It was a beautiful night to die. That was what Brandi Jeffries thought as she got out of her car on Shepherd Road and walked toward the south side of the massive expansion of the Wabasha Street Bridge. With the full moon and clear, star-studded sky, getting to the top without being seen could be tricky. However, it was several hours before rush hour traffic, so the chances of that happening were slim. Besides, she’d come this far and intended to go through with it, no matter what. She walked around the bridge to one of its stair towers and looked up.
Why did I pick such a tall bridge with so many steps? she thought. By the time she got to the top, she’d be exhausted. No wonder people jumped off bridges. Once they reached the top, they didn’t have the strength to climb down again. That’s funny, she thought and laughed so hard until tears rolled down her cheeks.
Composing herself, Brandi found new resolve by focusing on the reasons that brought her here. She began her ascent before she could chicken out. Though she was winded and the backs of her calves ached by the time she reached the top, she forced herself to continue across to the part of the bridge that spanned the waters of the Mississippi River. If she jumped too far in the middle, she’d land on Raspberry Island. She paused a moment to admire the beautiful St. Paul skyline, but before she got weepy, she tore her eyes away.
Reaching the spot from where she’d leap, she saw a dark form standing against the side railing looking out. For a moment, she didn’t know if she should go back the way she’d come or to continue and carry out her plan. After schlepping to the top of a suspension bridge, the last thing she wanted was to get mugged. Not that it mattered in her grand scheme of things, but she did have her principles. Perhaps it only a hallucination caused by her subconscious in an attempt to prevent her from jumping. But the dark form moved proving it wasn’t a figment of her feverish imagination, but a tall man with wind-blown, blond hair wearing a black trench coat. He’d been staring out at the Mississippi and turned to face her as she approached.
“What are you doing here?” he demanded, in a low, hoarse voice.
“I should ask you the same.”
“Never mind,” he said, waving his hand in dismissal. “Just leave.”
“Why?” Despite his bleary-looking, red-ringed, blue eyes and stubble-covered cheeks, even in the shadowy light he looked like an attractive man, the type women always gave a second look. She wondered what brought him to such a dead end. He interrupted her thoughts.
“Because I was here first, and possession is nine-tenths of the law.”
“Great to know, but you don’t own this bridge.”
“Lady, I’m in no mood to argue, so why don’t you just leave?” the stranger said.
“I can’t. Why don’t you just leave me alone?”
“I will when you go back the same way you came.”
“Why? This bridge is big enough for the both of us.”
“I can’t jump if you’re here.”
Brandi sighed. “If I walk over there,” she said, pointing toward the other end of the bridge, “you won’t see me.”
“But, I’ll know you’re there. Maybe you can come back tomorrow night.”
“No. I have to do this now, or I’ll chicken out.”
Sliding his hands into his pockets, he rolled his handsome lips inward. “Me, too.”
“What if we held hands and jumped together?” Brandi suggested.
“Are you crazy, lady? We don’t even know each other.”
“We can introduce ourselves and then do it.”
“You are certifiable.”
“Not really. I just want to get it over with before I change my mind. It wasn’t an easy climb, you know.”
“Well, look at the shoes you’re wearing. If you intended to do some climbing, you should have worn the proper shoes, not designer ones.”
“I’ll keep that in mind for next time,” she snapped at him.
Looking out over the horizon, he said, “It’s going to be light soon, so I’d like to get on with this.”
“Go ahead, I won’t stop you. Walk on down there and do your thing.”
“No. You walk down there. I want to jump from here.”
“Why? Is this side facing the East—you’re not Muslim, are you?” she asked peering at him closely.
“No, of course not. It’s just a nicer view.”
“I doubt if you’ll notice going down.”
“It doesn’t matter. Just go over there,” he commanded, pointing.
“So, who died and made you boss? Why should you get the better side?”
He sighed loudly. “This is getting us nowhere. You’re ruining the entire spirit of the jump.”
“Oh, really? What about you? Your presence isn’t doing wonders for me, either.”
“Listen…ah…who did you say you were?”
“I didn’t. My name is Brandi spelled with an i.”
“Brandi, with an i?”
“Brandi,” he began, cocking his head as if evaluating the name, “you’ve ruined this entire thing for me and I’m no longer in the mood.”
“Fine…” She looked at him inquiringly.
