I hate it when the alarm goes off this early. It is still dark outside and it looks frosty. I have to be at the station to catch the 7:18 into London. I haven't been to London before. All in all seems quite surreal at the moment. I had an agent call me last week, I was being head hunted. Me, head hunted. I couldn't believe my ears. Johnny said it was a joke. He thinks it's the lads in the post room taking the mick. Johnny's like that. Nothing good ever happens to Johnny because he doesn't believe anything good could ever happen to him. I think you should try everything once. Regret things you've done not things you didn't do, that's my motto. I showered and dressed quickly and the taxi was sounding his horn outside before I was finished. I may have been head hunted but there was still an interview and I had to make a good impression. I had dry cleaned my one and only suit, had my hair cut and spent last week trying to get my spots under control. I grabbed my shoulder bag, glad that I had packed it the night before and rushed out to the taxi. Ten minutes later we were at the train station and it was 7.13. I already had a first class ticket, which had been a treat to myself, so I rushed down to the platform and stood in the middle, which end was first class at? Even if I did know that it would be at the front I didn't know which direction the train was coming in from.
I settled down in my seat and got out the letter detailing the job. A man it a white jacket appeared and asked if I would like breakfast. Wow I didn't know they did that. This was going to be a great day. I order a full english and must have looked a right idiot with my napkin tucked into my collar to protect my suit as I ate it. After breakfast I've still got another hour before I get to London so I read through the paperwork about the company and the job. About a week ago I had been sat in my office going over the banks investment opportunities when I received a phone call. At first I thought it was for Mr Toby Jones who is the bank's senior teller, people are always doing that, but the man assured me it was Mr Simon Jones they wanted to talk to. The company was a Japanese banking house that was setting up in London and they wanted to bring in some young talent that they had identified. There would be a senior management team who were Japanese but the rest of the staff would be Brits. Once the bank had been up and running a while the Japanese team would be slimmed down and the Brits would be promoted. I couldn't believe my luck at my current bank I would be lucky to get a promotion before I was thirty and this job promised one before I was even twenty-five. Johnny had said he didn't know why they would contact an idiot like me and not ask him. Johnny was like that, thought he was better that the rest of the lads in the investment room. Well he was already twenty eight and was not senior to me even if he liked to think he was. He had wanted to come with me. He said it was to protect me as it was obviously a scam and I was too innocent to spot it. I think he was hoping to get an interview for himself, tell them why he was better than me. The train got in on time, I jumped into a taxi and was at the address by nine twenty, ten minutes to spare.
I stood outside the building. It was on Threadneedle Street. The building was one of those Victorian buildings you always see on the telly, tall and immense, with sandy coloured brick work that had been cleaned at some point to remove the London soot that would have built up on in since it had been built. Once inside everything was brand new and completely different. The reception desk was lit from below and most of it looked like it was made from glass. To the left of the reception there was a bank of golden lifts leading to who knew where. At that time in the morning people were rushing into them to try and get to their given offices on time. I walked over to reception and suddenly felt very small and not really understanding what I was doing here. I gave the lady a small smile.
'Name please?' She smiled but obviously didn't have time for a chat
'Mr Simon Jones.'
She checked her list, 'You are here to see Yokohama Banking?'
'Yes that's right.' I smiled back relieved to be on her list. This was definitely not a scam by the post room lads.
'Please wear this badge at all times and take the lift to the fourth floor, someone will meet you there.' She handed me a plastic badge that said VISTOR in large letters.
I clipped it to my lapel and headed to the lifts. It seemed to take an age to get to the fourth floor and when we did there was only me left. I exited the lift; there stood in front of me was the most beautiful woman I had ever seen. She was about five foot five, quite obviously Japanese and had her shinny black hair running straight down her back. Her suit looked like it had been handmade; it fitted perfectly and showed her wonderful shape off.
'Simon?' She said. My name had never sounded so beautiful. I nodded not trusting myself to speak.
'Please follow me.'
We walked along a long corridor with offices on each side. At the very end there was an old fashion oak door, she knocked, turned to me, did a little bow and walked away. I watched her go, enraptured.
'Yes she is a beauty isn't she?' The voice came from behind me and I blushed, embarrassed at having been caught when I should have been focusing on the interview. I turned to see an elderly man, white haired, very short and stooping. He held out his hand and I shook it. Good strong handshake, he was obviously not as infirm as he looked.
'I am Mr Welshmoore and I am acting for the bank at this first interview stage please come through.'
I walked through into his office; it felt like walking on air, the carpet must have been two inches think. He sat behind an old fashion desk which would have filled a normal size office but looked small where it was. The office was surrounded by windows and over his left shoulder I could actually see the Bank of England. I refused coffee and we started the interview. I answered all his questions easily, sometimes they seemed too easy. Although he seemed to focus on the fact I was an orphan and had no immediate family. I assumed that was as they wanted me to move to London. As we were coming to a close he asked me to wait and he went through a side door I had not noticed before. When he returned he was with another elderly man but apart from that the similarity ended. The second man was tall and round, exactly as you would have expected an old banker to look.
