University should extend and deepen human understanding, but critical thinking requires ideological diversity.
The train whistles into Gare de Nord and screeches to a halt. I glance out the misted window at the bustle below. A sea of grey pinstriped suits sways about on the wooden quay. Smoke billows onto the platform. People wear agitated looks. I reach into my purse and re-check the address scribbled on a torn envelope. I remove the five francs my mother has given me for a taxi and slip it into my jacket pocket. I slide my suitcase from my lap and lift myself from the worn seat. I brush the creases from my skirt and swallow hard. I proceed to the door and descend the small ladder onto the platform.
The crowd hustles in every direction. I locate the exit sign and forge forward, pushing my suitcase in front of me. Men lift their gaze as I hurry past. I feel their eyes appraise me from the ground up. A man to my right brushes his hand against my waist.
“Charmant, Mademoiselle,” he declares as I push past him.
I lower my eyes and scuttle towards the exit. The crisp spring air cools my skin as the large wooden doors swing open in front of the taxi stand. I stand in line and shift my weight in my shoes. Moments later I slide into the back seat of a cab and inhale deeply. I announce the address to the driver.
“Oui, Mademoiselle,” he replies.
The taxi edges out of the station and jolts into the heavy traffic heading south towards Saint Germain des Prés.
The taxi stops along a narrow cobbled street in the heart of Saint Germain. I slip from the vehicle, take a deep breath, and knock on the large black door of number 324 Rue St Jacques. A petite young woman sporting a green shift-dress and a neat chignon greets me.
“We’ve been expecting you. I am Laura,” she announces. “I believe we will be roommates,” she grins.
Laura steps aside. The furious pound of typewriter keys fills my ears as I enter the commotion of the three-story office building.
“I will be in charge of training you, Rose,” Laura states as she commences a tour of the office.
“Who is your friend?” calls a young man from an office across the hall.
“You just get on with your work, Ben,” Laura responds.
I turn and see Ben and two other men who have gathered to watch the newcomer.
Ben punches one of the men in the arm and they all grin. They stare at us as we continue down the corridor.
Laura turns to me, “You’ve got to watch out for that one. Come to think of it, you’ve got to watch out for the whole damn lot of them,” she laughs.
We reach the centre of the office. Young women sit in rows tapping typewriters. The girls sport smooth chignons and colourful dresses. A dark-haired girl looks up and smiles at me.
“This is where you will start,” says Laura.
I place my suitcase down on the empty desk beside the dark-haired girl.
“But first I have to tell you about tonight,” Laura smirks.
My eyes open wide. I cock my head and I lean in towards her.
“Mr. Davencourt is absent today, but he has asked me to send you to meet him for dinner tonight at The Supper Club. This is a big deal. You will need to leave right after work. And wear your best dress.”
I brush my long hair into a chignon similar to the other girls in the office. The low bun sits at the nape of my neck. I feel elegant with the new style. I powder my nose and apply fresh lipstick. I inspect my reflection. My little black dress falls mid-thigh and curves around my swelling breasts and narrow hips. I smile at my reflection. I hear Mr. Davencourt enjoys pretty secretaries in the office.
I breeze out of the washroom and hand my suitcase to Laura.
“The club is just two blocks from here,” Laura reminds me. “I will take your bag to the apartment and see you there after dinner. The room is tiny, but I think we will get along just fine.” She smiles. “Remember, make the best impression you can with Mr. Davencourt. It will go a long way in your success here.”
I nod and swallow. My heart thumps in my chest. I lift my head and push open the black door leading to the street. I turn left and march towards the club.
A young waiter in a tuxedo greets me at the private entrance on Rue Mouffetard. “Bonsoir mademoiselle. Monsieur Davencourt and guests await you.”
“Merci,” I reply and follow him towards the courtyard at the back of the club.
Low chatter and clinking glasses greet me as I descend the stairs into the softly lit courtyard. The courtyard turns silent. Heads turn. I hear a deep mumble and realise the guests are all men. My heart races under the black fabric of my dress.
A stout man with grey hair and a paunch pushes through the crowd of suited men and approaches me. He raises his arms wide as he strides forward.
