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Great plumes of smoke escaped from one of the tanks at chemical company Hylan, Inc. in Wilmington, Delaware. Dark figures scurried off into the night. This October evening brought with it it’s own tone of terror even though Mischief Night and Halloween remained weeks away.
“I’m not paying for the lost revenue on that bridge,” CEO Canton Boller said. He stood about six feet two inches and his skin showed the color of mahogany. He was 33.
“But you must. It is your selfless duty to your fellow citizens that you repay what was taken from them,” 42-year-old Marshall Faison said. He stood at five feet nine inches and his skin color looked like licorice root.
Boller fumed with cool indignation. “This plant was sabotaged. The Authority should be paying us for losses and damages and having a bad light being reflected on Hylan. This company is the victim here and I’m going to prove it.”
“Victim? Hylan has been one of the most noxious and destructive elements in Delaware.”
“I would love to see the mountains of documents that you don’t have to backup that statement.”
“I feel it in my heart.”
“That’s not good enough. I need data, facts, truths, reality…” Boller said.
“The reality is that this plant is a danger to this community. All that the problems that it has caused is a direct result of your selfish greed.”
“You’re almost right. I am selfish and greedy. Both those are positives. I only work to make a profit. That’s it. I don’t make sure that the businesses that I associate with are able to feed their families. I don’t care about their families. I want to see dollar signs. And the obverse is true. They don’t care about my welfare, they want their product delivered in excellent time and in mint condition. I provide that for them.”
“Do you also supply flammable, noxious gas when it leaks from your plant?”
Boller scoffed. He then said, “We’re not in the business of making people sick. And no one was stricken. We supply products that sterilize medical equipment and fumigate. Our goal is to offer the best product out there not to defeat our competitors but to just be the lead in and of ourselves.”
Faison looked at his watch. “I’ve got no time for this. The Wilmington Aqua Authority will send you formal correspondence as to the procedures of shutting this plant down will continue.”
“You’re not shutting down this plant. I’ve worked here since I was eleven years old sweeping the floors. I’ve worked my way up through due diligence and tenacity.”
“You can apply those same skills in your next line of work.”
“There will be no next line of work. This is where I stand. The two decades that I’ve been working here have produced the most amount joy. Something bureaucrats like you will never understand. I had to make the money not accept the stolen dollars from tax payers. People actually had to evaluate my work and see if it was of quality.”
“And you could never be on my level.” Boller raised to his feet and buttoned his suit jacket. “I think that you should go now.”
“Our counselors are—”
“Now…” Boller said.
Faison grabbed his briefcase and shuffled out of the glass paned room.
Boller looked at the reports of the leak and studied the possible entry points that did not remain secured the night of the leak. He pored over the data, finding threads of evidence to weave a tapestry of truth for the world to pick up on and understand that this leak remained the cause of outside forces.
In the security bay which covers the entire plant, Boller found chief of loss prevention, Stokely Van, reviewing the digital video. Hours and hours of footage still just came up as a mass of miscreants with no faces disrupting the tanks and then running off into the night.
“Mr. Boller. I’ve looked at this same screen all day. There’s no way that we’re going to stop trying to catch these thugs. They’ve gotten away for this amount of time, but I’ll be damned if I let a few punks ruin the sanctity of this plant,” Van said.
Boller stayed on the word “sanctity.” Yes, thought the atheist. This is a church to spirits who wish to receive quality product. This is a place of sanctuary and solace for the productive mind. “Yes, Mr. Van. Indeed,” Boller said. He left the security bay to venture down into the stations where the day laborers toiled on machines to make the finest gas possible.
“Hey, Mr. Boller! It’s good to see you down here with the orange vests,” 27-year-old Frank Goodland said.
“Yes, it’s a privilege to be amongst you all. I see you doing smartwork down here.”
“Did they catch those savages who tried to sabotage those gas tanks?”
“Not yet. But we’re putting forth effort to ensure that they are brought to justice.”
“You know, Mr. Boller, I may not be in that glass box that you call an office, but I respect you as a man of the mind. You possess more knowledge than I and I can attest to that. That’s why I’m wearing this,” he held out the orange vest. “But I’ve been taking night classes. You know, over at the community college? I’m learning business administration. I don’t have an MBA like you, but I’m looking forward to getting it and once you retire, I’m going to take your position as CEO.”
“I appreciate your ambition. But do you see that desk up there?”
Goodland arched his head to see Boller’s desk.
“I plan on passing out on that very desk in my hundreds. I would love for you to be a competitor though. Because you’ll be more of a collaborator than anything.”
Goodland and Boller understood each other quite clear. Boller said, “Thanks for your dedication and I hope you get a doctorate in business as well one day.”
“Alright, Mr. Boller. Thanks for your time.”
