07:55:00 pm, by Nic Wilson   , 819 words  
Categories: Announcements, Old Ventures: Refuge

ANNOUNCEMENT: NaNoWriMo 2018, Old Venture: Refuge

I'm sorry. I know, no man is an island, but I've had trouble even being one drop of rain in a river. It's difficult, these days, not to feel like the very foundations of sanity are shaking loose. And I have struggled under my burdens, as I know many of you do. I only yesterday finished last year's NaNo (which I'll be uploading soon to the blog) and I'm going to try and publish one chapter a day this NaNo. It's going to be a rough election cycle this year, and I'm hoping we can get through it together. But if you retain none of the words before or after this, remember these: you are not alone. Amidst all the chaos, and pain, and dehumanizing horror, you are known, you are cared about, you are loved. And so long as we continue to have each other, and to hold one another in our hearts, we have hope. Below is an excerpt, a preview of a chapter I realized was important enough to write and publish out of order, where it might still have some impact. As always, check back daily for updates, on this as well as on older projects that I got behind in posting publicly. And in the meantime, may you and yours stay safe and close in these trying times.

* * *

Jack stepped out onto the stage, and for a moment was blinded by the house lights, and then the chorus of flashbulbs from the media. "I'm happier than I can say to welcome a true American hero onto this stage," the man said, flashing a wide smile.

Jack shook his hand stiffly, then waited for him to clear the stage before speaking. "I'm not comfortable being here," Jack said, "and I'm sure that shows."

The audience chuckled nervously. "That's okay. You're laughing with me," he paused, "I think."

"But I've never been comfortable using my... celebrity, I guess, like this. I've marched, with John Lewis, Martin Luther King, for many varied human rights on many different occasions. You could say I've never been apolitical... but I've always attempted to keep who I am as a man separate from who I was as a symbol. I never wanted to trade on the good I've done, and even today, that's not my goal.

"But I can no longer abide my prior silence. This is not the usual push and pull of politics. This is the rise of something far more sinister, an enemy we fought a world war against, an enemy I hoped we vanquished for good. Maybe that was naïve of me. Maybe my generation failed to keep the flames of vigilance lit.

"I didn't decide to speak until last week. I waited, hoping that sanity would return, that someone, anyone, would be able to show the Republican candidate that he's not just trying to be the leader of conservative America, or scared America, that he'll need to lead all of us. He'll need to represent the will of all of us. He'll need to represent the hopes, as well as the fears, of all of us. And their convention convinced me that realization will forever evade him. At his core, he is a divisive and spiteful man. He doesn't like the idea of an America united, unless he can force us to unite behind him, not as a good and changed man, but as he is, angry, scared and lashing out.

"And with each passing day, the parallels with the fascist rise- a rise that cost our world millions of lives- become stronger, and harder to ignore. Every day, more language about how everyone but America is the problem is used, while more narrowly defining what counts as America. I have seen this ugliness before, I have seen what it does to good men and women caught up in its throes, and I have seen what they in turn do to those they deem unworthy of sharing soil with. I wish I could be here for any other reason, truly. But we do not get to choose our burdens, only how we rise to meet them.


"So please, vote. Not just for Democrats, but for democracy itself, for a return to normalcy, to respecting our differences, and the rights of others. For returning this country to an ideal for the rest of the world to envy. For a world where our most vulnerable are cared for, protected, and safe. For America as we want her to be, and need her to be, not what she was. Because viewing who she was through rose-tinted glasses can't erase those who were left behind or excluded in that past, and we know better, now, and we have to do better. The only hope I have to leave you with is this: we can do better. I've seen it. And I pray I'll live to see it again. Thank you."

Pages: << 1 ... 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 ... 43 >>

12/19/11

  10:32:00 am, by Nic Wilson   , 1675 words  
Categories: Banksters

Banksters 49: Succeed

The office was feeling decimated. Julee cleaned out her desk on her way out earlier- she wasn't coming back. George didn?t show up, despite reclaiming his old office the day before, though I?d heard him on the radio this morning categorically denying his relationship with a hooker. Which was stupid, on its face. He?d been seeing Caprica for weeks, taking her out in public, to events. It wasn?t even a lie he could hope to hide behind.

But it also made things easier on me. I?d scheduled a meeting with George and Richard?s twins, to see if we couldn?t, with cooler heads, come to some sort of an agreement. It wasn?t until the end of the day, really, after the end of the day, starting at 6 pm.

George didn?t show, but by then I expected that. And if I knew Caprica, she already had most of her memoirs written out, and would have them out on Kindle before morning.

But I wondered if the twins wouldn?t make it, either. They turned up ten minutes late, though whether that was from a lack of paternal upbringing or from a newfound sense of entitlement I couldn?t really say. Not that I?d ever worried.  

For the first time I get a real good look at the twins. Blonde-haired, I presume like their mother, since they didn?t get it from the Morgan side. Young, late teens, maybe early twenties. Their uncle had dragged them into this to back his play, but they were only just acclimating to their $1000 dollar suits and $500 dollar haircuts. They weren?t prepared for the world he?d abandoned them in to tend to his own burning homestead.

?I?m not sure we should even be here,? Dylan said. I only knew that because Dylan was the assertive one. Ryan hardly ever spoke at all, to anyone, except his brother.

?I know what you think. What your uncle said. About me. And I assume about your father. And, look, boys, I know he's your uncle, but he's made some bad decisions in his life. Your father, what they're saying about him in the papers, it isn't true. All he was trying to do was build a company, to support his family and the people he cared about.?

?But George was always a jealous kind of man. He wanted what your brother had, to the point of nearly destroying the company. And when he couldn't have it, he went about destroying other aspects of his life. It?s sad, really, how much of his life he dedicated to ruining other people, but I think his recent behavior, and the fact that he?s finally getting called out on it, means he?s not going to be in a position to hurt anyone anymore.?  

?But what I'm saying, here, is you boys are going to be fixtures at this company. And your family has two legacies: one of personal sacrifice and loyalty, and one of greed and wanton destructiveness. And I hope you two choose your legacy carefully. I know what George brought you here to do, but I also know what your father would have wanted for you.?

?What do you know about our father?? Ryan asks. He?s got tears in his eyes. It?s hard to know, from the research, exactly how much Richard knew about them. He was certainly paying their mother to keep something hushed up. But that didn?t tell much of a story.

?I worked with him, albeit briefly. And I respected him, for who he was at work. It?s kind of hard to square that person I knew with someone who wouldn?t even know his kids. But I guess the best answer to that is that we?re all of us complicated creatures. Any time you think you?ve pegged people simply, you?re wrong; he had reasons that made sense to him, is about all I can suppose. But in the time I?ve worked for this company, I?ve never seen him want anything but for those around him to succeed.?

?But I didn?t want to meet you here to ask you to turn against your family. Family?s important. I just wanted to spend some time with you boys, talk about the business, and where you see it going now that a new generation of Morgans are taking an active role in the company. But I suppose, then, the operative question becomes: you boys old enough to drink??

They were, if only just. I took them to a club I knew, one with a healthy supply of young women that didn't water down the drinks too much. The twins were young, inexperienced, possibly virgins, even, so they followed my lead. I got us seats a little back from the stage.

Grey met us there, dressed less provocatively than the strippers, but more than the girls taking drink orders. The way she worked the twins they probably assumed she worked there. She bought each of them a lap dance and she was in, and we moved things into the VIP room.

She spent the first girl's set on Dylan's lap, with her hand in one of his pants pockets. She spent the second girl's set on Ryan's lap, and I'm not entirely sure he didn't blow in his pants. By the third girl our drinks were almost dry. ?I'll get the next round,? she said, standing up as the third girl left. The twins asked for mudslides. I told her to surprise me.

And the moment she was through the curtains that separated the lounge I told him, ?I know the girl. She likes it rough.?

?Hairpulling and shit??

?I don?t think you understand. She likes to be choked. Smacked around. If she?s not bleeding, she?s not wet.?

?I can?t hit a woman,? Ryan said.

?That?s awfully sexist. Would you hit me?? I set down my drink on the table and started to undo my tie. ?I want you to hit me.?

?What, so this is Fight Club all of a sudden??

?Hit me. Come on. Your uncle thinks I killed your father, and whatever rage you may have felt for the man, at a minimum, if George were right, I robbed you of being able to confront him. You've been living with that idea for at least a few days; I?m sure a couple of rounds and a couple of lap dances don?t erase all of that suspicion, so I?m sure there?s some part of you who?d like to take a swing at me. Go on. Free shot.?

?Truth be told, I been wanting to hit that fucking chin since we first walked into that board room.?

?Here?s your shot.? He did. And it wasn?t a bad punch.

?Fuck. Fucking chin?s harder than it looks,? he said, shaking his hand. He helped pick me up off the floor. I used my drink to ice my face. Ryan picked up his, now just ice, and put it on his hand.

?Not so bad, right? And kind of exciting.?

?Whoa, now, we?re not part of some boy fetish you have, are we??

?What? No. I?m saying hitting somebody, the force, the feeling of putting that much power into dominating another human being. It gets the blood pumping, doesn?t it??

?Little, maybe.?

?Yeah,? I shrugged. ?I?m with you, really. I can understand the appeal, but it?s also not really my cup of tea. But for her-? I gestured towards curtains, draping suggestively like a female genitalia, ?she comes like a fucking banshee if you smack her around a little. And trust me, when someone?s that turned on, there?s no fucking comparison.? I reached into my coat pocket. ?But I?m not asking you to go in their without a little extra courage.?

?I thought she was getting our courage.?

?Hard liquor? What are you, field hands? You?re Morgans, now, kings of business. And these are your spoils.? I tapped a little cocaine out onto the table, avoiding the moist rings from our glasses. Then I spread the pile out into three lines, and rolled up a hundred dollar bill and did mine. Then I passed the bill to Ryan.  

He looked up to his brother, then snorted his line. Dylan didn't hesitate, but by then the peer pressure was awfully thick.

The bouncer poked his in. ?You gentlemen ready for the next girl?? he asked.

I handed him a benjamin. ?Think we'll take a fifteen.?

?S'cool, so long as no one else wants the room,? he said.

Grey came back a minute later; she must have waited tables, at some point, since she carried our four drinks with ease. I took my drink over into the corner, and pretended to pass out.

Grey went to work. I kept my eyes shut- to avoid being noticed, I told myself, not because I was jealous. I heard her unzip their pants, then the rustle of clothes, the friction of flesh. Then there were little masculine gasps and moans.  

From the way Grey gave direction, it sounded like Dylan had taken to rough sex easily. ?Choke me harder,? was about the extent of her criticism.

I wondered if maybe I'd given him too much courage when he told her, ?I want your ass.?

?Slow down, tiger,? she said. ?Give little brother a turn.?

Ryan required more... specific instruction. ?If you want inside me you'd better show me you're enough of a man.? I could hear Ryan swallow from across the room. ?Hit me, you bitch, or I'm going to tear your fucking balls off.?

There was the sound of fist on flesh, then sound of flesh against flesh as he entered her, and Grey came immediately and loudly, and from experience, I'd say it wasn't all just for show.

There was more, after that. But that was the tipping point, when the sounds of pleasure started to be eclipsed by an undertone of pain, woven in so delicately, and so expertly, that if you weren't listening objectively, you would never notice the change. By the end, she was practically pleading with them to stop, but they were in so deep they couldn't see it for what it was.

12/18/11

  10:31:00 am, by Nic Wilson   , 1851 words  
Categories: Banksters

Banksters 48: Who?s Screwing Who

I called Julee into my office.

?Erection?? she asked.

?Yep. Even if you?re doing a racist Chinese impersonation, you?re still right- though it?s just in poor taste. But how'd you know??

?I have a sixth sense about these things. Plus, anymore, when you call me in here, there's an erection involved.?

?I thought you liked to stay informed.?

?Oh, I do... but some of the naughtiness is gone, now that Princess Whitebread isn't one cheap corporate wall away from 'Oh, God, yes, give it to me right there, un, un, un!'?

?I'll have what she's having.?

She sat down in my lap like I was Santa Clause. ?And right now I'm more curious about why you have a beautiful erection, than what we might do about it.?

?George is challenging me for control of the company. Which could be difficult, and awkward. Except he's been embezzling from the company, to prop up his flagging campaign. And he's been embezzling from his campaign to keep a hooker on retainer; she actually lives with him.?

?Okay, now I'm wet, too. But this information's reliable??

?I just finished tracing the money myself this morning, right before my meeting with the board. And the hooker... her I recognized. Some clients, especially German ones, like to celebrate the conclusion of a multimillion dollar deal by screwing an eighteen year old stranger.?

?You don't have to lie for me? she leaned in close and kissed my neck. ?You got a little harder when you mentioned her.?

?Professional courtesy; you ought to know the, ahem, merchandise, is good before handing it out as a party favor.?

?You not having to lie about it isn't synonymous with me wanting you to drone on about the time you banged a hooker. My girly boner's starting to go soft.?

?Stand up, then.?

?Ooh, I like it when you get bossy.?

?Well I am your boss,? I said, standing behind her with my hips pressed against her.

?And that makes it even naughtier,? she said, sliding her panties out from under her skirt.

?Now bend over the keyboard with your fingers clawed outwards.? She did. ?Now type.?

I unzipped my pants and lifted up her skirt. ?The 'paper' trail is all open on my desktop, for you to peruse.?

She took hold of the mouse. ?My God. It's not even well done frau-od, that's good. Of course, looking at where these came from, if Richard hadn't been deposed, we probably never would have had access to this information. He was just... cocky.?

?Was that a sex pun??

?Not an intentional one.?

?Good. But I don't hear the clicky clack of little fingers on littler keys.?

?Do you have any idea how hard it is to type with you thrusting behind me?

?Now that one had to be a sex pun.?

?Maybe a little- and that one definitely was.?

?You are cruel.?

?Good. And you need a little cruelty in your life.?

?Maybe I do at that.?

She finished most of the report fifteen minutes before we finished each other. But she still had to call Caprica, and give George's campaign a chance to respond, before she sent it in to her editor. ?I?ll wait to do that part until I?ve caught my breath.?

She emailed the reporting to herself, so she could finish it in her office, then left. That was George taken care of, or at least taken down enough of a peg to ensure that he wasn?t going to have the clout. But I knew the twins were going to require a little more finesse.

Of course, after their Uncle?s public shaming, they were going to want less to do with him. And that would make everything easier.

It?d been a busy day. I?d taken over Richard?s secretary, which was a little odd. I think he?d been screwing her, once upon a time, and for whatever reason she seemed to believe I would take up with her now, silvering hair and added weight and all. It was a toss-up, I?d say, between M & K- but only because she looked like a woman who could bake a good cookie, and I do love chocolate chip cookies.  

When I got home, my apartment felt emptier than usual. And for some reason, my mind drifted to the last time Petra had been in my apartment. I felt bad. Perhaps I even missed her a little. But this was no life for her. Even if she could have overlooked what I was, ignored the fact that we were fundamentally different animals, she wouldn?t have been happy. And now, hoping she hadn?t completely fucked up her career, she?d have that chance.

But I didn?t get to wallow long. I heard Julee?s key in my front door. She was wearing that trench coat again, but I could tell from the awkward way she moved, and the way she tried not to show that she was shivering, that was wearing very little underneath it. Something frilly, I suspected.

But the look on her face wasn?t at all sexual. ?Being with you, it?s impossible not to become paranoid. You use people, like moist towelettes, then discard them. It?s something I admire about you. But it?s hard not to come to the conclusion that I?m outliving my utility. And I?m sure by now you?ve read my book.?

?You don?t even bother locking down your computer when I?m there. It was almost insulting. Not as insulting as the way you portrayed me in the book- if I were a more melodramatic person I?d have styled it ?betrayed.? But I?m assuming you?ve brought one honker of a boot you?re planning to let fall out of that trench coat.?

?Well,? she said, and reached into her purse. She placed a small white vial on the edge of the table in my breakfast nook. ?After everything with Alice, I thought, maybe you?ve made inappropriate advances on me. And maybe I felt pressured into a sexual relationship with the new CEO. That vial is physical evidence. I figured worst case scenario I get one of those golden parachutes. But best case, I lock in our arrangement without having to worry about backstabbing red-headed usurpers.?

?You really are like Woodward and Bernstein- only with much nicer breasts.? It was just a small amount of semen, in the vial- but I saw it for what it was: a bluff, and a weak one at that. ?And that?s an interesting rub. But I think you?re done with this relationship. You wanted me to want you- though I think the next line in the song is closer to the truth: you needed me to need you. Yet, you?re the one trying to blackmail me. You realize the truth, here: you need me, and sorry to say, but I don?t think your ego can handle that. You won?t be able to work with me anymore, because seeing me, even if it?s only fleeting, will be a reminder of what you?ve always feared: dependence.?

?I?ll be sad to see you go; I had that wanting part down, even if I?m not sure if I have it in me to need. But you?re a beautiful apex predator, and you?re going to do fine out there in the wild.?

?One last screw?? she asked, opening up the trench coat. Frilly, stockings, a garter belt, a corset that did very nice things to her curves, all in a very deep red.

?I wouldn?t ask you to go cold turkey; I?m not inhuman.?

She screwed my brains out. No holding back, this time- because there was no longer any point in keeping anything in reserve. I was bleeding more than a little, from the biting and her fingernails. It was intense enough that I passed out straight away when we finished.

