CHAPTER 22: HISTORY, MISERY AND COMPANY
Cynthia and Marcie were still working diligently on the files in Brian’s office. Marcie had already typed up her letter of resignation, effective immediately, and put her keys on Gardner’s desk.
“Are you still sure you don’t want to work the two weeks?” Cynthia asked. “It might give you firsthand insight to the inner-workings of Lindsay Peterson.”
“I’m thoroughly well-versed in Peterson logic from watching her mother over the years. And although her sister, Lynette, used to swan around like her shit don’t stink, she was still much more tolerable than her mother was, and than I suspect her sister is, too. It’s going to be a shame not to be able to watch Gardner get hoisted by his own petard though.”
“I’ll be sure to record it, since I’ll still be here for a few weeks. Like I said, I know Lindsay, but…”
“What the fuck is that?!” Marcie screamed, immediately grabbing a stapler from Brian’s desk.
“I don’t know,” Cynthia uttered, grabbing the coat rack in the corner. She looked over to Marcie, shaking her head. “Really, Marcie? Garbage can, office chair, and letter opener, but you grab a stapler?” She couldn’t help the chuckle which escaped her.
Marcie dropped the offensive item and grabbed the letter opener. “No need to poke fun.”
“Oh there was every need, but right now we’ve got to figure out who the hell is out there. You didn’t tell anyone we were coming in today, right?”
“Of course not. The element of surprise is always best and Gardner is too cheap to pay for security on the weekends.”
“You don’t think it’s him, do you?”
“Not likely. He likes to pretend he’s some fucking millionaire during his down time. My guess is he’s either lazing about and fucking some money-grubbing tart, or at the club, schmoozing. Not even his attorney is allowed to contact him on the weekends, which is quite stupid considering he’s going through another divorce.”
“More fool him. But in the meantime, we need to see who’s out there.”
“You’re the one with the bigger weapon, Xena Warrior Princess.”
“Good point,” Cyn concurred as they moved towards Brian’s office door.
Creeping along the halls, they stopped at each open office door, jiggling the door handles of those that were closed, and then finally becoming satisfied that there was nothing amiss. Or at least they thought they did, until they heard the rattling within the confines of the Art Department. The massive space had two entrances- one leading out to the floor’s lobby, which they were currently standing in, and the other leading towards the breakroom. Cynthia gave the silent signal for Marcie to make her way to the furthest entrance as she progressed towards the main door. Placing the coat rack down gently with a small thump, she held up her fingers giving the 1,2,3 signal before she and Marcie entered the space.
“No fucking way,” the intruder uttered, as he angrily sifted through papers with his back facing the main door. “There is NO WAY I’m working with or for that entitled bitch! Aha! Found you, you fucker!”
“MURPHY?! WHAT THE FUCK, MAN!” Cynthia yelled at the startled man, causing him to drop the sheaf of papers he held triumphantly in his hand. “Do you know I could have fucked you up?! Marcie was about ready to stab your ass! What are you doing here?”
Murph looked up. “What am I doing here? What are you two doing here?! And what’s with the Xena and Gabrielle routine?”
“You first!” Marcie demanded, laying the letter opener on the table.
“Did you know?” He asks, looking at Cynthia accusingly.
“I just got a call from your boss- I refuse to claim him as mine- ordering me to get my ass into the office to clear out a workspace for the harridan known as Lindsay Peterson. No fucking way am I working with her!”
“Well we figured he might do something like this considering he bailed her out of jail last night,” Marcie said to Cynthia, rolling her eyes and shaking her head. Just another case of a bald-headed, walking dick, thinking with his dick.
“Last night? What the… you know what, start at the beginning and leave nothing out!”
For the next half hour, Marcie and Cynthia fill Murphy in on what has been happening since yesterday. He knew about the civil suits; always asking how Brian and Justin were holding up and if there was anything he could do for them. His countenance became darker and darker as he was brought up to speed on Lindsay and her antics. He wasn’t well-versed in WASP, but he knew a guttersnipe when he saw one.
“So what do you want to do?” Cyn asked him.
