Sunlight shone through John’s apartment window and directly onto his face, and this eventually roused him from his deep sleep. He groggily wiped his eyes and face and then looked down, confused. He saw that he was dressed in his suit and had his shoes on. He jumped up and 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 Chinese 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 Chinese man had given him. He pulled out the note and looked at it for a second time. It was printed from a computer, on a plain piece of 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 and the first person he sees is his boss - Paul Massoni. Paul shakes his head and smiles, looking at the mess that John Martin is right now. Paul looks down at his watch then looks back up and says, “10:17.”

Sensing he’s about to be publicly humiliated, John looks around to see who’s there to witness this. Sure enough, there’s Jordan Quinn, in the coffee station with one of her girlfriends, and they’ve just turned to see John come in. And two guys have now stood up out of their cubicle chairs and turned to see what’s happening. Awesome.

“Can you get one fucking thing right, Martin?” Paul starts in on him, “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 3 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 starts walking to his office and John starts walking behind him. As he’s walking, John can’t help but look over at Jordan and her friend at the coffee station to see what Jordan’s reaction was. Like everyone else, Jordan was watching intently as John’s public humiliation unfolded. Then as John looked at her, she turned to her friend at the coffee station and whispered something which provoked a stifled laugh from both of them. Then she looked up at John again with a more serious, appropriate face.

John walks into Paul Massoni’s office. Paul is sitting behind his desk and seems like he’s cooled off a little. “Take a seat,” he says to John.

John sits in one of the two chairs in front of Paul’s desk.

Paul says, “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 put on another deal, and I have no other associates to staff on it, so I guess I can’t get you fired... at least not yet.”

He continued, “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 the chair he was sitting in like he was at the dentist and the drill 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 at John as he said this last sentence and then 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, left Paul’s office and headed over to his cubicle.

He powered up his computer at his desk and typed “atlantic grill” into Google. He clicked on 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 restaurant, 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 Chinese 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, lose/lose situation for John.


Copyright © 2017 by Chris Davis. All Rights Reserved.
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