.
“That’s not all. Naldo would you care to take over?”
“Certainly Philip. Mr Allenby, when Director Sanderson told us that you had refused to use the inter-governmental secure transfer agents that he had recommended for the transport of the glass court, Interpol began to become suspicious. Not because of your little insurance game – yes we know all about your many conversations with the lovely Victor and how you paid him to lose your glass panels and then both to hold up and subsequently, through the good offices of the lovely Ms Anderson, to release the court from customs.”
“What?!” exploded Shelley
“What indeed.” Zeus interjected gravely.
Then looking directly at Anderson continued,
“As for you Miss Yo-Yo Britches, “
Shelley’s eyes flashed indignantly but were unequal to Sanderson steel grey stock still gaze, and she looked at the floor as he went on,
“How often you choose to lock your lascivious lips around the lower libido of whatever low-life you think may improve your personal lot is up to you. But you will never do it again on World Squash business.”
He paused and then boomed,
“ Have I made myself clear?”
Shelley nodded meekly.
“Please continue Naldo.” Sanderson invited.
The investigator went on,
“ As I said – after you didn’t use the recommended customs channel we became aware of something strange happening.Unfortunately for you and your scheme Mr Allenby, Sombrasoft was well aware of what was happening and intervened with Victor and your ‘lost’ panels were – to your great disappointment – ‘found.’ However, Buckler must have been involved somehow in your negotiations with your contact at the port, but what you didn’t know was that you weren’t Buckler’s only illicit source of income and that he was playing with much bigger fish. Bigger than he fully realized. When he passed on information about what you were up to and when Tyler Wolf, “
Shelley’s head rocketed up at the mention of her Aussie boy. How much did they know?
McDiarmid looked hard at Shelley then proceeded,,
“ allowed his involvement with certain unsavory underworld elements to get out of hand and he started passing sensitive information, “
“ Then the red flags about real trouble started popping up all over the Interpol listening world.”
“Now listen you two,” Zeus adopted a more conciliatory tone,
“ You have both done some idiotic things. But Squash is about to enter its glory days and we need you. We have been able to take Fritz and Anne Mallinson’s stellar inventions and change our destiny.”
He looked at John again.
“ I know you think I am some holier-than-thou God-Squad throw back, but let me assure you John, I have seen much worse shenanigans in business and in international diplomacy than your paltry little $3 million insurance scheme. “
Allenby’s face wore an expression of guilt.
Philip Sanderson continued,
“ We must all work together now to make sure that this event, which thanks to your efforts John is the marquis event in the history of Squash, will set the tone for generations and certainly for the forthcoming Olympics.”
John and Shelley’s respective visages brightened somewhat.
“Tyler Wolf has been a bad boy and we can’t allow that to go on. I know you have a soft spot for him Shelley, but he has opened our sport to the influences of evil men and that,”
Zeus paused emphatically,
“can not be allowed. He will be allowed to finish this event and then he will retire quietly.”
Shelley nodded her assent.
“Now will you help me make sure that this event goes perfectly and help Squash into the future it truly deserves?”
Not that anyone would easily refuse Philip Sanderson, but his powerful and persuasive personality were impressive and both John and Shelley recognized in him the same love of the game that had, before their various personal interests had distracted them, been their own reasons for coming to this amazing game.
“Yes.” said Shelley enthusiastically.
“Yes.” echoed John and his voice cracking as he said it, “ I am sorry.”
“OK.” Zeus said summarily, not embarrassing Allenby by remarking his last comment,
“ Naldo, what do we need to do?”
The Special Investigator shrugged his shoulders and gestured with open hands,
“ Do your job. Our real problem is to discover what else is being planned for this event.”
“ What do you mean?” asked John with real concern.
“ Well,” Naldo sighed,
“ It’s hard to say. We have match fixing, enhancement drugs, kidnapping possibilities – don’t forget you have the Chairman of Sombrasoft and Prince Al Omani hanging around; and Fritz and Anne Mallinson are worth a fortune themselves these days. Things have been happening. There has been an unusual amount of noise. I am afraid that between Charles Buckler and Tyler Wolf a lot of sensitive information has been passed on to people who have both the desire and the capability of doing things that are not nice. I am pretty certain that the person that killed Buckler is a woman who is a part of the Russian mob. No-one noticed her – in fact the only suspicious person was a slim built man in a black suit wearing a fancy pair of Oakley’s – but she is an expert chameleon – so that doesn’t preclude her from being the killer”
“But what has Tyler done? “ Shelley said – desperately trying to ascertain whether it was her arrangements with Rhodanie or Tyler’s behavior that had been detected.
“You remember last year when he had that ‘run of bad form?’ One or twol individuals known to us in Singapore suddenly became a lot wealthier. And do you remember that after that he had ‘a miraculous comeback’ and beat everyone that had overtaken him in the previous few years?”