“Well, Aidan, thanks to you, I’ll just have to find a less crowded way to end my life.”
“That’s the best thing you’ve said so far. I hope the next time we meet it’s on the obituary page of the newspaper.”
“Fine with me,” Brandi said, turning on her heels and walking away.
Brandi decided to give up on jumping. Between the climb and arguing with whatshisface, she was way too tired. She doubted she’d be making that crazy climb soon again either. Despite her exhaustion, she found she was too restless to go home to an empty apartment. When her stomach growled, she realized she hadn’t eaten much that day and drove to a diner she’d passed on the way to the bridge. The place complemented her mood perfectly. Ironically, it was called The Last Stop. It was a relic of the 50s and was in desperate need of repair, reminding her of a dented sardine can. Normally, she wouldn’t venture into such a place. However, that night she couldn’t care less. Grabbing hold of the metal front door, she gave it a yank and went inside.
The cashier, a young woman who obviously doubled as the host, was leaning on an elbow, her makeup-smeared, raccoon eyes half-closed. She looked at Brandi and asked, “How many?” Brandi, wondering if she was for real, was tempted to hold up three fingers.
The place was practically empty except for a few truckers, whose rigs had taken up most of the parking spaces in the lot. The girl led her to a booth that still had an old-time music selector on the wall that played 45 records. She plopped down onto the vinyl cushion. Not only did its patched crack pinch her behind, it whooshed loudly as the air escaped the cushion. With tears forming in her eyes, Brandi stared at the scarred tabletop. Is there anything in the world I can do right?
A tired-looking waitress holding a menu interrupted her mental flagellation. “Can I get you something to drink?”
Brandi was tempted to order a glass of whiskey, but her saner self replied, “Just coffee, please.” She hadn’t eaten all day, and the liquor would go straight to her head, making the drive home difficult—not that she was worried about getting home safely. She just didn’t want to take anyone with her if she made an exit from this earth. The waitress nodded and walked away, returning a few minutes later with a steaming cup of coffee.
Brandi’s stomach growled as the smell of eggs wafted towards her from the next booth prompting her to order a mushroom and American cheese omelet. As the waitress left with her order, she heard a deep male voice say, “I thought it was you.”
Brandi’s lips parted in surprise as she looked up to see Aidan, the man from the bridge. “Mind if I join you?”
“Why? I thought you wanted to be alone.”
“That was on the bridge.”
“So what changed?”
“I could use a little company now. Besides, I hate to eat alone,” he answered with a sheepish grin, his hands lost deep in the pockets of his trench coat.
She raised her eyebrows as she mulled over what he’d just said and whether to prolong his new-found humility. “I guess it wouldn’t do any harm. Sit,” Brandi gestured to the patched vinyl seat across from her. “The waitress should be back in a second.”
“Good, I’m starving.”
As if on cue, the waitress shuffled back. “Do you need a menu, sir?”
“No. I’d like three scrambled eggs, bacon and a side order of hash browns. And, bring lots of rye toast. Thank you.”
A moment later, the woman returned with a coffee for Aidan.
Brandi sipped her coffee, looking at Aidan, wondering why he’d suddenly entered her life during her eleventh hour. Now that she could see him more clearly in the light, she found him quite attractive despite his scruffy-looking two-day beard and red, puffy eyes, which only intensified the blue of his irises. His nose was straight, but she found herself staring at his sensual mouth, wondering how those lips tasted. Perhaps had it been a different time and place…
Aidan sat there studying the pretty African American woman sitting across from him. He judged her to be around twenty-five. She had large, dark brown, soulful eyes and full sexy lips. Her cocoa skin looked soft and smooth, stretched taut across her nose and high cheekbones. With her nice body, to add to the mix, he wondered why her ex would even entertain trading her in for another model. “Thinking about what you’re going to do next?” he asked drawing her back to the present.
“To be honest, I hadn’t given it any thought. You?”
He shook his head. “But I’m curious.”
“You. Why would an attractive woman like you want to jump off a bridge in the middle of the night?”
“I might ask the same of you?”
“Ah, but I asked you first.”
“I’m certain you’ll find my story boring. It’s all been said before.”
“Let me be the judge of that. Besides, I have the time.”
Perhaps talking about it might be a catharsis though she didn’t think anything could smooth the wrinkles of her life at this point. Then again, she’d probably never see this man again, so what the hell? Besides, she’ll probably put him to sleep.
