Excited Delirium Book: Chapter 41 (Garamond and his marvelous house)
Author’s Note: The following is Chapter 41 of the my online book "Excited Delirium". Please post comments. Please tell your friends about this story. If you’ve missed a chapter, please click here for Chapter 1 (Prelude) or here for the full index .
“I worry some times, because it makes me feel like a Sybarite,” Garamond hollered.
“Excuse me sir … a what?” asked Hadlock, as they hurried off the landing platform. He was having a little trouble hearing, having just leaped from his transportation, a freshly purchased executive-style Sikorsky S76.
“Sybaris was a village in ancient Greece,” Garamond yelled, “where the inhabitants were said to have lived in grand luxury. They were much more decadent than the Babylonians or even the Gamorrans.”
“Oh, OK. Those Sybarites,” Hadlock said, trying to keep his mocking to a minimum. “I fully understand now, sir”
This was the first time that Hadlock, in all his years as the second in command with the OMNINet had been invited to the Garamond house, which is nestled up in the mountains in upstate New York. He had heard about this place and it took on a legendary status like Atlantis or other mythical realms that couldn’t be found.
The helicopter’s flight path didn’t go over the compound, but that was an intentional security measure. In fact, Garamond had friends with the FCC that made sure that no aircraft could fly overhead with several miles, limiting the opportunities for people to make out what he had built for himself and his trophies. The landing pad was the only way that someone could get close to the compound. Any others that drove to the Garamond estate would have to park in an underground facility five miles away and be shuttled to the main gate in a company vehicle.
The entire compound covered more than a thousand acres of land. Most of the property was untouched and if a hitchhiker or backpacker ever came close to the borders, a small band of Greyrock guards would show up within a few minutes to remind the errant traveler that they need to move on.
Garamond had decided that they needed to get away from the hurry and distraction of the city. They were putting some of their final strokes on a number of plans and shocks for 2008 and they both felt a little focus was needed. Labour relations. Activities in China. The upcoming US Presidential race. Commodity prices. Their IPO. Greyrock. The credit crisis.
For some, it may have been a little over the top, but for these two single white men, a master plan would all be cobbled together over the course a short weekend early in the New Year.
“Let’s go up to the master estate, shall we,” Garamond said with a smile on his face. Although he pretended to have a slight amount of shame concerning his estate, Hadlock could see the excitement in his eyes as they hopped into a tram that would speed them up the hillside to the main house.
The tram was like any cable-car, similar to what is used to lift people to the top of Grouse Mountain in Vancouver. It had a number of windows so that you could view the Adirondacks as you climbed towards the sky.
They reached the first station after a few minutes, and the glimpses that Hadlock had from the air could barely do the initial guard house justice. This was a castle-like fortress wall that stood between them and the rest of their journey to the main quarters. There was a pause as a small battalion of guards emerged to greet the tram, but they could be seen talking into their radios and the tram continued on its journey to the top. Hadlock only had a few moments to register the details of the building, but he noticed that there were two turret-like stone walls that rose to peaks where the tram would pass through. To either side of these massive posts were broad extensive walls that reached at least twenty feet high and continued as far as he could see. The was obviously the first line of defense in the Garamond compound. If anyone dared visit this place, assuming they knew it existed, this small slot would be the only weakness. With more than 20 guards on duty, no one was getting in or out without a golden ticket.
The design of the turrets was nothing special, but the exterior was touched up a little to make them look very medieval, appropriate given that Garamond (and others like him) was the closest thing the New World had to a feudal lord.
The direction of the tram shifted and they lurched over to the left around a corner. What Hadlock didn’t realize was that they were basically heading up in a spiral motion, spinning their way slowly to the peak of the mountain. The peaks of trees now hugged the tram, like they were personally responsible for hefting it along on its course.
As the vista emerged, Hadlock drew in a breath of admiration. It was a cool day in January and the air was crisp and clean. He could see for hundreds of miles and in the distance, he thought he could make out cities like Syracuse and Schenectady. Greek gods would have been envious of the view from here, Hadlock thought to themselves as they progressed upwards.
The lower bastions of the estate were now visible as they turned another corner and Hadlock was just starting to get a sense of how immense and valuable this estate was. He knew that it put Bill Gates’ house on the west coast to shame, but there were no official numbers. His guess was that Garamond had invested at least a hundred million in the property, but with all of the functioning visible support, it’s likely that the annual maintenance would put that number to shame.
