The Homecoming…(Act 1 – the entrapment)
Josh was perspiring heavily….he was surprised that it was almost Thanksgiving already and as expected there was a definite nip in the air, the usual New Jersey weather. He did not need to swipe on his iPhone 6s (one of his latest prized possessions) to check the weather app forecast. He had been a resident of Princeton for the last 15 odd years and loved the autumns and winters here as against the typical nonchalant weather in San Diego, where he had spent his early years.
Putting the car into auto-cruise mode on US 1 N. highway, he reached out for the tissue box on his Audi A6 dashboard. While mopping his beady forehead with one hand, he held onto the steering expertly with his other. He gave himself a moment to laugh indulgently at his pre-occupation with fancy gadgets, fast cars, guaranteed-age whiskeys and smart good-looking women…well the more the merrier he chuckled. He had done well, oh yes, nobody could debate that. He was born into a small dysfunctional family moving from town to town, a gypsy mother and a drug addict father, well nothing much good ever comes out of that he reasoned. He was average at studies and thanked his stars that he managed to stay focused enough to complete college with reasonable merit. He had started working for a small insurance firm in Santa Ana and quickly learned the ropes of the business. He used to mostly surpass his goals and earn modest commission, which helped him to step into some semblance of a normal adult life. He had rented a small condo nearby and finally had his own place set up, with his dreary past all but forgotten. He had got accustomed to unannounced visits from his father, which inevitably were veiled requests for cash. Well ever since his mother had committed suicide, his father had not bothered to keep up the pretensions of the non-existent family ties anymore. Josh paid him out more from an urge to minimize the interaction and to attempt forgetting the unhappy childhood marred by fights, quarrels and sheer abominable poverty.
Josh was quite a handsome guy (leveraged well in his professional life as well), with an athletic body, square jaw and intelligent blue eyes. He made sure he was always dressed for the part too. People were normally at a loss when they tried to size him up. Here was a guy who seemed earnest, had a boyish charm and a very pleasant demeanor, which would always put one at ease. However during the sales pitch they would soon wonder at what lay behind those deep, calculating and dark eyes and the sudden changes in mood. Josh’s genius ensured that by the end of the meeting, they would have dismissed the dark thoughts or any doubts whatsoever as a mere fragment of imagination of an over cautious mind.
Josh had done well at his work, however his life had changed after that one incident 15 years back…Josh did not often think about it, with all the pleasures money could buy and with the booming business he could hardly afford to spare a moment….and in any case he was not a guy who liked to ponder about the past. He lived in the now, the present and made sure that his future would be well secured. He was already pushing the late 30s and wanted to make enough many times over to plan an early retirement. He loved his job and had a great relationship with his boss, who had mentored him over the years. He was already a part of the elite team which was the “SWAT team” (a moniker coined by his boss) which his boss favored, when the time called for it.
Yes, he was happy but definitely not content, he had lofty goals set for himself which needed to be achieved, time was an element which had been mastered only by the so called gurus, not that he had ever met one. Switching off the cruise mode, he urged the car to accelerate to 110 mph and started weaving in and out of the early morning traffic. Josh was in a hurry, he had a high-profile meeting for sales pitch to one of Presidents of a multi national company. The net worth of the individual had made his head spin.
He was still fuzzy about how the contact had been made and the field visit got assigned to him. He had somehow never heard of this man, for he staked this area alone and knew the details of each person worthy enough to be allotted a slot in his busy schedule. Albert was free today and was in office tallying some reports. Josh wondered how Albert had let go of this opportunity! Josh had returned from the annual conference the night before and still had a bad jet lag. He was curious about how he had landed up into the picture for the meeting with Mr. Nick, yes that was the name mentioned in the file which he had been handed over this morning at the office with details about the address, personal life and financials. Josh always liked to be thorough in his dealings, he would probe into the details to examine the profile of the client before he would create the game plan. For the regulars with probable medium returns, he would be at his best official avatar. But for guys like Nick, well he would have to dig into his other more affable and overtly personal avatar!
He slowed his car as he neared the NJ Convention and Exhibition Center, his GPS had inexplicably switched off! He parked the car slowly and re-booted his brand new Garmin Nuvi model. Sheesh, barely 15 minutes left for the meeting and here he sat in his car trying to fix the GPS which had decided to suddenly take a break! Exasperated he picked up the mobile from the holder next to his seat. As he keyed in the destination address in google map, the app crashed…..swearing loudly Josh re-booted the mobile. This time the app responded, he was barely a mile away from the hotel. It was his first visit to the hotel in Edison. Josh did not have the luxury to thank the almighty, so he just plonked the Garmin down and drove to the hotel. Josh chuckled, for him the brand recall of this hotel chain inevitably centered around a particular femme fatale.
As he drove into the parkway of the Hilton Garden Inn, he noticed he still had 5 minutes. Having parked the car, Josh stashed his purse and phone into the pockets of the suit procured from one of the design houses in Savile Row, London. About to open the door of the Conference room, he had a sudden premonition and a feeling of deja vu. Stopping abruptly in his tracks, he almost collided with another person. He cursed under his breath, this was not the same composed and ever confident Josh about to make another Kill, he ought to have remembered to control the swigs of scotch in the morning! The profuse sweating showed no signs of abating, with the tissue to the rescue yet again, Josh considered the temperature which was somewhere around 31 Deg Fahrenheit. Well, all this was fodder for future circumspection, thought Josh. Having steadied himself Josh opened the door and strode into the large room, his usual swagger somewhat subdued, with a ready confident smile casually hung on his lips and a steady confident gait. What he saw made him gasp aloud….