Stan and I were decompressing from Hell Week. Hell Week is what we junior people call the annual partner's meeting. All the junior partners have to prepare presentations for the senior partners and deliver them during our annual partner meeting. The idea is to come up with some new way to make more money, or save more money, or open a new market. In other words, some way to make the senior partners richer. The best idea(s) get a junior partner that coveted invitation to become a senior partner.
I had worked up a marketing plan to get us involved in the Durban - Luna trade. What with the expansion of lunar diamond mining, it was a low risk - medium return proposal. I was taking a chance that in the current world situation, the senior partners wouldn't want to take a high risk position no matter how high the projected return on investment.
With the cease fire of the recent Sino-Indian war and a hundred million casualties on both sides, most of the world markets were still shaky. This was the first major war fought where both sides had operational nucs and yet both sides refrained from tossing them back and forth. In spite of the fact that both countries could afford to lose a few hundred million people, it would take a madman to use nucs, and even Madam Chairman Hsiao wasn't that crazy. So the Indians and the Chinese killed two hundred million for a stalemate in Tibet. It hardly cut into the overpopulation of either country. At the end, the Chinese still had a country of mountain tops that wasn't worth a hill of beans. But they had saved face by beating the Indians.
Stan had staked out a position calling for the firm to go heavily into India and the rebuilding of their economy. Yeah, there was a lot of potential return, but what happens at the end of the rebuilding when the Indian Government returns the favor by nationalizing, that is stealing, all the capital the outsiders have invested?
I thought it was too risky. Governments like to steal, I mean confiscate, I mean nationalize money. Even the Swiss will steal drug money if they find out it is one of their numbered accounts. The good old US of A will steal any 'illegal' money plus they'll take your legal money if you turn your head. They call it escheat. I just call it cheating.
All of the junior partners were kicked out Thursday afternoon and the senior partners voted on the proposals on Friday. Winners move up, losers move on, those in the middle get a chance the next year while working their asses off all year for below average pay, well below average for the hours they put in, and the responsibility.
So Thursday, after getting kicked out, Stan and I were sitting in a bar across the street from our building. "I think I fucked up," Stan said.
"Why?" I asked, sipping on a margarita. I know stress affects my sodium balance because I always feel better after a couple margaritas. Yep, no matter how much stress I've been under the salt on those margaritas seem to solve all of my problems. It must be a sodium deficiency from stress.
"I was looking for max returns. But I saw what you did and what Chandra proposed. I said to myself, risk, buddy boy, risk. You forgot the risk in today's environment." He shook his head and finished off his scotch. Tossing it on the bar, he motioned to the automated bartender to refill it. The bartender disgorged another scotch which was deducted from Stan's credit union account even as the glass filled with the amber liquid slid across the bar. The robo-bartender asked, "Anything else for you dudes?"
"No thanks," I answered. "Did you see where my project was on the return chart? Dead last." I shook my head. "No way are the partners going to vote for dead last."
Stan took another big gulp of his Scotch. "I think they will. You heard Maria. The biggest issue facing the firm is risk. She's the chairman. Who's going to go against her? No, I think you and Chandra will be sitting in big offices with windows next year. I just hope I don't get the boot," he said.
"You know what you need?" I said. "You need to get laid."
Stan laughed. "Oh right. I should be conserving ducats for unemployment and you'll want to go someplace like The Hetaera." Stan leaned toward me and said in a low voice, "I hear Maria likes to go to the gigolo section and she likes it weird. Leather and chains, whips..." Stan giggled, imagining staid Maria in chains and leather.
The Hetaera is the fancy brothel in the financial district. They overcharge for everything. The idea is to keep the riff raff out so the CEOs and CFOs can feel they are the select. I know a big chunk of that is tax. The state puts a 20% excise on sex, well, brothel sex, but if they could figure out a way to tax private sex I'm sure they would. But me, I don't see why you should pay twice as much for the exact same thing you can get elsewhere.
"Nope," I said. "That place overcharges. Let's go over to the university."
