Realist, not conformist analysis of the latest financial, business and political news

THE METROPOLITANS — Episode Thirty One

A saga of everyday life in the Big L and a wry look at contemporary culture

By Tony Carden


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?’

‘Well, John…’

‘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.’

‘Why wait?’

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.’


*   *   *



Part 4


The story so far. The young Indy Ref2 when at a rally in Trafalgar Square took a Banner from a radical Europhile group and escaped with it. Pursued, he managed to escape the arch-villain Fedora and his henchmen and deliver the incriminating Banner to the police only to discover the police were in league with Fedora. Indy lost the banner and Fedora made off with it. Now some years later…



The hat brim fills the screen. As the brim tilts up, WE SEE


And… POW!… he’s punched in the face while his arms are

pinned behind his back.



Small world, Ref2.


Too small for two of us.

THE MAN IN THE PANAMA HAT (years older now) removes the BANNER

from Indy’s belt.


This is the second time I’ve had to

reclaim my property from you —


That will be your downfall —



And also yours.

(he moves his eyeline)

Show him what it means.



It’s NIGHT. RAIN POURS down. We’re in the middle of a violent

GALE. Rain lashes down in sheets.

The TWO TOUGHS (who have Indy’s arms pinned behind

his back) propel Indy across the alley towards a row of large municipal refuse bin.

As they pass the FIRST BIN, Indy uses the Two Toughs

as leverage to KICK UP HIS FEET and break open the CLAMP on

the metal bands that hold the refuse bin.

Indy jabs his elbows into the stomachs of the startled Toughs

and rushes toward the Man In The Panama Hat.

Panama Hat sees Indy coming and hurries toward the door

that leads inside. Indy grabs the door and stops it closing

and makes his way to where Panama

Hat is climbing the stairs. He pulls him off the stairs from

behind the two men fall down on the floor. Indy takes the

Banner back from Panama Hat.

A tough delivers a powerful blow to Indy’s face, sending

the Banner flying out of his grip and skittering across the

floor. Indy grabs a parked bicycle and fends off two toughs who

attack him from the sides.

Indy sees that the Banner is about to be picked up by one of the Toughs.

He lunges for it.


He SNATCHES UP the Banner only to be knocked down to the ground

by a blow from a Tough. He struggles to his feet, managing to avoid

the kicks from the Tough aimed at him.

SEVERAL MORE TOUGHS come Indy’s way. He sidesteps them all.



Grab him, he’s getting away! Grab


Indy turns around and pummels two toughs with one punch.

Indy sees a steel bar above him and he


up on a broken chair to reach it. He grabs a hold of the bar and

uses it to swing up and onto the stairs, narrowly

avoiding a tough behind him. He runs up the stairs

still holding onto the Banner. The door to the cellar beckons

he runs through, closing and locking the door behind him.

There is a rattling of the handle followed by a pounding on the door.

Indy smiles as he makes for the front entrance.



As rain falls heavily from the sky.

Indy stands hidden in a door opening the Banner

under his arm. There is no activity from the building.

Indy shrugs, turns up his lapels and heads off into the rain.


Only now do we see the TITLE on the building

revealing the occupants: “EUROPEAN COMMISSION”.


Students walk along brick, tree-lined paths.



Politics is…




Dressed in professorial tweeds, stands before his class. He

turns to the blackboard with a piece of chalk and writes the

word: “FACT.”


…the search for fact. Not truth.

If it’s truth you’re interested in,

Doctor Tyree’s Philosophy class is

right down the hall.




So forget any ideas you’ve got about

Utopias, communes, dictatorships, exotic travel, and

saving the world. You do not

follow ideologies to a better life and formula

“X” never, ever, does the job.

MARCUS BRODY approaches Indy’s classroom. He peers through

the window in the door to see Indy completing his lecture.


Seventy percent of all politics

is done in the library. Research.



Brody enters the lecture hall and stands at the rear of the



We cannot afford to take political myths

at face value.

The BELL RINGS. Indy stands at his desk as students begin to

disperse. A pretty undergraduate puts a note on the desk.


Next week: “Nationalism.” Starting

with the French Revolution

I will be in my office if anybody’s got any

problems for the next hour and a half.

Brody approaches as the last of the students leaves the

lecture hall.



(slaps his pocket)

I did it!


You’ve got it!


Indy removes the Banner from his desk. He places

it on the desk and takes off his glasses as Brody examines

the Banner.


You know how long I’ve been looking

for that?!



All your life.


All my life!



Well done, Indy. Very well done,

indeed. This will find a place of

honour in our collection.

Indy gathers up his books and makes his way toward the door.



We can discuss my honorarium over

dinner and champagne tonight.


He turns back toward Brody, now holding the Banner.


Your treat.


Yes. My treat.


Bursting with STUDENTS, all competing for his attention at

once: “Professor Ref2!” “Doctor Ref2!” etc., etc.


Shush! Shush! Shush!

Indy shoulders his way to the desk of his secretary, an

overwhelmed Teaching Assistant named IRENE.



Professor Ref2! I’m so glad you’re

back! Your mail is on your desk.

Here are your phone messages.


Doctor Ref2, you promised… Doctor




This is your appointment schedule.

And these assignment papers still haven’t

been graded. You’ll miss the return deadline.


Indy takes the term papers then turns to enter his PRIVATE

OFFICE. Students once again CLAMOR for his attention: “Doctor

Ref2!” “Wait, Doctor Ref2!” “My grade!” “Sign my

registration card!”

Indy silences the mob with a raised hand.


(very efficiently)

Okay. Irene, put everyone’s name on

a list, in the order they arrived,

and I’ll see each and every one of

them in turn.

