Category: Literary Fiction

TUESDAY: The Parking Lot

BY NT FRANKLIN

Copyright is held by the author.

“BUY THE damn parking lot! Just tell me when it’s done,” shouted Randolph at his senior staff seated around the conference table. When the boss gave an order like that, there was no compromise and no room for second guessing.

His even tan, winning smile, and tall, silver-haired good looks belied a ruthless shark. Randolph was used to getting his way. Always.

Glen knew this all too well. He was sitting in Randolph’s outer office, knowing he was intentionally made to wait. Glen tried not to look at the wall with a framed City Magazine cover with Randolph smiling on it. “City Revitalizer” were the words on the cover. The wall behind him was the only one that didn’t have a framed, oversized magazine cover on it.

The administrative assistant sat at a desk with Peggy Libby on the name plate. Eventually, she moved from around the desk and said, “If you would please follow me, Mr. Coolidge will see you now.”

Glen stood up and followed her, admiring her shapely figure, and was relieved to be away from the three-foot tall smiling magazine covers.

Before he turned his attention to Glen, he watched his secretary’s hips sway as she walked out of his office. “Glen, good to see you,” Randolph said. “Have a seat. Can I pour you a drink?”

“No thanks. Listen, Randolph, we need to do something about my parking lot.”

Randolph put the decanter down and turned to Glen. “Your parking lot? My name’s on the deed. It’s my parking lot.”

“Yes, Randolph, I know. What can we do about your parking lot? My customers have no place to park. They’ve been using that lot for 20 years or more.”

“You don’t say.”

“Randolph, is this about membership at the golf club? Listen, I can get you in, if that would solve this.”

“Glen, how petty do you think I am? A golf club membership? This is about progress. I think we’re done here. I trust you can find your way out without the aid of my security people.”

“This isn’t over, Randolph.”

“It is over. You lost, Glen.”

Glen slammed the door so hard the secretary jumped. She jumped again when one of the framed magazine covers fell off the wall and hit the floor.

As chair of the membership committee, when Glen spoke against Randolph for club membership, the decision for the others became easy.

“He’s going to be pissed, but he’s not the kind of person we want for a member here,” Glen said after the vote. That vote started a chain of events.

Recent zoning changes resulted in the parking lot being separated from the building deed on Glen’s business. One of Randolph’s assistants stumbled onto it the previous week. Randolph offered the owners an exorbitant price and bought the parking lot. He verbally assured them the intrinsic use pattern wouldn’t change. He lied.

When the transaction finalized, Randolph barricaded the parking lot with two rows of concrete K-rails overnight.

Randolph’s business success provided him wealth, and power comes with wealth, he liked to say. Under his lawyer’s advice, his non-business property was in his wife’s name. As a company board member, she drew a salary that covered the expenses of the properties plus more. The approach returned enough that Randolph used the savings to purchase a magnificent home on the ocean, just outside the city. This was now where she was spending most of her time.

But his business success wasn’t challenging him or holding his interest as it did in the past. He had become intentionally vindictive in recent years.

“Getting bored with success, Mr. Coolidge?” Peggy asked one morning.

“Interesting question, Miss Libby. Why do you ask?”

“I like Peggy.”

He nodded, “Okay Peggy, why do you ask?”

“Your business decisions aren’t making sense. Take the parking lot purchase. You’ll never recoup your costs on that. All it’s doing is destroying Glen Simcoe and his business.”

Randolph walked around her desk and sat on the edge. He leaned over and said, “I wasn’t aware of your business savvy.”

“I have a MS in Business Administration focusing on actuarial data.” She uncrossed and crossed her legs and leaned forward. “I’m very good.”

Randolph sat up and took a deep breath.

“You seem to be looking for more excitement in business and maybe . . . in life,” Peggy said. She saw Randolph’s eyes sparkle.

“It turns out I’m dining alone tonight; would you care to join me, Peggy?”

“I would like that. We can leave from here.”

The maître d’ at the Ritz Carlton gave a knowing tilt of his head when Randolph entered. Randolph and Peggy were ushered to a semiprivate dining area.

She looked around at the empty tables with a full complement of silverware and assorted wine glasses, all on linen tablecloths.

They shared a starter of fresh seasonal oysters while Randolph regaled Peggy with stories of his business success.

“The left bank Bordeaux are superior to those from the right bank,” Randolph said. “Let me choose a wine to compliment filet mignon.”

Peggy smiled. “I’d like that very much.”

Randolph finished his steak before Peggy did and poured himself another glass of wine. “Didn’t I tell you this bottle of Mouton-Rothschild Bordeaux would complement the steak perfectly?”

“And you were right,” she said.

“What would you think of the Madagascar cheesecake for dessert?” Randolph asked.

“Randolph, I’m the dessert.”

“It just so happens there’re rooms upstairs,” Randolph replied.

Room service delivered breakfast the next morning.

“I feel more alive than I have in years,” Randolph said.

“So do I,” replied Peggy.

The dalliance continued at regular intervals and it suited both of them.

Randolph’s company clicked along but he lost some of his business edge. Glen secured customer parking across the way and his business rebounded and expanded.

After almost three months of regular Friday nights, Randolph worried he might become bored with Peggy. He went to his house Saturday morning and found the locks changed and a police order attached to the front door banning him from entry.

He called his wife, but there was no answer. He called Peggy, and there was no answer. Randolph drove to his ocean house and found the same notice attached to the door.

He rang the doorbell. When his wife appeared at the door, he asked “What the hell is going on?”

“Excuse me?” she answered.

“You know damn well what I mean. You’ve banned me from my house.”

She looked at him. “Your house? My name’s on the deed. It’s my house.”

Randolph started to sputter but stopped when a man joined her at the door.

“Glen?”

“Good to see you, Randolph.”

“What the hell?”

He looked Randolph in the eye and smiled. “You lost, Randolph.”

Glen slammed the door.