Friday, February 15, 2013

Hot Chips and Sand 101-105 Draft Comparison

Hot Chips and Sand
Copyright © 2013 Mary Hughes
All rights reserved

            About two weeks later Vickie was reviewing expenditures with John, and she was hopping mad.
 “What the hell is this, John?” Vickie slapped the expenditure printout on John’s desk. It was two weeks later.
John tsked. “Such language, boss.”
“Don’t try to side‑track me, Mr. Cavanaugh.”
“Uh-oh. I’ve become a Mister. This must be serious. If you call me John Jensen Cavanaugh like my mother, I’m scooting.”
Vickie’s lips twitched in spite of herself. She had to force a stern expression onto her face. “Just look at this phone log!”  She set it down on the desk, stabbingShe stabbed at items with her taut finger as she spoke. “Saudi Arabia, one minute. Yemen, another minute. Jerusalem, fifty‑five seconds. Who’s charging phone calls against us?”

            John sighed, trying to cover his relief.  [MH1] “I’ll check into it, Vickie.   Maybe it’s some kid who stumbled onto our 800 number.”?”

            “Oh, sure.  A kid with a jet.”?”
“Vickie, maybe you should leaveVickie.” John tsked. “You’re doing great at your job but you are overworked. Leave all this detail work to me. It’s only a few bucks, after all. You shouldn’t be worrying about it.”
“Don’t patronize me.” Fists clenching, Vickie stood up from her desk and turned to lookstare out theJohn’s large window of her office. without really seeing the beautiful landscape. A couple deep breaths kept her from putting her fist through the plate glass. When she turned back to John she was calmer, but her hands remained balled.
“I want you to check on her hips.

            “John,this. Because when Sir Humphrey comes back, I don’t want there to be a single thing he can criticize me about.  Do you understandon.” She leaned her fists onto his desk and stared him in the eye. “Understand?”
John sighed again, this time in exasperation. “Cliff doesn’t think like that, Vickie. If he chose you, he won’t be breathing down your neck. He trusts you.”
Unsaid was the As you should trust me, but she heard it loud and clear. Vickie choked back a sarcastic retort and merely said, “I wouldn’t know.”

            They hadBut they’d been over it oftenworking together long enough, though, and John knew what she was referring to.  “He never calls by now that, as she heard his unspoken words, he heard hers. John spread his hands in a gesture of appeal. “Cliff doesn’t call in when he’s gonetraveling, Vickie. Never has. Besides, you don’t need to talk with him—you’ve answered most of your questions yourself.”

            “But“And just how do I know he’ll approve of the way I’ve answered them?” She spun into pacing. “I’ve made critical design changes in the implementation, andJohn, critical changes. And some of the policies I’ve instituted are considered downright heresy in other companies.”
“He’ll approve.  Look, Vickie, if you won’t trust Cliff, trust me.”
Vickie satspun back into him, her chair, anger leaving herdeflating as suddenly like a deflated balloon.  “All rightas it had come. “I do trust you, John.  I trust you.”  ‘.” And, more fool me, I trust Cliff.

            She snatched up the phone logs and strode back into her office before he could hear those unspoken words too.
* * * * *
It was late that evening when the phone rang. The man in the chair knew who it was.
“Send the fifth shipment.”
“You’re still three weeks behind.”
“I know.” The voice on the other end, far from its usual wry charactertone, sounded weary.
“Do you have access?”
“Yes. The tool you sent was perfect.”
“I didn’t send it. She did.”
A crackling silence. “Does she know?”
“Not yet. But things are approaching critical here.”
Another silence. “I still have to clear the communications net. I’ll let you know.” The third silence was terminated by a sharp click and the dial tone.
The man got up from his chair, rubbing his neck. He hoped everything would work out on schedule, but not for the first time, he had his doubts.