She snuck out after that. I went to the office, since I knew that was where she'd be. She was going through my computer- not that there was much of anything left on it, except a lot of misdirection. ?I never really expected you to go so quietly into that good night; I wouldn?t,? I told her. ?You and I, we?re both creatures of premeditation.?

?You spent more than a year just getting yourself into a position to gather the information you needed to write your book. But I found myself wondering: what would you need for that kind of espionage? And also, because our legal department isn?t retarded, what would they have done to prevent you from having what you need?? I snapped my fingers. ?Your nondisclosure agreement.?

She couldn?t help herself:  she smiled. ?Which went missing.  Except for the copy in my desk.? She opened the top drawer, and stared down at it. And she reached for it, wondering if she could simply tear it up to free herself. ?And the dozens of copies I?ve made of it since.? Her hand relaxed, and she pulled it back.

?But what was more interesting, was this.? I walked behind the desk and loomed over her, took my mouse out of her hand, and pulled up a video file on the desktop. ?Security footage of you rifling through personnel records-?

?I was looking for Alice?s home address,? she protested.

?A relatively small transgression, but also in that same area, we keep hard-copies of interdepartmental memos, some of which contain classified client secrets- which again, on their own, are not terribly important or damning. But in combination with what?s in that side drawer,? she opened it up, ?receipt for the purchase of $10,000 worth of stock from a pharmaceutical company a day after we found out that the FDA had approved their leukemia drug, in your name- but a couple of days before that news went public. These are all your copies, for your records.?

?And I?ll admit, insider trading is petty; we Elliot Spitzered George, and I honestly wish, now that I?ve gotten a chance to know and screw you, that I?d planned out more than a Martha Stewarting for you, because you really do deserve better. The NDA guarantees no one will ever publish your book, but if you?re thinking of going rogue, putting it on the internet or turning it into an ebook, the insider trading should keep you at bay.?

?But I hate to see hard work wasted, and I?ll admit Im narcissistic enough that I think I?d enjoy seeing my story in hardback. So go ahead, publish it under a man?s name, and label it fiction, and I bet it?ll sell like gangbusters. But if you try to pass it as investigative journalism, I?ll destroy you. You?ve watched me do it a dozen times to other people; sometimes you helped. But each one of those transactions, were business. If you cross me on this, because of our relationship, it would offend me, personally. And you?ve never seen me personally offended. And I?m sure you wouldn?t like to.?

She stood up, out of the chair, and faced me. ?It?s okay to need. You don?t have to be king to be a terrible lizard.? She kissed me.  

?You still need me?? she asked, her lips trembling.

I sighed. ?I need you to get the hell out of my office.?

12/17/11

  10:30:00 am, by Nic Wilson   , 1653 words  
Categories: Banksters

Banksters 47: After the Fall

Grey was in my office first thing.

?You know, you could have told me you were going to push him out a window. Would have saved me a lot of time, and a hell of a lot of swallowing.?

?That makes this funnier. But I hadn?t been planning on that part. I expected him to resign. But he wouldn?t. So I suicided him.?

?Eh. He had balls beyond his years, and I can?t say I?ll miss having my face near them. But now the question becomes: did you mean what you said about the power on top of your throne? Or were you just blowing smoke up my skirt to try to stick your majesty up it??

?To the victors, the spoils. I feel awfully victorious; and I intend to spoil the hell out of both of us.?

?You think they?ll give you control of the company??

?Who else is left??

?Well, I guess we?ll see this morning, won?t we? Because you just smashed the other basket where I had eggs.? She kissed me. ?Good luck.? Then she left.

Daria came back. It was earlier than she scheduled to, but following Richard?s death, I hadn?t expected anything less. I met her in her office.

?At first, I thought you killed Rich, just like I thought you killed Cliff and Clarence.?

?Daria, I know we've had our troubles. But I'm the only executive level VP left in the company. I'm acting CEO, and that all but guarantees the board will make that position permanent. I don't care what you think of me, or whether you curse my name when you go to bed every night.?

?I never think about you in bed,? she said, protesting too much.

?But you will respect the position, even if you can't respect me. And if you can't, then I'll have you out on your ass. And I won't have the same kind of discretion about your drug abuse Richard did.? If she were armed, she probably would have shot me for that. But that had been one of the conditions of her leave; until she was cleared by the CEO, she wasn't allowed to carry on property. ?Do we understand one another??

?Absolutely.?

I wondered if I was going to have to find a more permanent solution for her. There was a chance she'd fall in line, not a great chance, probably 2 to 3 against, but a chance. And really I could use someone like her. She'd always been excellent at her job. And she saw me coming- which was more than I could say for most. But she also wasn?t done speaking, and as I was about to leave her office, she said.

?I wasn?t taking barbiturates. At least, I wasn?t supposed to be. I realize now my medication was tampered with. And at first I? I actually thought it was you. I spent the first couple of days of my leave trying to figure out how you could have done it. Interviewing neighbors to see if you?d been in my place. I probably would still be looking into it, but I remembered my pharmacist calling me, because there?d been a recall of my prescription- which in retrospect sounded fishy; I thought maybe you?d had something to do with that. But when I went to talk to him about it, he wasn?t there. The weekend guy was filling in, because my pharmacist had been arrested. He was using ketamine and other medications to knock women out so he could sleep with them. I don?t know what he had planned for me- but if his indictment is anything to go by I?d say rape.?

?I?m sorry. I?ve acted like a crazy person, and I don?t know that it?s enough to say that I was being drugged. Because now I?ve got a little more perspective. And I have to say, that what makes more sense in all of this is that I was paranoid, and delusional, and hunting for a bogeyman that didn?t exist. I loved Clarence, and I so wanted him to be innocent that I tried to help him frame you. And you?ve done nothing but try to help me, and in the end, you probably saved me from being raped.?

?I?m? I?m just glad you got better. I think Richard was right about that one thing: we work well together. You?re an asset to this company, as its conscience, and its superego. And it?s good to have you back. But I also want you to take it easy. You?ve been through a lot. And now that we?ve lost Richard, and Alice, and with all of the attrition we?ve suffered, I don?t want us to lose you, too. So the moment you feel like things are getting too tough, say the word, however much leave you need, I?ll see that you get it. And I?m sure Joel can keep your chair warm in the interim.?

?Thanks,? she said as I left.

It was almost time for the board meeting, so I headed towards the board room.  

The board had been decimated. I ran the meeting, as the only executive VP left standing. Our first order of business was to formally accept Ed Noakes? resignation, even though he hadn?t been into the office for a week. Then we moved onto Richard?s death.

Warwick proposed we name him CEO. But he didn't have the votes. Arnie, who was acting VP of Finance now, put my name up for consideration. After all, I was the executive with the most experience now.

Then, of all people, George Morgan shoved his way into the board room. He said he wanted to suspend any voting until he could get a feel for what had happened. Warwick demanded a vote. George had two people with him, men in their early twenties. And inexplicably, they voted with George.

?My brother, Richard, had more voting shares in this company than anyone- in fact, he had enough for two votes. But he never used them, because he thought there might come a day when surprise might be more effective than naked power. I believe that day's today.?

?But,? Sam Warwick said, ?Richard's shares are tied up. He had no will. You can't just exercise them as if you were his successor.?

?I'm not, but I needn't be. These are his sons.?

?He didn't have any sons,? Warwick said, indignantly.

?He had no legitimate sons- but that's not the same as having no inheritors.? George was invigorated; I?d never seen him like this.

Warwick was flustered. ?Very well. Then I'll vote for this hold, as well, until we can get to the bottom of this.?

?He had bastards,? I said, only a little admiringly.

I knew George wasn't stupid enough to fake bastard children. This wasn't a soap opera, and that wouldn't pass legal muster. At best, he might be able to get himself put into a federal prison for fraud. So they were legit. Had to be. And it didn't take much digging to confirm that. Warwick was likely to demand blood tests, and pursue all manner of legal wrangling, but in the end it would come to naught, and make him look weaker in the interim. No, I wanted to tear this thing?s throat out, directly.  

Which worked out, because George was waiting in my old office. ?I'm about 80% sure you killed my brother. I told the police as much. And they laughed. Because it wasn't the first time somebody had accused you of murder for personal gain. They even joked about arresting me, since the last time it was the guy who pointed the finger first who went to prison for it.?

?But that's fine. Legally, right now, I can't touch you. But I'll be damned if you'll have my brother's company. I'll stop your nomination, and then I'll see to it that the new CEO cans you, and in such a spectacular fashion that no other company in the world will bother even looking at your resume.?

?George,? I said, ?we're not rivals in this. We both want what Richard wanted: what's best for the company. If you'd like to stand for CEO...?

?Get something straight, Dane. I've spent the last month pressing the flesh of the people in politics who are too slimy to ever be seen on camera, the ones who really control the money and the power in Washington. And you're good; as a liar, you're among the best. But I've had assholes blowing smoke in me for days on end, and I now recognize how completely full of shit you really are.?

?If you want to challenge me, go ahead. I have support of half the board.?

?And I own voting shares. I don't need to beat you. I just have to outlast you. And do you honestly think your machinations are that air tight. That there isn't someone out there whose gotten hold of a major piece of the puzzle, and is just waiting until you're the most vulnerable to use it.?

I want to tell him his fiance is a whore- professionally. But then I'd be blackmailing him, and he's pissed off and crazy enough he might just let me rat him out, then accuse me of blackmail, try take the both of us down. No, what I need to do is have Julee leak it. I knew Caprica would be sad. I knew she was enjoying his money, if not his aging balls.

But that was the point of the failsafe.

The beauty of the failsafe was I'd been using company money to pay her, and not just any company money, either. I'd made it look like Richard was raiding operational funds to put into his brother's election campaign- that was the last scandal that had broken before he tripped and fell out of a window. The part the press hadn?t heard about- yet- was that George then turned around and paid that money to a prostitute. It was glorious.

  06:50:00 am, by Nic Wilson   , 1458 words  
Categories: Batman Comes Out

Batman Comes Out: You Still Don't Know Dick

ID: You?ve previously waxed poetic about Dick?s positive effect on your life. What?s the worst moment he helped pull you back from?

B: When the Joker murdered his replacement, things got pretty dark for me. I felt like I?d failed him, that if I?d only trained him better? I wanted to murder the Joker, and then quit.

And I might have done it. By then Dick was Nightwing, and we?d had a pretty big fight about his replacement; he wasn?t living in the Manor anymore, and I wasn?t going to find him to talk it over. But he found me. He tracked me down- despite the fact that I didn?t want to be found.

And he told me that we were all mortal. That he and I, we?d survived for two reasons: the first was that I?d put us through Hell, a training regimen that burnt the imperfections off of us. And the second was luck. Dumb, stupid, thoughtless luck. That we were alive only because chance hadn?t claimed us yet, because we were always only one lousy ricochet or one missed landing away from death.

And I?m not explaining it well. Let me see if I can remember the part that really got me. He said, ?We?re in a war. We fight every day for a better world, one where children don?t lose their parents. And when we fail, we mourn our losses, and we fight the next day harder for them.?

He gives a hell of a speech. I was never good at those, not like he is; you have to love people to really reach them the way he does, in a way I?ve never been good at. I care but? love is a vulnerability I?ve rarely allowed myself. It?s one of the many reasons I tell people my son is a far better man than me. Because he isn?t scared to love people knowing what it could cost him. It makes him a better leader. And it also means that he feels his losses even deeper than I feel mine. And I knew if he could do it, if he could look past the reasons we?d been fighting, if he could look at the world with optimism for everything we?d seen, then I could keep going, too.

ID: Fighting the good fight?

B: And doing it the right way. Joker had to be brought to justice. Though I?ll admit, since then I hit him a hell of a lot more than I used to. Not that that?ll ever even things out. I could keep him tied to a chair in the Batcave, and beat him until my fists bled, every damn day, and even if he lived to a natural old age, he could never live through that long enough.

ID: Yeah. I wanted to know about what I think is probably the most controversial Dick-related decision in your life. This is actually the second time you?ve retired. Last time, you passed over Dick to take over for you, in favor of a sociopathic brainwashed zealot. Why?

B: Because Dick Grayson was Nightwing, who by simple right of having done the job longer than anybody else, should have been given the job- at least offered it. But Dick Grayson was also my son. And I was afraid of Bane. He destroyed me, almost completely. If it hadn?t been for Barbara, at least at first, and later the rest of my family and friends, he would have succeeded. And I couldn?t bear having that happen to Dick; I couldn?t stand the possibility.

My first successor- whose name isn?t among those leaked by Lex News, so I won?t be dropping it here- wasn?t Dick. I mean no disrespect, but he couldn?t be. Dick had been doing this his entire life, from a boy. My replacement? he was prepared to do it most of his life, but it was a different system. It wasn?t experience. It wasn?t living years of his life on the streets.

But there was a? ferocity in him. If, no, when, Bane was provoked by the appearance of a new Batman, I thought he stood a better chance of surviving the encounter. Or maybe I was scared of him, too, and I just hoped my two fears could cancel one another out.

ID: Like kill each other?

B: Nothing like that. If I?d really thought my replacement was still capable? he tried to reform. Looking back, I think he had a similar upbringing to Damian, and like my son, he tried to combat the horrors done to him in his childhood. But unlike Damian, he wasn?t quite so adept at conquering his demons. I don?t blame him. I think, on some level, I knew he wasn?t ready, wasn?t tested. I hoped he would gain what he needed on the job, but? the mistake is mine. The failure was mine.

ID: And the deaths that occurred on his watch?

B: Are regrettable. But, I weigh it against the lives that would have been lost if he hadn?t been in the cowl. And maybe? it?s actually the fulfillment of an old fear of mine; I always worried being close to people, loving them, would make me make poor decisions, and I think my fears drove me towards this one. But my replacement did take down Bane, at the height of his powers. And I don?t know if that?s something Dick could have done, then. Now, I have no doubt, but then? I?d still be loathe to push it.

ID: I fear we?re getting a little too dour for our own good. What was your funniest Dick in costume moment?

B: There have been a few. Probably the funniest stretch was when he was going through puberty. And like most teenagers, he was gawky, had acne, and his voice broke. And there are few things more comical than a bunch of hardened criminals running away in a panic from a small boy whose voice is cracking as he yells for them to stop.

But I think the funniest in costume moment, and he?s going to hate that I?m telling this story, but it was the first time he was dealing with Poison Ivy

ID: That?s plant-lady doctor, Pamela Isley.

B: But it was their first encounter after he became a man.

ID: Mazel tov.

B: Ivy doesn?t wear a lot of clothes, and she uses pheromones to manipulate men, um, sexually. Well, she had us caught, but she figured since we were who we were, it wouldn?t last for long, so she had this concentrated form of the pheromone that she?d made into a lipstick, that she said would turn us permanently into her slaves. She kissed Dick first. And I guess it must have required prolonged contact because it lasted a while, and after a moment he joined in, and being the overly enthusiastic boy that he was, there was way too much tongue. It was awkward, watching that.

And when she pulled away, he?s pitching a tent in his tights. She turned red; I didn?t know before that through the chlorophyll skin she still could, but she turned red, or maybe a darker shade of green with just a hint of crimson. She said, ?Now I feel dirty about this. I think I have to go.? And she just left. I mean she had us dead to rights, held captive by her Venus mantraps, and in the middle of her crime, she just walks away, because being Mrs. Robinson creeped her out too much.

Dick was pretty embarrassed. So to try and relieve some of the tension, I asked if he thought we might be able to get the same reaction from the Joker. And he said, ?Not worth it if I have to tongue kiss him.? 

ID: I have, in my prurient personal moments, wondered about that. The women in your world seem to wear rather? tight clothes when they deign to wear anything at all. And be otherwise in the kind of physical condition Olympic swimmers and gymnasts are envious of. And your clothes don?t seem to leave any place for, uh, discretion.

B: It?s weird all of a sudden you being the discrete one.

ID: I get awkward around discussion of adolescent boners.

B: But remember the crotch padding I talked about in my costume? Excellent for keeping that kind of thing in check. It was because Robin was constantly growing that his suit on that particular night didn?t have the padding; in fact, I think he was wearing an older suit while Alfred let out his current one, so it was even a little extra tight.

And Ivy?s usually such a fan of growth.

ID: Thank you and good night.

12/16/11

  10:29:00 am, by Nic Wilson   , 1701 words  
Categories: Banksters

Banksters 46: Good & Clean

?We?re still on for tonight?? Julee asked, standing up straight.

?Yep.?

?So I shouldn?t try to unsex my hair, then??

?Looks beautiful the way it is.?

?And my rumpled clothes??

?Admittedly less beautiful, but it?s the look we?re going for.?

?Good,? she kissed me, hard, passionate, and voracious, like she was trying to suck my lips off. ?And that?ll give you that ?just been kissed? puffiness. If she doesn?t get the hint this time, then nothing short of us banging on her desk in front of her is going to get her attention.?

?Could be hot.?

?You only say that because you?d like her to join in?

?That would definitely be hot.?  

?Men,? she sighed. ?If only I liked eating boxed lunch.?

Julee walked out first, being sure to hike her skirt back down off her ass in as incriminating a fashion as possible as she passed Petra.

?Another meeting with Julee?? Petra moaned.

