Chapter 2: The Fateful Night
Ali drove Linda to school in his favorite middle-class white sedan. He liked the simplicity, and he bought this car after starting his career in his hometown. The simple white sedan car had been with him since then.
"Linda, we're here. Be careful, okay?" Ali did not forget to remind out of concern for his cute cousin.
"Yes, see you later at home!" Linda answered with morning enthusiasm. After she got out of the car, Ali just smiled as he stared at his cousin jogging towards school.
Avery Corporation was a business he built from scratch in his hometown. The company that developed agricultural technology was warmly welcomed by local residents, most of whom were farmers or landowners.
With full shares only in Ali's name, the company possessed six thousand workers spread across various fields of work and expertise.
The large three-story building became the place where he realized his ideas to facilitate local residents' work. Abundant field crop yields, decreased crop pests, prevented crop failure, and many more technologies that he implemented even to the surrounding cities.
"Good morning Mr. Ali."
"Good morning Mr. Ali. A beautiful day for you."
"Hum. Good morning, continue what you are doing." Ali entered his office and received several warm greetings from his employees before he entered his personal room.
As soon as he entered his room, he saw the documents had piled up on his desk. He could only sigh at the easy but tiring task that had become his morning routine before going to the factory and fieldwork.
Suddenly there was a knock on the door, which made him stop his job desk for a moment. "Yes, please enter."
"Here is your tea Mr. Ali. You are so diligent by coming to the office so early." The old office boy came with a large glass of warm herbal tea.
"Hehe... You are so modest, Mr. Toha. If I arrive at eight in the morning and you say it as so early, then what is the appropriate term for you who come to the office at five in the morning?" Ali joked lightly with an old man who lived alone in the complex where Ali and his small family lived.
Because Toha had been unemployed for a long time and could not find another job at his age, Ali hired him as an office boy who served on the third floor. Toha worked with five other office boys on their respective responsibilities.
"You are so polite, Mr. Ali. This old man works here because of you. At least, I can appreciate you by working diligently like this. Then I excuse myself, may God bless you." Toha didn't want to bother Ali any longer. He immediately came out of the room after saying his prayer.
There was a ringing sound from his cell phone. Ali had three phone numbers on three different types of phones to differentiate the caller's status. Namely for business, personal, and general.
The continuous ringing from his general phone apparently came from an unknown number. Ali hesitated for a moment before accepting the call.
"..." Ali silently waited for the caller to open the conversation.
"Hello, is this Ali Avery's number? The sole director of Avery Corporation?" A wet hoarse voice was heard after waiting a few seconds, but Ali could not identify the voice owner.
"Yes, it's me. May I know who I'm talking to?"
"Hahaha! That's good, I'm Eren. Your schoolmate when we were in middle school."
Ali didn't even remember a single person he had met since his school days. This foreign caller named Eren was no more than any other stranger. But since the caller seemed to know him, at least he still answered politely. "Very well, Mr. Eren. So, how can I help you?"
"Speaking of help, yes. I really need your help." Eren sounded a little excited.
"What kind of help?"
"I am experiencing an economic crisis, and I want to borrow funds from you."
Hearing that, Ali immediately became uncomfortable because he knew where this conversation was going. It was clearly proven, an unknown person was trying to borrow funds directly like this, without going through the prescribed procedure.
Avery Corporation was no stranger to providing loan funds to farmers and landowners. Still, all of them came with professionalism and a definite guarantee.
"Then you can come to our office, Mr. Eren. That way, we can process your request as soon as you complete all our procedures." Ali only answered professionally. He was starting to wonder how this person got his number.
"Hey! We're friends, right? I don't borrow a lot. Only ten thousand dollars. Can't you make an exception for me? You're a big director, right?" Eren got a little irritated.
Ali finally understood, Eren as the caller knew that loans could only be processed with collateral. However, Eren wanted to borrow some money without any intention of repaying it.
"Sorry, Mr. Eren. That is our policy. If you cannot fulfill our procedures, then we cannot process your request."
Shortly after Ali said the rejection, the caller seemed to be ignited by his emotions and began to shout.
"Hey, Ali! I know you were a loser when you were still in school! I am disgusted by seeing you so pathetic! Oh, yes! What if a well-known businessman who had just risen involved in gossip about his past? Hahaha... Surely you will be famous once again in the media!"
It sounded like an insult or something. Ali's body temperature began to gradually drop in light of his dark past. However, a firm demeanor was still on his face. "You may do it, but you also have to prepare for the consequences that will come after that."
