"...Something tells me I don't want to know anything about this Marceline Pârfait"
"Now I know I’m in trouble Poppâ, when you use my full given name. Well, by the time Uncle Phillípe put a crew together to remove the trees that broke through my glass roof, they grew another five feet. When my uncle called me at school, I knew I was in big trouble. He had to hire a high-lift crane system rigged, like the unit they used to hoist up the building’s heavy gas-fired microturbines. Except, this time they were lowering down two trees. In fact, he used the same microturbine-lift contractor to do the tree removal.”
“Perhaps you and Uncle Phillípe thought I didn’t think I needed to know about your shenanigans, Marceline. How were the charges for this work paid; I never saw an invoice?”
“In actuality, Poppâ, the plan was for Uncle Phillípe to pay for it, and then, because I gave him my bank account password he would take a monthly charge out of my travel allowance so gradually, we figured you wouldn’t notice the large expense.”
“Well, he should have informed me about the operation and expenses, and what's more; he has no right to your account.”
“Sorry Poppâ; I should have told you, but Uncle Phillípe said it would be alright; since I was busy at school, he would take care of everything. Of course, he said not to say anything to you about it.”
“Yes indeed, my brother takes care of many things I never hear about, until later or ‘til he screws it up. Then it costs our company twice as much as it should have."
"I guess I don't know the half of it Poppâ."
“It's better that way; if you knew everything your uncle has tried over the years, I would probably lose you, as you went screeming into the woods. And what's more, this is serious; don’t you realize Marceline, your uncle could have put the entire company into court with the Millennium Towers company? Also, you know what he has done, don’t you Marceline? Also your wonderful, kind and generous Uncle Phillípe, has put you in what we call in the business, a bind, a non-winnable circumstance.”
“I know, but he said he wouldn’t say anything to you or the board. He thought it best to keep my research confidential, and for me not to tell anyone because I'd need to explain the tree research and growth experiments I'm doing in my condo. Now I realize he could squeeze me at any time to get me to do other problematic tasks; at that point in the process, I couldn’t very well refuse him."
“Sorry Poppâ; although, with what I have in my bank account, I could pay the crane costs off tomorrow. But he said he was doing me a favor by letting me save my cash and bank the interest.”
“One thing I forgot to mention, Marceline, your uncle is a master at squeezing every dollar out of OPM. Do you what it means?"
"Other people's money?"
"Right again, and you now owe him big time, literally and figuratively, my dear, and he loves the situation as it now stands. I’ll bet he offered you an excellent loan rate on your time payments. You, my darling daughter, are definitely in a pickle; it's a situation I wouldn’t wish on anyone, even my worst enemy.”
"But, in actualty it is a comfortable situation, Poppâ. I never miss the amount he charges me.""Incidentally, how much did the tree removal and repair of your condominium’s greenhouse cost; and what is he charging you for this largess?”
“Forty-thousand spondoolies, to put it the local vernacular, plus ten-thousand for interest.”
“You mean dollars, don’t you Marceline. This is not a matter for levity my dear.”
“Yes Poppâ, I'm sorry; dollars. Excuse me, I was trying to lighten the mood. In total, fifty-thousand dollars; I’m paying him off at rate of five-thousand a month. Out of my ten-thousand- dollar monthly allowance, that leaves me with five.”
“So, in effect your benevolent uncle is charging you, his niece, a total interest of ten-thousand dollars; do you know what the interest rate is; try twenty-five percent? He is doing the highway-robbery swindle on you Marceline. Isn’t your rent on the penthouse condo approximately three-thousand a month?”
"Yes Poppâ, but everything is included."
"Believe me Marceline, living in New York City, everything a person needs to comfortably live on is never included."
"Uncle Phillípe says, as far as my loan to him goes, everything is taken care of with one payment per month Poppâ, he takes it automatically out of my bank account."
"Well, I should think so; my brother the leech has taken my daughter for a winter ride on the last Far Rockway Express, and figuratively, left you out there hanging around in the breeze! Tell me something Marceline, when you made the deal with your uncle, was your head on all day?"
"Well, I thought so Poppâ; why do you ask?"
"Tell me; how can you get along on two-thousand a month in New York City with parking your Corvette in a safe location near the condo?"
"Yes, I think I can do it very nicely on that amount; Johnny at the parking garage takes good care of my car when I'm not using it."
"My dear daughter, I'm quite sure the money you pay your uncle means nothing. On the other hand the loan relationship with him is putting the ball in his court. And it appears my dear you're behind it; guess what ball that is, Marceline?"
"I know Poppâ; it is the eight ball! Nevertheless, that's the deal I made and I'm sticking with it. I was in school and living on the cheap for several months after the tree removal project, so I saved my money, and I have plenty in my bank account."
"Let me tell you something Marceline, being on a fixed income and spending the way you do and giving your uncle your bank account access is dangerous. You could go to your bank or ATM one day and find out your overdrawn."
"I can pay off Uncle Phillípe any time, if he asks for all of it up front. Therefore, I'm not really under his thumb; but he says not to worry about it."
Across the miles, separating them, Marceline pictured worry lines forming across her father's forehead as he said, "Frankly, my dear when my brother says don't worry, I think very hard and then worry harder."
"But Poppâ, when the application paper work is filed and our company buys my patent, I could pay him off in one lump sum."
Over the miles between them, Marceline felt the contempt in her father's voice, as he said, "Of course you can; he knows that; and also what the patent's far-reaching commercial potentials are worth. Yet he still asks for twenty-five percent for a piddling loan. Why would he allow you to remove the one and only incentive in his bag of tricks, with which he can lord over you?"
"I never thought of it that way Poppâ; he was being so nice about the whole deal."
"My brother nice? When we get together at Villa Ėté in August we will talk more about your benighted uncle. Meanwhile, in the next few days I'll be transferring one-hundred-thousand-dollar bonus to your account for your work on your tree epigenetics research and the projected saving from your patent. Don't argue the point with me, Marceline, just pay your unctuous uncle off; do you understand?"
"Yes, I do and I will write a check him next week. I now understand Poppâ; and I must admit my uncle snookered me good. Even with all the trouble I've caused, thank you for the bonus.
“And when you do this job for him up in Humboldt County, Marceline, watch your back. There is something strange about the deal he is planning in Humboldt County, and it worries me..."
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