Almost six months away, and I must say that Empyreal City looks almost good as new. Even the graffiti looks like it’s been redone, though that could be from recent gang shenanigans. You know those wacky gangs, with their crazy get rich quick schemes revolving around crack and meth. The gentrification programs probably forced a shakeup in territories. I intended to ask about that.
Ask who? My board, or at least the closest I have of a bunch of advisers for this phony business I cooked up. Except, seeing as I was looking out over the shiny new Empyreal City from a skyscraper I fucking own. I surveyed my domain from behind glass so thick, you’d think they cut it from a dumbass tree. Why would a dumbass tree naturally grow a substance made out of molten sand? Probably because it’s a dumbass tree. Tinted glass, too. No one needs to see me, and no one needs to snipe me.
I turned away from a view that included a few new and partially constructed buildings on the skyline to look back at the folks sitting around the conference table. I didn’t look anything like who they thought. I made a very pretty President, CEO, or whatever my official title was. “Ok, folks. I’m the boss. My name’s Norma Mortenson. I’ve been busy out of the country for some time now, but I’m back and it’s about time we get down to business. Carl here’s done an excellent job assembling y’all, so let’s go down the table and introduce ourselves.”
I took my hand off Carl’s shoulder and took my seat at the head of the place. He oggled me a little. It’s the female disguise. I know I’ve used it a bit lately, but those times in Europe were a bit more shallow.
I realized on my way back in town that I needed a way to hide that I was back. I’m going to be here for awhile, so I need to try and stay on the down low. I know, like that’ll happen, but at least I can try. Out of all the various guises, I realized my options were fairly limited as a civilian precisely because I’d shown up in a variety of shapes and colors. So this time, getting in touch with my feminine side serves a deeper purpose. It gives me a female alias that, if all goes well, heroes like Venus or Captain Lightning won’t think to trace back to me.
This is also why I didn’t bring Moai to the meeting.
Anyway, back to the board meeting. Carl introduced himself, of course. He’d settled on some sort of Vice President of Operations title, so I guess he’s been getting good advice from these people. Still, he didn’t quite fit in. The rest of us wore business attire. He had on a tie, white shirts, and slacks.
Next up came Ben, a Jewish man in a suit with curls hanging down on each side of his face like those more religious Jews use. He chewed a toothpick.“The Mafia accountant, right?” I asked, remembering Carl had mentioned that. I got awkward silence in return. Ben just sat there, hand stopped in the middle of stroking his graying soul patch
Finally, the hefty Italian man on the other side of Ben raised a hand over his head and its closely shaved dark hair, “Ahhhhh, that’s me. I’m Paul. This is ah, I guess you say, awkward. I ah worked with Ben in the Jewish Mafia.”
I nodded. “Nice to meet you Paul, sorry for the assumption Ben. What do you provide for our outfit, Ben?”
I overheard him mutter “Schmuck,” under his breath, just loud enough to be heard before he got around to the proper answer. “I’m ya head of security. I used to enforce in the Jewish Mafia.”
“I feel I need to ask what happened to this Jewish Mafia in case there’s a conflict of interest in town,” I spoke up.
Ben shook his head. “Oy, the Jewish Mafia isn’t around no more. Spinetingler cut us off at the head.” He pantomimed a throat slice.
Imagine that. A bunch of Jewish gangsters get cut off at the head. “We’ll get around to the force you’ll be working with in a moment, but only after we get around the table.”
Paul was indeed our accountant/CFO/bookkeeper, and he mentioned he knew a number of ways to help reinvest company funds to raise capital. He even had the name of this sure thing from a second cousin of his. I made a mental note to keep an eye on him for embezzlement and illegal gambling. If he keeps the gambling small-time, I shouldn’t have a problem. It’ll keep his embezzling under control. Though, if I also purchase his debt from his bookie, that’d be a handy way to turn it around and gain a profit.
I reckoned I’d need a lot of mental notes here. I wouldn’t have to try and find as much for them to do as happened with the Rejects, but I’d still need to keep track of their various quirks and how that relates to their jobs. Shasta turned out to be the head of our R&D, which she informed me meant she’d been babysitting a primadonna drug entrepreneur and a former IRA explosives expert who kept inventing innocuous-looking bombs. I let her know I’d be expanding her division in particular with the help of an outside contractor.
