Preview of “Corporate Thief”, May 22, 2017
The corporate offices of Network Logic Corporation in Westchester County, NY, were mostly dark, save a few emergency exit signs and the infrequent office desk lamps still lighted. Mitchell Donavan was the only person in the office. It was him and the half-drunk security guard at the front desk downstairs in the lobby. For a multi-billion dollar company, physical security seemed the least of its priorities.
A noise in one of the offices down the hall, startled him from his review of the company’s financials. He was close, he could feel it. He’d almost sworn the money was leaking from the company via the Employee Stock Purchase plan; one fraction of a share at a time. Yet he still needed to find proof.
Mitchell thought it might be the cleaning crew, since it was after eleven. They usually started around 10:30 every evening. He had gotten to know the building’s habits in the six months of this assignment. The building creaked and groaned around six when the AC units shut down. The building had an earie ticking sound at uneven intervals, as the air ducts expanded for the rest of evening.
Out of the corner of his eye, he spotted an even number on his monitor. He examined it further. It was a simple journal entry. His heartrate ticked up a notch. His excitement was palpable at possibly discovering the source of millions in untraceable money. A few cross checks against past quarterly reports, and he might have something very valuable. Unbelievable. How could their internal auditors have missed something like this? Still, it had taken him almost six months to ferret out the source. He was looking for anomalies. Yet this one, was a simple even number: 1,200,000.
He heard footsteps. He quickly dismissed them as the cleaning crew as he scanned the last quarter’s report, looking for proof. When he looked up he saw a man, in dark clothes, carrying a silenced pistol, he knew it wasn’t the janitorial staff. His own weapon was in his top right desk drawer. No time and too far to reach.
“Mr. Donavan, sorry you’re working late again. I think it’s time to call it a day. Don’t you think?”
“I was just finishing up. Is there something I can help you with?” Mitchell asked conversationally. He quickly made a screen shot and sent it to his phone with a few keystrokes while waiting for a response.
“It really is time to shut down for the evening. I’m not going to ask you again.”
“Well since you asked so nicely. Are you taking me to dinner by chance? I’m starved actually. It has been a long day.” Mitchell smiled. He also started copying the company’s general ledger to the flash drive he had inserted earlier. He just needed to stall for about thirty-seconds.
The man that was speaking, raised his gun. “Close the laptop. Now.”
Mitchell, placed his hand on the lid of the laptop and slowly started closing it, willing the copy to finish as he smiled at the intruder. He just needed another ten seconds or so. He abruptly raised the lid again. “You know, if you don’t have reservations for that new place Chez’ Charles down the street, it’s going to be hell getting in at this hour. I can book us a table for two.” He looked at the grimace on the gunman’s face, knowing he had used any goodwill he had in the bank. “I guess not then. Oh well, as long as they have a bar, we can have a drink and wait, like the rest of the peons.” He quickly closed the lid to the laptop, while palming the USB drive.
“I’m glad we’re seeing things in the same light Mr. Donavan. Now hand over the laptop. You really are done for the night.” The man holding the gun, smiled. It was an evil smile showing no teeth, full of malice.
Mitchell handed over the laptop. He hadn’t left anything behind on it. Even if he did, the laptop had to be started with the correct sequencing password which changed every fifteen seconds. If it wasn’t, the contents of the hard drive would turn into gibberish.
Mitchell stood slowly allowing the man with the gun to take in his stature. He stood about 6’2” and weighed about 190 lbs. At 30, he was in his prime. The custom tailored suit and tie hid most of his best assets—namely his hard muscled shoulders, abs, and thighs—which had saved him on many occasions. He hoped his assets didn’t have to work too hard tonight.
“You have me at a bit of disadvantage.” Mitchel said, looking at the gun, “You know my name, but I don’t know yours.”
“For the brief time we’ll be together, just call me Mr. Brown.”
“Well Mr. Brown, it’s nice to meet you. Just for old time’s sake, do you have a first name?”
Mr. Brown chuckled. “You really are a piece of work. I mean, I’m holding a gun on you… Never mind. Call me Charlie.”
“Ah, it’s great to finally meet you Charlie Brown. And here I thought Charles Schulz was… deceased.”
