A Developing Country

Overview

When Jakob Warsaw, a renowned black American, learns he will be offered a cabinet position, he decides to make his first visit to his hated birthplace, Bessedelya. Until faced with the prospect of a background check, he never discussed that small African country or the people responsible for giving him away as an infant.

Jake will discover a wonderful world whose culture and policies successfully deal with society’s most difficult issues, and the cosmopolitan American will fall ...

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A Developing Country

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Overview

When Jakob Warsaw, a renowned black American, learns he will be offered a cabinet position, he decides to make his first visit to his hated birthplace, Bessedelya. Until faced with the prospect of a background check, he never discussed that small African country or the people responsible for giving him away as an infant.

Jake will discover a wonderful world whose culture and policies successfully deal with society’s most difficult issues, and the cosmopolitan American will fall in love with Bessedelya’s brilliant and beautiful presidential advisor, Dr. Hinda Raisal.

Upon his return to the States, a shocking event will force Jake to decide whether to accept the presidential appointment or to return to help his homeland survive an existential crisis.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781458206336
  • Publisher: Abbott Press
  • Publication date: 4/30/2013
  • Pages: 204
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.47 (d)

Read an Excerpt

A DEVELOPING COUNTRY


By B David Peck

Abbott Press

Copyright © 2013 B David Peck
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-4582-0633-6


Excerpt

CHAPTER 1

Traffic at the industrial waterfront had come to a stop. When Angel the limousine driver left to see what had happened, his passenger, Jake Warsaw, a renowned black business consultant, was watching a container crane lifting a box onto a ship.

Jake was reminded of the summer he worked as a rigger loading trucks and railroad cars. Every day he handled heavy cables and attached large hooks and pushed products on and off conveyances. It was strenuous and often dangerous work, but he loved the sights and sounds of the huge equipment and the spirit of the operators and laborers. During the past year, the continuing and deserved criticism of the world of finance had made the days much less enjoyable. Seeing longshoremen and teamsters busy at work reminded Jake of happier times.

Angel knocked the snow from his shoes when he returned and pointed to the car in front of them. "I just looked in that van. A bunch of black guys. One kid was putting on his hat." Angel lifted his hands to his head. "He had on handcuffs. Those dudes are going to jail."

Jake leaned forward to see what the driver was talking about. Picturing the handcuffed boy with the hat, his fingers touched the fedora on the seat. For a moment the fifty-two-year-old man was afraid of the criminals in the nearby van, and he reached a button that locked all the doors.

"They say most crimes against black people are by black people. Why is that, Mr. Warner?"

Jake thought about the question. He wanted to say, "Why ask me? When I see and hear these people on TV, I'm embarrassed. I hate their street talk and their underwear showing the crack in their ass. Can't you see I'm not like them?" Instead, Jake said, "My name is Warsaw. I don't know why."

"Well, you made it big without going to jail."

"They haven't caught me yet."

The traffic started moving. Suddenly, out of nowhere, towering over the old warehouses, the enormous flight deck of an aircraft carrier appeared.

"Unbelievable," the awestruck driver whispered. "I watch military history on TV, Mr. Warner. That ship was part of the greatest navy the world has ever known. One of our carriers, with their modern aircraft and smart bombs, could defeat a whole army. No country has anything to seriously challenge us. Ain't that so?"

Jake looked up from the spreadsheet he was reading. "Not exactly," Jake said as he recalled a recent armed services committee hearing. "Somewhere there is a young girl who played lots of video games where she blew up things and people all day long. Today she's sitting in a chair looking at a screen. If her boss gives her an order, she could send a missile thousands of miles that would hit that aircraft carrier. Within a few minutes that billion-dollar ship, with all the advanced planes and weapon systems and thousands of sailors, would be destroyed."

The GPS voice said they had reached their destination as Angel pulled up to the gate of the shipyard. A guard checked their identification, called someone on his cell phone, and then pointed to a small gray building in front of two massive ships tied to a finger pier.

