Paranoia (066 of 170)

—of —
by Joseph Finder
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Macmillan: Paranoia

Paranoia by Joseph Finder. Copyright 2004 by Joseph Finder.
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The official word came down by e-mail before lunch: Goddard had ordered a stay of execution for Maestro. The Maestro team was ordered to crash a proposal for minor retooling and repackaging to meet the military's requirements. Meanwhile, Trion's Government Affairs staff would start negotiating a contract with the Pentagon's Defense Information Systems Agency Department of Acquisition and Logistics.

Translation: slam dunk. Not only had the old product been taken off life support, but it had gotten a heart transplant and a massive blood transfusion.

And the shit had hit the fan.

I was in the men's room, standing in front of the urinal and unzipping my fly, when Chad came sauntering in. Chad, I'd noticed, seemed to have a sixth sense that I was pee-shy. He was always following me into the men's room to talk work or sports and effectively shut off my spigot. This time he came right up to the next urinal, his face all lit up like he was thrilled to see me. I could hear him unzip. My bladder clamped down. I went back to staring at the tile grout above the urinal.

"Hey," he said. "Nice job, big guy. That's the way to 'manage up'!" He shook his head slowly, made a sort of spitting sound. His urine splashed noisily against the little lozenge at the bottom of the urinal. "Christ." He oozed sarcasm. He'd crossed some invisible line—he wasn't even pretending anymore.

I thought, Could you please go now so I can relieve myself? "I saved the product," I pointed out.

"Yeah, and you burned Nora in the process. Was it worth it, just so you could score some points with the CEO, get yourself a little face time? That's not how it works around here, bud. You just made a huge fucking mistake." He shook dry, zipped up, and walked out of the rest room without washing his hands.

A voice mail from Nora was waiting for me when I returned to my cubicle.


"Nora," I said as I entered her office.

"Adam," she said softly. "Sit down, please." She was smiling, a sad, gentle smile. This was ominous.

"Nora, can I say—"

"Adam, as you know, one of the things we pride ourselves on at Trion is always striving to fit the employee to the job—to make sure our most high-potential people are given responsibilities that best suit them." She smiled again, and her eyes glittered. "That's why I've just put through an employee transfer request form and asked Tom to expedite it."


"We're all awfully impressed with your talents, your resourcefulness, the depth of your knowledge. This morning's meeting illustrated that just so well. We feel that someone of your caliber could do a world of good at our RTP facility. The supply-chain management unit down there could really use a strong team player like you."


"Our Research Triangle Park satellite office. In Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina."

"North Carolina?" Was I hearing her right? "You're talking about transferring me down to North Carolina?"

"Adam, you make it sound like it's Siberia. Have you ever been to Raleigh-Durham? It's really such a lovely area."

"I—but I can't move, I've got responsibilities here, I've got—"

"Employee Relocation will coordinate the whole thing for you. They cover all your moving expenses—everything within reason, of course. I've already started the ball rolling with HR. Any move can be a little disruptive, obviously, but they make it surprisingly painless." Her smile broadened. "You're going to love it there, and they're going to love you!"

"Nora," I said, "Goddard asked me for my honest thoughts, and I'm a big fan of everything you've done with the Maestro line, I wasn't going to deny it. The last thing I intended to do was to piss you off."

"Piss me off?" she said. "Adam, on the contrary—I was grateful for your input. I only wish you'd shared your thoughts with me before the meeting. But that's water under the bridge. We're on to bigger and better things. And so are you!"


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