The humor wasn’t lost on Mitchell, but he chose to remain serious and focused on the weapon in the man’s hand. If he could get on the other side of the desk, disarming him wouldn’t be a problem.
“Step back from the desk, Mr. Donavan.”
Mitchell stepped back slowly with his arms clearly visible at his sides. For now, Charlie Brown had the advantage.
“So Charlie, tell me. How is this going to work? You going to shoot me right here in the office? Or take me someplace and then shoot me?”
“You know what? I’m not going to wait for Lucy to yank the ball out while I try to kick it for the hundredth time. I think I’ll just shoot you right here.” He smiled without mirth.
Mitchell thought about squatting quickly and upending the desk, hopefully using it as a shield against the certain gunshots. He weighed his options carefully. He could easily lift the desk with ease, but could he do it fast enough. That was the question. His martial arts practice he remained steadfast to since he was a young teen, helped slow his mind and focus his body.
“I see.” Mitchell said in a fatalistic voice. “I’m guessing the mess won’t bother anybody. What with Gus downstairs already finishing his first bottle for the night. You’ll just claim, a hoodlum or neighborhood punk came in to steal things and killed me accidentally. All neat and tidy. Just the way your employers like it.”
“You know, I kinda like you a little. You ain’t as bad a guy as they told me. Oh I still gotta kill ya, but in another life? We could be friends, you know?”
“Oh Charlie Brown, if you only knew.” Mitchel replied stoically. He knew he was out of time. No backup. No safety net. No one listening in to a lapel mike. He was always on his own. He created his own opportunities and exploited them. Mitchell knew all that.
Mitchell sensed a decision point within Charlie Brown. Charlie was muscle, not brains. Mitchell hoped to trade opportunity for underestimating him as most people did. Mitchell’s right heel touched the metallic base of the floor to ceiling window—one inch of just enough leverage to push off into a vault over Charlie in a flying somersault using the desk as his launch point. His mind drafted the lines he would take, while his body drew the lines. He launched himself on the desk to begin his forward flip and listened for the gunshots. His right foot landed squarely on the desk providing the necessary height and leverage to lunge in a flip over the stunned gunman. Mitchell landed awkwardly behind the gunman with only one shot being fired. Charlie Brown took a nice long nap from an iron like grip from Mitchell’s adrenaline fueled biceps, in a sleeper hold. His gun fell uselessly at his side.
Preview of “Could it be Love?”, March 2, 2017
Sorry. Did not make it to press. It’s in the can, but probably won’t get published. Shame too. It’s quite a good romance with a good bit of conflict, and tension.
Preview of “Southern City Customs…”, February 23, 2017.
Lillington, North Carolina
Friday December 30, 2016 0600 EST
The overly loud air horn blasted its triple trumpets twice, breaking the serene morning quiet. The wall rattling sound startled Dirk Wyatt. Enough, that he nearly spilled his steaming hot coffee cup down his starched chinos. He muttered under his breath, “Assholes couldn’t wait to blow that damn horn I bet.”
He had just walked into his office, from the house where he lived with his grandparents. The twenty thousand square foot garage was as pristine as any new car dealer showroom. The four bright stainless steel lift posts were reflected in the high gloss, light grey epoxy painted concrete floors. The sun was just peeking above the high windows.
Dirk didn’t need to look out his office picture window to know who it was. The “assholes”, otherwise known as his employees were, “Wrench”, and “Flamer”. They were driving the new custom enclosed diesel car hauler Dirk had just purchased. “Southern City Customs” was garishly splashed across the side of the truck in a rainbow of fluorescent colors. Thanks to Flamer, the paint genius.
Bobby “Wrench” Carter was driving, as Jimmy “Flamer” Edmunds directed him, while he backed the hauler through the rear garage door. They had just returned from the Port of Baltimore. Their cargo was a Porsche Carrera GT, and a Porsche GT2 shipped from the Middle East. The cars were owned by a Sheikh from United Arab Emirates and his brother the Prime Minister of Finance. Once Flamer was satisfied they had cleared the doors, he slashed his finger across his throat. Wrench shutdown the diesel.
“You guys drive all night? I didn’t expect you till noon.” Dirk yelled over the groan as the diesel was shutting down.
