Read Coffee Online

Authors: gren blackall

Tags: #brazil, #coffee, #dartmouth, #finance, #murder, #nanotechnology, #options, #unrequited love, #women in leadership

Coffee

Coffee

By Gren Blackall

Smashword
Edition

Copyright
1996 by Gren Blackall

Registered
with Library of Congress,

Number
TXu 732-634

All
rights reserved

Also by Gren Blackall

Beatty
:

http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/3519

Maggie’s Beautiful World:

http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/3520

Contact:
[email protected]

Black
as hell, strong as death, sweet as love.

Turkish
proverb.

- Chapter One -

Two
men leaned on the teak railing, looking out to the surf. A young
messenger approached, in crisp khaki pants and blue military shirt.
Sweat on his black face glistened. Winded and stiff, he cut in,
“Please excuse this interruption.”

John
Clorice paused to fold his hands, not turning his head.

“One
of the coffee seed dryers has failed, Meneer Clorice. The other two
are already running at capacity.”

“Where
is the foreman?” Clorice demanded.

“He
is at the facility ...”

“Then
I see no reason for your intrusion. The foreman has full authority
to resolve this.”

“But,
Sir, you gave explicit instructions to contact you if anything
threatened our shipment to Spain.”

Clorice
faced the messenger, eyes glaring. “Threatened? I’m
sure the foreman would not risk his career over a simple machine
problem.”

Regret
for asking showed on the young man’s face. “Yes
Meneer.” In a flash, he was gone. Rapid footsteps resounded
through the adjacent courtyard.

After
an exquisite dinner, John Clorice and his guest had come to enjoy
night air from the balcony. Low voices of plantation workers rose
from the banana trees and coconut palms. Cooking smells from fried
plantain, simmering soups, and fire-cooked fish mixed with the ocean
breeze. The sunset behind them left a ruby cast above the gray
water. Dark shapes of cargo ships marched along the horizon.

“John,
your ancestors would be proud,” announced Marcello de Barros,
President of Brazil, John Clorice’s honored guest. “You
have fulfilled their dreams.”

Clorice
heaved an airy laugh, shaking his head. “No Mr. President, not
yet.” He smiled, knowing that after tonight, all that would
change.

Clorice
owned the 2,000 acre plantation, along with 14 other facilities
spread throughout Brazil. This magnificent island property, just
north of Recife, served as headquarters for Clorice Coffee Company.
The compound included his palatial mansion, numerous guest houses, a
coffee processing facility, and a few older storage buildings.

“You
are kind to invite me here for my vacation. I will return fresh to
Brasilia.” The President’s words wallowed in a deep
Portuguese accent. “Since only the most trusted know where I
am, I will have peace.”

The
President towered a full head over Clorice. His bloodline back to
the earliest Portuguese settlers, and a family history of high
ranking soldiers, helped win the last two elections. As always,
Barros wore his conspicuous, medal covered uniform.

Clorice
gingerly pulled a cigar from a pocket. He rolled it between his
fingers, eyeing the outer leaf and judging its freshness. “The
finest in the world, General. Hand rolled by my own people.”
He found a second one for his companion, and offered a light.

Although
John Clorice barely stood five feet, any impressions of frailty
quickly faded. His eloquent speech and firm hold on the world’s
largest coffee company earned him great respect. At seventy years
old, his smooth complexion and highly toned figure compared to much
younger men. A small mustache and goatee adorned his thin angular
face.

Soon
the two men puffed together, sending blue smoke billowing into the
darkness. “So smooth, so full of taste. You should sell them
around the world, and become even richer, John Clorice.”

“I
couldn’t charge enough to recoup the cost of labor. No, I
keep these for myself and distinguished guests.”

“I’m
honored,” he replied, admiring his impressive host.

After
a contemplative pause, John Clorice began his planned speech. “No,
General, I’m far from fulfilling my ancestors’ dreams -
those that were brutally dashed by the Portuguese.” The
President flinched at the surprising change of tone.