The Students descend upon poor Irene, each claiming to be

first. Indy slips into his —


Where he goes to his desk and finds a thick envelope with a

foreign postmark on it.


(softly; reading)

“Venice, Italy.”


Then, Indy stuffs his mail into his coat pockets, goes to

the WINDOW, slides it open and STEPS OUT INTO THE GARDEN.


Indy escapes through the garden.



Indy walks briskly toward the street; smiling, enjoying his

freedom. As he arrives at the curb, a LONG BLACK VOLVO

SUV with darkened windows pulls up before him.


MAN (O.S.)

Professor Ref2!

THREE MEN step out of the sedan. Everything about them

bespeaks “MI6.” The First Man steps behind Indy.



Professor Ref2?




Indy is ushered into a large Art Deco apartment and left

alone. Several large bookcases fill up the walls.

Indy takes this opportunity to examine them.


After a moment, WILLIAM DONOVAN enters from across the room.

During the brief time that the door is open, we HEAR a

COCKTAIL PARTY going on in the next room: VOICES and SOFT



Donovan strides across the room toward Indy. Although in his

late fifties, Donovan has the broad shoulders and trim

physique of a much younger man. Dressed in a tuxedo, he exudes

both confidence and power.



I trust your trip down was

comfortable, Professor Ref2. My men

didn’t alarm you, I hope.


He shakes hands with Indy.


My name is Donovan. William Donovan.



I know who you are Mr. Donovan. Your

contributions to the university over the

years have been extremely generous.



Well, like yourself, Professor Ref2, I

have a passion for books.


Have a look over here. This might

interest you.


Donovan goes to a table where an object is wrapped in cloth.

He throws back the cloth revealing a handwritten manuscript —

about foolscap size. The cover is inscribed with letters and symbols.


Indy looks impressed. He puts on his glasses to make a closer




Well, it’s English, thank God. Interesting


He turns the pages



Orwell, I should think.


That was our assessment as well.


Where did this come from?



My researchers found it in the

British Museum while

looking for mid-20th Century political tracts.


What of the title?



The Nationalist’s Dilemma


He goes on to read the first page



“…I witness the rise of nationalism

Sometimes it is mixed with regionalism

Far cry is heard for rights violation and humanism

If I sincerely admit then it lacks proper mechanism…”


Donovan pours champagne into several fluted glasses as Indy




“…The tall world order is shaking

The big countries are claiming and staking

Their interest collide with liberty and freedom

Not a word is spoken against and heard seldom…”

Suddenly Indy stops and looks up at Donovan with a startled




“…How can you establish supremacy on the basis of race?

What brave front you may put as innocent face?”




The Holy Grail, Professor Ref2. The

key, the key to creating a strong nationalism



Indy rubs his chin with a dubious expression as he takes the

glass of champagne Donovan now offers him.



The New Jerusalem. I’ve heard this

bedtime story before.


A renewed country, Professor Ref2! The gift

of power to whoever follows the

true path.


Oh, now that’s a bedtime story I’d

like to wake up to!



An old man’s dream.



Every man’s dream.


Including your father’s, I believe.

Indy stiffens slightly at the mention of his father, nods.



Political history is his hobby. He’s a

teacher of sociology. The

one the students hope they don’t



The door opens and MRS. DONOVAN steps into the room. She’s a

matronly woman in an expensive evening gown.


William, you’re neglecting our guests.



Be along in a moment, dear.

He leans over and kisses her cheek. Mrs. Donovan sighs to

herself and returns to the party. Indy, meanwhile, has turned

his attention back to the Manuscript, obviously hooked by

its political insights. He moistens his lips.

Donovan steps up next

to Indy.



Hard to resist, isn’t it? The Holy

Grail of political tracts




What good is it? This Manuscript

speaks of past times and places and

is pretty vague. How do you

start using it? Maybe if the Manuscript

were finished, you’d have something to

go on. But the last section is



Just the same, an attempt to apply

Orwell’s ideas is currently underway.

Indy has to shake his head at Donovan’s apparent lack of



Let me tell you another “bedtime

story,” Professor Ref2. After the Manuscript

was entrusted to Joseph Eddings,

it disappeared and was lost for a

half a century before it was found

again by my researchers.



I’ve heard this one as well. Orwell

is said to have written two versions of his manifesto

one a false one,

the other, the true version.

Both were lost.

How do you know you haven’t uncovered the

supposedly the false version?



Not “supposedly,” Professor Ref2.


Donovan produces a tattered MANUSCRIPT with very

brittle pages. Indy views the manuscript with considerable




This is the manuscript in which the

Orwell developed his theories…

it doesn’t reveal all the ways it works

I’m afraid… but the book

promised that two “markers” that had

been left out would.

(indicates the first Manuscript)

This Manuscript is one of those “markers.”

It proves that Orwell’s ideas work.

But as you pointed out — it’s



Now, the second “marker” is hidden

with Orwell’s missing writing. Our

project leader believes that these are

located within the city of Venice,



As you can now see, Professor Ref2,

we’re about to complete a great quest

that began almost forty years

ago. We’re only one step away.



That’s usually when the ground falls

out from underneath your feet.



You could be more right than you






We’ve hit a snag. Our project leader

has vanished. Along with all his

research. Uh, we received a cable

from his colleague, Professor Schnitzel,

who has no idea of his whereabouts

or what’s become of him.


I want you to pick up the trail where

he left off. Find the man and you

will find the missing Markers.



You’ve got the wrong Ref2, Mister

Donovan. Why don’t you try my father?



(after a pause)

We already have. Your father is the

man who’s disappeared.



To be continued…


All characters appearing in this work are fictitious.

Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.


You can contact the author at:

[email protected]



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