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CHAPTER ONEWhen Grant Manners learned of his. father's death, by telegram, he was by no means sad. At thirty-two years of age, he had long since given up on his dreams of glory and great success. Though a college graduate, he had never been able to focus on a particular area of endeavor. Indeed, life often seemed a joke to the handsome young man. A cruel joke.Instead of finding a single area of endeavor, and concentrating on it, trying to find his place in the world, Grant drifted from job to job, growing bored as soon as he had mastered the position.It never took long, as he was gifted with a superior mind. Often, the dark-haired man considered his intelligence a curse. Some rude joke, designed by the gods, to test him.For the preceding six months, the young man had been collecting unemployment, and , living in a small, sparely furnished bachelor apartment in Los Angeles. The telegram, announcing his father's demise, arrived from New York. It had been sent by his father's brother, Uncle Karl, who was named executor of the will.Grant detested Uncle Karl, as much as he had detested his father, Lee. The only relative he loved was his mother. But he could hardly remember her, since she had died from peritonitis, following a ruptured appendix, when he was eighteen.He was glad his father was dead. As far as he was concerned, it was all his father's fault that his mother had died so young. The quack physician his father had hired to take care of his mother had misdiagnosed the illness. If a brighter doctor had been involved in the case, it would have simply been a standard appendectomy. And Grace Manners would have lived.It wasn't because of the money. Lee Manners was a very wealthy man. He had made several real estate killings in Manhattan, and was rich, even as Grace Manners lay dying in a public hospital, the victim of ignorance, and greed.Grant never forgave his father for the early death of his mother. He was heartened when he received the telegram. The brief message had requested his presence in New York for the funeral, and the reading of the will.He had no inclination to return to New York, however. Instead, he called an old friend, a lawyer, who lived in New Jersey. He asked his old college chum to represent him at the will reading, and to get as much for him as possible.Two days after the reading of the will, his friend called to inform him that he had been left nearly five hundred thousand dollars in cash, and nearly two million dollars in real estate holdings.Grant Manner's years of struggle were over with. He now had the money to do all the things he wanted.Being poor only troubled the handsome young man in that the lovely women he desired were always put off by the fact that he neither owned a car, or could afford a fancy apartment, or fancy clothes.He had immediate, and decisive plans for his new found wealth. In addition to designing and building his own home, purchasing a fancy automobile, and fine threads, there were numerous women he wanted to see again - in his new circumstances.But it wasn't out of love that he wanted to reconnect with the women who had rejected him during his years of struggle.It was out of revenge.We join Grant Manners the day following the news of his unexpected good fortune. He was in a bit of a shock the preceding day. He had long since resigned himself to poverty; life on the fringes of acceptable society. He hadn't counted on being left such a boon, by his hated father. Grant had always considered himself the black sheep of the family. He knew his father thought him amoral, unproductive, and a loser. Though he was surprised by the old man's unexpected benevolence, he wasn't moved to tears by his demise. Nor did he plan on flying east to attend the funeral. All was finished, in his mind.It is morning, as the handsome, and now rich, young man finishes his shower. He towels himself dry, and then tosses the threadbare towel into- the trash. There would be new towels. There would be new everything.He moves through the tiny, depressing, studio apartment. He sits on the cracked vinyl covering of the well-faded sofa. He lifts the phone, and dials the number of the only woman in Los Angeles who has given him a break - Iris, a professional prostitute."Good morning, darling," he spoke with new-found confidence. "I know it's early, but it's a lovely day. You should be up. We're going shopping. Yes, I have some money. No, I didn't rob a gas station. I inherited a rather sizeable fortune from my father. He croaked the other day. The old bastard left me much more than I ever expected. I guess it was a last minute turn of heart - you know how it is when you're dying."A lawyer friend of mine back cast is taking care of all the details," he continued. "The money is supposed to be deposited into my account, via cable, this morning. No, the money isn't being sent through a wire, silly. It's just a bank transfer. All the banks are inter-connected. You really should go back to school, Iris. I don't know how you get through life with that pea-brain of yours."I was just kidding. You don't have to get so bent out of shape. Of course I'll buy you presents now. Yes, I appreciate all that you've done for me. Yes, those other girls were rats. I have plans for them, don't you worry. No, Iris, I don't love them anymore. I hate them. Yes, you are the best. Oh, I'll buy you more than a string of pearls. You just wait and