“Rose!” He declares. “A rose indeed!”
Mr. Davencourt stops in front of me. I feel his hot breath on my cheeks. He breathes in my perfume. His eyes descend and linger over my cleavage. I spot a balding patch on the top of his head. Sweat beads on his forehead.
Slowly he lifts his gaze to meet mine. “Champagne, Mademoiselle?”
I nod and swallow the lump in my throat.
A waiter hands me a glass of champagne. I lift the flute to my pursed lips and feel the bubbles tickle my throat as I gulp the honey coloured liquid.
“Come,” demands Mr. Davencourt. “Mingle.”
I smile and mince forward into the crowd of men. The energy is titillating. A gentleman compliments my chignon. Another admires my cheekbones. I sense the breath of another on the nape of my neck. I quiver.
A waiter fills my glass. I pour the liquid onto my tongue and allow the bubbles to burst. I smile and tease. I laugh and blush. I feel intoxicated by the attention. I finish my glass and the waiter pours another.
“Messieurs, mademoiselle, dinner is ready,” calls a waiter from the stairs.
Mr. Davencourt swoops in and links his arm in mine. He escorts me towards the stairs. He steadies me as we ascend arm in arm. I giggle. My head feels foggy. I feel flushed.
We follow the waiter into the dining room. An enormous feast for every taste lies before us. I feel the guests enter and crowd behind me. Mr. Davencourt unhooks his arm. He lifts his hand to my cheek and brushes a loose hair behind my ear. He leans in and whispers, “You are finer than the feast, Rose.”
I giggle and stumble. Mr. Davencourt slips his arm around my waist and steadies me. I feel his fingers press into my back. I feel the heat of his body. His damp underarm touches my shoulder.
“Wouldn’t Rose make a fine feast?” Mr. Davencourt asks the guests.
I hear a mumbled response from behind me. I giggle.
Suddenly my feet leave the ground. Mr. Davencourt presses me into his chest. His right arm is under my thighs. His left scoops me close to his face. I look up and see him leer at my cleavage. His breath hits my bare throat. My body freezes.
Mr. Davencourt swings me onto the table between two plates of charcuterie. I teeter in my heels. I stand and look at the crowd. Amused faces stare back.
Mr. Davencourt clears dishes from under me.
“Lie, Rose,” he taunts.
I giggle in response.
“Lie.” He repeats. “I want to enjoy you.”
Blood rushes to my limbs. My heart thumps. My head clears. I gulp and look at him. He stares back at me. His tongue pokes from between his lips and circles around, moistening his lips.
Slowly I lower my frame to the table. I lie on one side and ease my legs out between the dishes. My dress edges up around my buttocks. I reach to pull it down.
“Leave it.” Demands Mr. Davencourt. “It is perfect.”
My stomach churns. Heat rises from my throat to my cheeks.
The guests approach. I feel eyes on every inch of me. My body trembles. I lift my head and look out. A stuffed pheasant sits to my right. A juicy leg of ham sits to my left. A pig’s head lies next to the ham. An apple is wedged in its open mouth. Its glassy eyes stare back at me.
Fingers brush my legs and hot breath warms my neck as the guests fill their plates with the delicate fare.
“May I have a slice?” One man whispers in my ear. His eyes burn holes in my breasts. I want to vomit. I swallow and smile.
Mr. Davencourt approaches. He raises his hand towards my lips. A grape is perched between his two fingers. He pushes the grape into my mouth. His fingers linger on my bottom lip. I hear a groan to my left.
“Come on Rose,” he says. “You must eat too.”
He reaches his hand to meet mine. He pulls me up to my knees and reaches in. He grabs me by the waist and lowers me to the floor. I stand motionless.
“Just a little fun, Rose.” Laughs Mr. Davencourt. “You’re a good sport.”
He reaches around and taps me on the backside. His hand lingers on my skirt.
“I am going to freshen up before dinner.” I muster. I feel tears well behind my eyes.
I lift my chin and swivel towards the door. I feel Mr. Davencourt’s stare as I stride towards the washroom. I close the door behind me. Tears flood my eyes as I sink to the cold tile floor.