“I’ll be honest and say that my first inclination is to do as Marcie has and tender my resignation, effective immediately. It’s no secret that I can’t stand that tramp and haven’t been able to for years. However, I see the merit in staying put, at least until Brian gets back from Florida. If I know Lindsay, she’s going to be looking for allies.”
“She’ll have a department full of them here once you leave,” Marcie advised.
“True. But she’ll also need to secure them before I go. And it’s not because of the position she’ll most likely obtain once I get out of here, but because she needs spies in the Art Department that Justin and I will be building. Staying here for an additional few weeks will give me an idea about who she’ll use.”
“If she was smart, she would hire someone off the street,” Cyn said.
“Fact, but she isn’t, even though she thinks she is.” Murph answered smugly. “Besides, that would take too much time and she’s lazy. Finding the right artist will take time that they can’t afford. Better to go with someone who has worked with Brian before, and they’ll definitely look in-house for that reason. It’s what I would do. When does he want to be up and running?”
“Within the next two or three weeks,” Cynthia answers.
“Really? That soon?”
“Yes. Justin’s mother is already working on the office space, and has a contractor already on board. They have a few big name clients who under no circumstances will work with the bald bastard who's running this sinking ship. And there's one interested in meeting with them when they've all finished dealing with Mel's situation. Because of Brian's reputation, and a good word from George Schickle, Leo Brown is willing to wait a few weeks."
"Indeed," Cynthia agreed. She could still hardly believe it herself. He was notorious for not wanting to switch companies, but now she knew exactly why. He hates Ryder, and the same goes for Vance due their personalities, and their continued association with the Hobbs family. He was clearly a man with good taste! She cleared her throat of the chuckle threatening to burst forth at her wayward thoughts. "I know Brian and Justin will be working on the campaign while they're away. So don't be surprised if you get a call at home about it. ”
“Oh, that reminds me!” Murph exclaims. Moving over to the window, he motions for them to follow him. “I thought that Justin could use this. The computer has already been upgraded with the latest programming and equipment, but here’s the best part…”
He turned on the computer, allowing it to warm up. He loaded several programs while gathering the necessary supplies for a demonstration. Pulling up the original template of the Liberty Air campaign, he picked up the stylus pen sitting next to it and began to make modifications directly onto the screen. Marcie, but especially Cynthia, watched in amazement as Murph used several of the programs to make one comprehensive campaign.
“May I try?” Cyn asked.
“Sure,” he answered, handing the delicate object over to her.
“Wow! It’s really lightweight and responsive. Hardly requires any pressure at all.”
“That’s what I love about it and why it will be good for Justin.”
“How much would a computer like this cost?”
“About six grand apiece, mostly because of the state of the art programming. It also has the capability to use CGI technology, which is still in its trial and error phase. But the thing I love most about the software is that it upgrades itself until a new license comes out. It makes it really convenient, especially when we have to work under the pressure of deadlines. It upgrades overnight for about four hours. I have this one set to upgrade from three until seven in the morning, which is when I’m finally asleep and then on my way to work. By the time I get here, there aren’t any delays.”
“Are all of the computers here like this?”
“No. The only one like this is mine within my office, and you two are the only ones to know that. When I leave, I’ll switch it back to the rinky-dink model everyone else here uses. Ryder, and now Gardner, are both too cheap and too greedy to upgrade the system here.”
“Can I order it from the manufacturer like this?”
“Already done! In fact, I was going to give it to Justin when he got back, but I think he could use it now.”
“I think it will be a great distraction for him,” Cynthia said.
“But more than that, he starts PIFA soon. Imagine their surprise if not only is his wrist stronger, but they can’t rescind his admission based on his injury,” Marcie says excitedly.
“What? How do you know they were planning to do that?”
“Hobbs Senior’s younger brother is on the board and has already started a campaign to rescind Justin's admission based on his 'accident'. So far Schickle is the only one openly opposing him, while the rest are trying to wait until the semester starts before making a decision.”
“Does Brian know?” Murph asked.
“I don’t know, but it could affect Justin’s internship prospects next year. Did you know that he was not only accepted to Mellon, but has been taking art classes for six weeks in the summer since his ninth grade year? It’s why PIFA had no choice but to accept him. He’s already going in as a first-semester Sophomore. It will actually look bad if they withdraw his admission at this stage. In fact, Calvin Hobbs would do well to drop the matter, although I suspect he won’t and Justin could very well have another lawsuit if the board follows his lead.”