“Yea, Wrench didn’t want to be on the road much today, seeing it’s the day before a holiday. New Year’s Eve and all, he thought there might be too many assholes on the roads.” He grinned wide showing nearly perfect teeth.
“Well I know two assholes when I see or hear them. Couldn’t wait to blast that fricken air horn could ya? I hear that thing again this early in the morning, I’m going to disable that sumbitch or maybe the two assholes using it.” He pointed at Flamer and Wrench who was stepping down from the cab of the hauler. Wrench grinned a little too much for Wyatt’s taste.
It would take Wrench and Flamer at least an hour to unfasten the complicated rigging inside the hauler to safely unload the automotive masterpieces. Dirk returned to his office to drink his coffee while they unloaded the cars. Once the cars were unstrapped, the cars were driven or more like very slow rolled down the custom extended ramps to avoid front end damage.
Dirk Wyatt’s grandfather, whose rambling farmhouse he lived in with his grandmother Gamma, sold him the title to Pop’s Garage for one dollar. The original garage was in a pole barn with a single lift and hard-packed dirt floors. Dirk had transformed the single proprietor local business from the one lift into the twenty-thousand square foot international showcase garage it was today. They customized engines, bodywork, suspension and interiors to collector or race-prep standards depending upon their customer’s requirements.
Wrench, yelled across the garage to Dirk’s office, “Hey boss, you might want to see this.”
Dirk walked out of his office, past the four gleaming lifts to the other side of the garage. “What’s to see, looks like a couple half-million dollar cars to me. I’ve seen these before you know? Are you trying to really piss me off this morning?”
“He’s not. I asked him to call you.” Flamer stuck his head up from the passenger side of the GT2, holding what looked like an aluminum foil wrapped brick. “Found this in the glove box. Looks like another in the console. I didn’t touch that one.”
“Shit.” Dirk exhaled loudly. “OK, don’t touch anything guys, I gotta call the Sherriff. Why don’t you guys head down to the house? Get Gamma to fix you all some breakfast while I call Cody.”
“Guess that A-rab sent us more than cars, huh boss?” Wrench said.
“Yea, I guess I’m going to have to call Sheikh Mohammed and let him know too. Fuck. He is not going to be happy about this.” Dirk was talking more to himself than Wrench or Flamer.
Preview of “The Silk Stockings Diaries…”, February 18, 2017.
Dr. Claudia Barnett stood impassively behind her desk as Morgan James strode confidently into her office. The doctor warmly greeted her with a firm handshake while offering her a chair. Morgan was mid-twenties, impeccably dressed in fine designer clothes, with matching handbag and shoes. Her nails were polished to perfection in Coca-Cola red complimenting her lipstick. Claudia knew the color well, because she wore it too, on occasion.
Morgan’s makeup while understated, accentuated her bright almost transparent crystal blue eyes, small perfectly straight nose, and high cheekbones flawlessly. Framing her face, she maintained a fully coiffed mane of blonde shoulder length hair with sensuous waves. An imperceptible tinge of jealousy washed over Claudia’s subconscious while analyzing her new patient.
Dr. Barnett immediately apprised her newest patient as a professional woman. As Morgan comfortably took her proffered chair, Dr. Barnett observed her demeanor as she crossed her legs right over left. Morgan exuded coolness, clearly not appearing to mind in the least being in the presence of a Psychiatrist. Their session today, wouldn’t be anything like her last patient – a middle-age mother of two struggling with grief and depression from the loss of her mother.
After perfunctory introductions, Dr. Barnett’s opening patter began the same with every patient, by gathering information.
“What brings you to see me, Ms. James? And how can I help?”
“Please, call me Morgan.”
“Morgan, what would you like to talk about today?”
“Well…” and here Morgan faltered slightly, “I’m an escort.” She said tentatively but quickly regained her confidence with perhaps a little pride. “Highly paid actually. I would like to find out why I enjoy getting paid for sex.” A small smile briefly crossed Morgan’s face as she finished.
Hopefully not showing her shock, Dr. Barnett, nodded her head. Noting Morgan’s initial summation in her notebook, Claudia replied nonplussed, “Okay. Why don’t you tell me about being an escort?”