Home > Disclosure(12)

Author: Michael Crichton

"Good," Sanders said. He glanced down at the sheets of paper, and paused. "Gary . . . Some of this stuff is from our company. Some of these reports."

"Yeah. So?"

"How'd you get them?"

Bosak grinned. "Hey. You don't ask and I don't tell you."

"How'd you get the Data General file?"

Bosak shook his head. "Isn't this why you pay me?"

"Yes it is, but-"

"Hey. You wanted a check on an employee, you got it. Your kid's clean. He's working only for you. Anything else you want to know about him?"

"No." Sanders shook his head.

"Great. I got to get some sleep." Bosak collected all the files and placed them back in his folder. "By the way, you're going to get a call from my parole officer."


"Can I count on you?"

"Sure, Gary."

"I told him I was doing consulting for you. On telecommunications security."

"And so you are."

Bosak switched off the blinking box, put it in his briefcase, and reconnected the telephones. "Always a pleasure. Do I leave the bill with you, or Cindy?"

"I'll take it. See you, Gary."

"Hey. Anytime. You need more, you know where I am."

Sanders glanced at the bill, from NE Professional Services, Inc., of Bellevue, Washington. The name was Bosak's private joke: the letters NE stood for "Necessary Evil." Ordinarily, high-tech companies employed retired police officers and private investigators to do background checks, but occasionally they used hackers like Gary Bosak, who could gain access to electronic data banks, to get information on suspect employees. The advantage of using; Bosak was that he could work quickly, often making a report in a matter of hours, or overnight. Bosak's methods were of course illegal; simply by hiring him, Sanders himself had broken a half-dozen laws. But background checks on employees were accepted as standard practice in high-tech firms, where a single document or product development plan might be worth hundreds of thousands of dollars to competitors.

And in the case of Pete Nealy, a check was particularly crucial. Nealy was developing hot new compression algorithms to pack and unpack video images onto CD-ROM laser disks. His work was vital to the new Twinkle technology. High-speed digital images coming off the disk were going to transform a sluggish technology and produce a revolution in education. But if Twinkle's algorithms became available to a competitor, then DigiCom's advantage would be greatly reduced, and that meant

The intercom buzzed. "Tom," Cindy said. "It's eleven o'clock. Time for the APG meeting. You want the agenda on your way down?"

"Not today," he said. "I think I know what we'll be talking about."

In the third-floor conference room, the Advanced Products Group was already meeting. This was a weekly meeting in which the division heads discussed problems and brought everyone up to date. It was a meeting that Sanders ordinarily led. Around the table were Don Cherry, the chief of Programming; Mark Lewyn, the temperamental head of Product Design, all in black Armani; and Mary Anne Hunter, the head of Data Telecommunications. Petite and intense, Hunter was dressed in a sweatshirt, shorts, and Nike running tights; she never ate lunch, but ordinarily went on a five-mile run after each meeting.

Lewyn was in the middle of one of his storming rages: "It's insulting to everybody in the division. I have no idea why she got this position. I don't know what her qualifications could be for a job like this, and-"

Lewyn broke off as Sanders came into the room. There was an awkward moment. Everyone was silent, glancing at him, then looking away.

"I had a feeling," Sanders said, smiling, "you'd be talking about this."

The room remained silent. "Come on," he said, as he slipped into a chair. "It's not a funeral."

Mark Lewyn cleared his throat. "I'm sorry, Tom. I think it's an outrage."

Mary Anne Hunter said, "Everybody knows it should have been you."

Lewyn said, "It's a shock to all of us, Tom."

"Yeah," Cherry said, grinning. "We've been trying like hell to get you sacked, but we never really thought it would work."

"I appreciate all this," Sanders said, "but it's Garvin's company, and he can do what he wants with it. He's been right more often than not. And I'm a big boy. Nobody ever promised me anything."

Lewyn said, "You're really okay with this?"

"Believe me. I'm fine."

"You talked with Garvin?"

"I talked with Phil."

Lewyn shook his head. "That sanctimonious asshole."

"Listen," Cherry said, "did Phil say anything about the spin-off?"

"Yes," Sanders said. "The spin-off is still happening. Eighteen months after the merger, they'll structure the IPO, and take the division public."

There were little shrugs around the table. Sanders could see they were relieved. Going public meant a lot of money to all the people sitting in the room.

"And what did Phil say about Ms. Johnson?"

"Not much. Just that she's Garvin's choice to head up the technical side."

At that moment Stephanie Kaplan, DigiCom's Chief Financial Officer, came into the room. A tall woman with prematurely gray hair and a notably silent manner, she was known as Stephanie Stealth, or the Stealth Bomberthe latter a reference to her habit of quietly killing projects she did not consider profitable enough. Kaplan was based in Cupertino, but she generally sat in once a month on the Seattle division meetings. Lately, she had been up more often.

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