?She?s part of our department, now. I asked Richard to transfer her someplace I could use her. Oh,? I feigned surprise, then zipped my pants back up. ?Wish somebody would have told me I was unzipped earlier,? I said. Too much? Maybe. But oversubtlety can be a problem, too.

?Are you free tonight?? Petra asked, annoyed. ?Because it?s almost been a week; I?m starting to feel like this ring was the consolation prize for not getting you.?

?Late meeting with Julee.?

?Another dinner meeting?? she was forelorn.

?Yeah. At Breen?s. Terrible food. But it?s close to home, and with a belly full of that crap, there?s no way we sleep- keeps us up all night. It?s better than coffee.?

?I?ll pencil it in,? Petra said, not even looking up at me.

We ate at Breen's at nine, and I made a point of being awfully handsy at the restaurant, and putting away a little too much champagne. I walked Julee back to my place, and we took a shower. I figured that was the only place where we weren't likely to be heard.

?So you honestly think she?s got us under surveillance?? Julee asked.

?Yep.?

?Isn?t that not really legal??

?Yep.?

?Not to mention a gross misuse of government resources and- holy shit, you?re finally kicking that skinny white bitch to the curb, aren?t you??

I felt a little bad, maybe just about referring to Petra as ?that skinny white bitch.? ?Yep.?

?You think we can get a copy of their surveillance? I?ve always wanted to have my own sex tape.?

?I doubt we'll see her again.?

?And that makes you sad face??

?This is necessary, but I don't enjoy it.?

?Well, it's necessary, but I plan to enjoy it. Is there anything you've always wanted to do? Maybe something you mentioned to her but that she was never comfortable doing with you? Because I figure that'd twist the knife a little deeper- because it's necessary, obviously; not because I'm a sadist.?

?Actually I find your sadism adorable; this is petty jealousy, which is less sexy.?

She pressed her soapy self against me. ?For a guy asking for some FBI defrauding espionage, you sure ask like a jerk.?

I grabbed her hair and pulled it, and pushed her against the shower wall. ?It's ugly, and it's beneath you.? I kissed her. ?And you're better than that- and I'm not just saying that because you look exceptionally good soapy.?

?It's at least a little the soapiness,? she said, smiling, trying to hide how pissed she was I was challenging her.

?But you know I need you. None of this would have been possible without you- my erection included.?

?I bet you say that to all the girls.?

?Only the ones I'm showering with.? I turned, leaning past her to turn off the water. ?Showtime.?

?I'm going to rinse a little longer, and warm myself up,? she said.

?Then, as your new supervisor, I should stay, and supervise.?

?Super-creepy,? she said.

?Says the woman now masturbating.?  

?I know you?re a compulsive mood-killer, but on the off chance there is an FBI surveillance team waiting to watch us bang, wouldn?t it be a let-down if we came out of here and decided to just go our separate ways because you were being an ass??

?Maybe I should shut my mouth, or at least find something more productive to do with it.? I started to kneel, but she stopped me, and turned off the water.

?Uh-uh,? she said, ?not until the audience is seated.? She reached outside the shower for a towel, and stepped onto the bath mat.  

?There?s my dirty girl,? I said, as I got my own towel.  

?You just watched me lather up; I?m as clean as a woman gets.?

?Well then let?s go defile you in front of a live studio audience.?

?There?s my dirty boy,? she said, and grabbed me by the hair and yanked me towards the bedroom.

Julee was even more filthy than usual. One particular roleplay, which Julee playfully named ?Fuck my ass like you did that stupid fiancé of yours? seemed in especially bad taste, but if we had rattled Petra enough to put her job with the bureau on the line, I was sure it would do the trick.

Petra didn't show the next morning. Around noon I got a form letter resignation in my email. About an hour later, a courier delivered her engagement ring.

I worked late that night. Around ten, I got a call to come into Richard?s office. He was more than a little drunk.

?You screwed me,? he said.

?This is why I usually don?t drink at office parties.?

?And now you?re making jokes about it?? He tossed the day?s paper onto his desk in front of me. The front page story said that George and Richard Morgan were being investigated for election commission violations and embezzlement, on top of the fraud investigation reported late last week. There were even RICO implications. ?That lawyer was supposed to give the company a cleaner image- not clean us out.?

?I don?t think this was all her doing, but that?s exactly what?s happening. Our company is being dragged under a microscope. No one will be able to question anything we do once all this is finished.?

He waited, expecting there to be cover there for him, somewhere. He waited for me to tell him he was worried over nothing, and that he'd be safe. And then it hit him: he was part of my plan, but not a beneficiary of it. ?Holy crotch-throating Christ- you did fuck me. This was your plan? Well I've got something to tell you, fuckwad, it's not going to work. This board sucks my dick better than any woman I've ever seen. You could tongue each one of their assholes dry, and you'd still never get them to put you in charge. Mark my fucking words, you're going to be out of the door by tomorrow. So why the fuck are you smiling??

I pushed him.

He stumbled backward, uncomprehending. Then he hit the floor to ceiling window, and expected to stop against it.

Custodial had a key for his windows, so they could be scrubbed nightly after he left. They had a guide, to keep them from swinging out- unless you disabled it, like I had. The window swung open on its hinge, and he fell into the cold night air.

The lucky bastard managed to catch the edge of the floor as he fell. But there wasn't anything to grab hold of, so he kept sliding, trying to dig his fingernails into the carpet, but finding no purchase, and sliding, slower, now, agonizingly slowly. ?Help me,? he cried. Then it dawned on him, that he was going to die. ?This is stupid. It's business. It's not worth letting someone... Jesus. You killed Cliff, didn't you? I thought it was silly, but in your eyes I can see it now...?

?The Dilly Bar killed Cliff.?

?Are you insane??

?He was fat, moron. Which packs with it a whole host of higher risks, diabetes, heart disease, and cancer, to name a few. He basically died of being fat.?

?Then Clarence...?  

?He tried to frame me for a murder no one but Hostess was guilty of. Which almost worked. I liked his plan so much I stole it. But unlike Clarence, I didn't half-ass things.?

?And everything else that's happened??

?I can't take credit for everything. Just most things. But some of it was York. Other times it was you, and your greed that set the wheel in motion. All I did was make sure it always came up black.?

?I won't tell anyone, just, please, help me.? By this point he was barely resting his chin on the floor.  

?Just try to hang on,? I told him, sitting down at his computer, ?while I type up your suicide note. You strike me as the kind of person who?d write something saccharine and sappy.? I got the first sentence and a half out, having to backspace as often as hitting the space. ?Hard to type in gloves,? I said. Then I was done. ??I?m sorry for my failings, professional and personal. I didn?t leave you for lack of love. I loved you enough to leave.? Suitably trite, don?t you think?? I hit print. ?I don?t supposed you?d sign it for me, save me the effort of the forgery??

?Please,? he whimpered, just eyes peaking over the edge of the windowsill.

?I didn't want to murder you,? I told him as I walked over to him, and I meant it, too. ?Shallow self-interest should have dictated to preserve your share price- your own fortune- that you'd step down once the scandal hit. Scandals, now. But you care about this company, or at least about the power it affords you. So you wouldn't just go. You'd have stayed, and undone all of my hard work. Just for your ego. It's depressing, actually, once you get right down to it. But look at me, chewing scenery like a Bond villain. I should kick you out that window now.?

It didn't take much of a kick, actually, more just stepping on his head. He tried to grab my leg, either to pull himself up or to pull me down with him, but he hadn't really thought it through, so when I stumbled forward, just a little, he fell.

12/15/11

  10:51:00 am, by Nic Wilson   , 244 words  
Categories: Gitmo

Gitmo 55: Vacation

?I don?t know that I?m ready for this, boss,? Monty hemmed.

?You been here half the time I have, and way more than me when we got our first citizens. And you?ve got a contingent of Army shitkickers at your beck and call. You?ll be fine.?

?But they don?t fear me the way you do. They laugh behind my back.?

?And to your front. Try scowling more. Failing that, just hold your radio up and mumble about needing reinforcements any time you feel scared. That usually buys you more space than even you could ever need.?

?Was that a fat joke? I?m having serious anxiety issues, and you?re making fat jokes.?

?I?ll never understand how a fella with such big bones can have such thin skin.?

?I am big boned, at least, that?s what your mom tells me.?

?There?s the Monty I?ve come to know and work with.?

?Ain?t that phrase ?know and love???

?I respect you enough not to lie to you. But you?ll be fine. Everybody has their work assignments and their routines. Place practically runs itself. Just don?t go running down the street in only your tighty whities yell-singing ?school?s out for ever.??

?Floyd?s classic.?

?But it did kind of undermine your authority, was my main reason for bringing it up. And that time I was only going to Fort Gates for a few hours. This time, you?re the only adult, at least officially, here. You can handle it, I?m sure.?

  10:27:00 am, by Nic Wilson   , 3963 words  
Categories: Banksters

Banksters 45: Arousal

When I got back to the car, Grey didn't look up from her game. ?Teryl?? she asked.

?It's taken care of. The single-mindedness is actually even less sexy than you'd think.?

?Not sure why you'd think I care. I'm not here to sexually arouse you.?

?No, but it wouldn't hurt you to value-add. But it's taken care of. I've planted the seed. She'll divorce her husband. It's only a question now of sooner or later.?

I dropped Grey back off at her place, and went home. The police kept Julee around until after midnight, answering questions. By that point she was less interested in sex than in sleeping.

We met the next night at Breen's, and stayed long enough to share a piece of pie. Then we walked, hand in hand, back to my apartment. I couldn't be sure if Petra was following us. It takes paranoia time to mature. But if she were, or if she knew anyone who saw us, that would help her along her way. 

The sex was all right. I think we both knew Petra wasn't watching, not yet. And that made the entire endeavor more perfunctory.

I left early in the morning, a little before five. I dialed Teryl. ?I can't sleep.?

?I can't eat,? she said back to me.

?Can I see you??

?Is that a good idea? I haven't come to a decision yet.?

?I need to see you. I've already made that decision.?

?You remember that coffee shop? I live right upstairs. I'll buzz you in when you get here.?

When I arrived, she did. She had papers spread out all over her bed. ?I got the papers the day I moved out. Had my attorney draw everything up. I never wanted Dick's money, and I didn't care if I lost any claim to it. But...?

?It's okay,? I said, putting my arm around her. ?I didn't come here to pressure you. I wanted to see you. I couldn't stay away.? I gently kissed her jaw, where it met her neck. She purred.

?To talk?? she asked facetiously.

?We could talk if you like,? I said, kissing my way up her cheek towards her ear. ?But I didn't come here to change your mind.?

?I haven't made up my, mind,? she said.

?But isn't that basically choosing the status quo?? I asked, kissing my way across her forehead.

?It isn't that simple,? she protested, and pulled my lips down to hers. She pressed herself against me until I fell down on the bed, on top of the spread out pages of her divorce.

She made love to me on top of them; for my part I mostly laid there.

When she was asleep, I gathered the pages and scooped them into an envelope; well, that's what I did with the dry ones. The moist ones I microwaved first. I'd made an appointment for a courier pick up at six, which meant he'd be by in less than a half an hour. I set the envelope on her porch, and took a shower.

She still wasn't awake when I got out. Which was fine. I wasn't angling for a goodbye kiss. I left. I must have startled her, closing the front door, because she called me a few minutes later.

?My divorce papers?? she asked.

?I sent them to Richard. Had a courier pick them up. You can hate me, if you want. But I'm... starting to care about you. And I'd rather see you happy but hating me, than watch you keep torturing yourself.?

?Thank you. I never would have sent them. Probably not for another million years, anyway. Any now that they're not sitting in my davenport, I can't for the life of me see what the trouble was with just sending them off. Our marriage has been over a very long time. There's no shame in making that official.?

It was still early when I got into the office. I went straight to work. It'd been a busy weekend, and I knew the fallout was going to be exciting.

Around ten, I recognized my handwriting on a parcel under a courier?s arm. Richard's divorce papers. He called me into his office a few hours later, fuming. ?Your pet US Attorney sold us out, and she's already 'resigned' her post on account of the ethical misconduct of our firm. How she can resign a job she's never fucking done is anybody?s guess.

I was thrilled to see her go. She was a well-placed political ally. And if she ever decided to come at me, I had proof that she?d violated attorney client privileges, and could see to it that she was disbarred. Keep your enemies close, and a gun to your friend?s faces.

?Warwick called for an emergency board meeting. He doesn't have the votes to kick me off, but that's probably a matter of time. I've called George. His campaign is sputtering, and he still has enough voting shares to qualify for a seat on the board. And after what happened to Alice, there's an opening.?

?Wait, what happened to Alice??

?She was attacked. By Rob Kierkegaard. Man's a fucking asshole. He was the one who raped her, years ago, practically made Alice's career. In exchange for not suing the shit out of him, we guaranteed her a fast track to upper management. But apparently Rob's been stalking her. He even sent himself messages, pretending to be her, setting up a time and a place for her to be 'willingly' raped. Then he broke into her house and was going to have his way with her. I'm surprised you haven't heard of this. It was your new AVP who found it out, putting in long weekend hours. If it weren't for Julee Hendricks, Rob would have raped Alice. Again. And I can?t imagine the ransom she would have asked for to silence that bell this time.? 

?Rob?s a sick shit. It makes me feel ill. It's my fault he's been around all these years. I thought he was a friend to the company. But apparently he just liked swimming in a pool he could piss in whenever he wanted. And I was enabling him.?

?But he's off the board. Conduct like that, we don't even have to have a hearing or call the question. But Alice... she took it hard. Being helpless again, at his hands... she tried to cut her wrists. Did a shitty job of it, so she ended up in the hospital with only minor blood loss, but still. Doctors got her lucid, and Sunday evening she asked to have herself put into a long-term care facility so she wouldn't hurt herself. That's a board member and a senior executive, gone.?

?But this shit happened on your watch. This is bad, Mark, I'm sure I don't have to tell you. But this is the opposite of what a strategy officer is supposed to accomplish, and, frankly, if I didn't need you to get me out of this, you'd be on your ass out the door.?

?As I see it, my hand-picked second is the lone thing that salvaged the weekend for you.? 

?Has haggling with God over blame ever gone well for anyone? No? So get out of my office, and Moses me a course to the Promised Land, before I get old testament on your ass.?

I closed the door behind me, and a woman's voice startled me.

?I want you to know, it wasn't just that he needed you. He took a lot of convincing before he decided to keep you.? It was Grey, and she walked, with her sultry little wiggle, towards me. ?Of course, it was the least I could do, after you got Teryl to send through their divorce papers. But you know the shitty thing about Richard?? But she didn?t stop in front of me, she kept walking, and like a greyhound after a robot bunny I gave chase.

?The dead frog eyes??

?Thankfully I don't have to see them when I blow him,... no, it's that I blow him. I finish him in my mouth, which gets me all worked up, and then he's back to the salt mines, and I'm stranded back on touch myself island.? She led me into the copy room and shut the door behind me.

?Richard's a selfish lover? Who'd have guessed.?

?And I thought to myself, where can I find a grateful, selfish bastard who overcompensates for his limitless greed by being about the most giving lover I can think of.?

?I'm flattered, that you think of me immediately after blowing other men.?

?And sometimes during.?

?That's sweet. I think.?

?You know I've got a schedule, right? I can't banter-flirt in here with you all day. Richard will eventually wonder where I've gone. So sex on the copier, in or out??

?I usually find copious amounts of both are necessary for good sex.?

?Humor's not as sexy as comedians want to think it is. Now shut up and get inside me.? She sat up on top of the copy machine, and accidentally kicked it on.

When we were done, I wheeled the copier back to where it started, and checked the print trays. ?Is there anything you'd like to do with a thousand photocopies of your vulva??

?Would it be too meta to papier mache a giant replica of my vulva out of them??

?No, but it would scare me a little.?

?You're afraid of female power.?

?No, I'm afraid of vaginas large enough to swallow me whole.?

?And the central metaphor of that fear is anxiety about strong women.?

?I?ll just put them into the confidential shredding bins, then,? I said, and started feeding the pages a dozen at a time into the slot in the big blue receptacle.

When I was done, I stopped back in my office to call Julee. ?How much does your editor love you??

?Just this morning it reached tongue another man?s come out of my ass levels of ecstasy.?

?Literally??

?Figuratively. Why? Would that make you jealous.?

?As a rule, felching isn?t one of those things I get possessive about. But after this he?s going to try to put a ring on you. That other shoe we discussed. It?s time to drop it.?

?I?m going to have to see some proof, here, about all these money transfers.?

?Do you think I?d ask you- or your felching editor- to take anything on my word? It?s in my office. I figured I?d help you write it up, just like last time.?

?I?ll be right there, then.?

I?d ordered a new chair from the workplace managers. Some people would have thought it unromantic of me, replacing the chair she?d Fatal Attractioned in so many times. But her eyes lit up, because she understood my thinking on the chair exactly. ?Low back, without arms. You always get me the nicest things,? she said, and wheeled it around behind my desk. I sat down in it. Then she pushed me so my back was to my computer and keyboard, and straddled me. ?Like a glove.? 

?I?d say more like a tailored pair of slacks. For a more glove-like fit,? I unzipped my pants.

?How?d you know I wouldn?t be wearing panties??