Out on the street, Boller walked to his late model European sedan in the cold December wind. He moved with swiftness. Then he saw some shadows and then he moved with deftness. Armed with nothing but his tablet, he phoned for Van to come down to the lower levels of the plant.
“Get down here as quickly as you can,” Boller spoke into his smartwatch.
“Roger that, Mr. Boller,” Van said. He notified the police. On his descent down the stairs to where Boller stood, he ensured that his pistol was loaded and that he would be able to lock on his targets and shoot true.
“You’ve got to pick up the pace, Van,” Boller said.
“I’m almost there, sir.”
The next step for Boller remained an encounter with these hoodlums who sought to disrupt his business again. He approached the figures with tools in their hands. They fought to release the valves and allow the gas to leak again. Boller saw Van advance towards the miscreants. Van withdrew his pistol and flashlight.
“You are trespassing on private property,” Van said. “You will drop your weapons down on the ground, get down on your knees and interlace your fingers behind your head.”
The three members abided. But a fourth thug drew his weapon and shot Van. Boller put foot to pavement and rushed the one with the gun. He knew that the reinforced tanks would sustain a gunshot from even the highest caliber firearm. He just needed to ensure that neither of the hoods tampered with the tanks to release the gas. In the struggle the three other members stepped toward their fellow brute and Boller.
Boller, in the scuffle, was able to find the pistol and held the weapon in the faces of the four thugs. Police sirens and lights had already blared and flashed, respectively, against the chemical plant. The police apprehended the foul gang of four.
“We need a doctor over here,” said Boller, clutching Van’s arm.
“I’m okay. Honest. Make sure you get those boys.”
“Wilmington’s finest is already taking care of that.”
With a group of about forty employees gawking at the scene below, Boller assured them that they remained in safety and continue their labor. Paramedics soon found their way to the plant site.
“I’m going to make sure that you get better,” Boller said, his face straight.
“Don’t worry any about me. I’m alright,” Van said.
In a few weeks time, Van had recovered from his gunshot wound to the elbow. The round had shattered it, but he received surgery that put rods and screws and a plate in place. He waved at Boller as he headed to a meeting at the Wilmington Aqua Authority. Boller stepped with his 32-year-old caramel-colored wife and three young children to the building built by taxpayer dollars.
Mrs. Boller and the children all stayed in a room that looked like a courtroom but wasn’t. A large ceiling and bright work on the door handles and wood everywhere made the space look more imposing that it actually was. Boller sat with Faison. The latter looked perplexed while the former remained unfazed.
“It appears as though we were in the wrong. But what confuses me is how did you know that the boys who meddled with your plant would be out there at exactly the same time?”
“If I were a believer, I’d call it fate. Since I’m a proud non-believer in the theory of God, I’ll say that it was just serendipity.”
“The gas leak that cost the Authority close to a quarter of a million dollars will not be your responsibility,” Faison said gritting his teeth.
“Thank you. I’m just glad that Mr. Stokely Van is going to be alright. I couldn’t stand to see such a good man go down because of a bunch of boorish miscreants.”
Faison nodded his head. “That’s good. Like I said, the WAA will not be charging Hylan, Inc. over the gas leak which occurred on that night two months ago and the attempted leak most recently, the city of Wilmington will be awarding you the two hundred thirty eight thousand, six hundred dollars and 73 cents in damages to your reputation and any other losses that you might have incurred. Also, we will be giving you a tax break—”
“Hold, on. I don’t need a tax break. The only thing that the government should do is protect my rights. What I need is for a zero tax rate. What I need is the government to get out of my way so that I can do my work. Once my work is done, then I would be able to trade with the clientele. Your tax breaks do not entice me. How about eliminating the income tax and 99 percent of the other taxes that shackle business people and disallow them the opportunity to complete their work to the fullest? It is the State that fails the capitalists that try their damndest to do the things to better their own lives. And as a consequence, the lives of people around the world become enriched. But what matters the most is the greedy, selfish individual. The drive and ambition that it takes to make a chemical plant run, or a movie studio project, or a plane company lift its creations into the air. It is the best thing within us that can connect these disparate disciplines. All of them involve the efficacy of the mind and the power of thought to generate even a penny. Every bit of the producers who wake up to make their way in life show their pride by their own self-interest. Everyone on my payroll knows that their work is worthy and that is what makes them happy. It is the fact that they can recognize the truths and reality that is the cornerstone or their virtues. The morality of their actions lies in their ability to do whatever is in their might to use their minds. The beauty of the free market system rewards the people according to their ability not according to their needs. Contractually, the only thing that one individual should do is what he or she may within the confines of the law.”
Faison looked down at his tie and then back up again. “Thank you for your remarks, Mr. Boller.”
“It is well,” Boller said.