Turns out there’s a perfectly good reason why I pay money to Ben Rayman, head of security. I hadn’t really spent any time managing his end of things, so he assembled his own group of armed security experts on his own discretion. I guess you could also call them Loss Prevention Experts. And I sent them out to prevent the loss of my life by kidnapping that telepath.
Fortune Cookie didn’t want me personally involved, so I went and visited his friend, Paul Mazzo. The guy heading up our accounting had an amazing office, I’ll give him that. It was like a big pen with a ring of TV screens and computer monitors around the central desk area. I expected to see people rushing around making a big hub bub, but the noise level wasn’t quite as loud as movie cliches led me to expect. Along with keeping track of the stock market and other companies, several of the screens showed sporting events. I guess they needed quiet to keep up with commentary.
Paul sat in a comfy-looking padded chair, facing a screen that showed sumo wrestlers colliding. He typed away at a laptop that sat on platform swivel-mounted to one arm. Without looking at me, he said, “I didn’t expect to see you here. You chose a hell of a time. Couldn’t you come during the week when nobody’s playing anything? I got a lot riding on this weekend.”
I raised an eyebrow. “Are you sure it’s just you? It’s awfully hard to find any information about the corporate accounts in the network, except for it drawing a steady stream from the main account. I know you’ve been involved in organized crime, but come on, you aren’t hiding anything from me, are you?”
I tapped a finger on the TV, wondering how much a disarming personalty and pair of boobs would get me.
“Nah, don’t bother. It’s numbers. It’s too much for you to keep track of, princess.” The match ended and he sent the TV off to another channel with a tap of the keyboard. Smart TV. I checked around to find they all were. He continued, “I got money in a lot of places, and I know what I’m doing. That’s all you need to be concerned with.”
Geez, girls. I went to all the trouble to design these things jiggling around on my chest and this is how they repay me? This boobtrayal cannot stand!
I nodded and crossed my arms. “Really now? That’s how you’re going to answer the boss?”
Mazzo looked up from his laptop. “You don’t like it, sweety, you go ahead and fire me and try to find your money that way.” He laughed. Meanwhile, the only noise to be heard on the entire floor seemed to be the monitors. Everyone watched to see how this would play out. I even noticed that many of the men and women around slowly sliding away from us.
I smiled. “I already know where my money’s at. It’s being bet on horses and dogs. You lost some of it in Atlantic City the other day. It disappears and reappears after a few days when you’ve collected on the winnings. Or it buys some new place for your sister out in Flushing and another bet pays off. You know, you’re going to look back on this conversation and laugh hysterically. And pee yourself.”
“Oh honey, don’t threaten me. I go to the cops, I could send you away until you’re an old hag.”
I stepped over in front of his TV and turned it off. “So much for Sicilian honor about squealing.”
Paul pushed the platform aside and stood up, showing off his bulky physique. “You’re not Sicilian. You’re some crime lord’s trust fund princess who thinks she can run a company. ‘Cept you spent months traveling the world, buying up coffee shops and garage an’, an’, an’ old labs nobody gives a fuck about! You want to sell peg legs but you don’t got anything but frappucino. You don’t know what you’re doing and you’re going to fail. This is ridiculous, so I’m going to make what money I can before the ship sinks. Be thankful I’m bringing in enough to keep you going while you spend money on exploding Post-Its.” He threw his hands up and turned around, as if expecting a cheer from his compatriots.
Every monitor flickered off around us, computers included. The lights all went off as well, bathing us in darkness despite the bright day outside. Paul started to say something, but I was louder. Much louder. I opened my mouth wide and let out a wail that pierced the brain of everyone around and shut down motor control temporarily. Everyone collapsed as one. Everyone but me. “Whew,” I said afterward, coughing a little, “That really does take it out of me. Well, not as much as it takes out of y’all, huh? I installed my safeguards myself. Well, I had some help. Speaking of.”
I took a moment to reach out to the secondary phone line in my penthouse. After a few rings, it picked up. Without talking where the accountants could hear, I spoke to Moai, “I need you down in accounting. Bring a bag of some sort. A big, strong one. This guy’s a little hefty. I have to sack someone.”
