Saturday, 11 April 2015

Chapter one (segment six), twenty four years earlier, April, Ulf

Two days later he received one of those phone calls. In school. Luckily it came during a break, or the teacher would likely have gone ballistic. As it was it only served to undermine his persona as a member of geek squad.

“Ulf Hammargren speaking,” he answered in English.

He listened to the request while he walked up to the blackboard.

“My fee as a temporary employee is 5000 hourly. If you want to sign me up as an independent contractor it's 10000 hourly. Minimum one hour whenever I initiate work.”

He started taking notes on the blackboard, fervently wishing it had been a proper whiteboard instead. Sure, the chalk felt nostalgic in his hands, but it was a poor substitute for a set of differently coloured whiteboard markers.

“Yes, that's correct. I'm sorry, but that part isn't open for negotiation. I've received too many urgent emails and phone calls forcing me to be on standby.”

He jotted down the main outline of what the other party wanted. Pacing back and forth in front of the blackboard he quickly estimated the scope.

“Twenty hours, including lectures. I'll bring a chaperone who stands in as contractee on my part.”

The blackboard showed a schedule for a day of preparation, two workshops, two lectures and a few hours to wrap it all up.

“Eh, yes, you'll be billed separately for the chaperone. I don't employ any personnel.”

Ulf wiped all superfluous data from the blackboard.

“Thank you. You'll receive a formal offer later today. I'm available from next week, but I strongly suggest we schedule the events for next month.”

With that the phone call was done, and Ulf photographed the blackboard.

When he was about to wipe it clean he heard the murmur from the classroom. Bloody hell, they heard my business voice! In English to boot. My act is falling apart quickly now. People were certain to start talking. He had to act quickly to get the club set up before he broke the 3:1 monopoly on rumours.

Behind him his classmates had already started talking. It was only his perceived being a geek that prevented any of them from approaching him directly.

If I can keep it together until summer break. That was probably the outer limit. Sooner or later they'd find out he worked part time as a management consultant. And eventually they would learn of the exorbitant fees he charged returning customers. Between 30 and 50 thousand yen per hour.

If the teachers found out he averaged well over half a million yen a month there would be hell to pay. Worst of all, Amaya would find out he paid for the extra security she believed was part of the increased rent. He didn't want that. She needed to feel that she could care for both of them.

Daughter mine, you always try to be my mother. I'll keep you safe. I won't lose you as well. His legal guardian, his daughter.

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