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9

Maxs eyes glittered under the porch lights as he watched the sparkly police car move away down the brightly illuminated asphalt and on past the gateposts to the outer darkness, bearing off that hapless burglar with the hangdog look. And without his ring. Find a job youre better suited to, my friend, thats my advice.

Was there a better feeling than this? Not only to have won, but to have rubbed your enemys nose in his defeat. The ring twinkled on Maxs finger, still warm from the burglars hand.

This was why he was a winner, a winner against all the odds, and always would be. Luck followed the bold. And look what it had brought him this time.

When hed first decided to take the ring, Max hadnt as yet looked closely at it, hadnt realized it actually did belong to him, in an odd and delightful way. The taking had been merely an amusing fillip to an already enjoyable evening; to cap it all by robbing the robber. After all, whats the worst that could happen?

And now it turned out it was his, had been spiritually his all along. What a surprise, when the police officer had handed him the ring and hed turned it over, to see it there: TUI.

The ring itself was nothing, an undistinguished plain cheap band, except for that symbol on its face. The broken line above two solid lines: Tui, his own personal trigram. Hed even named his umbrella corporation for that symbol, once hed become wealthy enough to need an umbrella corporation. Trans-Global represented the broken line at the top, while Universal and Industries were the two solid lines, and the initials on the Big Board are TUI. Thats me. This ring is mine, I was more right than I knew.

He even showed it to the rather slow-witted policeman, though the fellow could have had no idea what he was talking about: There you are, you see? The symbol of Tui. I based my whole corporation on this.

Have to throw the coins, very soon. But first, time to rid oneself of the woman. And protect oneself from whatever danger might grow out of this breach of the bankruptcy court order. Dear, Max said, as he stepped back into the house, switching off most of those exterior lights, in the kitchen.

She looked alert, and still fetching, in the terry cloth: Yes?

Next to the phone, youll find the number of a local car service. Give them a call, dear.

She looked prettily confused: Were leaving the car?

Meaning the Lamborghini theyd driven out here in, at the moment in the multicar garage attached to the house. Ill have to stay on a bit longer, Max explained. Because of this incident.

She didnt like it, but what was she to do? Off she went to make the call, while Max hurried upstairs to dress. Soon she joined him, making a few perfunctory little seductive moves while changing into her own street clothes, but he had no interest any more. Partly, she was now a known quantityno; a known qualitybut mostly he just wanted to be alone, with his new ring.

Soon, they made their way downstairs, while their terry-cloth robes remained behind, crumpled in wanton embrace in the hamper. Out front, a dark blue Lincoln town car purred discreetly on the drive. Max absently kissed Miss Septembers cheek and patted her other cheek, and sent her on her way. Then he moved briskly through the house, switching off lights as he went.

The library. Deep tan leather armchairs, green glass globed reading lamps, books bought by a decorator by the yard. But among them, The Book, and on the marble mantel over the seldom-used fireplace a small Wedgwood mustard pot containing three shiny pennies.

So. There was time to throw the coins only once before hed have to vacate these premises, and they gave him a seven, a nine, an eight, and three consecutive sevens, producing:


What`s The Worst That Could Happen?

Fantastic. The Creative above, and his own trigram, Tui, the Joyous, below. But only one moving line, the nine in the second place.

Max flipped the pages of The Book. Hexagram number ten: Treading (Conduct). The Judgment: Treading upon the tail of the tiger. It does not bite the man. Success.

Yes, yes, yes. Wasnt that true? Wasnt that his entire life story? Treading on the tail of the tiger, getting away with it, and finding success through his rashness.

Which was just what hed done tonight, seeing the ring, suddenly wanting it, seeing the joke, seeing the triumph, thinking whats the worst that could happen? and saying, Thats my ring!

Nine in the second place: Treading a smooth, level course. The perseverance of a dark man brings good fortune.

Thats me. The dark man, overflowing with good fortune. Max smiled as he put away the pennies and The Book.

Soon the house itself was dark again, and Max was at the wheel of the black Lamborghini, driving the empty Southern State Parkway toward the city. The ring glinted on his finger in the dashboard lights, and Max smiled on it from time to time. I love this ring, he thought. My lucky ring.


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