Pride, envy and avarice
were Greg's engines and they had taken him far. As his car glided to a halt
outside work, it did so in a parking bay that was separated from the main
entrance by only four other spaces. He was working on moving into the top spot.
He liked his car. It
was a premium marque, the kind that teenagers have on posters on their walls.
The model wasn't the bottom of the range that was for losers even if it
had a six-figure price-tag. Nor was it the second cheapest that was for
mugs who paid a twenty percent mark-up for a five percent improvement. He'd
chosen one from the upper-middle of the range. It had stretched his budget but
it was worth it to make a point: here was a man who knew what to do, how to do
it and when to do it.
Those qualities were
going to get him The Old Man's job when he retired soon. The race to replace
him was two-horse and Greg was the favourite. The other runner was Rosenthal,
whose bay number six was still empty when Greg arrived. Bays two, three and
four were old-guard: the same generation as The Old Man. If they'd been the
right material to upholster the top chair, they would have done it ten years
The Old Man said that
leaders needed the three I's: the intelligence to see what was happening, the
imagination to decide what to do about it and the incisiveness to do it.
Rosenthal had intelligence and imagination in bucketfuls. In fact, he was
double-first, batshit-crazy bright. But he came up short in the third
criterion. He danced on the grey line between analysis and paralysis, didn't
know when to stop thinking and start doing. Greg had no such problem. He was
master of the down-and-dirty, sweaty-balled business of the bank. 'Incisive'
meant 'cutting' and when Greg cut, somebody bled hard and long.
In the office, his team
were in a knot by the window.
What's all this?
Have we already got enough money?
Morning Greg. We
were looking at Rosenthal's new car. It's a beauty.
Veronica smiled. She
was new, talented and beautiful so a few months ago Greg had established
dominance by taking her out for a meal that had turned into a borderline
date-rape his fourth. If she smiled, he shouldn't. Greg looked down to
see bay six filled by a sleek new car: the same marque as his but the model two
places up in the range.
Rosenthal had made a
move. He'd come onto Greg's home turf and shat on the lawn. Rosenthal was
letting The Old Man know that he could make it to the top. This could not
Greg and Rosenthal met
in the restaurant at lunch.
Saw your new car.
Very nice. How much did that set you back?
More than I could
possibly afford, said Rosenthal, smiling. On my
There was a significant
pause between the two halves of that sentence. Rosenthal was spending the money
that he'd earn when he moved to the top floor. Greg's place in the bank rested
on him being Jack The Lad but Rosenthal had laid a queen on his jack. Now Greg
had to ace it.
Two days later, Greg
parked his new car and got out, pale and sweating. He'd bought the
top-of-the-range model: a barely road-legal monster more suited to the
racetrack than the London streets. His calf twitched with the effort of
controlling the car's psychopathic power. He looked at the monster and wondered
how he was going to pay off the loan he'd taken to get it. As he did, Rosenthal
arrived, driving his old, sedately luxurious, executive saloon.
Nice car Greg.
Must have cost you a bit.
What happened to
This is mine. I
told you I couldn't afford that other one. I liked the look of yours so I hired
one for a day just to feel what it'd be like.
Someone was going to
suffer and the first person that came to mind was the man who'd sold Greg the
monster. There was only one dealership in town and the salesman had said that
he'd sold Rosenthal the car...as good as. Greg drove with difficulty
to the dealership where he found the salesman holding forth to a group
So this geezer
Jewish as a bar mitzvah buffet comes in with a contract; all
legal. Tells me that if I don't sell a Rampant in the next week he'll give me
five grand. Now, if I sell a Rampant I make twenty-g in commission straight in
the trouser, not to mention a shit-load of kudos for being the only bloke
outside Dubai to sell one of the bastard things. So I can't lose. All I have to
do the four-by-two tells me is sign the contract to say that if
someone asks me if I've sold an Excelsior, I've got to say that client
confidentiality means that I can't confirm that I sold one to a little Jewish
geezer last week.
Greg drove back to work
a broken man. On his way out that evening, he met The Old Man at the
Evening Greg. I
hear you've got a new car. There's no way you can afford it on what we pay you.
I hope you haven't done anything reckless, Greg. I wouldn't like to think that
you'd been taking any of my forthcoming decisions for granted. There's no I in
No I. You
remember the three I's?
There are another
three eyes that you need in this game you know, Greg.
And what are
Two to watch
where you're going and one to watch the guy behind you. Goodnight