“350
years ago, my direct ancestor, also named John Clorice, landed on
this beach. The naturally protected port, in such beautiful
surroundings, convinced him to stay. The natives’ desire to
build a fruitful life, away from the crushing rule of the
Portuguese, made them a good source of labor.”

The
President protested. “Portuguese leadership has been good to
all of us. You should be grateful. You are living proof.”

The
President’s personal guard noticed the harsher voices. He
purposely stepped out of the shadows, and noisily lit a cigarette.

“Within
a few years, a plantation was born. Coffee, sugar, and cocoa
harvests doubled each season. Dutch traders passing south to Rio
began including Recife on their trade routes. Other Dutch emigrated
here. Families grew, local populations prospered.”

In
the darkness on the beach below, Milpeau’s large frame
appeared. Clorice expected him, but did not acknowledge the
shifting shadows. Milpeau headed Plantation security - a physically
dramatic, former field worker of African decent. Milpeau focused on
Clorice’s face from around the trunk of a palm, watching
through the subdued light for a sign.

The
President and his guard exchanged puzzled glances. “Yes John,
I know. We still enjoy fruit from the seeds sewn by your
ancestors.”

Although
Clorice spoke calmly, the words grew in clarity. “But the
Portuguese did not appreciate John Clorice’s success. They
became jealous of his power. Having once spurned these regions,
they were willing to kill and destroy to own them. John Clorice did
not come prepared to fight with guns. He came to grow business and
cultivate prosperity. His vision was clear and far. But the
Portuguese saw only the bulbous noses in front of their faces.”

The
President slapped his hand on the rail. “The Dutch invaded
our country and occupied our land! Your very existence shows the
foresight and tolerance of our founding fathers!” The guard
stepped to the President’s side and crossed his arms. With a
subtle twitch of his hand, Clorice signaled to Milpeau below.

Clorice
finished his practiced tirade. “My ancestors were nearly
doomed. The Portuguese captured, humiliated, and murdered most of
them. To prevent a full scale war with the Dutch, John Clorice was
spared, but only in body. The man who could have made Brazil an
equal to the United States, died a poor, broken man.”

Barros
had heard enough. He faced Clorice, clenching a scarred fist. His
accent thickened with rage. “I did not come to hear you
desecrate my ancestors!” He pushed himself away from the rail
and stomped toward the beach stairs. The verandah wrapped around
the immense residence, with an overhanging roof supported by
Romanesque columns cloaked in flowering vines. The President’s
guard hustled to keep up, and Clorice followed behind.

The
guard asked, puffing, “Your Presidency, Sir, would you like me
to arrange for your return to Brasilia?”

Milpeau
and a stunningly attractive young lady reached the top of the stairs
just as they arrived. A short skirt slit to her waist hardly
covered her light brown thighs. A halter top loosely tied over her
shoulders left a wide path of exposed skin down to her navel.

The
girl’s seductive eyes closed coyly while looking at the
President. Clorice spoke from behind, “General, I have
arranged some entertainment for the long evening ahead.”

Milpeau
released her arm. Her steps toward the President flowed like a
dancer’s. The wind played with her top, giving fleeting views
of her young naked breasts.

“Well,
John, I do appreciate the finer arts,” he said, not removing
his eyes from her.

“General
Barros ... Estella,” introduced Clorice.

She
spoke while gliding her hands around his waist. “General, may
I have your company tonight?” She lightly kissed his neck.

Milpeau
turned to the President’s guard. “Come, my friend. Let
us leave the President to escort his guest.” His bright white
teeth formed a smile in the dimness. The guard looked to the
President, who nodded a quick approval.

Clorice
and Milpeau strolled back along the balcony with the guard between
them. Clorice surfaced another cigar for the young soldier, and
offered a light in cupped hands.

The
beach activity had slowed. Only a few voices were audible above the
surf. A last fire flickered.

“What
is your name, son?” Clorice asked sincerely.

“Ernesto,
Mr. Clorice. The President did not appreciate your condescending
tone tonight. You should take more care. He is a powerful man.”

They
stopped to lean on a section of rail. “But I know a young
girl who has him doing anything she wants. What power is there in
that?” Clorice and Milpeau laughed together.

