Saturday, 28 December 2013

Shebug Origin: West Coast - Chapter Four

The population of Las Vegas swelled with the arrival of the computer electronics contingent. The hotels buzzed with excitement, progressive ideas were exchanged and deals were brokered on the show floor and in hotel lounges. Extra limousines were brought in to cope with demand, and the expensive vehicles stretched along the brightly lit streets like highly glossed caterpillars.
 Two men sat at a nearby table drinking beer. “Honestly Art, how does BTT compare to PARC’s facilities?” a bearded fellow asked, filling his large hand with more savoury nibbles, “or do PARC Sapiens at Xerox have anything to be afraid of?”
Artemis threw his head back and laughed. “Hal, you know I can’t talk about that.”
Hal elbowed his old friend in the ribs and chuckled. “Maybe one of these days you’ll let something slip. I just want to make sure I’m around to hear it.”
The two masterminds went back a long time. Artemis had also organized part of Xerox’s Palo Alto Research Center (PARC) at one stage of his brilliant career. The hilltop think tank housed creative visionaries whose computer innovations shaped the future.
“Too bad Waites couldn’t join us. His hologram software blew Nintendo away.”
 “He’s got what it takes, alright,” Artemis said proudly, wondering how his protégé was faring.
Willy went into a tizzy after Victoire’s secretary let it slip her boss would be staying in the same hotel and same floor in Las Vegas. Willy hadn’t seen Victoire in weeks and yearned to see her and tell her all about his big promotion.
But upon arrival at San Francisco airport, he slipped on the escalator and dislocated his shoulder. Willy never made it to Las Vegas.
 Artemis looked around for the waitress to order one last round when he caught sight of Victoire. “Great to catch up, Hal.” He stood up. “Say hi to your wife and congratulations on the twins.”
They shook hands. “Will do, man, will do.”
Artemis walked briskly towards the concierge’s desk where she stood. “Well, well, who have we here?” he asked, secretly wanting to know why she stopped taking his calls overnight and no longer ventured into the R & D division. 
“Artemis!” Victoire blanched. “What a surprise, I thought you were staying at the other hotel.”
“I am. Listen, when is your next meeting?” he asked, his eyes sparkling with intent.
Victoire vacillated. His dimples looked even more enticing close up. “I…I…”
His eyes bore into hers. “Suite 1205 please,” he said to the concierge, extending his hand for the key.
“Right away, sir.”
No sooner had the elevator doors closed, he pinned her against the wall and kissed her hungrily oblivious to the security camera.
The comparisons between the scientist and the CEO got tabulated as they rose through the shaft. By the time they reached the twelfth floor, the chief was in pole position.
But when the doors opened, Victoire came to an abrupt conclusion.
 “Let’s cosy up, forget about everything for a while and let me make you feel adored,” he promised, taking her gently by the wrists.
Any other woman would have succumbed to Artemis’ touch like sun burnt skin to aloe vera.  But Victoire’s blood temperature shot down from one hundred four degrees to ten below zero. She wasn’t about to let a lesser mark destroy her chances of nailing the biggest fish in the company.
“Sorry, Artemis, I’ve got plans.” She extracted her key from his jacket pocket, stepped out of the elevator and stood facing the perplexed scientist until the doors closed between them.
To the amazement of the Bassadai team and the unspoken relief of Electra’s triumvirate, Peter and Victoire turned up for Sinatra’s concert on the last day of CES arm-in-arm as man and wife.

# # # #

The Bassadai sales and marketing offices were skeletal that week. The sky outside stayed a dull grey and the open fields remained awash in a shade of wintry muck.
News trickling in about the CEO’s surprise nuptials didn’t hit Willy until the bride’s identity was revealed.
“Who? What?” he sputtered, putting down his Styrofoam cup. “Did I hear you say Victoire?”
“Bad luck, dude. Sorry to break it to you.”
 Willy slammed the receiver down on a stack of files. It slipped off and dangled on the side; but he didn’t notice. All activity in his immediate surroundings moved in slow motion like a bad dream. 
He took only the absolutely necessary folders and diskettes he needed and crammed them into his bag. Fifteen minutes later, Willy Waites put on his brown parka, turned off his computer and headed for the exit. He swung the overloaded rucksack over his good shoulder unceremoniously knocking over a computer. The loud bang broke his trance.
 “Willy?” cried a startled pimply-faced programmer wearing a Grateful Dead T-shirt. “What’s going on?”

“I’m quitting!”