            * * * * *
It was a warm Monday about two weeks later when John buzzed Vickie with the information that Cliff had called in from Moscow. He was spending two days in Paris, and then he would be back.  ‘He’s coming back to me.  I don’t believe it.’  She was thrown into a panic and called a meeting of her managers.
“I’ll need all the records of the project thus far. Not just the weekly progress reports you’ve been giving me. This is for the boss. Color graphs. New data flow diagrams. John, get me the latest numbers on the cost analysis, you know, percent complete, dollars expended, the works.” She paced at the head of the meeting table, pointing at people as she talked. “Phil, I’ll need the updated (*diagrams*) for the parts of the system we’ve finished. Include complete explanations for the modifications we’ve made.  JuneBelva, I want a compilation of the production investigationworkup we did on the chip. Make sure you mention that little problem we had with F.N.T. Industries. Ray, write up…”—”

            John interrupted.  “Vickie, what’s the matter?  .” John pulled her aside. In her ear he said, “We’re two months ahead of schedule, and right on target for expenditures. Cliff won’t care about the details.”
            June, who hadBelva, who’d been with Hawkesclyffe computers for three years, agreed.  and was sitting nearby spoke up. “He’s not big on formality. , Vickie. The weeklies you get are the most regimented we’ve gotten in years. He’ll take an oral report from you.”

            Great.  Just great. “Oral?” A zing caromed through Vickie. She remembered the last time she hadshe’d been near him.  She she hadn’t been able to verbalizesay her name, much less spout the detail a complex project like this involved.

            She was so involved with crushing the memory of the last time she hadBecause she’d been in Cliff’s arms.
Ruthlessly she crushed the memory. She was so busy crushing that she missed the concerned glance of concern between Tess and JuneBelva.

            “Yeah,” said“Vickie, it’s okay,” Tess.  said. “Lighten up, Vickie.” .” Then, very care fullycarefully, she pulled out a rubber band and stretched it over her thumb. “Or else.”
“Tess, put that away.” Cheeks hot, Vickie glanced at the other managers at the table, embarrassed. . She and Tess had had their share of rubber‑band fights, and had great. Great fun at the time, but they and a good way to burn off the stress of working fourteen hour days. But she and Tess were at a different level now. Rubber bands were definitely not professional.
“Hey, let me see that,” John said. He reached over to take Tess’s rubber band, and Vickie felt so ashamed, she could have died. Then John said, “Hey, Nice. Thick enough that you could decapitate someone with this,” andit.”
And shot it directly at her.
Tess jumped to her feet and turned on John, saying,. “You can’t do that to my friend,” and took.” She grabbed a stinger, a small, thin rubber band, and quickly cocked and shot it. John took the hit directly on his chestnose.[MH2] 

            She“Hey. Ow.” John rubbed his nose.
Vickie laughed. She’d would probably be fired for it, but the look on his face was worth it.
Then Phil passed another decapitator to John, who prepared to terminate Tess.
He would have done it, too, had not JuneBelva distracted him with a rubber band banked off his ear. Somehow, Tess had passed a box of rubber bands to everyone in the room, and now there was a free‑for‑all. Phil rushed over behind the potted palm, where he rained terror on the rest of the room until JuneBelva picked up the white‑board and, using it as a shield, advanced to his fortress and shot him down.
Then John grabbed Vickie with his arm around her neck, and attempted to use her as a hostage, but that simply got them both pelted. Ray hid under the table and sprang up from time to time to make a strategic shot on someone’s rear end. Vickie had never laughed so hard in her life.
John and Tess were dominating the scene at one point when they partnered, back‑to‑back, and got everyone else in the room to scatter. Then, partnership forsaken, they shot at each other.  JuneBelva grabbed one of the chairs and began wheeling it around the room, running over everyone in her way.
Finally Vickie jumped in front of the conference table and pulled out a wicked‑looking decapitator. She cocked the decapitatorit at JuneBelva and shouted, “Avast, ye scurvy knave!”  JuneBelva cornered, faced her abruptly, and, seeing herself vastly out gunned, put up her hands in surrender. She was promptly pelted by half‑a‑dozen rubber bands, topped off by Vickie’s shot to her hairdo.
Tess clapped Vickie on the back, gasping with laughter. “Well done, Vickie. I think that deserves a large sundae with chocolate fudge.”
The others agreed. They took two cars, and all of them had chocolate fudge sundaes. After that they went out drinking, and then to a local movie theater to see a cult classic that Vickie hadn’t seen since college.
Completely relaxed, she marveled again at how close they had all become in such a short time. And how they could distract her from…now what was it that had gotten her in such an uproar? Oh, well, John would remind her tomorrow. She went to her apartment, home for the last three months, and promptly fell asleep.

 [MH1]The dreaded POV head-hopping problem.
 [MH2]I don't know if I'll keep this rubber band fight in the final. We really did have one like this late one Christmas eve afternoon. Ah, we were so young then :D . But put in a book it seems a little juvenile.

No comments:

Post a Comment