“Welcome to Paris, where the local time is 9am and the current temperature is minus three degrees Celsius.
On behalf of Air France, I would like to thank you for travelling with us from Sydney today. We hope to see you onboard in the near future.”
I stroke Aidan’s soft curls. He stirs.
“Aidan, we are here, we are home,” I whisper in his left ear.
The little boy lifts his drowsy head from my warm lap and shakes off sleep. Drool runs down the right side of his mouth onto my jeans. I wipe his face with the end of my sleeve. He shakes his head in protest.
I turn to the gentleman seated to my right. I thank him for his advice. We spoke most of the night. My disclosure was raw and honest. I divulged everything, yet I do not even know his name. He knows Aidan and I spent Christmas with my family. He knows Philippe, my husband, stayed in Paris. He understands my confusion. He senses my emptiness. He suspects Philippe is cheating.
I scoop Aidan’s collection of matchbox cars from the sweaty grey carpet beneath his feet. We count them together.
“Mummy, the green one is missing!” He cries.
I hunt between the narrow seats and retrieve the toy along with a handful of dried spaghetti. I stuff the car into Aidan’s backpack. I slip my heels onto my swollen feet. Aidan slips his tiny hand into mine and we shuffle to the front of the aircraft.
We wait for our luggage to make its descent from the tarmac to the carousel. Aidan is agitated. He stands near the carousel and smashes matchbox cars into its side. I shift my weight in my shoes.
Forty-five minutes later, we struggle towards the exit. Aidan hangs from my right arm. I drag our suitcase with my left. I curse my choice of shoes. My toes protrude from the ends of my two-inch Gucci stilettos.
The shock of winter bites our bare skin as the sliding doors to the taxi line open. Aidan whimpers. He wears shorts and a light hoody. The heat of Sydney feels distant. I scoop Aidan into my arms and he tightens into me. He buries his head in my t-shirt. His hair smells of spaghetti. My toes ache from the cold.
The taxi reeks of Indian leftovers, but feels warm. “All I need” by Air hums from the radio. I fasten Aidan into his seat and search for my buckle. I give up. I snuggle close to Aidan. I warm his cold fingers in mine.
I announce our address to the driver.
“Oui, Madame,” he responds.
I search for my mobile phone and switch it on.
“Are you excited about seeing Papa?” I inquire.
Aidan shrugs. He looks straight at the back of the driver’s seat.
I dial Philippe’s number. It rings out.
The taxi veers onto the freeway. Dirty piles of snow line the sides of the road. Pigeons perch on the electrical wires. Dark grey clouds lie low.
I dial Philippe’s number again. No answer.
The taxi exits the freeway and slows as it hits our suburb. We pass the park where Aidan and I play each weekend. We pass his pre-school. We pass the boulangerie where I buy croissants.
I dial Philippe again.
“Hey babe, it’s me. We are a few minutes away. Can you meet me downstairs? I don’t have my key and the suitcase is quite heavy.”
“Babe, I’m tired. I got in late last night. Do you mind if I just leave the door open? I am sure the apartment building is unlocked. I think they fixed the elevator.”
“Sure.” I whisper.
“Irreplaceable” by Beyoncé plays softly as the taxi stops in front of our building. I unbuckle Aidan and open the passenger door. My feet sink into the dirty snow. My toes hide in my shoes.
Pretty icicles hang from the branches of the cherry blossom where Aidan and I sit during the summer. The walkway to the apartment where we play after school hides under two inches of fresh snow. I shiver and cross my arms.
The driver heaves our suitcase from the trunk. He dumps it in the snow. I scoop Aidan into my arms. I drag our suitcase up the walkway. The suitcase sticks as I tug. My heels sink as I stumble. My feet sting from the cold.
The elevator is broken.
I place Aidan on the cold marble floor and remove my wet heels.
The heavy suitcase clunks against the marble as I hoist it to the fourth floor. I descend and carry Aidan up the four flights.
The apartment door is ajar. The cat pushes through the crack. She purrs and rubs against my leg.
