Ronnie sits on the bench thinking about her life. She left the theatre with her understanding of truth and selfness confirmed, renewed and revitalised. Her mentor has spoken, his words have given her more than any man she had known. Not only had she listened to him, he had asked her to help, what a day.
She paid a whole weeks wages for the dress, buying it was the right thing to do, he is worth it. After all, without him she would never have become a saver and been able to spend over three hundred pounds on one item and another ton for the shoes. Without him she would not have overwhelmed the fear of the scum she had once fallen in love with. As she thinks, the memories of those events, the feeling of real love and how it came to be dissolved in an acid bath of hate drifted into her mind.
Discovering his name was Dean Pratt not Dino Marillo and he was waiter in, not owner of Marillo’s did not hurt. Discovering he lived with another woman did. Later, she felt more betrayed by the friends had conspired to hide the lie. In truth she had been used. Dean begged her to be his alibi. “Please Viv, please, say I was with you.” She said she would. The police arrived and after a few questions Inspector Vera West asked the one which mattered. Vivian sipped her glass of water “He called himself Dino pretending to be the owner of Marillo’s Inspector, the man is a liar. I don’t care about his crime. What I can say is he came here on…” the deliberate pause is timed to amplify the sentiment of her integrity ” on Sunday evening, Dean asked me to lie, I refused, I don’t know why he would involve me.” Pratt by name, prat by nature Dean received four years.
Around the same time her younger sister Vivian became involved with a Spanish riding instructor twice her age. This ended far worse than her own relationship. The child name was Mark. Her sister was fourteen it was decided her son would be adopted the day following his christening. Vivian went from one nightmare relationship to the next. Most, no, all were abusive, violent, excess of everything relationships. Few were surprised when she took her life. Ronnie was thankful her sister had called it a day, although she allowed people to believe her own silence was an indication of wreaking ball grief.
Vivian’s life ruined by the Latino and Ronnie would hate and distrust the race because of him, no exceptions. Ronnie once talked to the rapist during a chance encounter in a City bar. “Did you know you were the father of a boy?” she asked. Ronnie knew the Spanish deceiver who’d seduced and impregnated her sister would be ecstatic. He wanted to know about his son. Ronnie said, “The first months could be described as perfect,” then the antagonist hit the rapist with a verbal hammer. “As he became older, I’m guessing just before his second birthday, we noticed the boy had certain difficulties, we decided it would be best to place him into adoptive care. The new family could not cope with a mentally disabled child. City authorities took over and placed the boy into special care. The last I heard he’d jumped from a window and was horribly maimed on the railings below.” The Latin’s eyes filled with tears “Do you know any more?” “No, when Viv died, the situation was finished.” In truth she knew nothing about the baby who’d been adopted at a month of age, in certainty she had hurt the rapist.
“We do not have to be big or strong to break anyone. We only have to know their weakness. We must also understand that there are those who cannot be overwhelmed. for whatever reason, be it money, physical or emotional superiority these are the ones who we eliminate from our minds and psyche.” He looked at the audience, surveying them like a lion appraising his pride. They watched Jan Chase, the individualist who spoke of selfness “The motivational speakers will let you down, but not before taking your money. Those who listen to them and their instant coffee cures are lazy and infected with the social disease’s of defeat, mental problems, psychotic episodes, depression, greed and envy, so desperate for release from their angst they believe the hype of the pseudo mind shapers. I do not talk to you with twisted word, sentence, false promise. Todays snake oil salesmen sell empty bottles of wealth. Their armour of five thousand pound suits, Rolls Royce cars and mansion life styles instills a belief of all who follow their word that they to can become the same as the rich deceivers whom they adore. And you know… All of you know… Their promises are of little weight, a feather in the breeze has more chance of felling an oak. Judas Iscariot was more trustworthy.”