“He trained all summer for that!” Shelley protested.
“He certainly did and the training he did with Rhodanie Maison didn’t do any harm either did it?” Naldo said pointedly looking toward Shelley.
For the second time in the interview Ms Anderson’s eyes dropped to the floor in defeat.
McDiarmid started again, more upbeat,
“ We have, uh, how do you say it in English – ah yes – beefed up security. You do your job. I will do mine and hopefully we will have a wonderfully uneventful event.”
“Agreed?” said Zeus with an implied authority.
John and Shelley both nodded.
“Then let’s get to work.”
By the time Fritz had joined Anne at the rail an enormous yellow ‘cigarette’ boat with massive red sharks teeth emblazoned on the prow was just pulling parallel to the Icarus.
At the helm was a huge bald man, wearing a pair of gaudy mirror shades. On the bow was an incredibly athletic looking woman in some sort of skin tight, blue swim-suit – or at least that’s what Fritz first thought – laying with her back to the Icarus. Suddenly Fritz realized that the women was completely naked and that what he had first thought was a swim-suit was actually the most amazing total body coverage of weird tattoos.
“Hello-o-o!” Fritz called out uncertainly and held up his hand.
“Hello-o-o!” the woman called back ironically mimicking his tone.
The first uncertain doubts crept into Fritz’s head just as the Glock that the woman had been hiding behind her naked buttock spat a bullet into the rigging immediately above and behind his head.
The woman was standing brazenly in full frontal nudity pointing the gun directly at Fritz’s head.
She had short black hair and features that suggested some eastern ethnicity – perhaps the eastern Steppe or Russian Mongolia.
She barked at the heavy set man at the helm in a language that the Mallinson’s didn’t understand.
The man responded by leaping, with remarkable agility, from the cigarette boat over the rail of the Icarus where he secured a heavy nylon line. Almost without breaking step he walked up behind Fritz and using an ugly looking leather cosh that he had been concealing, smashed Fritz over the back of the skull. Fritz collapsed on the deck.
Anne screamed and the woman snapped another order at her compatriot, in Russian.
“Shut her up Vasili!”
Anne saw the man’s intention and tried to wriggle away, dropping her chiffon wrap in the process. He grabbed her wrist and coshed her over the side of the head and she also crumpled into a naked heap on the deck.
Vasili looked down appraisingly.
“Nice tits.” he said with an appreciative nod.
“Probably fake – but stop fucking gawking. Secure the yacht and then radio the others.”
Vasili picked Anne’s inert body up and surreptitiously gave Anne’s right breast an exploratory squeeze.
“Nope – real.” he thought to himself and then aloud he said briskly,
“ Immediately Kriosnaya mat! (godmother).”
It didn’t do to keep Irina Hleb waiting.
John Allenby was standing in the impressively appointed Sky Box Hospitality suite which was situated at the very top of the precipitously steep bleacher seating which surrounded the unique Glass Court complex that had been built right on the Copacabana beach.
In the two days since his uncomfortable meeting with Zeus and the unnerving Special Agent McDiarmid, John had worked his socks off.
He smiled laconically to himself. Considering that he had been ready to destroy this event for the sake of the insurance, it was ironic that it was now, without doubt, his finest work ever.
In fact everything seemed to have gone his way since the infamous appointment with Zeus.
Buckler’s death had put the whole event at the top of the news services attention. Sombrasoft had just announced intentions of partnering with Google-Saab in the I-CARUS venture – his broker had phoned him to tell that his gamble had paid off big time – thanks to Renato Bulsara and Mr Fino there. And now Mr Fino had decided to cover his medical insurance bills until further notice!
“I must have trodden in something!” he chuckled to himself.
He looked out of the back window of the box down to Avenida Atlantica where a line of Lamborghinis, Ferraris, wild stretch Limos and stately Rolls Royces gradually wormed their way through the heavy security, bringing a cast of celebrity characters never before seen at a Professional Squash event.
Apart from Sombrasoft’s eclectic Chairman Mr Fino, guests included the legendary Pele, the son and daughter of Brazil’s glorious Jazz composer Jobim, the aging but still lovely Astrud Gilberto,
the Ministers of both Finance and Public Works, the notorious playboy son of the president – Jaõa Silvio, the recently retired soccer star Ronaldo and many other lesser known but massively wealthy members of the Brazilian elite.
Also Madame Kim and Gilles Letourneau of the IOC were there to audit the event in preparation for the 2016 Olympics.
Those troubling words of the Sanderson interview came back into Allenby’s mind:’ beyond our immediate control.”
John grunted involuntarily.
“McDiarmid said I was to do my job and he would do his. Well I’ve done mine. I hope to Christ he has done his.” he thought.