?How?d you know I wouldn?t want you wearing them?? I retorted as she lowered herself onto my lap. 

Fifty minutes later she relaxed against me. I was glad I?d brought a change of clothes, because I was lacquered in our sweat- and other fluids. ?Some of my best work,? she said in my ear, ?and the writing?s not bad, either.?

I twirled the chair around, so she was facing the door and I was facing the screen.

?You don?t name Richard as the one shunting money into his brother?s reelection campaign.?

?Is that a problem? He?s not in the documents.? She was right on that point.

?No. I?m sure that?ll be enough.?

Day 45:

 

When I got back to the car, Grey didn't look up from her game. ?Teryl?? she asked.

 

?It's taken care of. The single-mindedness is actually even less sexy than you'd think.?

 

?Not sure why you'd think I care. I'm not here to sexually arouse you.?

 

?No, but it wouldn't hurt you to value-add. But it's taken care of. I've planted the seed. She'll divorce her husband. It's only a question now of sooner or later.?

 

I dropped Grey back off at her place, and went home. The police kept Julee around until after midnight, answering questions. By that point she was less interested in sex than in sleeping.

 

We met the next night at Breen's, and stayed long enough to share a piece of pie. Then we walked, hand in hand, back to my apartment. I couldn't be sure if Petra was following us. It takes paranoia time to mature. But if she were, or if she knew anyone who saw us, that would help her along her way.

 

The sex was all right. I think we both knew Petra wasn't watching, not yet. And that made the entire endeavor more perfunctory.

 

I left early in the morning, a little before five. I dialed Teryl. ?I can't sleep.?

 

?I can't eat,? she said back to me.

 

?Can I see you??

 

?Is that a good idea? I haven't come to a decision yet.?

 

?I need to see you. I've already made that decision.?

 

?You remember that coffee shop? I live right upstairs. I'll buzz you in when you get here.?

 

When I arrived, she did. She had papers spread out all over her bed. ?I got the papers the day I moved out. Had my attorney draw everything up. I never wanted Dick's money, and I didn't care if I lost any claim to it. But...?

 

?It's okay,? I said, putting my arm around her. ?I didn't come here to pressure you. I wanted to see you. I couldn't stay away.? I gently kissed her jaw, where it met her neck. She purred.

 

?To talk?? she asked facetiously.

 

?We could talk if you like,? I said, kissing my way up her cheek towards her ear. ?But I didn't come here to change your mind.?

 

?I haven't made up my, mind,? she said.

 

?But isn't that basically choosing the status quo?? I asked, kissing my way across her forehead.

 

?It isn't that simple,? she protested, and pulled my lips down to hers. She pressed herself against me until I fell down on the bed, on top of the spread out pages of her divorce.

 

She made love to me on top of them; for my part I mostly laid there.

 

When she was asleep, I gathered the pages and scooped them into an envelope; well, that's what I did with the dry ones. The moist ones I microwaved first. I'd made an appointment for a courier pick up at six, which meant he'd be by in less than a half an hour. I set the envelope on her porch, and took a shower.

 

She still wasn't awake when I got out. Which was fine. I wasn't angling for a goodbye kiss. I left. I must have startled her, closing the front door, because she called me a few minutes later.

 

?My divorce papers?? she asked.

 

?I sent them to Richard. Had a courier pick them up. You can hate me, if you want. But I'm... starting to care about you. And I'd rather see you happy but hating me, than watch you keep torturing yourself.?

 

?Thank you. I never would have sent them. Probably not for another million years, anyway. Any now that they're not sitting in my davenport, I can't for the life of me see what the trouble was with just sending them off. Our marriage has been over a very long time. There's no shame in making that official.?

 

It was still early when I got into the office. I went straight to work. It'd been a busy weekend, and I knew the fallout was going to be exciting.

 

Around ten, I recognized my handwriting on a parcel under a courier?s arm. Richard's divorce papers. He called me into his office a few hours later, fuming. ?Your pet US Attorney sold us out, and she's already 'resigned' her post on account of the ethical misconduct of our firm. How she can resign a job she's never fucking done is anybody?s guess.

 

I was thrilled to see her go. She was a well-placed political ally. And if she ever decided to come at me, I had proof that she?d violated attorney client privileges, and could see to it that she was disbarred. Keep your enemies close, and a gun to your friend?s faces.

 

?Warwick called for an emergency board meeting. He doesn't have the votes to kick me off, but that's probably a matter of time. I've called George. His campaign is sputtering, and he still has enough voting shares to qualify for a seat on the board. And after what happened to Alice, there's an opening.?

 

?Wait, what happened to Alice??

 

?She was attacked. By Rob Kierkegaard. Man's a fucking asshole. He was the one who raped her, years ago, practically made Alice's career. In exchange for not suing the shit out of him, we guaranteed her a fast track to upper management. But apparently Rob's been stalking her. He even sent himself messages, pretending to be her, setting up a time and a place for her to be 'willingly' raped. Then he broke into her house and was going to have his way with her. I'm surprised you haven't heard of this. It was your new AVP who found it out, putting in long weekend hours. If it weren't for Julee Hendricks, Rob would have raped Alice. Again. And I can?t imagine the ransom she would have asked for to silence that bell this time.?

 

?Rob?s a sick shit. It makes me feel ill. It's my fault he's been around all these years. I thought he was a friend to the company. But apparently he just liked swimming in a pool he could piss in whenever he wanted. And I was enabling him.?

 

?But he's off the board. Conduct like that, we don't even have to have a hearing or call the question. But Alice... she took it hard. Being helpless again, at his hands... she tried to cut her wrists. Did a shitty job of it, so she ended up in the hospital with only minor blood loss, but still. Doctors got her lucid, and Sunday evening she asked to have herself put into a long-term care facility so she wouldn't hurt herself. That's a board member and a senior executive, gone.?

 

?But this shit happened on your watch. This is bad, Mark, I'm sure I don't have to tell you. But this is the opposite of what a strategy officer is supposed to accomplish, and, frankly, if I didn't need you to get me out of this, you'd be on your ass out the door.?

 

?As I see it, my hand-picked second is the lone thing that salvaged the weekend for you.?

 

?Has haggling with God over blame ever gone well for anyone? No? So get out of my office, and Moses me a course to the Promised Land, before I get old testament on your ass.?

 

I closed the door behind me, and a woman's voice startled me.

 

?I want you to know, it wasn't just that he needed you. He took a lot of convincing before he decided to keep you.? It was Grey, and she walked, with her sultry little wiggle, towards me. ?Of course, it was the least I could do, after you got Teryl to send through their divorce papers. But you know the shitty thing about Richard?? But she didn?t stop in front of me, she kept walking, and like a greyhound after a robot bunny I gave chase.

 

?The dead frog eyes??

 

?Thankfully I don't have to see them when I blow him,... no, it's that I blow him. I finish him in my mouth, which gets me all worked up, and then he's back to the salt mines, and I'm stranded back on touch myself island.? She led me into the copy room and shut the door behind me.

 

?Richard's a selfish lover? Who'd have guessed.?

 

?And I thought to myself, where can I find a grateful, selfish bastard who overcompensates for his limitless greed by being about the most giving lover I can think of.?

 

?I'm flattered, that you think of me immediately after blowing other men.?

 

?And sometimes during.?

 

?That's sweet. I think.?

 

?You know I've got a schedule, right? I can't banter-flirt in here with you all day. Richard will eventually wonder where I've gone. So sex on the copier, in or out??

 

?I usually find copious amounts of both are necessary for good sex.?

 

?Humor's not as sexy as comedians want to think it is. Now shut up and get inside me.? She sat up on top of the copy machine, and accidentally kicked it on.

 

When we were done, I wheeled the copier back to where it started, and checked the print trays. ?Is there anything you'd like to do with a thousand photocopies of your vulva??

 

?Would it be too meta to papier mache a giant replica of my vulva out of them??

 

?No, but it would scare me a little.?

 

?You're afraid of female power.?

 

?No, I'm afraid of vaginas large enough to swallow me whole.?

 

?And the central metaphor of that fear is anxiety about strong women.?

 

?I?ll just put them into the confidential shredding bins, then,? I said, and started feeding the pages a dozen at a time into the slot in the big blue receptacle.

 

When I was done, I stopped back in my office to call Julee. ?How much does your editor love you??

 

?Just this morning it reached tongue another man?s come out of my ass levels of ecstasy.?

 

?Literally??

 

?Figuratively. Why? Would that make you jealous.?

 

?As a rule, felching isn?t one of those things I get possessive about. But after this he?s going to try to put a ring on you. That other shoe we discussed. It?s time to drop it.?

 

?I?m going to have to see some proof, here, about all these money transfers.?

 

?Do you think I?d ask you- or your felching editor- to take anything on my word? It?s in my office. I figured I?d help you write it up, just like last time.?

 

?I?ll be right there, then.?

 

I?d ordered a new chair from the workplace managers. Some people would have thought it unromantic of me, replacing the chair she?d Fatal Attractioned in so many times. But her eyes lit up, because she understood my thinking on the chair exactly. ?Low back, without arms. You always get me the nicest things,? she said, and wheeled it around behind my desk. I sat down in it. Then she pushed me so my back was to my computer and keyboard, and straddled me. ?Like a glove.?

 

?I?d say more like a tailored pair of slacks. For a more glove-like fit,? I unzipped my pants.

 

?How?d you know I wouldn?t be wearing panties??

 

?How?d you know I wouldn?t want you wearing them?? I retorted as she lowered herself onto my lap.

 

Fifty minutes later she relaxed against me. I was glad I?d brought a change of clothes, because I was lacquered in our sweat- and other fluids. ?Some of my best work,? she said in my ear, ?and the writing?s not bad, either.?

 

I twirled the chair around, so she was facing the door and I was facing the screen.

 

?You don?t name Richard as the one shunting money into his brother?s reelection campaign.?

 

?Is that a problem? He?s not in the documents.? She was right on that point.

 

?No. I?m sure that?ll be enough.?

12/14/11

  10:44:00 am, by Nic Wilson   , 0 words  
Categories: Barren Mind

Barren Mind: Sat-Han

  10:24:00 am, by Nic Wilson   , 3878 words  
Categories: Banksters

Banksters 44: Best Laid Plans

It was lunchtime, and I still hadn't been into the office. I had Julee meet us somewhere- us being myself and Janet. ?Ms. Simmes. This is Julee Hendricks. She's going to be writing up an expose on your behalf about Richard's... we'll call them fiscal indiscretions.?

?So she's not your hooker. That's a relief. I assumed he had a type.?

?Oh, he does.? Julee smiled as she sat down.  

?Julee, this is Janet Simmes, currently an unconfirmed US Attorney, and, if things go right, soon to be head of my company's legal department.? Julee glared. If the head of legal found out she was a reporter, she would be out the door- of course, that was why I'd said my company, not our. She relaxed; because there was no way Simmes was going to know who she was, even on the off chance that she did come to work with us.

?But you ladies have much to discuss, strategies, and such, and I'm afraid legal, political and editorial strategies are not remotely in my skill set, so I'll leave you to it.? I got up and left.

Julee found me in my office after her lunch. ?Bit of a dick move, abandoning me there like that.?

?Janet isn't dumb. If I stayed, she'd have picked up on signals about our relationships- either that we've been romantic or that we work together. Either of which would have adversely affected our plans.?

?Romantic? I'd say we've been sweaty. And naked.?

?And that night with the blood spot, or the one where I put a gun to your head,?

?And I put a knife to your throat. Okay, those were sexy enough they might qualify as romantic. But are you getting all nostalgic on me??

?Just calling a spade a spade.? She glared at me. ?You know that saying has no racial overtones, right??

?Of course, I'm a writer; but sometimes it's fun to make white people uncomfortable.?

?And we're on for this weekend??

?Presuming you mean the screwing parts. Because I'm always happy to show up for a sex date.?

?I need you for the other parts, too. You have to be there to 'rescue' Alice. Because you're the only one who can make it plausible.?

?But here's a thought: why do we care about Alice? I get trying to screw her over; I get trying to frame Kierkegaard. But why not just let nature take its course. If anything, Kierkegaard spends even more time in jail for a successful rape than an attempt.?

?Because it's unnecessary. If I were operating on purely pragmatic grounds, it would be easier to just orchestrate break-ins and car accidents- a series of unfortunate events that lead to the deaths of my rivals. But too much violence and these circumstances no longer look like accidents- they start to resemble machinations. And that's how you get caught. But what are the plans for Richard.?

?Janet wanted to wait, make sure she had her ducks in a row. But I pushed to publish tonight. If we aren't the ones who break it, someone else might; and I impressed upon her that you're the kind of slimy bastard who would gladly screw us just to depose Richard a little earlier.?

?Thank you for that.?

?Did you think you had a patent on screwing with people you scheme with? But it was just a ploy. And if we can get it into the news cycle for the weekend, it'll dominate Saturday and Sunday, and by Monday Richard will have to resign.?

?I like the sound of that.?

?You like it enough I should bend over your desk in preparation for being ravaged??

?I think just normal liking.?

?Should I have worn a lower top??

?It never hurts. But I'll see you out.?

Body language is subtle, usually. But I didn't want to hope Petra got the message I hoped to convey, so I waited until we were in front of Petra's desk, where I knew she'd take it all in. I shook Julee's hand with both of mine, and took great care to rub it as I did. I smiled, and I stared at her, specifically at her cleavage. And I watched her walk away, barely noticing I'd been left behind with Petra.

?You're still spending time with her,? she said sadly.

?Working together,? I said, half-heartedly.

?Do I get to have you for the weekend?? Petra asked.

?Um, I already have plans.?

?Anything I can tag along for??

?Sorry.?

?So let me get this straight: you made plans that exclude your fiance on the first weekend after you proposed??

?I might be the crappiest fiance on record. But not worse than cavemen; those guys were Neanderthals.?  

?It's okay,? she said, though it clearly wasn't.

Julee called at about an hour before the end of the day, to talk to Petra. She wanted to make sure she knew what time her dinner meeting with me on Sunday was. Of course, it wasn't on the schedule. So Petra called me.

?Ms. Hendricks is on the phone. She says she has a meeting with you Sunday, late, but can't remember when.?

I gave it several seconds of silence, to let her imagination do terrible things, before I said, ?Nine,? confirming at least some of them.

?And she wanted to confirm where she's meeting you.?

?Breen's,? I said. It was a tiny and terrible little restaurant. Its only distinction at all was being within walking distance of my place. 

?Oh,? she said, neglecting to hide her surprise. ?All right.?

I snuck out. I wanted Petra feeling isolated and neglected. And Julee gave me a ride home, so Petra would see my car, and have to wonder.

I took a cab the next morning to pick it up. The rest of the day was spent in preparation, making sure I had all of my ducks in their rows.

I'd set up Grey's date with Alice at Breen's. In the message, I told her I'd passed it a hundred times on my way to work and was curious. Grey waited outside the restaurant, while I was already seated at a table in the far corner.

Alice was wearing what a straight woman would to seduce a lesbian, which meant it was mostly attractive to men- relatively speaking- but less so to the fairer sex. Grey had her phone on speaker on a call to me, so I could listen in. Once inside, Grey took one look around and said, ?I think I've got food poisoning just smelling the air in here.?

?Oh, come on, if it's good enough for the rats,? Alice joked, trying to lighten the mood.

?I feel awful. And it's probably too late to get reservations anyplace else.?

?It's okay, we could reschedule, or...? she stopped, because she thought that Grey was trying to put an end to their evening prematurely, that she'd seen her and had second thoughts.

?My apartment's just a few blocks from here, though. I could cook for you, if you don't think it's too forward of me to invite you back to my place before I feed you.?

?To feed me,? Alice corrected her. ?That makes us both sound less slutty.?

?Yes,? Grey teased. ?I only want to sound the right amount of slutty.?

Grey took her back to my apartment. I'd walked her through everything in the kitchen earlier, and a lemon tofu dish that would fool any carnivore- but wouldn't upset the tender sensibilities of a vegan. I mean, I do research, but eating habits aren't as easy to determine as you might think. Aside from watching someone for several days, it's practically impossible to find out anything other than food allergies, which, in Alice's case, included peanuts.

I stayed at Breen's to eat. Cooking was supposed to take a little over an hour, the eating, seduction and drugging an hour more. So I worked on my laptop while eating something that the menu said was chicken but I would have bet money was some kind of fish- or at least a sea creature of some kind.

After dinner, I went to a coffee shop a little closer to home, and I had a biscotti while I waited. I called Julee. ?Are you set up??

?I made it look like there was an intrusion attempt into our computer system, for a pretext. Then, while investigating, I 'found' Kierkegaard's messages, the ones he was forwarding through the company servers to try and make them look like they originated from Alice's computer. I'm currently reading through them. In about twenty minutes I'm going to go to personnel records to find Alice's home address and number. Then it's showtime.?

?Excellent.?

?After that, victory-sex??

?Might have to wait for tomorrow, depending on how long you're detained with the police. But definitely tomorrow, even if it's an encore performance.? 

Grey called after another half an hour. She needed me to help her carry Alice back to her car.

Mott was lying unconscious on my couch, with her blouse unbuttoned. I closed the first few buttons before I lifted her up. She was surprisingly light. Grey got the door into the hall, and called the elevator by the time I got there. I only had to set her down once, while we waited for the elevator. 