The apartment is quiet. The bedroom door is closed.
“Are you hungry?” I ask Aidan.
Aidan and I sit in the warm kitchen and dip stale brioche in hot chocolate as the snow falls gently outside.
Toronto, Ontario: On February 12, 2018, a panel of experts gathered before a discerning audience of professionals to deliberate Canada’s imminent legalisation of recreational marijuana. The discussion, moderated by Andrea Mandel-Campbell of the Canadian Club, navigated the turbid waters surrounding the impending overnight flip of an illicit narcotic into a legal product. The dialogue in particular, turned around how the industry plans to establish integrity in this novice marketplace.
Among the five industry experts sat Hugo Alves. Described as a leading advisor and pioneer of the cannabis industry, Alves currently serves as president and partner of Cannabis Wheaton Income Corp., a significant player in the Canadian cannabis market.
Hugo Alves (second from left) speaks at the Canadian Club panel discussion.
Mandell-Campbell began by probing her panel about industry integrity concerning valuation. She commented on the plethora of marijuana companies listed on the TSX that boast hefty revenues, yet a negative cash flow. These companies also list value at, “two hundred times their earnings.”
“How do we really value these companies?” asked Mandel-Campbell, directing her rhetoric to Alves, who sat casually in an open-necked shirt before a sea of suited men.
“Can you seriously go from throwing around numbers like 200 billion and then still giving a particular company a 200 times earning value: is that really, I mean, when you look at a lot of these companies, what they are offering is their value proposition and they don’t have a lot of revenue – they are losing money and yet what they are talking about is, I just signed an export licence, I have 16 export licences, I have 20,000 square metres of production capacity, but there is no ‘there’ there yet, so should we be at all nervous, Hugo?”
Hugo Alves appeared undeterred by Mandell-Campbell’s summation of Cannabis Wheaton’s business model. Cannabis Wheaton is the first marijuana streaming company, a concept that acquires partners in the production, distribution and export sectors, and who, despite boasting scores of business deals, reported zero revenue for their first 9 months of operation.
“Well, I think that, well, leaving aside how the market values companies, because by and large that is a function of who is willing to sell and who is willing to buy…I think when you see those announcements about an acquisition, what you are seeing is, and that it is a very exciting thing for the Canadian investor…what we are looking at is a once in a lifetime opportunity: we really have no analogy in our industrial history for this shift away from prohibition to regulation, so it’s an exciting opportunity, whether those valuations are sustainable or not,” responded Alves.
In effect, the legalisation of recreational marijuana represents a milestone in Canadian, and even world history. But flipping a business estimated between six to ten billion dollars almost overnight from the black to the white market poses innumerable issues that Mandel-Campbell continued to scrutinise.
“I want to drill down on some flags that I think go to the heart of the integrity of the sector,” she stated, first speaking of the illegal pesticides found recently in so-called organic medical marijuana products. She then referred to industry accounting regulatory dilemmas: no current industry standards are in place, meaning companies can value their plants as they wish, creating inflated profitability.
Mandell-Campbell also questioned the government’s angle on branding, taxation and pricing: issues they must tackle before this summer, when some twenty-nine million Canadian citizens will presumably receive legal access to recreational marijuana. To date, the Canadian government provides no clarification on future quality measures, or consumer education. And no one knows how the government plans to entice black market buyers over to the legal, but likely more expensive white market place.
“What will it take to still be here five years from now?” concluded Mandell-Campbell’s questioning.
“ I think the winners are the ones that establish a very robust and diverse cultivation platform, both in terns of geography and methodology, and that includes international, and that create and licence strong intellectual property, whether that be brands or a particular process, and those that open up diverse distribution channels,” asserted Alves, outlining Cannabis Wheaton’s objectives.
Although changes to Canada’s cannabis legislation changes appear imminent, no one knows for sure how the rollout of industry practice will play out, or what the future really holds for cannabis companies, despite the multi-billion dollar hype and promised potential.