From one of the ships—the ocean-going tanker—sparks flew as people with propane torches cut sections from its body, and huge cranes lowered large hunks of metal onto waiting trucks. That dramatic surgery was overshadowed by the gigantic aircraft carrier moored alongside the two ships, patiently waiting its turn to be converted into scrap.

Angel drove past several small mountains of cut steel to a parking area as three people approached the car. One was a short, fat man wearing a blue hardhat and smoking a cigarette. He was followed by a well-dressed man and a voluptuous woman wearing yellow visitor hardhats.

As Jake got out of the car, the man with the yellow hat extended his hand. "Mr. Warsaw, I'm attorney Allan Stone. It's an honor to meet you."

"The pleasure is mine, Mr. Stone."

The lawyer chuckled nervously. "That's very gracious, sir. But you're the Washington legend. I simply represent the detainees. Mr. Johnson here owns the shipyard. Miss Maybey is from the Justice Department. We were told to contact you if there were any important problems."

Johnson shook Jake's hand, handed him a yellow hardhat, and motioned for everyone to follow him to the carrier. Halfway down the pier, stairs on a scaffold rose twenty feet in the air alongside the great ship. At the top of the stairs they crossed a gangplank onto the carrier into a cavernous area under the flight deck and then followed Johnson through a passage into a large room.

Thirty men were standing or sitting by several long tables. They wore red uniforms marked with the white letters POW. Some wore leg irons. They were guarded by five military policemen.

Stone began to make his case. "Taking men captured in Iraq to Guantánamo Prison was not a good idea. The president inherited the problem, and we know he asked you to fix it, but incarceration on a ship would never have satisfied the courts or public opinion."

Jake knew Joshua Mitchell, his semiretired senior partner and mentor, had been urged by the previous president to handle this controversial problem. JM, as he was called by everyone but his wife, had then asked Jake to find a place for the prisoners until they could be brought to trial.

Jake thought about the young associate in his firm who had come up with the ship prison idea, and how she persuaded the others that this plan would temporarily solve the government's legal problem of detainment. He could not imagine trying to explain her reasoning to Mr. Stone.

"Is that why it was urgent for me to be here today?" Jake asked.

"I would have called you sooner," Stone said, "but I was just able to arrange my schedule to meet with my clients. It's not at all clear that these people, who've never been charged and never had a day in court, are prisoners of war. And if not, that POW designation is misleading and demeaning. Several of the men complained about seasickness, and the clothes are not warm enough. The Geneva Conventions are very clear ..."

Jake turned to Mr. Johnson. "Are you having a problem with this arrangement?"

Johnson averted his eyes, clearly uncomfortable with this discussion. "My employees hate having dangerous men in the plant, men who might have killed American soldiers, and I'm not too happy keeping them here myself."

"But you are paid a lot of money for your discomfort, aren't you, Mr. Johnson?" Jake asked.

Johnson colored slightly. "I'm not saying it's not," he said. "But more important to me, I'm doing something for the country. The governor called me himself to say I was performing a great service."

"You're a patriot, and having our enemies here bothers you. Is that it?" asked Jake.

"Not just that. You see those cranes loading that steel and those railroad cars being moved by that switching engine? When the MPs bring these men out for a break, they don't listen to the guards. They'll stop on the tracks and watch, or drop down and pray. Don't get me wrong. I don't care if they get hit by falling scrap or run over by the trucks. I'm afraid I'll get sued by Mr. Stone or get fined for a safety violation if they get hurt. I was told I'm getting paid to provide a place until the government figures out what to do with these people."

Jake concluded that Johnson was satisfied with the money but afraid of lawsuits. Stone was happy with the potential of years of legal work and wanted some idea of how we intended to defend our action. The Justice Department lady had not expressed an opinion, but she was a beautiful sight shivering in the cold.

Jake looked at his watch. He had a plane to catch. He turned to Ms. Maybey and said, "Send them back to Guantánamo as soon as possible."

