Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Sellout (05/26/11)
TITLE: The Daylesford Diamond Betrayal
By Helen Curtis
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Of course, you’re a reporter, come to get the truth behind the…what was it they called me…the “worst sellout since Judas. Bahh, what’s it matter now anyway? I’m all washed up. Not a penny to my name. Many wouldn’t give two hoots; in fact, most would think it’s ‘karma’ come to bite me in the butt.
Sitting before you is the defunct CEO of Daylesford Holdings in South Africa! “Daylesford Diamonds: when perfection just isn’t good enough.” Oh our diamonds were…living…so beautiful, enchanting, almost…divine. Most couldn’t afford one; royalty – of nations and of Hollywood – they were our clients. Oh, the names I could drop, the places I could have gone…but for my friend. Themba Botha…a blaggard I’d sooner forget. Hmm? Who was Themba? Where do I begin?
Back in 1986, as the CEO of the Company, I appointed Themba as my personal assistant and right-hand-man. He came with the highest of recommendations from previous employers, including some very prominent business associates in South Africa. In hindsight, his perfect record should have raised alarm bells, or at the very least warranted further investigation. But I was young and naïve, and had no reason to doubt his credibility. He worked hard, and proved himself loyal to me and the company. So when he “personally vouched for” a German diamond export company I gave him the go-ahead to sign them up as a seller of our diamonds. “Take total control” I told him! It was a stupid, ignorant thing to do…I can’t…how could he...
FOR TWO YEARS HE TOOK MY PRECIOUS DIAMONDS AND SUBSTITUTED THEM…for stones, so worthless I wouldn’t even put them in a child’s toy ring. It was… an inconceivable betrayal of the worst kind.
How did I discover what he was doing? Dumb luck. I made an unscheduled visit one afternoon to his office, ironically to give him a raise. He didn’t have time to hide the trays on his desk; when I asked him about it, he just sat there, smug, taunting. “I’m greedy,” he said, as if that justified everything! In that moment, I felt feelings unlike anything I’d ever known before – hurt, anger, humiliation. Words cannot describe the loss I experienced, not only of an employee, but a friend, more of a brother to me than my own flesh and blood. I turned and stumbled towards the office door, and then I heart the unmistakeable click of a revolver being cocked…
“I would’na leave dis office Mr Daylesford. De poleec are on de way and I beleev it is you dey will be looking for.”
You see, my dearest friend was not only embezzling my diamonds, but he was setting me up as the culprit – “friends in high places” he said. Palms were easily greased back then, and he knew who to schmooze up to. Every piece of evidence pointed towards me. I was given a ‘kangaroo court’ trial and found guilty of fraud and embezzlement. Some say I was lucky I only got ten years imprisonment. LUCKY?! I lost everything that day. My family, devastated by my betrayal, disowned me. My wife tried to stand by me but the stress was just too great. I haven’t seen my daughter in 16 years, she...she was just five years old when…" sniff
“When you were locked away for a crime you didn’t commit? They were very rough with you, weren't they? I remember thinking they didn’t need to be, I mean, you weren’t a threat to anyone. I remember you as a very kind, loving father who would never have done what they said you did. And every day for the past 16 years, I have worn this beautiful, diamond-studded signet ring to remind me of you, and how someday I would find you, and tell you how much I love you…”
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