Saturday, April 5, 2014

How an American Hero is Seduced by a Ruthless Financier

In writing my recent book, <ASIN: 0985314494> or <ASIN: B00GWTM998> (Kindle), I wanted to show how a certifiable American hero, who lived one of the great adventures in the history of mankind, walking on the moon, can afterward lose his way to the point that he can be seduced and manipulated by a ruthless financier seeking to take over the airline that recently employed that former astronaut.

Here's an excerpt:

J. Stephen Girard’s office was traditional in a way the French monarchy might have envied. The men took seats on facing twin Louis XVI settees that were ornately carved and upholstered in patterned silk brocade. Besides the settees, two exquisite commodes adorned with gold rococo scrollwork stood against the walls. Girard’s desk was a large Boulle writing table, trimmed with bronze mounts; it was at least two hundred and fifty years old.

All this was lost on the astronaut. He was a scientist, most comfortable with mechanics and quantitatively determinable matters, things as they were in the most basic operational and measurable sense. Despite the mystery that surrounded Girard, Craig Merrill’s first impression of him was quite unintimidating. He seemed to be the familiar sort of wealthy man who could command the presence of sports figures or movie stars or astronauts and then attempted to ingratiate himself with them. But in the next moment Merrill was forced to make a brutal reappraisal.

"Colonel, I will come to the point," Girard intoned. "Your personal finances are in disarray, and you have no present prospect of employment. As I understand it, all your debts, including the twenty-five thousand dollars loaned to you by Western Shore Savings Bank, now come to about forty-five thousand dollars."
Merrill sat bolt upright. "My debts are my own business."

"As a matter of fact they are mine as well," Girard responded with a half-smile. "One of our subsidiaries controls that bank."

Merrill’s hand moved unconsciously to smooth his thinning hair. "If you want your money back, it might take me a few days until I put out the word for some job offers, but you can be sure that—"

Girard answered quietly, but his words cut like a razor. "People would check into your credit rating, the controversy you instigated at Global Universal, the personal problems you have had, and what might be termed your present stability!"

Merrill stood up, his face flushed.

Girard halted him. "Before you make up your mind to leave, Colonel, let me tell you what I am prepared to offer." . . .

The hundred-thousand-dollar figure had a visible effect on Merrill, who dropped back onto the settee. . . .

Girard continued. "Despite your . . . excesses, I believe you are capable, and you understand airplanes and airlines. That will prove helpful to both of us. If my plans work out, you could be president of Global Universal within a few months. At times you will be called upon to do some little thing toward that end."

"Like what?" Merrill asked, but he was unable to mask his desire with wariness.

"Today we will announce at a press conference your association with Faranco and mention that you are also advising us on our investment in GUA. We own a good deal of its stock, and so that would be understandable."

"Sure, that’s fine."

Girard leaned forward slightly for emphasis. "Then you’ll mention how concerned you are about the safety of passengers riding GUA planes, and that you want to get to the bottom of the crash to find out why passenger safety is being jeopardized."

Merrill tried to object. "I fought for a lot of things in private, but we were arguing then about a matter of degree, not outright negligence. How can I—"
"The stock’s price will go down. When we finally make our move, dissatisfied or frightened GUA stockholders will welcome us with open arms—if they haven’t sold out long before that point." Girard leaned back. "Those are my terms." The words carried the finality of a steel vault slamming shut.

Read more: <ASIN: 0985314494> or <ASIN: B00GWTM998> (Kindle).

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