– Call me Mr.. P.
He was standing in a big office at the top of a building, one of many owned by a big software corporation, one that is not known by many but that I know is providing so-called “defensive” software for most big companies/administrations.
I made a mental check of my appearance even if I had done it in the elevator after going through the usual security screen when you deal with such big fishes.
This was not an OCD but something necessary to deal with corporates. You aren’t in my profession for long without knowing a couple of things and the more you are “up to it” and the more the Mr. Johnson call you. And one of the golden rules is to be able to merge in your surroundings.
What I do? You don’t expect me to tell you, do you?
– And you can call me Mr.. Beaumont.
– Are you French?
– I am from here and there.
– If you don’t want to talk, let’s go straight ahead to business.
– I am all ears.
– I heard that you have a certain talent to find items that are rather difficult to find or to obtain. And I would like you to find something for me.
– What have you lost?
– I didn’t say I had lost anything. I am quite surprised you don’t try to secure a deal with me.
– Do I need to? If you spoke to your Mr. Johnson, you know who I am and that I am among the best in my field. But also that I don’t secure deals. I have my rates and I don’t discuss them. If you send someone to look after me, you have already accepted them. […] So I ask you again. What have you lost?
Without a word, Mr.. P got up and went to a little screen and dialled something on it before getting back to his seat and waiting there without saying a thing.
I knew this game, I had been playing it for a long, long time by now and I had become quite good at it by now. So I just kept silent and waited.
Before long, I heard a ding coming out of nowhere and Mr. P. just turned around and brought some kind of kettle before pouring coloured water in a small ceramic cup.
After smelling it, he drank it quietly, taking its time and enjoying it before turning back to me.
– Tell me Mr. Beaumont, what do you know about Camellia?
I began mentally looking for all the Camilla I knew or that were related to this company before being stopped in my tracks.
– No. Camellia sinensis.
I just looked at him, trying to find out what this was all about.
– It seems you don’t get it. Camellia sinensis. The tea plant.
– You want me to retrieve some tea for you. Is that it?
– You say “some tea” like I was sending you to look for something quite ordinary. I know what you are charging Mr. Beaumont. I have enough to deal with you but I don’t like wasting my time or my money and I wouldn’t send you hunting some ordinary tea.
– Then tell me, what will I be looking for?
– A treasure Mr. Beaumont, a real treasure. A storage of 2008 Pu’er, the first year, the former Chinese government approved a standard declaring pu’er tea as a “product with geographical indications”.
– And I guess you know where I can find them?
– Not really. If I knew everything I wouldn’t need you.
– So I am to find some old thing and you don’t have a clue where it is hidden?
– I can help you but I cannot expose myself too much. I will give you a name that can lead you to something, a French called Leloup.
When I left the building, I had accepted the mission but I had no real clue about where I was heading and what I was going to do.