The tram settled on a plateau for bit and slowed to a near crawl as they approached a small tunnel. This was an intentional security requirement. Any passengers were filmed more than 40 times as they passed through a final tunnel that would bring them to the main entry gate.
The gates opened quickly and sucked the little tram into its hole. As the tram popped out of the top of the tunnel, it looked like some kind of perverse mechanical birth of an egg that held two of the world’s most valuable business men.
With another quick lurch, the tram turned a corner and Garamond looked at Hadlock as they grabbed for a rail to stabilize themselves: “I’ve gone through more engineers trying to get these corners smoothed over, but none of them have been much help.” He sounded more pissed off than apologetic, thinking that it was an inconvenience that could be repaired.
There was a final jolt and the tram came to a stop. The exited the bubble and walked out onto a cobble-stone street that surrounded another immense wall. Garamond approached another small guard house, this time inhabited by just a dozen or so of Greyrock’s best guards, and he proceeded to do a retinal / finger scan to unlock a door that was behind them. If Garamond hadn’t done this small operation, Hadlock would have to assume that this was the end of the line, because there was no door visible.
With a swish, a tiny door opened and they stepped inside a very tiny room that must have been an elevator. Again, Garamond looked like he almost wanted to apologize, but he explained the close quarters: “this elevator can really only hold 2 people at a time. It’s designed that way to limit the volume of people that could enter the estate at any given moment. It’s a little over the top, but I feel comfortable knowing that intruders can only enter two-by-two.”
“But how do the guards get in and out?”
“I don’t have guards on the upper deck. There are only a few more on the outer ring, which we’ll see in a moment. To be honest, I like the idea of keeping them out of site. It’s more peaceful that way.”
It seemed inconceivable to Hadlock that his boss would use the word ‘peaceful’, but this weekend would prove to have many surprises.
With a quick ‘swish’, the door closed like it might in a Star Trek movie, and the elevator lifted them to the next level. They emerged on the other side to bright sunlight, despite the intense growth of tree canopy. They were still one gate from the main compound, but there was a large separation between the two walls and the interior wall seemed much less menacing in its appearance. It was just an eight-foot perimeter that offered a final barrier to any unwanted visitors.
They quickly made for the final gate and didn’t say much as they progressed.
With a quick and final security check, they were inside Garamond great compound.
What felt like a compound just a moment ago, now felt like paradise. The air seemed cleaner, more pure, the structures appeared more ‘natural’ and the only sound that Hadlock could hear was the rush of a small stream that came through the centre of the central meeting place.
This entire property was purchased by Garamond’s father in the 1930s from other wealthy New York families as everyone else was selling what little land they had to feed themselves. In fact, during those early days, there was little regulation and monitoring of charities and most of the property was purchased using tax-free charity dollars.
It was initially used as a ‘get away’ retreat and Bible camp for well-heeled Univist faithfuls. They came, rehearsed a number of passages, but as the popularity of the camp grew, so too did the number of structures and services. Eventually, Grant Garamond felt like he was being taken advantage of, with stars and the elite coming to the place and treating it like a spa. By the early 1950s, he shut down the camp to most outsiders and kept it for business meetings and extremely private gatherings. There are rumours that several Bilderberg meetings have been held here, but they have yet to be quantified.
Grant Garamond was very strict that the ‘inner circle’ of the estate have sufficient tree canopy to ensure that no one flying overhead would ever be able to view the entire estate. Massive trees that were now extremely rare on the east coast surrounded the buildings. Hadlock couldn’t see all of the structures, but he had to guess that there would be at least thirty to review.
It’s unlikely that kings and queens of the world would envy the compound on first glance, mainly because there was a façade of humility. Most structures were single story, with the exception of a communications tower that stretched higher than any trees in the area. But make no mistake: this small city-state is a luxurious homage to the wonders and excesses of capitalism, much like Buckingham Palace is an homage to the feudal system and the Vatican is an homage to the tithe.
The Garamond estate had no less than fifty buildings, but even Garamond himself was starting to lose count as they built various structures for food storage, weapons caches, vehicles, communications facilities and training grounds for Greyrock guards.
“Well … shall we take a brief tour of Mount Tabor before we settle in to work?” Garamond asked, ushering Hadlock off the tram and into the central meeting area of the estate.
“Sure … let’s go,” Hadlock said as he entered the compound. “Now I understand that the original Mount Tabor is in Galilee and it was where Christ was seen conversing with Moses and Elijah, but why didn’t you call the camp something like Zion?” Hadlock asked.