Stan looked at me like I was nuts. "Mike, you and I are a little old to be picking up co-eds."
"Dude," I answered. "I'm not talking about picking up co-eds. I am talking about fucking them."
Stan had the look, is this guy nuts?
"Dude, they opened a brothel on campus. The University is part of the state so they get their brothel license free. They give the girls free Hetaera licenses as 'state employees.' The girls get credit for fifty percent of the fee against future tuition and they get four credit hours in human sexuality after working so many shifts. Everyone wins," I finished.
Stan still looked unbelieving. "Are you pulling my leg?"
I shook my head. "And, Dude, they charge a tenth of what it costs at The Hetaera."
"What are we doing here," Stan said, throwing down the last of his scotch. "Let's jump on the underground."
I swallowed the last of my drink as Stan was pulling me from the bar. We hustled down the slidewalk, bumping past people just standing, letting it take them to their destination. Stan was a man with a mission.
We swiped our cards in the reader and headed to the platform. It was after work hours and the train was only half full. We got seats together. Stan turned to me. "This isn't a wild goose chase, is it? I mean, you aren't pulling one on me?"
"No. Just relax. I swear it is exactly like I said," I told him. In fact, it was better. We walked into a room full of late teen and early twenties girls all available for a roll in the hay. Any kind of girls you like: blonde, brunette, redhead, plump, skinny, Latin, Asian, black, white or some mixture, DD or A. Just imagine her and she was probably there, working her way through the university. If you could get a man to describe Heaven, not what he thinks he's supposed to say but what he really would like, this would be it.
The underground station was right outside the main gate of campus. The guard took one look at Stan and me and handed us a campus map with the path to the brothel marked in glowing yellow. "Thanks," I said.
"Have fun," he said, returning the smile.
Stan took one look at the map as we started walking and said, "Holy shit. Holy shit. Holy shit! It's real."
"I told you, Dude. Now relax and enjoy our stroll," I said grabbing him by the arm and leading him across the campus. He couldn't take his eyes from that map marked with the glowing yellow trail to Oz, the land where your every dream is fulfilled. The brothel was a converted dorm. It had been left behind when they moved the entire student housing up the hill. Then, when the genius who figured out this idea sold it, they converted the dorm into a brothel. The ground floor was occupied by a bar, a dance floor, and a quieter room with lounges for the studious type. That's where all the English Lit co-eds reading Romantic poetry and the engineering students who never had enough time for homework hung out while waiting to get laid. It was kind of weird to find a girl working on some complex engineering problem that I couldn't even understand the question, five minutes later we would be buck naked humping away on her bed, and half an hour after I left, she'd be back working on that problem. Oh well, I really only cared about that time in between anyway.
Stan and I went to the bar. He ordered another scotch but I had had enough ethanol, so I got a Zip Zap cola. I hate the green glow, but it does cut the effect of alcohol, and I wanted to enjoy the experience, not have it diluted by the buzz. One of those Zip Zaps and, even after you've been boozing all night, you are fit to fly home.
Stan and I were in the bar perusing the menu and I'm not talking about the bar menu. We were laughing over the names of the services. Science and Arts was two girls, one dark and one light. The Poly Sci Special was strap-on play with one of the girls; you get fucked, just like politics. Home Ec was the 'usual, ' straight sex.
That's when she walked up and sat next to me. She was in some diaphanous nighty kind of thing which I can't describe. But it was her that made me unable to speak. "Hi," she said.
I just nodded.
"Should I go?" she asked probably put off by my silence. Panicked, I shook my head violently, trying to find my voice. "No," I finally managed to squeak.
Stan saw my reaction and laughed. "He's really a normal guy. I think you have discombobulated him."
She smiled and nodded to him. She looked at me with those big green eyes and said, "Really?"
I had noticed a bit of an accent. "Are you from Russia?" Great conversational gambit. Lucky for me she shrugged off my being an idiot.
"Close. The Ukraine," she said.
.... There is more of this story ...