“You might say that I let my pity party get out of hand and acted impulsively.”
“Really? You felt so sorry for yourself that you decided to jump off a bridge?” Aidan asked skeptically.
“Okay. It was a tad more than that. I thought my husband, Trevor, was my soul mate. We always desired the same things—or so I thought. Having met in high school, we fell in love and got married. He wanted to be a dentist so badly; I put my dreams of becoming a lawyer on hold and went to work so he could go to school. As a thank you, after he established his dental practice, he left me for a blonde, blue-eyed patient.”
“This doesn’t sound like yesterday, so what set you off?” Aidan asked.
The waitress plunked their food on the table and refilled their coffee cups before shuffling off to wait on another man who’d been seated by the cashier. Watching the tired woman in the gray uniform, Adam said, “Being a waitress looks like a tough job.”
“That’s what I did so my Prince Charming could study without worry. I worked my feet and ass of in an upscale restaurant.”
“It paid the rent.”
“So what made you want to stop the world and get off, Brandi?”
“Trevor’s leaving me turned out to be a double whammy.”
Aidan sipped his coffee and asked, “What do you mean by that?”
“Blondie, whose real name is Holly Sweeney, worked with me at the Carousel Restaurant while she went to school to become a paralegal. When she had a toothache, I was the one who suggested she go see Trevor.”
“Oh, boy. That sucks. Sorry to interrupt.”
“Eventually I stopped kicking myself and moved on until Holly sashays into my restaurant and sits at a table in my area just to flaunt her diamond engagement ring. I guess it just happened at the wrong time like a change in my hormonal level, and I just overreacted. Anyway, it isn’t something to throw my life away for, so glad I didn’t jump.”
“I think I know what you mean about hormones,” he said remembering his wife’s mood swings.
They dug into their eggs for a few minutes, acting as if they hadn’t eaten in days.
“So tell me, how did you end up here tonight?” Brandi asked, breaking their silence.
“I doubt it will do any good to talk about it.”
“You’re not getting off the hook that easy since I already told you my reason. So fess up. Besides, sometimes talking about it often clarifies things thus giving you the closure you need to move on.”
“I don’t think anything short of murder will bring a sense of closure to my situation,” he replied adamantly, pressing his lips together.
“Maybe you merely need to look at it from another point of view,” Brandi suggested.
“I doubt if there is one.”
“You’d be surprised. Right now, you’re too close to the matter.”
“That’s for sure,” Aidan said. “Look closely and you’ll see the steam coming from my ears.”
“If you mentioned murder…it must have something to do with your wife.”
He chuckled at her art of deduction. “None other.”
“What did she do? Steal the family jewels?”
“Close enough. She embezzled a cool half-million from my business, taking along my
partner and the most important software program my firm ever developed. It was worth millions and its loss could ruin me.”
“Where is your wife now?” Brandi inquired.
“God only knows and He certainly ain’t telling,” Aidan replied sardonically.
“Hmm. You nearly made a colossal mistake.”
“Huh?” The hand holding his fork stopped in mid-air.
“I take it you haven’t been officially divorced.”
“Then why were you going to jump and leave her everything else?”
Aidan put down his fork and looked directly into Brandi’s deep brown eyes. “That hadn’t occurred to me.”
“If I were you, I’d try to find her and get everything back that she stole.”
“Well, you’re not me, and I wouldn’t call the kettle black—excuse me, no racial pun intended, if I were you.”
Brandi, being black, had taken no offense. “No, I guess not.”
“You may have a point,” he replied, as his entire demeanor changed. Suddenly there was a spark of life in his eyes giving him the look of a man with a purpose. “Do you believe in fate, Brandi?”
“I believe we have free will, but fate often intervenes and things happen despite our efforts.”
“Exactly. An hour ago, there was a chance that I might have jumped had you not shown up.”
“I guess I saved your life then, didn’t I?”
“Before you sprout wings and grab a halo, let’s analyze this. You prevented me from jumping. Now the question is why?”
“Aside from the fact I wanted to go off the bridge from the exact place you did?”
“Despite that,” Aidan replied.
“Well then, I guess the Great Puppeteer in the sky isn’t through playing with you yet.”
He cocked his head to the side. “Something like that. Let’s just say He has something else in mind.”
