Most of us can resist the Devil’s temptations. There’s nothing terribly damning listening to anything the Devil has offers. These are character building moments actually. Much of our personal character and integrity are derived from how and when we resist him.
Ever since that final day at Rockmount handcuffed in a conference room with my boss, Ernesto del Rosario, nobody has tempted and tested me in a very long time.
With Marcus now out of my hair, I went through my usual weekday morning routine. I still wake up bright and early. I still put on a tie and suit. By the time the financial markets have opened, I’m busy on my laptop perched atop the most pathetic excuse for a desk (two still-yet-to-be unpacked boxes stacked on top of each other). Yes, that’s me–preparing for the deadlines, meetings, and interviews that I don’t actually have yet. That’s the power of positive thinking at its worst.
Yes, I realize that I’m kidding myself. That’s how hope works, don’t you know that? I must fool, trick, and manipulate myself sometimes, otherwise normal logic would convince me that I will never find gainful employment again on account of my publicity ties to Rockmount and Ernesto. I wouldn’t need to pour through online employment boards like CareerBuilder and Indeed if I had helped Ernesto hide my life savings.
For awhile that particular morning, I found myself just gazing at my screen-saver: a photo of me, Valerie, and ZoElizabeth at a happier time. There were very few of those happier times after ZoElizabeth was born due to the over-consuming FinCEN investigations into Rockmount and Ernesto del Rosario. That’s why my screen-saver photo is so special to me. Family should always be your one true safe place. Take family away, and what do you have left?
Nothing. Absolutely nothing. I can’t even afford my pride. That scares the crap out of me.
Marcus scares the crap out of me, too. Oddly enough, letting Marcus walk out and possibly never hearing from him again scares me even more. There’s opportunity for me somewhere underneath the white sunglasses and rosary beads.
It hits me now—I don’t know how to reach Marcus. Fuck. We never exchanged business cards, nor emails, nor cell numbers. In my sudden anxiety, I can’t even remember his exact last name. Despite his constant bragging and babbling, I didn’t know enough about Marcus. You can know a lot about someone without really knowing what they’re all about. Does that make sense?
I didn’t know enough to pursue him. And I didn’t know enough to stay away from him.
Damn, I couldn’t get the little bastard off my mind!
So I sat there, like a fireman all dressed up and ready to go. Waiting for the next fire alarm so I could spring into some sort of action.
That fire alarm came in the form of an incoming Skype call.
Because as it turns out, Marcus never logged out of his Skype account on my laptop. Should I answer it? What are the ethics issues about answering someone else’s Skype calls? Someone needs to publish an etiquette book for business communications and social networking tools. Is it wrong if the Skype account is still open on my computer!?!?
There’s an unwritten rule in the world we live in today. Everyone knows it’s wrong to read someone else’s personal email account. Even when it’s your wife’s email account. Especially when it’s your wife’s email account! Some things are better off not knowing.
I take an eternity to ponder the ethics involved with answering an incoming Skype call meant for a scumbag who purposely—and easily–hacked through my laptop security password. And when I mean an eternity, I mean a whole four rings.
For once, I do something unethical. It may be the first time I’ve ever done something this unethical. Remember, I was totally innocent at Rockmount Capital. Yet nobody cared if I was innocent. Guilty by association. From this day forward, nobody will ever give me the benefit of the doubt. Nobody…not even those who trust me the most.
With a touch of the mouse, I answer the incoming Skype video call. I remain outside the camera view. The first words that I hear come from a very thick European accent. Any accent–that isn’t a New York accent—sounds the same to me. Trashy!
“Anyone fuckin’ there? Looks like I’m staring at some fuckin’ crack house!”
I remain silent. Partly from embarrassment. The bare furnishings of my bachelor pad could very well be confused with a crack house. I lean over to peek at my laptop screen. I’m spotted.
“You ain’t Marcus. Where the fuck is fuckin’ Marcus? Does fuckin’ Marcus know you’re answering his fuckin’ computer?”
Why do most European men pick up most of their English from the movie PULP FICTION? I must sound like SHAKESPEARE IN LOVE to them.
“Your excellency doth protest too much. The gentleman they call Marcus of Logan doth go thither not hither.”
(That’s probably what they heard. What I really said was, “Mark’s not here anymore.”)
“That clever bastard never answers his cell phone, and his voice mailbox is always full. So you give that genius punk a message. Tell him he’s got until the day we arrive in Miami to close this deal, or we’re yanking our collateral off the table.”
“What collateral exactly?” I ask. I couldn’t help myself since he put such a heavy emphasis on the word.
“He knows which collateral, asshole. Cash-backed collateral.”
The exchange that followed would have only happened if I had nothing to lose. I lean into the laptop camera so close that they can only see my tonsils.
“You need us more than we need you, so you better tell me which collateral you’re uptight about.”
“What are you working for Marcus now?”
“Ever think the kid now works for me? I’m the one with all the private money sources here in New York.”
Silence. No more cursing. I got their attention.
There’s a lot of off-camera whispering on their end.
Eventually, he returns with the calmest, most sincere threat. “One-hundred million lined up by the time we touch down in Miami next week, or we walk with our collateral. Make sure Marcus gets the message. Please.”
The Skype Devil disconnects.
I snoop through Marcus’ Skype account. I see the huge Skype credit balance that he keeps to place all these overseas calls to the kings of Collateral. I soon discover both his email address and his cell number. I see a history of his most recent video chats, conference calls, and SMS messages. Skype is a paper trail—minus the paper.
I stop. This is wrong. This is no different than the authorities like FinCEN snooping on Rockmount’s records. If I’m a judge, I would consider all of this ill-gotten information to be inadmissible for my decision-making.
There must be another way to reach Marcus.
Whatever he’s doing with this cash-backed collateral, I want in. This isn’t your normal collateral. It’s not a piece of land, or a solid gold watch. Cash-backed collateral is special, and in this recession, it opens doors.
I know what I need to do. I may not be very street smart, but I’m Wall Street smart.
I call Marcus’ cell phone. The voice mailbox is full. Instead of texting, I now realize that I need to get my hands on him so he doesn’t get away.
I call the midtown hotel where I first met Marcus. They have no records of a Marcus Logan staying there. Something tells me, however, that I should head back to the hotel anyway. My gut is telling me Marcus doesn’t stray far from those few things that he’s familiar with.
I’m betting on that.