15 – A Bottle of Barbaresco and some Strong Chains
“Hallo is that May? This is Dave. No, David Thomas we met at Michael’s the other day. Yes that’s it the launch meeting. I said I’d call you. Don’t you remember. Lunch. Yes that’s right, lunch. I said I’d call to arrange lunch. So how about it. Do you fancy it? Ok, so what about tomorrow at twelve thirty at Gino’s. Good I’ll see you there.”
Sales Director David Thomas of the Cinot Gin Company head of the team driving the impact of the multitude of designer Gins the company is marketing. A very youthful thirty eight. Fit and athletic. Fancies himself does David Thomas. Ladies’ man. Wine them, dine them and then, however lucky he was. He relies on good looks and abundant charm. The swept back blond hair and tanning bed light bronze look. Just enough to give a healthy glow without looking fake. Some of these predator types are sleazy but not David Thomas if he was a footballer he would be a professional. He has the patter, the talk, the persuasive touch. The touch of the salesman. Always the salesman. And he’s best at selling himself.
Spent much of his time on the road. Wholesaler meetings, product launches and trade shows. Stayed in hotels. Not the best but then there are an awful lot more that are an awful lot worse. Ate out. Sometimes with his team if they were with him but usually on his own or with whoever he could persuade to join him. The trade shows were the best. An abundance of people, many with that I’ve been set free so watch out attitude. Released from their normal mundane existence and carefree. Days are brain fogged dazes and nights a refuelled blitz. Women included. He has met a few. Quite a few. Given them the spiel. Sold them the story then used them and dumped them. A few days later the sobbing call. “But you promised.” “But you said.” The promises always stacked to be broken. Just part of a never ending game. Broken hearts just a necessary consequence with no remorse.
The launch meeting was just like any other. Same formula same boring grind. They had tried to change the routine but nothing seemed to have that extra snap. So stuck with the tried and tested. It was held at Michael’s Wine Bar in the posh part of town. The perfect venue. Michael’s sold wine, spirits and a bit of Tapas. Showcasing two new Gin mixes infused with subtle blends of herbs and fruit flavours. The invited wholesale trade were there plus a contingent of press and critics. May Lewis is a critic. New to the job. Qualified through The Wine and Spirit education Trust and despite her young age rapidly gaining a reputation. Twenty eight and loves the job. Good looking, slim and sexy. Just the target for David Thomas. Lack of experience so hopefully a bit naïve. He did chat to her but there was no mention of lunch. Just Gin. Lunch, every charlatan’s starting point. “Would you enjoy lunch with me?” The universal opening gambit. He had her card so knew her number. Then turn on the smooth talking motor and away he goes. Days, maybe weeks however long it took.
“This is a nice place. Have you been here before?”
“Yes we often hold our shows in town. Michael’s is so perfect. Just round the corner so Gino’s is a favourite.”
“I’ve not been here before. To this town I mean. Or Gino’s.”
“What did you think of the product. We have tried to get a balanced mix to provide a different taste. I think it works.”
“It does and I will be giving both a positive piece in my next Blog.”
“Thank you. You are young to be in such a respected position. And pretty to boot. A winning combination I think you will find.”
“I learn quickly and enjoy the job. The rest is just clockwork. The Blog I mean. I’ve built up a good solid following.”
“Two glasses of the Barbaresco please. Is that ok?”
“Sure. Sounds interesting.”
They order and small talk for a while. Then coffee.
“So how long are you about. I’m here for the next two days.”
“I’ve a few things to do so maybe a few days I expect.”
“You know I have really enjoyed chatting with you. You are so interesting. Would love to talk more but have no time now. How about dinner with me tomorrow night? Somewhere nice and quiet perhaps.”
“That will be lovely.”
“Great. Where are you staying and I’ll pick you up at eight.”
Dinner was a great success. David really enjoyed it. Found May intelligent, stimulating and fun to be around. He was smitten, so much so that he did not even attempt his normal seduction routine. Wanted to see her again. Spend some proper time with her. They lived quite a way apart but with the moving around it was not a problem to meet up fairly regularly. Content just to be with her. All thought of intimacy far from his mind. He just wanted to enjoy her company. Over the next couple of months he felt he got to know her so well that he decided she was the one. The one he would spend his life with. He asked her to marry him. She had changed him. Reformed him. Made him regret his previous behaviour. She agreed and invited him to meet her family. In her home town. Her Mum, Dad, two brothers and sister. A proper family gathering to celebrate.
He was in his hotel room when she called his mobile.
“Arrive ok. Good we’ll be all ready here by six if you want to come over. See you at six then.”
Dressed in his best suit he knocked on the door at exactly six o’clock. May answered and brought him into the sitting room.
“This is my Mum and Dad and this is my sister Sarah."
“My brothers are out back in the yard. Come on I’ll introduce you. You’ll like them and they are dying to meet you.”
Into the yard which was just a small square of concrete no proper garden. He saw one tall man in front of him and approached with a friendly hand out. The other brother came up behind him and suddenly pinned his arms to his sides. He struggled but the grip was firm. The other brother came at him from the front and back hand slapped him across the face. He was stunned. Shaken.
“What’s going on. May. May what’s all this.”
“You didn’t recognise my sister did you.Three years ago you seduced her at the large trade do in Birmingham. Promised to marry her, take care of her. You did that alright. You hurt her so badly she has never really recovered. A fine happy vibrant young lady tossed into the gutter by you, you bastard.”
David could not believe what he was hearing. “What about us. All our plans. I have not let you down. Won’t let you down. Let me make it up to her. Your sister.”
“We had no plans. That was all show to get you here. You think you are a good salesman I am better. Got you good and proper. Didn’t I. And now you’re going to pay.”
David tried to struggle but it was useless against her two brothers. They stripped him totally naked. Shaved his hair. Painted him in cold tar and slung two big bags of feathers over him.
“That’s for Sarah and all the many others that you have destroyed.”
They slung him in the back of their van and the two brothers drove off. May went inside.
“All done Sarah. I hope he really suffers.”
That evening a feathered man was released from the chains securing him to a lamp post in the city centre. The crowd clapping and jeering at the sign around his neck. “So end all who defile women.” He did clean up fairly easily the cold tar was not too thick just enough to stick the feathers. But the humiliation was complete. David would not name the culprits. May had genuinely changed him and he was able to accept that actually he deserved what he got.
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