“We all thought about that, but we felt Zion was a little too … Jewish, as well as Sinai and such. My father settled on Tabor because he felt that this place was a suitable replication of the place where the transfiguration of Christ, our Lord, occurred. It is a holy place in Israel and it is a holy place here.”
“It’s very different than what I would have expected,” Hadlock admitted as Garamond showed him to the small golf cart.
“How so?” Garamond asked.
“It’s much more … natural. It’s very calming and it seems like you could live here forever if you wanted to.”
“That’s very well put, to be frank. This original camp was designed to ensure that if we needed to, we could survive here indefinitely. What you won’t see today are some of the things that we’ve built into the property as ‘insurance’ in the event that things really go sour with world relations. There are dozens of natural cisterns that we use to store millions of litres of purified water, we use natural and geo-thermal powered refrigeration to provide for several decades of living and the entire complex is powered by renewable energy sources that surround the mountain.”
“A bit of heresy coming from an oil-man, don’t you think?” Hadlock asked naively.
Garamond looked at him for a couple of heart beats and finally said, “what do they say on ‘the street’, Simon?” he asked and without waiting for an answer he said, “the dealer never partakes of his product.”
“True, true. In fact, I’m sure I’ll come across some of the technologies that we’ve suppressed all these years in order to ensure that our oil and gas residuals continue to pay out,” Hadlock added with a grin.
“This mountain produces more energy than a few small nuclear power plants, but the general public can never know that. In fact, if the general public knew how easy it was to harness the earth’s renewable energy, we’d have riots on our hands. That said, there’s a solar and wind production field that you may have noticed close to the helicopter pad. In addition to this, we tapped several hundred pipes deep into the mountain to obtain an endless supply of geo-thermal energy. It is an icon of sustainability and if the greenies ever found out, I’d be the laughing stock of the planet because of the hypocrisy involved.”
“Of course, you know I don’t need to say this, but your secrets are my secrets,” Hadlock added in true sycophantic fashion.
As they walked towards the main compound, the most obvious site was the main tower.
“This is the Grand Tower. My father called it Casa Grande and the name seems to have stuck. It sits on the corner of the main edifice and serves a number of functions. The bridge that we’re walking on is constructed out of limestone and marble and the outside is laid with lapis lazuli, the same material that adorned the Pharoahs in their tombs. We found a massive cache of the stuff when digging for copper in Chile shortly after Pinochet came to power and we brought most of it back here. This tower could probably put that country in the black if they knew we had this stuff,” he said proudly as he tapped the stone with his hand.
“Lapis is what King Tut’s ceremonial mask was made out of, wasn’t it?” Hadlock ask, already knowing the answer.
“Absolutely. If it’s good enough for him, it’s good enough for a Garamond building. Of course, the building serves as a radio and watch tower for the security teams, but we keep that kind of activity out of site. It makes me feel like I’m in one of our prisons when there’s too many security activities going on around me,” he said as he bristled a little.
“One of the most important features of the tower is the carillon that plays using a set of two dozen bells that are programmed to chime at specific points of the year, including Christmas, Easter and several other Christian observances. They are programmed to play twelve songs in all, but could probably play many more.”
“As we pass through the tower, to the left you’ll see one of the more interesting efforts with the maintenance building, which was the original house for my father while the estate was under development. Note the work with the mosaic tiles. You can’t get that kind of work done today. Everyone charges too much here. The reality is that there’s not enough Americans to compete against each other and we have all of those distasteful unions and such that were born out of the ‘New Deal’ days.”
“Hence our plans for the balance of the year,” Hadlock started, before being cut off by Garamond.
“No need to rush into work. You just got here and I’ve still got a lot of things to show you.” Garamond continued, as he was keen on showing off the rest of the estate: “To the right, is the main entry way for the central building,” Garamond said, not wanting to spend any time on the old house.
If this had been a Grimm’s Fairy Tale, Hadlock might think he was looking at the gate for the great king or maybe wicked witch. The entrance was actually two sets of stairs that curled their way up to two massive oak doors. He guessed that each one measured about six feet by twelve feet. If the doors were open, they could easily swallow a large SUV.
“This used to be the original church for the Univists, but I’ve since managed to kick them out. During the renovations, this entryway proved its worth by allowing us to drive in a number of supply trucks,” Garamond said, seemingly guessing at Hadlock’s thoughts.
Hadlock glanced above as they stepped through the smaller service door. There was a triptych, or carved scene, at the peak of the door that showed a number of angels and characters that Hadlock could vaguely recognize.
