What Really Matters

Belinda Brown laid across the bed in her upscale apartment on Biscayne Bay thinking about how she would tell Gary that she could not let him borrow the money he wanted for an investment project he wanted to invest in along with a couple of his college buddies.

Gary Westin was a very handsome man and he knew it better than anyone else. He was charming and a smooth talker who was used to getting whatever he wanted. In addition, he was very intelligent with both academia and street smarts. He was certainly a force to be reckoned with and he never took no for an answer, not that he heard it often. He loved living in Miami which seemed like paradise after some of the harsh winters he endured living in the Midwest most of his life. He loved the sun, the beach, the balmy air, scantily clad women and the crowds which seem to include every ethnicity known to man. Ask his friends and those who knew him well and the only things they said were wrong with Gary were his extravagant ways and greedy lust for money.

Gary and Belinda had only been dating for about a year when he asked her to invest in a project he was working on with Jason and Harvey, his two best friends from college. While the two had been getting very close, Belinda did not think they were close enough or that they had known each other long enough for him to ask her for the $150,000.00 he wanted for the investment.

Belinda graduated from MIT with a degree in Electrical Engineering and was very savvy when it came to technology so she had no trouble at all finding out all the details she needed about Gary. One night after he came over for dinner and drinks and got a little too tipsy to drive home, she asked him to show her some of the details of the investment project. Thinking he was sure to get the money, Gary obliged and logged into several of his social accounts as a way to introduce Belinda to his college mates who came up with the project idea. Their proposal was to build a floating restaurant/nightclub that could also host a casino considering it would be off-shore. During this entire time, she continuously gave him wine until he finally fell asleep on the sofa. Belinda immediately went to work to check out his past history and soon discovered Gary’s ex-fiancée and also found out details about why he stood her up on the day of their wedding; apparently he wasn’t ready for that kind of responsibility. She confirmed where he went to college, who his best friend was and some of the places he liked to hang out. She also easily found his social security number on an account he logged into but forgot to log out of. Belinda was convinced she had more information than she needed so she woke Gary up, called a cab and told him she had to be in a meeting at 7:30am the next morning and thought it best that he left that night because she absolutely could not be late. Gary was in no condition to argue so he took the bait and soon Belinda was fast at work, checking his financial credentials. She was able to gain entry into all of his accounts because as she correctly assumed, he used the same password, his favorite football team, which he often talked about. Ironically, Belinda warned him about using the same password for all of his accounts earlier on in their relationship after hearing about a friend whose identity was stolen when her email was compromised.

After collecting Gary’s school and bank records, Belinda decided to also speak personally with his ex, Fiona. She thought there is nothing like a woman scorned for getting the run down on a man. Her plan was to be honest when she called up Fiona and let her know that Gary wanted to borrow a large amount of money and explain her discomfort given their short history.

The next day when she was supposed to be busy at the early morning meeting, Belinda called the cell phone number she found for Fiona and spoke to her honestly so that by the end of the conversation they had formed a bond and was looking forward to meeting each other to discuss more. To make everything seem normal, Belinda called Gary during her lunch break to let him know how her day was going and to find out about his. He told her that after work, he was meeting his friends to discuss the project and that he would call her later when he got home. This was to Belinda’s benefit because she wanted to meet with Fiona as soon as possible. Soon after hanging up with Gary, Belinda called Fiona to set up a time to meet after work over drinks at a bar near her office.

The rest of the work day seemed to drag for Belinda or perhaps she was too eagerly anticipating the meeting with Fiona. She was determined to concentrate on her work which she did and as it turned out, she had a very productive afternoon. After all, there was a promotion up for grabs and she did not want to let her personal life interfere with her career, not at this point. Soon it was five o’clock and Belinda headed for her car. As she drove the short distance to the bar, she tried to formulate the scenario she might soon find herself in as this was the first time she had ever been involved in something that seemed so sinister. In order to recognize each other, they each agreed to wear a pink flower in their hair. They immediately recognized each other and quickly found a seat near the back of the bar. Belinda normally did not frequent bars and did not want anyone she knew to see her there.

Belinda was stunned at how amazingly beautiful Fiona was and thought to herself if she couldn’t hold on to Gary what chance would a plain Jane like herself have. She became all the more interested in finding out if this man was out to get her money.

