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Tuesday, June 28, 2011

("Que sera sera, whatever will be, will be. The future's not ours to see, que sera sera ")…Doris Day


Sally November posing with a couple of strange guys? Who are they? Wanna know more? Click on the photos and download a free copy of the ebook:
THE GUMSHOE DIARIES: Fortune Cookies Always Lie

Anh yêu em Tuyet...
Tôi yêu con gái KaSandra & Katrina...
Tôi thương con trai của bố Luc…

Gabriel's Promise
a novel by nicholas sheridan stanton

Chapter Thirty

Standard Pharmaceutical: Board Room…Wednesday, August 17th, 2005…10am

Normally Board Meetings bored Jackson Peck to tears, they were much like the staff meetings he'd go to during in his aerospace days (not all that long ago), back when he pretended to work for a living, and he hated those with a passion. What a colossal waste of his valuable time he thought, surrounded by a pack or pretentious windbags waxing philosophical about mergers and acquisitions, market share and bottom lines, while they tried to "one up" each other in front of the big cheese, dear old dad, how droll.

This morning was a little different though, slightly out of the ordinary because today they were reviewing the annual report before publication to the NYSE and the stock holders. Jackson knew that his father, Sanford Peck, was going to pop a vein when he heard that the second quarter numbers were down, a first for the huge conglomerate and a first for his dad as far as Jackson knew. Patrick's scheme was working well beyond Jackson's original assessment of its potential impact. The three heists had dipped deeply into Standard's management reserves and had struck a noticeable blow to the historically taught underbelly of the SP empire, causing an actual tick downward on Dow Jones, also a first. There is no force more volatile than a pack of nervous investors. They'll turn on you like a pack of wolves! The last thing the company needed was a media driven sell off on the heels of some pretty sensational stories being run in the newspapers and certain popular magazines owned by none other than Pat's or rather Jean-Luc's recently deceased partner, Grover Gateway. It was almost too good to be true. Talk about being at the right place at the right time Jackson thought as he listened to the CFO read the numbers to a very quiet room.

"As we can see here we endured an unfortunate and altogether unforeseen hit to the bottom line during the second quarter, after persons yet unknown launched a series of attacks on our cruise line operations on the Mexican Riviera," explained William "Bill" Hartstein, long standing Chief Financial Officer at Standard Pharmaceutical, and the closest thing to a friend that Sanford Peck had in the world.

The room remained silent and Jackson watched his father for a reaction, but so far he was stone faced. The CFO cleared his throat and took a sip of water from the heavy crystal highball tumbler in front of him. He punched a key on his laptop and advanced his Power Point presentation one slide forward.

"Here we can see that overall Standard Pharmaceutical is strong as ever with a five year growth projection of well over 20%. Ladies and gentlemen, that equates to an uptick in excess of fifty billion dollars. And in this economy that is an incredible testament to the company's solvency as well as the strength, determination and hard work of everyone in this room," Bill said attempting to soften the blow and avoid an epic melt down by the Chairman at the table's end. It was a wasted gesture, just like Jackson knew it would be, and before the sound of Bill Hartsein's voice faded into history Jackson got what he came for.

"SOLVENCY, STRENGTH, DETERMINATION? How about INCOMPETANCE, INSIPIDNESS, and COMPLACENCY!" bellowed Sanford Peck as he leaped to his feet and doused the pull down screen with hot coffee.

Everyone but Jackson flinched instinctively. They were not prepared for this level of rage, but Jackson was, he'd seen it before, first hand. He knew his father's bark was nothing compared to his bite and he wondered who would bear the brunt of what he knew was coming next. Jackson knew his father's tactics, he would wait them out, let them chew on his words for a moment and lull them into thinking the worst was over. Then he would pounce on whoever spoke first or whoever looked the most frightened, male or female, Sanford Peck was an equal opportunity abuser, just ask Jackson's mother. The small gathering of executives began to relax as the CEO's echo faded into a peaceful silence. Jackson scanned the faces around the table and spotted his father's mark. He placed his hand over his mouth to conceal the grin forming on his face and waited for the hammer to drop.

"Forgive me sir, but aren't you being a tad harsh and unreasonable here?" said the overconfident VP of Sales and Marketing, Chadwick "Chad" Gold, the fool.

Bill Hartstein leaned back in his chair and shielded his eyes by placing a hand to his brow as if to block out the sun. Jackson's grin turned to a smile beneath the cover of a closed fist as his father slowly took seat and stared at the soon to be former VP of Sales & Marketing. No great loss, salesmen were a dime a dozen these days, good cannon fodder. The sad thing was that Chad Gold actually thought he had made some points by defending the group and telling the Emperor that he had no clothes so to speak. What a chump!