“’The Seventh Day’ is an original work, created by a small group of local carvers in the 30s,” Garamond said as they entered the main hall. “I think my father paid a grand total of $800 for the efforts, which might seem like a lot, but he then told me they put in about 500 hours on this one project, so I think it was money well spent. It was originally placed there to remind people that they were entering holy ground and this was the place of worship. I think the artists hoped to convey the message that God had completed his work, but our work had just begun.”
“I notice that most all of buildings are made in the fashion of the Arts & Crafts movement, with some influences from Wright and even Greene & Greene,” Hadlock said, almost like a question.
“In the 1930s and 40s, these styles offered a sense of comfort to a lot of people that needed to get away from the harshness of post-modern construction. The natural lines and materials that we use give a sense of merging with the environment, something we don’t allow with some of our projects, right Hadlock?”
“Absolutely not,” Hadlock added quickly. “Doing this kind of work would really eat away at our margins.”
“But when everything’s built using a tax-free charity, then it’s a little easier to stomach. I really hope the know-it-alls in Washington never touch the tax benefits of charities in this country,” he said with a bit of a sigh. They both knew that the economic status of the Univist Church put them where they are today and put them in a position to make billions from the OMNINet.
“As we enter the main portal, we find ourselves in what used to be the original church. Note the high beams and the painstaking efforts with the wood work.
“It still seems very modest compared to some of the more elaborate churches that we’ve built for the Univists, especially down south,” Hadlock said, as he admired the construction of the building.
“I know, but these days, there’s just me and a few others to make use of the facility. To this day, this remains one of the few ‘public’ buildings of the entire complex. I use pictures of it in some of our promotional materials, mainly so that people can see how modest we are with the Church’s money.”
They both knew how condescending that remark was. Hadlock was about to find out just how extreme it actually was.
“From the back of the Church area, we enter the true estate. We were very intentional with installing a number of functional or less elaborate edifices so that few people would see that there really no limits with the final compound,” Garamond said as they walked through a number of small halls.
When they emerged on the other side, they passed through a kitchen that would have been suitable for a five-star hotel. “Despite the fact that I’ve never lifted a finger in the preparation of meals for myself, I didn’t mind the idea of spending a few dollars on a good kitchen and serving system. If I didn’t, I’d never be able to hire the right people to manage the hospitality of the estate and visitors would think we were a bunch of hicks,” Garamond said apologetically.
“I suppose it’s the cost of keeping men out of the kitchen,” Hadlock said sarcastically.
“That’s the truth!” Garamond said as they continued down another hall towards another massive oak door.
“The compound is basically broken down into 8 groups,” Garamond said as they walked towards the next building. “You’ve already seen several of the security structures, Case Grande – which includes the original house, the church and some tidbits of the hospitality complex, which I had built following the layout recommended by some friends in the hotel industry. If we’ve got time, we’ll see some of the entertainment facilities, the sleeping quarters, the Grand Assembly Hall. We won’t see the generation stations, but they’re there, believe me.”
“No doubt there sir,” Hadlock said as he followed along. “I understand you’re now using our supercollectors with the estate?”
“We just had them installed last month. Unfortunately, someone leaked a story to the internet about how these next-generation solar collectors would get us off oil within a few years, as they would be used for cars, houses and so on, but we shipped a bad batch through a subsidiary to a small company and watched them fail. The press jumped on it, as they were told to do, and the interest disappeared,” Garamond said as he circled his arms in the air like he had just made the Statue of Liberty vanish.
“It amazes me how easy it is to sustain the status quo for the public while we change the way the entire world works,” Hadlock concluded.
“Times are changing and we’ll have to cash out soon, but yes, it’s all too easy,” Garamond said with a hint of disappointment. A lion that caught a lame water buffalo would be almost as frustrated by the lack of pursuit. “Come … from the church, we’ll go outside first.”
The walked through a side door, paneled with MacIntosh stained glass and walked down through a series of wondrous, lush gardens.
Hadlock continued to look in every direction. “I’m amazed at what you’ve got growing here. Some of these plants are hardly compatible with today’s climate.”
“We produce enough energy that we can create what’s been called a virtual dome. There’s enough heat and moisture that it is pumped out into the natural environment, creating a ‘bubble’ of moderate temperatures. Geo-thermal energy is so potent we don’t have to go to the expense of building a big glass dome,” he said as he winked at Hadlock.
“Fascinating,” was all Hadlock could say.