They each ordered pina coladas and before Belinda could ask any questions, Fiona started talking about Gary. She covered from the time they met until he left her standing at the altar. Fiona explained how they had known each other ever since Gary moved to Miami to take his first job with the Lady of the Sea ocean cruise liner as the manager of IT, nearly 4 years ago. Fiona worked for the same company as manager of operations. She thought it was incumbent of her to show the newbie around and teach him the ropes on the job as well as in his new hometown after all; she grew up in Miami and had worked for the company for more than 5 years.

Fiona and Gary dated for 2 years and lived together for 6 months before he popped the big question. He had taken Fiona home to meet his family on several occasions and he met all of her family in Miami. They planned to wait at least one year before starting a family and until both of them were very successful on their jobs. Fiona also told Belinda about Gary’s incessant spending sprees. He was addicted to having the best of the best in clothing and accessories and thought nothing of spending $300.00 on a shirt, $1000.00 on a watch or $500.00 on a pair of shoes. Even seeing how he had a spending problem, there were many other attributes about Gary that made Fiona fall head over heels in love with him. Gary was genuinely a kind person, he was very thoughtful and helpful; characteristics Fiona believed living in the Midwest taught him.

Fiona, like many women thought that she could live with these flaws until she could help Gary change them. Belinda thought to herself, perhaps Gary walking away at the altar was a blessing in disguise for her. Fiona, cried as she told Belinda about the engagement ring Gary bought her. Given that he liked really expensive things for himself, Fiona expected that he would buy her a really nice ring to express his love but to her surprise, Gary chose a ring and wedding band combo from Sears which cost less than $500.00. She was flabbergasted but still she stuck by his side even though she was embarrassed to show the ring to her family and friends.

By the time they finished their drinks and conversation, Belinda was feeling really sorry for Fiona, who seemed to be a very nice person. She realized that she could not give money to Gary, not now and probably not ever. Belinda was very conservative with the large estate left her by her late grandfather learned early on from her parents that she should save her money and invest wisely and given Gary’s track record with Fiona, she didn’t know if she should take the risk. The only problem was that she really was developing strong feelings for Gary so while she knew in her head it was not a good decision; her heart kept telling her something else. Belinda decided not to spend much time on the phone with Gary later that night when he called. She told him she had a really bad headache and just wanted to get some sleep.

Belinda called her father who always gave her good advice and he agreed that it was not the best thing she could do, certainly not at this point in their relationship. She also spoke with her mother who understood her desire to help him, however, she too cautioned Belinda to at least think about it long and hard before she made a decision.

Belinda decided not to think about Gary and his request for the rest of the night but instead she grabbed a pint of Haagen-Dazs butter pecan ice cream and settled in to watch her favorite movie, Anger Management.

Over the next few days, she kept her conversations with Gary short and on point promising that she would let him know soon if she could invest the money he wanted. They had plans to see each other for dinner on Sunday and she decided to make a decision that day.

When Gary arrived for dinner he looked so sexy and he was more charming than Belinda had ever seen him before. He was very kind and considerate and responded to her every whim, even massaging her feet while they waited for their dinner to finish cooking. Belinda made one of his favorite dishes too curry chicken and rice with a garden salad on the side. They were so happy that evening and because she missed seeing him those 3 days, the evening seemed exceptional. Gary who was getting very impatient with Belinda’s delays pulled out all the stops and made her feel as if she was the only woman in the world who ever mattered to him. Before they fell into bed together later than evening, Gary had a check in the full amount requested from yet another woman who could not say no to him even against her best judgment.

After the check cleared, Belinda never heard from Gary again. However, she did learn nearly 2 months later through his Facebook page that he married Fiona and bought a large home near the ocean. Belinda also saw several posts of his friends congratulating him on his impending fatherhood.

