“This is bad. This is really bad.” Andy groaned to himself, looking at Raise’s financial statements. He was in his own office, questioning all of these strange purchases that his boss and friend had been making. Jamie had been spending about 7,200 pounds a week on something he has listed as “other expenses”. Between the fact that Jamie had not been coming out of his office and these expenses have already amounted to 57,600 pounds across the past two months. They have had to take these costs out from other aspects of the club to fund them, whatever they may be. His phone ringing, the African American quickly picked it up. “Hey, I have your liquor out in the back.” One of their vendors. They have had to switch to cheaper suppliers to cut costs in food and liquor. After putting all of their purchases away with the help of one of the bouncers, Andy continued to look through his statements. And then his phone rang yet again. “Hey, I know that this is unprofessional, but I can’t keep playing at your club. You guys keep cutting my rates, and I just got an offer from another place that is going to be paying double of what you guys originally paid me. Thanks again.” It was their DJ. Or rather, former DJ now. They had to cut his pay by a fourth just to make up costs, and Andy himself had to insist that this was only temporary. And then, of course, a bright yellow slip made its way into their mail. It was an open invoice statement. “You have not yet payed your invoices for the past two months. If you continue to leave these unpaid, we will have to terminate your electricity services.” Crumpling up the paper, Andy groaned to himself. It was pretty self-explanatory. There needed to be changes. Raise needed Jamie.
First, it was just Jamie saying that he didn’t want to come out of his office. Andy understood how it must have felt, because this was the club owner’s first real relationship, and he genuinely loved Farina. But then he started fooling around with Farina’s friend, Jessica, and that’s where Andy started to feel uneasy. Being sleazy was not like Jamie. He had standards and morals that he lived by, which was why he was not like all of those other investment bankers on Wall Street or club owners in big cities in general. His goal was never to exploit people for their money and resources and to play harder than he actually worked. He simply wanted to create a fun environment where people can enjoy themselves. A place where you can let loose and kick back after a long day of work. That’s the vision for Raise than Andy believed in. That, along with Jamie’s charisma, was what convinced him that moving to London, leaving behind his family in Harlem, it would all be worth it. So for the sake of that vision, Andy chose to look the other way with Jamie’s behavior. The Italian American was in a slump, and he just needed time to heal. At least that’s what the club manager thought. How wrong he would turn out to be. Days became weeks, and weeks slowly amounted to a month, and Jamie was nowhere to be found. Their usual meetings that they would need to run every two weeks, going over costs and labor, Andy found himself having to handle it all because Jamie was nowhere to be found. It made him uneasy, not because he could not do it, but rather, he did not want to go against what Jamie envisioned with the club, or try anything that could put Raise at financial risk. He tried his best to keep the revenue where it needed to be, but that was getting harder with each and every week, with all of these unusually high costs coming in and cutting into their profit. It was a domino effect. First, the costs cut the revenue. And from there, it was starting to effect all of the other parts of the club.
Rise was a club that prided itself on its innovation, hiring up and coming talent in DJ’s, and serving great drinks. But now, the reviews were coming in and they reflected all of the budget cuts that Andy was being forced to make. “Bad music. Crap DJ. Would not come back.” “They use shit-quality vodka. This place is a huge rip-off.” “It’ used to be a fun place to go, where playing 20 pounds was worth it. Now I wouldn’t even go there if you were to pay me 5 pounds. The DJs have sucked every week I went. Just don’t go.” That last one, it really hurt Andy. That was the last thing he would have wanted to hear about his own business. It was getting increasingly tougher to hold down the fort, and feign a smile when people walk up to you to complain, and when your staff are losing motivation. To say that morale was low in Raise was an understatement. Bouncers were not showing up to their shifts, bartenders were not proud of the product that they were serving, and the DJs were more like university dropouts who want to make it big, but lack the know-how and talent to actually make a full-time career out of this. Raise was increasingly becoming an embarrassment, and in just the past two months of Jamie’s absence, Andy could only do so much to prevent this. And it all stemmed from all of these unexplained expenses. What were they? Jamie was not communicating, nor was he showing any investment in the club, and it was getting to the point where he was burying his own dream in the ground. Rummaging through the credit card statements, Andy still could not find anything besides payments on PayPal, but the user Jamie had been sending money to, he could not find that information. Jamie had made a separate account, using their corporate card.
Inside of his office, Jamie frowned. He was finally looking through his phone for the first time in weeks. He had only been using it to hit up Alex or Jessica, and he was blatantly ignoring the emails and messages from Andy. Andy meant business, and he could not deal with any of that anymore. Whatever happens to Raise, it did not matter to him anymore. He was able to work his way up from nothing to create this club, so he knew that even if Raise were to go bankrupt, it did not matter. He could just do the same things he did in Wall Street, replicate that success, and start another club. Whatever. So long as he got to continue getting his fix. He could not live without knowing that he could just take in deep breaths, and feel alive. Nobody else mattered to him, unless they accepted him for what he was doing. Andy clearly didn’t. He would say things to the effect of disapproving of his habits. And it sucked. All he cared about was everyone being supportive of his hobbies and interests. Why should this be seen any differently than taking bets at a sports bar or doing stocks? It was an investment for pleasure and enjoyment. The fact that Andy could not see it this way was proof that he did not care about his wellbeing, nor was he anything more than a gold-digger. All he cared about was the money. And it was because he knew, deep down, that without Jamie’s brilliance and experience from Wall Street, he would be nothing. He would just be that same thug off the streets of Harlem, threatening people for their money. He did not care about who helped get him out of that place, he just wanted to stay out of there, which was his driving motivation. It was so obvious. And it was all thanks to Jessica that Jamie was able to finally hear the music and make this realization. He was being used and could trust nobody. Not Andy, not Alex, not Jessica, not even Farina. He could not bring himself to delete the Taiwanese girl’s number, but he badly wanted to do it.