There was no need to wait for the sequel. Ali immediately hung up and blocked it. He also set his phone to reject incoming calls from other foreign numbers because he didn't want to hear any words from strangers for now.
Ali stared at his hands, which had become so pale white and trembling after he no longer suppressed the intense reaction of fear that had traumatized him deeply.
Then, he drank the hot tea, raised the temperature of the air conditioner, and rubbed his hands together before hugging himself as if he was trying to warm himself.
'Come on, Ali, you must fight your fears. You are not destined for this!' Ali convinced himself in his mind. A few moments passed until he felt better and continued his work.
A few moments passed, and it was time for lunch, but just as Ali was about to leave for lunch, he got a call from the receptionist regarding someone's arrival at his request. He didn't remember he had asked someone to come, but he went with the flow and asked the receptionist to take the guest to his room.
The beautiful young woman full of seductive aura came to his personal room. Looking at her, Ali only needed one word to define this woman at that time, temptress.
He didn't want to be left alone with that seductive woman, so he invited the receptionist lady to have lunch together. That way, he could question the purpose of the woman's arrival with a calm heart. With Ali's current status, he couldn't just kick her out without reason.
Ali learned many things from his own experiences and circumstances. He even learned from many stories of other people's life experiences as a reference. Something like the 'honey trap' should be carefully avoided. Then, they went to the office's private canteen on the first floor.
"Please sit, Miss and Mrs. Yarin." Ali invited the guest and the receptionist lady after he sat down. He ordered the lunch menu using a portable device available at the table.
"Nice to meet you. My name is Jessica Ariana." The seductive woman greeted with a smile as if she was seducing someone. She reached out for a handshake.
"Hum. Ali Avery. So what is the purpose of your arrival, Miss Jessica?" Ali shook Jessica's hand and headed straight for their main topic.
"Yes, I came at the request of the head of management to become your personal assistant." Jessica answered cheerfully.
'Why did the head of management ask this woman to be my assistant? I didn't even order him for this. Does this have a hidden factor or what?' Ali muttered in his mind. Negative thoughts suddenly came just like that.
Ali could not just judge with a few facts like this, so he just went with the flow first. The next event only came like a woman trying to seduce a rich man, which made Yarin feel disgusted by Jessica's behavior.
Ali couldn't just accept any assistant, considering that his assistant in the past had betrayed him so severely. He just politely refused Jessica with good reasons.
Jessica could only sigh in disappointment, but she didn't want to just give up. She would only step back for a while, something like a tactical retreat. Maybe, her approach was wrong.
"Sorry to involve you here, Mrs. Yarin." Ali spoke after Jessica left the room.
"Yes, I know what you mean, Mr. Ali. No need to worry, then I will excuse myself." Yarin shook her head with a gentle smile.
She had seen many types of people and knew right away what Ali meant. To be honest, she had an excellent opinion of the young director in this office, and she sometimes helped him with this sort of thing.
Ali softly sighed after he was alone in the private dining room. Then, he also left to continue his work. Until twilight came to indicate the time to go home.
"I'm home." Ali gave a greeting after he entered the house.
"Welcome back." His mother welcomed the return of her only son from the kitchen.
At that time, his father watched the news on television, and Linda was playing something on her phone while humming happily at the dinner table. They were just waiting for dinner.
Ali rushed into the kitchen after changing into casual clothes. "Let me help you, mother."
"No need, my son. The dish is almost ready. All you have to do is prepare the cutlery on the table." His mother softly refused, and Ali could only comply. The dinner dish was almost ready.
"Linda, help me prepare the cutlery." Ali asked his cousin for help when he came to the dining table carrying several plates.
"Ready to execute!" Linda saluted and rushed to do what was asked as if she had received an order from her boss.
After that, the four of them enjoyed a warm dinner together peacefully.
"What about sales in the store?" Ali opened the conversation after they had eaten their meal.
"Today's sales are good. At least it's better than yesterday." His father answered before taking a sip of hot coffee.
"Then that's good." Ali nodded because it was just lip service. They knew that no matter how big or small their sales and revenues were... Ali was still with them.
Their warm conversation continued with various topics until it was time to sleep. They returned to their respective rooms for a good rest.
Ali laid on his bed, looking up at the starry night sky before closing his eyes to sleep. A small smile was carved into his calm face.
That fateful night was the end of Ali's story that would welcome a new life. Where fiction became real, and the impossible became possible.