I set Alice in her passenger seat, and drove her car. It was awkward, because I didn't want to change any of her seat settings, and I was several inches taller than she was. Grey followed behind in my car. She kept it warm, and running, and as soon as I had Alice set up, we drove around the block.

The messages between Rob and Alice had been very specific. Per their agreement, the front door was unlocked, and Alice was in the first room, lying on her couch. No matter what he did, she was supposed to pretend to be asleep.

I got out of my car and walked back to Alice's on foot. Grey stayed with the car, playing Cut the Rope on her iPhone.

Rob arrived exactly on time. He was having trouble walking, because he already had an erection. I texted Julee to wrap up and head this direction.

I watched Rob walk through a heavy oak front window. He set his coat on an armchair, and slid up next to Alice. He tried making small talk, but she was out, He started kissing her, and unbuttoning her shirt. Things were moving too fast; hadn't he ever heard of romance?

But I'd come prepared for this. I picked up a softball-sized decorative rock from Alice's porch, and threw it through a small side window beside the front door. Rob got up off the couch and went to the door to check what was going on. By then I was already around the corner of the house.

Rob came outside, made sure his car was still undisturbed in the driveway, then went back inside.

I watched as he tried to talk to Alice again, but since she wasn't responding he assumed that she wanted him to continue, that broken window be damned.

Then I heard sirens coming from a few blocks away. I jumped the neighbor's fence, and kept walking. I pulled out my phone and texted Julee: Almost here?

She called me. ?Few blocks away. I'm right behind a squad car with its lights flashing. So apparently for once dispatch isn't dicking around.?

?That's good, because Rob doesn't seem to be, either- though he's in a big rush to start dicking around.?

?Gross.?

?Too far??

?I think victory sex is probably out of the question, now.?

?The price we pay to get ahead in business.?

Day 44: Best Laid Plans

 

It was lunchtime, and I still hadn't been into the office. I had Julee meet us somewhere- us being myself and Janet. ?Ms. Simmes. This is Julee Hendricks. She's going to be writing up an expose on your behalf about Richard's... we'll call them fiscal indiscretions.?

 

?So she's not your hooker. That's a relief. I assumed he had a type.?

 

?Oh, he does.? Julee smiled as she sat down.

 

?Julee, this is Janet Simmes, currently an unconfirmed US Attorney, and, if things go right, soon to be head of my company's legal department.? Julee glared. If the head of legal found out she was a reporter, she would be out the door- of course, that was why I'd said my company, not our. She relaxed; because there was no way Simmes was going to know who she was, even on the off chance that she did come to work with us.

 

?But you ladies have much to discuss, strategies, and such, and I'm afraid legal, political and editorial strategies are not remotely in my skill set, so I'll leave you to it.? I got up and left.

 

Julee found me in my office after her lunch. ?Bit of a dick move, abandoning me there like that.?

 

?Janet isn't dumb. If I stayed, she'd have picked up on signals about our relationships- either that we've been romantic or that we work together. Either of which would have adversely affected our plans.?

 

?Romantic? I'd say we've been sweaty. And naked.?

 

?And that night with the blood spot, or the one where I put a gun to your head,?

 

?And I put a knife to your throat. Okay, those were sexy enough they might qualify as romantic. But are you getting all nostalgic on me??

 

?Just calling a spade a spade.? She glared at me. ?You know that saying has no racial overtones, right??

 

?Of course, I'm a writer; but sometimes it's fun to make white people uncomfortable.?

 

?And we're on for this weekend??

 

?Presuming you mean the screwing parts. Because I'm always happy to show up for a sex date.?

 

?I need you for the other parts, too. You have to be there to 'rescue' Alice. Because you're the only one who can make it plausible.?

 

?But here's a thought: why do we care about Alice? I get trying to screw her over; I get trying to frame Kierkegaard. But why not just let nature take its course. If anything, Kierkegaard spends even more time in jail for a successful rape than an attempt.?

 

?Because it's unnecessary. If I were operating on purely pragmatic grounds, it would be easier to just orchestrate break-ins and car accidents- a series of unfortunate events that lead to the deaths of my rivals. But too much violence and these circumstances no longer look like accidents- they start to resemble machinations. And that's how you get caught. But what are the plans for Richard.?

 

?Janet wanted to wait, make sure she had her ducks in a row. But I pushed to publish tonight. If we aren't the ones who break it, someone else might; and I impressed upon her that you're the kind of slimy bastard who would gladly screw us just to depose Richard a little earlier.?

 

?Thank you for that.?

 

?Did you think you had a patent on screwing with people you scheme with? But it was just a ploy. And if we can get it into the news cycle for the weekend, it'll dominate Saturday and Sunday, and by Monday Richard will have to resign.?


?I like the sound of that.?

 

?You like it enough I should bend over your desk in preparation for being ravaged??

 

?I think just normal liking.?

 

?Should I have worn a lower top??

 

?It never hurts. But I'll see you out.?

 

Body language is subtle, usually. But I didn't want to hope Petra got the message I hoped to convey, so I waited until we were in front of Petra's desk, where I knew she'd take it all in. I shook Julee's hand with both of mine, and took great care to rub it as I did. I smiled, and I stared at her, specifically at her cleavage. And I watched her walk away, barely noticing I'd been left behind with Petra.

 

?You're still spending time with her,? she said sadly.

 

?Working together,? I said, half-heartedly.

 

?Do I get to have you for the weekend?? Petra asked.

 

?Um, I already have plans.?

 

?Anything I can tag along for??

 

?Sorry.?

 

?So let me get this straight: you made plans that exclude your fiance on the first weekend after you proposed??

 

?I might be the crappiest fiance on record. But not worse than cavemen; those guys were Neanderthals.?

 

?It's okay,? she said, though it clearly wasn't.

 

Julee called at about an hour before the end of the day, to talk to Petra. She wanted to make sure she knew what time her dinner meeting with me on Sunday was. Of course, it wasn't on the schedule. So Petra called me.

 

?Ms. Hendricks is on the phone. She says she has a meeting with you Sunday, late, but can't remember when.?

 

I gave it several seconds of silence, to let her imagination do terrible things, before I said, ?Nine,? confirming at least some of them.

 

?And she wanted to confirm where she's meeting you.?

 

?Breen's,? I said. It was a tiny and terrible little restaurant. Its only distinction at all was being within walking distance of my place.

 

?Oh,? she said, neglecting to hide her surprise. ?All right.?

 

I snuck out. I wanted Petra feeling isolated and neglected. And Julee gave me a ride home, so Petra would see my car, and have to wonder.

 

I took a cab the next morning to pick it up. The rest of the day was spent in preparation, making sure I had all of my ducks in their rows.

 

I'd set up Grey's date with Alice at Breen's. In the message, I told her I'd passed it a hundred times on my way to work and was curious. Grey waited outside the restaurant, while I was already seated at a table in the far corner.

 

Alice was wearing what a straight woman would to seduce a lesbian, which meant it was mostly attractive to men- relatively speaking- but less so to the fairer sex. Grey had her phone on speaker on a call to me, so I could listen in. Once inside, Grey took one look around and said, ?I think I've got food poisoning just smelling the air in here.?

 

?Oh, come on, if it's good enough for the rats,? Alice joked, trying to lighten the mood.

 

?I feel awful. And it's probably too late to get reservations anyplace else.?

 

?It's okay, we could reschedule, or...? she stopped, because she thought that Grey was trying to put an end to their evening prematurely, that she'd seen her and had second thoughts.

 

?My apartment's just a few blocks from here, though. I could cook for you, if you don't think it's too forward of me to invite you back to my place before I feed you.?

 

?To feed me,? Alice corrected her. ?That makes us both sound less slutty.?

 

?Yes,? Grey teased. ?I only want to sound the right amount of slutty.?

 

Grey took her back to my apartment. I'd walked her through everything in the kitchen earlier, and a lemon tofu dish that would fool any carnivore- but wouldn't upset the tender sensibilities of a vegan. I mean, I do research, but eating habits aren't as easy to determine as you might think. Aside from watching someone for several days, it's practically impossible to find out anything other than food allergies, which, in Alice's case, included peanuts.

 

I stayed at Breen's to eat. Cooking was supposed to take a little over an hour, the eating, seduction and drugging an hour more. So I worked on my laptop while eating something that the menu said was chicken but I would have bet money was some kind of fish- or at least a sea creature of some kind.

 

After dinner, I went to a coffee shop a little closer to home, and I had a biscotti while I waited. I called Julee. ?Are you set up??

 

?I made it look like there was an intrusion attempt into our computer system, for a pretext. Then, while investigating, I 'found' Kierkegaard's messages, the ones he was forwarding through the company servers to try and make them look like they originated from Alice's computer. I'm currently reading through them. In about twenty minutes I'm going to go to personnel records to find Alice's home address and number. Then it's showtime.?

 

?Excellent.?

 

?After that, victory-sex??

 

?Might have to wait for tomorrow, depending on how long you're detained with the police. But definitely tomorrow, even if it's an encore performance.?

 

Grey called after another half an hour. She needed me to help her carry Alice back to her car.

 

Mott was lying unconscious on my couch, with her blouse unbuttoned. I closed the first few buttons before I lifted her up. She was surprisingly light. Grey got the door into the hall, and called the elevator by the time I got there. I only had to set her down once, while we waited for the elevator.

 

I set Alice in her passenger seat, and drove her car. It was awkward, because I didn't want to change any of her seat settings, and I was several inches taller than she was. Grey followed behind in my car. She kept it warm, and running, and as soon as I had Alice set up, we drove around the block.

 

The messages between Rob and Alice had been very specific. Per their agreement, the front door was unlocked, and Alice was in the first room, lying on her couch. No matter what he did, she was supposed to pretend to be asleep.

 

I got out of my car and walked back to Alice's on foot. Grey stayed with the car, playing Cut the Rope on her iPhone.

 

Rob arrived exactly on time. He was having trouble walking, because he already had an erection. I texted Julee to wrap up and head this direction.

 

I watched Rob walk through a heavy oak front window. He set his coat on an armchair, and slid up next to Alice. He tried making small talk, but she was out, He started kissing her, and unbuttoning her shirt. Things were moving too fast; hadn't he ever heard of romance?

 

But I'd come prepared for this. I picked up a softball-sized decorative rock from Alice's porch, and threw it through a small side window beside the front door. Rob got up off the couch and went to the door to check what was going on. By then I was already around the corner of the house.

 

Rob came outside, made sure his car was still undisturbed in the driveway, then went back inside.

 

I watched as he tried to talk to Alice again, but since she wasn't responding he assumed that she wanted him to continue, that broken window be damned.

 

Then I heard sirens coming from a few blocks away. I jumped the neighbor's fence, and kept walking. I pulled out my phone and texted Julee: Almost here?

 

She called me. ?Few blocks away. I'm right behind a squad car with its lights flashing. So apparently for once dispatch isn't dicking around.?

 

?That's good, because Rob doesn't seem to be, either- though he's in a big rush to start dicking around.?

 

?Gross.?

 

?Too far??

 

?I think victory sex is probably out of the question, now.?

 

?The price we pay to get ahead in business.?

12/13/11

  10:38:00 am, by Nic Wilson   , 345 words  
Categories: Gitmo

Gitmo 54: Consolation

People were pissed. I thought maybe Hamdi was going to get his riot after all. But I had an idea. It wasn?t, it couldn?t make up for the loss of the monument. But it was a compromise, or at least a consolation prize.

I asked people to come to the mosque. There was confusion in that, because I wasn?t compelling anyone. It was an invitation. Once I got that idea across, it turned out not that many people actually wanted to come.

The only ones who showed were the ones who were already in it deep, and maybe looking to buy a little lenience, like Mustafa, and those who I think liked me on some personal level. Like Ismail. I mean, he hated me, too, but that didn?t stop him from also liking me.

And Omar. Who had never even been on my radar until he saved me from Hamdi. Who I couldn?t figure out.

But in front of them, I suddenly felt foolish; I was trying to give a speech about communication at my community college and muttering every third word. ?We know what happened to the monument. None of us are happy about it. But it?s done. And what I?d propose, instead of a new structure, that we use this building, behind me, as our dedication.?

?I?m not mandating this. This is your place of worship, and I would never try to take any part of that from you. But with the monument, I promised more than I could deliver. But I think this is something we can do.?

There were a few mumbled words from the crowd, then they dispersed faster than I?d ever seen happen at a gathering. Omar alone locked eyes with me, and approached. ?You attempted to keep your word, and we appreciate that none of us here are entirely our own masters. It?s a nice gesture.? But inadequate, is the subtext. But he?s the only one who talks to me.

He and Ismail exchanged a nod, and our plumber took the plaque from me, and took it inside.

  09:48:00 am, by Nic Wilson   , 3451 words  
Categories: Banksters

Banksters 43: Ultimatum

Petra did cook, and none of it looked like baby poop. But she barely made eye contract through the entire meal, which was made even harder by the fact that we were eating around a small, circular, black glass table in my cramped little breakfast nook.

After I?d taken my last bite, she bussed our dishes. But she came back with a stack of folders. ?I don?t love easily,? she said. ?And I could never be sure of you. There was always something aloof about you; something that made me afraid to connect with you. But you?ve really stepped up. The ring, the baby. Everything. I trust you. And that?s why I?m giving you this.?

?File folders? Don?t we have a virtually unlimited supply of those at office?? She laid the folders down in front of me, and opened them up to the first page. They were hand-written field reports, going back several weeks. She?d done me the favor of highlighting my name in them- and it was in them a lot.

?I finished typing them up, and sent them in. Without your name in them. In fact, I?ve written my reports around you, entirely. It would be harder now for someone else, coming in, to prove you had anything to do with any of the malfeasance we both know permeates our company.?

That was when I realized: it was a test. A cynical test, to see if I?d take my anonymity and run. And in all likelihood, she was lying, and there were copies, probably all over the place. In truth, I?d never been more attracted to her.

?I don?t want you to be putting yourself in harm?s way,? I told her. ?This is your career, you?re talking about.?

?And your life, our lives, together. Not a very inspiring bedtime story, ?you have a father, I just put him in jail for doing things that aren?t really that illegal, we just found a technicality.??

?There?s a technicality?? I asked, somewhat genuinely.

?There?s always a technicality. Finance is all about technicalities. We find them, and exploit them, and next year the regulators close one loophole, so we find another. And that story might have been you find them, and I stop you; but I want it to be a different story. One with a happier ending.?

She collapsed into my arms, in tears, and I held her. 

I realized we had a comfortable life together. She was just clingy enough to be constantly available to me, but not so clingy as to interfere with everything else I had to do to get ahead.

I wondered how long I could keep her from realizing she wasn?t pregnant. The hormone shots would keep her from ovulating, and for the piss stick test I could always give her some hCG. But eventually she?d want to go to a doctor?s office, and trying to get the chemistry right to fool a quantitative beta hCG blood test was almost certainly beyond my means. And then there was the problem of her never showing.

So obviously, the answer was never going to be forever. 

The next morning I left her in bed for an ?early meeting.? Once I was out the door, I called Teryl Morgan on her cell. She waited several rings before she picked up.

?I was beginning to think I?d never hear from you again,? she said.

?You shouldn?t have,? I said, and left that to linger. ?I was scared. It?s been so long since I?ve been happy, and, I was afraid it couldn?t last. I?m okay being lonely. But to have happiness dangled in front of me, only to lose it again? I don?t know that I could go through that again. Maybe I?m not ready for this. But I couldn?t stay away from you. Would you meet me for breakfast??

?Sure. There?s a little sidewalk café below my apartment. I?ll send you directions.? 

It was basically on my way into work. But it was early, and the air was crisply moist, and biting. I ordered the warmest sounding things on the menu, coffee, toast, eggs and bacon. She had a bagel and a wedge of grapefruit. We sat on some metal patio furniture on the sidewalk. She didn?t invite me upstairs, which meant she didn?t trust herself around me.

?I never pictured you living in a place like this,? I said, nodding at her building while shoving half a piece of toast into my mouth without jam.

?I didn?t want to be one of those clichéd wives who kicks her husband out of the home he paid for. And I think? I was afraid that would push us into ending the marriage, back when I wasn?t sure that was what either of us wanted.? She was picking her words very carefully as she went along. She still felt guilty. I could work with that.

?Liz told me you were already divorced.?

?Separated,? she said, not quite understanding my tone. 

?I knew it,? I thrust my hands helplessly into the air. ?I knew it was too good to be true. I can?t see a woman who?s separated. It?s practically adultery.?

She spoke very gently with me, but she was as much trying to convince herself. ?I haven?t loved my husband for a very long time; and we hadn?t been happy a good deal before that.?

?But that doesn?t really matter- not in the eyes of God. He?s your husband. Jesus; I slept with a married woman.?

?I thought you knew.?

?It?s? it?s not your fault. I should have been more inquisitive; I rushed us into things. I just, I?ve never been so connected with someone so quickly before. I thought?? I didn?t finish the sentence. ?But, if all that?s true, why haven?t you divorced him??

?I don?t know,? she admitted after a moment. ?It?s not something I?ve really thought about. But? I guess I didn?t want to admit that it was over. That I?d failed at married life. That Dick and I grew apart.?

?I don?t think I could see someone who?s married- separated or no.?

?Is that an ultimatum?? she bristled.