Wednesday, 25 December 2013

Wednesday, 18 December 2013

End of Chapter Three of Shebug Origin: West Coast

The Prentice mansion buzzed with preparations. “Are you ready?” he asked his young driver.
“Yes, sir. I’m leaving to pick up Miss Vestey as we speak.”
“Good. You do that.” Peter patted Bradley’s shoulder and walked off to take a call.
Fifteen minutes later, Victoire’s heels clicked on the marble entrance into Peter’s palatial house like heat seeking missiles poised to annex with the cerebral chief once and for all. In spite of the chilly summer night, she wore nothing under her body hugging crimson satin dress.
The most important guests were the three Electra partners and their wives fresh from Chicago plus key Bassadai executives from each division.
Social events were not Willy’s forte. He was overwhelmed by what he saw. He had heard Artemis describe Prentice’s place, but to be in it was quite another. Thanks to colleague and friend Julie’s frantic last-minute help, he turned up in a navy suit, white shirt and a clean knit tie. The new lace up shoes pinched his feet, but there was nothing he could do about it.
Willy nearly swallowed his olive when the Victoire floated onto the scene. His heart broke into a mad gallop. He had no idea how he was going to string coherent sentences with the goddess dressed to kill in such close proximity.
 Victoire soaked in the lofty atmosphere and felt very much at home. She fantasized about Peter’s house and what her friends would say if it belonged to her; one-upmanship was de riguer in her snobby circles. 
That evening Peter behaved unusually more attentive than ever before. He kept her near and placed his hand on her bare shoulder and arm on more than one occasion. Even his cologne smelled different, spicier, masculine.
Maybe it’s the champagne going to my head, she thought, seeking out the nearest bathroom to touch up her lipstick.
Recognizing the voice, she spun round to see if Artemis had come with Willy.
“How are you?” she asked before she air kissed his cheek. “Have you guys come together?” She looked over his head with eager eyes.
“Gee, no,” he said apologetically. “That’s the reason I was sent here.” Victoire cocked her head to the side looking confused. “Artemis went home with the flu and asked that I take his place at the last minute. He looked like hell, poor guy.”
Whatever else Willy said, Victoire didn’t hear. She bit back her frustration and tried not to throttle to nerd.
“There you are,” Peter said before putting his arm over her shoulder and steering her away. “I was beginning to wonder where you disappeared to.”
Victoire’s eyes double in size. The host’s tone sounded unmistakably possessive.

# # # #

 Peter wined and dined Victoire from Chez-Panisse to Fleur de Lys during the entire run-up to CES, much to her surprise. He whisked her off for a romantic weekend in Big Sur via helicopter and played the part of lover boy turning Victoire’s plans to ensnare Artemis upside down.
“A man in his position does not romance an employee unless he has marriage on his mind, chérie,” her mother announced proudly.
Victoire smiled back coyly. He was much older and not as attractive as she wanted, but he was a very ambitious catch nonetheless.
“And you thought I had lost my edge,” she replied pointedly.
“Well, I guess the fruit does not fall far from the tree, chérie.”

Wednesday, 11 December 2013

Shebug Origin: West Coast - Chapter Three

Chapter Three

Chapter Three Bassadai had exceeded Electra’s sales and profit targets four years in a row. I’ve proven I’m unbeatable, unstoppable, Peter thought, frustrated that the offer of joining Electra’s golden corporate triumvirate and despite his perfect track record had not yet materialized.
Peter was finally forced to confront the bigger picture: the ‘three wise men’, as he referred to them behind their backs, were no-nonsense Midwesterners, family men grown and nurtured in the country’s Bible belt. Peter, however, was of cut from a different cloth, the odd man out. But he was damned if this very personal aspect was going to block his way to the very pinnacle of success he had toiled long and hard to reach.
 He sighed, pursed his lips and dialled his mother’s number in Florida.
“Mom, I have some good news for you.” He took a deep breath and said through a forced smile. “I’ve decided to get married.”

# # # #

Artemis spent his time supervising the Bassadai Think Tank, better known as BTT, and in back-to-back corporate meetings preparing for January’s Consumer Electronics Show, or CES, in Las Vegas. Any hope of connecting with Victoire got snuffed before he could pick up the phone and make a date.
But when he learned Victoire was attending the same party at Prentice’s, his fatigue evaporated.
“I look forward to seeing you then, Artemis,” she said sweetly. “Any longer and I would have forgotten what you looked like.”
Artemis smiled and shook his head. “Damn, that’s one sexy blonde,” he muttered before replacing the receiver.
“What’s that?’ Willy asked, bringing him a folder and seeing his boss’ eyes lit up again.
“Women,” he chuckled, “just women.”

Willy nodded his head in agreement, left his ideas on the scientist’s desk and went off to have lunch and mentally undress the same one.

