Friday, June 21, 2013

Hot Chips and Sand 191-195 Draft Comparison

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

Chapter 12Twelve



            She informed JohnVickie went back to work with Cliff’s tacet blessing—all communications were handled through John, who must have told Cliff she was still there because no project managers showed up to take her place. In a way, it was more painful than if he had yanked the project away from her. Didn’t he didn’t care she’d come back? Or he was so certain of his charisma, that he knew she’d do her best job?

She did her job but inside her stomach was a blizzard and she walked around in a cold daze. Last minute SNAFUs extended her two week estimation into three, then four but she just couldn’t shake the feeling of her intentions first thing thatwrongness. Cliff was gone. Though she didn’t want to, she missed him desperately.

Maybe she hadn’t walked away soon enough. [M1] 

Or maybe she simply hadn’t cut her ties completely enough. She’d come back to do her job, but it was  his company. He was everywhere, from the company pictures on the walls to the ghost of him at the half-dozen restaurants she frequented for lunch.

So obviously, she needed to make a clean break.

The Monday. “I’m leaving once after she’d made that decision she marched into John’s office. “We deliver the HCC300 is delivered, John.”  in two weeks. I’m leaving immediately after that.”

It was supposed to be a catharsis; instead it felt flat.

“But Cliff is expecting to talk with you when he gets back.  He’s very impressed with your work here, and I know he’d like you to stay.”


            “I wouldn’t like it.”


            “He “Not happening.”

John’s expression conveyed his sympathy. “He had to go, Vickie.”


            She was too depressed to be irritated by his deliberately calming tone.  He “I know he thought he did.”

“Look, I understand what you’re thinking.” , really I do.” He spread his hands in a gesture of appeal. “But there are some other thingsfactors you should know about.”

“Like how much profit he’ll make?” Vickie arched an eyebrow.


            “Oh, Vickie.  Personal profit is meaningless to Cliff, you know that. . But do you know how mucha lot of the company Cliff hasis wrapped up in this new HCC300? . This industry is so competitive. New products come in a blizzard. Cliff has been making machines now for six years, and he’s only introduced one new model since the first line. That’s not enough to remain in business long. He’s milking the cash cows for all they’re worth, but those cows are beginning to run dry.


            “So heHe absolutely must begin production of the HCC300. The big boys aren’t far behind us on the DALE chip; Cliff’s breakthrough was as much serendipity as genius.”

“Yes.” John had since learned the whole story from Tess, so there was no point in being secretive.  “Cliff knows what we went through; he was there.”


            John shook his head and sighed.  “Vickie, try to understand. “But you’re two people. Hawkesclyffe Computers employs over five thousand people worldwide. Cliff is ultimately responsible for those people’s jobs, their livelihood.  He hires only the best, and those people havelivelihoods. Without a right to expect Cliff to have their best interests in mind, too.profit, Cliff can’t do that. The DALE chip is best produced from the mix of sand, heat and minerals in Middle Yemen, and making it there will give us all a profit margin with room enough to breath. This was not an easy decision for him to make.”[M2] 


            “John, I know what you’re saying.  I realize all this; I’ve been thinking about it, too.  But I just can’t see any other way out of this.  I’m sorry.”  She had been betrayed.  By her own wishful thinking more than anything else, but she could never face Cliff again.


            “Look“John, I’m sorry. I understand and I even applaud Cliff for making the tough decisions. But I can’t live with the choice he’s made.” She turned to go.

“Wait, Vickie. When Cliff left, he had something else he was up to, something he wouldn’t tell me anything about.  On my honor, I don’t know what, but itIt may change your mind.  .”

She didn’t turn back. “I doubt it.”

Cliff is an honorable man, no matter what you may think. Will you agree to wait until he gets back before you leave? Hear him out, listen to his side of the story?  He’s due back soon.  You don’t have to leave as long as you’re on the payroll, after all.”?”


            Vickie sighed and shook her head.  John looked disappointed, but not surprised.  He would have a few weeks to work on it.


            “When he wouldn’t listen to mine? No.”

She left.

Within two weeks the project would be by and large complete, even the modifications adapting it from bank security system to a national defense network, needing only to be tied up and delivered. Vickie mechanically went through the motions, holding meetings here, negotiating contracts there. To most outward appearances, she was at the top of her form.  Only Tess could read the numbness behind the warm, crisp exterior.  She said as much during a sundae break.


            “Goodness,Tess called her on it during a sundae break. “You know, you’re acting as warm and efficient as always. But I can see the numbness in your eyes.”

“Eat. But it seems ages since we’ve been able to talk together, just the two of us.”

“Yeah, it has been a while. You know how it is, working for a certified genius like Cliff. Never a dull moment. Always on the go.” Vickie gave Tess her best smile.


            “How sparkly white your teeth are.” Tess dipped up glossy fudge. “Really contrasts with your dull red eyes. I suppose you have some great times working for the certified genius, huh? Must be nice.”

Vickie closed her annoyingly red eyes. “Pretty nice, yeah.”


            “Say, Vickie.  You know,“And the wall goes up. Vickie, I’m concerned, but if you won’t talk…well, I have a problem and you’re my best friend and I need to talk about it. Okay?”

“Of course.” Vickie opened her eyes. “You know I’m here for you.”

“Thanks.” Tess smiled briefly. “You know John and I, well, he asked me out a weekfew weeks ago. We had a terrific time, but and since they we’ve gone out some more.”

“Good for you!”

“But frankly, I’m also worried. You know how office politics are. I’d hate for the harpies to make a mess of us.  I know you’ve thought a lot about this, after Ron and all.  How do you suggest I play this one? And don’t tell me not to get involved; I’ve got a feeling this one’stime’s for keeps.”

