Had a surprise at the door this morning. The bell rang about 10am and I answered it expecting to meet a delivery man with the package of deal docs Jeff had insisted on overnighting for my review, despite my insistence that I had retired/quit/forgotten how to read. But I wasn't greeted by a brown suit, or a bright yellow polo, not even the black and purple; I opened the door to find a 6' southern financial consultant named Ethan Gatte.
"Mourn-in," he drawled as I opened the door.
"Hello," I replied hesitantly as I blocked the entrance. If is accent hadn't given him away that fact that it is December and he was only wearing a blazer screamed Southern.
"He didn't tell you. Did he?! Figures," he replied shacking his head.
"Jeff sent me with the deal package for you to review."
"He said he was sending it overnight..."
"Yup, with me, so I can sit here and wait for you to review them before flying back with them at 9pm tonight."
"I'm pretty sure FedEx is cheaper, and they guarantee delivery," I replied still barring the doorway.
"Well, Jeff is paranoid enough not to care about expense. He likes to know exactly which neck to ring when things go wrong," he said as his BlackBerry started going off. "eh'lo sir. Yes sir. Speaking to her now s...yes sir. Jeff wants to have a word."
"Hired a new guy, Ethan Gatte, smart but green. Sent him with the deal package to make sure it doesn't get lost. I'm also hoping you can bring him up to speed as you do the review. The kid's a wiz with bond deals, but don't know jack about credits. Feel free to send me review notes on him too," Jeff rattled off without taking a breath. "Put Gatte back on the phone."
"Yes sir," Ethan said and rung off. "Did I pass the test? Can I come in? I've got all mah shots."
"Well, I suppose I can't leave you standing out there to get snowed on."
"But it's not snowing."
"Give it time," I said ominously as I showed him to the library.
It was one of those days when you can feel a storm coming. The weather called for a few flurries late in the day, but the morning air smelt of snow and there was a storm brewing over the lake that had already begun to darken the northern horizon. He would be lucky to fly out tomorrow, much less tonight.
I heated a pot of cider, grabbed a plate of frycakes from the kitchen and set them on the sofa table since Ethan had already coated the coffee table with the 986 pages of documents detailing who gives and takes what.
"There's no need to trouble with that," he said as I started a fire, "the room is plenty warm."
"It won't be in an hour."
He gave me an equally puzzled and bemused look and proceeded to explain which documents he laid where.
"Jeff thought my bringing the docs would help your process along. He figur'd you could review them and dictate your notes to me and I can handle compiling the report back at the office."
"Sounds good to me," I shrugged. "I really don't have the desire to write-up a deal analysis ever again."
"But how can he be developer and landlord and investor?"
"HE isn't. Jeff is the sole owner of the developer, but he, himself, is not the developer. He is also an investor in the landlord entity at 99.9%."
"Jeff as a person isn't anything to the deal. He happens to draw a paycheck and/or own a portion of three entities with three different roles in the deal."
"And that makes it 'legal'?" he asked hesitantly.
"It is all legal. Jeff is able to have his hand in on so many levels because so few people care, are willing to invest, and/or know about historic preservation and new markets credits. It is kind of sad that so few are getting rich essentially saving America. I mean this one deal alone is going to preserve an historic mill and provide jobs and housing in a forgotten neighborhood. Instead of residents staring out their front doors at the fenced in mill with it's broken windows and rusting barbed wire, there will be condos and apartments, a much need drugstore and space for several small community based businesses."
"I guess I never really paid attention to what happens after a deal closes. What impact it has," Ethan said with a shiver. "You were right, it has gotten colder."
"There is a sweater on the chair by the window," I replied nose still buried in the CDE operating agreement.
He was dressed for December in Charlotte; 45-50 degrees, sunny with a light breeze. December in Brighton, however, is 30-35 degrees, cloudy with impending snows. An oxford shirt, khakis, and cotton socks had no chance of holding the heat in. I had opted for a turtleneck, Irish wool cardigan, cords, knee socks and wool clogs that morning in anticipation of the cold.
Ethan walked over to the desk by the window and took an old fisherman's sweater from the chair. It is from my collection of clothes stolen from my father's closet. Most of it is old oxford shirts that his belly out grew, but every once in awhile I would luck into something like the sweater. Dad had picked it up on a trip to Ireland, and would wear it on crisp fall afternoons raking leaves or reading on the porch. That is until he got his elbow caught on a rose bush and not realizing snapped the rake in his hands across the ground tear a chunk from the sweater. Dad, being Dad, had his sister send him a new sweater and I pulled the torn one from the bin. A little darning and matching leather elbow patches and it was better than new.
"Just my size," Ethan said holding the sweater up in front of himself. "I thought you said you didn't know I was coming?"
It was a perfect fit on him, not hiding his hands and grazing his thighs like it did on me. I suggested we take a break while I heated some soup for lunch and put a pot on the fire for tea.
"Are you really boiling water in the fireplace?"
"Why not!? The fire is already going and we wont need the tea until after lunch. Why waste the stove on that?"
"It's just that it is kind of, no VERY, old fashioned."
"It's all the cold up here. Life is better preserved in the snow. I did heat the soup in the microwave if that makes you feel any better. Also, it is much colder in the kitchen and I didn't want to spend any more time out there than necessary. There is still a wicked draft from the porch I need to fix."
"God is good. God is great. Thank you for the food on my plate," Ethan recited. "Sorry for being rude. I don't always think about what I am saying."
"No worries. I am a little odd anyway. None of my friends would hang a pot over a fire. They would turn on the stove, nuke water in a Pyrex or just go out for tea. I'm the only one I know daft enough to do 87% of the things I do."
"87%?" he asked.
"Completely arbitrary. Just liked the way it rolled off the tongue."