Matthew Leonard sat in class looking over at Edward Billup and kept wondering about the guy. He had been dating a mutual friend, Tonya Lessing for a couple of months and had announced he wanted to marry her.

Tonya was a lovely and decent girl who came from an exceptionally nice family, and Matthew was hoping she wouldn’t rush into a long term commitment with Edward or Ed as he liked to be called.

Working with ‘’Ed’’ on an MBA project, Matthew found him self absorbed and for lack of a better term, a climber. Ed had gravitated to people he thought might have connections that would benefit him, and basically ignored others in the work group.

After graduation, Matthew was hired by a Wall Street Hedge Fund and he settled into a well paying and very enjoyable position. He lost track of most of his classmates, but was invited to the Wedding of Edward Billup and Tonya Lessing. He sent back his regrets. There was no way he wanted to attend.

Over the years, Matthew became one of the Bluegem Hedge Funds rising stars, and with a portfolio of up and coming companies he was always looking for new investment opportunities. His focus was alternative energy and he really enjoyed the visionaries he met with.

One afternoon, his boss Charlieze Malton called him into her office and gave him the material for a company that had been calling about equity investment. They were known as ‘’Hydrogen Conversion’’ and what they were doing was using waste water from Nuclear plants and repackaging the water into safe containment units to create heating sources for commercial enterprises. The heated water would save millions on energy bills as it was always hot and no electricity was needed. The CEO of the new company was Edward Billup.

Matthew arranged a visit to the Hydrogen Conversion office and flew out to investigate the company. He promised to be professional and not let his feelings towards Ed colour the business decision one way or the other.

When he arrived at the facility, he was given security clearance and led to Ed’s over sized office. He was sitting waiting for Edward when he marched into the office. Ed looked at him and smiled. ‘’I’ve been so busy, I apologize for being late, I just made a deal for repackaging the waste water from Russia’s Nuclear plants to distribute across Europe. It’s a multi-million dollar deal and we already have numerous companies committed to buying our heating units. We have a special technology that prevents spillage or contamination. It is the future for alternative heating sources.’’

Matthew looked at Ed and kept thinking he hadn’t changed, he was still trying to over impress with a look at me mentality. Why didn’t he provide the documentation first, and let Matthew ask questions instead of selling hard from the second he said Hello. In his experience Matthew had found the companies with substance let the research and documentation speak for itself, and then his company would do their due diligence to find out if they were legit or not. The Bullshitters tried to keep you off balance and over sell.

Before heading off on a guided tour with Ed’s lead Technical Officer, Matthew did a quick look around the office. It was very well appointed, but there were no family pictures which he found interesting.

The tour of the containment plant and the facilities was very basic and not all that exciting, Matthew kept thinking that the operation was not moving along as well as Edward would have liked him to believe. With waste water from a Nuclear plant there would have to be a lot of research and clearances from Government agencies. In the package of investment material that Ed had provided there wasn’t one letter of endorsement from the Atomic agencies. When he queried Ed about it, he was given a double talk answer with direction to speak to Hydogen Conversion’s Government Affairs Agent who was conveniently away.

As he was leaving, a light must have gone off in Ed’s head because he looked at Matthew and smiled ‘’Hey, I thought I recognized your name, we know each other from somewhere right?’’ Matthew smiled, he believed Ed knew exactly where he knew him from. ‘’Yeah, we were in the same MBA class, how’s Tonya?’’ Ed tried to present a fake smile. ‘’Uh, you remember Tonya.’’ All Matthew wanted to do was get out of there, he had seen enough. He had doubts about the company and Ed was still full of shit. ‘’Yeah, I haven’t seen her in years, we were friends when you met her.’’ Ed looked a little more intensely at Matthew. ‘’Damn, I wish I could remember you better. Anyways, Tonya and I had two kids, a boy and a girl and after eleven years of marriage, we decided it was best if we went our own ways. ‘’

The news didn’t surprise Matthew and he was pleased he hadn’t wasted his time or a present when Ed and Tonya married. As he was walking out the door, Ed decided to accompany him. ‘’This company has a lot of firms who want to invest, I am giving you a great opportunity. I hope you make a decision in a hurry. Being old friends gives you the edge.’’

Matthew wasn’t sure he heard him right, old friends. They had never been friends. He reached the doors to exit the company and looked at Ed. ‘’My team of researchers do their due diligence, then we do a more investigative look into your books and if there’s any liability issues. It is not a quick process. I am sure you appreciate that. We have speak with your Government relations person and find out why you didn’t include any Atomic agency clearances. You know the regular kind of detailed intel that we need. It’s nice seeing you again Edward, I wish you luck. If we’re interested I’ll be back in touch, but confidentially I think you fall outside of our purview, which is why I’m glad you have all those other firms interested in investing in your company, old friend.’’

Three months later, Matthew sent a formal letter to Edward explaining that there would be no further investment discussions between the Bluegem Hedge Fund and Hydrogen Conversion as his company had failed their litmus test in a number of areas.

About six months later Matthew was visiting his alma mater to give a speech to an MBA class (he liked to give back to his old school) when he ran into Tonya. She had taken a job at the University. The feeling was euphoric and they made arrangements for dinner.

When they got together it was like they had never stopped being in touch. They laughed and Tonya showed him picture of her kids. She told Matthew that neither of the children wanted much to do with their Father. He had basically abandoned them when he moved in with his younger Swiss girlfriend. Tonya found out through a mutual friend that Ed had been cheating on her for years, almost as soon as he got married. The divorce had been acrimonious as he claimed he had no money, which was a standard operating procedure for low lifes. As the dinner concluded, Matthew told her about his interaction with Ed months before, and how he was not impressed and when his company looked into doing business with his company it was a strong no go. After a lingering hug goodbye, he wished her much happiness and they left to go their separate ways.

Matthew was glad he had spent some quality time with Tonya, she was still a very nice person. As far as Edward went, he still seemed to be a self indulgent jerk. If anything it was proof that you should always trust your instincts. The years had proven that Matthew’s intuition in University had been right on. Decent people are decent, and Jerks don’t change they just get older.

Alan Schwarz loves life. He is the founder of JAMS Productions, a television production company based in Toronto . His passion is writing.

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