The Millionaire Next Door
Copyright© 2007 by Lazlo Zalezac
Looking at the envelope that Mr. Foreman had tossed on his desk, Dan asked, "What's that?"
"That's a little bonus," Mr. Foreman answered with a smile.
Dan opened the envelope and peered inside at the check. His jaw dropped to the ground. Looking up at his boss, he said, "This isn't a little bonus. It isn't even a big bonus. This is gigantic."
Mr. Foreman sat down at his desk. He opened a drawer and pulled out a small bottle of scotch and a glass. Holding up the bottle, he offered Dan a drink. When Dan shook his head no, he poured a little into his glass. As he screwed the cap back on the bottle, he asked, "How much do you think all of those projects I've been managing brought in?"
"I don't know. How much?" Dan answered watching him fix his drink.
"I had over two hundred million in projects going on this summer," Mr. Foreman answered. There had been three apartment complexes, six condominium complexes, a residential development, and a strip mall.
"That's a lot," Dan said.
Mr. Foreman took a sip of his drink and shuddered as it burned going down. He exhaled loudly. He said, "You found around twenty thousand dollars that were getting stolen from me. You showed me that some of my subcontractors were stealing from me when I thought that I had it covered. It got me to thinking. I hired a professional firm and they found a hell of a lot more than that. What you found was just the tip of the iceberg."
"How much more?" Dan asked.
"About a half a million," Mr. Foreman said. Dan's little find had convinced him that he might have been missing a lot more than that little bit of change. He hadn't been happy to find out that his suspicions were correct. Most of the graft had been in the form of accounting irregularities that were easily corrected. There were now a couple of subcontractors that owed him work. He said, "They recovered over four hundred thousand dollars of it. Their fee was ten percent which came to forty thousand dollars."
"Wow," Dan said. It still didn't explain the huge check that he had.
"I figured that since you discovered that I was getting cheated, you deserved a five percent finder's fee," Mr. Foreman said with a smile. He asked, "Do you find that fair?"
Dan thought about it for a minute and said, "I'd be overjoyed with ten percent of the twenty thousand."
Laughing, Mr. Foreman said, "Because of you, I'm ending this season with three hundred and forty thousand dollars that I would not have had. I think that twenty thousand dollars is a reasonable reward. Take it. Take your family out and invest the rest in your pizzeria."
"Yes, sir," Dan said.
Mr. Foreman put his feet up on his desk and took another sip of his drink. Now came the hard part of the conversation. He asked, "Can you handle payroll?"
"Yes, sir," Dan answered.
"Good," Mr. Foreman said, "Can you fill out all those damned government forms?"
"Yes, sir. I even mutter all of the right complaints when I do it, just like you taught me," Dan said with a wink.
Mr. Foreman laughed and said, "Good. Do you know which forms have to be filled out by new employees?"
"Yes, sir," Dan answered.
Mr. Foreman asked, "Did you learn how to spot when someone is stealing from you?"
"Yes, sir. That was a real eye opener," Dan said.
"Did you learn that it was best to call in the proper experts once you realize that a problem is bigger than you can handle?" Mr. Foreman asked looking at Dan.
"Yes, sir," Dan answered nodding his head.
"What else did you learn?"
"I learned that it was important not to let your company grow larger than you can manage. I learned that there were times when it was important to keep my mouth shut," Dan said, "I could go on, but I think you get my drift."
Mr. Foreman said, "You learned how to manage the people, the inventory, and the politics of managing a company. That's a lot to learn, but I think you've got it. I don't have any more lessons for you."
"Thank you," Dan said, "but I think there's a lot that I can learn from you."
"No, you've learned what you need to know to run your pizzeria," Mr. Foreman said. He stared at the glass of golden liquor.
Dan asked, "What do you want me to work on next?"
"Nothing," Harold said as he tossed another envelope to Dan. He said, "This is your severance check."
"My severance check?" Dan asked looking at the envelope with a frown. He asked, "Didn't I do the job?"
"Yes, you did the job. You did it so well that you're out of a job," Mr. Foreman answered with a smile. He said, "According to your business plan, you've got your work cut out for you over the next couple of months. You need to spend your time on that rather than working for me."
"Oh," Dan said.
"I gave you the rest of this month, next month, and half of the month after that. It essentially gives you two months pay," Mr. Foreman said. He took another sip of his drink.
"That's extremely generous," Dan said looking at the second envelope.
"I expect to hear that you found a place by the middle of November or the beginning of December. When you get the place, work with an architect to design your pizzeria. Spend the money to get it right. Once you get a design that you like, you should use the rest of the year to get bids for the build-out. Sign a January contract with the best bidder. That doesn't mean that you have to go with the lowest bid. Sometimes crooks will underbid a job. Do you understand?" Mr. Foreman said.
"Yes, sir," Dan said.
Mr. Foreman said, "I expect to hear about you opening your pizzeria in February or March."
"Yes, sir," Dan said.