End of Chapter Two of Shebug Origin: West Coast

End of Chapter Two

Friday night arrived, and Victoire readied herself to make her bedroom moves. Artemis invited her to join him and his team for drinks at their usual hangout before whisking her off to for a quiet dinner for two.
At six o’clock, she closed her office door, slipped out of her work ensemble into tight jeans and sexy blouse and walked to R & D ready to pounce on Artemis.
Victoire neared his dark office and slowed her pace. The secretary’s desk looked tidy except for a plastic cup of unfinished coffee sitting on a green folder.
Baffled, she looked at her watch and wondered if she’d had come on the wrong day.
A shaky voice interrupted her thoughts. “Um, Victoire?”
She spun around. “Where’s your boss?”
“Well, um…” Willy scratched his weak chin. “He had to meet some of the Electra guys in Chicago at the last minute.” Her face dropped. “He asked me to tell you he was sorry. But we’re still on for tonight.”
Her delicate foot tapped against the grey carpet. “When is Artemis due back?”
Willy shook his head, dislodging a few flakes of dandruff in the process. “Not sure. The think tank project has him real busy. Once it’s completed, he’ll be spending most of his time over there.”
Rumour had it Bassadai’s newly built ultra modern facility was opening ahead of schedule. The high tech, high security facility was located somewhere in Marin County for easy access. Whether somewhere in the Bolinas Ridge or accessible by Lucas Valley Road nobody outside the tight circle knew.
And Victoire had to move before her catch disappeared into the think tank.
“What? Really?” Her fists tightened. She should have seen it coming, but the secrecy surrounding the project remained impenetrable except to a handful of executives.
She looked irritated and turned away from him. Willy’s shoulders slouched. “Can I help you with anything? I talk to him every day as I’m covering for him and can give him a message.”
“Oh, so you are his right hand man during his absence?” she said, looking over her shoulder. “Wow, that’s quite an honour.” She caught eyes double behind the heavy spectacles. She stepped closer and flashed him her prettiest smile. If anybody could feed her information on her mark, it was the geek melting before her. “About tonight…”
“Can I drive you?” Willy blurted.
“Sure, but let’s go in my car, shall we?”

Victoire had Willy wrapped around her finger like a ribbon round a Christmas box in no time. Her insight into Artemis increased exponentially with the programmer’s input. Meanwhile, Artemis heard Victoire’s name mentioned over and over further fuelling his interest in the posh polyglot.

Wednesday, 4 December 2013

Shebug Origin: West Coast - Chapter Two


Competition in Silicon Valley was fierce, and high security at Bassadia, inevitable. Key engineers and programmers were kept sequestered in the smoke glass building kitty corner to the sales and marketing division, entrance accessible only by a code changed periodically.
Willard Waites glanced at his stained Swatch watch and cursed under his breath. It was five to eight. He reached for his clipboard and scuttled out of his messy office, knocking a swivel chair over in the process. The thud momentarily overrode the low hum of the computer screens illuminating the Research and Development facilities.
“Hurry up, Romeo, or you’ll miss the Ice Princess!”
Willy flipped his spotty programmer friend the finger and pretended to go pick up some random files in the Consumer Electronics building across the street as he set eyes on the newcomer.
Victoire was punctual as she was fastidious. Adhering to routines put her in control leaving little room for the unexpected. Dressed from head-to-toe in brown, the socially inept wunderkind scurried towards passed her in the reception area without a second thought
“Hey, how is it going Willy asked as he passed her in the lobby.
“Hi,” she replied mechanically. She had no idea who he was and pegged him as one of many Bassadai geeks.

# # # #

The sophisticated international sales and marketing manager enjoyed the challenge, salary, first class travel and company perks. But Victoire wasn’t planning to earn a living too long. The work experience at Bassadai exposed her to the rigours of climbing the entrepreneurial ladder and the first-hand smell of ferocity from the cutthroat rivalry within the corridors. Like mother like daughter, Victoire embraced the motto ‘Girls who wear sensible heels pay for their meals’.
Unfortunately, Bassadai was a subsidiary of Electra Inc. Had there been a Mr. Bassadai, preferable under forty-five and reasonably attractive, she would have already eaten him for breakfast and hyphenated his last name to hers.
Three years into the game, Victoire was poised to pounce on and to exploit the fruit of somebody else’s labour.
San Francisco felt positively plebeian to cosmopolitan Victoire, more cowboys than a spaghetti western. High society fit in a thimble, the ratio of straight men to women ran in the deficit column and the array of cultural events had the consistency of skim milk.
But Victoire was a long-range planner like her mother who was on her third very rich marital catch. She had chosen San Francisco over Budapest where her father had been assigned for obvious reasons: there were more—and wealthier—fish in the bay waters than on that twist of the Danube.