The audience applaud, some rising to their feet. Jan places the hand held microphone closer to his lips to increase the depth of his voice. “Stop this nonsense. I am not here for adulation, appreciation, adoration or false worship. You applaud because you have been freed, freed to be able to see the reality, see the truth, see through the veil of deception. Now, settle down your minds, settle down your thoughts, settle down your feelings. From this moment onward the only way is the truth. You are your most important person. Those who can feed their hunger let them do so. Those who cannot let them starve. If I were hungry I would work, If I were in debt I would work, If I were ill I would fight to be healthy. If I am hurt I will walk away. Those who hurt me cannot love me, I walk away. Those who cannot understand me… I will save them and walk away. Never walk into conflict or try to discover how to live with it, or work with it,” Jan pauses, holding the audience, his head moves like a robot left to right and back to centre, his hand covers his heart, he continues “Walk away from pain, difficulties, argument, discord, anger, violence, war, hate, forgiveness.” Each word is emphasised, Jan’s voice has a steady and influential tone “This is my way and you can make the choice or not to make it your way.” The audience is almost out of control, they stand, applaud, cheer. It seems like an age, Jan Chase smiles. Microphone in his hand conduction the orchestra of followers. The microphone is his trademark, a silver colored radio microphone has become his magic wand. It is used to seemingly count the audience, when raised to his lips, the movement indicates he is about to talk again. “Leave this room knowing you have been amongst friends, real friends who understand your hurt, your old restrictions, your old flames of pain. Leave this room knowing your life will not change in an instant, your bank balance will not fill with gold, your relationship will not repair to become utopia of love. No! My friends leave this place to be enlightened with… Enlightened with…” and they know what they will hear, and they wait with anticipation “You will leave this room, this building, enlightened with the power of selfness.”
Jan was signing books after the show and when presented with her copy he said “Would you help me for an hour?” The two worked together, she removed a book from the box “That will be ten pounds please,” She takes the payment “Join the queue, Jan will sign your book for you in a moment, thank you,” he signed the books and when everyone had left… “Is that really three hundred books sold?” “Yes, Jan three-hundred and four.” He counts out thirty tens and places the cash in her hand “Always pay for the help you are given Ron, remember to take advantage of any situation, send me a email, maybe we could work together another time” “I would like that, thanks Jan.” Ronnie knows he means it, his reputation for fulfilling promises is well known. He smiles, touches her face and returns to the dressing room. The maestro knows to separate himself from the cash side of the business is important. It has been a good day, just over eight grand in profit, two-hundred and thirty thousand so far this year and it is still July.
She sits on the bench outside of the theatre. Chase’s white Porsche Turbo stops at the kerb “Thanks for your help Ron, did you enjoy the event?” “Yes, I loved it Jan, and thank you.” No one else would be allowed to call her Ron, it is his special name for her, she feels it in her bones, he loves her, no doubt about it “No… thank you my friend.” Ronnie resonated with the master of selfness, she admired him, he asked for her help which made her more important than anyone else in the audience. The maestro gazes into the strange looking girls eyes, he craves her body, young, vibrant, healthy. For a moment he imagines kissing her lips, counting her freckles, stroking the short brown hair. Yes, he thinks ‘she’s just what I need.’ The 911 gurgles away. Ronnie cycles home.
Ronnie has a border line face. It is difficult to decide if she is a drop dead stun gun beauty or knock out right hook repulsive. Most find her personality and physical appearance overwhelms the conundrum. Ronnie recommends a week should be divided into two days boxing, two swimming, two days in the gym, the day of rest walking in the City or by the sea. By profession accountant, by choice its stacking shelves in a supermarket. “It pays the rent.”
On Tuesday she cycled from work to the pool on her two grand hand built Mercian. Like all objects of beauty the pea green machine is basic in design. Small crank, five speeds, disk brakes, tan Brooks saddle. Combined with its owners supreme fitness it is faster than any car for city commuting. At some time during her three hour workout a thief broke into the cycle pen and stole the bicycle.
The theft ruins her timetable. It will take four weeks before she will be able to collect the replacement. Ronnie’s friends and associates are hoping the bike shop works a miracle and finishes the construction before the agreed date as her temper is not at its most settled. Phil Godden made the mistake of implying she had arranged for the bike to be stolen “Did yer ‘lose’ it for the insurance duk?” Ronnie’s punch broke his nose, floored his pride. Early morning commutes from flat to supermarket used to take fourteen minutes. Without the bike Ronnie walks (she never runs or jogs as it is bad of the knee joints) it takes thirty five. On one of the walks she saw an object laying below the hedge, at first glance thinking it was a bible there was hesitation before she picked it up.
