Whats in a
by Jerry Guarino
Clayton had just been
released from prison for committing securities
fraud. The guards took his orange jump suit and
returned his civilian clothing, a fancy Wall
Street suit, shirt, tie and Italian shoes. Having
lost his license, he had to find a new job, one
where his past transgressions wouldnt
He was walking down the street where he once took
expensive lunches with clients. He saw the men
and women in their refined clothing, frittering
away the afternoon with gourmet food and fine
wines. He envied the men for their position in
life, one he once had and the women he once had
the pleasure of. Beautiful and intelligent women,
with means and discretionary funds, money that he
had stolen over the years. If only he hadnt
run into Ari, the undercover SEC agent, the one
who sent him to prison in the first place.
Then he saw her, Ari, eating lunch at one of the
window tables. Ari was wearing her power blue
business suit and she was dining with two women,
dressed in jogging outfits. They must be famous
athletes, to be dressed that way in a fancy
French restaurant. Clayton ducked so that Ari
couldnt see her and moved quickly down the
Within a month, Clayton had
landed a job with a small broker who didnt
bother to check up on his license. He knew he
couldnt defraud anyone now or he would find
himself back in jail. After work, he headed to
the local watering hole.
Hi, Im Clayton he said to the
pretty brunette at the bar. Do you mind if
I sit here? For all his faults, Clayton was
still an attractive man in his early 40s and he
hadnt lost his charming way with others.
Sure. Im Janet. She moved over
to make room for Clayton. The bartender came over
and Clayton held up a finger.
What would you like Janet?
White wine, please?
Make that two, something top shelf.
Janet smiled and thanked Clayton for the gesture.
So what do you do Clayton?
Im in brokerage. Mostly bonds. Its
not as exciting as stocks, but a lot more stable.
Prison had stifled some of his personality; he
was more reserved than he used to be. This new
persona was more attractive to women also.
Oh, that doesnt sound boring,
said Janet. Im in retail at Macys.
But I love clothing. She crossed her ankles
and relaxed her body language, facing Clayton.
Well yes, youre surrounded by color
and fashion and get to meet lots of people. Most
of my work is on the phone.
Small talk turned into dinner as they continued
to get to know each other. By the end of the
night, Clayton walked Janet back to her apartment.
She gave him her number. Call me if youd
like to get together again. Thanks for a nice
night. She kissed him on the cheek.
The old Clayton would have pushed to get into the
apartment, but he just smiled and reciprocated.
Id like that Janet. I will call you
later. And he did the next day.
Over the next month, the two became exclusive,
meeting after work and on weekends with
occasional overnights at her apartment. Clayton
loved his new life, the chance to start over. If
only he could keep his past transgressions from
ruining this new relationship. But it never came
up; perhaps Janet had something in her past too.
They met at a sports bar for drinks and dinner.
I made a big sale today Janet; one of the
professional basketball players from the WNBA. Were
supposed to meet here to sign some papers. Do you
Janet hugged him. Thats wonderful.
Can I meet her?
I dont see why not. Just give us a
minute to do the paperwork and Ill
OK, Ill wait at the bar. Just wave
when I can come over.
The patrons turned to notice the 65
athlete coming in, some clapping from the guys
who recognized this forward. Clayton turned to
Hi Ms. Robbins. Im Mr. Rook. Seems
like you have a lot of fans here.
Its a blessing and a curse, believe
me. But I have to get to the arena in an hour. Do
you have the papers to sign?
Yes, right here. He opened his
portfolio and made an X where her
signature should go.
You dont mind if my friend reads this
over first. Im not a contract person.
No, not at all.
Claytons whole body
shook when he saw Ari walking over to the table.
She quickly took out her phone and made a call.
Janet could tell that Clayton was upset about
something, but waited at the bar.
Julie. Youre not signing any
contracts with this man. He was convicted of
securities fraud. Do you have his card?
Why yes, here and she handed Claytons
card to Ari.
Youll be hearing from us Mr. Rook.
The two left as Ari reassured her friend what she
almost got involved with.
Janet came over to Clayton. Whats
wrong honey? I couldnt hear what they were
saying. Did you lose the sale?
Yes dear. Im afraid so.
Within weeks, Clayton was
arrested and convicted again. As he was processed
into prison, they took his clothes and issued him
an orange jump suit with his name on the back: