Chapter Twenty-One: New Premises

Jennifer and Carlos were visiting a building in which the real estate agent hoped to rent space to Remesa Banking Company.

“The important thing is to be able to expand.” Carlos explained.

Jennifer said, “Yes, Remesa Banking Company is growing very fast. We’re getting more and more remittances in every day’s mail.”

Carlos continued, “Furthermore, we’re going to be open around the clock.”

“Well,” the agent explained, “you’ll like this place. There’s vacant office space on the second floor, and a club is next door, a place that’s also open around the clock.”

The building occupied an entire city block in Manchester.

Jennifer said, “We can pay you the rent in the form of a direct deposit to your account at Remesa Banking Company. That is the most convenient way for us. You can then log onto our server and transfer the funds to any of a number of commercial banks. We are increasing the number of our correspondent banks all the time. However, you can pay your expenses by logging onto our server and transferring your money from your account to the account of anybody to whom you owe money.”

Carlos explained, “All deposits in Remesa Banking Company are backed by assets, corporate bonds that have the highest ratings from Moody’s and Standard and Poor’s. Independent auditors give us the best rating of any banking company as new as ours. We save a lot of money because we don’t need to have a mortgage loan department and a car loan department. We don’t even review loan applications, we just buy short-term corporate bonds and notes with the highest ratings.”

Jennifer added, “And no government notes.”

After touring the premises, Carlos and Jennifer could not resist visiting the club that could be their new neighbor.

“Welcome to the Valentine Club. Admission is fifteen dollars.” a man told them.

Jennifer explained, “I’m Jennifer Johnson, and this is my partner, Carlos Martínez. We’re looking at the premises next door. We’re with Remesa Banking Company and we might rent that space.”

“Oh, by all means, come right on in. Let me show you around.” the owner said, asking an employee to cover the door.

The owner gave them a tour of the Valentine Club. “Here is the table area. As you can see, lots of teenagers like to hang out in our club. Next, let me show you the dance floor. There’s a variety of the latest music, but it’s not too loud. The music comes from speakers on the wall away from the table area, so kids at the tables can chat. They can get up and play darts or billiards. We also have three small movie theaters, so we start a movie every forty-five minutes or so. The kids love it because breaking the ice is almost automatic. At first, I thought you two were a little old for this place, at this time of day.”

Jennifer asked, “What do you mean, when you say, breaking the ice is almost automatic?”

The man explained, “Well, of course, we would never think of operating a personal introduction service for minors under 18. We just happen to have the name, Valentine Club and we just happen to have a policy that management will seat you. The tables all just happen to be for two. We just happen to seat a guy in front of a girl, or a girl in front of a guy. We don’t introduce them or anything. Let’s say a girl is sipping a tonic, and she is by herself. All we do is seat the guy at the vacant seat at the same table. We do not specifically recommend to either of them whether they should start a romantic affair. Typically, even if they don’t like each other, they’ll get up and play darts or pool, and then they will ask to be reseated. We ask, ‘Together or separately?’ and if either of them says, ‘Separately, please.’ then that’s how the other one knows it’s over. The rejected one also gets reseated, and tries again. Naturally, we would not seat Carlos, at his age, at a table where a fifteen-year-old girl is sitting. The admission charge covers everything, the billiards, the darts, the beverages, the movies, fifteen dollars per admission. That way, we get away from the absurdity that the guy should buy things for the girl and create a feeling of debt. The movies give the kids some material for conversation. The employees sometimes talk to the kids who say they aren’t having much luck, giving them advice and tips.”

Jennifer said, “This sounds like an excellent way to run a business. And you’re always open?”

The man explained, “That’s right, we are open around the clock. If you look out front, you will see people getting out of taxis. A lot of people walk here. We do see different age groups at different hours.”

Carlos asked, “Do you serve alcoholic beverages?”

The man explained, “We serve beer and alcoholic punch. We have a strict policy, however, because it is good for business. Legally, we could serve anybody we want, but that would be bad for business to have people getting drunk and getting sick. If we won’t serve them alcohol, we’ll serve them the non-alcoholic brew. If you vomit, you’re barred for one week. If you misbehave, you’re out for a longer period, at the discretion of management. However, there’s nothing like sitting a guy at a table with a girl his age, to make him behave himself. Repealing the child labor laws has allowed kids to earn cash, and after work, a lot of them come here. It definitely helps keep the kids out of trouble. Sometimes we have irate parents coming in to lecture us. The morons want to rely on their daughter’s shyness as a method of birth control, to prevent teenage pregnancy. This place helps the girls get over their shyness and break the ice with the boys their age. That infuriates some parents. However, for the most part, our interests are the same as theirs. They want their kids to be safe, and so do we. On 20 February 2003, a devastating fire swept a night club in West Warwick, Rhode Island. About a hundred people died, many of them because they walked past the fire exits to use the front doors, by force of habit. Every so often, we make an announcement to our patrons that if a fire should occur, we want them to push to exit and sound alarm. Building codes only go so far. People have to use their heads, too. We don’t allow smoking, and that helps.”

Carlos wondered, “Do you get the same number of guys and girls?”

The man replied, “We target our advertising to the females. The guys know about the place, so we advertise to bring in the girls. The ads portray a girl telling another about this place. By the way, let me add that this place is educational also.”

Carlos asked, “How is that?”

The owner explained, “It’s one thing to order the kids to sit in a classroom and conjugate irregular Spanish verbs in the preterit subjunctive mode. But seat them at a table where the other one speaks Spanish, and watch them put it to practical use! They get mixed up because the Manchester native wants to dance ahorita. That means ‘right now’ in Mexico.” Then he paused to let Carlos speak.

Carlos said, “But it means ‘later’ in the Dominican Republic, so the one from my country thinks the other one wants to dance later.”

“Exactly.” the owner said. “Then there are the ones who think they are being asked if they consider themselves good looking.”

Carlos spoke again. “Because guapo and guapa mean ‘good looking’ in the text book, but they mean ‘angry’ in the Dominican Republic.”

The owner continued, “We have a lot of patrons from Brazil, and you should see the Manchester natives try to speak to them in Portuguese. Some of them actually get the hang of it, but usually they just chat in English.”

Jennifer said, “I wonder why somebody didn’t open a club like this before Operation U.S.A. Freedom.”

The man explained, “Zoning regulations would prevent it from operating in a residential area, within walking distance for a lot of the kids. They would have required a large parking lot, even though the patrons, for the most part, walk or ride in taxis. Most lawmakers were in bed with the oil companies, you see. Even before Operation U.S.A. Freedom, it was perfectly legal to serve non-alcoholic brew to people under 21, but in many establishments, management was malicious enough to impose a policy against it, often lying about it and claiming it was the law. Of course, they still can do so. But the big deterrent was that the owner would invest everything in the place and then the tyrants would pass an ordinance to shut it down, such as a curfew, or a law against midnight dancing, or a ban on all-you-can-drink beverage bars. Once the place opened, they’d go into panic mode and desperately look for some way to close it. Now, the Board of Mayor and Aldermen is on notice from the Manchester Committee for Liberty that if they pull a stunt like that, the Manchester Police Department will be exterminated promptly.”

Jennifer looked at Carlos and said, “This would be an excellent place for Steve and Yesenia to visit, especially now that Yesenia is showing. That would send out a powerful message to the other kids. The girls would be reminded what can happen, and Steve would be setting a good example for the guys, what to do if it happens.”


Copyright © 2004 Tom Alciere