Paranoia (130 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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Part Seven: 69 (Cont'd)

When I returned to the conference room a few minutes later, the head of engineering and the head of manufacturing were engaged in a heated debate about whether another LCD screen could be squeezed into the tiny Guru case. I sat down quietly and waited for a break in the argument. Finally I got my chance.

"Excuse me," I said, but no one paid any attention.

"You see," Eddie Cabral was saying, "this is exactly why we have to postpone the launch."

"Well, we can't afford to slip the launch of Guru," Goddard shot back.

I cleared my throat. "Excuse me for a second."

"Adam," said Goddard.

"I know this is going to sound crazy," I said, "but remember that robotic doll Love Me Lucille?"

"What are we doing," grumbled Rick Durant, "taking a swim in Lake Fuckup? Don't remind me. We shipped half a million of those hideous dolls and got 'em all back."

"Right," I said. "That's why we have three hundred thousand ASICs, custom-fabricated for the proprietary Trion LCD, sitting in a warehouse in Van Nuys."

A few chuckles, some outright guffaws. One of the engineers said to another, loud enough for everyone to hear, "Does he know about connectors?"

Someone else said, "That's hilarious."

Nora looked at me, wincing with fake sympathy, and shrugged.

Eddie Cabral said, "I wish it were that easy, uh, Adam. But ASICs aren't interchangeable. They've got to be pin-compatible."

I nodded. "Lucille's ASIC is an SOLC-68 pin array. Isn't that the same pin layout that's in the Guru?"

Goddard stared at me.

There was another beat of silence, and the rustling of papers.

"SOLC-68 pin," said one of the engineers. "Yeah, that should work."

Goddard looked around the room, then slapped the table. "All right, then," he said. "What are we waiting for?"

Nora beamed moistly at me and gave me the thumbs-up.

On the way back to my office I pulled out my cell phone again. Five messages, all from the same number, and one marked "Private." I dialed my voice mail and heard Meacham's unmistakable smarmy voice. "This is Arthur. I have not heard from you in over three days. This is not acceptable. E-mail me by noon today or face the consequences."

I felt a jolt. The fact that he'd actually called me, which was a security risk no matter how the call was routed, showed how serious he was.

He was right: I had been out of touch. But I had no plans to get back in touch. Sorry, buddy.

The next one was Antwoine, his voice high and strained. "Adam, you need to get over to the hospital," he said in his first message. The second, the third, the fourth, the fifth—they were all Antwoine. His tone was increasingly desperate. "Adam, where the hell are you? Come on, man. Get over here now."

I stopped by Goddard's office—he was still schmoozing with some of the Guru team—and said to Flo, "Can you tell Jock I've got an emergency? It's my dad."

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