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Discussion in 'The Lounge' started by oxrageous, Feb 8, 2016.
Pasty, make sure to incorporate Claire in there at some point. Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
The three men took turns punching in codes and accessing the retinal scanner. When this process was completed, the large heavy door of the corporate vault swung open. They wheeled the strong box into the spacious vault chamber and set to work on the periodic review of the vault’s contents as well as the permanent storage of what was inside the strongbox. Douglas French, the 72-year old son of EDRs founder was the first to speak. “What’s in the strongbox this time?” French asked. “Computer code. It’s part of the Wood chipper virus/antivirus project.” Arthur Penn, EDRs other senior trustee replied. Hillbridge cringed a little. He didn’t like the fact that these men knew about the Wood Chipper program. He liked it even less that they were willing to mention it so easily. The men carefully placed the contents of the strongbox; a small electronic drive and a large notebook, into the fireproof cabinet. Penn and Hillbridge began looking through some of the rest of the cabinets as French sat down at the long mahogany conference table inside the vault and watched. Hillbridge had been blessed with a photographic memory for as far back as he could remember. Among other things, it made the high levels of success he’d achieved in his academic career possible. His mother had recognized this early in him and had deemed him special from that point on. Anyone who denied this was summarily brow-beaten. She conveyed her sense of ambition for the boy, as well as the entitlement it would bring him, to Hillbridge as he progressed through his schooling. This drive never left him for a moment. He was singularly focused on success from an early age. Playtime, friends, and normal childhood pursuits were eschewed for the never ending and never fulfilled pursuit of his mother's love, affection, and approval. This experience of childhood left him incapable of feeling the human emotion of love when he became an adult. Even his children were deprived of small affections and attention. He often wondered what all the fuss was about when he noticed excitement over babies and birth announcements. His loveless marriage remained stable, as he frequently spoke of the importance of this as a partnership to his wife, Karen. There were no doubts about who was calling the shots and he liked it that way. She knew there were consequences if she didn’t agree to his strict standards and she generally complied. As Hillbridge flipped through the records in the vault, he did what he could to codify in his brain the images of the documents he was viewing. He had used memorization techniques - party tricks really- to remember and classify the data he’d taken over the years. In quiet moments, he often marveled at the enormously untapped potential of what lie within the vault. It could crush men and movements, destroy societies, and tip, in a manner of speaking, the axis of the earth. Anson Hillbridge felt an immense and overwhelming joy when he thought of all that. The smile that would appear in these moments was sincere and real, and was probably the only true emotion to ever be revealed on his face.
I like how Ray Finkle has a file.
Herb spent the better part of the afternoon staring at the blue, patterned wall of his cubicle and tapping a pen on his desk. Nothing added up here. Why would a hot-shot company like FasCorp be held in a trust controlled by a hog-farming couple? Who hired the astounding number of employees they had in such a short period of time? Why did he suddenly give a ****? He’d been bored for what seemed like an eternity in this job. He couldn’t remember the last time he was actually interested in a case. He smiled a little, he was actually happy that Donald Estelle had given him this case. He wasn’t sure why, but he was up for sinking his teeth into it. He had done some more digging after his chat with Steve. This was Bizarrro world. Doe Run Missouri has population of 387 people. Jeremiah Halton, he discovered, is a ****ing Freemason. His wife has no information on her. They have a son, Abel, who would be 33. No information on him. Good God. It’s like the death star is being controlled by Dorothy’s Auntie Em and Uncle Henry. Herb’s gaze went from the wall to the clock. “It’s 5:30 on Friday” he thought. “Time for a dri..” He stopped himself. The rage and indignation began welling up inside him. He calmed