Claude flipped open a pack of Camels and sat deep in the chair to consider the situation, flipping his feet up onto the desk, the laptop just below his belt.
He drew deep on the cigarette, savouring the smoke in his nostrils.
The girl had said she teaches Excel for business.
Anybody can do Microsoft Excel formulas, he reasoned, which was what stimulated his suspicion.
Her story just didn’t make sense which meant he couldn’t get her out of his mind. Tall, about 5’ 8”, slim, blonde and well-spoken, she had the kind of look in her eye that would make a baby give up its candy.
She claimed to be an Excel training specialist with a crooked boss, saying she had a bundle of papers that would blow the downtown development plans out of the water.
Thing was, why would a nice kid like her be trying to hustle a rack of financial documents for a couple of million dollars?
And if she was that close to how the figures stacked up, she’d know what could happen if she took a shot and missed the barn door.
But her refs checked out. Small town education. Came to the city. Took a Pitman Training Excel course and joined a local training company.
He tapped some figures into the laptop, running a pivot table to extract the latest info.
But Claude was self-taught and ran into a brick wall. If he was gonna help this broad, he needed to face up to his educational shortcomings and get his Excel skills up to speed and fast.
Figuring it takes one to know one, he Googled Pitman Training in Notting Hill, just a couple of blocks from the office.
Seems they were open late so he called.
The girl on the phone said he could start tomorrow and study at times to suit him.
He pulled a glass and a small bottle of bourbon from the desk drawer and poured two fingers of life saver. He opened Excel on his laptop but the booze meant he got no further ahead and decided to wait till his class in the morning.
Just then, the phone rang and Claude stumbled to pick up the receiver.
It was her.
“Claude. Something’s come up. I need your help,” she breathed.
He recognised that daddy’s girl tone. He’d heard it before.
“What makes you think I want to help you?”
“I don’t have time to talk,” she spat back, “if you want to help, meet me in the offices of Rintel, Black and Smith in 20 minutes. I’ll make it worth your while.”
She hung up and Claude smiled. She knew just how to work it and he could never resist the allure of a dame with a mystery.
When he walked into the office she was sat at the desk, a tightly tied pile of papers in front of her and ten one-hundred dollar bills fanned out on the desktop.
“I knew you’d come,” she said, pointing to the cash on the desk.
“Take that as the first instalment for your involvement.”
“Now hold on there. Nobody said anything about any involvement. I thought I was just here to help a girl in a jam,” he said.
“Look Claude, you’ve got to help me. Luc Crianza has got wind I’ve got these papers and he’s sending some of his monkeys to get them back. For all I know they could be on their way over here right now.”
“Then if they’ve already made you the mark, what do you want me to do about it?” But just then the door opened and ………
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