Within a few moments, they arrived in the pool area. It was impossible for Hadlock to not gasp as he took in the scene. The sun was setting and the purple-orange array of colour was shimmering on waters in front of him and made the marble columns appear as thought they were on fire.
The outdoor pool that hugs the buildings in the back is an Olympic-class pool and is an homage to the greatest classical structures that one could imagine. It stretches far out from the main buildings, so that both the sun rise and sun set can be enjoyed while you wade around in waters that are kept at 20-degrees celcius year-round. The pool yard offers the most clear view to any of the surrounding areas, mainly because this is one of the few places where trees were cut down. Surrounding the pool are twelve great ionic columns that reach up thirty feet in the air. Marble statues of horses, eagles, lions, dragons, and symbolic creatures from the Bible like satyrs, unicorns and gryphons are nestled between each set of columns. A final, more significant statue stands at each end of the pool. One is Grant Garamond, who looks to the west and the other is a younger, less caustic looking Griffith Garamond who looks to the east. Their right arms are outstretched and they look like they could have been statues in the Coliseum or at a Youth Rally in Germany.
“The entire pool has an elaborate mosaic of gold, white and azure-blue pieces,” Garamond said as they marveled at the paradise in front of them. “At one point, I estimated that more than fifty-thousand tiles were used in the pool floor. What stands out at the bottom of the pool is a black onyx tile that is in the shape of the OMNINet logo in the middle surrounded by our family coat of arms.”
“The Garamond seal,” Hadlock admired, “It’s really quite a site.”
To see the seal out in public surprised Hadlock. It was something that Garamond did his best to conceal on most occasions, given that he uses elements of it with a number of security activities.
“The walking surface is made of marble, with heating underneath to allow users to visit the pool any time of year without having to worry about chilling their feet,” Garamond described. “twenty feet past the pool, there are snowbanks the size of the main house, but here, we’re able to enjoy the environment like it’s a spring day.”
“The pool uses an ultraviolet cleaning and filtration process that ensures that we don’t need chlorine and other chemicals. Any refuse is carried to the farms out back and is eventually converted to compost. As a result of this process, the pool actually becomes a very important source of fertilizer for the gardens.
Hadlock took a moment to turn around to see the source for the water: a twenty-foot high waterfall from a natural spring that ran 24-7 throughout the year. The initial drop fell into lagoon-like setting, which spilled again into the main pool.
“Originally, when the church was still in full use, this smaller pool was used as a baptismal font,” Garamond said. “In fact, it’s where I was baptized when I was born.”
“And just recently,” he continued, “I contemplated tapping the spring and bottling some of the water, but it just didn’t feel natural. Instead, I expanded my network of cisterns to ensure that we’d have fresh water for decades,” Garamond said as his eyes followed Hadlock’s.
“This pool is one of four that are on the estate. There’s another much smaller outdoor pool that some visitors can walk to from their room, and then there are two indoor pools that are geo-thermally heated throughout the year. It’s rare that the water gets to be below 85, and sometimes I swear, it’s like swimming in your own pee,” he said with an ugly smile.
“From here, we can see most of the entertainment complex,” Garamond said, as he pointed over the edge of the hill.
Hadlock went over to the edge of the pool yard and peered down to see a number of tennis courts, smaller buildings hidden amidst the trees and a few towers, which seemed insignificant compared to Casa Grande. The pathways that Hadlock could see were surrounded by lush gardens that looked like they were also kept ‘open’ all year round.
“We won’t have time for the entertainment gallery, but if you want to play some snooker later or watch a movie, that’s the place. I have a billiards hall capable of holding four tables – two snooker tables, two Boston tables. As you know there’s no betting allowed, but I do permit the odd ‘challenge’.”
“Down in that area is where we also keep a number of our hospitality buildings, including the stables, a few small barns, the butcher, some of the cisterns, and one of the wine cellars.”
“The theatre is where we screen a number of TV shows, movies and even a lot of ads, making sure that they are family friendly. In fact, this is where the first showing of ‘Held Back’ was done,” he said, referring to the now-popular Held Back series written by one of his close associates, Pastor Demetrius Wolf.
“With a small investment, we’ve enabled the creation of a massive industry of books, movies, TV shows, summer camps and web sites. In fact, church members are now paying more in commercial transactions related to this industry than they are in actual weekly donations. In some markets, like New York and California, we tone down the religious context a little just to boost sales to people who think it’s just great entertainment.”
“Hmmm …,” Hadlock said. “Should we touch up our filtering methods to ensure that we don’t draw any attention to our cash flow?”
