Swamped a novel by Manolis Aligizakis

Posted: 10/04/2021 by vequinox in Literature


Eteo drove to his house in the Tempe subdivision of North Vancouver, jumped into the shower, and in a few minutes felt refreshed and eager to tackle some cooking. Today he would make pasta with minced turkey meat, plenty of tomato sauce, and the fresh basil he had stopped to buy from the produce store on Lonsdale Avenue, where he had been a frequent shopper for years and was greeted like a friend.  He sliced mushrooms, green peppers and a fresh tomato the size of a fist and placed them in a bowl. He chopped an onion into pieces and pushed four fingers of garlic through the garlic press.

As he sautéed the onion and garlic with some good virgin olive oil, their aroma filled the kitchen, and his mind ran back to his childhood again. He saw his mother cooking in the small hovel in the village where they lived and remembered the whole house smelling beautifully when he and Nicolas, his brother, would return from school, both very hungry. The small room that served as living room, kitchen, and bedroom, that room was all they had. The back part was where his mother cooked, and the front part was where they ate, sat, read their books, and in which, later in the night soon after the sun went down, they went to bed, the only light an oil lamp hanging from a nail on the eastern wall. And the single door with all its gaps that always let the wind pass through to chill the room from dirt floor to ceiling. Eteo remembered his mother pacing around the bed that he shared with his brother, in which one of them slept on one side and the other on the opposite side, their feet touching in the middle. He remembered playing bicycles with his brother until sleep would overtake them and those cold nights of the winter when his mother would put chairs around the bed and blankets on the backs of the chairs to shelter them from the wind and keep them warm. The memories stirred tears of tenderness and joy.

        A key turned in the lock of the front door and a moment later Alexander walked into the kitchen. He came up close to his father and kissed him on the cheek.           

“Hi, Dad.”

“Hi, Alex. How was the day?”

“It was good. I signed up for the choir.”

“The choir?” Eteo’s voice did not hide his surprise.

“Why? You don’t want me to be in the school choir?”

“No, I didn’t mean that. You can be a member of the choir if you wish, of course. I’m just surprised since you never mentioned it before.”

“All good, Dad. What’s for dinner?”

“Penne pasta with minced turkey meat and a big salad.” Eteo smiled at him.

“That’s great, Dad, your pasta is always very tasty,” Alexander said and disappeared upstairs to his room.

Eteo continued with his cooking for a few more minutes until his mobile phone rang again. Picking up, Eteo heard Herb’s excited voice blurting out, with no introduction, “It’s done, they shook hands.” He sounded almost out of breath.

“What do you mean, Herbert?”

His long-time client caught his breath and explained that the two groups he had mentioned in the morning had agreed on acquisition of the new asset. Tomorrow they would go to the attorneys to sign the letter of intent and in no more than a week the formal agreement would be in place. The new asset was a gold property in Southeast Asia, a well-advanced, explored property with a proven reserve. They would go in with a commitment to spend about two million dollars to verify the data and expand the reserve if they got lucky in their exploration.

It all sounded reasonable enough, but Eteo needed details only a few people would know.

“What are the plans?” he asked pointedly.

Herbert explained that they would announce the letter of intent at the end of the day tomorrow along with the financing that would be used to carry on with the exploration.

“A private placement of ten million at 40 cents with a two-year warrant at 50 cents.” he added. “That will give them plenty of money to do everything they need.”

“Ten million? Can we get some of that, Herb?”

“I’ll make sure of it, Eteo.” His voice betrayed his excitement. “Do the math. The stock is at 35 cents now, and it will stay below 50 for the next few days to get the approvals, etc. You know the game.”

“Thank you, Herb, I’ll work with you.”

“That’s what I want to hear, my friend,” Herbert replied. “That’s why I want you to come very early tomorrow. I want to get a few shares before the rest of the city finds out.”

“Okay Herbert, I’ll be in early I promise.”

Eteo put the phone down and went back to his food. It smelled so good by now that it made him pour a glass of red wine. He gave the sauce a good stir and went to the family room to enjoy his wine while the sauce reduced. There he ran the numbers in his mind. A junior company with ten million dollars in potential financing could easily go from junior to developed company if the management knew what they were doing. But was the group around Eddie capable of that? He had to find out. If not, Platinum Properties would create some excitement for a few weeks after the acquisition and the financing and then it would go down the sinkhole where most VSE juniors ended up. He called Herbert and asked one simple question.

“Have you heard of any new people on the horizon?”

Herbert had been in the VSE streets and back lanes all his life. He just laughed at Eteo’s question.

Huge new bunch. I’ll clue you in when we meet tomorrow. This is well structured, no worries, trust me. No worries,” he repeated. Eteo relaxed and went back to his wine and his cooking.

Eteo had met a lot of promoters over the years. They came, one could say, in various kinds. There were the street promoters, who went from brokerage to brokerage talking, presenting, coercing, manipulating, and greasing to get what they wanted. Then there were the data promoters, who sat in their offices and did a lot of phoning and mailing, mostly to get one group of people to know another group of people. In most cases the groups ended up trying to outdo one another, which mostly resulted in no success whatsoever. The mailing promoters concentrated on circulating information through large-scale mailings using lists of thousands of potential investors. These lists were products of true devotion usually compiled over many months, but the results tended to be scanty and dubious at best. Finally the financing promoters came, who not only promoted the shares of the subject company but connected the company to groups of financiers who could bring the necessary money to the table. These promoters got the best results, especially when they also worked with street promoters who ran around doing the coercing.

All these different promoters were rewarded for their efforts with relatively modest fees and a good number of shares at very reasonable prices, even sometimes for free or in the form of options. They all earned their rewards by helping junior companies get exposure, financing, and improved share prices. Some could achieve major things for a junior company. Others were just talk and big dreams but few or no results. It was not unusual for a junior company to see its

shares move from pennies, where all of them started, to dollars in a relatively short length of time, enabling their elated directors and early shareholders to make a killing. A lucky few could invest a few thousand dollars in the shares of a junior and sell them for hundreds of thousands when the promoters were successful. And of course there were plenty of examples of a company’s shares reaching a certain level only for the key people to dump millions of shares and leave naïve investors holding the bag: an empty bag of dreams and nothing else.

Herbert Swanson was a promoter of the old school. He would hit the streets and one after the other go around to all his contacts, people like Eteo, to spread the word about a particular company. If a promoter of this type knew his job, he would get each of his contacts involved at the right stage. Some liked to get involved right at the beginning when the price of the company’s stock had the highest potential even though the risk was highest at this stage as well. Others preferred to wait until the company had proven itself to a certain degree. The cost was higher at this stage, but the risk of complete failure was lower, though it could never be eliminated completely. Eteo liked to be somewhere in the middle, except when the company in question was one he had helped put together from the start. With other people’s companies, he preferred to get involved when the company was young but not totally new. He liked some risk taken off the table. It was a balanced approach that has served him well over the years. Herbert knew Eteo well and understood exactly when to invite him in on a deal. For Platinum Properties this was the right time. Eteo sensed this and, as he enjoyed his wine, began to put together a strategy for approaching his investment in it.

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