himself, momentarily and convinced himself that a trip to the rooftop would be good for him. He’d see the waitress and be around people. Maybe he could grab a bite. That would be good. He nudged himself, figuratively, toward the door. In reality, he simply sat motionless in his chair despite this elaborate inner-dialogue. Then he remembered Claire. Claire would be knocking off right about now. He wondered whether he would “accidentally” run into her on the way out of the building. He began to feel more rage, then sadness, then it became evil. His thoughts took him back to the week they’d spent in the beach cottage on St. Kitts. How did things get so bent in such a short period of time? He thought about the spurts of drunkenness, the affairs, and then finally the ménage à trois he talked her into that ended it all. Far from shame, however, this trip down memory lane became a highlight reel for the moment. He indulged his depravity for the time being. It began to control him. By the time Herb did finally lift himself up from his seat, his head was in pure chaos. He could barely manage a rational thought. The struggle to leave finally overcome, he left the building hoping not to see Claire. He drove straight home, his mind still clouded, but sane enough to know what a disaster the Rooftop bar would be. Herb was glad to see the apartment freshly cleaned when he got home. Becky, the 19 year-old college student who cleaned his apartment had left a note with a smiley face. He began imagining her cleaning his tub on all fours…he suddenly shouted “STOP!” like a dog owner scolding his animal for attempting to chew up a slipper. He walked into the extra bedroom and pressed the answering machine. There was a message from his father; an angry “no” and then a hang up, and three messages from Diane, the Big Zero, about the cruise. The spare bedroom was filled with unpacked boxes. His stereo and turntable sat on a crate next to a box of his records. One of them was out. Becky must’ve put on a record while she was cleaning. He looked on the turntable and saw what she’d been listening to. Spinning the record back and forth with his finger, Herb read the label: “Michael Bloomfield with Nick Gravenites and Friends, Live at Bill Graham’s Fillmore West SIDE 1 1. Blues on a Westside (Gravanites/Bloomfield) 15:12…” Herb was surprised to see that a 19 year old college girl would be interested in listening to this. He remembered it as one of his favorite albums, but he hadn’t listened to it in ages. He also remembered that he’d written a review on the album while he was working for the school newspaper in college. He began moving boxes and found one labeled “College.” He opened it up and found, among other things, a stack of newspapers with articles he had a byline in. Herb found the review, put on some headphones, put the needle down on the rotating record, and started reading. It was the work, he thought, of an ambitious, driven and impetuous boy: “…I was astounded by this masterpiece. The song Blues on a Westside, and Bloomfield’s presence on it, holds me captive from beginning to end. I am frozen by it. Bloomfield has a HUGE canvas to work with here. Eighty-four perfectly crafted bars of soloing in a concert hall that talks back to each note with a fine resonance. He takes advantage of every inch of the Fillmore with uniquely masterful dynamics. His scaffold, a tightly welded rhythm section and a group of truly superlative musicians, adds so much to the moment, here caught for posterity. Fellow Chicagoan, Nick Gravenites sings peaceful, deep and soulful vocal brush strokes. They are persistently haunted and answered by Bloomfield. All of this is punctuated by the ornate counterpoint solo of Snooky Flowers to finish things off. For his part, Bloomfield’s two leads bring us from melancholy and morose to thoughtful and deep, to childlike beauty, then to a desperate and soulful pleading, and finally to overdriven rage followed by anxious moments where he leaves the key briefly and gives us butterflies. This, my friends, is Michael Bloomfield’s Sistine Chapel.” “What a pretentious little ****,” Herb remarked out loud with a chuckle. He was lying on the floor now, listening, his episode had passed. As Taj Majal’s “One More Mile” began to play, Herb turned his head to view the spilled contents of his “College” box. There among the scattered contents was his journal. He had written on its cover simply “Drugs.”
Butterfield and Flag. Bloomfield was the schitt. Damn Susie Brown.
Butterfield or his son, has a joint in Sopchoppy.
