“What about Maven?” BT gasped as the coffee he was pouring sloshed over the lip of his mug and onto the table. “Is he alright?”
“He’s fine,” Tina assured him. “Perhaps he’s a little too fine.”
The old man rarely missed a cue but this time his head cocked sideways, puppy-like and perplexed. He sat down at the table with the others and listened as they expressed their concerns. His most trusted friends found it entirely too suspicious that when the shares first opened up to the staff, Maven was the only one with liquid funds. Of the 20% that BT allotted to his employees, Maven snatched up most of those shares.
“Are you saying he cheated you out of shares?” BT demanded. “He bought them all up and you didn’t get any?”
“Well, no…it ain’t exactly like that.” Manny answered. “Maven waited until everyone bought what little they could afford and then he bought whatever was left. It just so happens, that he still managed to buy almost 18% for himself.”
“Then I’m not sure what you’re so upset about.” BT’s response bordered on fury, his words had a harsh bite to them that rarely, if ever, bubbled to the surface. “I might have expected this kind of back-biting by some of the newcomers but from you? I’m almost regretting my choice to offer a percentage to the staff.”
BT glared at his friends accusingly, his disappointment was so palpable Clara nearly burst into tears. Yet her show of remorse did little to assuage his anger, instead it seemed to feed it.
“Is it Maven’s fault that most of you squander your earnings, rather than saving for a rainy day? Should he be penalized, or worse, scandalized because he doesn’t have a wife or children to support and therefore has more cash on hand? Wasn’t it Maven who came up with the plan to save our carnival in the first place?”
BT was on his feet, wagging his finger at them as if chastising naughty children.
“And this is how you repay him?”
He let that last accusation sink in as he stalked into the other room and returned with a briefcase. He popped the case open and withdrew certificates that he passed out to them.
“I was going to save these for a happier occasion but since you’re all so green with envy at the moment, I guess I’ll just get it over with.” BT grumbled as he thrust the sheets of paper into each of their hands. “I knew each of you had some challenges this year and that money was tight. For example, Clara your daughter gave birth. Manny, you had to have surgery. GoGo, your thieving ex wife’s lawyer took you to the cleaners. I had already allocated shares in your names out of my own pocket so…here. I never intended this to be a competition for shares. Truth be told, I never wanted any one member of our team to have the controlling interest once I’m gone because I want this place to be a joint venture. Like I’ve always said, we’re all part of a gigantic machine and each cog keeps the wheel turning; each piece vital to production.”
Racked with guilt, his friends tried to apologize but BT waved them off. He was in no mood to placate their feelings. The disappointment he felt was too strong for niceties. Instead, he ushered them to the door and went to bed. Startled to find themselves unceremoniously shoved out in the cold, they accepted Tina’s offer for a nightcap in her trailer. There was still much to discuss and it was best to do it in private.