Paranoia (009 of 170)

—of —
by Joseph Finder
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Macmillan: Paranoia

Paranoia by Joseph Finder. Copyright 2004 by Joseph Finder.
All Rights Reserved. Sharing not permitted.

Part One: 4 (Cont'd)

I followed Wyatt down the hall from Corporate Security to his executive suite, and it was hard to keep up with him—he was a power-walker. I had to almost run. Behind me followed Meacham, swinging a black leather portfolio like a baton. As we approached the executive area, the walls went from white plasterboard to mahogany; the carpeting became soft and deep-pile. We were at his office, his lair.

His matched set of admins looked up and beamed at him as we caravaned through. One blonde, one black. He said, "Linda, Yvette," as if captioning them. I wasn't surprised they were both fashion-model beautiful—everything here was high-end, like the walls and the carpeting and the furniture. I wondered if their job description included nonclerical responsibilities, like blowjobs. That was the rumor, anyway.

Wyatt's office was vast. An entire Bosnian village could live there. Two of the walls were glass, floor to ceiling, and the views of the city were unbelievable. The other walls were fancy dark wood, covered with framed things, magazine covers with his mug on them, Fortune, Forbes, Business Week. I looked, goggle-eyed, as I half walked, half ran by. A photo of him and some other guys with the late Princess Diana. Him with both George Bushes.

He led us to a "conversation group" of tufted black leather chairs and sofa that looked like they belonged in MOMA. He sank down at one end of the enormous sofa.

My head was spinning. I was disoriented, in another world. I couldn't imagine why I was here, in Nicholas Wyatt's office. Maybe he'd been one of those boys who liked to pull the legs off insects one by one with tweezers, then burn them to death with a magnifying glass.

"So this is some pretty elaborate scam you pulled off," he said. "Very impressive."

I smiled, ducked my head modestly. Denial wasn't even an option. Thank God, I thought. It looked like we were going the high-five, moxie route.

"But no one kicks me in the balls and walks away, you should know that by now. I mean fucking nobody."

He'd gotten out the tweezers and the magnifying glass.

"So what's your deal, you've been a PLM here for three years, your performance reviews suck, you haven't gotten a raise or a promotion the whole time you've been here; you're going through the motions, phoning it in. Not exactly an ambitious guy, are you?" He talked fast, which made me even more nervous.

I smiled again. "I guess not. I sort of have other priorities."


I hesitated. He'd got me. I shrugged.

"Everyone's got to be passionate about something, or they're not worth shit. You're obviously not passionate about your work, so what are you passionate about?"

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