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Author’s note:

I began this series in December of 2013 while I was finishing another series. At that time most of the world (including me) had not heard of Brittany Maynard. Brittany was a young, vibrant recently married woman who was diagnosed with an aggressive form of brain cancer on New Years Day 2014 and in April she was given a prognosis of six months to live. Brittany came to the world’s attention when she announced her decision to end her life by medically assisted suicide in order to spare herself and her family the nightmare that she would have otherwise had to endure as the disease progressed.

This story has thematic similarities to Brittany’s situation and I wanted to say that I wholeheartedly admire, agree with and approve of her decision. I also applaud her efforts to extend the right to make this decision to everybody. I offer my sincere condolences to her husband and family as well as to others whose lives she lovingly touched. I hope they all were inspired by the courage and dignity she exemplified in the choice that she made.

‘What we do in life echoes in eternity.’ Maximus Decimus Meridius (Gladiator)

*************************************

Have you ever wanted to go back in time and do something over again? Usually when someone feels like this it’s because they either had a wonderful experience and wish they could relive it or they want to change something because they made a mistake or were in the wrong place at the wrong time and their life has been a living hell because of it. Either way, you really need to get over this feeling because there’s a good reason why you shouldn’t and an even better reason why you can’t.

The reason you shouldn’t is philosophical. Life wouldn’t be life if you got second chances; we grow from our experiences, good and bad. In fact if you are very astute you will come to know that there is no good and bad, only consequences. An endless flow of dialectics where thesis meets antithesis and produces a synthesis that becomes another thesis that meets another antithesis to create another synthesis and so on and so on until it’s often impossible to distinguish the cause from the effect. Put a little more poetically, ‘Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing, there is a field. I will meet you there.’ A Persian poet named Jalal ad-Din Rumi said that over eight centuries ago.

The reason you can’t is physics and has to do with the second law of thermodynamics and something called entropy. The arrow of time only points one way. If you enjoy mental masturbation you can go through the wormhole with Morgan Freeman and debate the possibilities of time travel to your heart’s content. Just be prepared to meet yourself coming back.

In the 2002 production of H. G. Wells’ ‘The Time Machine’, Alexander Hartdegen invents a device for traveling through time. He uses it to go back to a time prior to his fiancé’s untimely death in order to prevent it. After a few failed attempts he gives up in desperation and reluctantly concludes gölbaşı escort that the past cannot be changed and that the death of his beloved Emma is a fait accompli and he will forever be denied a second chance to be with her. So what makes you think you’d have any better luck if you went back in time?

But you don’t need a time machine to sometimes get a second chance. Call it Karma or cosmic retribution or what goes around comes around, life can suddenly change course and put you in a situation where you make a very startling discovery: the best way to deal with something that happened in the past is to deal with it in the future.

My second chance began with a phone call, a very unexpected phone call. The last person I ever thought I would hear from again was Anne Cordet. I felt my heart skip a beat when I saw her name come up on my cell phone. Almost out of habit I clicked the answer button then wondered why she was still in my contacts. Anne has no concept of patience and will let it ring twice before terminating the call and will never leave a message. Don’t ask me why I gave a rat’s ass; I guess I was too shocked to blow her off.

“Anne, what a pleasant surprise. It’s been awhile since we spoke.”

“Carl you know damn well I’m the last person on earth you want to speak with but I’m glad you still remember to answer me quickly. I don’t have much time so I’ll be brief. I’m calling to ask you to come to a meeting that could be of great financial importance to you. Just say yes or no if you’re interested and if it’s yes I’ll send you a text message with the place and time.”

“That’s awfully kind of you to think of me…”

She cut me off with a curt, “YES OR NO CARL.”

Against my better judgment I said yes. Don’t ask me why. The call ended immediately and in less than a minute I got the text. It read as follows:

June 17, 7 PM

(An address in Manhattan)

Black Tie.

I was irrevocably committed now. Nobody stood Anne up; nobody who didn’t live to regret it that is. As usual she hadn’t given me much time. June 17 was tomorrow.

In case you’re beginning to get the impression that Anne Cordet is a first class, ball busting, ruthless, heartless bitch that regards that title as a compliment and elevates being one to a whole new level, you’re wrong. She’s much worse than that. She’s malevolent, vindictive, diabolic and borderline evil. A border she will not hesitate to cross if she feels the situation warrants it.

Anne was born with a silver spoon in her mouth, the only child of a brilliant investment banker who managed hedge funds for the ultra wealthy. With her supermodel looks her mother could have been regarded as a classic trophy wife except that, unlike her daughter, she actually possessed a heart, a personality and a conscience; traits that her father’s genes had obliterated from Anne’s constitution.

