Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

30 Tishrei 5766 - November 2, 2005 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly










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Shema Yisrael Torah Network
Shema Yisrael Torah Network











Home and Family

Eli Thinks About His Son (New York May 2000)

by Gita Gordon

Serializing a new novel.

Chapter 2 and 3

Eli Barton sat in his office. He looked out through a small window to the supermarket floor below. Everything was in order. The checkout girls sat in their blue uniforms. The customers lined up with full shopping trolleys. All his life Eli had worked at selling food, first in his father's little grocery store, then at each new branch that he opened up, and now, as the head of this vast supermarket chain that had recently gone public.

He had prepared his son to take over one day. First he had sent him to an exclusive boarding school near Boston. There he not only received an excellent education, but he mixed with boys from the most important families in America. Now he was a young man, no longer a boy, and he was studying at the famous Harvard business school. He had made sure to provide the boy with every material benefit there was.

Sending his son away just after he turned thirteen had caused his wife to plead that the boy stay home, but Eli had prevailed. Looking back it seemed to him that the decision had been a correct one. There had been no trouble in adapting to Harvard. Many of his school friends were there. The transition had been an easy one. Soon his son would join the firm. Eli looked forward to that day.

Fred Smith, his new assistant, walked in. "This is your itinerary for the trip to the Amazon Rainforest," he said, placing a folder onto the desk.

Eli took the folder. "Right. Anything else to sort out before we leave?"

"Well there is the matter of the proposed merger. I think it is a feasible idea. They are waiting for an answer."

"I have turned it down twice. Surely that's answer enough," said Eli.

Fred Smith once again launched an extensive monologue about the advantages of the merger. Eli listened impatiently for some minutes and then cut him short.

"Yes, yes. You already said all that. Look. I don't accept your assessment of their financial situation. I felt they would be a burden to the company, not an asset. The subject is closed. I have gone along with you on making our charity this year one working with environmental issues. I agreed with you when you went on and on about my wife coming along. In business we work on compromise. You can't get you own way all the time. Anything else you want to discuss?"

"Just this check. It is for your regular monthly drawing, to give your wife for her work with those people: three thousand dollars." Fred had chosen the time and prepared the check carefully. There was enough space to add extra zeros on the check. Not only that, but Fred had used a special pen with easily-erasable ink. Eli was about to leave for an important meeting. Eli glanced at the check, and signed it.


Fred Smith walked to his office. He sat down at his desk and carefully changed the check from three thousand dollars to three million dollars. There had been an uneasy moment when the old man had commented about the spacing, and how it would be possible to change the amount, but thankfully it had not been followed up by any action.

Next he walked to the bank. There he presented the check and wrote out a form to transfer the money immediately to a newly created Swiss bank account. The bank clerk issued the receipts without any queries. Fred gave a sigh of relief.

Now he walked to a small park and sat on a bench. After some moments a man sat on the same bench. He looked at Fred and received a slight nod. He said, "Here, you seem to be sitting here with nothing to do. Take my newspaper, I'm finished with it, better than sitting staring into space."

Fred recognized the words, and took the newspaper. Only when he returned to his office did he open it carefully and extract the three thousand dollars lying there. These he placed into an envelope and handed to Eli Barton. There was no bank slip to cover the amount withdrawn and he hoped that his boss wouldn't start questioning him about that.

There was a silence for a moment as Eli counted out the money. Then he said, "Where is the bank deposit slip?"

Fred pretended to look for it, feeling in one pocket, then another. Eli lost patience. "Here, write down `3,000 dollars drawn.' Now date it and sign it. Good business practice means accounting for every amount spent."

Fred wrote as he was told. Eli took the paper from him and, folding it, placed it with the money.

Fred gave a sigh of relief when he returned to his desk. He had gotten away with it. Three million dollars was in a Swiss bank account. He had followed the instructions he had been given and they had worked.

Now he thought about the next steps he would have to take. The man had said to him, "If the old fool doesn't agree to the merger, then he won't return from Brazil. Not him and not his wife. It's all arranged. As soon as it is done, you come back here and then you can go off to Switzerland and live nice and cozy on that three million."

If ever anyone thought to query that slip of paper, he would be far away, living a life of luxury and ease.

Well, Fred thought to himself, he had done his best to persuade Eli to agree to the merger. It wasn't his fault if all he got was stubbornness. His reward for getting the merger would have been one million dollars. This way he would get threefold that amount. He wouldn't dwell on the fact that something less than pleasant had been prepared for Eli and his wife, far away in Brazil.


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