Episode Thirty One
The intercom buzzed.
‘Dancy, Ella here. Can you come to John’s office straightaway?’
‘Sure. Do you know why he wants to see me?’
‘He just said to ask you to come immediately.’
‘I’ll be right there.’
Dancy locked his computer. The screen still showed the market indicators. Most were at amber; a few green. One or two for EM’s shone red.
John, SilverRock Partners’ head in London, was known to him for his sudden requests. Dancy’s mind drifted to the ways he wanted to tweak the analytical model. Recently it had been proving false. Instead of going down, the US market had surged to historical highs. Based on the long run indicators it screamed sell. They had gone underweight in the market and performance had suffered as a result.
The door to John’s office was closed. Dancy briefly noted the plaque there. “John Merriweather – CEO”. He knocked.
‘Yes. Come in.’
Dancy opened the door and went in. Herb the middle office manager and Stella, head of HR both looked in his direction.
‘Ah, Dancy, good of you to come.’ John pointed at a vacant chair between Herb and Stella.
Dancy sat down.
‘Dancy, I’ll cut straight to the chase.’ He gestured at the middle office manager. ‘Herb here has brought me some troubling information about your trades.’
‘I thought that had been settled?’
Stella butted in. ‘I should warn you. As you well know, breaches of company regulations are a disciplinary matter.’
He looked from her to John. He got the sense that something was going on he didn’t know about.
‘Herb, I thought we’d resolved the matter ages ago?’
Herb looked at John. The CEO nodded.
‘Some very irregular trading has come to our attention.’ He tapped at the tablet in front of him. ‘On August 13th you executed a 20K units short on Tesla stock. Later in the day, you doubled the position—but now going long. On the following day, you sold the whole position and again shorted the stock.’ He looked up from the screen. ‘That is the first of over twenty such trades—first you go long, then short and then long again. You repeat the cycle more than once…’
‘Do you have an explanation for your actions?’
‘It’s clear he can’t explain the trades.’
‘Herb. Let Dancy clarify the situation.’ Herb glared at Dancy.
‘Rocco knows what we were doing. I’m not sure I fully understood it. I did the trades at his suggestion.’
‘Rocco? Well we can ask him.’ John tapped at the computer on his desk. It beeped several times. He picked up the headset before speaking into the microphone. ‘Rocco, it’s John.’ There was a pause. ‘Sure. Great to hear. Listen, I’m going to put you on the speaker. I’ve got Herb, Stella and Dancy here and we’d like you to clear up a matter.’
John tapped at the console. ‘Can you hear us?’
‘Great. Now listen. Herb here has found some trades that Dancy executed. He says you’d be able to explain them.’ John gestured at Herb. He passed over his tablet. ‘There’s longs and shorts in Tesla, GE, and a bunch of other stocks. All executed within hours of each other.’
‘Gee, John. I’ve no idea what that’s all about.’ Rocco went momentarily silent. ‘Dancy, me boy, I dunna understand what you’re frigging doing.’
‘Let me get this straight Rocco. You have no hand in this.’
‘Yep, that’s right.’
‘Rocco, that’s a lie. We talked about it when you were last in London.’
‘You’re just running drag, Dancy. John, I never told him to make those trades.’
‘Okay. Thanks, Rocco. I’ll be in touch. Say hi to your wife for me.’
‘Sure thing, John.’
There was a hum as the connection ended. John tapped on his computer. The hum stopped.
‘We’re going to have to suspend Dancy for this, you know?’
‘You’ve already told me that, I know.’
John shifted in his chair.
‘Dancy, as of this moment, you’re suspended. A security guard will escort you off the premises. May I have your ID card.’ He held out his hand.
Dancy fumbled with his lanyard but eventually got it off. He handed him his pass.
‘But this is nonsense. Rocco suggested the trades. He’s lying.’
‘Now don’t go adding to your problems.’ John nodded at Stella.
‘You have to understand, Dancy, that you’ve broken company rules in trading the way you did. According to Herb your trades involved different accounts within the firm and led to one account benefiting at the expense of the other.’
‘We’re going to have to report this to the FCA.’
‘Herb. No. Not until I say we do.’
‘Sure, John. But if they suspect a cover up…’
‘Stella, please take Dancy outside while Herb and I resolve this.’ He gestured at the door.
Stella got up and went to the door. Dancy stood up and followed her. She held the door for him and closed it behind them.