'Yes most suitable,' the second man muttered to Mr Welshmoore. 'The resemblance is uncanny.'
'Now Simon this is Mr English and he is going to explain the real reason for this interview.'
I looked questioningly at the second man.
'Simon,' he smiled but it never reached his eyes. 'My name is Mr English, myself and Mr Welshmoore manage the Dungannan Foundation. The estate is currently owned by Peter Dungannan. The bulk of the estate is in trust until he is twenty-five. Peter was very ill as a child and has had problems with his kidneys all his life. Last year he had one removed and he was told last week that his other kidney is failing.'
'Well I feel very sorry for him but I don't see how I can help I have never even heard of Peter Dungannan.' I couldn't believe I had come all this way and it had turned out to be a waste of time.
'We have done some extensive research, I think you can see we have the resources to do extensive research,' Mr English smiled, it still wasn't reaching his eyes and I was starting to find him a little creepy. 'You never knew your father did you?'
'Not that I can see what that has to do with anything,' I was starting to lose my temper, 'but no I have been brought up by my grandmother after my mother was killed in a car accident and my gran says my mother never told her who my father was.'
'We here at the foundation have reason to believe that you share the same father as Peter Dungannan.'
I look at the two men opened mouthed. I can't breathe, what is happening? They have found out about my father and I have a brother. This is all too much. Mr Welshmoore hands me a glass of water and I gulp some back. I slowly manage to get my breathing back under control and my heart rate is returning to normal.
'Why would my mother have had anything to do with someone like Mr Dungannan's father?'
'Well it turns out she was his private secretary for a number of years and you know how women get around powerful men,' both men chuckle but stop quickly when they see my scowl.
'As you can appreciate I am going to need some time to take all this in so if you don't mind I will leave now.' I stood up to go.
'The problem is,' Mr English stepped in front of me, 'we have wasted a lot of time looking for you and Peter needs a kidney now. There is no time for you to think about this.'
I looked between both men unable to believe what I was hearing. They had bought me all the way here under the pretence of a new job and now expected me to give them a kidney. They were obviously insane or just so used to getting their own way that they never expected me to say no.
'I do apologies Mr Jones but I feel Mr English has missed something out,' Mr Welshmoore stepped forward and motioned for me to sit down again. 'There will be recompense for you trouble and the ongoing inconvenience of having to manage on only one kidney. All with the added knowledge that you helped Peter Dungannan to survive and his charity works helps thousands of people across the world, so indirectly you will be helping them too.
'How much?' I whispered still trying to take it in.
'Sorry what did you say?' Mr Welshmoore looked across at Mr English and smiled, they knew they had me.
'I said how much and when will it all happen?'
'The operation needs to be in the next seven days and you will need to stay with us for that time so we can ensure everything is okay. We have been authorised to offer you one million pounds for your kidney.'
I couldn't believe my ears. One million pounds. Johnny would be jealous as hell when I went home with one million pounds. Oh the things I could do. Wow. How could I refuse?
The week that followed consisted of multiple tests and examinations to ensure the kidney would be a match. I insisted that the money be paid into my account before the operation as people have been known to die on the operating table, so I watch the money electronically transfer into my account just before the sedative is administered.
The light felt very bright on my eyes even though they were closed. I slowly blinked and realised I was looking up at what must have been a recovery room ceiling. I had survived. Yes! I had always worried that the easiest thing would have been for me to die on the operating table and these people did not seem above the sort of practices that would lead to that. Suddenly the steady blip of machines in the room turned into the solid screech of a flat liner. It was coming from the next bed. Doctors and nurses were running around, crash carts dragged in and curtains were pulled around the bed.
The next time I come round everything is silent and I am alone. I try to raise my head and a nurse I've not seen gets up and rushes out of the room. The two elderly solicitors appear.
'Ah Mr Jones, back with us I see,' Mr English smiles, for the first time ever it reached his eyes. 'Glad to see you are back with us.'
It hurts for me to speak. My throat is dry and sore.
'We have good news and bad news,' Mr Welshmoore added
'The operation was a success and the kidney was transplanted,' Mr English took over again. 'Unfortunately due to complications Mr Dungannan died a few moments ago. As I am sure you will appreciate with the work the foundation does it is important to keep it going and Mr Dungannan had no relatives who could take it over.'
'Mr Jones,' Mr Welshmoore was beaming now. 'How would you like to run the Dungannan Foundation?'
'That would be an honour,' I whispered. 'But how can we get everything changed into my name if I am just his father's bastard child. Surely that is legally very difficult.'
'Oh that won't be a problem. You get some rest now and we will talk more tomorrow.' Mr English said.
The two men turned towards each other and in unison say 'After all the resemblance is amazing.'