Ernesto
objected. “Your lack of respect is repulsive.” He
puffed hard on the glowing cigar. Clorice returned a mocking smile
to Ernesto’s taut frown.

Milpeau
stepped back from the railing and moved behind the guard. He
reached into his side pocket to grip a tobacco aerator, a foot long
thin metal shaft with a handle at one end and a pin-sharp point at
the other. While the guard looked down to tap the ash from his
cigar, Milpeau felt the debilitating force of Clorice’s stare
and knew what he must do.

With
a single thrust, Milpeau pushed the point of the aerator through the
base of the guard’s neck, piercing the brain stem, and lodging
into the inside surface of his skull. Clorice reached his arm
around to steady the spastic shaking. The guard’s eyes
shivered and wandered out of sync. A drop of spittle dripped off
the lower lip of his gaping mouth. The cigar fell from his hands,
turning as it tumbled down, bursting in a small shower of sparks as
it hit the sand.

Once
the guard’s arms fell limp, Clorice leaned him on the railing
to reflect. “Good. The President will be dead from pneumonia
by daybreak. Then we begin.”

Milpeau
stared at the handle sticking out from the man’s neck. He
whispered without looking up, “I wish there was another way.”

Clorice
puffed in silence before speaking. “You are my best man,
Milpeau, with a lovely wife and children. Tonight you have proven
yourself again. Your stature here will only grow.”

“Yes,
Meneer.”

“You
are unwise to question these things.” While the words came
softly, they chilled the humid air.

Clorice
took a final drag on his cigar and flicked the stub over the edge.
“Have Ernesto brought out with the fishermen. Leave the
aerator in place or you will have a fountain of blood. The
President’s body must be delivered to the freezer as soon as
he expires so his death announcement can be delayed according to
plan.” Clorice relished a last deep breath of night air. “We
start the Presidential communiqués tomorrow morning. By the
end of the month, Brazilians will hate Barros so much, they won’t
shed a tear on hearing of his untimely death.”

Milpeau
easily draped the guard’s body over his massive shoulder, and
disappeared down the beach steps.

- Chapter Two -

Harriet
Bishop squeezed in next to Knut Olafson’s elaborate computer
equipment. “Here they are, Knut, there’s something
strange. Look at these repeating blips.” She pointed her
slender finger at the particularly brilliant screen, in front of a
mounted binocular-like viewing device the operator was looking
through. “Tell me I am crazy, or is someone manipulating the
market?”

Most
called her ‘Etty’. She had spent all but the earliest
of her thirty years in some form of academic setting. But now she
was one trimester shy of her ‘All But Dissertation’ in
Dartmouth College’s PhD program in Finance. The Finance
Department considered her their top student. Some of her course
papers had been archived for permanent reference.

To
help gather information for her dissertation on “Efficiency in
the Commodities Market”, she had collected years of price
history on a number of traded commodities. She spent most of her
time reviewing data from CSCE, the Coffee, Sugar, and Cocoa
Exchange, a trading “pit” in New York City that
establishes world prices for these foods. Market behavior and
efficiency, or lack of efficiency, attracted her - but also the
thought of tropical goods, the warm beaches, the sugar cane waving
in the balmy air, helped her through the cold New Hampshire winter.

A
few days earlier, working in her secluded hilltop apartment outside
of Hanover, she noticed some odd behavior in the price of Coffee.
She found three years in a row with a sudden price increase during
one of the peak production months of November through February. The
jumps lasted less than a day, sometimes only hours. Efficient
markets move for a reason, and she could not imagine what would
cause these short lived spikes.

She
called in a heavy weight for some advice and access to more data.
Knut practically lived in this specially constructed laboratory.
Dartmouth’s reputation for progressive use of computer
technology was known around in the world, and Knut was the top
professor/researcher. His near total blindness caused by diabetes
barely affected his productivity. The College allowed him a reduced
teaching schedule, but Knut earned his keep many times over with his
high quality research. Knut was actually a year younger than Etty,
having earned his professorship at a surprisingly early age.

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