The Market

Desdemona was a very intelligent woman having just completed her doctorate from Harvard medical school with an undergrad degree from MIT in biological science. She was ready to start a career that could help her pay back the enormous student loans and offer the lifestyle that eluded her mother. Desdemona grew up watching her mother work very hard in a beauty salon and understood how important beauty and youthfulness was to a large number of women. Even though Desdemona always knew she wanted to go to medical school she didn’t realize that her mother’s career would eventually have a direct impact on her own. Desdemona came to understand that giving women an anti-aging agent that gave real results in a short amount of time could be her ticket to the life she wanted. Apparently, women were no longer content to have only firm boobs, butts, lifted faces and plump lips, they wanted to truly look as if they were still in their 20’s, they wanted un-stretched, soft, moist skin at any cost. So when she was approached by a former classmate about making a lot of money working with a young doctor in France who was perfecting such a product, she became very excited about the prospect.

The doctor in France, Dr. Francis Etienne who also happened to be the uncle of Desdemona’s classmate, Pierre, performed work in the past in which he discovered that by extracting melanin from very black skinned children in Africa and concentrating it into a soluble form it could maintain moisture in the skin and prevent wrinkles as well as reverse them. Dr. Etienne was well known in France until the methods he used leaked to the public. Extracting all of the melanin caused the children’s own skin to wrinkle considerably and they developed very light patches almost translucent in color all over their bodies. After this discovery no one wanted to publicly support Dr. Etienne who eventually was barred from practicing medicine. Because his clients were the very rich and famous who desperately wanted his product, Dr Etienne began working on the black market even thought he had serious reservations about the risks. It was common knowledge among his family that the melanin product was quite profitable and if the doctor could find a young clean-cut protégé to carry on his work, his business might just become legitimate again. This was something his family all wanted because they had already benefited quite nicely up to this point from his work. Pierre, who originally wanted to pursue his studies in France, was sent to MIT in hopes of finding someone suitable for his uncle to mentor. Based on the criteria he was given, Pierre knew right away that Desdemona was the right person; however, he took his time approaching her about the project.

When word got out among Dr. Etienne’s black market clients that he was having difficulty finding children to extract melanin from a former business associate proposed a plan for each client to adopt a black child as a way to source their product. They didn’t want to call attention to themselves so his clients slowly started adopting children from 3rd world countries. And with the potential to extract melanin from Asians although the melanin was not as strong and would not provide the best results, some of the clients adopted them as well. Some clients who were so concerned they would not have enough melanin for their use adopted several black children at a time. They also adopted Asians but not with the same vigorous pursuit as the black children.

Pierre knew he piqued Desdemona’s interest as he was well aware of her student loans and how much she talked about living the good life so he decided to invite her to France for a vacation, all expenses paid. Desdemona jumped at the opportunity to go to France. She had studied about the country and also heard firsthand from some of her friends about their trips so she definitely wanted to visit but she had no idea she would get the chance to go so soon. As the time came closer for them to travel to France, Desdemona grew increasingly excited. Initially, she was a little concerned about the long flight because she had not flown any further than a few hundred miles in any direction from her home however, the excitement of being in France made all her concerns fade away as quickly as they came and she just could not wait.

On the day they were to travel, Pierre picked up Desdemona from her apartment and they had dinner at the Nice Château before heading to the airport. He assured Desdemona that having a few drinks before and during the flight would cause her to lose all apprehensions. Desdemona was not a consumer of alcohol however she decided to throw caution to the wind and have two glasses of wine with dinner. Once aboard the plane she agreed to have several more beverages consisting of bourbon and rum drinks. It wasn’t long before it was apparent the Pierre was right because after the 3rd drink, Desdemona became very relaxed and quickly drifted off to sleep waking up only after the plane touched down in Paris.

Dr. Etienne was so anxious to meet Desdemona that he decided to pick them up from the airport, a place he had great disdain for and usually avoided due to the crowds and potential to get germs from people coming from so many different places. Upon first appearance Desdemona seemed a little awkward; Dr. Etienne thought she did not have the charisma to carry out the job. However, Pierre put his doubts to rest after he explained her fear of flying and the drinks she had to calm her nerves so the doctor agreed to reserve his opinions until he saw her at work in the laboratory.

Desdemona’s first full day in Paris was filled with all of the touristy sites and local shops and restaurants that could be crammed into one day. Pierre wanted to reserve as much time as necessary for the meetings and review of the skin renewing product. Dr. Etienne contacted one of his former associates to obtain what he called and who he would explain to Desdemona were volunteers for the work they would do her first day in the lab. He went on further to tell Desdemona the following day that the children’s parents often brought them to the lab to participate in the project because they needed the money for their families. Little did Desdemona know this was all a lie and that the children were actually going to be kidnapped. Dr. Etienne felt confident that she would never know the truth because after the extraction of the melanin there was no need to keep the children around and the effects took more than 5 days to be noticed anyway.

