“I’m out Stefan. It’s been twenty years and I'm done. I’ve always wanted to be a landscape gardener….in Cardiff” Rhodri had travelled the world and lived in hotels for so long he’d almost forgotten he was from Cardiff. He wanted a life, he’d earned it. Well, he’d taken many other lives that deserved taking. He thought he might sound a bit whiny when he said those words, but they came out strong. He couldn't look Stefan in the eyes as the came out though.
“If you is sure is what you want – is ok with me” Rhodri loved Stefan’s east European accent. His words were economical and monotone, yet you understood any nuance from how he looked at you.
They’d saved each other’s lives many times, which meant the usual exit for a contract hitman didn’t apply. Stefan knew Rhodri hadn’t been himself recently or enjoying his work. He’d kidded himself that this day wouldn’t come, but he’d noticed the signs for a while. Part of him hoped he wouldn’t live to see Rhodri leave him.
“Maybe you save job for me?” Stefan would miss Rhodri. They’d seen dozens of their peers come and go over the years. Yet they’d survived everything thrown at them and were like a family unit. After all, Stefan was the closest thing to a dad Rhodri had. “You’d shoot yourself after five minutes in a garden!” Rhodri knew Stefan would die doing his job. He couldn’t cope in real life. They both knew it. It didn’t need to be said. Deep down Rhodri feared Stefan wouldn’t cope as a solo operator very long.
Rhodri had accumulated enough cash to retire at thirty. Working as an international hitman since ten years old can do that. Stefan’s clients always paid and paid big. In between jobs, Rhodri had fantasised for years about being a landscape gardener to enjoy the anonymity of real life.
For a few seconds Rhodri dreamt of the future and Stefan reminisced about the life they’d had together, as they sat outside their favourite Barcelona back street café not knowing what to say next.
“Time to catch my flight” Rhodri broke the silence and downed the last of his Americano.
“Ok my friend” Stefan understood. “Wait” Stefan muttered in a thick slow dark tone he used in the day job. Rhodri’s hairs rose on the back of his neck. Stefan reached inside his jacket, his hand brushed past his loaded automatic and plucked out his sunglasses. “My uncle sells the double glaze windows back home. He gets plenty business from business network club. You join club to get business yes?”
The story starts...
A monthly serial based on something you either love or hate : the business networking 'club'
It's going to get weird!
Netgain is a business networking club. It’s the most successful club of its kind in Cardiff and probably the world.
Local businesses can apply for membership and benefit from expertise, connections and business opportunities that come from business leaders getting to know, like and trust each other. That doesn’t sound mould breaking, so what is the secret sauce that has made them so successful?
Something happened a few years ago. Something that changed everything.
It was an accidental discovery. An unfortunate episode that should have been reported to the police.
They did what all business people tell you to do in networking meetings. “Seize the day”, “Create your own luck” or such like. Their various talents were blended into an awful criminal entrepreneurial opportunity. You could call it “crimin-eaurial”...