I sat down on a nearby desk in the darkness. “I didn’t mind a little bit of embezzling, but you were really committed to it. Hey, even the bit about betting on fixed sporting events wasn’t too bad. When I came down here, the main way I would have handled your backtalk was just to find out what you were betting on, bet against you, and then rig things the other way. But I’m afraid I don’t like you. I don’t know who I’ll get to replace you, but I don’t like you and that’s enough for me. Neat trick with the scream, huh? Couldn’t always do that, either. I know, a woman with the ability to scream until she gets her way. The implications are about as bad as a Sicilian named Paulie or the fat guy being the bad guy. Well, a bad guy. But it wouldn’t be real life if something didn’t happen to make you go ‘Who writes this shit?’ right?”
“No, don’t worry. You’ll all recover. It’s just that our friend Mr. Mazzo here is going to be fired. See? I’m not that bad of a boss. Taking a bit for the help to get here, though. I’d have asked for security, but they’re busy right now. Anyone mind if I listen to a bit of music while we wait?”
Nobody objected, so I turned on the monitor ring and put on “Bathory Erzsebet” by Sunn O))). Yes, that’s a band name. I kinda felt more like some Brocas Helm instead, but their music is faster and better for pumping someone up. But when you’re sitting in the dark surrounded by the paralyzed bodies of people who need to be shown their place, it’s fun to mess with them a bit.
“Are you about ready to laugh hysterically yet, Paul?” I asked loud enough to be heard over the droning guitars and sound of a claustrophobic singer yelling from inside a locked coffin.
They had begun stirring when the elevator dinged.
We took Paul up to a section of the roof not quite to where it ended. One of the roofs before you get to the very top. I had a very special side project there to show him. Well, I couldn’t really show him, since he Moai carried him along in a large trash bag. “Ta da! Here is just one of the new things I’m working on! A roof cannon! Just think of the possibilities, Paul. Annoying superheroes flying too close? Frustrating day at the office? Annoyed that the CEO across the street has a better naked woman statue than you?” Moai nodded at that one, but I don’t think Paul was listening, not with all that squirming.
“Moai, get his attention for me?”
Moai dropped the bag, eliciting a groan from Paul.
“Good job,” I said with a nod.
“A cannon? What are you doing? You said you were firing me!” Paul asked, muffled by the bag.
I reached over and checked the firing console to confirm everything was loaded and ready to fire. “That’s exactly what I’m going to do, Paul.”
He tried to fight as Moai loaded him in the barrel, but that didn’t get him anywhere. He might as well have banged his head against a brick wall. I aimed for the water. We were a long way from water. “I wish you the best of luck in your future endeavors, Paul.” With a boom, Paul and the shell he’d been stuffed in after flew through the air. I did indeed hope Paul did well since I hoped to see if I could get him to skip.
I missed, instead hitting a bus that had something about an orphanage written on the side. I didn’t have time to read the whole thing because it was passing over a bridge at the time and the hit from Paul knocked it into the water.
But, ya know, I’m cool with that. It’s got a nice symmetry to it. First the parents, then the kids. No loose ends. Besides, you know how often orphans grow up to be superheroes? I probably saved myself a buttload of trouble a decade or two in the future. Fucking orphans. Lucky bastards with no families singing embarrassing birthday songs and no need to buy Mother’s Day presents. They shouldn’t get all the easy breaks in life!
Except me, of course. It’s not hypocrisy when I do it, remember?
“Okily dokily, Moai. Let’s go figure out who is the new CFO and have them check on our insurance policies. Paul didn’t give me a chance to explain that some of them might get by these ‘random’ bombings that are happening. And let’s see about getting a fake shed or greenhouse out here. Something to hide this thing.”
Not only did I indeed convince my new CFO, Chain Kavin, or K. Chain. It’s an awesome name, but the fellow is surprisingly not a badass biker. Just a balding Indian-looking fellow with a mortgage, a wife, and, until recently, a pretty big debt to some Paul Mazzo.
In more good news, it turns out my guys got their telepath, though it looks like Fortune Cookie may not have been completely accurate on that body count business. A very irate Ben the Head of Security called me up to inform me he thinks four of his guys got pinched or worse when The Saurus showed up, fully healed. I’m not sure how a T-rex just suddenly shows up out of nowhere and gets the drop on people, but he only managed to get away with half the van they were driving. He saw one of the hidey hole garages and knew he could go to ground there.
That’s something to keep an eye on. It wouldn’t do to have a mole in my organization. Because then, I’d have to play Whack-A-Mole. And trust me, y’all don’t want to see me whacking animals. For starters, I’d have to charge y’all a subscription.