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?”