On February 15, just three days after the panel debate, the Canadian government announced delays in legislative processes, pushing the earliest possible sale date for recreational marijuana back to August 2018. The Canadian Medical Association announced the same day their concerns regarding marijuana dependency and the risks of impaired driving.
Cannabis Wheaton shares dropped to $1.60, their lowest for 2018, following the announced delays. The company, while boasting news of each acquisition on their website, lists minimal financial information and all inquiries divert to Everton Murdoch, an investor relations agent from IRTH Communications, in Los Angeles. When I called Murdoch, he revealed he knew little about Cannabis Wheaton and, “has never even been to Canada.”
Cannabis Wheaton Stocks dropped to $1.60 following announced delays in recreational cannabis legislation.
Andrea Mandell-Campbell. (Moderator). (2018, February 12). Cannabis in Canada: will the market meet the hype? Canadian Club Toronto.
CBC News (2018, February 13). Doctors highlight marijuana’s health effects. CBC News. Retrieved from http://www.cbc.ca/news/health/marijuana-health-1.4070132
E Murdock. Personal communication. 16 February 2018.
Tasker, J. (2018, February 15). Senate deal on cannabis means no sales before August. CBC News. Retrieved from http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/senate-vote-pot-bill-1.4537624
On January 30, 2018, Cannabis Wheaton Income Corp., a provider of funding to marijuana producers in exchange for equity, struck an interim deal with Inverell Corp., an Uruguayan-based marijuana producer. Inverell agrees to cede 80% of their shares to Cannabis Wheaton in exchange for approximately 15 million dollars in cash and capital. This newest acquisition propels Cannabis Wheaton into the international market space.
Cannabis Wheaton’s interest in the Uruguayan company stems from the expertise of its CEO, Raul Urbina. Urbina, a molecular biology expert, previously operated Stevia One, the lowest cost producer of Stevia worldwide. Stevia is a sugar alternative extracted from the leaves of the Stevia plant. Urbina turned from Stevia to marijuana last year after obtaining a federal license to grow and export marijuana products. In anticipation of the growing worldwide interests in medical grade marijuana, Urbina exercised his molecular biology expertise to transform his 16-acre property into a low THC marijuana crop. His first crop matures next month.
Low THC marijuana, also known as Cannabidiol (CBD) contains little of the chemical Tetra-hydro-cannabinol (THC). THC affects a person’s perception of time, space, memory, and pleasure. In medical marijuana, these effects are undesired. Low THC strains remove the undesired effects and instead, prioritise the plant’s pain relieving qualities. Dr. Peter Grinspoon, of the Harvard Medical School, claims that patients prescribed CBD report relief from insomnia, pain, anxiety, and reduced spasticity in conditions such as epilepsy. Dr. Grinspoon states that, “Although we don’t have rigorous studies and “gold standard” proof of the benefits and risks of medical marijuana, we need to learn about it, be open-minded, and above all, be non-judgmental.”
Currently, medical marijuana benefits patients in Chile, Columbia, Australia, New Zealand, the Czech Republic, Canada, parts of the United States, and Uruguay. Uruguay, the first country to legalise the cultivation, distribution, and usage of both recreational and medical marijuana in 2013, holds a strong advantage in the expanding international marketplace, due to its longevity in the business.
Laws on marijuana possession and use differ from country to country.
Hugo Alves, president of Cannabis Wheaton, stated with regards to the Inverell deal that, “We are incredibly excited to work with Dr. Urbina and his team in Uruguay. This transaction helps us secure a significant amount of CBD-rich hemp production that can be exported to other federally legal jurisdictions for further processing into nutritional and pharmaceutical products. We expect to see a significant increase in global CBD demand over the course of the coming years and believe that low-cost jurisdictions with favourable climates for outdoor cultivation will be key sources of CBD supply. As we continue to execute our international strategy, we are thrilled to have identified Inverell as our first international production operation.”
On behalf of Inverell, CEO Raul Urbina stated, “We are very excited to start this new adventure with a company that shares our values and vision and that will allow us to help deliver cannabis products under our 3 ‘P’ philosophy: People, Planet, Profit.”