“I don’t know. Maybe righting the wrongs done to us.”
“As in revenge?” she asked.
“More like justice being served.”
Brandi nodded and thought about what Aidan had said. It would be a kind of justice if she got even with Trevor. “How would we even go about such a thing?”
“Wait a sec. You said ‘we.'”
“I guess I did,” Brandi said.
Aidan grinned. “Good. Two heads are always better than one. Besides, we’ve got the male versus the female point of view here,” he said with more than a hint of excitement in his voice.
“We’ve really got to give this a great deal of thought.”
“Are you chickening out?” he asked, eying her with a critical squint.
“No. Not at all. I just meant this kind of thing needs a great deal of careful planning.”
“You’re right about that. What about meeting at my place tomorrow night? Here, I’ll write down the address.”
Wow, Brandi thought as she watched him scribble on a paper napkin. He wasn’t wasting any time. She rather liked that. “We can do some brainstorming.”
“Yeah. I’m sure we can come up with some plan to even up the score with our ex-spouses,” Aidan said with a devilish grin.
By the time they left the diner, it was long after sun-up. The bright sun forced Brandi to squint. She decided to take her chance meeting with Aidan on the bridge as an omen. Perhaps it was time to either do something about Trevor or let it go. Either way, she had to get on with her life. Of one thing, she was now positive. Suicide wasn’t the answer to all the grief Trevor had caused her.
Maybe Aidan was right, and fate had brought them together. However, did she want to believe there was more than revenge involved here? Her mother used to tell her things always happened for the best. Without exception, there was a reason for everything. Though she might accept her mother’s philosophy, she’d be damned first before she got herself mixed up with another guy. Aidan might be nice on the eyes, but he was still a man. And she’d had her fill of men for the time being thanks to her ex. She would keep her relationship with Aidan strictly businesslike.
She was still thinking about Aidan when she got into bed. She should have been exhausted after her escapade, but her mind was wide-awake, filled with dozens of unanswered questions. He’d written out his name on the napkin in the diner. His last name was Pendleton. She wondered if he was related to the mogul, Charles Pendleton. If he were, the financial reasons he’d given for jumping would seem somewhat superficial. Then again, he could be unrelated to the other Pendleton or estranged. Why else would a man who was used to success let a setback cause him to want to end it all? There had to be some other reason he neglected to mention.
Or was she reading more into this than she should? After all, now that she thought more about her actions tonight, her own reasons for jumping were just as flawed and superficial. What was she thinking? Death is so final. And, on the other hand, what new cockamamie scheme had she gotten herself into?
Too keyed up to sleep, Aidan Pendleton drove to his office building on Jackson Street and parked his car in the underground garage. His mind was whirling like a spinning top. For the first time since his wife, Lauren, skipped he didn’t feel like a victim. All because of a chance encounter with a woman named Brandi. Somehow that sarcastic pistol of a woman gave him the direction and hope he’d been lacking. And she hadn’t been hard on the eyes, either.
They were so unlike on so many levels. Aside from the obvious fact that Brandi was black,
possessing beautiful, soft, mocha-colored skin, and he white, she wasn’t his type of woman. Whereas Lauren was hot and turned most men’s heads, Brandi had more of an understated kind of beauty. Her high, delicate cheekbones gave her an exotic look. He could get lost in her brown, almond-shaped eyes, never to be found. They appeared to reflect her mood, of which he’d witnessed several. However, he wondered how they appear when she is aroused. And then there were her full rounded lips that revealed even white teeth when she smiled. Her thick dark hair was cut short and was quite flattering. However, all this was moot. The last thing he wanted to do was, get involved in with another woman—any woman—no matter how fetching.
As he pressed the elevator button up, Aidan chuckled to himself. This stuff between them was all business. What the devil did it matter what Brandi looked like? Better still, who names their kid Brandi?
The next night, Brandi changed into jeans and a sweater before heading over to Aidan’s apartment. Normally she wouldn’t dream of going to the home of a guy she hardly knew, but nothing about Aidan and her meeting him was normal. Besides, this get together was strictly business, and she intended to keep it that way. She’d never been in the Kellogg Square Apartment building before, but had heard the apartments were exquisite. However, nothing could have prepared her for what she encountered.
