Sorry about the one-week delay (I fantasize that anyone cares) but a dental emergency, some Sunday meetings and prepping for a Monday morning trip to Los Angeles made it had to get anything done creatively last weekend. That said, this week's chapter flowed like the rapids, moving the story ahead and further developing two important support characters...and creating conflict with another. Have fun.
Taking One For The Team
On Monday, October 21st Curtis Stanfield underwent a Kafka-esque transition. For no longer was he a human being; Curtis Stanfield was now a corporate entity. At first, the realization left him a bit discomforted and ill at ease, almost cockroachian. But the flesh-and-blood to business conversion was a necessary headspace if he was going to go through with his ultimate plans for The Spin.
While no organizational structure genius, he knew the basics of setting up a company from his early days at SnowBalls, a memory that helped sooth his psyche and equated him to a rip-roaring start-up rather than a faceless corporation.
In essence, Curtis Stanfield—well, the risk-taking, Spin-making Curtis Stanfield—was the product. And as the product, he felt he needed a rudimentary support system:
- A Chief Marketing Officer, to sell it and manage its image
- A Chief Financial Officer, to manage its financial success
The choice for the former was a no-brainer: Joey Mitchelson. A look-nowhere-else slam dunk. Not only did Joey believe in Curtis’s quest, but his throwaway tweet was the Gladwell-esque tipping point that turned what could’ve been a mere desperate whim into what was to become a wild reality.
As for the latter, Curtis reluctantly turned toward Patrick Singer at Petrason Wealth. He loved Pat; he was one of his oldest friends. But deep down he knew Pat wasn’t the shrewdest of his Fab Four, yet made the decision more to appease Miranda than for the betterment of “the business,” as he was now thinking of himself.
Joey was the easy sell. He agreed to be in before Curtis even finished asking him. To Joey, The Spin was a franchise—give it life Year One and it mutates year-after-year in an ever-expansive form. No moving parts, no raw materials, no factories or investment capital needed to get the product out the door. Just a bag of air, really; a story that could be wrapped in increasingly mesmeric layers of hype and commerce. For him, The Spin wasn’t just a dream project, but THE dream project.
Things didn’t go down as easily with Pat, though. The encounter at his all-window corner office started off on a somewhat down note, with Curtis requesting to liquidate all his Petrason holdings first, and explain why second.
“Everything…everything…everything...” Patrick kept repeating sotto voce, shaking his head slowly, before finally adding “...on a spin of a roulette wheel.”
“Uh yeah,” Curtis replied sheepishly.
“Curtis, you realize that you could be left with nothing,” Pat warned.
“Indeed, but it won’t go down that way. I’m getting all kinds of crazy offers. Financial and otherwise. This is a business…and one I want you to help me run it as the CFO. It’s not a full-time position; it’s a sideline, a hobby for you. A couple of hours a week. A weekend here and there…”
Patrick stopped him there.
“Curtis, I love you, but you’re nuts. I can’t stop you from converting my years of hard work on your behalf into cash and then risking it all on some ridiculous bet. But I can’t condone it, either. I can’t work on it! It makes a mockery of my profession, of what I do to make a living. If I support your spin, what does that say to all the other people who put their faith and their savings in my hands?”
“It says you’re a loyal friend?” Curtis answered sing-songly with another question. “Seriously Pat, what’s the difference between the casino and the stock market anyway? It’s all just a gamble.”
“Tell that to the Petrason family,” Pat grinned, thinking of the four generations of Petrasons who established a multi-billion dollar financial services monstrosity. “Or to Miranda."
Curtis winced slightly. He didn’t think Pat noticed, but he sure enough felt the awkward facial twinge.
“It’ll take 48 hours, but by Thursday or Friday, you’ll have your cheque. And no more reason to call me…other than getting together for a beer or something.”
“Still friends, though…” Curtis said cautiously.
“I question your sanity, not your character. I’ll always be there to pick up a meal or two if all goes to shit.”
“And if it doesn’t?”
“I’ll try to suck every last penny of yours back here.”
One in. One out. One more try.
“Well, if I’m gonna live dangerously, I’d better live REALLY fucking dangerously,” Curtis thought to himself.
Next stop, next day—Lisa Mankoff. A touchy choice, but hey, even Miranda suggested it so…
If Joey was an easy sell, Lisa was Joey with lubrication. She understood the potential of The Spin instinctively and bought into the story before Curtis even got to the verb.
A shrewd cookie wrapped in a dangerous coating of Angel Dust, Lisa played out The Spin’s long-term Lisa-benefits in milliseconds. A piece of the action on everything incoming. A bigger piece of the windfall if Curtis correctly chooses the payoff color for The Spin. And the publicity, oh the publicity! The connection to something so outrageous, with the potential of going international, would do wonders for her brazen reputation.
There was absolutely no downside. Curtis’s holdings at her company were, in perspective, infinitesimal. Removing them from her client asset base would be like cracking one of her long, impeccably manicured false fingernails; a minor nuisance quickly repaired and forgotten within minutes. A few clicks on her keyboard and Curtis was a former client due a cheque of about $850,000.
“I’m in, and we’re on,” she said, long blonde tresses flowing from a head shake that was much more animated than Pat’s. “What’s the next step?”
“Well, I was thinking about a strategy dinner with you, me and Joey on Thurs…”
Lisa cut him off in between syllables.
“No can do. Thursday I have the Tulip Ball at the Museum.”
“Invited to the launch of the new Versace collection at H&M”
“You mean a date?” she cooed.
“Umm…I guess. But with Joey. And Miranda, I guess.”
“You’re still with that girl? She’s lucky.”
A quasi-compliment, Curtis thought, but dipped in Brio, the bitter Italian soft drink.
“I’m sure I can squeeze four into Lux, even on a Saturday. See you then,” she said while tapping out a note to her assistant to set up the reservation. “And Curtis…this is going to be some new sort of fun. Can’t wait.”
Buoyed by her enthusiasm, Curtis sung along to his satellite radio’s Pop channel all his way home. The only matter still stuck in his craw was how he was going to explain to Miranda that she would be spending Saturday night with the dreaded Lisa Mankoff.
But as is often the case with fear, all his worrying was for naught, though.
Because when Curtis came home, he found Miranda’s note.
The one that explained that Patrick had told her everything as soon as he left his office.
The one that explained that Lisa Mankoff had not only sent out a media release about her association to Curtis and The Spin, but that her assistant had tracked down Miranda on her cellphone to tell her about Saturday’s reservation.
The one that explained that she’s leaving. And not quietly either.
The one that explained that as his long-term companion, his common-law wife, she’s suing him for half his assets. Now.
The roulette wheel and the casinos and the publicity would have to wait. At this moment, The Spin was taking place inside Curtis’s head.
To be continued next week...