The high risk high reward world of stock trading is a wild ride. Case Hardison has had more than his share of delirious excitement and crushing despair. When he decides to step back and visit his hometown for a soul refresher, the last thing he expects to confront is an old flame who is still burning and yearning. By comparison to this unexpected turn his daily grind is a walk on the beach!
Case Hardison walked through the large, glass doors that lead into the central trading area. Around the office, they jokingly referred to this as “The Pit.” Here, the deals were made. Deals where the stakes were high. Deals that could potentially garner millions in profit or drive someone to destitution and bankruptcy. Watching the action from a distance, it was hard to imagine a more frenetic scene.
The front line—rows of telephones that handled the inquiry calls—was lit and alive; mouths rattling like typewriters clicking away. Spinning out numbers. Quoting figures. Invoking the name of God or whatever deity may be listening. It was a scene that could be taking place on the floor of the New York Exchange—Wall Street itself. Instead, all of the breakneck pace, caffeine and nicotine induced hysteria was transported cross-country to this building in Southern California—the brokerage house of Kantner, Lincoln and Todd.
As he turned past the front line, into the main broker area, a couple of his long time associates shot him looks of weary resignation. One of them, Skip Morrison, made a gesture with his hand depicting a duck-like yakking. Case smiled. Evidently he had himself a real talker. Those were the kind of calls nobody liked. Calls from customers more interested in visiting their money than actually negotiating trades. If you want a true picture of the nature of human motivation, spend ten minutes where people have their money at stake. And in those ten minutes, you’ll gain details that illustrate man’s basic nature more clearly than a thousand doctoral theses.
He arrived at his office and was glad to be there after the events of the last couple of days. It still was unclear to him why the coroner’s office kept calling him. Wasn’t it as obvious to them as it was to him that they had made a mistake? That the woman they had found on the cliffs was not his wife, but someone else? They should be spending their time locating the real family of this woman, he thought. I’m sure they’re wondering where she is. He remembered the conversation he had with Linda, yesterday afternoon. How she sounded so upset. Concerned. Bordering on hysteria. A bad cycle of events that began late Monday evening, had reached across state lines to Arizona, knocking on Linda’s door as surely as they had on his. He had thought of going down to the coroner’s office, just to prove them wrong. But he didn’t have the time for this nonsense. The police are known for their blundering, he thought, And if I wasn’t so damn busy I might consider helping them out. But that’s what I pay taxes for; let them figure out their own problems.
He was deep in thought, replaying these conversations and scenarios in his mind when he heard a rap on the door. He looked up and standing there was Rob Maynard, the President of the firm.
“Hey old buddy,” he said, in his typical jovial manner. “Thought we lost you there. Everything okay?”
He had always like Rob. And it was in fact because of him that Case had been allowed his first big break in the business. Rob was six foot four and thin except for a slight paunch, the hallmark of success. And his shoulders were so wide and thick, it looked like he was wearing shoulder pads. Case remembered a couple of times bumping into him, as he rushed around not paying attention to where he was going—it was like running into a wall. Rob just looked down at him, his dark eyes and square jaw lighting up in laughter, saying, “What’s the matter old buddy? Am I in your way?”
He was quite a clown, all right. But it was difficult sometimes to tell whether he was kidding or being serious because the tone of his voice never varied; always even and unwavering.
He now stood leaning against the doorframe and because of his size, looking like he was a column of support holding up the building.
“Everything’s okay,” Case said. “No big deal.”