Damn...Patsy done some writing before
Yea, I think we have a secret author on our hands. Wow. Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
Their time in the vault had ended and the three men closed the large door, each double checking to make sure it was tightly secured. Douglas French was the first to say his lukewarm goodbyes. Hillbridge was next, getting on the elevator quickly, his mind still trying to hold onto the numbers, formulas and codes he’d seen. Arthur Penn stayed behind. He looked out the window toward the city. Many years ago he’d helped with the plans to construct this beautiful building. The top floor balcony, as well as the mezzanine balcony had been his ideas. It made him sad to know that they had played a role in all of this. Arthur put on his overcoat and opened the door to the balcony. He hesitated for a moment, then walked out trepidatiously. Occasionally, EDR executives entertained dignitaries who came to their building here, but it wasn’t often used. It could be windy and cold. The railing was a little low for his liking. He wondered if it would ever be used again. Now he thought about the best friend and colleague he’d lost. Malcolm Wright had been a lifelong friend. The two had met while students at MIT. They hit it off, realized they enjoyed the same things and then became roommates. After they graduated, Penn went to work at Electric & Diesel. He urged his boss to hire Malcolm a few years later when a position opened. They’d done great things at EDR, conquered foes and helped build an empire. Now he was inexplicably gone. Arthur felt lonely. As the wind whipped across his body, he shivered and pulled his coat tighter. “Why?” He asked himself. There was no explanation. “Could he have just fallen? Why was he out on the balcony, alone, in the first place?” Malcolm fought back tears, then composed himself. He mustered up some courage and began to peer over the railing to the now-closed mezzanine balcony 54 stories below him. He felt dizzy and grabbed the railing. He pictured his friend falling, falling. What must’ve been going through his head in those last moments? Was he terrified? Was he at peace with a decision he had made to end his life? The dizzying height had begun to grip Penn. He felt a terrifying urge to climb over the rail and let himself go, too. He couldn’t understand this urge or why he was so mesmerized in this moment. He fought it and took two steps backward. Penn began feeling, at that instant, a uneasy presence on the balcony behind him, He suddenly swung around and saw the brooding, silent visage of Anson Hillbridge just a few feet away. The young man stared at him, silently. He had an expression of pure evil that Penn had only seen once before in his lifetime.
Herb picked the thick, page-worn journal marked “Drugs” up off the floor. He marveled at the austerity of its title and laughed. It was just like that kid to come up with an ironic name for this thing. Its contents were complex and esoteric. It was basically a science journal full of complicated illegal experiments on himself. Young Herb had found an absurdly modest name for all that. He felt like it wouldn’t be a good idea to open it today. He’d fought off a demon, and now he had an important trip ahead of him in the morning. He didn’t need the distraction or the potential temptation. He was actually interested in a case for the first time in a long time. He didn’t want to **** this up. If he’d be visiting hog farms, he thought he’d better learn something of their craft. He needed to develop a cover. He knew people in a town of 387 would be suspicious, he had to present himself as someone who was genuine. He threw on a jacket and walked down to the college library. The UPMA library was massive, perhaps the largest in the country. It had a giant entrance hall and four stories of books in large expanses. Behind it, the University had built a structure that now contained eight dusty stories of what the students called, affectionately, “The Stacks.” Students were known to disappear for days up there during exam week. There was plenty of prurient lore about drug use and sexcapades in the narrow rows of books, too. It was easy to hide in that setting. He’d be able to study there late and not be disturbed. Herb located and pulled out books on Missouri, hog farming, hog farming in Missouri, hog farming equipment, hogs, some research journals on hog behavior, the Masonic Lodge, and evangelical Protestantism, (which was the predominant religion in rural Missouri). He headed up to a secluded part of the stacks. He had until 1 a.m., about five hours of study, to get himself ready. Shortly after midnight Herb had his cover put together. Hog farming, Herb discovered through his reading, was more art than science. Hogs are extremely intelligent creatures and very sensitive to human interaction. The journals he read showed studies that indicate far larger rates of successful pig stocks with farmers who handled their pigs using certain fairly unusual husbandry techniques. For example, farmers who routinely pet, stroked and talked to their stocks, had far greater success than those who ignored them. Other behaviors could be seriously detrimental to the growth rate of pigs from shoat until adulthood. Those included loud noises, using electrical goads and negative physical interaction. Herb suspected that not all farmers knew this, and certainly there would be a fair amount of farm hands who were underskilled in this area. He figured a good cover might be as a salesman for a program to teach handlers proper techniques for raising healthy stocks. Based on what he could ascertain, each farm probably had an average of 8-10 farmhands and it’s likely farm owners would have some interest in training them. He called his program HogCert and set about working up a phony brochure. At about Four A.M. he’d completed this task and printed out a handful of copies for his trip. “Not bad for a city boy” he thought as he looked over his work.
