Wednesday, December 19, 2012


Gary stopped in front of the bright green door of the old brick house. He had been here dozens of times in the past few weeks, and each encounter was the same. His bosses were getting impatient, but their hands were effectively tied. This house, and more specifically this property, was the last piece needed for the completion of the new airport.
            It was supposed to be a high end affair, servicing only private vehicles, corporate jets, and aerial tours. The entire terminal was going to be posh and extravagant. There was even supposed to be a luxury hotel on site. Guy Savoy himself was supposed to be setting up a dining establishment. The building had made front-page news when it was announced that it would be a collaboration between Karl Lagerfeld and Frank Gehry. John Travolta was going to land the first plane in a dramatic ceremony. Even the Queen was supposed to be in attendance.
            And here, was Gary, staring at the bright green door that blocked all these great events from transpiring.
            Taking a deep breath, he knocked three times, then waited.
            Like clockwork, a full two minutes passed before noises of latches being thrown could be heard. Finally, the deadbolt clicked, and the door swung inward. A stout, grey-haired fellow with round glasses stood in a plaid bath robe with matching pajamas.
            “Hello, Gary,” he said. “Come in for some tea?”
            “Thank you, Carl, but I really don’t have the time.”
            “No, I suppose you don’t.”
            “Now, about the property—” Gary started.
            “Three billion,” Gary deadpanned. “Not a penny less.”
            “We’ve been over this, Carl. I’ve shown you my memorandums. I cannot offer you more than fifty million for the property. That’s still more than several hundred times what its actual worth is.”
            “Aye, it is. That is so long as you don’t take into account the hundred million your little project is expected to earn in the first year alone.”
            The two men stood staring at each other. Finally, Carl smiled, then broke the silence.
            “Alright, you win,” Carl said.
            “What?” Gary stammered in disbelief.
            “I said you win. I’ll sell it, but I have a condition of my own.”
            “Now it can’t involve any shares in the company, Carl. We’ve gone over all those options.”
            “No, no. It’s nothing like that. What I want will give you what you want. Effectively, no strings attached,” Carl said.
            “What do you mean by ‘effectively’, Carl?” Gary questioned, starting to get nervous again.
            “What I mean is I’ll sell it for only five million, in exchange for something else instead.”
            Gary looked puzzled. The man had just gone from three billion to five million, almost a thousandth of his previous asking price and only one-tenth of what he had been offered. There had to be a catch.
            “And what is that ‘something else, Carl?” Gary asked.
            “Mineral rights.”
            “Come again.”
            “You know the small hillock at the far end of the property? It used to be a root cellar. I want access to it as well as the mineral rights for the land. And adjacent properties.” Carl smiled broadly. “I even have taken the liberty of having the revised documents drawn up.”
            Gary was unsure of what to do.
            “Let me make a phone call,” Gary said. With that he walked down the short driveway back to his car.
            When Gary returned he was smiling as broadly as Carl was.
            “I’ll just look over the papers. If everything is in order, you have yourself a deal.”
            Carl left, only to return moments later. He handed the legal folder to Gary to examine the contents of. Gary pored over the document. It was straight forward. The project only needed to procure the land as a designated buffer zone. Their only plans were to knock down the house. The hillock and the ‘mineral rights’ were irrelevant to their goals.
            After the documents had been signed, Gary held out his hand. Carl took it and shook it firmly.
            “I’ll have my stuff out within three days of the money clearing, as stipulated,” Carl said.
            “I just have to ask,” Gary said. "What made you change your mind.”
            “The coal mine,” Carl said flatly.
            “The what?”
            “The coal mine. Turns out the “root cellar” was actually the former entrance to an old, old abandoned mine. Found it by accident when one of the boards along the ‘back wall’ rotted away.” Carl’s mood had become quite jovial.
            “There’s really that much in coal down there?” Gary started to feel nauseates.
            “Not sure,” Carl said “However, the geologist I had take a look at the place estimates that there’s between one to four billion, at least, in diamonds down there.”

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