Maybey looked shocked. "What? It took us months to get these arrangements approved. Your governor and senators took a lot of heat. You've got to give us more time."

Jake shook his head.

When Jake returned to the limousine, the driver was sitting in the backseat. He had been watching the news on the car's television set. "This Bobby Copeland made millions and hurt a lot of people," Angel said as he climbed out of the car and got behind the wheel. "They said he may serve a few years with good behavior, and he showed no remorse. What's that mean, no remorse?"

"He didn't say he was sorry," Jake said.

"It don't seem fair," Angel said. "People struggle to take care of their families. They play by the rules. A guy they trust loses all their money, and he's not even sorry. In my opinion, they should just kill the son of a bitch."

"Will the people get their money back after they kill him?" Jake asked.

"Maybe not, but while trying to make their payments, they'll know he won't hurt nobody else," Angel said, "and other 'Copelands' might think twice."

Jake knew many animals like Copeland. Admired in their communities, all were oblivious of the damage they inflicted on innocent people. They knew the rewards for their actions were much greater than the risks. There were huge bonuses for inside information, and if they were government regulators, they were aware of high-paying jobs awaiting those who would look the other way when they uncovered serious problems.

"We don't kill people for nonviolent crimes."

Approaching the airport, Angel nearly missed the entrance to the departure area, swerved, and skidded on the snow. "Sorry, Mr. Warner."

Jake fumbled to answer his cell phone and heard JM's gruff voice.

"I just heard from Ed Gutierrez. He said there's going to be a top resignation at Treasury. His people think you should go for it. They want to know whether to float your name."

Jake was pleased. He had often thought of a cabinet position. "What do you think?"

"A once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. You want to talk about it later?" JM asked.

"I'm on my way to the forum in Davos," Jake said. "Tell Eddie I'll call him tomorrow."

After Jake disconnected the call, he thought about the prisoners. The associate in his firm explained that during World War II, German POWs were brought to the states to work. If he could put them to work in another country, it should provide a temporary solution. He called his secretary, and asked her to get Jerry Goodman in Jerusalem on the phone.

Angel pulled up to the curb between two shuttle buses and went to the trunk to get the luggage.

Jake waved to a familiar baggage porter as his office connected his call to Israel.

Goodman's wife answered.

"Maggie, it's Jake. Sorry to call so late. I hope you're all well."

"We're good. You're inviting us to your wedding to the TV reporter?" she asked.

"You've got me confused with somebody in love. But speaking of marriages, I don't want to start any rumors, but I hear your husband has been fooling around. It's time to trade in the old goat for two thirty-year-olds."

"What would I do with them? Stay well, Jakob. Let me get Jerry."

Jerry was on the phone. "Is everything all right?"

"I'm fine," Jake said. "Do you still work with the king's brother in Jordan? I could use his help."

"I was with him yesterday," Jerry said.

"Ask him to get me twenty acres at the Gulf of Aqaba," Jake said. "It has to have access to deep water. I want to bring in damaged equipment and junk from the Iraq war, cut it up, and ship it to India. I'm trying to make work for about thirty prisoners from Guantánamo. If it looks like we can get the property, I'll get you more information."

CHAPTER 2

The World Economic Forum in Davos was unusually well attended. The terrible recession and market crash had caused havoc in many countries. Protesters filled the streets. In Greece, Spain, Ireland, Italy, and other Western countries, the ruling governments had been replaced or were threatened to be overturned. Leaders from all over the world had come to hear suggestions and solutions from men and women who had instituted programs that worked or from economists whose ideas had not been discredited.

Dr. Hinda Raisal was one of the speakers. Although only thirty-four, she had begun to make a name for herself for several notable accomplishments in the developing African country Bessedelya. The beautiful black woman was standing in an alcove of a busy lobby making changes to her remarks when a woman with a clipboard stopped in front of her.

"Dr. Hinda Raisal? I finally found you," she said.

