Copyright© 2022 by Lazlo Zalezac
In the process of selling the idea of their filtration system, Jake and John Widmeir had made two interesting discoveries. The first was that Betsy Carter had almost limitless energy. They had been told that, but seeing was believing. She could keep going long after everyone else collapsed from exhaustion.
There had been one funny little incident in which a cocksure kid had thought he could keep up with her, in the workout room of the hotel. She had walked out bubbly and full of energy, leaving him sprawled out on the floor in total collapse. She hadn’t even noticed that he’d been competing with her!
The second thing that they discovered, was that she was a far sharper businesswoman than they had imagined. She dealt fairly with people, but always made sure that it wasn’t at the sacrifice of her interests. She could negotiate with the hardest nosed businessman without losing her cool, while making him work for everything he got. Anyone who tried to slip something past her was told, ‘Thank you, but no thank you,’ and sent on his or her way. They were left with the knowledge that she would never do business with him or her in the future.
To the casual observer, her work style appeared scatterbrained. She would order someone to do something, and then change the subject. In fact, she was stating exactly what she wanted, with the expectation that the individual charged with the task would get it done. She didn’t manage people, so much as aim them at a target. She’d meet with them at critical decision points, maintaining control in that manner.
They learned that she had invested in a re-breather when she was younger. Everyone involved in that deal, wanted in on this one. They had watched while people called, one after the other, wanting details of the opportunity she was pursuing. An accounting firm had called, seeking a contract to provide accounting services. Law firms made offers that were incredibly generous. Even suppliers of parts for the re-breather had contacted her; either to invest in the company, or to serve as a supplier of parts for it.
The one thing that impressed the two brothers more than anything was her frank assessment of her own limitations. When she didn’t know something, she admitted it, and then found someone who did know it. She wasn’t embarrassed by her ignorance about a topic, but accepted it. Then she went on to learn from those who were experts.
In less than a week, Betsy had managed to put together a group of investors, navigate the intricacies of incorporating Widmeir Aquatics. She had set up a deal to install an experimental version of their invention for a new shark tank, at a small public aquarium. The funding she had put together was just above the amount identified in the business plan. The company had a management team in place, along with supporting companies that could meet the accounting and legal needs of the business. It had all been wrapped up less than an hour earlier.
The two brothers were shocked by the degree of control they retained over the company. Investors had a reputation of putting in a management structure that would eventually rid the founders of any and all control. Betsy had set up a structure that protected them while bringing in an experienced management team.
They had expected accountants to run the business, but she had found engineers with business experience. She believed that engineers understood running an engineering firm better than accountants. She had told them that an accountant would run a cost-benefit analysis that cost twenty thousand dollars, to determine whether a defect should be corrected. While an engineer would spend the five thousand dollar necessary to correct the defect.
Despite all of her hard work and money, Betsy had only taken ten percent ownership of the company in voting shares. The other investors had a larger share of it than her, but the two brothers retained the majority interest. It was more than what either brother had expected.
At the moment, Jake and John were waiting for her to come down from her hotel room so that they could take her out for a celebratory dinner. This evening was the only chance they would have to thank her for all of her efforts on their behalf since they were flying home the next day. They had a lot of work to do and they were ready to get started on it.
Jake said, “This is going to sound weird, but that plane crash was the luckiest thing to ever happen to us.”
“It does sound weird. I have to agree with you on that, though,” John said still finding it hard to believe the turn around of their luck.
Jake’s emotions got away from him and he hugged his brother. “We did it. We’re in business.”
John hugged him back. “This is a red letter day.”
“Yes, it is,” Jake said.
Betsy and Charlie stepped off the elevator into the hotel lobby. They spotted the two brothers and headed their way.
Charlie said, “I’m sorry about making you wait.”
“No problem,” Jake said.
Betsy said, “I’m hungry.”
“We better get going,” Charlie said to Jake.
Jake said, “We’ve got a car waiting out front.”
The four walked out the front of the hotel. Jake signaled for the car to pull up so that they could get in. John was searching his pockets for the slip of paper the concierge had given him with the name and address of the restaurant on it. Charlie was double checking the amount of time that would be required to get to the airport in the morning.
Betsy heard a noise that sounded like a woman sobbing. She looked over in the direction from which it had come. A woman, wearing a top that covered nothing, and a skirt that covered little more, limped around the corner of the building. She made it to Betsy, and collapsed at her feet. Her right eye was swollen, her left cheek was discolored, her lower lip was split, and there were hand marks on her arms.
Jake, John, and Charlie turned to see what was happening. They all stared at the woman, not believing their eyes. This was a high end hotel. One did not expect a woman in that condition to bother the guests. They were not the only ones who had noticed the woman. The valet had made a gesture into the hotel summoning help, and then had hurried over towards the woman.
The valet froze upon spotting the very large man who had just come around the corner. The man had to be 6’5” and three hundred pounds of ugly muscle with fists the size of hams. The terrified woman tried to get away upon seeing him, but she couldn’t get up.
Looking up at Betsy in desperation, she said, “Help me.”
Barefoot, Betsy stepped over the woman. She left the shoes she had been wearing to the steakhouse, back where she had been standing. Planting herself between the large man and the woman, she appeared to settle into place like the Rock of Gibraltar.
John was staring at the woman at Betsy’s feet, until Charlie pulled a pistol from her purse. She held it discretely out of view. He stared at the pistol, wondering where she had gotten it from. This was Canada! People didn’t carry guns around like that!
He leaned over to Charlie and whispered, “You aren’t supposed to have one of those.”
“I’ve got a permit,” Charlie replied.
