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فصل 02

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دانلود اپلیکیشن «زیبوک»

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Chapter two

Wall Street

I told Stella what I’d learned so far. As I talked, her fingers flew over the computer keyboard.

“Take a look, Nat,” she said. “The latest information from the Ocean Star Finance website.”

It was an investment firm on Wall Street, the financial center of America. “Investment” meant lending out its clients’ money on international money markets to make more money. So their already rich clients became even richer. Also, it seemed to be one of the best firms - a favorite of many famous New Yorkers. Year after year Ocean Star had returned excellent money to its clients. It was like a money-making machine.

The head of the firm was Lorraine Houston. She was well known to the public through TV talk shows and magazine stories about her homes on Long Island and in New England. Her clothes only came from the best stores. She’d lived the American Dream - the daughter of a poor New Jersey family who had become the president of Ocean Star.

I decided to call O’Neill’s office and spoke with his personal assistant. I let her think I had some money to invest. Of course, it wasn’t the truth - I’ve never had enough money to save much. But after fifteen years in the NYPD, I’d learned how to tell a good lie.

“This is Mr. Marley,” I told her. “I’d like to meet with Mr. O’Neill this afternoon. I just wanted to check if he could see me at three thirty.”

“I’m sorry,” said the personal assistant. “Mr. O’Neill called this morning to say he was sick.”

“Really? In that case, I’ll have to speak to the head of department,” I said.

“I’m afraid that’s not possible,” she replied. “You see, Mr. Steinmann doesn’t work here anymore. He left the firm on Friday.”

“Left the firm?” I asked. “Why? Did he find another job?”

“I couldn’t say, sir,” replied the personal assistant.

“Whose decision was this?” I asked.

“I don’t know,” she said.

“Do you mean you don’t know or you’re not allowed to tell me?” I asked.

“As I said before, sir, I really couldn’t say,” she said.

Something felt wrong. Both the head guys in the department had gone? Working at Ocean Star didn’t seem too good for your health. Was it Steinmann’s decision to leave? You know what they say when someone suddenly leaves a job? “Did he jump or was he pushed?”

Stella was going through the mail. I picked up the phone bill.

“Ouch! That’s going to hurt my wallet!” I said. “Did we really make that many calls? Well, we’d better find Patrick O’Neill quickly and make ourselves some money. Come on, Stella. We’re going to visit Wall Street. Let’s see if we can find out anything more on Ocean Star.”

Some investigators take cabs everywhere. Not me. If possible, I take public transportation, the New York subway. It’s cheap, fast and much safer than it used to be when I was a cop. We took a train from Grand Central Station to Wall Street. While traveling downtown, I described a plan to Stella. It was, of course, going to mean telling some more lies.

“When we get to Ocean Star, we check in with reception and let them think were millionaires with money to invest. We’ll tell them we need financial advice and ask to meet with one of their advisors immediately. Let’s see what they can offer us. We’ll act all unsure, and ask for promises that our investment will be completely safe. I’ll do most of the talking and you watch the advisor.”

From the subway station, we walked east, past the New York Stock Exchange. Outside the building, tourists were busy taking pictures. Ahead of us we could see the full height of the New Century Building. Thirty floors of glass and metal, a wall of silver in the sunshine. Ocean Star Finance used the top four floors.

At the reception desk, you could almost smell money in the air. The black office furniture looked expensive and the carpets were deep and soft. A meeting was soon organized. Yes, they wanted to talk to the millionaires. It’s true what people say - money does open doors. The advisor gave complete answers to my questions and seemed to be sure of herself. Finally I asked, “So you can promise us a return of up to fifteen percent on our investment by this time next year? No problem?”

“None at all,” she said immediately. “You don’t need to worry. We offer the best service on Wall Street.”

Afterwards, I asked Stella for her thoughts. “You know, Nat, it was like listening to an actor who’d learned her lines well,” she said. “She was giving the usual message: ‘Don’t worry. What could possibly go wrong?’ But you know and I know that’s not always the case in the world of finance.”

I told Stella I was going to take an early lunch at McFadden’s Bar to talk with the people from the Daily News.

The information I needed to know about Ocean Star couldn’t be found on the internet. I wanted the inside information. McFadden’s, on the corner of East 42nd Street and Second Avenue, was the second home of Daily News reporters. These guys often knew much more than they could write about in their newspaper - the kind of news that could be dangerous.

Inside the bar, the lunchtime crowd was beginning to come in. I looked around and saw a tall man with white hair among a group of younger reporters. He was Ed Winchester, a reporter who had been with the Daily News longer than I could remember. He had helped me several times in the past.

“Nat! Over here. And while you’re at the bar, get me another drink,” he called, waving an empty glass.

I knew that the price of information from Ed would be a beer, but that was cheap enough. I ordered two beers and went over to Ed. He had moved to an empty table and pushed a chair toward me.

“Well, Nat, what brings you here?” he asked. “You got that ‘I need to know something’ look on your face.”

I described what had happened during the morning and what I already knew. “It seems kind of strange to me. One of the two head guys in the department has suddenly left and the other has disappeared on sick leave.”

Ed thought carefully. “Finance isn’t my field, but there’s a young friend of mine who might be able to help.” He went over to the reporters and returned with a guy in his twenties. “Nat, I’d like to introduce Brett Johnson, a financial reporter on the Wall Street page. Brett, Mr. Marley needs anything you might have on Ocean Star Finance.”

“OK, Mr. Marley,” Brett began. “There are two sides to the story. Each year, Ocean Star makes excellent money for its clients. How can they do it? Is it just luck? Or is Lorraine Houston really a financial superwoman?

“Second, if Ocean Star can make such good money, then why aren’t all the other firms on Wall Street doing the same thing? However, I don’t have all of the facts, so that’s why you haven’t read about it.”

“Thanks, Brett. You’ve given me something to think about,” I said.

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