The Heart of Darkness
Avid Avarice was feeling very pleased with himself, as he sat in the back of his chauffeur driven limousine, reading the Financial Times. Any observer might have wondered why Avid Avarice was oozing with self-satisfaction. After all, it was only the previous evening that he had paid a cool K250,000 to eat a soggy and tasteless buffet supper at the Dinner of the Drones and Parasites, and spent three hours listening to their vapid but pompous speeches.
But in this strange country of Zed, these Drones and Parasites were the most high and mighty in the land. Hob-knobbing with them was the route to Avid Avarice’s most avid goal – to meet the Godfather, the man whose hand lay behind everything in the
. To do a deal with the Godfather was the route to undreamed of wealth. But to annoy the Godfather was the route to destruction. So our skinny little Avid Avarice, a new investor from Sindia, was playing for high stakes. land of Zed
The highlight of the Dinner of the Drones and Parasites was the Auction of the Godfather Lunch. The highest bid would buy a lunch invitation to the
of the Godfather. Great Mansion
And so of course it came to pass that Avid Avarice’s limousine was now gliding down the
Grand Drive towards the . As his car drew up under the portico, a black suited lackey opened the car door, and ushered Avarice inside, through the beautiful sun-lit mansion, until they came to a dark staircase leading down into the basement. ‘Excuse me,’ said Avarice nervously, ‘aren’t we having lunch up here?’ Great Mansion
‘Upstairs,’ grunted the lackey, ‘is only for meetings with ambassadors and donors, but all deals are done in the nightclub downstairs. We call it the Heart of Darkness.’
As his eyes adjusted to the half-light, Avarice saw a large man in dark suit and shades, sitting alone at the end of a dark mahogany table. ‘Mr Avarice, I presume,’ he said in a gruff voice. ‘I’ve been expecting you, please sit down.’
‘Thank you, nice to meet you,’ said Avarice, rather nervously, looking round at the bare table. ‘Er, um, are we having lunch upstairs?’
‘Lunch?’ sneered the Godfather. ‘Did you imagine that I was going to give you lunch? No, that’s not the way it works. I’m here to see what you’ve brought to the table!’
‘Well, er,’ began Avarice, ‘I’ve just come to pay my respects to the Great Godfather.’
‘I like the word pay,’ said the Godfather, now seeming more friendly. ‘A business can easily collapse if it doesn’t pay for protection.’ He snapped his fingers, and out of the darkness appeared a beautiful young waitress, wearing only a small grass skirt and a pair of high heels. ‘A recent gift from
,’ explained the Godfather. Swaziland
‘A very beautiful pair of, er, erum, ah, pair of high heels,’ stuttered Avarice.
‘Beauty,’ ordered the Godfather, ‘bring us a double Blue Label and a double gin and tonic.’
‘If you’re going to make good profit,’ continued the Godfather, ‘you have to keep your costs down.’
‘Exactly,’ said Avarice. ‘It’s just the same in Sindia.’
‘Demands for higher wages can ruin the business. But on the other hand it’s expensive to buy the union leaders, or to employ the police to put down a strike and arrest the agitators.’
As he was speaking, Beauty returned and put the whisky in front of the Godfather. Then she took a gulp from the gin and tonic, and promptly sat down on Avarice’s lap, entwined her arms around him, and inserted her tongue into his ear.
‘Your Exploitation Copper Mine,’ continued the Godfather, apparently oblivious of Avarice’s predicament, ‘could easily become unprofitable if the mine inspectors demanded proper ventilation or protective clothing.’
‘Ah, ah, yes,’ spluttered Avarice, as he struggled to partially disengage himself from Beauty, ‘She’s a very friendly girl. Protective clothing would just get in the way of doing the job.’
‘And of course, in addition to the enabling environment, I can ensure that you will have easy entry wherever you go.’
‘I don’t know what to say,’ panted Avarice, gasping for breath, ‘I’m a bit weighed down by the occasion.
‘Better if you sit on her lap,’ advised the Godfather. ‘She’s a big girl for a little squirt like you.’
‘So this enabling environment,’ gulped Avarice. ‘Is that all I get for my 500 million I paid?’
‘The five hundred million was just to get here,’ said the Godfather sternly. ‘For my protection you have to put 50% of the shares in my name.’
‘What!’ squealed Avarice. ‘Why should I do that?’
‘Because, if you do, I shall give you first option on all the new mines to be opened.’
‘But suppose I get arrested, you know, for destroying the environment, poisoning the river, killing the workers, or some false accusation like that.’
‘Don’t worry. With this sort of money we can get nolle prosequis, or acquittals, rely on bent judges, and so on.’
‘Even buy judges?’
‘Judges here have low salaries, they can be bought quite cheap.’
‘OK,’ said Avarice, ‘It’s a deal. Provided I can also have Beauty.’
‘Of course,’ said the Godfather, as they shook hands, ‘you can eat her for lunch. Just be careful she doesn’t eat you.’
‘Just as a point of interest,’ said Avarice, as Beauty picked him up and made for the stairs. ‘What do you do with all the money?’
‘Half of it goes to new schools and clinics,’ he said proudly.
‘And what about the other half?’ said Avarice suspiciously.
‘The other half,’ replied the Godfather, ‘is devoted to the fight against corruption.’