The Gate Keeper Chapter 26 (In which doubts are erased)
by Andrew Miller TBW Smith Jones Wallace Broadbent and Ndimande is an agency in crisis. Their ‘basket of boutique services’ strategy has bombed. Only a massive new project can keep the doors open – all eyes are now on the corporate tent at Mangaung. Far in the background, an emergency replacement executive PA with decades of experience makes important decisions. Interns rise, board members take unexpected steps and things begin to change…
The intern discovers the truth of ancient white wisdom, via a wild paw on the thigh…
In which doubts are erased
Vati’s lingering doubts as to the true nature of the advertising business – and hence Tim Broadbent’s general sanity – were eliminated within the space of 30 seconds. She had been summonsed by Mama E to an emergency catch up meeting with Him. If raised eyebrows are any measure of looming danger, Mama E was screaming at her on her way into his plush leather set up. Vati was entering a no prisoner zone.
He had His hands on her thigh within seconds. And it was a bare thigh. A thigh sans stockings or any kind of covering. His hand latched onto it like a wet towel. Before she even had time to scream the wet damp hungriness was shooting up the inner portion, straight to the holy land, grasping wildly. On instinct, which came from who knew where, she punched him viciously in the throat with a balled fist, and followed that with a savage nail scratch across the cheek.
And that, as they say, was that.
It was not possible to remove Vati from the team completely. They had touted her heavily with the client and she was expected to be a necessary strategic and aesthetic addition to the Mangaung venture.
That said, the scratches on His cheek and the insane pain He was experiencing when swallowing meant that He would have nothing to do with her. He demanded with every resource at His disposal that Vatiswa Magubane would sit at the very back of the bus.
She made sure to walk calmly out of his office, as if nothing untoward had taken place. She winked at Mama E in passing, then walked straight out the front door, out the four different security entrances and over the road to the Hyde Park shopping centre. She cursed summer as she walked – no more summer skirts. Ever. Regardless of climate.
Vati sat at the same table she, Tim Broadbent and sweet, gracious and kind Phil, the graphic designer and poet, had occupied on another occasion. She reviewed, in sudden and renewed seriousness, their discussion.
Tim, thanks to his elevated position at the agency, had alluded to certain elements of the great EFT / Mangaung Hip Hop and rural banking plan that were not – by any stretch of the imagination – common knowledge. To wit: the project budget would be delicately skimmed in the form of un-announced management bonuses, ala Cricket South Africa. Nothing more than a percentage point or two, of course, but with budgets heading north of a few hundred million, and with the government tender also in the mix, certain unnamed personalities involved in the project were, he winked mournfully at his two new young friends, already eyeing out properties on the coast. According to Tim, it would be a relatively simple matter for anyone to “nail the bastards.”
“You would just have to cock the trigger at the right time,” he insisted. “About an hour and a half before they announce it would be about right. Just need to set up a press conference, notify them of it and then demand what you want.”
“A million each.” Phil laughed out loud. Vati choked on her pasta.
“Sure,” said Tim. “Why not. I was think more like five hundred each, but what the hell. You only retire once.” He then launched a powerful and extended monologue on the regret of lost decades, wasted time and creativity pissed against the wall.
Now, the creepy sensation of that wet paw rocketing up her still young and relatively innocent inner thigh was all Vati needed for the debate that had been coursing through her these last few weeks to finally resolve itself. Tim Broadbent was an unlikely elder in her life – maybe even the most unlikely. He was white down to his bone marrow. He was white in ways she would never even comprehend. Nonetheless, he had spoken the truth. He had spoken from deep in his ancient white heart. It would serve her well to listen.