Paranoia (117 of 170)

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Paranoia
by Joseph Finder
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Paranoia by Joseph Finder. Copyright 2004 by Joseph Finder.
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Part Six: 64 (Cont'd)

When I got back to my office, I sat down at my desk, shaken.

The fact that Camilletti had reported to Goddard that he'd seen me at the Auberge at the same time as Wyatt meant that Camilletti, at least, was suspicious of my motives. He must have thought that I was, at the very least, allowing myself to be wooed, courted, by my old boss. But being Camilletti, he probably had darker thoughts than that.

This was a fucking disaster. I wondered, too, whether Goddard really did think the whole thing was innocent. "I know people," he'd said. Was he that naïve? I didn't know what to think. But it was clear that I was going to have to watch my ass very carefully from now on.

I took a deep breath, pressed my fingertips hard against my closed eyes. No matter what, I still had to keep plugging away.

After a few minutes, I did a quick search on the Trion Web site and found the name of the guy in charge of the Trion Legal Department's Intellectual Property Division. He was Bob Frankenheimer, fifty-four, been with Trion for eight years. Before that he'd been general counsel at Oracle, and before that he was at Wilson, Sonsini, a big Silicon Valley law firm. From his photo he looked seriously overweight, with dark curly hair, a five o'clock shadow, thick glasses. Looked like your quintessential nerd.

I called him from my desk, because I wanted him to see my caller ID, see I was calling from the office of the CEO. He answered his own phone, with a surprisingly mellow voice, like a late-night radio DJ on a soft rock station.

"Mr. Frankenheimer, this is Adam Cassidy in the CEO's office."

"What can I do for you?" he said, sounding genuinely cooperative.

"We'd like to review all the patent applications for department three twenty-two."

It was bold, and definitely risky. What if he happened to mention it to Goddard? That would be just about impossible to explain.

A long pause. "The AURORA project."

"Right," I said casually. "I know we're supposed to have all the copies on file here, but I've just spent the last two hours looking all over the place, and I just can't find them, and Jock's really in a snit about this." I lowered my voice. "I'm new here—I just started—and I don't want to fuck this up."

Another pause. Frankenheimer's voice suddenly seemed cooler, less cooperative, like I'd pressed the wrong button. "Why are you calling me?"

I didn't know what he meant, but it was clear I'd just stepped in it. "Because I figure you're the one guy who can save my job," I said with a little mordant chuckle.

"You think I have copies here?" he said tightly.

"Well, do you know where the copies of the filings are, then?"

"Mr. Cassidy, I've got a team of six top-notch intellectual-property attorneys here in house who can handle just about anything that's thrown at them. But the AURORA filings? Oh, no. Those have to be handled by outside counsel. Why? Allegedly for reasons of 'corporate security.' " His voice got steadily louder, and he sounded really pissed off. " 'Corporate security.' Because presumably outside counsel practice better security than Trion's own people. So I ask you: What kind of message is that supposed to send?" He wasn't sounding so mellow anymore.

"That's not right," I said. "So who is handling the filings?"

Frankenheimer exhaled. He was a bitter, angry man, a prime heart-attack candidate. "I wish I could tell you. But obviously we can't be trusted with that information either. What's that our culture badges say, 'Open Communication'? I love that. I think I'm going to have that printed on our T-shirts for the Corporate Games."

When I hung up, I passed by Camilletti's office on the way to the men's room, and then I did a double take.

Sitting in Paul Camilletti's office, a grave look on his face, was my old buddy.

Chad Pierson.

---

I quickened my stride, not wanting to be seen by either of them through the glass walls of Camilletti's office. Though why I didn't want to be seen, I had no idea. I was running on instinct by now.

Jesus, did Chad even know Camilletti? He'd never said he did, and given Chad's modest and unassuming demeanor, it seemed just the sort of thing he'd have gloated about to me. I couldn't think of any legitimate—or at least innocent—reason why the two of them might be talking. And it sure as hell wasn't social: Camilletti wouldn't waste his time on a worm like Chad.

The only plausible explanation was the one I most dreaded: that Chad had taken his suspicions about me right to the top, or as close to the top as he could get. But why Camilletti?

No doubt Chad had it in for me, and once he'd heard about a new hire from Wyatt Telecom, he'd probably flushed Kevin Griffin out in an effort to gather dirt on me. And he'd got lucky.

But had he really?

I mean, how much did Kevin Griffin really know about me? He knew rumors, gossip; he might claim to know something about my past history at Wyatt. Yet here was a guy whose own reputation was in question. Whatever Wyatt Security had told Trion, clearly the folks at Trion believed it—or they wouldn't have gotten rid of him so fast.

So would Camilletti really believe secondhand accusations coming from a questionable source, a possible sleazebag, like Kevin Griffin?

On the other hand ... now that he'd seen me out at dinner with Wyatt, in a secluded restaurant, maybe he would.

My stomach was starting to ache. I wondered if I was getting an ulcer.

Even if I was, that would be the least of my problems.




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