Mr. Foreman took a sip of his drink and said, "Before I tell you to get out of here, I have just a couple of things to tell you. When you're ready to get bids for the build-out I want you to call me. Listen to the advice and warnings of experts. Most important of all, take a little time for yourself before the New Year because you aren't going to have a chance to rest for a good number of years."
"Yes, sir," Dan said.
"Now get out of here and have a little fun," Mr. Foreman said. He tilted back his glass and finished his drink. He was going to miss having Dan around.
Alison watched Dan walk over to the pool and dive in. He was wearing the bathing suit that she had bought him. It was a real pleasure watching him move around in it. She turned to Mary and said, "I'm going to miss him when I return to college."
"I bet," Mary said with a grin. She was a little envious of her cousin as she watched Dan return to the surface. He wasn't exactly a graceful swimmer, but he looked like he was having fun. She asked, "How is it going with those two women you're sharing him with?"
"It is not too bad. It is a little hard competing with two women for his attention. They have twice as much to offer him," Alison said.
"You could do the same. I'd be more than happy to sample a little bit of that man," Mary said. He had made his way back to the shallow end of the pool and stood up.
"I hate to sound a little jealous, but no way," Alison said.
Mary looked over at her cousin with wide eyes and said, "You're in love with him."
"Yes, I am," Alison said hating to admit it. She leaned forward and untied the strap of her bikini top. A second later it was on the ground beside her chair.
"May I?" Mary asked looking over at her cousin. She noticed that Dan was getting out of the pool. He was about to head their way.
"Go ahead," Alison said thinking how much she hated to lie out in the sun wearing a swimsuit. She knew that Mary was of a like mind on that matter. She said, "I'm going to be removing the bottom before long."
It didn't take Mary long to get rid of her top. She was a little better developed than Alison, but not by much. When Dan walked over to the lounge chair, he looked at the pair of topless women and said, "It looks to me like you are planning on a real tanning session. Maybe I should leave."
Alison looked up at him and noticed the slight swelling in his Speedos. She said, "Stay. You can look, but you can't touch."
"Okay," Dan said wishing that he had on his big baggy swimming trunks. He got into the lounger he had vacated a few minutes earlier and did his best not to look at them. He said, "The water is nice."
"I may jump in and cool off soon," Alison said.
Mary winked at Alison and said, "Same here. I don't know if it is the sun or Dan, but I'm getting hot all over."
Dan laughed at the comment and said, "It's the sun."
Mary was leaving in two days and Alison wanted to take her cousin out for a nice meal before she left. Looking over at Dan, she asked, "Are you going to be free tomorrow night?"
"I think so," Dan said. He was trying to make enough time for all three women in his life, but it wasn't easy. Fortunately, they were making it a lot easier for him.
"I'm going to take Mary out to dinner tomorrow night. She's leaving soon and I want to take her someplace special. Would you like to come with us?" Alison asked.
"Sure, I'd love to go with you," Dan said. He closed his eyes and enjoyed the feeling of the hot sun. He was almost dry from his quick trip to the pool.
"Great. Maybe you want to spend the night tonight with Ann and Sally so they won't get jealous," Alison said. She was making the offer, but didn't want him to go.
"I talked to them last night about it. They know that you're going back to school in ten days and suggested that I spend a little extra time with you before you go," Dan said.
Mary snorted in disbelief and said, "And you believed them."
"Sure," Dan said.
Alison glared at her cousin, but had to admit that she was right. She said, "Did it ever occur to you that they might be hoping that you won't spend too much time with me?"
"No," Dan answered relaxing on the chair. The sun was really feeling good and there was a very slight wind that tickled the skin.
Mary said, "I swear, men are idiots."
"What did I do?" Dan asked sitting up to look at her.
Hating herself, Alison said, "Look, you've been spending every day over here with us. I'm getting a lot more of your time than they are. You need to spend a little quality time with them before I leave."
"They are at work during the day. Why should they be jealous that I'm over here?" Dan asked.
Mary shook her head and said, "No wonder most of your female friends are lesbians."
The smell of pizza cooking filled the room as Dan scurried around the kitchen trying to get them in and out of the oven as fast as possible. Only able to cook two pizzas at a time, it was hard keeping up with the demand. Ellen, Sue, Ann, Sally, Alison, Diana, and Tom were eating them as fast as he was making them.
Ellen took another bite of her pizza and said, "This is heavenly."
"You can say that again," Sue said.
Tom took a drink of his frosty mug of root beer and said, "This is the life. Eating Dan's pizza and drinking root beer. How can it get any better?"
"You and your root beer," Diana said rolling her eyes.
"Everyone thinks that the Gods drank wine, but they're wrong. The real beverage of the Gods was root beer," Tom said provoking a round of laughter at the table.
Enjoying the sounds of people having a good time, Dan delivered another pizza to the table and carried off the empty tray. It was time to get another pizza ready to go. He figured that he would go through four of them. The one he had delivered was the third.
Alison said, "I'm going to miss this when I go back to college."