"Is something wrong?" Hinda asked.

"Nothing serious. I have you on the Pandemic panel. HIV/AIDS. Yes?" the German lady asked.

"No. I'm malaria," Hinda said.

"Good. They have changed your room to the Zurich. On the third floor." She smiled and left.

Across from where she was working, many serious-looking, well-dressed people—including Jake Warsaw—exited the nearby elevators. Jake was talking with two Frenchmen when one of them suddenly stopped.

Hinda looked up from her work and noticed two white men and a black man staring at her. One walked over and read her badge.

"Dr. Raisal, perhaps you can help me?" he asked in French.

"Yes?"

The Frenchman had a broad smile. "Every meeting I've attended described a worsening financial disaster. Could you prescribe an antidepressant?"

Hinda, angered by the interruption, saw Jake try to pull away his friend. She glared at the black "Frenchman."

She asked, "Do you speak English?"

"A little," Jake replied.

"Please leave me the fuck alone," Hinda said as she saw Jake read her name tag.

He said, "I want to apologize for my friend." Hinda wore a look of disgust. Jake continued. "Don't be so tough. I'm sorry he bothered you. I see you're a speaker. I'd like to hear what you have to say. I'm sure it will be more interesting than what I was going to hear."

"It would put you to sleep," she said.

"I hope so," Jake said. "I didn't get much last night."

"One thirty. The Zurich room," Hinda said.

* * *

All the seats were filled and people were standing in the back of the Zurich room when Jake finally arrived.

Hinda was concluding her talk. "I did not come with a begging bowl," she was saying. "For too many years and in too many ways, Africa has given its wealth to you. You built your countries with people and natural resources ripped from our families and our land. It's time to repay your enormous debt to us. I have tried to tell you what is needed and what actions you should take. Please let me know you will be with us in this terrible fight."

The audience rose to its feet and applauded. Some tearful spectators rushed to embrace Hinda. When she was finally free of the many well-wishers, she walked over to Jake.

"Impressive presentation, Doctor," he said. "As far as I could see, you kept everyone awake."

"But did they hear what I was saying? Will they be moved to act?" Hinda asked.

Although he heard little of her talk, Jake was impressed by the intensity of her feelings. He was not familiar with anyone so passionately concerned about humanity. In his world, it was all about power and money, winners and losers. He realized his usual cynical response would not be appreciated.

"Can we talk more about it over a drink?" was all Jake could manage.

"I've got to pack," Hinda said and then paused. "Sure, why not?"

As they walked to the barroom, Jake said, "Do you really expect to make a difference? Malaria has been around forever."

"You hope to reach someone. Somebody the leaders will listen to," she replied. "Maybe the person who must solve the problem. I want him to know what worked for me, in my country." Hesitating to continue her lecture, she read his name tag. "What do you do, Jakob Warsaw?"

"I'm a consultant. I'm called when cities or countries have special situations. Usually financial problems."

"A consultant. You interview everybody, summarize their comments, and package their ideas in a binder. Actually, you don't really do anything, do you?" Hinda smiled.

"I can only suggest how to stop the bleeding."

"From my experience, consultants are expected to clarify the issues, help the deciders. Unfortunately, the few consultants I've seen are more interested in preserving their jobs than speaking truth to power."

"That's a little harsh. We wouldn't be called if we didn't help the people understand the options."

"Referring problems to committees is too often the recommendation. When principles are at stake, I think advisors should vote with their feet. When a bad decision will do more harm than good, sitting silently must be considered agreement."

"Walking out would be too dramatic for me," Jake said. "If my best efforts don't persuade the client, I move on."

"I can't move on. I have to stay until the problem is under control."

"What happens when there's uncertainty about the facts and there are no good options? The decider says 'I need your advice tonight.' What do you do then?"
(Continues...)


Excerpted from A DEVELOPING COUNTRY by B David Peck. Copyright © 2013 by B David Peck. Excerpted by permission of Abbott Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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