see. I'm not talking about a few measly thousand dollars - I'm talking about big bucks! Hundreds of thousands of dollars."You want to go shopping with me today? Fine. I have to stop by the bank at eleven. And then I'll come to get you. The first thing we're going to buy is a car. And I know just the one. See you in a couple of hours, my love."Grant went to the closet and pulled out a pair of faded jeans, an old work shirt, and a pair of torn sneakers. They were the best items in his wardrobe.After dressing, he left the dingy apartment on Santa Monica Boulevard, and walked to the bus stop. He watched the cars go by - the thousands of cars, which are fragments of the fleets of millions upon millions of cars - like armies of ants sweeping over the concrete paths. Cadillacs, Porsches, Mercedes, and Jaguars sped past. No longer, he thought, would he only be an observer of the fabulous American wealth. He would have a sizeable chunk of it. And he planned to flaunt it.The bus pulled over to the stop, its hydraulic brakes sounding like really powerful, mechanical farts. He entered the bus, dropped the two quarters into the little machine which swallowed money, and found a seat. He studied the faces of his fellow passengers.They looked poor. For years he had ridden the bus throughout Los Angeles. He had, during those years, felt quite comfortable in the bus, with the impoverished elderly, the young students, and those indifferent to the freedom, the symbol of the automobile.Grant no longer felt comfortable among these humble folk. He turned to stare out the window while the huge bus lumbered along Santa Monica Boulevard, stopping at every other block to load, and unload. He watched the cars go by. He held up his nose at the faded, the battered, the old, and the ugly. He only looked at the fine cars, the luxurious cars, the splendid carriages of the noble folk, among whom he now counted himself an esteemed member.When the bus pulled in front of the American Bank, where he was accustomed to cashing his welfare checks, he pulled the overhead cord and announced to the driver he wanted out. He marched up the aisle with his nose held high in the air. He felt like a king walking to his coronation.Exiting the public vehicle, Grant Manners marched across the side walk like he owned it, flung open the glass doors, and entered the bank. All eyes turned towards him. Several tellers moved their fingers towards the buzzers, hidden beneath their cash drawers, and connected to the Santa Monica Police Department. In their eyes, Grant Manners was neither heir, or king. He looked like a young man, down on his luck. The kind who might get it into his head to make a hasty withdrawal, with a gun, or knife.The bank guard, and elderly Negro, approached the young man. "May I help you?""Yeah, Pop," Grant smiled, "where is Mr. Lacy, the bank president. That's the guy I want to see.""Do you have an appointment?" he asked."In a way," Grant said. "Just show me where his office is. I'll surprise him.""That door over there leads to his office," the bank guard said. "But you'll have to speak to his secretary. Mr. Lacy is a very busy man. Unless you have an appointment ...""Don't have a coronary, Pops," he smiled, maliciously, and strolled off to the richly carved wooden door. All eyes in the bank followed his movements.Opening the door, he entered a richly decorated foyer, guarded by an executive secretary, who looked as though she could beat Grant in an arm wrestling contest."May I help you?" she asked, her steel-grey eyes peering over half-frames, eying the poorly dressed young man with suspicion."Yeah, honey," he smiled. "You just tell Lacy that Grant Manners is here to find out about his fortune and fame.""Do you have an appointment?" she said, her upper lip curling slightly, as though ready to snarl."Like I said, honey, you just tell him that Grant Manners is here."She winced at his words. It was quite obvious she wasn't very fond of the poorly dressed, wise-cracking, young man. She did, however, press the intercom. "Mr. Lacy," she announced, with her eyes still focused - liked aimed revolvers - at the brash young man, "there's a, well, a man, to see you. He doesn't have an appointment. He calls himself Grant Manners. . . Yes, sir. Right away.""You may go right in," she tried to smile, but it didn't quite work. Her eye was twitching noticeably, as he passed her, throwing open the bank president's door, like it was the door to the W.C."Pleased to meet you," the blue pin-stripe suit outfitted man smiled, rising from the huge leather chair, behind the over-sized desk. "I've looked forward to your arrival. Won't you have a cigar?"He opened a cedar humidor, and offered the disheveled young man a two-dollar cigar. Grant grabbed a handful, stuffing all but one into his pocket. He lit the hand-rolled Havana with a table-top lighter.The bank president's eye began to twitch."So, Jim (Grant had noticed the bank officer's name plate on the desktop - James MacArthur-Lowell Lacy III) " he smiled, "tell me about the dough.""The money," the bank president smiled, hatefully, "is now on deposit. I presume you would like us to manage it for you, invest it.""No way, Jim," Grant puffed on the huge cigar. "Just open a checking account for me.""But there's nearly a quarter of a million dollars - all told. It would be utterly foolish to avoid the interest available on a savings account. And what about setting some aside for our investment