# # # #

Victoire went through her closet looking uninspired. Her mother insisted she accept another invitation from Gordon Greenberg, an up and coming doctor on the look out for a wife.
The clock’s hand pointed to six-thirty, but Victoire felt in no hurry.  She settled on a smart little black dress and silver heels for the occasion. Elegant but not too sexy, she thought, focusing for a moment on her partner for the evening ahead.
Cigarette smoke trailed up nose, and she bit her lip.
Mais alors ,vite, chérie,” her mother urged from the half open door. “Gordon is collecting us in less than twenty minutes, and you’re still not dressed. It’s such an honour that he is inviting us all tonight, you should be over the moon.”
Guidance, she welcomed; persistence, she loathed. “Maman,” Victoire explained, “Gordon is a smart guy, but not my cup of tea.”
 Dr. Gordon Greenberg is not smart, he’s an eminence in his field,” she corrected before taking another deep puff of her lipstick stained cigarette, “and a catch any single woman in the bay area would kill for. You act as if it was a chore to be with the man.” She flicked ashes into an empty glass. “Gordon’s the youngest, most gifted neurosurgeon UC-Cal has ever seen!’ She sucked in more nicotine and pursed her lips. Smoke flushed from her nostrils like a dragon. “What is your problem?”
Victoire frowned. First off, the brain surgeon could have passed for the twin of Henry VIII and had hair that resembled a Brillo pad. Besides, hospital talk bored her to tears, and she felt she could reach much, much higher.
“You’re right. Gordon is not a catch but the catch,” she assuaged her mother, “but the fortunes being made right now in consumer electronics are mind boggling. Just read the Financial Times or the San Francisco Chronicle.”
Her mother was about to fire a retort but couldn’t argue the point. Bassadai and its two competitors popped up in the news left and right. Still, Vivienne wasn’t about to let a marital catch like Gordon pass undetected. “I was already married at eighteen; I had you at twenty. By the time I was twenty-five, your age-”
“Twenty-four,” cut in her daughter.
“Whatever. View Gordon as a stepping-stone, then, but get moving. You’ve been stuck in Silicon Valley long enough, and you’ve yet to make a wise move.” She puffed one last time then slowly twirled the lipstick stained butt until the embers suffocated. “Honestly Victoire, could it be you are losing your edge?”
 “It’s a new dawn it’s a new day, maman. People don’t get married that young any more.” She slipped into her coat and flicked her hair into place. “I won’t rush into things until I’ve scoured the possibilities. Trust me.”
Vivienne shrugged her shoulders. “Promise me you’ll give him a serious thought.” She air-kissed her daughter’s forehead then took hold of her chin. “Remember, ma petite, you’re not getting any younger.”
Victoire bit her tongue, adjusted her drop earrings in the mirror and looked back with approval. “I’ve got my eye on two very worthy prospects,” she parried smugly, linking her arm through the older, brunette version of herself.
But that was a lie. One of the two names in her diary had already been crossed out. Another woman had already reeled in Apple Computer’s co-founder, Steve Jobs.
But the other primary target was the most physically attractive of all. His name was Dr. Artemis Allen, chief scientist at Bassadai. As official captain of the brain pool, Dr. Allen held sway over Bassadai’s present and future steps.
Recently divorced and thirty-six years old, he measured five foot eleven and was of medium build. His eyes matched his chocolate brown, longish hair; his deep dimples were not lost of Victoire. Disappointingly, his work uniform consisted of baggy khakis, crew neck sweaters and scuffed loafers whether behind his desk or presenting to the big boys from Electra. But that could be easily fixed.
The man’s approximate net worth, garnered by a loose tongue in personnel was half a million base salary with fat stock options and millions more in bonuses as new products made their way to market.
Access to the low-key guru, however, was not that simple because their jobs were in no way related. He was within a two-minute walk from her office, and she made up every excuse imaginable to venture his way. If he was not at his desk, she made an effort to schmooze with the programmers knowing they would come in very handy. One of these was Willy Waites.
The twenty-five-year-old came from a middle-class family of St. Paul, Minnesota. Outside of his parents, Willy’s respect and awe went to Dr. Allen.
Artemis knew this and appreciated it. In return, he enjoyed the camaraderie amongst his young team and socialized with them when possible.

Willy’s amorous fantasies had but one face, Victoire’s, who had taken up the habit of making the rounds in the R&D wing in her pursuit of his boss, Artemis.