He looked down and around the court. The bleachers were almost full now. The brilliant white satin hangings around the top of the court and through to the back areas where the players, the technical and video hubs, the state of the art Cordon Bleu on the Run hospitality area and the restrooms were hidden, making the whole place look like some palace of the Gods. And of course, the court itself – mysteriously shrouded in four, enormous single white satin sheets, ready for the Son et Lumiere opening ceremony par excellence that would be underway in just a few minutes. Phil Peters and his crew had done an extraordinary job.
Allenby’s walkie talkie crackled into operation,
“Court deck to Allenby – come in John.”
“ Allenby here Sheila. Everything OK?”
“Perfect boss. Starting 10 minute countdown for the Grand Opening in five. Five minute warning for spectators and participants in two.”
“My pleasure boss. Break-a-leg! Out.”
So the Grand Opening of the Glass Court matches was finally here. John vacated the Sky Box as the waiters and waitresses and their high paying clientele took their places.
As he walked down to his private viewing space, he looked at the court far below as event staff milled around making final checks, press took their places, friends greeted friends on their way to find seats and private boxes.There was Mr Fino with Prince Hamza Al Omani.
“ I thought Fino wasn’t coming ‘til the final,” John queried to himself, “ Checking out his investment, I reckon.”
There was Shelley chatting to some of the lesser players that hadn’t made the Quarters and opening night. Would she ever forgive him? She was barely civil at the moment.
“ Cast first the mote from thine own eye, Ms Anderson.” John mused,
“ You and I need each other – so you’ll forgive me sooner or later.”
He saw Zeus, charming the IOC delegates with his charismatic personality. He really was a force of nature.
He suddenly realized that he hadn’t seen the Mallinson’s.
“Strange,” he pondered,
“ I thought they would be here by now. This is as much their night as ours. Perhaps they’re still out back schmoozing…….”
His train of thought was cut off abruptly,
“Honored guests, Ladies and Gentlemen, please take your seats for the Grand Opening” boomed the PA.
The hubbub died down to a silence and all lights were extinguished. For a few moments the only sound was the distant crash of the breakers landing on the sand of Copacabana beach.
Above, a beautiful display of the myriad stars of the Brazilian night sky hung as a bejewelled ceiling. In the stadium itself the ghost of a breeze rippled the satin drapes momentarily.
Suddenly the first strains of the classic version of Toccata by John Williams and his group Sky reverberated around the stadium. Massive spotlights and lasers streamed hundreds of feet into the darkness. Banks of light alternately lit and extinguished precisely in time with the music as each blistering crescendo exploded and then died away.
John was delighted. It was going perfectly. Eagerly he anticipated the crowds gasps when the final crescendo was delivered and the huge satin drapes would fall to reveal all of the Quarter-finalists from both the men’s and the women’s events, wearing their new Viper Precious Stone eyewear in Amethyst, Sapphire, Emerald and Ruby in a Charlie’s Angel type pose.
(author’s note – to listen to the music of the Grand Opening go to:
before you read the next section – 4mins 35 secs.)
The music built and the moment arrived.
The loud speakers delivered the final dramatic shimmering of the symbols as the satin drapes began to fall to reveal…..
Unexpectedly all the lights went out!
“Shit!” cursed Allenby.
And then the lights returned – to reveal……
The court was surrounded by a score of brutal looking white men carrying AK 47 machine guns facing the crowd.
And in the middle of the court, highlighted by the beams of massive super trouper spotlights, carrying a supersized automatic weapon, stood a slim, heavily tattooed woman in skintight black leather shorts and an equally skintight black leather singlet.
John stared in disbelief. The crowd did indeed gasp – a few even screamed.
As he opened his lips to mouth the words,
“ What the fuck………….,”
the woman raised the weapon she carried.
She held it up theatrically for all to see, with a cruel smile on her face.
Suddenly the entire top layer of the court erupted!
Panel by panel, a million shards of breaking glass cascaded to the floor like a lethal, crystal waterfall, as the strange leather-clad, tattooed woman, raked a brutal 360 degree burst of fire, around the court……………
About the Author
RICHARD MILLMAN Richard Millman is passionate about helping people to develop their personal assets.
He considers himself very fortunate to have been introduced to Squash as a school boy.
Since that time he has endeavored to help himself and the folks that he has been associated with to develop through training, playing and thinking about our wonderful sport.
A former world tour professional, he has filled just about every role in Squash from Pro team member to US National team coach, to Head Coach at Cornell,to club owner, to record holding Norfolk County Champion, to uniquely holding the National 50+ masters titles of Gt Britain, the USA and Canada.
The Author of two books and an educational poster series about Squash ( Angles – from Lulu Press and jointly with Georgetta Morque – Raising Big Smiling Squash Kids – from Mansion Grove House publishing and Progressive Squash from Sports Posters International) he has for many years been ‘the lesson court ‘ columnist for Squash Magazine.
He lives with his wife Pat in Charleston South Carolina, USA