Because of Urbina’s reputed success as a producer of high quality, high profit Stevia, Cannabis Wheaton anticipates Inverell’s crops to deliver strong margins. Uruguay already offers an opportunity for lower-cost production, compared to local Canadian growers. Cannabis Wheaton anticipates their most successful partnerships will occur in the international space.
Cannabis Wheaton claims as many as 16 partnership deals with local producers and suppliers of marijuana. Inverell’s production line adds to Wheaton’s growing distribution channel and potentially enables the company to become one of the largest suppliers of marijuana worldwide.
Cannabis Wheaton’s stocks closed at $2.18 following the announcement.
Cannabis Wheaton stocks closed at $2.18 following the announced Inverell Corp. deal.
Andrea Mandell-Campbell. (Moderator). (2018, February 12). Cannabis in Canada: will the market meet the hype? Canadian Club Toronto.
Bradford, A. (2017, May 18). What is THC? Live Science. Retrieved from https://www.livescience.com/24553-what-is-thc.html
Cannabis Wheaton acquires Uruguayan hemp CBD producer for $15 million. (2018, January 30). Marijuana Business Daily. Retrieved from https://mjbizdaily.com/cannabis-wheaton-acquires-uruguayan-hemp-cbd-producer-15-million/
Cannabis Wheaton Income Corp. (2018, January 30). Repeat: Cannabis Wheaton Income Corp. announces expansion to Uruguay and securing of significant hemp production. Cannabis Wheaton Income Corp. Retrieved from https://globenewswire.com/news-release/2018/01/30/1314183/0/en/REPEAT-Cannabis-Wheaton-Income-Corp-Announces-Expansion-to-Uruguay-and-Securing-of-Significant-CBD-Rich-Hemp-Production.html
Grinspoon, P. (2018, January 15). Medical Marijuana. Harvard Health Blog. Retrieved from https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/medical-marijuana-2018011513085
Kuhl, L. (2018, January 30). Cannabis Wheaton Income enters Latin America via interim agreement with Inverell. Pot Network. Retrieved from https://www.potnetwork.com/news/cannabis-wheaton-income-enters-latin-america-interim-agreement-inverell
Nuckus, l. (2017, November 1). Where in the world is marijuana legal? Marijuana.com. Retrieved from https://www.marijuana.com/news/2017/11/where-in-the-world-is-marijuana-legal/
Stock Watch Daily. (2018, January 31). Cannabis Wheaton to buy 80% of Inverell for $15 million. Press Reader. Retrieved from https://www.pressreader.com/canada/stockwatch-daily/20180131/281492161755210
Toronto, Ontario: On May 26, 2017, Chuck Rifici, Chairman and CEO of Cannabis Wheaton Income Corp. strode onto the stage of the Lift Cannabis Business Conference to the tune of Bruno Mars’ 24k Magic. Hand in pocket and a grin beaming through his ginger hipster beard, Rifici positioned himself behind the podium and declared, “Legalisation is here!” The sneaker-clad businessman then clarified, “We are legalising by next Canada Day, and that’s amazing!”
Rifici’s Lift Cannabis Business Conference appearance came just weeks after Cannabis Wheaton debuted as the “world’s first marijuana streaming company.” The company previously traded as Knightswood Financial Corp., a boutique merchant bank. In April 2017, Rifici renamed the company to Cannabis Wheaton and changed its business model. The concept of streaming allows Cannabis Wheaton to fund licensed, or nearly licenced, marijuana producers by providing capital in exchange for a royalty-based partner agreement. Cannabis Wheaton will not produce marijuana, but plans to offer potential partners the funds and expertise needed to succeed in the new marketplace.
The concept of streaming may be new to the marijuana business, but Rifici is not. His interest in pot stems back to 2012, when Health Canada announced measures to restrict sales of medical marijuana to online and call centre sales only. Rifici understood this business model well: his first start-up company was a successful online Internet provider that he sold in 2003, age 21, for 1.1 million dollars. Rifici seized the opportunity to manipulate his Internet-business expertise into marijuana sales, co-founding Tweed Marijuana Inc., an online distributor, in 2013.
