"Is there any one piece of over-all guidance," Alex asked, "that you'd give to people with money to invest or save?" "Absolutely, yes, take care of it yourself." "Supposing it's someone who doesn't know…"
"Then find out. Learning isn't all that hard, and looking after your own money can be fun. Listen to advice, of course, though be skeptical and wary, and selective about which advice you take. After a while you'll learn whom to trust, and not. Read widely, including newsletters like mine. But never give anyone else the right to make decisions for you. Especially that means stockbrokers, who represent the fastest way to lose what you already have, and bank trust departments." "You don't like trust departments?"
"Dammit, Alex, you know perfectly well the record of yours and other banks is awful. Big trust accounts get individual service of a sort. Medium and small ones are either in a general pot or are handled by low-salaried incompetents who can't tell a bull market from bearshit."
Alex grimaced, but didn't protest. HE knew too well that with a few honorable exceptions what Lewis had said was true.
Sipping their cognac in the smoke-filled room, both men were silent. Alex turned the pages of the latest Newsletter, skimming its contents, which he would read in detail later, As usual, some material was technical Chartwise we appear to be off on the 3rd leg of the bear mkt. The 200 day mvg avg has been broken in all 3 DJ averages which are in perfect downside synchronization. The AD line is crashing.
More simple was:
Recommended mix of currencies:
Swiss Francs 40%
Dutch Guilders 25%
Deutsche marks 20%
Canadian Dollars 10%
Austrian Schillings 5%
- U.S. Dollars 0%
Also, Lewis advised his readers, they should continue to hold 40% of total assets in gold bullion, gold coins and gold raining shares.
A regular column listed international securities to trade or hold. Alex's eye ran down the "buy" and "hold" lists, then the "sell." He stopped sharply at: "Supranational sell immediately at market."
"Lewis, this Supranational item why sell Supranational? And 'immediately at market'? You've had it for years as a 'long-term hold.'"
His host considered before answering. "I'm uneasy about SuNatCo. I'm getting too many fragments of negative information from unrelated sources. Some rumors about big losses which haven't been reported. Also stories of sharp accounting practices among subsidiaries. An unconfirmed story out of Washington that Big George Quartermain is shopping for a Lockheed-type subsidy. What it amounts to is maybe maybe not… shoal waters ahead. As a precaution, I prefer my people out."
"But everything you've said is rumor and shadow. You can hear it about any company. Where's the substance?"
"There is none. My 'sell' recommendation is on instinct. There are times I act on it. This is one." Lewis D'Orsey placed his cigar stub in an ashtray and put down his empty glass. "Shall we rejoin the ladies?"
"Yes," Alex said, and followed Lewis. But his mind was still on Supranational.
"I wouldn't have believed," Nolan Wainwright said harshly, "that you'd have the nerve to come here."
"I didn't think I would either." Miles Eastin's voice betrayed his nervousness. "I thought of coming yesterday, then decided I just couldn't. Today I hung around outside for half an hour, getting up courage to come in."
"You may call it courage. I call it gall. Now you're here, what do you want?" The two men faced each other, both standing, in Nolan Wainwright's private office.. They were sharply in contrast: the stern, black, handsome bank vice-president of security, and Eastin, the ax-convict shrunken, pale, unsure, a long way from the bright and affable assistant operations manager who had worked at FMA only eleven months ago.
Their surroundings at this moment were spartan, compared with most other departments in the bank. Here were plain painted walls and gray metal furniture, including Wainwright's desk. The floor was carpeted, but thinly and economically. The bank lavished money and artistry on revenue-producing areas. Security was not among them. "Well," Wainwright repeated, "what do you want?" "I came to see if you'll help me." 'Why should I?"
The younger man hesitated before answering, then said, still nervously, "I know you tricked me with that first confession. The night I was arrested. My lawyer said it was illegal, it could never have been used in court. You knew that. But you let me go on thinking it was a legit confession, so I signed that second one for the FBI not knowing there was any difference…"
Wainwright's eyes narrowed suspiciously. "Before I answer that, I want to know something. Are you carrying a recording device?" "No." "Why should I believe you'
Miles shrugged, then held his hands above his head in the way he had learned from law-enforcement friskings and in prison.
For a moment it seemed as if Wainwright would refuse to search him, then quickly and professionally he patted down the other man. Miles lowered his arms.
"I'm an old fox," Wainwright said. "Guys like you think they can get smart and catch someone out, then start a legal suit. So you got to be a jailhouse lawyer?" "No. All I found out about was the confession."
"All right, you've brought it up, so I'll tell you about that. Sure I knew it might not hold water legally. Sure I tricked you. And something else: In the same circumstances, I'd do the same again. You were guilty, weren't you? You were about to send the Nunez girl to jail. What difference do the niceties make?" "I only thought…"
"I know what you thought. You thought you'd come back here, and my conscience would be bleeding, and I'd be a pushover for some scheme you have or whatever else you want. Well, it isn't and I'm not."
Miles Eastin mumbled, "I had no scheme. I'm sorry I came." "What do you want?"
There was a pause while they appraised each other. Then Miles said, "A job." "Here? You must be mad."
"Why? I'd be the most honest employee the bank ever had." "Until somebody put pressure on you to steal again."
"It wouldn't happent" Briefly, a flash of Miles Eastin's former spirit surfaced. "Can't you, can't anybody, believe I've learned something? Learned about what happens when you steal. Learned never, ever, to do the same again. Don't you think there's not a temptation in the world I wouldn't resist now, rather than take a chance of going back to prison?"
Wainwright said gruffly, "What I believe or disbelieve is immaterial. The bank has policies. One is not to employ anyone with a criminal record. Even if I wanted to, I couldn't change that."
"But you could try. There are jobs, even here, where a criminal record would make no difference, where there's no way to be dishonest. Couldn't I get some kind of work like that?"
"No." Then curiosity intruded. "Why are you so keen to come back, anyway?"
"Because I can't get any kind of work, not anything, not a look-in, not a chance, anywhere else." Miles's voice faltered. "And because I'm hungry." "You're what?" "Mr. Wainwright, it's been three weeks since I came out on parole. I've been out of money for more than a week. I haven't eaten in three days. I guess I'm desperate." The voice which had faltered cracked and broke. "Coming here… having to see you, guessing what you'd say… it was the last…"
While Wainwright listened, some of the hardness left his face. Now he motioned to a chair across the room. "Sit down."
He went outside and gave his secretary five dollars. "Go to the cafeteria," he instructed. "Get two roast beef sandwiches and a pint of milk."
When he returned, Miles Eastin was still sitting where he had been told, his body slumped, his expression listless. "Has your parole officer helped?"
Miles said bitterly, "He has a case load so he told me of a hundred and seventy-five parolees. He has to see everybody once a month, and what can he do for one? There are no jobs. All he gives is warnings."
From experience, Wainwright knew what the warnings would be: Not to associate with other criminals whom Eastin might have met in prison; not to frequent known haunts of criminals. To do either, and be officially observed, would ensure a prompt return to prison. But in practice the rules were as unrealistic as they were archaic. A prisoner without financial means had the dice loaded against him so that association with others like himself was frequently his only method of survival. It was also a reason why the rate of recidivism among ax-convicts was so high. Wainwright asked, "You've really looked for work?"