Everyone knew that Willy Wonka never left his factory, not even to walk about the spacious yard in front where the delivery trucks were filled once a week before they rumbled out to the local candy shoppes and to the airport, where the sweets would be loaded onto airplanes to be delivered to shoppes all over the world. What no one could understand was why the chocolatier stayed inside all the time. Since his factory was built, he had been seen outside of it a total of two times. Once was at the ceremony celebrating the completion of the factory and the introduction of Wonka sweets to a global market. The other occasion was for a very brief amount of time prior to the grand tour he'd given to the finders of the five Golden Tickets he'd hidden inside five rather ordinary Wonka Bars.
Even on these two occasions, Mr. Wonka had been bundled in several layers of clothing, leaving only his face and a very small portion of his throat bare. To everyone who had been able to see him, it had appeared that Mr. Wonka was, to put it bluntly, afraid of sunlight. This is not too far from the truth, in some respect. However, Mr. Wonka's situation is far more complicated than a simple phobia. It began shortly after he made the decision to build a factory, when he was only 21 years old.
Willy Wonka sat in a swivelling chair at one end of a small conference table, twisting back and forth as he sucked on an impossibly bright blue lollipop. "Well, if things could go as I'd like them to, you'd be finished by the end of the year and then I could have my team start assembling everything that will go inside. But, since this is already June, I think that would be a bit of a stretch for any contractor, even one with such a reputation as yours. So how does mid-November of next year sound? Think you can get it done by then, Mr. Wheeler?"
Mr. Daniel Wheeler, a slightly pudgy man of 56, sighed and leaned forward in his chair to check over his calendar. He'd already had to cancel several well-paying jobs in order to accommodate this factory, but to have to build it to Wonka's very precise specifications (the blueprints were absolutely terrifying in their scale and level of detail) in just over a year was asking quite a lot from a man who had never in his 37 years of work seen anything quite like this. "Well, I can't promise you anything. You see, we're forced to slow up a bit during the winter. But I'm sure you understand that. You said you grew up not far from here."
"I do have a business to run and at the rate that my sweets are selling, I can barely keep up with the small facilities I have available to me."
"Trust me, I understand completely. Look, here's what I can do for you. My company has a warehouse downtown that we usually use for storing our machinery and such, but right now, it's empty. You give me another 65 percent of what you've already said you'll pay for us to build this factory and I'll let you use that warehouse to help ease your company's load until the factory is up and running. How does that sound to you?"
"65 percent? Mr. Wheeler, I'm sorry, but that's ridiculous! I'm not giving you that much. How about 25 percent?"
"And that, Mr. Wonka, is ridiculous for me. I can't possibly go that low. 55 percent then?"
"I'm sorry. I just can't afford that. 35 percent?"
"Make it 40 and you have a deal."
Willy sat back in his chair to consider his options. On the one hand, he could not take the deal, try to keep up with demand using his small facility, and eventually go out of business. On the other hand, he could take the deal he was being offered, have room to expand his sweet-making until the factory was ready, and be able to continue running his business like always. Either way, he would be taking a risk he would rather avoid. Then again, taking a risk had gotten him into this business in the first place; how different was this, really? "Mr. Wheeler..."
"Yes, Mr. Wonka?" Wheeler motioned for one of his office assistants to retrieve the paperwork that would need to be signed in order for this part of the deal to go through properly. The slim, blonde woman nodded and retreated from the room.
"You...you have a deal. I must be crazy, but you have a deal."
Wheeler came around to shake Willy's hand and thank him for bringing his business needs to Wheeler Enterprises just as the office assistant came back in with a small stack of papers. "Thank you, Veronica. If you could get started on processing everything that's already been signed, we can get started first thing Monday. Well, Mr. Wonka," Wheeler said, giving the young man a hearty slap on the back. "Young men who've come in here needing a contractor always seem to be a bit crazy to me, but you...you've got to be the craziest one of them all. You have a good evening. I'll check in with you once a week to let you know how things are going."
Within the next few minutes, Willy had signed over several million dollars to this contractor whom he knew by reputation alone. I really must be out of my mind, he though to himself, as he walked outside to where his small car was waiting for him in the bright halogen light of a street-lamp. With only a glance up at the building he'd just exited, Willy climbed into the car and drove off to his home. A few blocks away, waiting patiently in the shadows for Willy's car to pass so it could follow, was a black limousine carrying a passenger anyone would be chilled to the marrow if they met during the night.