"Mr. Gold, Chad, may I call you Chad?" asked Sanford Peck with the same look a cat gives its prey before it pounces.

"Please do, I'd like that," answered Chad Gold confidently, convinced now that he'd done the right thing by speaking up. Clearly the boss was impressed with his moxie, right?

"Thank you, and I don't think that you will," began Jackson's father, spreading his fingers and tapping them together lightly in front of his face.

"Sir?" asked Chad, suddenly nervous.

"I admire your sand Chad. That took guts."

"Thank you?"

"You're welcome son. You're also fired," Sanford said in the same tone he always used when he meant to hurt. Jackson was familiar with that as well. No matter how well he did as a child his father kept raising the bar and chastise him for missing the mark.

"You can't be serious? Sir, I don't think…" Chad began before being cut off in mid sentence.

"Come now young man, please don't make a scene and make me call security," Sanford said in the stern voice of authority that came with being the final word on every subject.

The stunned former VP of Sales & Marketing slowly rose from the table, gathered his things and left the quiet room. Nobody watched him leave. They all kept their eyes lowered waiting for whatever was coming next. The wait was a short one as Sanford waited until he heard the audible click of the latch as the door seated itself into the doorjamb. He rapped on the cherry wood conference table with his empty coffee cup to get everyone's attention. The rest of the Board sat up straight, snapping to attention like dutiful soldiers, looking to the CEO for their orders.

"Well that was unfortunate and unpleasant. I trust there are no more opinions to share?" he asked rhetorically.

"Very well then, further to Bill's last chart and statement. True, Standard Pharmaceutical is in tip-top shape fiscally speaking; that is exactly right.
However, this chart is not what concerns me. No, what concerns me most is that someone out there thinks they can fuck with us!"Sanford bellowed slapping the table hard with an open palm.

"Tell them what we know Bill, they should hear it all," he said relaxing and looking back at the CFO.

Bill Hartstein closed his laptop, ending the slide presentation and stood to address the Board. He buttoned the jacket of his Brooks Brothers suit and straightened his stylish silk tie. Bill's wife dressed him well thought Jackson Peck, enjoying the show so far. Jackson leaned forward, resting his elbows on the table and his sharp chin on top of his folded hands. They were going into uncharted waters now. Bill was never part of any briefing he gave to his father and his security team while he was busy covering the team's tracks. He had no idea what the CFO was going to say and it concerned him a little.

"What Sanford wants me to share must stay in this room, is that understood?" he asked the room. He waited for every head to nod in the affirmative before he continued.

"Alright then, as you know Jackson Peck came on board at long last to assume his place as heir apparent, with the support and approval of everyone at this table of course," Bill continued, gesturing toward Jackson with a weak applaud which the rest of the Board reciprocated.

"His first assignment was to investigate this piracy business off the coast of Mexico. And I am happy to report that he seems to have quashed that criminal operation most assuredly. Whoever was responsible for these cowardly acts has apparently thought better of it as they have quite simply disappeared. The assaults on our cruise line operations have ceased, albeit our hunt for those responsible has not," Bill explained, taking his seat before continuing. His last statement caught Jackson by surprise. He was unaware of any further investigation by anyone he was in contact with. That was worrisome.

"Get to the meat Bill," Sanford said impatiently.

The CFO cleared his throat again and continued. "Yes well, let me explain. It turns out these pirates were able to do more than steal a few million from the ships casino computer accounts. As it turns out they were far more clever and ambitious than we originally realized. Our embarrassing loss in this quarter is directly attributed the depth of their piracy. These rat bastards were able to hack their way into our Swiss vault accounts in Zurich," Bill said tapping his laptop for affect.

The room audibly gasped while Jackson stifled a cheer. He couldn't believe his ears. He had no idea how much they were pumping into the G.A.W.D. Foundation. That part of the operation never mattered to him. He was in it only to be a pain in his father's ass, to reap financial havoc, which apparently they were accomplishing in spades! Bill Hartstein opened his laptop and returned to the Power Point presentation throwing up slide with an amazingly large figure representing what had been pirated thus far by Pat's little band of Robin Hoods. There was a low groan followed by absolute silence as his father rose to address the board.

"People, we are going to find these pricks and we're going to deal with them on very personal terms. That stays in this room too as you are now all accomplices before the fact. Are we clear?" he asked without needing an answer. Sanford Peck picked up the handset from the phone beside him.

"Send in Mr. Price," he said to whoever was on the other end of the line, taking his seat and staring at his Board they waited to meet this mystery man.

Jackson made his face blank so as not to draw his father's attention. This was quite unexpected. If there was one thing he was certain of it was that his old man was capable of anything. Jackson didn't like surprises, and he was about to get one. He made a mental note to change all of his numbers and routines as he knew instinctively that his father suspected everyone at this point, even his own son…

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