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 Chapter One of the Last Resort

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T O P I C    R E V I E W
specfiction Posted - 10/26/2006 : 10:49:33
Chapter One

A gentle sea breeze ruffled the fringes of the beach umbrellas where the two men sat on the sportsman’s deck of their exclusive golf club. They looked out across the eighteenth fairway to a line of sand dunes, and beyond the dunes, the ocean glistened in the morning haze.

“The twenty million is a serious offer you say?” Dermot Bollinger asked.

“That’s just for openers, Dermot. God knows what their final offer will be.”

Mort Fiddlemore no longer referred to himself as a real estate agent. His business card described his profession as a realty analyst and property investment adviser.

“But it must be vacant possession,” Fiddlemore added. He paused momentarily to admire the gold bracelet on his wrist. “You’ll need to remove the residents and their homes from the site.”

Dermot Bollinger twirled the ice cubes in his glass of Cheval Regis with his finger. This was his third for the day and he was beginning to feel light-headed.

“What makes them think they can get the resort rezoned for high density residential development? Believe me, I tried. There’s no way the authorities will rezone that land.”

“That’s not our problem, Dermot; our objective is to find a way to get these old bastards and their crappy prefab houses off the estate.”

Bollinger glared angrily at Fiddlemore “My homes aren’t crappy, they’re well built. Christ, I pay my builders a fortune to produce the bloody things.”

“Ah yes, but you must still be making a sizeable profit from each home you sell.”

“That’s because I sell the resort, Mort, not the house,” Bollinger replied.

“But you also charge them seven grand a year to live in your resort.” Fiddlemore shook his head. “Dermot, you’re sitting on a gold mine.”

“True, but then I have to play nurse maid to a resort full of whining geriatrics, and that’s a pain in the arse.”

“Well you’ll need to resolve the problem if the sale’s to proceed. Why don’t you just tell the old bastards to take their homes and find some other residential park to live in?”

“The resorts are the marketing tool I use to sell my houses. I’ve got three other projects in various stages of development and I don’t want any bad publicity.”

“So, the question is—can your tenants and their houses be moved from Serenity Quays without a public outcry?”

Bollinger was thoughtful for a moment—an idea had begun to fester in his mind. “There is something that may work.”

Fiddlemore studied his old friend closely. They had orchestrated a number of major land deals and each had made a sizeable fortune from their association together. Fiddlemore delighted in watching his business associate mastermind some plan or project. Completely logical in his thinking, and without care or consideration for anyone or anything, Bollinger’s sole objective was to achieve the best, bottom line result. Profit was his sole motivation and his drive to make money almost equalled Fiddlemore’s own financial ambitions—almost.
Bollinger’s gaze had settled on a nearby fairway, and when he finally spoke, it was more to himself than Fiddlemore.

“I could move them all to our residential park on the Tweed Coast.”

Fiddlemore leant forward in his chair, fascinated by his friend’s comment. “How would you do that?” he asked.

“It’s a long shot, Mort, but leave it with me for a day or two and I’ll let you know what I’m planning.” Bollinger rose unsteadily to his feet. “Now, how about that game of golf. If I have another whisky, I won’t be able to see my ball.”

* * *

Felicity Grimes smiled broadly at her visitor as she meticulously arranged the few items on her highly polished desk. Felicity tended to be somewhat compulsive about her work habits, an obsession that irritated most people.

Today as always, Felicity maintained her composure despite her annoyance at being forced to open the site office forty-five minutes earlier than usual.

Felicity was the Resident Manager of Serenity Quays, a residential park on the far north coast of New South Wales. She lived in a company house near the entrance to the complex—a short distance from an imposing set of steel security gates, which protected the resort from the outside world. Attached to the front of her house was an office, and in the office window, below a large aerial photograph of the local beach, was a sign, greeting visitors to the resort. Welcome to Serenity Quays, a waterfront paradise for active retirees.

Office hours were shown on the door, but these were generally ignored because a buzzer had been provided enabling both residents and visitors to summon Felicity at any time, day or night.

Felicity disliked the man sitting opposite her—he was a troublemaker and did not respond to her broad smile or exaggerated friendly manner. She felt nervous when he was around. She sensed he knew exactly how she really felt about him and the other one hundred and thirty residents under her control. Boring old pensioners mostly who constantly complained about the resort and the way it was run. How pathetic, Felicity though. At her age, living in a demountable home in a retirement village.

Felicity’s visitor was Jack Creighton, or Major, as his friends called him. Creighton had been an officer in the Australian regular army and the title had stuck after he was discharged in the seventies. He and his wife were retired and long-term residents of Serenity Quays. Felicity could see that the Major was angry—and she knew why.

The Major was an avid golfer and played several times a week at the local country club. He bought his home in Serenity Quays because the property required little maintenance, which gave him plenty of time to play his beloved sport. Serenity Quays also had its own driving range. Originally, the driving range was nothing more than rough bushland, but the Major, with help from several of his friends, had turned the scabrous piece of land into an outstanding par three golf hole. They created the fairway, a putting green, built sand bunkers, and even planted trees on the site. The reason for the Major’s anger was the rumour the owner planned to close their golf facility and build homes on the site.

“The rumours are still persisting, Ms Grimes, that you intend to demolish our mini golf course?”

“I don’t attend the tenants’ committee meetings, Major, but I did hear some residents are concerned there is a danger from flying golf balls,” she replied.

“The subject has never been raised at any of the meetings I’ve attended, Ms Grimes.”

“As I said, Major, you’ll have to speak to the tenants’ committee about the matter.”

“The tenants’ committee is run by a bunch of lackeys. They only do what you and Bollinger tell them to do.”

Felicity Grimes looked at her visitor over the top of her glasses. “Major, comments like that could get you into serious trouble, so, for your sake, I’ll ignore what you just said.”

“I suggest, Ms Grimes, that you know what is planned.” The Major leant back in his chair. “Do you deny your boss is trying to close our one-hole golf course so he can build homes on the site?”

Felicity’s face reddened. “I told you, Major, the golf area is creating a serious danger for our tenants, and their safety is paramount…”

The Major laughed. “You don’t give a stuff about the safety of your tenants, Ms Grimes, and no one I have spoken to has any concerns about wayward golf balls. In fact, all the nearby tenants love the golf range and they will oppose your plans to build homes on the site.”

Felicity remained silent for a moment as she struggled to regain her composure, then she picked up the phone. “Please leave, Major, I don’t wish to discuss this or any other matters with you any further.” She began dialling a number. “And Major,” she said pointing at him, “I’m advising my employer you forced your way into my office out of business hours and were abusive towards me.” She managed a conciliatory smile. “And another thing, Major, I’ll be seeking a restraining order banning you from this office.”

The Major rose to leave. “Don’t bother, Ms Grimes, talking to you and your mates on the tenants’ committee is a waste of time anyway. In future, I’ll take my complaints straight to Consumer Affairs.”


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