“How do you know so much?” Murph asked Marcie.
“I only use my WASP powers for good.”
“Murph, does it come in a laptop variation?” Cynthia asked, an idea already forming in her mind.
“Yes, but it’s still in pre-production. I’m scheduled to test the prototype out next week.”
“Do you think they would be willing to have another opinion?”
“I can ask them. Hold on a few minutes,” he said as he pulled out his cell phone to call the director of the program. After a few moments, he asked, “Do you know when they will be back from Florida?”
Cynthia answered, “Not off hand. The situation with Mel’s father…”
“I know. Let me find out what they are prepared to do about it.” He went back to negotiating on Justin’s behalf over the phone. By the time he hung up, he had a huge smile on his face. “The company is more than willing to let Justin test it out and give them feedback. I was surprised that they knew of his situation and were already thinking about contacting him.
"The model they will send him not only has these programs in them, and the software to be tested, they are also putting in a voice command function they have been working on. They want to offer him a consultant position, which is what I am for their company. The home-based programs I get for free, but the business models, I pay for, and am able to write it off as a business expense for my logo design company. If Justin agrees, they will pay him the standard consultation fee.”
“Sounds good to me. Besides, imagine Lindsay’s face when she discovers that Justin is not the gold-digging tramp she proclaimed him to be. Even without his inheritance, Justin is beyond well-off just from winning his cases. Now add a consultant to a major corporation, who just happens to provide the software to the Graphic Arts departments at both Carnegie Mellon, PIFA, and a host of other schools… well sabotaging Justin and Brian definitely won’t be as easy as little Ms. Piranha Twat is anticipating,” Marcie pointed out.
They laughed. “Let me call UPS and have this overnighted to their hotel. Murph, you have one for yourself?” Cyn asked.
“I have a total of four. The one I’m giving Justin is from my second home office.”
“Why that many?”
“I can’t tell you how long I’ve been hoping that Brian made this move. He promised that if he ever decided to strike out on his own, I was coming with him. He said it in jest, but I’d always taken it seriously and I know he doesn’t lie. After Ryder’s last stunt to pass Brian over for partner, to me it was only a matter of time. So I’ve been buying one every few months over the last year. The licenses have to be upgraded yearly so I figured if Brian ever got his ass in gear and opened his own agency, he’d be equipped for at least four artists already, myself included.” He clapped and rubbed his hands in glee. “Oh, I can’t wait to see the look on Gardner’s face when he realizes what’s happening.”
“Me neither!” Cyn exclaimed as she picked up her phone to dial. “By the way, we need to call the team together, Murph.”
“Team?” Marcie asked.
“Yes. There are only a few people from each department within Vanguard that Brian will work with. I think they should be told what’s happening from beginning to end.”
“They should,” Murph concurred. “If Brian Kinney walks, we all do.”
“You all have such loyalty to him. How were Ryder and Vance unable to see that?” Marcie asked in amazement.
“Besides his track record being a sure bet, Brian is brilliant! But more than that, he’s determined, and in various ways, every single one of us was promoted to the positions we now hold because of him. Had he not taken a chance on me, I would have still been just an artist in a sea of artists, and my dual degree would still only be partially being utilized. But I was outside at lunch one day, not realizing that Brian was looking over my shoulder at the artwork I was creating for a campaign he was working on. Under normal circumstances, it would have never been seen, because of the arrogant bastard running the department at the time. But Brian walked right into the Executive Offices where Ryder and the other partners were meeting and told them that either he had me on the campaign, or they could take their chances on winning it without him. Since the account was worth billions, they weren’t willing to take the chance that Brian would make good on his promise to walk away from it. Ryder was pissed at Brian’s audacity and voted against his demand, but the other partners outvoted him three to one. So here I am.”
“It happened that way for many of us,” Cynthia told her.
“I’ll make the calls, Cyn. Where are we meeting?”
“I’ll call Jennifer and George to find out where. Still sure you don’t want to stay and watch the fireworks, Marcie?”