?I?m not telling you you have to do anything; I absolutely don?t want to pressure you. So if you want to take things slowly, I can wait. But the person who was married, you?re not her anymore. And that might be a scary thought. But you?re better than that. You?re better than clinging to an old life just so you don?t have to worry about who you?re going to be now that you aren?t that person anymore.?

?I think I need some time, to think. Can I have that??

I took hold of her hand. ?Of course.? I held her hand for a good ten minutes before she excused herself and went upstairs.

I called into the office, and told Petra I had another meeting, this time with a prospective replacement for Allistair Neville. Lucky enough for me, Janet Simmes was still in her office. ?The job is yours,? I told her from her doorway.

?Really? Like that? You just walk in here and give me a job.?

?Exactly like that. The Senate won?t even give you an up or down vote on your current job- which means as soon as your temporary appointment expires you?re out the door. So you can stay here and let that clock tick down, or you can come work with me.?

?Not for??

?You?d be heading the legal department in the same way I?m heading up strategy. We?d be more or less equals, and if anything, you?d be in charge of the older and much larger of the two departments.?

?So what does a chief strategy officer do??

?Recognize opportunities, like the opportunity to headhunt a brilliant legal mind from an unappreciative government.?

?You?re not going to throw in some reference to how beautiful I am and how there?s a skirt maximum of mid-thigh? I could have sworn you were going to test me on sexual harassment law- I just get that vibe from you.?

?Nope. I come bearing a different kind of test.? I dropped a file onto her desk. ?The first page is an employment contract, which you have to sign before you read any of the rest.?

?And the test is whether or not I sign documents I haven?t read??

?By all means, read it. I?ll just hum the Jeopardy theme while I wait.? She scanned it, to make sure there wasn?t anything past boilerplate, then scratched what was probably an intentionally illegible signature at the bottom.

She took a few minutes to read over the documents to get a feel for them. And when she had the general idea she dropped the pages like a corpse onto her desk. ?I can?t sign off on any this. It?s like the Repo agreements times ten.?

?And you can?t talk about it, either because you signed- wait, I had you sign a standard nondisclosure agreement along with your employment contract, didn?t I? I didn?t foolishly leave that at the bottom of that stack of papers, did I??

Her eyes narrowed, and she flipped to the last page, where there was indeed an unsigned NDA. ?Exactly what are you playing at?? she asked me.

?As I see it, you have two options. One, you bounce back these strategy documents to Richard Morgan, telling him he can?t do what he wants. Or two, you let any one of the yes men in your new department rubber stamp it; an excuse along the lines of ?I?m still getting settled into the particulars of finance and the company?s culture? ought to suffice. Then you rake Richard over coals with it at a barbeque with members of the Senate Judiciary Committee.?

?Juicing my odds of confirmation, or just rubbing it in their snooty faces- whichever?s my pleasure. But what?s in all of this for you?? I whistled the first few bars of the Movin? On Up theme song from the Jeffersons. ?So you?re hoping I take out the King for you. No honor among thieves, huh??

?I didn?t make pigs want to live in slop- I just gave one the opportunity.?

?And I?m supposed to believe you?re not a pig??

?You can believe whatever you want. But if I were, it?d be awfully silly of me to help you get a job with even more power to go after people like me.?

Petra did cook, and none of it looked like baby poop. But she barely made eye contract through the entire meal, which was made even harder by the fact that we were eating around a small, circular, black glass table in my cramped little breakfast nook.

 

After I?d taken my last bite, she bussed our dishes. But she came back with a stack of folders. ?I don?t love easily,? she said. ?And I could never be sure of you. There was always something aloof about you; something that made me afraid to connect with you. But you?ve really stepped up. The ring, the baby. Everything. I trust you. And that?s why I?m giving you this.?

 

?File folders? Don?t we have a virtually unlimited supply of those at office?? She laid the folders down in front of me, and opened them up to the first page. They were hand-written field reports, going back several weeks. She?d done me the favor of highlighting my name in them- and it was in them a lot.

 

?I finished typing them up, and sent them in. Without your name in them. In fact, I?ve written my reports around you, entirely. It would be harder now for someone else, coming in, to prove you had anything to do with any of the malfeasance we both know permeates our company.?

 

That was when I realized: it was a test. A cynical test, to see if I?d take my anonymity and run. And in all likelihood, she was lying, and there were copies, probably all over the place. In truth, I?d never been more attracted to her.

 

?I don?t want you to be putting yourself in harm?s way,? I told her. ?This is your career, you?re talking about.?

 

?And your life, our lives, together. Not a very inspiring bedtime story, ?you have a father, I just put him in jail for doing things that aren?t really that illegal, we just found a technicality.??

 

?There?s a technicality?? I asked, somewhat genuinely.

 

?There?s always a technicality. Finance is all about technicalities. We find them, and exploit them, and next year the regulators close one loophole, so we find another. And that story might have been you find them, and I stop you; but I want it to be a different story. One with a happier ending.?

 

She collapsed into my arms, in tears, and I held her.

 

I realized we had a comfortable life together. She was just clingy enough to be constantly available to me, but not so clingy as to interfere with everything else I had to do to get ahead.

 

I wondered how long I could keep her from realizing she wasn?t pregnant. The hormone shots would keep her from ovulating, and for the piss stick test I could always give her some hCG. But eventually she?d want to go to a doctor?s office, and trying to get the chemistry right to fool a quantitative beta hCG blood test was almost certainly beyond my means. And then there was the problem of her never showing.

 

So obviously, the answer was never going to be forever.

 

The next morning I left her in bed for an ?early meeting.? Once I was out the door, I called Teryl Morgan on her cell. She waited several rings before she picked up.

 

?I was beginning to think I?d never hear from you again,? she said.

 

?You shouldn?t have,? I said, and left that to linger. ?I was scared. It?s been so long since I?ve been happy, and, I was afraid it couldn?t last. I?m okay being lonely. But to have happiness dangled in front of me, only to lose it again? I don?t know that I could go through that again. Maybe I?m not ready for this. But I couldn?t stay away from you. Would you meet me for breakfast??

 

?Sure. There?s a little sidewalk café below my apartment. I?ll send you directions.?

 

It was basically on my way into work. But it was early, and the air was crisply moist, and biting. I ordered the warmest sounding things on the menu, coffee, toast, eggs and bacon. She had a bagel and a wedge of grapefruit. We sat on some metal patio furniture on the sidewalk. She didn?t invite me upstairs, which meant she didn?t trust herself around me.

 

?I never pictured you living in a place like this,? I said, nodding at her building while shoving half a piece of toast into my mouth without jam.

 

?I didn?t want to be one of those clichéd wives who kicks her husband out of the home he paid for. And I think? I was afraid that would push us into ending the marriage, back when I wasn?t sure that was what either of us wanted.? She was picking her words very carefully as she went along. She still felt guilty. I could work with that.

 

?Liz told me you were already divorced.?

 

?Separated,? she said, not quite understanding my tone.

 

?I knew it,? I thrust my hands helplessly into the air. ?I knew it was too good to be true. I can?t see a woman who?s separated. It?s practically adultery.?

 

She spoke very gently with me, but she was as much trying to convince herself. ?I haven?t loved my husband for a very long time; and we hadn?t been happy a good deal before that.?

 

?But that doesn?t really matter- not in the eyes of God. He?s your husband. Jesus; I slept with a married woman.?

 

?I thought you knew.?

 

?It?s? it?s not your fault. I should have been more inquisitive; I rushed us into things. I just, I?ve never been so connected with someone so quickly before. I thought?? I didn?t finish the sentence. ?But, if all that?s true, why haven?t you divorced him??

 

?I don?t know,? she admitted after a moment. ?It?s not something I?ve really thought about. But? I guess I didn?t want to admit that it was over. That I?d failed at married life. That Dick and I grew apart.?

 

?I don?t think I could see someone who?s married- separated or no.?

 

?Is that an ultimatum?? she bristled.

 

?I?m not telling you you have to do anything; I absolutely don?t want to pressure you. So if you want to take things slowly, I can wait. But the person who was married, you?re not her anymore. And that might be a scary thought. But you?re better than that. You?re better than clinging to an old life just so you don?t have to worry about who you?re going to be now that you aren?t that person anymore.?

 

?I think I need some time, to think. Can I have that??

 

I took hold of her hand. ?Of course.? I held her hand for a good ten minutes before she excused herself and went upstairs.

 

I called into the office, and told Petra I had another meeting, this time with a prospective replacement for Allistair Neville. Lucky enough for me, Janet Simmes was still in her office. ?The job is yours,? I told her from her doorway.

 

?Really? Like that? You just walk in here and give me a job.?

 

?Exactly like that. The Senate won?t even give you an up or down vote on your current job- which means as soon as your temporary appointment expires you?re out the door. So you can stay here and let that clock tick down, or you can come work with me.?

 

?Not for??

 

?You?d be heading the legal department in the same way I?m heading up strategy. We?d be more or less equals, and if anything, you?d be in charge of the older and much larger of the two departments.?

 

?So what does a chief strategy officer do??

 

?Recognize opportunities, like the opportunity to headhunt a brilliant legal mind from an unappreciative government.?

 

?You?re not going to throw in some reference to how beautiful I am and how there?s a skirt maximum of mid-thigh? I could have sworn you were going to test me on sexual harassment law- I just get that vibe from you.?

 

?Nope. I come bearing a different kind of test.? I dropped a file onto her desk. ?The first page is an employment contract, which you have to sign before you read any of the rest.?

 

?And the test is whether or not I sign documents I haven?t read??

 

?By all means, read it. I?ll just hum the Jeopardy theme while I wait.? She scanned it, to make sure there wasn?t anything past boilerplate, then scratched what was probably an intentionally illegible signature at the bottom.

 

She took a few minutes to read over the documents to get a feel for them. And when she had the general idea she dropped the pages like a corpse onto her desk. ?I can?t sign off on any this. It?s like the Repo agreements times ten.?

 

?And you can?t talk about it, either because you signed- wait, I had you sign a standard nondisclosure agreement along with your employment contract, didn?t I? I didn?t foolishly leave that at the bottom of that stack of papers, did I??

 

Her eyes narrowed, and she flipped to the last page, where there was indeed an unsigned NDA. ?Exactly what are you playing at?? she asked me.

 

?As I see it, you have two options. One, you bounce back these strategy documents to Richard Morgan, telling him he can?t do what he wants. Or two, you let any one of the yes men in your new department rubber stamp it; an excuse along the lines of ?I?m still getting settled into the particulars of finance and the company?s culture? ought to suffice. Then you rake Richard over coals with it at a barbeque with members of the Senate Judiciary Committee.?

 

?Juicing my odds of confirmation, or just rubbing it in their snooty faces- whichever?s my pleasure. But what?s in all of this for you?? I whistled the first few bars of the Movin? On Up theme song from the Jeffersons. ?So you?re hoping I take out the King for you. No honor among thieves, huh??

 

?I didn?t make pigs want to live in slop- I just gave one the opportunity.?

 

?And I?m supposed to believe you?re not a pig??

 

?You can believe whatever you want. But if I were, it?d be awfully silly of me to help you get a job with even more power to go after people like me.?

12/12/11

  09:31:00 am, by Nic Wilson   , 3371 words  
Categories: Banksters

Banksters 42: Pregnant Pauses

I went back to work. There was still so much left to do to prepare. Until Julee rapped on my door. She let herself in. ?Morning,? I said.

?Afternoon,? she corrected me.

I checked my watch, and she was right. ?Son of a bitch. Time flies when you?re having fun.?

?I hear Petra is making an honest baby daddy out of you. She doesn?t honestly think you?ll marry her, does she??

?I think she does- or it would make her enthusiasm awfully cynical.?

?Do you??

?No. Ultimately, our relationship is predicated on my trying to minimize the danger she represents to my interests. Keeping her around indefinitely creates more exposure, not less. It would be impractical.?

?So now you?re all pragmatic?? she asked facetiously, trying not to show any hurt at all.

?When was I not?? I asked, not expecting the answer to satisfy either of us. ?If you?re question?s just about Petra, than the answer is never. More generally? I?d say nobody wants to be alone. Some of us need to. Some of us should be. Some of us believe that we hunt better when not in packs. But no one wants to be alone; occasional solitude, sure. But being alone is just so lonesome.?

She wanted to want to be alone. But she couldn?t. And that made her feel weak. But really, it was only feeling weak that made her weak. She wanted to push other people away so she didn?t have to feel bad about not wanting to push them away. And I don?t know if it got more lonesome than that. 

?I assume you didn?t just want to wax poetic about loneliness,? she said bitterly.

?Actually, that?s an apt segue, because I?d like to get two people back together.?

?So now you want me playing cupid??

?Actually, I want the woman playing cupid, or, at least, I want the man to think she?s playing cupid. Later on, I?ll want the police to think he was playing cupid. Electronically.?

?So you want me to clone his IP address??

?In a nutshell.?

?That?s all??

?Unless you want to seduce and then drug a woman.? A skeptical eyebrow went up. ?See, I thought that?s how you?d react, that?s why I didn?t lead with that. I figured a little light computer work was more your speed.?

?Light??

?As far as I know.?

?I don?t think you appreciate me,? she pouted, leaning against my desk towards the window, not wanting to look me in the eye.

?I know how much I need you on this,? I said, setting my chin on her shoulder, pressing myself against her and wrapping my arms around her waist. 

?And that amount better be fucking shitloads,? she said, and rubbed her face against my cheek. 

?At least,? I said. ?I?ll type up the messages I want sent. There?ll be one a day, at least, for the next few days.?

?As soon as I?ve got them, I?ll get them posted,? she said, turned towards me and pressing herself in close enough to kiss. ?But you?re going to owe me.?

?You make it sound like such a chore,? I said, ?when it all sounds awfully win-win for me.?  

At close of business, Richard called me into his office. But he didn?t relay the message through his secretary and then mine. He dialed me directly. I didn?t know what to make of that. I gathered up my coat, because I wanted to look like he?d barely caught me on my way out the door, then walked to his office. He was staring down at the city outside his window, a drink in hand I didn?t think he?d touched. 

?Allistair Neville?s had a nervous breakdown. He may never practice again- and almost certainly not for us. I want to name Henry York his successor tomorrow. I know you and Henry have had volatile dealings in the past, and rather than let this develop into another Daria situation, I wanted to nip this in the bud. You?ve proven invaluable to me, but I want to make sure you don?t start biting the hand that feeds you.?

?Promoting York would be a mistake. Daria never got a chance to follow up on it because of her leave, but I reported to her some time ago that York isn?t who he claims to be. In fact, he blames you, personally, for his parents? death. The ?mistakes? he?s made, those were deliberate sabotage. He wanted the company caught up in illegal dealings, and shamed, and if he could manage to put you in jail- that was just gravy.?

?Then why am I only now hearing about this??

?Because you?re about to promote him, and that would be a mistake. Until now, I?ve been able to quietly neutralize him. If I?d told you earlier, you?d have fired him, and the US Attorney he?s been trying to feed information to, she would have come down on us like an entire skyscraper built from bricks. And instead, I?ve convinced her to work for us.?

?What??

?I knew it was only a matter of time before Neville caved in to the pressure. York had something on him.?

?That stupid little black girl,? Richard said through grit teeth.

?He used that to force his way onto the legal staff. But he?s been caught between a rock and a hard place ever since the hire. Meanwhile, I?ve been buttering up Simmes.?

?So we can fire York??

?Better: we can bury him. We transfer him to the part of legal that proofs merger and acquisition contracts. He can keep his title and pay, but eventually he?ll quit, since he won?t be anywhere he can muckrake. And in the interim he?ll be neutered. But I think I?ve come up with a strategy, to survive whatever it is that Warwick has planned.?

?First, we need to sell more shares to dilute the stock. It?ll drives up the cost of the investment they have to make to get more votes on the board. And it shrinks the value of any investments they?ve already made. We sell any assets we can afford to lose- and if we have to take a loss even better, because the point is trying to make the company more costly to buy, while making it worth less.?

?Second, we make sure the press gets wind of Warwick?s financial troubles. That?ll send their stock prices into the toilet. And then, we use the money we?ve made to buy up shares of Warwick Financial; Arnie tells me they?re overleveraged enough that we could actually take them over. It?s called a Pac-man defense.?

?And as a bargaining chip, we buy up credit default swaps for Warwick as a hedge against our investment. That way, no matter what happens to their company, we make money. Since they?re so damnable intent on playing chicken, we make sure their trunk is full of something very flammable.?

?That?s beautiful. So fucking beautiful I?d hug you, but I have an erection, and I wouldn?t want to give you the wrong kind of idea.?

?The idea that I?m being hugged by a man with an erection??

?Exactly.?

?Handshake??

He put out his hand and said, ?So long as you?re not thinking about my erection while you shake it.?

I started to reach for his hand, then stopped. ?Now I can?t.? I patted him on the shoulder.

?Fine work,? he said.

I spent the next couple of hours on a dating website. When everything was said and done, I called Grey. ?Alice Mott has a dating profile up on Plenty of Fish. I set you up one, and sent her a message. She responded in an hour, so she must be awfully interested. I texted you the password, so you can read what ?you? wrote. But she?s suggested dinner this weekend.?

?Anything I need to know about her? Does she like a woman who?s tough, or does she prefer the softer side.? 