“I think we’re OK for now. As you know, most of the revenues from these activities flow into the church, mainly through a bunch of creative corporate structures, so they’re protected by our favourable non-profit status. You should know: you designed most of it. If we ever have folks that are unfriendly to magical world of tax avoidance through charities, we’ll have a problem, but if that happened, we’d be living in the stone age,” Garamond chuckled.
“I didn’t tell you that a couple of weeks ago, I held a screening meeting for some of the folks with the water concern,” he said as they circled back around the fountain and stream.
“Some investors are working on plans to speed up the fundraising campaign for a water drilling charity that we’re trying to establish in China. It’ll be the next big thing. People don’t even give a shit about Africa any more, so we’re pushing them to something that seems a little more encouraging. At the same time, they walk away thinking that things are out of control in China as well. Within a few days of testing the video in some smaller markets, we saw demand at places like MegaMart drop up to 20-percent,” Garamond said.
“That sounds very promising,” Hadlock said. “I can wrap this up under some of the subsidiaries that we’ve buried in China if you like.”
“No. It has to be clean,” Garamond interrupted. “Most of those companies will be more tainted than the lead paint that they use for kids toys. The first time we’re there, it will have to be the first time we’re there. Do you follow?”
“Of course I do, sir,” Hadlock responded quickly. “I’ll make sure there’s no trail and we’ve got someone else holding the bag.”
“Good. I like that. Let’s visit the indoor pool.”
They followed a small path and entered a very humble looking doorway, at least compared to some of the features Hadlock had seen earlier on their tour.
“The indoor pool was one of the first indoor pools on the east coast, or so my father told me many years ago,” Garamond boasted as they entered the indoor spa.
“Is that so?” Hadlock answered as he gazed around in awe.
“The pool follows in the Roman tradition. The entire pool is made with a vast mosaic of tiles made from gold, marble, azure, lapis, opal and pearl. Can you imagine how many pockets we had to check at the end of each work day?”
“Shake-down city,” Hadlock added.
“It’s roughly twelve feet deep. When I finished my MBA, I brought in a diving instructor and we practiced here because it was deep enough to create modest pressure changes.”
He continued without pausing: “We didn’t have a lot of the gold that you see now, at least not until we used the ‘Asian Contagion’ to shock countries like Indonesia and the Philippines. Do you remember that?” Garamond asked.
“Of course I do,” Hadlock answered proudly, “it was one of our finest moments in economic shock. As I recall, we spread stories about how unstable these countries were, made a mint on selling their currencies short and then made another pile of cash snatching up their local businesses and government companies. Within a few years, we had swept a few hundred billion off the table. We’re starting to make another pile of cash by selling these worthless shells back to the government as they revisit nationalization.”
“That’s right. And at one point, we actually had the locals selling all of their gold possessions to bail out their government. I think the folks in the Philippines deposited more than 200 tons of gold that was then melted down and put into bricks!”
The two started laughing at their plans to fleece the poor from their crosses, watches and other family heirlooms.
“Anyways …” Garamond said after a few moments of chuckling with Hadlock. “I think about a tonne of that gold was used here when we refinished the pool in the late 90s.”
“It looks great, sir,” was all Hadlock had to say. He was starting to feel overwhelmed and finally pushed Garamond a little. “We should really start in on some of these details if we’re going to get them organized by the end of the weekend.”
“All business, aren’t you Simon?” Garamond said. We’ll to the study now. On the way there, we’ll catch a glimpse of the sleeping quarters and the Assembly Hall.
The indoor pool and spa area had a number of exits that were marked for the users. Each egress brought visitors to their rooms in what Garamond called the residence.
The first and only room they visited surprised Hadlock by how modest it seemed in comparison to everything else Garamond had shown him. His theory was that this was where Garamond spent most of his time, but not anyone else, so who would see the excess?
The room itself was very small, and had just a king-sized bed, a dresser and a large walk-in closet. The room was decorated with more tapestries, again depicting various Biblical and heroic themes.
The distinguishing features that Hadlock noticed immediately were the bed posts. These were excessively ornate, adorned with gemstones such as rubies, opal, pearl and sapphire and the collective value would have well exceeded any crown used by royalty.
“I notice that the floors are all heated,” Hadlock said, as it registered for the first time when they were in the bedroom. “Was this an original installation, or did you have them retrofitted?”
“It was a nightmare job, I tell you,” Garamond answered gruffly, as he instantly recalled some of the headaches involved. “I couldn’t come here for about six months and when I finally could, I still had to stay in the original house. It was awful!” he gasped, frustration showing through.
