Anodyne, Featuring Jesse Donovan: An Excerpt

Costa-RicaMinor excitement on Sunday: Isaac Ransom called. Isaac hired me when I finished school, taught me how to make a living as an accountant. Not just how to get paid, how to put something in the bank so later when you turned your whole life upside down you could still afford a classy loft in a ritzy neighborhood.

“Heard you were back on the market, Jess.”

“Heard where?” I knew better than to ask, but maybe he’d softened in his old age.

“Around.” Nope.

“Around. Sure. Anyway, not sure what market I’m back on, Izzy.”

He snorted. “What’s that mean, kiddo? You’re a blue chip accountant. Always were, even before I taught you how to do it right.”

Modest, is Izzy.

“You know I appreciate it, Izzy. Not sure that’s where I want to live out the rest of my days, is all.”

He snorted again. This was a laugh snort, not the derisive snort he used earlier. You knew Izzy long enough, you learned his snorts.

“Course not. Make some bank, put some real coin away, retire to Costa Rica or Burma. Then you live out the rest of your days. Like a king you live.”

“Myanmar.”

“What? Speak up.”

“It’s not Burma anymore. It’s Myanmar.”

He snorted his impatient snort. “Do I care? I think not. They want me to retire there, I’ll call it whatever I want. Screw ‘em. I’ll take Costa Rica. It is still Costa Rica isn’t it, Mr. Geography?”

I couldn’t help laughing. To most people Izzy sounded angry or rude. Twelve years working closely with him, I knew better. He was a warm, kind man with a sense of humor so wide and deep I sometimes suspected everything he said was a joke. Don’t ever tell him I said any of that, though.

“Yeah, Costa Rica. Not the point, and you know it.”

“That I do, sonny boy, that I do. The point, coming to it from all around the houses, is this: you want to get rich and retire to some nice third world country like Ireland or Canada, you show up here Monday and I’ll have one of my highly paid lackeys polishing up the brass nameplate on your office door.”

Egads. Isaac Ransom, aptly named, did not use the word “rich” lightly. Things must be going well if he was, essentially, offering to make me a millionaire, which is what another decade under Izzy’s tutelage, schlepping around his network, meant.

“You know I love you like a father, Izzy.”

“Stuff it. I ain’t old enough to be your father. I’m old enough to want to slow down a bit, and I’m old enough to know who I can trust and it ain’t these yo-yos making all my money. Money, they’re good at. Keeping my business honest and flush, not so much.”

He paused, one of his winding-up-for-the-pitch pauses.

“That’s you, Jesse Donovan. Come back. Run things for me for seven years, ten tops. Then go out with a bang, rich as Croesus. Maybe even rich as me, though I doubt it.”

I knew he could hear me breathing hard. He knew better than to keep leaning once he’d pitched. I’d swing, or not, and he knew that, too.

“Tempting, Izzy. Tempting.”

“Aw, nuts.”

“Yeah, I know. I must be.”

“You sure are, Jesse. So was I thirty years ago. I turned out alright.”

“That you did, my friend.”

“Will you promise to at least think about it?”

What could it hurt? My rich and brilliant mentor wants to take me back under his wing and make all my dreams come true. Most of my dreams, anyway.

“I will. I promise.”

Maybe this PI thing was dead before it was born.

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