‘Shit, Stella, I’m innocent. I haven’t done anything wrong.’
‘If that’s the case, you’ll be back here in no time.’
‘Do you know this couldn’t have come at a worse time. First Quinn and now this.’
She patted his arm.
* * *
The noise of the Ed Sheeran song coming out of the PA system was deafening. In the bar, a few people seemed to gyrate in time to the music, the rest huddled in little groups trying to talk. Some had given up and sat, presumably listening, staring into nothing.
Aiden wove his way through the crowd clutching a drink in each hand. He made it to the booth where Josh sat surrounded by a small crowd. Aiden deposited one of the drinks in front of his friend to add the sizeable collection already there. He found a spare space and sat down.
‘…as I was saying…it will be…fun and…I don’t know…’
Aiden gave up trying to listen over the racket. A speaker had been placed not far from the booth and the sound overwhelmed any ability to hear. He smiled at Josh and occasionally nodded his head in his direction.
He turned to examining Josh’s friends. Some he knew from university but there were two young women who he had never met before. One was striking: dark hair that was possibly black. An oval face and, as far as he could tell, a curvaceous body. He reminded her of pictures of Zoe Saldana, the actress. He shook his head.
‘Right everyone. Time to move on. We can’t even hear ourselves think here.’
As one, they rose from their seats. It took a few moments to gather up belongings before, with Josh leading the way, they headed for the exit.
Aiden was thankful for the relative silence of a Soho street at night after the pub.
‘We should get something to eat.’
There was general agreement this was a good idea.
‘Café Monaco isn’t far.’
‘Yes. That’s a great place.’
They set off, now with one of Josh’s friends in the lead. Aiden had still to find out their names. He fell in beside the dark-haired woman.
‘Have you known Josh long?’
‘Me? Well, yes.’
‘Do you know you remind me of someone, but I can’t place my finger on it… Have we met before?’
She laughed. ‘That’s the worst pick-up line I’ve ever heard. Did you get it from a men’s dating guide?’
‘I’m sorry, I wasn’t really trying to pick you up. It’s just that…’
‘Now I’m really offended.’
‘Please don’t be. I can be an ass at times. I guess this is one of those occasions.’
‘I’ll withhold judgement on whether you’re a moke or not.’
She burst into giggles.
The walked on in silence for a bit. What with crossing streets and the traffic, they had fallen behind the others.
Eventually, she stopped. ‘Do you know the way?’
‘Sorry, no. I’ve never been to…what’s the place?’
‘I don’t remember.’
‘That’s awkward.’ He pulled out his phone. ‘I’ve an idea.’ He tapped at it and put it to his ear. It rang and rang and then the voicemail came on. He closed the connection. ‘Bother. I tried to ring Josh and he’s not picking up.’
Aiden punched a quick message.
‘Brrr. It’s a bit cold.’
‘Sorry to make you wait. I’ve sent Josh a text. Hopefully, he’ll respond.’
‘I think I’ll go home.’
‘Would you like to come back for a cup of coffee?’
‘If it’s not too much trouble.’
She giggled. ‘You’re funny, you are!’
‘Oh, never mind.’ She pulled out her phone.
Aiden watch her call an Uber.
She put her mobile away.
‘We were introduced in the pub, but given the noise, I didn’t catch your name. I’m Aiden, by the way.’
‘Melanie or Mel, depending on who I’m talking to.’
‘Ooh. Wouldn’t want to put my foot in it, which should I call you? The friendly Mel or the more formal Melanie.’
She slapped his arm in a mock gesture of outrage. ‘We hardly know each other and already you want to get intimate.’
‘You gave me the choice.’
‘So, I did. Call me Mel.’ Her phone pinged. ‘Ride’s here.’ She walked over to a white Prius that had stopped nearby. The driver wound down his window. ‘Ibrahim?’
‘Yeah.’ Ibrahim consulted his phone. ‘You wanna go ta Brixton, yeah?’
‘That’s right.’ She gestured at Aiden. He got in.
The car pulled out into the traffic.
‘How do you know Josh?’
‘He and I met at uni. We were both doing economics. We roomed together after first year. And you?’
‘I am friends with his sister. We all met up about four months ago when Esther came to London to visit Josh.’ She remained silent for a bit. ‘I’m not sure why he invited me to his farewell, really. Or why I came.’
‘You decided to take a header.’
‘I guess so.’