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Good Help Is Hard To Fry
fiction by Paul Phillips


Category : Fame & Fortune, Fortune

Obituary: New York CityFormer Senator and real estate tycoon Brendan St. James passed away this morning after a long battle with pancreatic cancer. He is survived by his wife, Gloria and his son, Jordan…


The bells pealed in the tower of St. Dominic’s Cathedral, announcing the arrival of dawn. A man slipped quietly and unseen through the back door of a nondescript building. He was dressed for the cold, brisk morning; heavy woollen coat, long pants, leather driving gloves and a knitted tuque. He pulled the door closed behind him, shutting out the drifting snow and icy wind.

He removed his coat and placed it on the hall stand. He passed through another door which lead to a cramped kitchen area; originally designed many decades ago to be just a simple kitchenette but since renovated to become a well-equipped, fully operational kitchen.


Financial news: New York CityBillionaire heir Jordan St. James has announced the purchase of seven dilapidated office buildings in the heart of New York City. He has plans to restore the buildings to their original conditions. He hopes to have the first of these buildings ready to be occupied by Thanksgiving…


Everything was in readiness for the first service of the morning. Upstairs, the staff in the dining area confirmed that they, too, were ready. With an expected total of diners to be well into the thousands over the duration of the day, he knew that being prepared was of absolute importance.

“Morning, boss, everything is looking marvellous.”

“Thank you, Ian,” the man replied, a warm smile on his face, “with you in charge up here; I had no doubts about that.”

He made a move to leave, and remembering something, turned back to face his friend. “Just one more thing: after breakfast, can I ask you to assemble all the staff together. I want to have a quick word with them. Can you do that for me?”

“Of course, boss, of course.”


Finance: New York City – Jordan St. James, son of the late Senator and real estate tycoon Brendan – currently running for a seat in the House of Representatives on a platform of unemployment, the homeless and immigration - has announced the grand opening of his recently renovated property. Little is known about the nature of the business…


Cleaning up after an extremely busy – and much publicised – breakfast, Ian approached his boss. “Boss, there is a mass of reporters outside, clamouring for your attention. What would you like me to tell them?”

“Just keep them at arm’s length for me for the moment. I have a few other things to take care of first. Are the staff downstairs?”

Ian nodded. “Shall we go?”

“Of course, Ian, they were the ones who made this place a triumph this morning. Let us go make their day, as Clint Eastwood once said.” With that, he stood, placed his arm around his friend and headed for the door.


There was a dozen or so staff waiting in the dining area. The room went quiet as the two men entered. Ian stood in front of the group and the other man waited just off to his left.

“Ladies and gentlemen, I will make this quick. You have been brought together for a very simple reason; and that reason is standing right here behind me. I give you, Jordan St. James.”

A murmur raced around the room like a Mexican wave. Jordan embraced Ian again, and raised his arms in a gesture of silence.

“Thank you, Ian, my friend. I would also like to thank my father, who has left me a wealthy man but, who has also left a lasting legacy for this town. But, the people I truly want to thank are you people here before me. You were the ones who made this morning a success; you, only recent arrivals in our country but willing to lend a hand for those less fortunate than yourselves. I would like to thank each and every one of you for bringing the Brendan St. James Memorial Meal Centre to fruition and, to show my appreciation; I have prepared a small token of my gratitude.”

He reached into his briefcase and removed numerous envelopes. He began circulating around the room, distributing them and shaking hands with each staff member. A stunned silence filled the room. “Alright, let’s go grab a drink and relax for a few hours before lunch.”


Finance: New York CityJordan St. James is being hailed as ‘Saviour of the City’. Unemployment is down; likewise, the number of homeless people lining up at soup kitchens or for food stamps…


At the end of the, Jordan was sitting at his desk in the small room he called his office. Ian was leaning against the doorframe, cigarette smouldering between his fingers.

“Jordan, I have to say: what we did today was amazing. Did you see the looks in the eyes of those poor people? They were stunned by the generous meals, the atmosphere…all of it.” He paused to gather his thoughts. “What was the deal with the keys?”

Jordan nodded, took a long sip from his glass and smiled. “Ian, it’s not like those fence jumpers are going to need their homes anymore – regardless of how shabby they are. I have friends in all the right places to make sure the transition goes smoothly. Empty homes equals less homeless. It’s a win-win situation.”

Ian flexed his fists, rubbed his forearms and changed the subject. “Some of those bastards were heavy - especially that big Mexican dude. You know, the one with the piercings and tattoos?” He sat down in the chair in front of Jordan’s desk. “Those drugs work pretty quick.”

“That’s why we mix it in their drinks.”

Jordan leaned back in his chair and laughed; a deep, throaty laugh that always made Ian smile.

“What’s so funny?”

“Ian, my friend, I just realised that we now have to advertise for new staff.”

Back to Cover

Comments (3)

Now I understand! Good on you.

Well done, Paul. Kept me guessing to the end.

A solution I am sure that has been secretly considered by more than a few of Ian’s real world peers.

Nice job. Clean and you built the story well with a great unforseen conclusion.

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