Excerpts from Snakes and Ladders

Get a taste for some of the locations in the book.

Clarke Quay

McLaughlan jumped out of his car and opened the door for a reluctant Isobel to step out. He enthused about the restaurant, the food, and the great view as they took the elevator to the street level. The Grauermanns remained silent, their slumping shoulders and slow pace suggesting that they were underwhelmed by this turn of events. The short walk alongside the Singapore River cheered them a little. It was an attractive sight as the colorful lights of the restaurants reflected in the dark water. The respite was short-lived. As they approached the restaurant, they could see that it was crowded with many people waiting around for tables.The young greeter at the podium told them it would be a forty-five-minute wait and cheerfully invited them to take a drink in the bar in the meantime. As Isobel’s face turned to stone and Grauermann readied himself to launch a tirade, McLaughlan finally began to sense that this hadn’t been his best move.  

“Wait here, folks. Let me fix this.”  

He headed into the restaurant purposefully. 

“Daniel, what are we doing here? Get me to my hotel. And then fire this cretin."

“I know. I’m very sorry. I’ll tell him to get us to the hotel as soon as he gets back.”

They stood awkwardly in the restaurant doorway, feeling angry, isolated, and self-conscious. All the other people who were waiting seemed so happy about it, all smiling, chatting, and taking photos with their phones as if it were all part of the experience. Grauermann envied their freedom. Isobel despised the simpletons.

Colorado Golf

Knight showily dropped his ball close to the spot from where the others had hit theirs. He took a couple of competent-looking practice wafts and then struck his shot. Unfortunately, his lack of concentration told, he lifted his head and topped the ball badly, yanking it to the left. It careered along the ground, then found its way into a concrete drainage ditch that ran beside the fairway.

“Bollocks!” Knight jogged after it, still carrying his club.  

Sensing an opportunity for some more memorable material, the video crew hopped into their cart and chased after him.

When they caught up with him, Knight was up to his ankles in the murky water, his shoes and socks tossed on the fairway. Elliot signaled to the cameraman to start filming right away.Knight thrashed at his submerged ball, spraying water over himself. When he finally gave it up as a bad job and picked up his ball, Becker pounced. 

“Here’s the intrepid George Knight. You look like you’re having fun.”

Knight mopped his wet face. “Yes, of course, Wolf, always. I hope you caught it.”

“Yes, we did, George. Your teammates are confident that you’re going to win today. Are you going to be making a contribution?”  “I’m sure I shall at some point, Wolf,” Knight replied openly, unaware of the tension brewing with Drago.“I’m going to enjoy myself too. Can’t take it too seriously, can we? I’ve been lucky to be put in this group of great players. And as they say, Wolf, better to be lucky than good.” He winked and headed off to find his discarded shoes.

NYSE

Once inside, the party broke out into small groups and entered the trading floor. For most, it was their first visit, and they wandered around wide eyed, marveling at the intense energy of the place. They felt the heat and bright lights. There were several small TV studio sets on the floor. Some of the groups watched while the young reporters gave their viewers updates on the latest financial news and stock movements. Some listened to traders explaining their roles and demonstrating the array of tools that their abundance of technology offered them. It had been a down day for the Dow. It was heading for a fall of over one hundred, so the traders’ mood was rather gloomy. Lassiter was also down twenty-five cents or so. Still, the party was determined to enjoy the experience. A photographer moved among the groups capturing the sense of excitement and wonder.

Then the electronic clock ticked over to 4 p.m. Grauermann proudly pulled the cord to ring the closing bell, the tickers flashed “LASSITER LASSITER LASSITER,” the flash bulbs popped, and for a brief moment everything was harmonious in the world. The Board members, the C-suite, executive management, and employees were all as one. Corporate nirvana.

Jackson Hole

That evening, Crawford was bored with the confines of the chalet. She suggested to her new skiing companion that they go into town and have dinner there. Maybe visit a bar or even a nightclub. Moira Kenney, who had finally arrived following a night at O’Hare, was mightily keen to join them. She immediately labeled the outing a “cougar patrol.” Drago was reluctant as she still hadn’t spent any time with the Board members. But Gerrard encouraged her to go. Just by being there, she’d already increased her profile with them. She should go with the girls and learn something about having fun. So off they went into town. After dinner in the Snake River Grill, they spent the rest of the evening occupying the saddle-shaped barstools of the famous Million Dollar CowboyBar. They sang along to the live music, did a little line dancing, and enjoyed the considerable attentions of some real cowboys. It turned into a very late night. None of the ladies surfaced for breakfast. Only Crawford made it to the slopes. She took a few short runs in the late morning after her “cowboy” had woken her as he left to go to his job as a lift attendant.  

Nothing was said. All abided by the “what happens in Jackson Hole”protocol. A few knowing looks passed between the three women as they left for the airport. Drago flew back east in the strangest of moods. She hadn’t met any of the milestones she’d set herself for the trip, but she’d achieved something so much more remarkable: she’d actually enjoyed herself.

Snakes and Ladders

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