audience, Author, customer service, customers, life lessons, money, shopping, Uncategorized, writing

First Impressions

Last week my job ordered lunch for our team from an upscale pizzeria, Buddy’s. Another location of the same chain opened about two weeks on my street and I was wondering how the food would taste. Needless to say I was disappointed. Other than the lasagna, which was delicious, the rest of the pasta was flat and tasteless and the salad looked like someone just opened one of those instant salads you can buy at the grocery store. The restaurant which could have gained me as a customer failed to impress me, so I’ll be spending my money elsewhere.

The same is true for me and my relationship with Sonic restaurants. I tried them at first three years ago when one opened around the corner from me. I ordered a chili dog and got home to discovered a bun with nothing but chili in it which completely turned me off the restaurant chain. I haven’t visited since.

These restaurant’s loss of my business is the reason first impressions are important, no matter what type of business you run.  So go all out. Don’t be shy. Dare to impress your potential clientele. If you don’t wow your customer or your reader from the start, chances are you’ve lost them for good.

 

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Drama, Fiction, ghosts, money, Murder, mystery, Paranormal, Romance, supernatural, women

The Body Hunters: Dirty Secrets, Naked Truth Excerpt-Alistair Brogan’s Murder

Enjoy a sneak peek at the first chapter in the third book in The Body Hunters series. The Body Hunters: Dirty Secrets, Naked Truths by Raven Newcastle http://amazon.com/dp/B00GOZ7ULC/

Alistair Brogan’s eyelids cracked open a little after one in the morning. Through sheer stubbornness he continued to lay there, willing himself to fall back to sleep. After nearly an hour of watching the digital digits on his alarm clock mark the passing time, Alistair gave it up. At the moment sleep wasn’t going to allow him to escape the mess of his creation.

He forced himself to sit up. He ran a hand through his tousled grey hair, which stood straight up like muddy icicles.  The space in the king size bed beside him was empty; a few blond hairs on the pillow the only trace of the high priced call girl with whom he’d spent part of the evening.  Obviously his meter had run out and she’d gone off in pursuit of the next paying client.

Alistair winced as the soles of his feet touched the frigid bedroom floor, the wood cut from some rare tree from the Amazon.  He slipped into a pair of handcrafted silk slippers, monogrammed with his initials.  He was considering not even bothering with a shower, until his own body funk assailed him.

Alistair shuffled to the bathroom with its heated tile floors, his worries heavy on his shoulders.  He gazed at his nude form in the bathroom mirror.  He didn’t look too bad for a chap well beyond the half century mark.  His eye sight had been corrected with laser surgery so he no longer required the grandfatherly glasses he used to wear.  His hair was expertly cut by a stylist known to have clipped the hairs of U.S. Presidents and heads of state.  His fingers pinched his waist, finding no trace of the love handles that had plagued him for years, his belly flat and taut like a fashion model half his age.  His unforgiving personal trainer had seen to that and the man’s exorbitant fee had been money well spent.

A personal shopper made sure that his walk in closet was overflowing with fine garments and shoes that befitted a man of his wealth and stature.  A fleet of fine automobiles filled the garage of his mansion, while a handful of servants waited on his every beck and call.  When Alistair talked, people paid attention.  Everywhere he went people knew him and wanted to be around him.  To the outside world Alistair Brogan was the picture of power and influence, but why did he feel so hollow inside?

When Alistair looked at himself in the mirror all he saw was staring back at him was the face of a con man and a thief.  Alistair Brogan, CEO of Capital Securities Associates or C.S.A. was guilty of running a Ponzi scheme.  He’d duped corporations, charities, middle class workers, and little old ladies out of billions of dollars.  Over the years, he kept telling himself that he’d go on the straight and narrow and clean up the mess he’d started, but as the years went by he only got deeper and deeper in the tar pit of his own making.

Just a few months ago, Alistair had developed a plan that would allow him to pay off all his investors back in full. The plan would take time to pay off, precious time he no longer had. Unfortunately, there was no more sand in his hour glass and two weeks ago the whole house of cards came crashing down.

A legion of FBI agents in their windbreakers descended on C.S.A.’s headquarters in Savannah in search of a paper trail.  The SEC had been investigating him for years and finally had gathered enough evidence for a warrant.  Like buzzards swooping down on a carcass, the media was all over the story.  Cameras and microphones were shoved into the faces of clueless C.S.A. employees and Alistair’s equally clueless friends and family.

