THE MONGOLIAN GIRL – CHAPTER TWELVE
Enkhbold sat behind his Russian walnut desk, with its heavy bulbous legs, Olga to his right, with Tom on the other side, facing them. The floor was covered with red, diamond-patterned Persian carpet, the chairs had brown leather seats, and a small chandelier hung from the ceiling. On the wall behind the desk was a gilt-framed photo of Enkhbold shaking hands with the President. The walls, however, were painted with the same cheap yellow gloss paint as Tom’s office, and there was the same old-style radiator in one corner, but in this much larger room, it produced a tolerable heat.
Enkhbold, clasped his hands together, leaned forward and spoke quietly. Olga interpreted.“You know we don’t usually invite enemies of socialism here. It was Mr Batbold’s idea. He is...” Olga paused as she searched for the right words: “He is a pragmatist.”
Tom pursed his lips and nodded.
Enkhbold fingered the Montecristo cigar he'd stubbed out in a heavy crystal ashtray. “Of course, I wouldn’t even consider an American, so we compromised and agreed on you.”
Tom grimaced as stale cigar smoke filled the air. “I see.”
Enkhbold, his oiled, steely-grey hair glistening, looked Tom up and down, disapprovingly: “I know you are only here for our money.”
Tom started to protest: “But, I am here to do a job.”
Enkhbold flicked out his right hand contemptuously: “You don’t even know what job it is, do you?”
Olga shifted uncomfortably in her seat, twisted a wisp of hair which had fallen loose across her forehead and, avoiding eye contact with Tom, continued to interpret Enkhbold’s words. “As I said, you only want our money. And you will get your money as long as we are satisfied with your work.”
“What?” Tom blurted out, worried. “We have a contract. As I understand it, a minimum payment of £100,000 is guaranteed.” Tom stroked the stubble on his chin nervously and attempted to smile as Enkhbold and Olga discussed this point for what seemed like an eternity. Finally, Enkhbold’s small, wizened face wrinkled into a smile as Olga turned to Tom and said, “The exact wording is, ‘on satisfactory completion.’”
Tom reflected ruefully, that he really wasn’t cut out for business. Trusting people and not reading the small print had led his small agency in
“Why worry about this minor detail, Mr Rawlinson? I’m sure you are going to do exactly what we want, aren’t you?”
Tom smiled and feigned an air of confidence. “I think I can help you improve you image, if that’s what you mean.”
Enkhbold could see the beads of sweat starting to appear. He clenched both fists then stated emphatically, “You have three months to devise a plan to keep us in power. Do that and you will get your money and, perhaps, even a bonus. Fail and.. Well, you won’t fail, will you?” Enkhbold lowered his voice and added something as an aside to Olga.
“Mr Enkhbold wants to know if you have your passport with you.” She flinched as a look of dread spread across Tom's face.
He croaked back, as his stomach muscles tightened into a painful knot, “I left it at the hotel.”
Olga whispered to Enkhbold, who immediately picked up the phone and snapped out an order.”
He put the phone down very deliberately, with a look of grim satisfaction.