UNITED STATES—A sweet part of the deal in the sale of Chamelecón Fruit, which Sam had misgivings about, was a few hundred thousand shares in the Allied Fruit Co. The man with a plan didn’t always have a plan that worked out the way he imagined.

Allied was the Pulpo that swallowed all the little guys like Union Fruit and now, at long last, the Octopus absorbed his own baby, from cradle to the peak of its value, up to that time. The sale of Chamelecón to his major rival made him extravagantly rich. Overnight. He stuck to his plan of retiring to live, before turning 50, when there was still vigor to enjoy life, enjoy friends, family and pushing his causes, and remodel the brick Beaux Arts mansion he’d bought from a cotton tycoon.

He got a call right before noon.

“You better see what is happening,” said Sam’s broker. Before noon Allied lost a third of its value, by the time the market closed at 3 p.m. EST, there after a brief rally, and Allied stock continued on a downward slope and was worth half by the closing bell.

Sam saw no point in selling, and he was right for a time, as the Rockefellers and bottom-feeders propped up the market and, actually brought Allied to historic highs. Sam’s broker suffered in body and soul. He took to bed and had dreams lit by flashing battlefields and punctuated by intermittent canon and artillery fire.

Sam when asked simply if he was OK, he said he was OK. Yet something seemed to be bothering him. When Rebecca came with a warm moist cloth, he pushed her away and checked himself.

He got up and felt like a fool for letting this thing get to him. But get to him it did. It came back the next day, when he truly believed he was all right, it came back.

In the privacy of his brick mansion, he had a fit. Sam didn’t lose his cool often; in fact the major portion of people who had dealings with him would swear that he never ever lost his cool. But he did on Black Thursday. Sam glanced at the business page of the Times Picayune. It was in the bathroom, perched above the biddette, and he read the stock price, kicked the ceramic pedestal of the basic, stubbed his toe. More than that, cracked the base. Ouch.

This man that was born in 1881 in a country swallowed by up the Soviet Union was strong, but he knew better than to go to the doctor, he had broken his toe all on his own, Sam had.

“Everything all right, sir,” said the man who served around the house for twenty some years.

“Fine, just fine,” Sam replied.

“That’s good, sir,” said Lamont. “You know I know you don’t like being called sir, sir.”

There was a twinkle in the Russian’s eye. He and Lamont chuckled deeply.

And Lamont had such finesse about him, that he didn’t delve further. The pain lingered day or two. Maybe he hadn’t broke his toe. Though the pain still keened in remembrance of the stub, Sam had a eureka moment at the Carrousel bar in the Monteleone Hotel. Rebecca always ragged on him about his drinking, and he did most at ease in the isthmus of Panama. He had a eureka moment in the middle of his highball. He just left it on the counter, with a nice tip. I am in my 48th year on earth and yet I keep learning. Today’s nugget: to win you must lose. The sound of a cash-register ringing rang in Sam’s head as he loped back toward Audubon Place.

“My that was a good highball.”

The sound of cash, the nectar of dollars, but by having a proprietary interest in the Allied Fruit Stocks, Sam felt in his own skin the rising and falling tide of his share value. When the Allied shares first tanked, to half of their value, it was like a baby must feel a politician’s pinch on its cheek.

To be continued…

Grady is the Wizard of Fiction.

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Hollywood humorist Grady grew up in the heart of Steinbeck Country on the Central California coast. More Bombeck than Steinbeck, Grady Miller has been compared to T.C. Boyle, Joel Stein, and Voltaire. He briefly attended Columbia University in New York and came to Los Angeles to study filmmaking, but discovered literature instead, in T.C. Boyle’s fiction writing workshop at USC. In addition to A Very Grady Christmas, he has written the humorous diet book, Lighten Up Now: The Grady Diet and the popular humor collection, Late Bloomer (both on Amazon) and its follow-up, Later Bloomer: Tales from Darkest Hollywood. (https://amzn.to/3bGBLB8) His humor column, Miller Time, appears weekly in The Canyon News (www.canyon-news.com)