Sunlight shone through John’s apartment window and landed right on his face, eventually rousing him from his deep sleep. He groggily wiped his eyes and face then looked down, confused. He was still dressed in his suit and even had his shoes on. He jumped up, grabbed his phone off the table and clicked the home button - the time said 9:42.


He stripped lightning fast, slapped on deodorant, got re-dressed, put a mint in his mouth, grabbed his bag and ran out the door.

I’m fucked. That asshole’s gonna fire me now for sure.

John worried about his job the whole way to work, except for a few minutes on the subway, when he thought about the Asian man. Turns out, getting fired wasn’t John’s only problem, and not even his worst one.

He looked in his briefcase and saw the manila envelope the Asian man gave him. He opened it and pulled out the note. He had scanned it briefly in the restaurant, but took a better look now. It was printed on a plain piece of white paper, in plain Arial font. It said, “When you have the information, write it on a piece of paper. Put the paper in an envelope and seal it shut. Go to the carousel in Central Park. Around the corner, to the left, is a boarded-up maintenance shack. The door still opens - use the enclosed key to unlock it. There’s an empty paint can in the back left corner on the floor. Inside the paint can is a transmitter with a red button. Put the envelope in the paint can, push the red button once, put the lid back on the paint can and lock the door behind you when you leave.”

John rushed into the office. The first person he saw was his boss, Paul Massoni. Paul shook his head and smiled, looking at the mess that John Martin was right now. Paul looked down at his watch then back at John and said loudly, “10:17.”

Sensing he was about to be publicly humiliated, John scanned the room to see who was there to witness it. Sure enough, Jordan Quinn was there in the coffee station with one of her girlfriends, and they had just turned to see John come in. Two or three other people stood up in their cubicles to see what was happening. Awesome.

Paul said, “Can you get one fucking thing right, Martin? Is it not bad enough that you fuck up just about every assignment I give you? Is it not bad enough that you’ve been here for three years and you’ve never even been considered for Senior Associate? Is it not bad enough that almost everyone here can do what you do, in half the time? But now, you’re gonna start being late too? Are you doing this to intentionally piss me off? Do you want to get fired? Get in my office, NOW!

Paul walked toward his office and John sheepishly followed. As he walked, he couldn’t help looking over at Jordan to see what her reaction was. She had just turned to her friend at the coffee station and whispered something which provoked a stifled laugh from both of them.

John walked into Paul Massoni’s office. Paul was seated behind his desk and seemed a little cooler now. “Take a seat,” he said.

John sat down in a chair facing Paul’s desk.

Paul said, “Honestly, if things were different today, I’d probably be in Steve’s office telling him to fire you right now… but they’re not. I just got staffed on another deal, and I have no other associates to put on it, so I guess I can’t get you fired... today. Here’s the deal: I heard from Charles Miller this morning. Apparently Zenotech’s shareholders voted ‘no’ on the merger, so that deal’s dead now.”

John’s hand gripped the arm of his chair like he was at the dentist and the drill had just hit a nerve.

Paul continued, “They’re planning to announce the status of the deal to the media at two o’clock today, and they want our team to sit in on one last meeting with Miller and the lawyers so they can confirm the facts of the deal with us before they announce. So that meeting is in about thirty minutes, at eleven. That shouldn’t take more than an hour, and then you and I have lunch with the new client for our new deal at one o’clock. Busy day, Martin… hope you’re ready.” Paul smirked and said, “Meet me in the big conference room at 11. Don’t be late.

“Where are we are having lunch with the new client?” John asked.

“What?” Paul asked, surprised that John wasn’t out of his office yet.

John rephrased his question, “What restaurant are we going to for lunch with the new client today?”

Atlantic Grill at one o’clock,” Paul responded.

John got up and headed over to his cubicle.

At his desk, he powered on his computer and typed “atlantic grill” into Google. He clicked the map to see where it was. It was actually not too far from the Central Park Carousel. If he had enough time, he could hoof it on foot from the carousel, but he had to be at Atlantic Grill for lunch at one o’clock and Zenotech was announcing at two. And John had no idea how quickly the Asian man, or whomever was scheduled to retrieve the information from the paint can in the maintenance shack, would make it there after John had pushed the button on the transmitter. This was impossible. The only way to make it there in time, was to get out of lunch somehow, and even that might not give him enough time to get these people the information before the announcement.

Not that John wanted to commit a federal crime and risk going to jail for insider trading, and basically destroy his entire career in the process… even though he wasn’t exactly loving his career right now. But, on the other hand, he also didn’t want to get murdered.

So, either way, this seemed like an impossible situation for John.


Copyright © 2018 by Chris Davis. All Rights Reserved.
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