Paranoia (104 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 Five: 56 (Cont'd)

Even after seven o'clock Camilletti was still in his office. Obviously it was a busy time, but I wanted the guy to just go home so I could get into his office before Security did. I also wanted to get home and get some sleep, because I was crashing and burning.

I was trying to figure out how I could get Camilletti on my "buddy list" without his permission so I could know when he was online and when he'd signed off, when suddenly an instant-message box from Chad popped up on my computer screen.

I wrote: Sorry, Chad, it's been crazy.

There was a pause of about half a minute, then he came back:

You probably knew about these layoffs in advance, huh? Lucky for you you're immune.

I wasn't sure how to answer, so for a minute or two I didn't, and then the phone rang. Jocelyn had gone home, so the calls were routed right to me. The caller ID came up on the screen, but it was a name I didn't recognize. I picked it up. "Cassidy."

"I know that," came Chad's voice, heavy with sarcasm. "I just didn't know if you were at home or in your office. I should have figured an ambitious guy like you gets in early and stays late, just like all the self-help books tell you to do."

"How're you doing, Chad?"

"I'm filled with admiration, Adam. For you. More than ever, in fact."

"That's nice."

"Especially after my lunch with your old friend Kevin Griffin."

"Actually, I barely knew the guy."

"Not exactly what he said. You know, it's interesting—he was less than impressed with your track record at Wyatt. He said you were a big party-hearty dude."

"When I was young and irresponsible, I was young and irresponsible," I said, doing my best George Bush the Younger.

"He also had no recollection of your being on the Lucid."

"He's in—what, in sales, isn't he?" I said, figuring that if I was going to imply that Kevin was out of the loop it was at least better to be subtle.

"He was. Today was his last day. In case you didn't hear."

"Didn't work out?" There was a little tremor in my voice, which I disguised by clearing my throat, then coughing.

"Three whole days at Trion. Then Security got a call from someone at Wyatt saying that poor Kevin had a nasty habit of cheating on his T&E expense sheets. They had the evidence and everything, faxed it right over. Thought Trion should know. Of course, Trion dropped him like a hot potato. He denied it up and down, but you know how these things work—it's not exactly a court of law, right?"

"Jesus," I said. "Unbelievable. I had no idea."

"No idea they were going to make this call?"

"No idea about Kevin. I mean, like I said, I hardly knew him at all, but he seemed nice enough. Man. Well, I guess you can't do that kind of stuff too often and hope to get away with it."

He laughed so loud I had to pull my ear away from the receiver. "Oh, that's good. You're really good, big guy." He laughed some more, a big hearty laugh, as if I were the best stand-up act he'd ever seen. "You are so right. You can't do that kind of stuff too often and hope to get away with it." Then he hung up.

Five minutes earlier I'd wanted to lean back in my chair and doze off, but now I couldn't, I was way too freaked out. My mouth was dry, so I went to the break room and got an Aquafina. I took the long way, past Camilletti's office. He was gone, his office was dark, but his admin was still there. When I came by half an hour later, both of them were gone.

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