?It?s a thin line. Alice wants to feel protected- but she doesn?t want to feel like she?s with someone who could easily overpower her. So most of the time she just carries a stun gun.?

?Oh, I so do not want to get tazed.?

?Nope, no tazing, only teasing. A little foreplay, some drinks doctored with ketamine, and we drop her off at home. We?re on a deadline, though; Rob?s meeting her at home at 9 for their rape-date.?

?Is that what it sounds like??

?If it sounds like people on Craigslist organizing fake rapes to get their jollies, then yes. Although technically this one was arranged through Facebook.?

?You?re a sick man.?

?Nothing?s going to come of it. Julee, from corporate security, will have intercepted some threatening messages from Rob while working late. She?ll call the police, and they?ll put a stop to it.?   

?And you?ll be there to see that things go smoothly??

?Every step of the way.? I noticed my tone was soothing, despite the fact that she didn?t need it, and I hadn?t intended it. That was disturbing.

But it was about time to go. In fact, it was past time, and starting to get dark outside. I packed up my things, and left the office. I was surprised to find Petra still at her desk, waiting for me. ?I was hoping I could come over,? she said. ?I?d like to cook you dinner.?

?I don?t really have anything in my fridge.?

?We can stop at a store.?

?I usually have my assistant do that sort of thing.?

?I don?t do your shopping.?

?Really? Cause it sounded like you just volunteered to start.?

?Fine. But I?m telling you right now, if you make me shop alone, you?re getting an unmerinated block of tofu, peanut butter stew, a macrobiotic burrito and vegan chocolate mousse- which if you?ve never seen it, looks like baby diarrhea, and as an expectant father, might be something you should get used to.?

?I had no idea you were such a passive aggressive shopper.?

?And actually, peanut butter stew is really good, it only looks like someone did something horrible to your food.?

?Something worse than baby diarrhea??

?That depends on your feelings about baby diarrhea.?

?So we?re shopping, then.?

?Smart man.?

I went back to work. There was still so much left to do to prepare. Until Julee rapped on my door. She let herself in. ?Morning,? I said.

 

?Afternoon,? she corrected me.

 

I checked my watch, and she was right. ?Son of a bitch. Time flies when you?re having fun.?

 

?I hear Petra is making an honest baby daddy out of you. She doesn?t honestly think you?ll marry her, does she??

 

?I think she does- or it would make her enthusiasm awfully cynical.?

 

?Do you??

 

?No. Ultimately, our relationship is predicated on my trying to minimize the danger she represents to my interests. Keeping her around indefinitely creates more exposure, not less. It would be impractical.?

 

?So now you?re all pragmatic?? she asked facetiously, trying not to show any hurt at all.

 

?When was I not?? I asked, not expecting the answer to satisfy either of us. ?If you?re question?s just about Petra, than the answer is never. More generally? I?d say nobody wants to be alone. Some of us need to. Some of us should be. Some of us believe that we hunt better when not in packs. But no one wants to be alone; occasional solitude, sure. But being alone is just so lonesome.?

 

She wanted to want to be alone. But she couldn?t. And that made her feel weak. But really, it was only feeling weak that made her weak. She wanted to push other people away so she didn?t have to feel bad about not wanting to push them away. And I don?t know if it got more lonesome than that.

 

?I assume you didn?t just want to wax poetic about loneliness,? she said bitterly.

 

?Actually, that?s an apt segue, because I?d like to get two people back together.?

 

?So now you want me playing cupid??

 

?Actually, I want the woman playing cupid, or, at least, I want the man to think she?s playing cupid. Later on, I?ll want the police to think he was playing cupid. Electronically.?

 

?So you want me to clone his IP address??

 

?In a nutshell.?

 

?That?s all??

 

?Unless you want to seduce and then drug a woman.? A skeptical eyebrow went up. ?See, I thought that?s how you?d react, that?s why I didn?t lead with that. I figured a little light computer work was more your speed.?

 

?Light??

 

?As far as I know.?

 

?I don?t think you appreciate me,? she pouted, leaning against my desk towards the window, not wanting to look me in the eye.

 

?I know how much I need you on this,? I said, setting my chin on her shoulder, pressing myself against her and wrapping my arms around her waist.

 

?And that amount better be fucking shitloads,? she said, and rubbed her face against my cheek.

 

?At least,? I said. ?I?ll type up the messages I want sent. There?ll be one a day, at least, for the next few days.?

 

?As soon as I?ve got them, I?ll get them posted,? she said, turned towards me and pressing herself in close enough to kiss. ?But you?re going to owe me.?

 

?You make it sound like such a chore,? I said, ?when it all sounds awfully win-win for me.?

 

At close of business, Richard called me into his office. But he didn?t relay the message through his secretary and then mine. He dialed me directly. I didn?t know what to make of that. I gathered up my coat, because I wanted to look like he?d barely caught me on my way out the door, then walked to his office. He was staring down at the city outside his window, a drink in hand I didn?t think he?d touched.

 

?Allistair Neville?s had a nervous breakdown. He may never practice again- and almost certainly not for us. I want to name Henry York his successor tomorrow. I know you and Henry have had volatile dealings in the past, and rather than let this develop into another Daria situation, I wanted to nip this in the bud. You?ve proven invaluable to me, but I want to make sure you don?t start biting the hand that feeds you.?

 

?Promoting York would be a mistake. Daria never got a chance to follow up on it because of her leave, but I reported to her some time ago that York isn?t who he claims to be. In fact, he blames you, personally, for his parents? death. The ?mistakes? he?s made, those were deliberate sabotage. He wanted the company caught up in illegal dealings, and shamed, and if he could manage to put you in jail- that was just gravy.?

 

?Then why am I only now hearing about this??

 

?Because you?re about to promote him, and that would be a mistake. Until now, I?ve been able to quietly neutralize him. If I?d told you earlier, you?d have fired him, and the US Attorney he?s been trying to feed information to, she would have come down on us like an entire skyscraper built from bricks. And instead, I?ve convinced her to work for us.?

 

?What??

 

?I knew it was only a matter of time before Neville caved in to the pressure. York had something on him.?

 

?That stupid little black girl,? Richard said through grit teeth.

 

?He used that to force his way onto the legal staff. But he?s been caught between a rock and a hard place ever since the hire. Meanwhile, I?ve been buttering up Simmes.?

 

?So we can fire York??

 

?Better: we can bury him. We transfer him to the part of legal that proofs merger and acquisition contracts. He can keep his title and pay, but eventually he?ll quit, since he won?t be anywhere he can muckrake. And in the interim he?ll be neutered. But I think I?ve come up with a strategy, to survive whatever it is that Warwick has planned.?

 

?First, we need to sell more shares to dilute the stock. It?ll drives up the cost of the investment they have to make to get more votes on the board. And it shrinks the value of any investments they?ve already made. We sell any assets we can afford to lose- and if we have to take a loss even better, because the point is trying to make the company more costly to buy, while making it worth less.?

 

?Second, we make sure the press gets wind of Warwick?s financial troubles. That?ll send their stock prices into the toilet. And then, we use the money we?ve made to buy up shares of Warwick Financial; Arnie tells me they?re overleveraged enough that we could actually take them over. It?s called a Pac-man defense.?

 

?And as a bargaining chip, we buy up credit default swaps for Warwick as a hedge against our investment. That way, no matter what happens to their company, we make money. Since they?re so damnable intent on playing chicken, we make sure their trunk is full of something very flammable.?

 

?That?s beautiful. So fucking beautiful I?d hug you, but I have an erection, and I wouldn?t want to give you the wrong kind of idea.?

 

?The idea that I?m being hugged by a man with an erection??

 

?Exactly.?

 

?Handshake??

 

He put out his hand and said, ?So long as you?re not thinking about my erection while you shake it.?

 

I started to reach for his hand, then stopped. ?Now I can?t.? I patted him on the shoulder.

 

?Fine work,? he said.

 

I spent the next couple of hours on a dating website. When everything was said and done, I called Grey. ?Alice Mott has a dating profile up on Plenty of Fish. I set you up one, and sent her a message. She responded in an hour, so she must be awfully interested. I texted you the password, so you can read what ?you? wrote. But she?s suggested dinner this weekend.?

 

?Anything I need to know about her? Does she like a woman who?s tough, or does she prefer the softer side.?

 

?It?s a thin line. Alice wants to feel protected- but she doesn?t want to feel like she?s with someone who could easily overpower her. So most of the time she just carries a stun gun.?

 

?Oh, I so do not want to get tazed.?

 

?Nope, no tazing, only teasing. A little foreplay, some drinks doctored with ketamine, and we drop her off at home. We?re on a deadline, though; Rob?s meeting her at home at 9 for their rape-date.?

 

?Is that what it sounds like??

 

?If it sounds like people on Craigslist organizing fake rapes to get their jollies, then yes. Although technically this one was arranged through Facebook.?

 

?You?re a sick man.?

 

?Nothing?s going to come of it. Julee, from corporate security, will have intercepted some threatening messages from Rob while working late. She?ll call the police, and they?ll put a stop to it.?

 

?And you?ll be there to see that things go smoothly??

 

?Every step of the way.? I noticed my tone was soothing, despite the fact that she didn?t need it, and I hadn?t intended it. That was disturbing.

 

But it was about time to go. In fact, it was past time, and starting to get dark outside. I packed up my things, and left the office. I was surprised to find Petra still at her desk, waiting for me. ?I was hoping I could come over,? she said. ?I?d like to cook you dinner.?

 

?I don?t really have anything in my fridge.?

 

?We can stop at a store.?

 

?I usually have my assistant do that sort of thing.?

 

?I don?t do your shopping.?

 

?Really? Cause it sounded like you just volunteered to start.?

 

?Fine. But I?m telling you right now, if you make me shop alone, you?re getting an unmerinated block of tofu, peanut butter stew, a macrobiotic burrito and vegan chocolate mousse- which if you?ve never seen it, looks like baby diarrhea, and as an expectant father, might be something you should get used to.?

 

?I had no idea you were such a passive aggressive shopper.?

 

?And actually, peanut butter stew is really good, it only looks like someone did something horrible to your food.?

 

?Something worse than baby diarrhea??

 

?That depends on your feelings about baby diarrhea.?

 

?So we?re shopping, then.?

 

?Smart man.?

12/11/11

  10:00:00 am, by Nic Wilson   , 1775 words  
Categories: Banksters

Banksters 41: Adversaries

So many adversaries, so little time.

 

Alice was a strange choice for the coup. Looking into the board members, only one of them had been aggressively buying up company stocks: Rob Kierkegaard.

 

Rob was the reason Alice was CAO. At the time, she was the highest ranking woman in the company, which still meant she fell squarely into middle management. But she was good at what she did. Which was why she was invited to the Christmas Party, to hob knob with the executives. And it was there that Rob raped her in the copy room. He was a player, even then, and owned nearly 30 percent of the company, still slightly less than the Morgans? combined forty, but at the time equal to the rest of the outstanding shares. His share count had increased since then, though his ownership percentage had fallen. But you don?t let a guy who owns a third of your company get prosecuted- at least, not if you?ve got Allistair Neville working for you.

 

And to Alice?s credit, she was a hell of a negotiator. The legend had it that, still bloody from the attack, she stared him down over a conference table. The Morgans wanted to buy her off with a pittance of an offer, barely what an equitable severance would have been. Instead, she got it in writing that she was on trajectory for the executive floor, and made damn sure it was written in enforceable language. 

 

She?d had to enforce it a half dozen times to get where she was. As head of Admin she did more day to day in the company than anyone. But it also meant she seemed to blend into the background.

 

But why was she working with Kierkegaard? Her experience with him turned her into a de facto lesbian; not so much because she enjoyed the company of women, but because she couldn?t enjoy the company of men. She always arrived at board meetings after him, so she could sit as far as possible away from him. I knew she was ambitious- but this was a whole other level.

 

But it also gave me an idea. I texted Julee, told her to stop in whenever she could. She texted back to tell me she was in a meeting. Now that Joel was, temporarily, running the department, they were having more and more. Joel really loved his meetings. He brought donuts, and made Power Point presentations, with goofy little animations he downloaded off the internet.

 

Waiting for her gave me an opportunity to continue my research. Slogging through some old contracts, I found something. But I wanted to be sure that it was what I thought it was. So I called Janet Simmes, our friendly neighborhood US Attorney.

 

?This is Mark Dane. You?re going to want to request some documents from me.?

 

?Okay, I?ll bite: why??

 

?What?s it take to prosecute an employee for on the job actions??

 

?The difficult thing about prosecuting corporate crime is that responsibility is always diffuse; no one is really in charge of any one decision, so tracing culpability is almost impossible. What I need is a smoking gun.?

 

?Well I think I have one for you. A stack of them, really.?

 

?Can you give me more of a hint than that??

 

?The Repo 105 agreements we have. All originated and signed by a single man.?

 

?Not technically illegal, but there?s even odds I could make a fraud case out of it- since that?s what those accounting tricks really are when you step out from behind all the legalese.?

 

?Yep. But remember: you need to ask for them. Officially. And I?ll make sure that pristine copies still exist when that request gets here.?

 

?You got it.?  

 

Ed had never been a bright guy. But he?d been signing the Repo agreements himself. Maybe at the time he?d figured what could it possibly do to harm his stagnant career. Or maybe he?d thought putting himself out on a limb for the company might force them to take notice of him. Either way, he?d signed his career away- which was something he?d been trying to do for years with his conduct anyway.

 

But what amused me more, was Neville?s name was also on the documents. He?d signed off on the legality of the Repo measures- some of them after Cuomo started prosecuting Repos as fraud. But I couldn?t bring that to her. That would look suspicious. What I needed to do was dangle that idea in front of York, and see if he bit on it.

 

Which was a simple enough thing to do, now that he was acting counsel.

 

I bundled up the papers and walked to Neville?s office. ?That prosecutor you were cooperating with earlier, she requested some documents about Repo 105. I wanted legal to comb through them, make sure I wasn?t giving her something we should be lawyering up over.?

 

He flipped through a few pages, and noticed the obvious one quickly. ?Ed?s name?s all over these,? he said.

 

?That it is.?

 

?Might as well push him out a window,? he said.

 

?I contemplated it. But it lacked panache. That, and hubris. Ed signed every one of those pages, back when he was an AVP. This isn?t a set-up. This is what he did. And a US Attorney is requesting this information. Maybe something sensitive we could claim as a company secret we could keep from her, but Ed did this. There?s no question.?

 

?At the behest of the Morgans.?

 

?Maybe. But that?s not in the paperwork. In the paperwork, there?s only Ed Noakes. I brought this to you because you?re a lawyer, and you know subpoena power a hell of a lot more intimately than I do.?

 

?She?ll get these, if she wants them badly enough,? he said. But he was shaking his head. I?d just made his first day in the big boy chair pretty shitty. ?Do you have copies of these?? he asked.

 

?Yeah.?

 

?I?ll keep them, then, fine-tooth comb them. But I really doubt there?s anything I can do to save Ed.?

 

?That?s unfortunate,? I said; he was actually torn up about Noakes. I guess he didn?t know him well enough to detest him. I shrugged, and walked away.   

 

Petra was hunched over her keyboard, typing furiously. I leaned over her shoulder, so close she could feel my breath on her cheek. ?Ed Noakes is gone.? She started. ?At least, he will be, in a few days.?

 

?Hell of an engagement present,? she said, self-consciously twirling her new ring. ?But there?s a woman in your office.?

 

?Julee?? I asked.

 

?New one. Never seen her before.?

 

?Huh,? I said, ?excuse me.? I opened my office door. Grey was leaned against my desk, looking perfectly presentable.

 

?I heard you got engaged. Congratulations, dick-sucker.?

 

?You?re mad at me? You?re screwing my boss.?

 

?I?m not mad. But you could have at least given me a heads up.?

 

?I didn?t know we were at the ?give me a heads up if you get engaged? stage of our relationship, and I didn?t want to jump the gun.?

 

?You?re mocking me??

 

?A little. She?s FBI, working with the SEC. She has to be placated- and has to remain placated.?

 

?Why not just fire her? She?s your secretary. You ought to be able to manufacture a reason.?

 

?But I don?t know what she has already. On the company. On me. So long as she?s distracted with babies and bridal crap she isn?t typing up indictments.?

 

?And what?s your fuckbuddy think about it??

 

?I imagine she?ll react like you did- internally. But she won?t admit to it. It?s too important for her to maintain control. So she?ll find a way to make it my weakness, and indicative of how much I need her.?

 

?That?s a little sad.?

 

?I know. But she?s the one who insists on having the willpower tug of war. Would it really solve anything if I just let her win??

?She?d resent you for it- and she?d probably know it, too. Damned if you do or don?t. But I get the feeling you were never in that one for the long haul.? 

 

?Or is that just wishful thinking??

 

?Here?s something maybe you don?t know about women: we don?t like to be toyed with. We don?t enjoy having our insecurities, whatever they may be, exposed.?

 

?I?m? intrigued that you care about my relationships, with Petra, with Julie.?

 

?But you don?t care that I care??

 

?I didn?t say that. A little surprised, perhaps. But not taken aback. But what brings you here? I presume neither jealousy nor magnanimity.?