Jake had noticed the large man advancing on Betsy and, in an attempt to prevent things from escalating, said, “Hey, man, we’ve called the police. You’d better get out of here before they arrive.”
Ignoring Jake, the man approached Betsy, glaring at her. He expected his large size and angry expression to send the woman running away. Larger men than she, had fled when facing him.
When she didn’t budge, he said, in a low growl, “Get out of my way.”
The big man reached out and grabbed her. When he went to pull her out of the way, he found that he was flying twenty feet through the air. He hit the ground, hard.
He clambered up, and stormed back with steam coming from his ears. He went to give her a backhand across her cheek. His hand stopped a fraction of an inch from hitting her when she grabbed his wrist. She delivered two backhanded blows; one with her right hand, and one with her left, that made his head ring like a bell.
She stood there, anchored like a rock. His attempt to hit her in the stomach was rewarded with two of the hardest blows to the stomach he had ever felt. He stumbled backwards unable to believe that a woman had been able to hit him that hard.
Convinced that if he could just get his hands on her that he would overpower her with his strength, he charged at her like a mad bull. She grabbed one of his hands, spun around, and tossed him away like yesterday’s paper. He hit a wall making a loud thud!
The man slowly regained his balance, and his control over his temper. He faced Betsy and walked forward a couple of steps. He reached into his jacket and pulled out a pistol pointing it directly at her head.
Charlie had her pistol pointed at his head, but the distance was too great for a clean shot. Too much of his body was blocked by Betsy’s body. The last thing she wanted to do was to shoot Betsy by accident. She edged to the side, moving slowly to avoid attracting attention, hoping to get into a better firing position. She bumped into John.
The man said, “Get out of the way, bitch.”
He couldn’t believe that she hadn’t run away screaming at this point. Although she was perfectly still, there was a coiled tension within her like a rattlesnake about to strike. She was staring into his eyes in a way that reminded him of a predator staring at its prey. There was something about her that made his spine tingle. His anger was replaced by a small tinge of fear.
“I’m going to have to shoot you.”
His hand quivered out of nervousness, while his finger started to pull the trigger. He then discovered his pistol had somehow jumped from his hand, into hers. Four of his front teeth had moved so that the business end of the pistol could enter his mouth.
On discovering that he was sucking on the business end of his own pistol, he pissed himself.
Betsy’s eyes had never left his.
In a soft voice, she said, “Go! Before I kill you.”
There was no doubt in anyone’s mind, that Betsy was more than willing to kill the man. He fled into the night, his mouth bleeding from where his front teeth had once been.
Throughout the entire confrontation, the young woman Betsy was protecting, had remained on the ground. She had been unable to move, paralyzed with fear. Tears had blurred her vision, lending her view of events an otherworldly feel. Her nose was filled with snot, making it difficult to breathe.
Charlie put away her gun with a trembling hand. She had been a thousandth of an ounce of pressure from firing her pistol, despite the poor quality of shot available to her. Betsy’s hand had moved so fast when she had taken the man’s pistol away, that it had been a blur. Charlie had never seen anything like it.
Jake and John had remained frozen in place watching events unfold. Both men had felt helpless in dealing with the situation. Neither man had wanted to step in front of Charlie, since she had a gun trained on the man. Neither man had thought to step back, so that she could better position herself for a clean shot. Now that it was over, they stood there feeling disgusted at themselves. Men were supposed to protect women, not the other way around.
“I’ll be back,” Betsy said after helping the young woman stand.
Betsy paused to put on her shoes while still holding the young woman upright. Jake and John exchanged glances, while Betsy led that young woman into the hotel. The two women disappeared into the elevator. Betsy had to use her card to reach the access controlled floor of the hotel.
Jake said, “She’ll be back?”
Charlie said, “You’ll hear that a lot when you’re around her.”
“How long do you think she’ll be gone?”
“Maybe five minutes,” Charlie said. “It could be a little longer. She lives on ‘Betsy time.’”
Betsy helped the young woman out of the elevator. The young woman shuffled along as if she didn’t trust her feet to leave the floor. It was actually that she couldn’t see the floor through the tears that still flowed from her eyes.
Once they reached the room, Betsy tossed a box of tissues to the woman. The woman fumbled the catch, and the box fell to the floor. She reached down to pick it up.
“Blow your nose,” Betsy said.
The woman grabbed a tissue out of the box. She blew her nose with a loud honking sound. It wasn’t very ladylike. She did find that she was able to breath a little easier.
“What’s your name?”
“Candy? Do you really expect me to believe that?” Betsy asked.
“It’s short for Candice.”
“Hello, Candice. I’m Betsy.”
“Thank you for what you did out there. All I hoped that you’d do, was help me stand up, or even call the police,” Candice said with her lower lip trembling at that memory of what had happened.
“Don’t worry about it. It was nothing,” Betsy said while going over to the little desk.
“Larry’s a big mean guy. He could have killed you,” Candice said.
“He never stood a chance,” Betsy said dismissively.
Candice had witnessed what Betsy had done. She knew that Betsy was probably right about Larry never having a chance. Betsy had tossed the man around like he was a rag doll. Candice had never seen anything like it. She still wasn’t sure that she believed what she had seen.
Betsy said, “Why don’t you go in there and take a shower? There’s a hotel bathrobe in the closet that you can use.”
“I couldn’t,” Candice said.
“You can, and you will,” Betsy said.
While Candice took a shower, Betsy picked up the hotel directory of useful numbers and flipped through its pages. This directory was for the luxury rooms only, and included many numbers not normally provided for guests. She found the number she was seeking, and made a call. After a short discussion, she hung up and made a second call.