program. We can make your money work for you.""I want to spend some," Grant said. "I don't want it all tied up in a lot of stocks and bonds. I'm not going to take it with me to the grave.""Are you dying?""You never know when the reaper is going to tap you on the shoulder, Jim," Grant sighed - feigning a philosophical disposition. But, I'll tell you, you just put a couple of hundred grand in the checking account. And make sure that you keep pumping money into it. You can do what you want with the rest - as long as you make me more money. But don't try to cheat me. If you do, I'll break your neck.""I can assure you, sir," the bank president swallowed, distastefully, "that your money is quite safe with us.""Yeah, that's what you're paid to say," he said. "But don't worry, I'll have an accountant, and a lawyer check in with you now and then to go over your books. I suddenly find myself with a lot of money. Now, I'm not saying you're a thief, pal. I just don't want to take any chances. You know what I mean?""I think I understand," the bank officer smiled. "I can start your checking account for you right now.""That's why I'm here - I want some loot."The grey-haired bank officer withdrew a large book from a desk drawer, and removed a satchel of gold-colored checks. "We assign these to our wealthiest clients.""I like the gold - a nice touch," Grant puffed clouds of cigar smoke into the bank president's face."It will take a couple of days to process personalized checks," Mr. Lacy smiled, trying to control his temper, while feeling the gastric juices in his stomach inflame his chronic ulcer. "In the meantime, these should suffice. I have here, as well, a letter of credit, signed by me, and bearing the American Bank's official seal.""Give me the goodies," Grant said, grabbing the checks and letter of credit from the bank president's hand. "This will be enough for a few days. But get those personalized checks ready for me. Leave them with the secretary. I don't know where I'll be living. I'll call her and let her know where she can deliver them. I like the gold checks. Give me plenty of them. Silver printing ought to be nice.""We don't have silver printing available sir, I'm really sorry.""Well, you'll just have to make it available, won't you?""Yes, sir."The newly rich young man rose from his chair. "Well, Jim, I have to go now. I have a hot hooker waiting for me, to help me spend the loot. You take care of yourself. I want you to make my money grow.""I'll do my best, sir," the bank president rose from his chair, and extended his hand.Grant smiled, with snotty indignation, and strolled out of the bank president's office. He walked out to the foyer, and smiled at the hostile, dykish secretary. "Thanks for all your help, honey. I'll call you tomorrow, to let you know where you can deliver my checks. I might even give you a nice tip."She smiled, as best she could, and watched, with distaste, while the jean-clad young man strolled out of the private suite, and out past the tellers, and bank guard.Out on the street, the rich young man, still without cash in his pocket, walked to the bus stop, and waited for the ride to Iris' place.The attractive blonde hooker lived in a hotel, facing the Pacific Coast Highway. From her room, where she plied her trade, one could see out across the blue Pacific.Grant knocked on the door.She opened it, dressed still in her black silk dressing gown."That was quick," she said, moving aside, to let the young man enter."When you've got money to bum, you're in a hurry," he smiled. "How come you're not dressed yet? I thought we were going to go out and spend some of my loot together.""Are you putting me on?" she scowled. "You never told me you had a father.""Everyone has a father," he said. "Mine was just a rich old cock sucker.""Honor the dead," she said. "Otherwise you'll have bad luck.""Don't feed me all that mumbo-jumbo," he said. "I don't believe that crap for an instant.""You should," she said. "It makes sense.""So, what are you doing? Take a shower, get dressed. I want to buy a car.""You are really serious, aren't you?""Of course I'm serious," he said. "I don't have the time or the inclination to fuck around. I've got some serious business to attend to. I've got a lot of things to buy. I might even buy something for you.""Let me see this money," she said, not quite a believer."I don't have any cash on me, if that's what you mean," he said. "Just some gold checks, and a letter of credit, signed by the bank president himself.""Let me see. Gold checks? Only the best customers get gold checks.""That's right, honey," he smiled. "Now that I'm worth my weight in gold - I get gold checks. It only seems right, don't you think?""I sure do, honey," she smiled,-eying the handful of blank checks, and the letter of credit. "Gee, we're rich!""What do you mean, we?""Well, haven't I been a friend to you all this time? Haven't I always given you sex without charging? When all those other dames - those rich, high class broads, wouldn't give you the time of day.""Yeah, you've been good to me, Iris," he said, putting his arm over her shoulder. And don't you worry. I'm going to look out for you as well. I'll take good care of you, honey. In fact, why don't we celebrate by having a little sex right now?""How can you think of sex at a time like this?" she exclaimed. "We should be out - buying things.""We've got the entire day to shop," he said. "For now, let's just enjoy ourselves a bit."