Alistair was exiled from his circle of friends as soon as the news broke.  He’d gone from a VIP to the most hated man in America in mere days.  His victims now paraded outside the gate of his mansion with their torches and pitchforks, calling for the head of the monster.  His former friends treated him like he was poisonous, avoiding any contact with him.  Alistair felt like he didn’t have an ally in the world.

The arraignment was mercifully quick and his hot shot lawyer was able to get Alistair released on bond and put on house arrest.  Thankfully he was able to avoid wearing one of those awful tethers, since the lawyer negotiated the surrender of his passports.  Alistair was now confined to his luxurious seven bed room, Savannah, Georgia mansion.  With the house empty since he fired his staff, the mansion was even more like a prison.  Save for the occasional call girl, Alistair was in solitary confinement with no other human contact.

As he stood in the shower letting the steaming jets of nearly scalding water work over his exhausted muscles, Alistair reminisced over his past transgressions and his pitiful existence.

He’d never been much of a husband or father. He knew now that he was never worthy of his first wife, his one true love, Cindy Good.  She was truly a saint who’d put up with his lying and cheating for years, but even saints have their limitations.  She’d taken their children and had been living happily ever after for years.

Wife number two was a conniving temptress who was only after his money.  She’d abandoned him as soon as she’d gotten word of the charges against him and the possibility of losing everything of which she’d grown accustomed.

The disappointment in his eldest son’s face whenever he looked at him was enough to kill him. It was a wonder that Alistair Jr. didn’t change his name to avoid all association with his fallen father. Luckily he was spared the judgment of his daughter who lived in Europe with her husband and children. It was one thing to be a bad father, another to be publicly branded a crook.

How ironic that the one child he could truly lean on at this time was his problem child, his youngest son Carl, by his second wife.  It was Carl, the former drug addict, who comforted Alistair with words of wisdom and encouragement. While he was never charged with anything as serious as running a Ponzi scheme, Carl had seen the inside of a jail cell on several occasions in his relatively short life and knew what they were up against.

Ceasing the ruminations on his children and turning off the punishing spray of water using the digital touch screen panel, Alistair stepped out of the glass enclosed shower.  The scent of his musky imported body wash and shampoo lingered on his skin.  Donning just his silk bathrobe, he headed downstairs, taking in the things he’d accumulated over the years.

As he passed the baby grand piano in the living room, he reminisced on the items he’d acquired.  There was the antique Persian rug he’d acquired in Morocco, the antique vase from Malaysia, a collection of hand blown glass ornaments from Italy.  These items he cherished would soon be auctioned to the highest bidder to cover the losses that his clientele had suffered because of his schemes.  His bank accounts were already frozen and it was only a matter of time before his property was seized.

His breath caught in his throat as if he could feel the walls of justice closing in on him.  His lawyer insisted on pleading not guilty, but Alistair knew that his days were numbered.  He was guilty as sin and he was going to spend the rest of his earthly existence and part of the afterlife in a federal prison.

Trying to shake off the stress, Alistair arrived at the room containing his indoor pool.  The combination of the chlorine and the heated water made the room hot and the air hard to breathe.  Shrugging out of his robe, he stepped into the warm waters.  He swam laps around the pool until his arms and legs felt like they’d been injected with lead.  The dull pain helped to lower his anxiety level.

“Nice day for a swim, huh?”  A masked figure dressed in black emerged from the shadows, a gun gleaming in its hand.

“Wh-who are you?”  In near panic, Alistair quickly cinched the robe around his waist.

The intruder never answered, letting the sound of the gunshot speak for him. A jet of red black blood sprayed like a fountain from Alistair’s perfectly tanned neck.  He fell to his knees, his hands around his own throat, desperately attempting to stop the bleeding as his life flowed through his fingers.  Alistair’s voice was replaced by thick garbled static, the blood in his throat nearly gagging him.

The dark figure stood less than a foot from Alistair’s crouching form and pulled the trigger again.  Grey matter and blood spatter made a mess of the white tile.   Alistair collapsed in a heap.   Death overrode any modesty as his robe fell open, leaving his naked body fully exposed.  The intruder fired two more rounds into Alistair’s skull before kicking the dead man into the pool.

