Home > Disclosure(5)

Author: Michael Crichton

He got to the fourth floor at nine in the morning, and immediately sensed that something was wrong. There was a buzz in the hallways, an electric tension in the air. Staff people clustered at the laser printers and whispered at the coffee machines; they turned away or stopped talking when he walked by.

He thought, Uh-oh.

But as a division head, he could hardly stop to ask an assistant what was happening. Sanders walked on, swearing under his breath, angry with himself that he had arrived late on this important day.

Through the glass walls of the fourth-floor conference room, he saw Mark Lewyn, the thirty-three-year-old head of Product Design, briefing some of the Conley-White people. It made a striking scene: Lewyn, young, handsome, and imperious, wearing black jeans and a black Armani T-shirt, pacing back and forth and talking animatedly to the blue-suited Conley-White staffers, who sat rigidly before the product mock-ups on the table, and took notes.

When Lewyn saw Sanders he waved, and came over to the door of the conference room and stuck his head out.

"Hey, guy," Lewyn said.

"Hi, Mark. Listen-"

"I have just one thing to say to you," Lewyn said, interrupting. "Fuck 'em. Fuck Garvin. Fuck Phil. Fuck the merger. Fuck 'em all. This reorg sucks. I'm with you on this one, guy."

"Listen, Mark, can you"

"I'm in the middle of something here." Lewyn jerked his head toward the Conley people in the room. "But I wanted you to know how I feel. It's not right, what they're doing. We'll talk later, okay? Chin up, guy," Lewyn said. "Keep your powder dry." And he went back into the conference room.

The Conley-White people were all staring at Sanders through the glass. He turned away and walked quickly toward his office, with a sense of deepening unease. Lewyn was notorious for his tendency to exaggerate, but even so, the -

It's not right, what they're doing.

There didn't seem to be much doubt what that meant. Sanders wasn't going to get a promotion. He broke into a light sweat and felt suddenly dizzy as he walked along the corridor. He leaned against the wall for a moment. He wiped his forehead with his hand and blinked his eyes rapidly. He took a deep breath and shook his head to clear it.

No promotion. Christ. He took another deep breath, and walked on.

Instead of the promotion he expected, there was apparently going to be some kind of reorganization. And apparently it was related to the merger.

The technical divisions had just gone through a major reorganization nine months earlier, which had revised all the lines of authority, upsetting the hell out of everybody in Seattle. Staff people didn't know who to requisition for laser-printer paper, or to degauss a monitor. There had been months of uproar; only in the last few weeks had the tech groups settled down into some semblance of good working routines. Now . . . to reorganize again? It didn't make any sense at all.

Yet it was last year's reorganization that placed Sanders in line to assume leadership of the tech divisions now. That reorganization had structured the Advanced Products Group into four subdivisions Product Design, Programming, Data Telecommunications, and Manufacturing-all under the direction of a division general manager, not yet appointed. In recent months, Tom Sanders had informally taken over as DGM, largely because as head of manufacturing, he was the person most concerned with coordinating the work of all the other divisions.

But now, with still another reorganization . . . who knew what might happen? Sanders might be broken back to simply managing DigiCom's production lines around the world. Or worse for weeks, there had been persistent rumors that company headquarters in Cupertino was going to take back all control of manufacturing from Seattle, turning it over to the individual product managers in California. Sanders hadn't paid any attention to those rumors, because they didn't make a lot of sense; the product managers had enough to do just pushing the products, without also worrying about their manufacture.

But now he was obliged to consider the possibility that the rumors were true. Because if they were true, Sanders might be facing more than a demotion. He might be out of a job.

Christ: out of a job?

He found himself thinking of some of the things Dave Benedict had said to him on the ferry earlier that morning. Benedict chased rumors, and he had seemed to know a lot. Maybe even more than he had been saying.

Is it true you're the only division manager who isn't an engineer?

And then, pointedly:

Isn't that pretty unusual?

Christ, he thought. He began to sweat again. He forced himself to take another deep breath. He reached the end of the fourth-floor corridor and came to his office, expecting to find Stephanie Kaplan, the CFO, waiting there for him. Kaplan could tell him what was going on. But his office was empty. He turned to his assistant, Cindy Wolfe, who was busy at the filing cabinets. "Where's Stephanie?"

"She's not coming."

Chapter 2

"Why not?"

"They canceled your nine-thirty meeting because of all the personnel changes," Cindy said.

"What changes?" Sanders said. "What's going on?"

"There's been some kind of reorganization," Cindy said. She avoided meeting his eyes, and looked down at the call book on her desk. "They just scheduled a private lunch with all the division heads in the main conference room for twelve-thirty today, and Phil Blackburn is on his way down to talk to you. He should be here any minute. Let's see, what else? DHL is delivering drives from Kuala Lumpur this afternoon. Gary Bosak wants to meet with you at ten-thirty." She ran her finger down the call book. "Don Cherry called twice about the Corridor, and you just got a rush call from Eddie in Austin."

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