While thousands of disorganised and informal marijuana producers around the country scratched their heads over the legislation changes, Tweed carefully aligned its production and distribution with the new rules, and scooped up the very first Canadian license to legally sell and produce medical marijuana in 2014. Rifici’s personal wealth grew by $5 million overnight as the share price rose more than 25%, from $2 to $2.58, following the announced license. Meanwhile, the self-made millionaire volunteered his spare time as CFO of the Canadian Liberal Party. Rifici, now nicknamed the “Godfather of Weed,” claims there is no connection between his role as CFO and Tweed’s swift licensing by Health Canada.
Under the new reforms of 2012, Chuck Rifici’s company, Tweed Marijuana Inc. became Canada’s first licensed medical marijuana producer to sell online.
“It’s not going to be the Cannabis Culture anymore, it’s going to be The Culture, it’s going to be who we are as Canadians,” asserted Rifici in the opening minutes of his Lift Conference speech.
Dressed in jeans and a token sports jacket, Rifici grinned and gestured towards his audience as he continued, “We have a government that are taking a very safe approach going forward…but we are going to help the legal community make this law right and make it effective.”
Health Canada predicts marijuana users will increase ten-fold over the coming decade.
Cannabis Wheaton shares currently trade at $1.17, up from $0.03 at the time of its evolution.
Austin, I. (2014, May 24). When cannabis goes corporate. Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/2014/05/25/business/international/when-cannabis-goes-corporate.html
Cannabis Wheaton. (2017, May 5). Cannabis Wheaton the world’s first marijuana streaming company announced appointment of industry leading team. Retrieved from http://www.marketwired.com/press-release/cannabis-wheaton-worlds-first-marijuana-streaming-company-announces-appointment-industry-tsx-venture-cbw-2214512.htm
Cloutier, F. (2014, September 4). Liberal CFO a pot multimillionaire. Toronto Sun. Retrieved from http://torontosun.com/2014/09/04/liberal-cfo-a-pot-multimillionaire/wcm/9bb2ddcf-ec38-44b3-81d9-52f01fb04bed
Dimatteo, E. (2018, January 29). Who’s making a killing on weed? Now Toronto. Retrieved from https://nowtoronto.com/news/cops-politicians-cashing-in-on-cannabis/
Helmer, A. (2015, October 29). Liberal CFO could rake in money with legislation. Ottowa Sun. Retrieved from http://ottawasun.com/2015/10/28/liberal-cfo-could-rake-in-marijuana-money-with-legalization/wcm/7f3593dc-eca5-4def-8a19-f8fd5a2e1a78
Lift. (2017, October 12). Canadian cannabis – the second inning. Mr. Chuck Rifici. YouTube. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pTB0179i6do
Parry, C. (2017, May 8). Chuck Rifici resigns from Aurora, Supreme as Cannabis Wheaton debuts. Equity Guru. Retrieved from https://equity.guru/2017/05/08/chuck-rifici-resigns-from-aurora-acb-v-and-supreme-sl-c-as-cannabis-wheaton-cbw-v-debuts/
I descend to the ground floor of the North Sydney office building. My job interview was successful. I start next month. I will move to Sydney. I will find a new apartment. Morgan, my five-year-old son, will start a new school. “I may even have a new man,” I smile to myself.
I exit the elevator and check my appearance in the lobby mirror. Aaron will meet me outside. We met online last month. We have chatted for two weeks. I have seen two photos of him. Both head shots. He has seen many photos of me. Aaron lives in Sydney and works in sales. I live in Canberra and work in IT, for now. Aaron has a dog. He has a house in wealthy Pymble. He drives a BMW. His profile says he is five feet eleven. He is taller than me. I feel excited.
I brush my hands down my suit and open the top button of my blouse. I feel formally dressed for a date, but Aaron will also be dressed in a suit. He has invited me to lunch. My flight home is three hours away. My throat feels dry. My palms feel clammy.
I exit the grand sky rise building. It is late autumn and still warm. It is just past two o’clock and Miller Street is quiet. I scan the road for a BMW. I don’t see one. I search the sidewalk for a tall man. I don’t see one.