The building, located on the corner of Kellogg Boulevard and Robert Street in Downtown St. Paul, looked like a five-star hotel. Parking was at a premium, but she was able to find a spot not too far away, which roughly translated into five long blocks. The uniformed doorman announced her arrival before allowing her to proceed to the elevators. Aidan had mentioned his apartment was on the 21st floor. He also added that because his wife had liked her privacy, she came up with a unique solution to give the impression hers was the only apartment on that floor. With this in mind, Brandi half-expected to encounter a moat and drawbridge complete with a troll collecting a toll to cross.
She got into one of the spacious elevators, and as the doors closed, she pushed the button for the 21st floor. The elevator car was instantly filled with the surround sound of classical music. The title of the piece, Clair de lune, had come to her by the time the doors reopened to reveal a beautiful garden. Brandi stepped out. Her apprehension grew as the garden became dense foliage. She feared being attacked by some wild animal.
Aidan was waiting for her at the door. “Glad you could make it.”
“Without a safari guide, it was iffy. I didn’t expect all this,” she replied, her thumb pointing over her shoulder. Nor did she expect him to have shaved and look so damn good.
He chuckled. “My charming wife hired only the best landscapers. I didn’t expect it, either. It grows on you.”
“No pun intended? Who takes care of it?”
“A gardener, who else? Come on in and see the rest of the place.”
“Is it safe?”
“Yeah. Follow me,” Aidan replied, his voice laced with laughter.
Brandi knew that decorating an apartment was an art. She never expected someone to make it an art form though. To be honest, she didn’t think people actually lived in some of the houses photographed in magazines. And this one belonged in that category without a doubt.
There was more marble in the central hall than in a quarry, which made it look like a museum, but feel as cold as a tomb. There were paintings of artists whose names she recognized and statues that must have cost a fortune.
“All you need is a garage sale to get out of hock.”
“You’re right, but that’s a last resort. Wait till you see the rest of the place. At the time Lauren did all this, I was so mesmerized by her, I didn’t care how much money she spent or what she spent it on.”
The stainless-steel kitchen looked as if it belonged in a 5-Star restaurant and the bedrooms in the fanciest of hotels. There were a sauna and hot tub in the master bedroom. The two walk-in closets could serve as guest rooms. The three bathrooms were spacious and all marble and resembled an ancient Roman bath. Brandi would have killed for only one of them.
“I can’t believe you live here.”
“Why do you say that?”
“This place looks more like a set on a movie lot. It’s so large that it must have taken you three days to realize that your wife was gone.”
With laughter in his voice, Aidan replied, “Like I said, you get used to it.”
“Not if you have to clean it.”
“You’re a very practical woman, Brandi Jeffries.”
“The years of deprivation to keep my Prince Charming in school molded me.”
“I hope you like Chinese. I ordered some stuff from Leanne Chin’s. Their food is pretty good, but the best part is that it’s still piping hot when they deliver. Having to reheat delivered food in a microwave sort of defeats the whole purpose.”
“Right now I’m so hungry I don’t care what it is as long as it doesn’t move.”
“Good answer. We can talk while we eat. I’m really into this revenge thing.”
“Where are we eating?”
“It’s a lovely night so I thought we’d eat on the balcony.”
“It may be early summer, but it’s still chilly this high up. We’ll freeze out there. I prefer noodles, not icicles, in my wonton soup. “
Aidan laughed. “You don’t trust me, do you?”
“I don’t even know you.”
“Come, on. Grab a bag and follow me.”
Carrying the other bag, Aidan led her outside to an enclosed patio. On the 21st floor, the view was rather impressive and under different circumstances, quite romantic under the stars. The view of the Wabasha Street Bridge was especially breathtaking. The lights suddenly reminded her of the cruise ship she and Trevor sailed on during their honeymoon, and she blinked the tearful memory away. Regaining her composure, she said, “The view is spectacular out here. You can see the entire city.”
“I know. That’s why I’m paying the big bucks. Enjoy.”
The food was excellent. There was enough to feed a family of twelve. Everything Aidan did seemed to be on a grand scale as if he were trying to impress her. She let that thought go and brought the conversation back on track. They were there to talk business. Not to trade small talk. “So what ideas have you come up with?” she asked.
“I thought about how you can exact revenge from your ex-husband. Not knowing all the details, you are free to fill in as we go along, but here goes. He was fooling around with the same woman he’s now with while you were married, right?”
