A Conversation

First Posted by : Nim on Mar 7, 2018, 5:27am

- Spink's Manor, Highholm. August 18th, Evening -

"... most of the idiots we have manning our factory are completely useless. I keep telling the plant manager that he needs to get rid of these morons and replace them with better people. Seriously, we have a multitude of stations all over the plant where five people are doing a job that can be done by one person. We are paying much higher labor costs than we need to."

Emily was struggling to keep up her facade of being interested in what Louis Desaut, a handsome, young activist investor and board member of Dredworth Munitions Company, which was the official arms and munitions supplier of Dusk's military and law enforcement agencies, was saying. She forced herself to endure, however, because the Rising Star liked to keep tabs on everything involving Dredworth, and they were always on the lookout for opportunities to procure armaments from them.

Suppressing a yawn, Emily replied, "Don't you have process engineers or something that are supposed to analyze your floor setup, and well, improve it?" She wasn't quite sure how these kind of things worked at larger factories like Dredworth, but at Hansons, Mr. Hanson would periodically contract an engineer to review his clothing assembly systems to suggest improvements.

"Ideally, yes," Louis replied, leaning back into his chair, "but those guys can't seem to get their shit together either."

"And this is a plant-wide problem?" Emily inquired before taking a sip from her wine glass. She made a point limiting her alcohol consumption as much as possible, as drunkeness could land her in a lot of trouble, and also, she need to be able to actually remember most of the things she learned, as she rarely got an opportunity to take notes during these kinds of parties.

"Indeed it is," Louis answered, pausing to take a sip of his own wine. He then looked at her curiously. "Are you suggesting that the problem is systemic?"

"That does seem likely," she responded.

"Hmm, there's a thought. I'll make a proposition in our next board meeting to fire the plant manager," Louis mused outloud.

Emily barely suppressed an eyeroll. Somehow she doubted that just firing the plant manager would fix much of anything.

"Emily, I must say, you have a much better head for business than most of the bimbos that attend these intolerable gatherings."

"Intolerable?" she inquired. "Then why do you come to them?"

"Making and maintaining friends in high places is an unstated requirement of my job. As an investor, being privy to the going-ons of these 'elite' assholes can make or break my profit margins. A little bit of fore-knowledge of an impending marriage alliance and other such things often determines the ideal time to buy and sell shares."

"I see. You don't seem to be doing that kind of networking at the moment."

A little bit sheepishly, Louis replied, "I'm also a bachelor..."

Emily smirked. It didn't take a genius to figure out where this was going. "I see."

"So, um, I hear you're the person to go to for, uh, information." Louis appeared to be quite uncomfortable. Apparently he was out of his element when discussing anything that didn't have to do with business and finance.

Emily raised an eyebrow, "And who told you that?"

"A friend." When Emily didn't say anything, he continued, "Damien Crowley said you helped him with something."

"Oh yes, Damien, how is he doing?"

"Well, he divorced his wife recently after he learned that she cheated on him."

"Damn shame," Emily smirked knowingly.

"Did you have anything to do with that?"

Instead of answering Louis' question directly, Emily responded, "Look, half of the wives in Highholm have had an affair at some point, and don't even get me started on the misdeeds of the husbands."

"Is that so?" Louis asked skeptically. "Well, the Damien I know would never indulge in such frivolity."

Emily pursed her lips. "If you say so."

"You don't seem convinced."

Bringing her tone down to a conspiritorial whisper, Emily replied, "Maybe that's because I know of the mistress he has been seeing at the Ladys' Grace almost every Thursday night for the past year and a half."

"You're joking," Louis said, a look of shock overcoming his face.

"I'm afraid not. His wife, Anna, was well aware of Damien's trysts, but when she tried to have some fun of her own, she gets jilted. Doesn't seem terribly fair, does it? Of course that marriage was a mess anyway, and I think Anna was more upset about the hit to her reputation than getting kicked out of his house. But the damage to her reputation will pale in comparison to the carnage wrought on Damien's image as a paragon of virtue once word of this gets out. Speaking of which, I'd appreciate it if you didn't implicate me in sharing this knowledge with you. Damien isn't the kind of person I want to rub the wrong way, and besides, half the 'bimbos' attending this soiree could tell you most of what I just told you, give or take a few fanciful details."

"Son of a bitch," Louis whispered. "I would never have guessed..."

"Mark my words, Louis, everyone in this city who can afford a closet has a skeleton or five stuffed into it. And those who can't afford a closet leave their skeletons in the streets or attempt to hide them in a dark alley."

There was moment of silence between the two of them after that. Eventually, Louis said, "That seems like a generalization..."

"Maybe so, but I have yet to be proven wrong."

Louis frowned. "I take it you're good at finding these skeletons, then."

Emily smiled, "Oh yes, yes I am."

"So what is my deepest, darkest secret?" he challenged.

"You're a virgin," she replied jokingly.

"Damn, you got me," Louis chuckled.

Both of them spotted a servant coming their way, causing them to shut their lips for a moment. "Sorry to interrupt your conversation, Mister Desaut and Miss Roezell," the servant stated once he reached the table they were seated at, "but Master Spink wanted to inform you that he will make an announcement of much import in the vestibule in half an hour."

"Thank you for the heads up," Emily replied politely as Louis waved him off.

Once the servant moved on to another clump of guests, Louis said, "An announcement of much import, eh? Typical councilman party gimmick. I wonder if he's going to announce a half-assed corporate tax cut that has a party-balloon's chance in the Maelstrom of actually getting ratified just to get us all excited."

Emily sighed, "That wouldn't surprise me, but you never know."

"True, and that is why I have to come to all these damned things."

Then came the usual awkward pause that occurred after a conversation had run its course. Fun as that had been, it was time for Emily to move on to someone else.

"Well Louis, I enjoyed our chat, but I have some more networking I need to do, as do you I suspect."

"Aye, it was a pleasure to talk to someone intelligent for once, but as you said, I've got some ass to kiss, egos to stroke, and knowledge to extract." Louis stood up and offered his hand to Emily, which she took. She started to turn away, but then Louis said, "Before you go, um, uh, would you like to catch lunch Sunday? You're not in a relationship with someone else right?"

Emily smirked. "I don't exactly appreciate the fact that you assumed that, but in this case you are correct. Lunch isn't going to work too well, as I have to work the floor Sunday, but I can do a later dinner after my shift."

Louis raised an eyebrow, "I didn't realize you were a working woman, but I suppose that explains your business sense. What do you do?"

Emily's smirk turned into an evil grin as she replied, "That will remain a secret until we talk again. I'm leaving on a cliff-hanger to keep you interested."

Louis smiled back, "Oh, I see how it is. Sunday night it is then. I know of a good Pasta Restaurant on Amster Street. Would you like to meet there?"

"Are you referring to Florian's," Emily asked. When he nodded, she continued, "The earliest I can get there is half past seven, but I'm up for it."

"Very good, seven-thirty, Sunday night at Florian's," Louis commented as if making a mental checklist. "Should I pick you up at your place, or..."

"No, we can meet there," Emily interjected. "It was nice talking to you, Louis."

"Yeah, it was nice talking to you too."

Emily grabbed her glass off the table and made her way toward another group of party-goers while she thought about Louis and the conversation she'd had with him. He was certainly the kind of pompous and clueless silver-spoon fed aristocrat she was used to dealing with, yet he could be strangely endearing at times. That conversation hadn't been terribly productive in terms of acquiring information about Dredworth, but she hoped future conversations would be more fruitful.

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