Swamped, a novel

He forced himself to look at his computer again. Platinumwas trading in the upper eighties now. He decided to try some selling as a test and wrote a selling order for six thousand shares at 89 cents, then called Logan to his office.

“Let’s try this and see whether they take it,” he said, giving the order to his son to take to the trading desk. He kept his eyes on the screen, and by the time Logan returned, the stock had been taken.

“Very good. It seems they mean business,” Eteo said and showed his son the trade that had taken place only seconds earlier.

“Let’s be cautious. It seems they’ve taken the stock without caring who was offering it.”

Eteo remembered a case a few years back when he had sold a shell company to the Two Star Management promoters only to discover that each time he offered some stock the traders seemed to have orders not to accept anything from him. They knew Eteo had a good position in the shell company since he had done the IPO, and this was why they tried to avoid buying any of his stock. They wanted to raise the price of the shares faster rather than deal with Eteo’s clients. Only after Eteo had gone to the manager of his firm and threatened to go higher, if needed, did they decide to play fair and buy shares he offered all the way from his 35 cent cost up to the dollar and a half the shares climbed to in that promotion.

Stock promoters and company management always wanted brokers to stay put for a long time while clients usually wanted out sooner rather than later. Brokers always ended up in the middle, trying to maintain a balance, difficult at the best of times. The firm wanted Eteo to trade a lot—that’s how the commissions were generated—but also to keep plenty of money in the accounts, which was sometimes impossible when clients liked to trade but not to pay. They liked to trade on the hook, buying on credit and then selling within the four or five days the brokerage company gave them before they needed to pay, pocketing the difference without risking any money of theirs. But when the price of the stock went down, they took a few extra days, hoping the price would change to their benefit. Usually it didn’t. In such cases the stock was sold at a loss, and Eteo was stuck with finding a way to cover the loss either by selling something else in the account or collecting from the client. Or sometimes by doing what he called a double-cover. He would buy an active stock two days before settling the stock he had on credit and, when the time came to settle the original stock, he would sell the latest stock and use the proceeds to bring the account in order while keeping the original stock on credit for another two weeks. Most of the time this scam worked because the active stock, which was trading a large number of shares daily, didn’t go up or down very much. It would sell for only a small gain or small loss. The key was that Eteo could then carry the bad stock for another two weeks, hoping that its price would improve in the meantime. Eventually the company would sniff out what Eteo was doing and close that window, which would then force him to sell the overdue stock rather than churn the account, that is, hold it without money coming in for another two weeks. Sometimes, oddly enough, the stock went up and the account was rescued, earning Eteo kudos from the client and the blessing of the firm, but he also remembered times when the firm was out hundreds of thousands of dollars on his accounts. Those were the times when they would harp on him twice a day, demanding updates on whether he had collected money for the accounts or had sold stock to cover them.

The afternoon came fast today. Eteo managed to make a few phone calls and arranged to meet Rebecca Ηοrton to discuss a new deal. He also made a date to go out with Mario and Robert for a drink tomorrow evening. He talked to George Beaton, who said he had a very good property that Eteo shouldn’t let pass. At 1:30 Eteo said goodbye to Helena and Logan and left the office. Half an hour later he had reached his house in North Vancouver, and after changing into his jogging pants and light jacket, he drove to the Ambleside, parked his car, and walked the couple of blocks to Ariana’s apartment, where she welcomed him with open arms. They undressed without any preliminaries and had exactly what they had shared on the phone earlier, down to the last detail. Then they showered together and went to the seawall for their walk. They held hands. Eteo was jubilant. Ariana was happy. All around them nature was as happy as a peach, and the sun above them smiled and seemed to congratulate them.