“Yes. They live together in a fancy apartment on Burns Avenue.”
“If we can make it look like he’s cheating on her, how long do you think she’d stand for it?”
“Not long. I know her and from what I can tell, she’d leave him in a heartbeat.”
“Good,” Aidan said, wearing a smile that would rival the cat that ate the canary.
He had truly sparked Brandi’s interest. “What exactly do you have in mind?”
“His new lady love is going to find one or two feminine items secreted in the apartment—”
“What kind of things are we talking about here?” Brandi asked.
“Stuff like panties and bras. What else were you thinking—no—don’t tell me? I don’t want to know.”
“Okay, but how are those items going to get there? We can’t just mail them to the apartment.”
“We’re not going to break in if that’s what’s worrying you. I have an acquaintance with unique skills that will help us accomplish the deed.”
“I’m afraid to ask.”
“Don’t be. He’s a locksmith who does magic tricks on the side.”
“Now I’m confused. How does a person who pulls rabbits out of a hat going to help us?”
“Rabbit pulling was never his passion. He could lift a wallet out of anybody’s pocket without them ever knowing. Keys are just as easy for him.”
“So he’s going to borrow Trevor’s keys.”
“Exactly. All we have to do is get the two of them together.”
A smile began to form on Brandi’s face.
“We only need the keys a few minutes to get an impression of them in clay.”
“How do you know all that?” Brandi asked, taking another spare rib from the bag.
“A proper education.”
Aidan took a napkin and wiped some barbecue sauce off Brandi’s cheek. “Now that’s where you come in. I need some information.”
“Where does your husband practice? Places he frequents and the like.”
“He has an office on University Avenue. Your friend could pretend to be a patient.”
“That’s a possibility. Does Trevor drive to work?”
“He did. I assume he still does.”
“What does he do about lunch? Does he order in or go out?”
“We’ve been divorced a year already. I really can’t answer that.”
“People are merely creatures of habit. They find something that they enjoy doing and continue to do it. When you were still together was there a restaurant he’d often go to?”
“Wait a sec. Yes! Trevor used to have breakfast every weekday at Bernie’s, a luncheonette two doors down from the building he works in.”
“No. Attractive waitress with big boobs.”
“He left his office keys at home one morning. I brought them to him while he was breakfasting at Bernie’s. I don’t know how he was able to swallow and pant at the same time.”
Aidan laughed. “Well, let’s hope that his favorite waitress hasn’t left, and your ex still frequents the place. If he does, we’re in business. Trevor will never know a thing. All I need is a picture of him.”
“I’ll run down to the post office and rip it off the wall.”
Aidan hesitated. “Seriously?”
“I wish. Luckily I didn’t burn them all.”
“What about the woman? Does she work?”
“I think Joy works at a law office, so she’s out of the apartment most of the day.”
“Things couldn’t be better. By the time we’re finished, she’ll be out of there permanently.”
“What about you?”
“How do you mean?” Aidan lowered his fork.
“Have you given any thought to trying to get the money back from your wife?”
“Oh, yeah. That pipedream. No, but did you think of something?”
“Maybe. I worked in a bank for a year or so. While I was there, I learned about money wires and stuff like that. If Lauren had any smarts, she would have sent the money out of the country to a tax haven by now.”
“If so, wouldn’t I be out of luck?”
“Yes. However, if the money were still in the States, we could follow the paper trail.”
“Who knows where she stashed the money? It could be in her bra for all I know.”
Brandi chuckled as he continued.
“She stole the money in installments so I wouldn’t detect the loss. Of course, she had the help of my right-hand guy and best friend, Dick Remy. He was the company’s top software expert.”
“Listen, you trusted her as I trusted Trevor. Don’t be so hard on yourself.”
“I still feel like a class A fool.”
“You know her social security number and date of birth, right?”
“Sure, of course.”
“Well, if we can find the money, we can take it back. I have a friend with a special talent also.”
Aidan smiled. Brandi liked how his entire face welcomed the smile. His dimples showed, and his eyes twinkled. “And what does he do?”
“He’s probably the best computer hacker around.”
“And he’s not in jail? Now that’s a plus. How did your paths cross?”
“We worked together at the bank. For fun, he’d break into the most secure sites. If anybody can help us, he’s the one. However, there may be a slight problem.”