***** The next morning, Herb went down to the Cuban coffee shop and picked up a couple of café con leches for the road and two guayaba pastries. He waited outside his apartment for Steve with his carry-on bag next to him. He was feeling some energy now. This was going to be an adventure. On the ride to the airport, Steve asked if he’d developed a cover. "Sure did,” said Herb. “Bible salesmen.” “Bible salesmen.” Steve repeated without taking his eyes off the road. “Had it occurred to you that it’s no longer the 1930s?” “It’s a Pentacostal world out there in Doe Run, Missouri, Steven my boy. Bibles sell like hotcakes.” Herb explained. “Door to door?” Steve asked. “You bet, Steve, these old ladies eat it up.” Said Herb. “You sell them a monogramed copy of the King Jame-…” “-Which is basically the plot of Paper Moon.” Steve cut in. “And no you won’t be getting me to play your Tatum O’Neal. So maybe you can manage to come up with another front. I’m not getting my ass beaten in St. Joseph Missouri, Moze.” Herb burst out laughing. He liked Steve as his straight man. He told Steve about the research he’d done the night before and explained the façade he’d come up with. He showed Steve the brochures. “I’ll fill you in on the details and get you familiar with our pitch when we get on the flight. As for now, I'm taking a little nap until we get to the airport.” Herb hoped the café con leche would kick in when he woke up.
Thanks Goon and Durty. I hope you're enjoying this as much as I am. It's been fun for me so far. BTW, if you guys like the Butterfield/Bloomfield Electric Flag stuff this is one of my favorites. It's Buddy Miles, the drummer singing. Bloomfield is absolutely killing it:
I'll handle the cover art. I can't write on something made up. I wrote a short story recalling the day my daughter was born and it turned out well, but that's just using words to recreate previously felt emotions for others to feel. Cool, but not what I would consider creative writing. Pasty's got this
Enjoying it very much. Looking forward to see where/how these biz execs and herb, Steve and Claire collide. Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
The plane landed with a thud and bounced off the Lambert-St. Louis tarmac before setting down. Herb woke to the sound of whining engines in reverse thrust. He’d spent the trip sleeping while Steve got himself more familiar with the cover by reading some of the literature Herb brought. On the long ride to Doe Run, they did some role playing. Herb pretended to be a farmer asking questions, Steve was the salesman. When they arrived at the small motel on the outskirts of town, Herb felt pretty comfortable with the approach. As soon as Herb had checked into the hotel, put clothes on for the part and come out to greet Steve, he realized how wrong he was about thinking they were prepared. Steve came out wearing a blue suit and a red tie. “They’re going to think you’re a banker coming to foreclose on their family farm,” Herb remarked. “You’re going to get us both shot. Come on, we’ll get you some duds at the general store.” The downtown area was Spartan and unappealing. There were several old, dull buildings, one of which was a dusty general store. Herb went into the store with Steve and picked out a pair of blue jean overalls and a plaid shirt for him. The store purveyor had never seen two men together picking out clothes. He was suspicious and Herb knew it. “Great,” Herb said as they left, “we’re in town for two minutes and we’re already made.” That guy thinks we’re either two FBI agents or a couple of flaming lumbersexuals. Either way, he knows were up to no good around here. Their first stop was a small farm on the outskirts of town. Both men were nervous as they pulled up the long driveway to the farmhouse. A grizzled old man was working on a car in front of the house. “Hello!” shouted Herb, as the two men got out of the car and walked toward the house. The man walked silently toward them, wiping off his hands with a dirty rag. “I’m Tom Parks.” Herb extended his hand to the old man with a smile. The man didn’t respond or offer his hand in return. “This is my colleague Brian McWhortalherskerken.” Herb swung his hand and gestured toward his colleague in an effort to gracefully take attention off the unshaken hand. Steve stared at Herb blankly and blinked. Herb was getting a little nervous now. The silence was beyond awkward and Steve’s incredulous attitude wasn’t making anything easier. To be fair, he did look pretty uncomfortable in that bib overalls and lumberjack shirt get up. He launched into his pitch, stumbling through it, repeating himself, reciting