Saturday, August 20, 2005
Small world syndrome
Before she died, my friend Julie Duncan had told me of the grief and stress she was suffering at the hands of a certain accountant who, she lamented, had cleverly manipulated her funds so that her daughter would be deprived of her inheritance - a daughter soon to lose her mother. Julie asked me to see if I could help to track down this man. Then she told me his name. And it was the name of a man I had known briefly many years ago - a rakish and colourful man, a charmer affectionately known as "Mr Rat". Our mutual friend, to my amazement, had blithely introduced him as a "top white collar criminal", which did not seem to offend him at all. This was rather exotic and fascinating to me. And, since Mr Rat seemed also fascinated with me, I enjoyed a couple of assignations with him. He was the sort of man who would rock up not just with a bottle of chilled bottle of Tattinger but several such bottles and crystal champagne flutes to go with them. For me, it was an amusing flirtation and a chance to study a rogue playboy. For the friend who had introduced us, it turned out to be something more - and she was very keen to reclaim his attentions. So much so that she took to ringing me to trace his movements - and, when I told her that Mr Rat had been in touch and had invited himself over to the house, she jumped into her car and arrived ahead of him. Giggling impishly as conspiratoral women, we then secreted her in the pantry. Mr Rat made a flourishing arrival complete with champers - and just as he was popping the cork, the other woman threw open the pantry door and leapt into the room with a big "Surprise - caught out, you bastard!" It was one of the funniest moments of my life. Mr Rat was gobsmacked. It was a moment of the jaw-dropping shock - a delight to behold. After my friend had given him the rounds of the kitchen, we toasted each other with the champagne, laughed a lot and my friend reclaimed him with my blessings. I did not see or hear of him again until this terrible story of the cruellest and morally bankrupt con. I was and am aghast. I did try to locate Mr Rat for my dying friend, but the leads were dead-end. He was around, flitting from state to state, I gathered. He has family and a wife who, heaven help her, seems still to be loyal to him. He remained elusive. But now the law and the media is on his trail. This mysterious playboy of yore is a headliner. The spirit of Julie has jumped out of the cupboard and it looks as if he has been caught out.