 

?You were right. About Teryl. She called me this morning, weeping. All but swore off men. Which, you know, would have been great for me. Only the moment I started to commiserate, she came back around the bend, arguing that it wasn?t you, maybe there was something wrong with her. Maybe she?d done something wrong.?

 

?Still not time, though. It?s still raw. Poking a fresh wound hurts. But waiting until it scabs over, then tearing the scar tissue away to tear at the wound anew- that?s what we?re waiting for.?

 

?Is it weird I?m a little turned on by that?? she asked.

 

?I think it?d be weirder if you weren?t. But I was going to get ahold of you. I could use your help with something. I?m sure you?re tangentially aware of Alice Mott.?

 

?I?ve read up on her.?

 

?I imagine Richard?s mentioned the takeover bid being helmed by Sam Warwick. Alice is Richard?s prospective replacement. Working with Sam, she?s also in bed with Rob Kierkegaard, a man who raped her over a decade ago. I?m fairly certain she isn?t over what happened to her; I?d like to put them back in a room together, get them to has things out. But I need to get her there quietly. And her? encounter with Rob left her uncomfortable in the company of men.?  

 

?So you need me to seduce a gay girl. Isn?t this the polar opposite of what you?ve been doing for me??

 

?I like to think it has a kind of complementary symmetry, like a yin yang. And you have a vested interest, here. If Alice and Warwick are successful in toppling Richard, all that hard work you?ve put into burnishing his throne is for naught.?  

 

?Fine,? she said, a little huffy. ?Sort out the details. But right now I have to go. I?m meeting Richard for lunch- and his throne isn?t going to burnish itself.?

 

?You should go, then.? I think we were both left with a bad taste in our mouths; on the bright side, I guess, it was no longer just me.

 

12/10/11

  09:33:00 am, by Nic Wilson   , 1858 words  
Categories: Banksters

Banksters 40: Proposals

Grey called me back around 4. ?I couldn?t find you, so I had to hire a whore.?

 

?You couldn?t masturbate, like a normal person??

 

 ?George Morgan is eyeing a political run. And what does every politician need on his arm??

 

?A patrician matron to smile vacuously while whoring her children for votes??

 

?You were partway right- specifically the ?whore? part. She has a record, and she?s pretending to not be a working girl.?

 

?An undercover whore. That?s a weird wrinkle.?

 

?Richard wants to protect his little brother. But little brother is mounting a takeover of the company. So I?m going to try and get him to chase his fortune.?

 

?Only to run him into a bear trap.?

 

?Um, yes, unfortunate vagina dentata connotation at all.?

 

?But I didn?t need you to just seduce Teryl the one time. She has to want to leave her husband. She has to sign papers. Preferably before I need another vaginal rejuvenation- shit?s expensive.?

 

?Richard tearing it up that much?? I asked with a smile.

 

?He?s not the only one.? My eyebrows went up. ?I meant you, jackass, though I note the sexism, there; when you wanted to whore me out it was fine, but the moment I mention possibly having more than two sexual partners, to a man without enough fingers and toes to count all of his, suddenly the eyebrows go up.?

 

?I apologize for my wanton use of eyebrow expression.?

 

?Jackass. But Teryl??

 

?I?m handling it.? She furrowed her brow; apparently that wasn?t good enough for her. ?Do I really have to explain this to you? Okay. Today, she?s euphoric. She?s been single since she became estranged from her husband, and they stopped loving each other years ago. So she?s thrilled, and believes in romance again. By tonight doubts will set in. Was it a fling? A one night stand? Was I using her, the way her husband did? Is the world the wretched goddamned place she?d been convinced it was? She?ll spiral into a darker depression than ever before. And then I make my dramatic reentry into her life, and because of the proximity to her valley, even if I only return her to how happy she was before, it?ll feel like a peak.?

 

?Someone thinks awfully highly of his dick.?

 

?It?s not about the sex. The sex really only factors in because endorphins almost make it addictive. It?s about getting someone to need you. I think that?s where you failed with her. You were dependable, so she came to depend on you. The trick is to get someone to depend on you even though you?re not dependable; you become their foundation, even though they know you aren?t stable ground. So their whole world takes on a fragility, revolving around you. Long-term, it?s a recipe for bitterness, but short-term, it creates dependence, and need, especially in combination with the sex.?

 

?I feel like I?m your padawan learner- which does make what we did in that alley even filthier. But maybe I should get myself some jedi robes.?

 

?Could be hot. I?d probably gravitate towards slave Leia, myself, but?

 

?She was being sexually exploited by a massive slug. How is that sexy??

 

?It had nothing to do with Jabba; Leia was wearing stylized and revealing fetish gear with a slight but safe hint of bondage. She was a whore, but she was forced into it, so she was also innocent; it?s the distillation of the Madonna whore complex into a single moment. Do you really not get men that much??

 

?I get men just fine, at least the parts I need to get.?

 

?But my main point is Teryl?s taken care of. Right now she?s simmering on the back-burner, which is exactly where I want her to be.?  

 

?And that thing you needed from me??

 

?It?s probably better that I used an actual hooker. It means I don?t have to be discreet later, if I don?t want to be.?

 

?A lack of discretion? From you? Color me intrigued.?

 

?I don?t have a body paint that color. I have periwinkle- which I think is close.?

 

?Periwinkle? Someone actually sells a periwinkle body paint??

 

?No. I had the periwinkle custom-mixed.?

 

?I think you?re lying. I think you just like saying periwinkle.?

 

?It is one of the most fun colors to say.?

 

?It?s disturbing that you get me- because I don?t understand you at all.?   

 

Petra knocked on the door, then opened it. ?Dinner?? she asked.

 

?Gotta go,? I said into the phone. I packed up my laptop, and threw on my coat. When we got to the elevator I said, ?I?ve been thinking. Maybe I should just cook for you. A quiet, intimate night in. What better place to talk??

 

?That sounds nice,? she said. ?But if I?m coming over, I need to stop at home first to feed my cat.?

 

?That?s okay. It?ll give me a head start on dinner.?

 

I made tofu with a sesame ginger sauce, rice and some vegetables. She changed into something soft and floral-printed, pretty, but not especially sexual. We ate almost silently. Until she put her fork down, rather loudly. ?I don?t want to pressure you. At all. But if I?m pregnant, that kind of puts pressure on both us.?

 

?I know.?

 

?So, how do you feel about kids??

 

?It?s never come up.?

 

?Well now it kind of has.?

 

?My parents were bad at it. I can?t imagine I?d do any better.?

 

?Oh, come on. You?d make a great dad.?

 

?Yeah, but you?re crazy about me. Your new passenger, and his or her army of therapists would not be nearly so biased in my favor.?

 

?What do you think about marriage??

 

?This is you not pressuring??

 

?It?s me holding back as much as I?m humanly able. This is kind of the first time I?ve ever been knocked up.?

 

?Marriage is? complicated. But mostly, it?s a way to make it less socially acceptable to end a relationship. Not impossible, it just adds a layer of stigma to prevent people from hastily breaking up; at best it?s relationship insurance.?

 

?Wow. That?s cynical, even for you.?

 

?I?m just speaking practically. That?s what marriage is, on a fundamental level. That doesn?t mean it can?t be meaningful to the people involved; to some people, it can be everything.?

 

?But what might it mean to you??

 

?Depends on the circumstance.?

 

She took my hand. ?And in this circumstance??

 

?I don?t know.? It wasn?t what she wanted to hear. She dropped my hand. ?I don?t. We?ve only been together a few months. I?ve barely gotten used to having you in my life, and now we might be having a baby. And I think of our future together, and that all makes me happy. But I can?t help but wonder if I?d be as bad at marriage as my parents. I don?t want to spend years making you unhappy just because we picked out a pair of matching rings.?

 

?It?s okay to be intimated by all of this. I?m scared. This is life-changing stuff. I mean, our lives are changing. If I walked out of here and never looked back, it wouldn?t matter, because our lives have already changed. And, you know, this isn?t the 30s, people have kids out of wedlock all the time now; it?s almost the norm, now, rather than the exception. I wasn?t trying to pressure you into anything. I just? we?re having a kid. I wanted to know how you thought about all of this.?

 

She picked up her plate, and set it on mine, but she wasn?t quite fast enough to get them to the kitchen before a tear slid down her cheek. She wiped it away, trying to pretend that it hadn?t happened.

 

?Wait,? I said, and slid out of my chair, and into a kneel.

 

?You don?t have to do this,? she said. 

 

?I want to. It?s true that I hadn?t thought about it before. But now that I have, it just feels right. Like it?s the right thing, for me, for us. And it feels like this is the right moment, like a better one is never going to come. Because I don?t want you to be sad about this, not ever; I want you to remember tonight as the night I asked you if you would marry me.?

 

Her mouth hung open for a moment before she could force out the word, ?yes.? She nearly dropped the plates onto the table, and when she set them down I still was surprised when they didn?t chip.

 

?I don?t have a ring, right now, since this wasn?t planned. But there is a jeweler down the street.?

 

?You think they?re still open??

 

?Probably not. But we can window shop. And I know they?ll be open tomorrow.?

 

Since we couldn?t get in close she couldn?t decide, but she found several good prospects for the next day, one a traditional diamond on a white gold band, another with rubies inset, and one with sapphires, her birth stone.

 

The post-proposal sex was excellent. She?d been holding something back.   

 

The jeweler didn?t open until ten. She tried on several rings, but liked the way the sapphires looked against her pale hands. She wore it in to the office, and showed it to everyone she passed.

 

There was an unscheduled board meeting going on when I arrived. I slipped in quietly, and Richard glared at me for not being there earlier.

 

?As most of you know by now, he said, we had a problem in Admin yesterday. There was a coding error in our computers during a system update. This caused a bank error in customer?s favor. And it got a lot of press. The actual cost to us was a few hundred thousand dollars. But the damage it did to our image was substantial. Our stock lost 15% of its value. Overnight. We can?t survive with investor confidence as low as it is right now; this is crunch time, people. We fix this, or we die.?

 

?And it?s the worst possible time for it, but our General Counsel has taken a personal leave of absence. Filling in for him as our acting GC will be the formidable Henry York.?

 

?And I?ve discussed it with my brother, and despite my protests, he?s resigning, effective at the close of business Friday. He?s decided to pursue a career in politics. We?ll miss him around here- though it might be nice to have someone in Washington actually working for our interests.?

 

Admin. Alice?s department had screwed the pooch. And a fifteen percent fall in stock prices meant anyone looking to vacuum up extra stock just got a huge discount. But that had to be unrelated.

 

Except Alice didn?t look chastised. She didn?t look upset. She looked victorious. She was marinating in the fact that she?s hit Richard Morgan where it hurt him the most: his overstuffed wallet. And she was relishing the fact that George Morgan, who really only wanted to be in charge, was now moving on for greener pastures, clearing the way for her to take over Richard?s chair.

 

Son of a bitch, I never saw it before. Alice was the new inside man.

  08:47:00 am, by Nic Wilson   , 1395 words  
Categories: Batman Comes Out

Batman Comes Out: Secrets

ID: We?ve danced around a lot of things in our interviews. But the biggest, I think, has always bugged me. Because I wanted to be investigative. I wanted to tear away all of the secrets. But I didn?t. Because I knew it would get innocent people hurt.

I also suspected you?d punch me. But that?s all moot now. Because Lex News has outed your bat family. Using the same technology the US Government does to track down terrorist sightings, they proved with a great degree of certainty, who is behind the various masks.

I still wrestled with how to handle it. But ultimately, Lex News is a major media organization, and it?s been tweeted and retweeted, blogged and possibly even moblogged now. This genie, no matter how much we might wish otherwise, is now out of the bottle. Your response?

B: Lex Luthor is a coward.

ID: Because?

B: Because he?s gone into hiding. Pre-emptively. But that?s fine. Aside from saving him from a little kidney punching, it?s not going to save him.

ID: What do you mean?

B: I mean I warned him. I told him we had a ?nuclear option.? Namely, over the years, he?s managed to commit a bevy of crimes in front of heroes whose identities were public- people who could legally enter an affidavit into the public record, people like Captain Atom. I?d been collecting these testimonies for years. And now, he?s just handed me another dozen more people who can link him to horrible things on the record. I mean he?s going to prison for the rest of his life; he?ll probably avoid the chair, since neither New York or New Jersey have an active death penalty. But with just a little luck maybe he?ll get caught in Kansas.

ID: Neat. But the reason I?ve personally struggled is that it?s all so obvious. I mean, yeah, back in the 80s or 90s, it would take an investigative journalist to track down old microfiches to match the deaths of the Graysons up with the appearance of your first Robin, but today? A little Google and a bit of the old Gotham Gazette and Daily Planet archives online, and I had that same information in minutes. And the internet is full of pictures, blurry, maybe, but they?re there. Evidence of the Robins is particularly damning, because you can watch as Dick Grayson?s public pictures match up, in build and age, and even to the hair styles, of Robin. Then he outgrows that costume and takes on the Nightwing persona, and your new semi-adopted son becomes Robin. Then later a third Robin. Then, briefly, a girl Robin- who Lex News identifies as one Stephanie Brown, romantically linked to that third Robin, your second adopted son, Tim Drake. And baby, by which I mean your first bio-son, second and a half if you count the adopted ones, makes Robin number 5.

I?m sorry if I come off critical, but did you think that could last forever? They don?t even wear full masks, for God?s sake.

B: I guess? we got behind the times. Or maybe we just never anticipated this kind of an attack. There are elements of the government, people like Amanda Waller, who have known who I am for years, maybe decades. But this, it?s unprecedented.

ID: Your batgirls

B: And woman

ID: can't believe you?re being cute at a time like this- but they?ve faired better. The full face masks really do help out. Chin analysis isn?t quite caught up in the same way as facial recognition software. But they did out Barbara Gordon. The hair, the fact that her crippling happened around the time the first Batgirl retired.

B: Strangely enough, she?d actually quit just before it happened. I think she finally realized how much more good she could do outside the tights. 

ID: But my point is you?ve lied, by omission, to me, and our readers. And at times, I?ve helped you. So now that our bag is catless, we?re going to endeavor to set that right.

When we talked about Barbara before, you said you turned her away when she wanted to help you. And as it goes, that was true. But she didn?t listen, did she? She sewed her own batsuit, and trained herself. It was only when she bumped into you on the streets, fighting alongside you, that you agreed to take her in and complete her training.

B: You do realize you?re encouraging children to disregard their elders, and do crazy and stupid things, right?

ID: No, you did, by reinforcing her disobedience.

B: She wasn?t a dog. I don?t think whacking her on the nose with the Gotham Gazette was going to do it. And you?re the one publicizing it.

ID: I?m reporting. It?s different. In spirit, if not in kind. But if you want, you?ve got a post from which to dispute that.

B: Kids, listen to your parents. Listen to adults you trust. And if you really, really want to put on some spandex, train. Take martial arts. Pay attention in school. Become the best person you can be first, and then, when you?ve reached adulthood, you can decide if you still want to run around in tights, or join the military, or be a doctor.

ID: The more you know- cause knowing is half the battle.

B: I hate you.

ID: But getting back to Barbara, when the Joker shot her, do you think he knew she was Batgirl?

B: No. Absolutely not. Because I don?t think she would have got off so easily. Seeing what he did to Jason?

ID: Right. It?s hard to imagine him suffering a Bat-anything to live; I guess Robins are birds, so winged things... but she was your mentee. It?s hard for me not to feel it was? creepy for the two of you to form an attachment.

B: Barbara and I had a long friendship. If we?d become intimate in other circumstances, when I was mentoring her, say, I?d agree. But she was an adult, a strong, intelligent woman completely in command of herself. In fact, at the time, I was a wreck. What Bane did to me, it stripped away all of the pretense, all of my defenses.

In a way, I think I?d started to forget how human, how vulnerable, I really was. And he not only made me vulnerable again, but he disabled me. I couldn?t walk. I hadn?t felt that helpless since I was a child, and I mean emotionally. That I was also physically impaired just added to the frustration. On a good day I?m not the most patient man, but then? I?m still surprised Alfred didn?t push my wheelchair down the stairs. I was a terror on wheels, for a while there.

And Barbara was who I needed to have in my life at that time. I loved her. I?d probably still be a grump, in my bed, curtains drawn, refusing to even get in the damned chair, if it weren?t for her- feeling sorry for myself like a spoiled, rich brat. She rescued me from that, when I wasn?t strong enough to do it myself. She was my hero, when no other hero would do. And the fact that she was at her most heroic outside of the costume- um, I mean just not wearing it, though she was wearing other clothes- the fact that she did it post-batgirl, and from a wheel chair, that inspired me even more.

If there is a silver lining to this, to our secrets being out, it?s that maybe, finally, Barbara is going to be seen for the hero she is, for the sacrifices, and beyond the tragedy, for the truly inspiring person she is.

ID: And how has her father taken all of this?

B: Actually, he was fairly understanding about the last interview. He pulled me to the side at a policeman?s ball, and said, in that gruff voice of his, ?Thanks, for protecting my daughter?s honor.? I think this?ll probably take a little more to paper over. But I think if he?s honest with himself, he?ll see I?ve always tried to protect her, as his daughter, as my friend, as someone I respected, completely. 

And honestly, my relationship with Jim has always been based around mutual respect and deception. So this is mostly just more of the same.

<< 1 ... 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 ... 43 >>