She chuckled. “I’ll let you know.”
Emmett arrived at the coffee shop. After much debate with himself, he decided that he could forego the new gossip today in favor of peace of mind. He was exceptionally happy when both Ted and Vic agreed to meet here instead of at HoneyGrass, where he just knew Michael would look for them when they didn’t show up at the Diner. Making his way through the crowd after he ordered a cup of coffee, he spotted Jennifer over at the corner table, talking to another elegant woman, who must surely be Gardner Vance’s soon to be ex-wife.
“Well good almost-afternoon, Ladies,” he greeted.
“Emmett!” Jennifer said excitedly, accepting the kiss to her cheek from the tall man. “I thought we were meeting at two.”
“We were- or still are, would be more accurate. I just decided to come here today instead of the Diner. After last night’s episode of ‘Idiot Man’, I just couldn’t take hearing the latest litany from the captain of the whine express.”
“Well first, let me introduce you to my friend, and then you can fill us in on what happened after your phone call last night. Constance, this is Emmett Honeycutt. He’s the man you have to thank for the heads-up about Gardner’s latest concubine.”
Emmett snickered. “Quite a proper term for what she is, eh Jenn?”
“Well, I do try to be nice when talking about other people’s litter… oops, I meant to say, children.”
Emmett laughed outright. “Honey, I think Brian has been rubbing off on you. I like it! Ms. Constance, it’s a pleasure to make your acquaintance.”
“Likewise, Emmett. And thank you for the information. It’s certainly going to come in handy when I speak to my brother later today. He’s my attorney, and based on the fact that Gardner is bedding the clone of Nancy Peterson, he should have a lot of fun with this. He just happens to be Ron’s attorney. Jennifer, did you know that?”
“No, I didn’t. But I think Melanie should be told.”
“Mel? Why?” Emmett asked.
“Just in case Lindsay decides to use him at her mother’s behest to try to milk Melanie dry.”
“He’s one of the best divorce and civil union attorneys in the state. The only one better is…”
“Melanie Marcus!” Emmett gasped. “Well as I live and breathe, Lindsay is going to bust her girdle when she finds that out. Do you know how much she used to harangue Mel for not taking on a larger or more high-profile caseload? It used to burn my biscuits to hear how she would literally harass Mel about it. I wanted so badly to tell her to go find another job if Mel wasn’t making enough money for her!”
“Well she’ll indeed have a whole lot to regret in just a few short weeks,” Jennifer confirmed. “I think Justin has her just about convinced to join Kinnetik’s legal team and to go into practice for herself. Word has gotten around about what she did for me regarding Craig, Brian, and Justin. She’s fast becoming one of the premier lawyers within the country club set, which can only mean more business for her. But working for Donaldson, he would take over half of what she makes on the case, simply because she’s an attorney with his law firm.”
Emmett nodded. “I know that Shavonne and Charles were talking to her about it during one of the recesses yesterday. The only reason Donaldson isn’t charging her the commission for Justin’s case is because it would look petty, considering all of the work that went into the civil cases. Even Donaldson was pissed at what Judge Russo did. So what is she going to do about untangling her assets or the lack thereof from Lindsay’s? You and I both know she’s not going to let Melanie go without trying to extract every single penny she can.”
“Ted’s working on it, but with Aurora Kelly’s help, she’s already begun the process. Since it’s solely Melanie’s name on everything, and between her and Ted, they keep extremely accurate records, I think Lindsay will actually end up owing Melanie money if she makes a big stink about what she actually has.”
“By the way, did you hear that Ronald only left Nancy’s original contribution to their marriage in the joint account?” Constance says. She was absolutely fascinated by the woman who had spent over ten years with Lindsay Peterson, and to find out just how greedy and conniving she really is. The first rule of war is to know thy enemy, and Constance was receiving quite the education between Jennifer and Emmett.
“How much was it?” Jennifer asked.
“Only six thousand. She was caterwauling outside her daughter, Lynette’s house last night just before you called me. I guess she must have forgotten that, as with every neighborhood, there is nosiness and gossip. She caused quite the scene.”
“Oh, that’s right! You live on Sherbrooke Drive now.”