As if to spite her father for these omissions she dedicated herself from an early age to trying keçiören escort to outdo him in everything. She was a straight A student all the way through to her MBA and had joined a venture capital firm and worked her way up quickly to head the mergers and acquisitions department where she distinguished herself by becoming one of the most ruthless corporate pirates in the country. A workaholic that enjoyed nothing better than taking advantage of companies in trouble and using every underhanded method she was capable of to perform her favorite trick: the hostile takeover.

Once she got control of a company the real fun began. She used an intricately constructed formula to begin cutting high salaried staff, reducing R especially me.”

“That may have been true in the past but I’ve changed since you last saw me. I’m trying to be a kinder, gentler person now.”

“And how’s that working for you Ms. Cordet?” I said snidely.

“Please Carl don’t be so bitter. Can’t we at least be civil with each other for one evening?”

“Where did you learn that word?”

“Which one?”

“Please.”

For one fleeting second I thought I saw a hurt look on her face. I quickly dismissed it but didn’t say anything else to her.

“Carl you have a right to feel as you do but I hope you can change your opinion of me when I’ve told you why I invited you here tonight.”

“I’m all ears Anne.”

“Hmmm, cut to the chase. I hope you learned that from me Carl but for once in my life I intend to take my time telling you what I have to say to you. Before we get to that I’d like to show you around and have a glass of Champagne if it’s not asking too much.”

“Show me around? What is this place and why would I want to know what it looks like? I thought this was going to be a fancy party and this was some kind of rented venue for the rich and richer to rub elbows.”

“Actually Carl this is my home. I live here.”

“I’ll take that Champagne now if you don’t mind.”

She went to a tablet on the wall and touched it. A voice said “Yes Ms. Cordet.”

“Anthony would you bring two glasses of Champagne to the second floor living room?”

“Right away Ms. Cordet.”

“You live here? Like you own this place?”

“Yes.”

“How big is this apartment? Half a floor? A whole floor?”

“It’s not an apartment Carl. I own the whole building.”

“Jesus Anne it must be eight stories. And this has to be the most expensive land in the city. I can’t even imagine what this place is worth.”

“My father bought it before I was even born. We lived here until I went away to school. I decided to move back a year after my parents died in a plane crash.”

“I had no idea. I’ll accept your offer to see it now.”

A panel opened in one of the walls and a distinguished older man walked into the room carrying a tray with two crystal flutes filled with Champagne. He walked up to me and said, “Sir?”

I picked up one of the flutes and then he walked ankara escort over to Anne and presented the tray to her. She picked up her glass, looked at me and said, “Carl, I’d like to propose a toast. To starting over.”

I raised my glass half-heartedly enough to convey that I wasn’t enthusiastic about toasting starting anything else with her and hesitated before I took a sip of the bubbly wine. “Wow, that’s delicious. What kind of Champagne is this?”

It doesn’t have a name; it’s made by the house of Taittinger in Reims especially for their most valued friends. I stopped getting it some time ago because I cut out alcohol for a while but I’ve decided to indulge myself again so they were kind enough to send me a few cases.”

“In that case, tell Anthony not to get too far away and let’s get started with the tour.”

“You are currently on the second floor which is the main floor of the building with an entrance from the street. On the side of the stone stairway leading up from the sidewalk to that massive door you saw in the foyer is a door that leads to the first floor, which contains a basement with storage, laundry facilities, wine cellar, utilities, storm shelter, a nicely appointed exercise room, three bedrooms with baths for full time employees like Melissa and Anthony and a few other things. Below that is the garage with additional storage and parking for eight cars. I only have the one car so I sometimes lease the other parking spaces to my neighbors.”

We walked though the rest of the second floor, which had a library, a study, an office, a formal dining room that looked like something out of Buckingham Palace, a breakfast room with French doors that led down more stone stairs to a modest but impeccably landscaped back yard, and a kitchen that Wolfgang Puck would envy.

We returned to the main floor living room and went through the door to the elevator and rode up to the third floor. This was the entertaining floor. There was a complete theater with couches instead of seats where forty people could watch videos and movies on a huge screen. There was a billiard room with three tables for pocket pool, billiards and snooker, a smoking room for cigars, a fully stocked bar with stools and tables and taps for draught beer, a video room with every kind of electronic game you could imagine and four bathrooms with showers.

The fourth floor was devoted to business with conference rooms, offices, computers of every kind, bathrooms and two bedrooms for occasional out of town business clients.

The fifth, sixth and seventh floors were the bedroom floors with four suites on each floor consisting of large bedrooms, closets, sitting rooms, formal living rooms, fantastic bathrooms and small kitchens for en suite dining.

The eighth floor was the master suite. Picture Hugh Hefner’s place if he had more money and better taste. Why you would ever want to leave there is a mystery to me. On the roof was a Japanese garden. With bamboo and flowers of every kind interspersed with fountains and pagodas. In the middle of fucking New York City!

It had taken almost an hour to just walk through the place. We returned to the main floor and she led me back to the formal dining room where two places were set at the incredibly elaborate dining table.

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