“Um … sorry. I didn’t mean to bring up old wounds.”
“Don’t worry about it. Parts of the system were actually here with the original building, which I had built as the main quarters when I took the lead of the church and the business. That was shortly after my father died in the 70s. We were just starting to leak stories about different energy sources, but we all know they’ve been in use for centuries, especially generation of energy from wind.”
“It was the connection of the new stuff with the old plumbing and what-not. We discovered that the pipes were galvanized and had to be ripped out and replaced with copper. The entire compound was upgraded and it cost a fortune. It think it took more than a couple of day’s work to pay off,” he said, as he winked to Hadlock knowing that with his salary, he probably had to log about two hours work to repay the entire project.
Hadlock then pointed to the dresser in the corner, hoping to change the topic. Once Garamond got going on something as inane as heating the floors, he’d be on the topic for hours. “I hope I’m not prying by asking, but who are these people?”
“The first is my mother, Mary Garamond. She died in the 1940s of natural causes. The second is Hannah, my wife. She died while giving birth to my son and daughter. You won’t recognize the third, but that’s a picture of Mary when she was little and when we didn’t hate each other.”
“Shall we move on?” Garamond asked, without dwelling on his last comment.
The only thing that Garamond didn’t show Hadlock on this visit was the passage door to the hidden array of tunnels and halls that surround the estate. Garamond and a few retired contractors are the only ones that know about them and he planned to keep it that way. One of the exits was in this room and Hadlock had nearly triggered the button to open the passage door.
As they walked back into the hall, they could overlook one of the central meeting halls. In fact, all of the eight bed rooms that were in the sleeping residence opened into a hallway that surrounded the central room below.
“All of the rooms are the same size and are fairly modest,” Garamond said with a demonstrative sweep of his arm, ”with the exception of the room on the end. It’s kept under lock and key and is only used when I have other CEOs or international leaders come to visit. I hope you don’t mind that we don’t visit it today. I’d like to get to work now.”
“I don’t mind sir,” Hadlock said smartly. “How do you get to the study from here?” Hadlock had had enough and was keen on getting to work.
“Through the Assembly Hall. I’m sorry, but I can see I’ve worn you down. I do that, but this is my domain. It means everything to me. It’s my life. Let’s go.”
They walked down to the refectory and passed back through great dining hall to get to the Assembly Hall.
“The Grand Assembly Hall, the central meeting place of the entire complex,” Garamond said. “This is the central room of the entire estate and it is focal point of the main building. It measures about seventy by thirty feet in size and most of the work has been done by the some of the finest craftsmen in the United States and elsewhere,” Garamond said as he walked towards the centre of the room.
Hadlock stood a turned in awe. Around him were the most unique statues, tapestries, paintings and carvings that he had ever seen in almost all materials he could imagine: marble, slate, wood, jade, tile, oil on canvas, and silk. He felt that the room was at its peak capacity. There were fantastic elaborate clocks on the various mantels. There was a jade statue of the winged angel, which he guessed was Michael.
The ceiling was divided by box beams made of old-growth Douglas Fir, stained a warm cocoa colour. Within the squares, elaborate scenes from the Bible were painted for all to view from the floor below. Michelangelo might have used it as inspiration, if he had not come first. There were eight panels in all, each depicting some of the better-known stories: the Creation, the First Sin, Noah on his Ark, Moses on Mount Sinai, the Sermon of the Mount, the Crucifixion of Christ, the Resurrection and the Transfiguration at Mount Tabor.
Along the walls, there were a number of tapestries, again depicting scenes from the Bible. For Hadlock, it was like visiting the Louvre.
“These tables were all manufactured by hand in England using the finest quarter-sawn white oak. It’s very difficult to get good English oak these and I think these tables pretty much finished off the good stuff,” Garamond said as his left hand glided along the top of one of the tables.
He turned and noticed that Hadlock had stopped. “I see you’re admiring the mantel,” Garamond said, as Hadlock’s eyes fixed to the centre of the interior wall of the room. The central fireplace mantel was made out of a deep rich brown and pink marble. “The marble pieces are almost twelve feet high and measure nearly eight tonnes apiece. They come from hills of Tuscany and were imported by boat in the 1940s. My father had them shipped here before World War Two while he was still supplying weapons for some of his friends associated with the Mussolini government. They were such good customers. Of course, they weren’t enemies of the US yet, but who’s an enemy when they’re busy lining our pockets with cash, hmm?” Garamond said, almost in a dream-like state.
