Wednesday, July 23, 2008

The Hotel at TinStop Hill (Concluded)

(The Second part of the story, The Hotel at TinStop Hill. The first part may be found here. If you have not read the first part, it really does not matter. You could read that after this one)

The Mysterious Mr. Travistock took a thoughtful puff on his cigar. “Capital”, he muttered, looking into the distance. He could have been referring to the quality of his Cuban cigar or the source of his single biggest problem. After an interval of five minutes, he looked back at the papers strewn across his mahogany table. It was an antique table once gracing the study of the King’s Advisor of the Isle of Sumatra. The table had a unique scent which put his mind to peace and helped him concentrate.

Mr. Travistock had unique powers of concentration. He could do many things at once. It was as if his brain was compartmentalized into strictly exclusive parts and each piece of information went into the relevant slot. This was best illustrated in the manner in which he dealt with the papers strewn across the big table.

On one side, lay the latest version of a catalog of antique lamps. In front of him lay papers on a new project he was working upon, his next venture (hopefully) and to the other end lay the papers concerning the Hotel at TinStop Hill. Watching the mysterious Mr. Travistock at work was indeed an experience. He would pick the catalog, flip through it two, three times, then suddenly seize a bunch of papers on the Hotel at TinStop Hill and make furious notings and then just as suddenly go back to the catalog. To an external observer the movements seemed sporadic/random and irritating. It was this tendency that had made him conclude very early on that he would never take a partner for his business or in fact, work too much with other people if he could avoid doing so.

Just earlier that day he had got the news of Jim’s resignation. It did not affect him. He was glad in a way. He respected Jim too much to tell him that he had to leave. He hoped it would start a wave of panic that would result in everyone leaving. But he knew that would not happen. Human beings after all had to stick on to that damned thing called hope even if reality came and slapped them on their faces, he thought cruelly.

As per the contract there were no liabilities to the Hotel at TinStop Hill if they resigned. He felt nothing at all, for as far as he was concerned they had been extremely well compensated.

His biggest worry was with respect to the finances. It looked like he was going to lose money and a considerable amount at that. That per se did not affect him. The Mysterious Mr. Travistock had started as a Tobacconist (under his real name, that no one knew today) and was a compulsive entrepreneur. No, he was actually a compulsive gambler but his bets were on companies. Starting from a humble tobacconist, the Mysterious Mr. Travistock had grown to be one of the richest men in the world. Yet, being a borderline misanthrope, he went to often crazy limits to avoid human interaction and no one knew the actual identity of the man. This was in direct contrast with the rest of his peers who threw money lavishly in a desperate bid to showcase their wealth.

Looking at the papers of the Hotel at TinStop Hill, Mr. T finally let out a sigh. This was going to be a loss. No way out. Again, that morning he had had pieces removed from the Grand Steps to Serendip and auctioned them. They had been sold at a considerable loss, which had in fact crashed the market as well, but he needed the inflow to keep the venture afloat. That caused a momentary pang of panic in him and Mr. T chided himself for allowing a human emotion to affect him.

He laid down the papers and took the drink in his hand. He stood up and approached the window. It was time for reflection. Clearly, he had taken risk he could not handle. The Hotel at TinStop Hill had been envisioned as the ultimate and default destination for powerbroking. He had hoped to build a kind of International power centre at his Hotel. The first few days went like a dream. The crème de la crème of the world’s political stage wanted to come to the Hotel at TinStop Hill. The conversations carried out were of the greatest import and the Hotel provided a plethora of communication facilities, anti-bugging devices, motion sensors and anything else that caught the fancy of the world’s elite security agencies. The access to those devices was controlled by Mr. T himself and a few select individuals. With time tremendous pressure came to be applied on these individuals by rival intelligence agencies in a battle for information. Of course, Mr. T did anticipate all that, and his whole idea had been to provide trust in return for exorbitant amounts of money. When he had started, he had been extremely clear on one thing which was that he would not compromise on integrity, come what may.

He was not unduly worried about personal security. His house, a bungalow that he had bought on TinStop Hill, from a dying old ammunitions baron who had no children, was equipped with the latest security devices in the world. Also, no unnatural deaths ever occurred in the TinStop bungalows, the repercussions would be too much.

However, with time, the pressure from a certain quarter had been too much to bear and he had crumbled, letting out information on one deal. Somehow, and he never understood how, for he had extracted a number of concessions to safeguard him and his business, the word got around and soon some of the most powerful organizations in the world started beating upon his door making all sorts of requests. And then literally, everything crumbled. He found himself caught in bizarre power plays that were eroding into his personal wealth. Such was the enormity of that wealth, the he was still amongst the richest, but the mental pressure had been quite in excess.

He caved and struck a number of compromises which essentially ensured that his career was dead. The negotiations had sickened the usually unemotional Mr. Travistock. As mentioned earlier, he loathed unnecessary human contact. He found human beings terribly petty and insecure. More irritatingly, a set of insecure human beings always seemed to gang up and stifle those who appeared to be secure. In many of these negotiations, he felt he had seen a sadistic glimmer in the eyes of men, who were keen to see the Mysterious Mr. Travistock on his knees.

As he returned to his table, he was too strong, he would not sink. But clearly to continue swimming, he would need another identity. The Mysterious Mr. Travistock took out a piece of paper, scribbling furiously…


Anonymous said...

good story...

Maddy said...

I sense a Travistock in the making here..

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