A murky red cloud surrounded Alistair as he floated on top of the water like an overfed goldfish.  Satisfied with their handiwork, the intruder fled the room, carefully avoiding the blood on the floor.

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call center, coworkers, finances, life lessons, manners, money, Uncategorized, workplace

The Workplace Cash Grab

For some odd reason, my co-workers always find a way to finagle me out of money. Yesterday was Boss’ Day. The team I’m on works parallel with another team and each team has its own team leader.

“Here they go again.” I mutter under my breath when I get the email, which shows up in the middle of our pay period. The folks on the other team want to collect money to get gifts for the two team leaders. They’ve even made a list of the possible Detroit Tigers ties they want to get for the male team leader, i.e. their team leader. Oh and they’ll get something nice for our female team leader too, treating her almost like a second thought. I know the game they’re playing. The gift they want to get him is expensive, so they think they’ll involve our team to get more money.

Now I don’t have a problem with the team leaders, I like them both and they’re good people. I don’t understand why they feel the need to collect money when passing an appreciation card around will do.  My coworkers ask for money more than PBS.

A month ago, we had finally had our pot luck, which had been delayed probably about five times. Now me, I go to work to work. If I want to bring a snack or something to munch on, I do that. I work a 12 p.m. to 9 p.m. shift, so I don’t like eating anything heavy, otherwise I’ll be sleepy and miserable for the rest of the evening. I’m also funny about pot lucks. Unless you let me come over and inspect and clean your kitchen, I more than likely don’t want to eat your food. I’ve seen too many of my co-workers walk out of the bathroom without washing their hands and how do I know if you don’t have animals at home that walk all over your kitchen counters? Call me a kitchen snob or anti social, but it’s just me. Anyway, I was able to get away with not participating in the pot luck and I thought I’d have a reprieve before I was hassled for money again.

Over the past year several members of my team have lost loved ones, including Von’s father and my grandmother. Our team has the routine of passing the sympathy card around and giving it to the bereaved when they return to work. Now the other team had a member who experienced a death in the family and they wanted to go all out collecting money for flowers and giving the remainder of the funds to their teammate. The members of the other team participated, but most of our team refused. No one collected money for us, so why should we give her money? Not trying to be funny, but the truth is the truth.

Earlier in the week, I got stopped by a couple people on my own team who want to have a Stuff Your Face At Work Day in the next couple weeks. These are the hungriest people I’ve ever met. We just had a pot luck only a few weeks ago. The only difference is that this event will only include our team. Why are we planning yet another meal at work? I don’t come to work to hunt up food and I’m not really interested. I use a stall tactic and say I’ll think about it and I quickly disposed of the emails pertaining to the event. Today I discovered the Stuff Your Face At Work Day falls on my off day, so they can eat all they want and I don’t have to spend a dime. Though I know that the holidays are approaching and they’ll be trying to set up yet another Stuff Your Face Day before the end of the year.

Getting back to Boss’ Day; I ignored the emails concerning the gifts hoping they’ll leave me in peace. Unfortunately they sent one of their bounty hunters out to gather more funds. I know how the game goes; I refused to participate in the pot luck, so she asks me face to face to pour on the pressure. They might as well have sent two mafia wise guys to pay me a visit because it’s the same effect. It’s one of those situations where if you refuse to cooperate, you’ll have that stigma of being antisocial or uppity, not that I care what they think anyway, but I gotta work with these people everyday. Submitting to peer pressure, I say yes, but I won’t have the money til payday.

Now before the money was collected, we got emails with all the details. Today when I come in, there are no mentions of the gifts, or what was even bought for the Team Leaders. Now I’m pissed. You take my money but you can’t send a simple email telling me what I actually paid for? They got what they wanted from me so they don’t need me any more.

Let me set the record straight; in no way am I cheap, I in fact have very expensive tastes. But it’s my money and I like spending it on what I want to spend it on. I don’t like feeling pressured that I have to spend my money on some stupid event at work, just to avoid being ostracized or fitted with the label of ‘doesn’t work well with others’. Yeah, I don’t care what they think about me, but I want to get along with the people I work with. Like everybody else, I’ve got bills and other stuff I’d rather spend my money on. I know one thing: whatever they cook up for the holiday season, if I have to pay for it, they can count me out.

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