boring statistics that the farmer probably wasn’t hearing, and dropping brochures in the dirt before handing one over to the farmer. The farmer looked over the brochure as if he were simply confirming once and for all that Herb’s educational program was a fake. When Herb finished his pitch, the man turned around and headed back toward the barn. Herb was sure he was going to retrieve his shotgun. When he emerged from the barn, the man had what appeared to be two younger farm hands with him. “Buck, Eben,” the man finally said, “this here’s Mr. Parks. Mr. Parks is going to…” the old man read a few lines aloud from the brochure, “certify you on the best methods and techniques available for handling pigs. His company has done a lot of research in swine husbandry. They know how to handle pigs in a safe way to keep them healthy and happy. According to what they learned, the calmer the pigs are the more successful the stock.” The farmer added grimly, “this is also about safety, and you guys know what I mean by that. After we work out an agreement on when he’s going to come back here, I’m going to set aside a day for your training.” The two younger men looked at each other with some obvious doubt. “Mr. Parks,” said one of them, “I don’t know how much actual experience you have in pig farming, but I reckon no amount of your ‘research’ is going to teach us anything about how to handle a sow like Kiki.” While Herb amused himself by wondering if they were talking about a local pub urchin, the two men simultaneously pointed at a pen across the farmyard with a lone, gargantuan pig standing in it’s center. “Neither of us can get near that animal.” “Do you mind if my colleague and I give it a whirl?” Herb asked to Steve’s shock and horror. “Just wait one minute! I am not going in that pen with that pig,” gurgled Steve, loudly. Herb looked at the farmer and said, “I apologize for my colleague, sir. Mr. McWhortalherskerken is a little bit of a worry wart. He’s afraid that if something happens in that pen, such-and-such is going to sue such-and-such. I’m sure he wants some kind of big-city legal disclaimer signed first.” As they walked toward the pen, Steve breathed a sigh of relief. The “play” here, he thought, must be the “we-can’t-do-this-for-legal-reasons” ploy. “Brilliant.” Steve remarked to himself, “Well played, Herb, you almost had me convinced we were going to have to get in that pe-” “But I grew up with farmers,” Herb lied, “and I know they see a man’s word as a man’s word. They don’t need any of that legal mumbo-jumbo. Just a handshake to know a man isn’t going call a lawyer every time he screws up. Sir, Mr. McWhortolherskerken and I are getting in that pen and we’re going to show you how this thing works.” Steve was mortified, “Are you ****ing crazy??” He whispered to Herb through his gritted teeth. “This is insane and completely unnecessary.” Herb ignored Steve’s whispered pleas. “What we’ll be demonstrating here, is the four handed technique.” Herb explained in a loud voice as if he were giving a lecture to a large class. “Mr. McWhortalherskerken here is going to be the decoy. The decoy is the first in the pen. If the animal charges at the decoy we know we’re dealing with an aggressive sow. If she is as difficult to deal with as you describe, then in all likelihood she is in heat. She may see our Mr. McWhortalherskerken here as a potential mate. When you have an in-heat sow that is isolated like that without a male boar in sight, they can become very aggressive with males of any species.” Steve was pale now and completely petrified. As Herb spoke he watched the frighteningly enormous pig. It seemed to have an angry scowl on its face. It was the scowl of a henchman or a contract killer. The very fact that two seasoned farm hands wouldn’t get into the pen with her was all he needed to know. “Climb on in Mr. McWhortalherkerken.” Herb said, waiving his hand toward the pen. Steve resisted. He didn’t move. Herb whispered to him, “Get in there for Chrissakes. Do you want to get us shot? Trust me, this technique works.” Steve did not trust Herb. But he knew the possibility of getting shot was very real. He went through all the probabilities, tried his best to calculate the risks and finally came to a conclusion that, at least at this point, the best thing might be to get into the pen. Finally, Steve began to climb over the metal fence, his shaking legs making the task even more difficult than it already was.
Dis gon be gud. Hog fappin jus like back home.
talk about leaving a cliffhanger.... c'mon pasty!
Has Heb killed himself yet?
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