“Yes, and it’s usually such a peaceful area. So when the barracuda upset the peace, you better believe we were all listening, and then started investigating for ourselves. As for me, I just called the source of her current misery. Ronald was all too happy to tell me the whole story. Lindsay Peterson isn’t who she thinks she is…”
Jennifer gasped at the implication of Constance’s words. “You don’t mean…”
“Mathers the father, and now she’s doing the son. Well her, and half the other bored housewife population of our set. It should be very interesting when Nathan finds out that he’s been traveling the same well and overused road his father has. I guess Nancy won’t be fucking any more favors out of him.”
“Jennifer and Constance, I could be wrong but… well I think he should be told,” Emmett suggested.
“Ordinarily, I would say ‘no’, Emmett. It’s more useful to hang this type of information in the bank until it’s absolutely needed,” Constance said. “But I think you are right.”
“It’s just… well, it’s just that if Lindsay is about to make a move, and although she escaped jail for Child Endangerment and Neglect, she won’t want Gus back at this juncture.”
“What makes you so sure?”
Jennifer smiled grimly. “Gus didn’t serve his ultimate purpose for Lindsay. In fact, he’s pretty much outlived his usefulness. Her endgame was to bring Brian to heel. Instead, he’s panting after my son, and happy to be so. What do either of you want to bet that come Monday morning, she’ll want to appeal to a certain judge, who I’m sure that she knows her mother is sleeping with. I don’t even want to think of how she would convince him to do her bidding should he choose to balk at first.”
“EW! Ew! Ew! EWWWWWWwww! Jennifer, you can’t say shit like that when I’m about to eat or drink! Just the thought of Lindsay in anything but a nun’s habit is enough to turn my stomach, especially after what I witnessed outside of the precinct last night. But now the thought of what she would do to her half brother in exchange for his cooperation… Oh God, please be some Drano! It will certainly taste better than the bile clawing its way up my esophagus. Now my coffee isn’t going to taste right!”
Jennifer and Constance laughed hard at Emmett’s rant. The man was always entertaining, but when he was near hysterics it was completely indescribable. “Calm down, Emmett. I promise to temper my speech while we’re together this afternoon so you won’t have any more waking nightmares,” Jennifer said, still laughing.
“Good, but…” He was interrupted by his phone ringing. “Hey, Mel. No, Teddy isn’t with me, but… Oh my God, are you sure? Yeah, ummm, let me see if I can move some things around and I’ll let you know, okay?” He hung up the phone. “I can’t believe it!”
“What? What’s happened, Em?” Jennifer asked, suddenly concerned and scared to death by turns.
Emmett looked at her still in shock until he saw the panic flit across her face. He grabbed her hand, immediately apologizing. “Oh, Sugar, I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to scare you, it’s just…. So fucking unbelievable, and yet not.”
“What? What is?” Constance asked, holding onto Jennifer’s other hand.
“That Melanie has a twin brother… and his name is Brian Kinney.”
“WHAT?!” came the screeching voice they all dreaded to hear. And then Michael fainted, hitting his head on the corner of the table, knocking himself out.
“Well, that’s one way to shut him up. Now only if it knocked some fucking sense into him… otherwise, I might hit him with the table again when he wakes up!” Emmett rolled his eyes at the unconscious man. The fact that he was in the coffee shop had Em feeling stalked, and for that reason alone, he was tempted to wake him up only to knock him out again. “I’ll call the manager to move him to the back office or something, and then I think we should get out of here. But where are we going to go?”
“I think I have just the place,” Jennifer pulled her cell phone out as Emmett signaled one of the baristas. “Hello, Uncle George. We have a couple of meetings today, but how would you like to save yourself a trip downtown until later? Good! We’re gathering up some of the troops and we’ll be there within half an hour. We need to get away from the screeching and whirling dervish named Michael Novotny before you have to bail Emmett out of jail. Although with the mood he’s in, he’ll probably beat the hell out of Bubba, so let’s just keep him out of the orange… no one looks good in orange.”
“Nope! Now tangerine, on the other hand…” Emmett cut in.
“Ever the queen!” They all laughed as they exited the cafe.