For keeps.  VickieVickie’s heart squeezed the pain back.  At least someonein her chest. She breathed through it. Tess was happy.  She tried not to be a wet blanket, for the sake of her friend.  “Aha, so that’s what it is.  , that was the main thing. “I knew there was something up! Says right here in the rules ‘Tess does not buy sundaes unless there’s an ulterior motive.’ So, how serious is it?” [M4] 

“Serious enough to have me start looking into joint housekeeping.”

            “Why Tess, that’s wonderful.“Awesome! But you’re right to be concerned;  mixing your business and personal life is an open invitation to people like, if Mel Pinlow tofinds out he’ll make bothyour life miserable.” She thought briefly of Ron, then more painfully of Cliff. What advice could she give her friend? “Let me think about it, okay?”


            “Well, one of the problems“But isn’t there anything you’d never do again in an office romance? John and I are just starting out and I don’t want to screw it up.”

“No. Yes. Ron and I used to have was bringingwould bring our disagreementsfights into the office.  You know, a fight we started on Sunday verySunday’s personal disagreement often made its way into Monday’s memo and Tuesday’s meeting, although disguised as a business problem. I thought at the time that the solution was to completely separate my business and personal life.”[M5] 

“I remember. You said you’d never date a co‑worker again.”


            “I’m not so sure anymore, Tess.  I don’t think a person can separate their career and their home life without becoming slightly schizophrenic.” Vickie sighed wistfully. “You certainly can’t separate your feelings.”


            “So what“What can I do?”

“The only thing you think now?”


            “I think you have to staycan. Stay professional. Of course, there is some disagreement as to what is professional.”


            Tess considered.  “Well, I suppose it’s“Isn’t it ‘dress for success’, a go‑getter attitude, but keep your feelings to yourself. ? You know, like Mr. Spock selling used cars.”

Vickie smiled in spite of herself.  “That’s like saying anyone who“Yup, and if you can throw a tantrum you can be Toscanini[M6] .  No, I thinkOr maybe, just maybe a professional is someone who takes all the circumstances they can know into account and does theirthe best work possible under those circumstances.  A professional, if they’re not feeling well, tellsshe can with what she’s dealt. If you’re sick, tell the client ‘I’ve got a cold, I feel miserable, but what can I do for you.’


            “And dress for success?”

“Sizzle. You’ve got to sell the steak along with the sizzle.  Dress for success is the sizzle; a moronalongside. A monkey in a Brooks Brother’s suit will soon be found out for what they are. is still a monkey. I guess the bottom line here is you do your job like you’ve always done it, some times better.” , if you can.” Vickie shrugged. “The only difference is you drive home together.”

“But what about the rumor‑mongers? I don’t want people saying nasty things about John and me, especially if we have to work with them.”


            “Tess, the only“The kind of people who are going to do that—well, I don’t think you’d? Why care about their opinion anyway.”




            ? Do you remember how Mel always brown‑nosed around Jerry Fitzwater, then bad‑mouthed him behind his back?”


            “And not“Not just Jerry,”.” Tess frowned.

            “But I don’t think we have anyone “No one like that here at HHC.”


            Now“So you’re safe.”

“Sure.” Tess nodded, then looked shrewdly at her friend.  “I think you’re right, Vickie.  But I wonder if it’s really honest on your part.  This is quite a turn around from what you used to say.  What about“Despite Ron?”

“Ron?” Vickie blushed. “What aboutdoes Ron have to do with this?”

“When Ron broke your engagement andhe ran out on you, you swore a mighty oath you would never indulge in an office romance ever again. Now you’re saying it can be done. What changed your mind?”


            “Well, I’ve done a lot of thinking about it since then, a lot of maturing.”  She shrugged.


            “I’m more mature?” Vickie shrugged.

  “Lame, Vickie.  Out with it.”


            Vickie sighed.  winced. “I hate friends. Especially smart ones. Oh, this is not going to be easy.” She took the plunge. “Cliff did it. Cliff changed my mind..”


            “You see, before he left for Middle Yemen, well, we got to know each other better.  A lot better.  Among other things, “I knew it! All those late nights and working lunches.”

“And more.” Her cheeks heated. “Well, I broke down crying in front of him. I thought I was history, but that night he told mesaid some of the same things I’m telling you now.  And I started thinking about them.” .” She shook her head. “I don’t know how a man who is so smart can be so dumb.”

“You meanbroke up? But he’s perfect for you and Cliff are…both of you…”.”


            “Not any more.  “Tess, please. He’s smart, he’s sensitive, and I think I’mmay be in love, for life…but I just can’t hack his attitude of ‘business at any cost.’ It’s just too much like Ron. I can’t handle Cliff’s going back to Middle Yemen and dealingdoing business with that slime Fahrrad.  I just can’t.  How can he do that after what Fahrrad did to me, and knowing what Fahrrad will do to Middle Yemen?”So yes. We broke up.”

“I’m sorry.” Tess turned back to her sundae.



            Vickie felt bad for spoiling Tess’s good news. But she’d asked.

 [M1]Futzed some more on this since last week.
 [M2]Vickie making John's point for him doesn't make sense. John making the point while Vickie sticks to her guns does.
 [M3]POV issue, from deep 3rd in Vickie's head to Tess's head or omniscient
 [M4]As originally written, it was more an information dump in dialog format. I tried to make it more like two people with separate agendas. This whole couple chapters will take more work.
 [M5]And this was more like a lecture.
 [M6]I know 99% won't get this reference but my husband likes it :)
 [M7]This is a sample of where one "show" (Tess glared) is better than a ton of words.

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