“It’s a business model that has served us well for a long time, sir,” Hadlock added.
“At the top of each column, there are busts carved by an Italian artisan, but I can’t remember his name. One is of my father when he was young and the other is of Friedrich Hayek,” Garamond said.
“Hayek,” Garamond answered as they continued into the study. “He’s the father of neo-classical economics. I studied under him when I was going to Chicago for my MBA. He taught Milton Friedman everything he knew and dozens of other Chicago boys. Without him and his critical attack on socialism and the collectivist statists, we wouldn’t have had the prosperity that we’ve enjoyed for the last fifty years. The world would have suffocated under Keynes and all of the ‘New Deal’ bullshit that he encouraged and half the countries that are now economic basket cases would be beating the US at its own game if we hadn’t interfered.”
“Ah yes … it’s all coming back,” Hadlock said. “Without the so-called intellectual persuasion, we never would have been able to fleece some of the Latin American and East European countries the way we did through the 70s and 80s. Thank god the more sanctimonious baby boomers weren’t old enough yet and were too worried about interest rates and the price of gas to get involved with international affairs.”
“Hold that thought until we’ve settled in the study. First, you have to see these,” he said, as he yanked on a thick cord that hung from the ceiling.
With a whoosh, the great tapestries pulled away and a pair of ancient Sumerian statues stood staring the two of them down.
“From the Museum?” Hadlock asked.
“Absolutely. When Iraq was in flames in 2003, we gave very strict orders to our Greyrock teams to clean out any semblance of the old culture. Anything they couldn’t export to folks like me, they had to destroy.”
“Part of the conversion, heh?” Hadlock said.
“You can’t convert the masses when they can go running back to the way they were before we stepped in,” Garamond added confidently. “If you’re going to get a junkie off crack, you’ve got to remove the supply.”
“I don’t know if that’s the best best analogy, given that we’re neck-deep in heroin trade,” Hadlock said.
“Now Simon. You know we never, ever talk about that on US soil,” Garamond scolded.
“Of course. My apologies.” In a moment, it was like Hadlock was a foot shorter than his master, ashamed that he had ever thought it would be a good idea to mention one of the main sources of OMNINet cash flow.
They walked towards a small door in the corner of the Hall and entered a small enclosed passageway. Hadlock felt like he had to crouch compared to the vast ceilings of the other rooms as they passed through.
The study was built in the later stage of development of the compound. As they emerged into the room, it seemed fairly stark by comparison to other sites. If you had just walked into a private library in a university it wouldn’t really be much different. With the exception of the books, of course. The array of manuscripts, original documents and music scores would make any bibliophile salivate.
“Is this where you keep the …” Hadlock started as he gazed around.
“It’s right over there,” Hadlock beamed as he pointed to the corner. “One of the last original copies of the Magna Carta. I purchased it recently from a peer in Japan. It cost me more than twenty-million plus a few of my favourite paintings, but this, my friend, is what I would call an ‘ultimate possession’.”
They walked up to the display case and he thumbed the glass shield like it was his girlfriend or the body of a new Ferrari.
“What kind of security do you have on it?” Hadlock asked.
“I don’t think you want to know, but the main things: making sure that no one knows it’s here and tracking every heart beat of anyone that works in this entire complex. Now … we were talking about …”
“The transition plans, sir. Boomers are about to inherit the earth and we have to prevent it from happening. They’re too idealistic as a group and when they retire, they’ll have money, time and a desire to create a positive legacy. Our plan to carve out that wealth and bankrupt the US and China over the course of the next year starts here,” Simon Hadlock stated proudly as he thumped his legal briefcase on a sturdy desk.
“Yes … I want to make sure we do everything we can to prevent the next generation from thinking they can actually control the power that we do. If our plans are going to work, we’re going to have to hit a number of groups in the wallet,” Garamond added sternly.
“Right then. I’ll take that as my cue,” Hadlock said as he sat down at one of the desks and popped open his legal case. “I’ve got all of the documents here for the IPO, as well as some of our talking points for the next big annual meetings, which is just a few weeks away.”
“Excellent,” Garamond said with a sneer. “Let’s review our plans then, shall we?”
(Note: "Excited Delirium" is a work of fiction. Any person, place or thing depicted in this work of fiction is also a work of fiction. Any relation of these subjects or characters to real locations, people or things are an unintentional coincidence.)
Excited Delirium by Liam Young is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.5 Canada License .
Based on a work at www.exciteddelirium.ca .