For as many kidnapping as there were in the area no one seemed to make the connections to Dr. Etienne’s project; they actually thought each case was random. The business associates who worked with the doctor, also known as the product hunters did a great job of inventing stories to leak to the press that witnesses saw the children eaten by wild animals or that the voodoo doctors took them. Some of the people in the communities thought these were outrageous stories, however as long as their children were not involved; they gave it little thought and seemed satisfied with the explanations for the disappearances. Dr. Etienne knew for certain that if he released the children back into the streets the lack in color and the wrinkled skin would link directly back to him.

It only took a few meetings to get Desdemona on-board with the project. She really did not seem too curious about anything other than how much money she could make. As a very intelligent person Desdemona did not ask many questions about anything. She understood the concept of the extractions, the effects it would have on the children (even though they did not discuss the effects during any of the meetings), she understood the demand and didn’t seem to mind that the doctor presently worked in the black market. And like the community people she seemed to have an attitude of complacency, as far as things affected her, she was not going to involve her emotions, she only wanted to get on with the business of making money. Desdemona’s detachment came as a surprise to Pierre who knew a different side of her from school. She was the forerunner when it came to human rights and she was anti anything that abused children and the elderly. What Pierre did not know was how great Desdemona’s desire was to escape the sub-existent life she saw her mother endure for many years when she often complained about having to stand all day on aching feet and touch some people she never would even want to have a conversation with.

Dr. Etienne, Desdemona and Pierre devised a plan to have Desdemona present the melanin extraction process as a medical breakthrough for people who suffered from chronic skin disease and debilitating sleep disorder to the French Medical Association, FMA. Because of her credentials and actual research she did in these fields at both MIT and Harvard they expected that as long as she worked very low key in France that no one would question her discoveries and if someone did they had a plan B. Dr. Etienne worked with some of the richest and most powerful people in the world who were still his clients and who were ready to twist a few arms or turn a blind eye as needed. Desdemona also went on the explain that based on the fact that Caucasians who had very little melanin in their pineal gland and who suffered no ill effect from this limitation indicated that if extractions were made from Blacks and Asians who have larger amounts they also would suffer no ill effect other than a little calcification in the pineal gland that could be corrected with diet. She also explained how the melanin had positive side effects of a deep darker tan which would protect the Caucasian race from the harsh effects of the sun. She alluded to the fact that some of the melanin could be extracted from animals reducing human contributions. And finally Desdemona provided research to show that melanin based supplements did not interfere in the genetic and DNA clean up processes underway for the new world order. This was her way of ensuring support from the highest echelons of government as explained to her by Dr. Etienne.

Less than two weeks after the initial meeting with the FMA, Desdemona and her team were given the green light to proceed with their work. At last, Dr. Etienne was once again able to work legitimately even though his role had to be as scientist and researcher which he did not mind because with the assistance of one of the most prolific world leaders he was able to get a patent on the product which he named, Melamins. The plan was to market Melamins as a health care supplement so his clients would not need a prescription to get it. In order to provide the product to the mass population, he made Melamins from the melanin of dark skinned black, which sold at an astounding price of $500.00 a bottle for a 30 day supply and a lesser strength version from the melanin of Asians which he called Melamins-lite and which cost only $99.00 a bottle for a 30 day supply. To fully understand the potential for financial success, Dr. Etienne could extract enough melanin from one child to supply one customer for a year.

After all the rich and famous people raved about the effects of Melamins the not so rich decided they needed it too and in a very short amount of time, Melamins made Dr. Etienne, Desdemona and Pierre richer than they imagined. Mergers and Acquisitions News reports that a large pharmaceutical company is in talks to buy Melamins and Melamins Lite and the price has been said to be in the two figure billions.

Incidentally, news reports are showing an alarming rise in the rate of missing Black and Asian children with some reports of offers seen on internet e-commerce sites of people trying to sell their children to the highest bidder.