Marketing turned out to be a tanned, bleach blonde old wrestler who looked way too fit for his age. He said to call him Pom, short for Prince Pomerania. Now I remember the guy. I’ve seen some of his older matches where he used to come out with a robe and that same hair. Then, in the ’90s, they gave him a new look with long blonde hair and a snooty, aristocratic gimmick. He winced when I brought that up, apparently not a big fan of them calling him Double-P at the time. I can see why. Who, aside from an overly-amorous French skunk, wants to be known as PP?
His ad campaign ran into something of a snafu when it went up against another hungry rival for Empyreal City. Russ McLanahan, a former boss of Pom’s, has decided to expand his business again with his own Heel Cafes. Heel Cafe: have a good day being bad. McLanahan was an inconsistent man with what ideas he pushed, but always dangerous with us trying to grow in Empyreal City. We had no name recognition, but he had an international army of wrestling fans primed and ready to give anything he tried a shot.
The head of our Human Resources department appeared to be a nervous young man with a tie not on quite straight. He looked pale and freckled, like a ginger with black hair. When he told me his name was Festus, I immediately realized that he hadn’t spent even an hour in jail. Which is just wrong. At the very least, he should have murdered his parents for call him Festus and then gotten some experience in the big house.
He was more of a figurehead anyway, because it sounds like Carl had been doing his job for him.
Rounding out our group was another woman, who kept checking her phone and tablet for new messages. She had stunning bright orange hair to go with the pale skin and freckles of a ginger. It’s a lovely look. Genae, which is pronounced like Jenny but spelled like Forrest Gump wrote it, had been placed in charge of our sales department, marketing our products to other stores and the internet. She didn’t have a lot to do, but she was frantically scrambling around to do what she did have. It mostly involved electronics, car parts, and overpriced coffee beans. Nobody wanted too much of what we got, so she was trying to bust some skulls metaphorically.
The thing about skulls is they bust much easier literally than metaphorically. That might be something to put Paul’s crew on, though it would be a delicate matter. Teddy Roosevelt once said a man should talk softly but carry a big stick. This is, of course, for shoving the stick right up the ass of anyone who doesn’t want to talk softly. Most people prefer talking, and while words can never hurt anyone, I’m fully prepared to use the sticks and stones if needed to make us popular nationwide, and perhaps overseas. Chances are I could swing something in Isla Tropica, Australia, and a few places in Europe.
Japan probably isn’t going to like me enough at this point. That just goes to show that even I can’t get a happy ending in Japan.
“Well, this has been an extremely informative meeting,” I told them all once they introduced themselves. “I am Norma Mortenson, like I said. Some of you may suspect I’m not what I appear to be, and that’s fine. Try not to upset the ones who don’t suspect anything. For the ones who don’t suspect anything…good job.” I gave them all a smile and wink.
I continued, “I’m the owner, president, CEO, and so on. I’m the money, and I’ve got a direction for us now that I’m in town. Over the next month or so, I’ll be meeting with your various departments to get to know them and see what I can do to solve the problems you’re all facing at the moment. Carl did a good job while I was away, but I may be shaking up the current departments when I have a better idea what things are like. Suffice it to say, we’re all here to make money by hook or by crook, and that’s all this is about. I also welcome all suggestions,” here I noticed nervous little Festus glance at my chest area, “…provided they don’t involve me without my clothes. Anyone have a suggestion?”
Genae spoke up. “You need an assistant.”
I glanced at Carl, but she spoke again before I said anything. “Don’t take this the wrong way, but not the Veep. You need someone to take your calls, schedule your appointments, and help you keep up with the going-ons.”
Amidst the repetition of the words “Sell out,” running through my head and a sudden disappointment that I’d made the windows too unbreakable to throw myself, or perhaps someone else, out them, I realized it made a certain amount of sense.
I glanced at Festus. “I’m on it!” he blurted out.
“Easy there. Let’s keep the seat dry, fella. See what you can do for me. Preferably someone who doesn’t mind being involved in criminal endeavors. Like someone who is so desperate for a job, they’ll take anything.”
He pulled out his phone and tapped the screen a few times. “I think I know some philosophy majors…”
I waited to leave last, along with Carl. I had a few ideas brewing already on how to use them all. “Ahem…Carl.” I glanced over at him. He’d reached over and put his hand on my chest.
“I thought you were a hologram, but I didn’t feel any metal,” he sheepishly responded.
I raised an eyebrow and flicked my dark chocolate hair back over my shoulder. “I’m still the same bastard you know, in a prettier package. This time, they’ll never see me coming.” I jutted my chest forward and pointed into the sky. With my hand, perverts. “Breast. Disguise. Ever!”