I walk a few metres to the left of the building. A man leans against a car. The man wears an ill-fitting black suit. The baggy trouser legs skim the ground. He wears clunky black shoes. His jacket is open. His large belly protrudes from beneath his blue striped shirt. His belly hangs over his belted waist. His shirt buttons strain to hold his mass. His broad shoulders sit on his short frame. His fat neck peaks above his collar.
The man pushes himself from his dirty beaten car. He leans towards me. He stops. His palms open wide in a welcoming gesture. I look at his face. I recognise the dark curls hiding his receding hairline. I gasp.
“What the fuck?” I mutter. I want to bolt for the office building.
Aaron approaches with a wide gait. He leans in. He plants a wet kiss on my cheek. I pull back. He stands five foot eight inches at most. I am taller by the inch of heels. I feel trapped.
“Your carriage awaits, Madame,” Aaron says. He gestures to the beat up 1980 BMW by the side of the road.
Aaron struts to the vehicle and opens the passenger door. He gestures me inside. I smile politely and edge towards the car.
The car stinks of wet dog. Dog hair puffs into the air as I sit on the worn fabric seat. The door bulges with gum wrappers, coke cans, empty chip packets, a dog leash, and a packet of cigarettes. Aaron’s profile says non-smoker.
“I’m sorry, I didn’t get a chance to clean the car today. It was a hectic morning at the office,” he professes. He pulls from the curb and swerves towards the freeway.
A choke leaves my mouth.
“I have a funny story to tell you,” he continues. “I left my wallet at home this morning.”
“Oh,” I reply. I pick dog hairs from my skirt.
We swing around the corner and head towards the harbour.
“Oh it is alright,” he responds. “I went around the office and borrowed some notes from people.”
“Oh,” I respond.
“I want to take you to Woolloomooloo.”
Woolloomooloo hosts an array of fancy restaurants on the pier. Tables jut over the ocean. The harbour bridge perches over the pier. The late afternoon sun sets behind the bridge and casts a welcoming shadow over tables. The setting is perfectly romantic.
“Have you eaten?” He asks.
“I will have a drink,” I respond.
I order a bottle of Sauvignon Blanc.
Aaron sits close to me. His fat pocked cheeks wobble when he speaks. Dandruff flecks speckle his lapel. Grease gleams on his nose. Dry skin flakes from his ears. I squirm in my seat. I want to vomit. I pour a large glass of wine.
“I always punch above my weight,” Aaron remarks. He puffs his chest and looks at me. “My ex-girlfriend was a beauty. And now you.”
I gulp my wine.
“My house backs onto the bush. I like to run there with my dog on the weekend. I am the outdoor type. I love exercise.”
I pour another glass.
The waitress approaches. Aaron orders fried calamari and fries.
“I enjoy the finer things in life, fine wine and fine food. It is important to look after yourself.”
“Uh hum,” I respond between two swigs of wine.
The waitress arrives with his food. Her eyes assess me. I feel like an escort.
Aaron loads his fork with calamari. He shoves the loaded fork into his mouth. He chews mouth open and grunts as he swallows. I drink another glass.
“You are prettier than your photos,” Aaron mumbles. The words are muffled by his mouthful of fries.
I pour another glass. I look at my watch.
“Are we out of time?” Aaron asks.
“I need to get to the airport now,” I respond. I bumped my flight to the earlier one.
“I will drive you,” Aaron says proudly.
He asks for the bill. He reaches into his jacket. Wads of notes fall onto the table. He smirks at me.
Traffic is slow.
“When you come back to Sydney I will take you to a better restaurant.” Aaron declares from behind the wheel.
My foot taps the rubber car mat. I pick dog hair from my jacket.
“You will meet my dog, Jasper, and we can take him to the beach.”
I look out the window. He rambles for the rest of the journey.
Eventually, we pull into the terminal.
“Don’t park,” I order. “I don’t have time, drop me at the curb.”
I unbuckle my belt. I grab my purse. I scramble from the car and make a break for the terminal.
I have a feeling you weren’t that into me. Reads Aaron’s text later that evening.