If the cycle had not been stolen, Ronnie would not have walked to work and she would have not seen the black leather bag. Ronnie opened it in a cubicle in the stores washroom. It has a fold over flap like a messenger bag is secured by a wide strip of velcro. The main compartment is secured by a thick black plastic zip. Inside a green Moleskine pocket book, fine nib Mont Blanc fountain pen (green ink), two folds of twenty pound notes, two of ten each secured by a heavy bulldog clip. In total three thousand two hundred pounds. She sits on the cubicle floor, the toilet seat cover is down making a table on which six items dominate her attention. She looks into the bag and discovers an another compartment. Inside is another five thousand in twenties and two rectangular plastic boxes, the type used for soap when traveling. These contain two hundred and forty-nine blue tablets and thirty six heat sealed bags containing about half a teaspoon of a brownish white powder. Eight thousand in cash, a dealers trading stock and accounts book. Life will turn sour for the finder if the dealer discovers who has his possession and there can be little doubt he will be searching.
The find is placed in her sports grip under a large towel, trainers and gym clothing. She throws it into her work locker, spins the combination lock and walks to the warehouse to begin the shift. Godden the warehouse manager watches her climb onto the forklift truck, if he can find a way to dismiss her he will. Ronnie would have lost her job if the humiliating details of the assault could have been disguised in the report. He is wise enough not to become involved any further and today she looks as though there is something on her mind. Godden thinks, ‘the bitch’ is more aggressive than usual, all the staff can feel it. Everyone keeps their distance.
During her morning break Ronnie calls the bike builder “Hi Will, its Ronnie Key, could I improve the gears to Shimano, add a hub dynamo, front and rear LED lights and concealed wiring on my new bike?” “No problem Ronnie, it’ll be about an extra six hundred though.” “That’ll be fine by me.” “Thanks Ronnie, it’ll make no difference to when its ready should be the end of the month.” “Thanks Will…see yer.” “Bye Ronnie.” She decided to keep the windfall. Jan Chase’s words flowed though her soul. “You are your most important person. Take every opportunity, walk away from discord. We do not have to be big or strong to break anyone. We only have to know their weakness.”
During the four years of Dean Prat’s sentence Ronnie decided to change her life. The reason being, prior to the trial he had threatened her with terrifying verbal assaults. Inspector West gave her a book “Read this, its about selfness and taking control.” Ronnie read the book, underlined the important paragraphs, learned some by heart. The author and his ideas of selfness took over her life. Following the advise within Jan Chases book she looked for value for money everywhere and in everything. Refusing to allow anyone to influence her, living lean and frugally, training hard. The boxing club was cheaper than the gym so she became a boxer. Her life revolves around boxing, swimming, cycling, saving, working and Jan Chase.
Dean is released from prison, his first call is Ronnie flat. Laying on the hospital trolly he regretted knocking on the door. No charges made, Dean was lucky. Some years have passed since then and today Ronnie is harder, fitter and understands the power of selfness. “We protect ourselves before all others.” Jan’s word’s. Words to live by, Ronnie is a woman of ‘Selfness’. Jan’s woman, confirmed when he asked her to help him sell his books.
“Its strange how this scum and his crimes have crossed my career Millie. Here he is, laying on a bare urine stained mattress, in front of a two bar electric fire. Dealer addict overdosed and out.” The electric fire scorched and melted the plastic syringe to his arm, he must have passed out as the plunger was pressed and his body fell in front of the red hot bars. Pathologist Millie Green accepts there is sufficient evidence to support death by misadventure, so to save paper work she asks the photographer to take ‘two or three snaps for the file’ – “I’ve counted ninety-one pills, don’t know what until the lab test’s come through and ten heroin deals in his black leather bag, there’s four hundred and sixty quid and a green note book full of names and numbers.” Millie looks at the inspector “The notebook could become an important find Vera” “Yes, Millie from the first glance I think it holds answers to many questions,” She pauses, looks at her friend and adds “There’s the magical bonus for us Millie… Dean is in the right place on that mattress.”