Badtux the Snarky Penguin

In a time of chimpanzees, I was a penguin.

Religious fundamentalists are motivated by the sneaking suspicion that someone, somewhere, is having fun -- and that this must be stopped.

Monday, March 27, 2006

Fixer [Interim Title] Chapter 2 Part 2

[See Chapter 2 Part 1]

But I wondered: Was it an accident that a dead man was left on my doorstep? Or was it a message?

And if it was a message... did it have anything to do with why I was rolling in the garbage the previous evening?


Perhaps it would make more sense if I started a few days before, when Tom Willis walked through my door.

Tom Willis was tall, blond, and good looking, and I didn't trust him for a minute, any more than I would have trusted myself if our roles had been reversed. He had the slick look of a used car salesman, and the manners to match.

"Hey cutie," he said as he walked through the door. "How 'bout you get your boss for me?"

Cute. Ugh. That word. I looked up at the sky, or the ceiling anyhow. "What do I look like, a priest? Do your own praying if you want to talk to God."

"Whoa! Like, someone's on the rag?"

I sighed, pulling my Glock out of my lap where it had been sitting ever since my security cam had shown some unknown male coming to my door, and brought it to bear on the jerk's family jewels. "I love Glocks," I said. "Especially a nice sweet Glock 17 like this guy. 9mm round that doesn't kick too hard for a lightweight like me, 17 round magazine, I just love taking this little darling to the firing range. You know the nice thing about a Glock? No safety. You just squeeze the trigger, and bang. Well, assuming that you have a round chambered. Gosh, I wonder if I have a round chambered? Oh, I know! I can just squeeze the trigger and find out!"

He raised his hands and backed off. "Whoa! Kathy Varis?"

"Gosh, the man has a clue after all. You got it, bucko! And if you want to rent an apartment, forget about it. You wouldn't last an hour. You got narc written all over you. Take it elsewhere."

"Uhm, I heard that you, ah, do things."

"Like I said, take it elsewhere. I only do things for people I like. And I don't like you."

"Uhm... I'll pay you ten grand for a day's work max. How's that?"

"I just started liking you a bit better," I said. "Tell me more."

He fed me a song and dance about how he was a programmer for Akilna Software, project lead for their latest software, and how it was his brainchild and his only. He wanted to leave, he said, but his contract had some golden handcuffs. He needed dirt on Akilna, and thought he had it -- some computer files that showed Akilna had stolen software from another company, filed the serial numbers off, and called it their own. All he had to do was get it out of there, and then the lawyers could handle the rest.

As he talked, I sat behind my desk, my notebook computer open, taking notes. I asked him for his ID and popped it into the scanner. It came up on the screen with all the right holograms and watermarks. Not a hundred percent certain, but his driver's license seemed legit. As legit as anything in this corrupt city ever was. I asked him for his social security number and he gave it to me. As Tom talked, I typed his social security number into the credit bureau and pulled his credit report. The credit bureau info matched the driver's license info. But the employment info was... unusual.

"So EMAIL it to your home computer," I suggested. But, he went on, Akilna's security was far too good for that. Their EMAIL server wouldn't mail attachments, and their web proxy blocked webmail services. Their firewall would shut down Internet access for any workstation that sent more than a certain amount of data. And furthermore physical security was tough, with a guard at the door who searched everybody who went through. He couldn't even take his mobile phone into the building, because it had a camera.

"So take a flash keyfob with you, copy the software onto it, and walk out with it in your sock," I suggested.

"They have this thing at the exit door. They call it an EMP machine. It fries anything electronic that goes through it. If you want to take anything out, it has to go through corporate security, who wipes it clean as a whistle before allowing it to bypass the machine."

I rolled my eyes. "Who are these guys? The fuckin' CIA? Nobody does shit like that here in the valley. It doesn't work, for one thing. I can think of a half dozen ways to get shit out of there."

"These guys think the CIA are a bunch of wimps."

These guys, hmm? I wondered which of the competitors that Tom really worked for. One thing was clear -- the boy had no imagination. But then, most corporates don't. Ass kissing and brown nosing don't leave much room for imagination.

I pulled a flash drive out of my top drawer and slid it across my desk. "Will your software fit on this?"

"Sure, but what good does that do me?"

I smiled. "Show up here tomorrow with $5,000 cash, and I might tell you." I gave him my cutest smile, the one that made me look, like, fifteen years old. "Now isn't that just the cutest thing you ever heard?" I stroked my Glock, and pointed at the door.

Tom wisely said nothing as he left.

A bit more checking made it clear: my boy Tom was a plant.

No, not ficus. He was one of a breed of professional job hoppers in the Valley, job hoppers who went to work for companies that, let us say, certain people were interested in. People like me served as fake references, produce bogus letterheads and cards for bogus former employers, and otherwise help the plant take root.

Everything he told me was probably a lie. But in the end, why would I care? His money was plenty green, and that was good enough for me.


Now, I wondered.

Posted by: BadTux / 3/27/2006 08:16:00 AM  


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