But enough about Gladys, and Liz Gant, for God’s sake,
Sex would come, and I let her continue to read, as Gladys had calm down. My mind was already back to a very real drama, with all of its profound, far-reaching consequences, and now, a suspected shadow.
It turned out to be some meeting. As I watched the people gather outside of the door to the conference room, I was disappointed that none of the hip looking young women from the Design Department were there. As I sat in my seat, almost directly across from the PR Director, I was still hoping that they would soon walk in.
But to no avail.
This was indeed an important meeting. Only eight people attended. They included the Vice President of Sales, Mr. Axelrod; Vice President for Communications, Mrs. Taylor; Director of Public Relations, Agnes Moorhead; Vice President of Online Security, Jose Martinez (no kin to Ron); Vice President of Operations and Customer Services, Frederick Bush, Julius, and me.
This was more like a meeting of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, with a Brigadier and a lowly Major thrown in. Who was clearly missing was the real big dog after the CEO, the Senior Vice President of Engineering, Mr. Kan, because he had still not returned to work.
Julius began the meeting. “Ron wanted to be here but had to attend yet another hearing in Washington, so he asked me to chair this meeting.
“Let me get right to the point. To tell you the truth, people, we are faced with some daunting challenges in the days ahead. I have asked our Director of Communications to lay out a schema, and outline just what we are up against; Margaret?”
Margaret Taylor was a carefully dressed, well-groomed, late middle-aged blond woman. Everything about her was well thought out, and her jaw line was well defined for a white woman of her age.
I wondered if she had already gone under the knife.
“So far,” she said in calm, even, well delivered tones, “I feel that we have so far done a remarkable job in weathering Mr. Assai’s abrupt departure, and the subsequent scrutiny that we have come under. And I want to say right now, that much of this is because of the diligent work of Agnes Moorhead. Most of you have no idea of the many fires she has had put out; or better, prevented from happening in the first place.
“She has worked day and night, taken little time off for her family, and has artfully kept the media at bay. She has managed this crisis with a cool professionalism beyond anything we could have hoped for, given the serious nature of what we faced. And we thank you Agnes.
We all started to clap but Mrs. Taylor held up her hand to silence us.
“And while I am on the subject of Agnes, I just want to make a small announcement. As a few of you know, I have been long planning on leaving to pursue other endeavors. I agreed to stay on to help manage this crisis, but my plans to leave Transgobaltech are as firm as ever.”
She paused and smiled a warm, friendly smile. I began liking her because she reminded me so much of an actress I once knew while doing Hamlet. And yes, I was the Danish Prince.
She continued. “I have had many great years working with this great company and working with Mr. Assai and Mr. Kan. However, the time comes, which will happen to us all, when it is time to go on to something else. And my time has arrived.
“I have already recommended, and Ron has given us his blessings, that Agnes be elevated to Vice President and Director of Communications. Congratulations, kid. You deserve it.”
Agnes looked dumbstruck. It was clear that she had no idea what was coming. Those of us at the table finally got the chance to clap our hands and smile warmly at her.
She removed her black-rimmed glasses and wiped a small tear away from her eyes. But this brief moment of warmth and comradeship was short lived, as Mrs. Taylor brought us back to the real reason why we were all sitting there.
I watched as a deadly serious look reappeared on Agnes’s freckled face.
“But back to our problems.” Mrs. Taylor continued, “As much as we have tried, and as open as we have been giving the authorities every inch of what they asked for, and more than they asked for, opening up file after file, book after book, electronic mail, phone records, the authorities still harbor this suspicion that somehow the company is behind the terror attacks, and that someone here is hiding something.
“I suspect that we are tapped from top to bottom, and I wouldn’t be surprised if they have already placed spies among us. This is no way to run a multi-billion dollar international business, especially since our competitors now see an opening. You can bet that at this very moment they are out there spreading all kinds of lies about us.”
“Thank you, Margaret,” Julius said, as Margaret’s grim assessment finally came to an end. “It is clear what lies ahead of us. Obviously the main burden is going to fall on Marketing, Sales, and Communications in that we have to rebrand this company, and as quickly as we can, before those competitors that Margaret mentioned rebrand us in ways not to our liking.
“So Ron is looking for input from all of you in this room. Also, remember, stay upbeat with your staff, but just keep in mind the very real dangers we are now facing. To be as brutal as possible, without scaring you to death, we could lose it all.”
After many questions, which Julius handled with great skill and charm, the meeting came to a close.
This wasn’t quite the meeting I had hoped for, and some of the things that were said sent chills down my spine, and I saw my great apartment, and nights in the bar in The Village with Gladys, and now Eric, drinking great wine, having clever conversations, and enjoying wonderfully cooked dinners—all coming to an abrupt end.
One positive thing that did come out of this meeting was when being a trained actor once again paid off big time for me. When Mrs. Taylor mentioned that there might be a FBI spy among us, I did not flinch.
My palms did not become wet. Little beads of sweat did not suddenly appear on my forehead and on the back of my neck; nor did I lower my eyes when she once looked directly at me as she spoke.
I just sat calmly, with an interested, sincere, concerned mask on my face; one of the team, and nothing more.
I also noticed the looks on some of the faces of the VPs when they first saw me sitting at the large, round, all glass table. I could almost hear then thinking, “What the hell is he doing here. But wasn’t he once Assai’s right hand man. And is Assai still running the company and Ron is just a front man, and he is the eyes and ears for the real power.”
All of this drama just because I once wanted to show my friendship and deep respect for someone who had once provided for me in an hour of great need, and I returned the favor when everyone else was afraid to come anywhere near him.