The Cheese Grater – Tomas Black

The Cheese Grater

The Omega Sanction is a thriller set in the City of London. It's a place I've worked in for many years and know well. They say 'write what you know', so it was a natural choice for me to place my action and conflict in some of the many buildings and locations in this part of location. A key location is the building they call The Cheese Grater. Here is an excerpt from Chapter 2 - The Gold Fix.


The Leadenhall Building or The Cheese Grater

To the denizens of the Square Mile that work there, it is known prosaically as The Leadenhall Building, the latest manifestation of glass and steel to be erected on a small plot of land between the better known Lloyds building and a nondescript black monolith, the name of which no one cares to remember; to the rest of London it is better known as the Cheese Grater.

To Fabio DeLuca, it was a beautiful building, no matter what people called it. In his native Rome, it would have been given a grand name; to his colleagues in Reinhart Benson International, it was just another place to make money.

He arrived outside the office on Leadenhall Street earlier than was his custom. For a City trader, 7:30 a.m. was not an uncommon time to start, but he was nursing a hangover and feeling quite fragile. The young Italian chided himself for being so reckless the night before. Today was not the day to screw up. He’d only had time to grab a coffee and a bagel on the way in.

He walked inside the cavernous atrium that was the entrance to the building and through the public space of lawns and trees until he reached the escalators that rose one hundred feet to the Mezzanine level above. He walked across the reception hall until he came to a row of glass turnstiles where he was greeted by a short, stocky man in a light grey suit.

“Good morning, Mr DeLuca.”
“Hey, morning, George. How are you?”
“Very well, thank you. Word to the wise: Mr Rhodes is on the prowl upstairs.”
Fabio’s heart sank. He looked at his watch. He was only a few minutes late. If he caught the first elevator, it would take him at high speed to the fortieth floor in no time.
“Thanks, George. I owe you one. Ciao!”

He juggled his bagel and coffee in one hand while he retrieved his pass from his jacket pocket, careful not to spill anything down his expensive Italian suit. He slid the pass over the top of the turnstile which caused the glass doors to slide open with a satisfying hiss. He then hurried to the elevator banks, located at the back of the building.

To describe the building as a Cheese Grater was a bit of a misnomer. To Fabio, it was more of a wedge, with its base at street level and the office space above diminishing in size, floor after floor, to accommodate the sloping frontage of the building. Being located on the fortieth floor, the RBI offices were considerable smaller than offices located on the lower levels. Paradoxically, this made them slightly cheaper, while providing an unrestricted view of the rest of the City.

His colleagues in Rome had joked when they’d heard he was moving to the new London office: “Hey, Luca. Better pack your Parmigiano. They’re sending you to the Cheese Grater.” He’d been surprised by the appointment; firstly, because he was relatively new to the bank, and secondly, he traded in gold bullion, while RBI in London dealt mainly in Foreign Exchange and Investment Banking. The head dealer in Rome had summoned him to his office. RBI had bought a small Precious Metals dealer in South Africa, he confided, and they’re putting together a new team of dealers in London. Fabio knew of the outfit – anyone who traded precious metals had heard of Rhodes Metals and the maverick owner and CEO, Damian Rhodes.

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