MORE OF SOMETHING MORE,
a story about a salesman trying to establish himself,
a CEO scheming to buy out his father's influenceand the woman important to each
Meanwhile, Clayton Clamp had observed what became known as “the Wedding Event,” an innocuous term with deep significance to insiders. He tracked Stephen Slade and Bill racing up the slope and saw the chauffeur assaulting the male and the CEO kissing the unresponsive female. He photographed the loading into the limo and the odd seating arrangement: two in back, one in the trunk. Another investigator captured the sequence on video.
Concerned for the company’s reputation, Clamp lingered close by the valets, affecting an air of nonchalance. In turn, they looked to him as someone in the know and seemed to conclude that if he’s not interested, neither are they. Satisfied, he went back to the other side of the mansion where his eye cast a wide net to discern three major groups: one occupied with the bride and groom; a diffuse one seeking the next sensation; and one drawn to Chairman Graham Slade who approached trailing two wives, his and the CEO’s. They huddled on the green lawn until the chairman said, “Let’s do it.”
Then he gathered up the other investigator, Jon Acres, a CPA grown tired of working behind a desk. Vegetarian-thin and exceedingly cautious, he worried about the woman and suggested calling the police, but Clamp convinced him private intervention was best. The valet brought his car and they climbed in.
Driving toward the estate gates, his mind worked through lists of those involved, those who saw, those who knew and those who might tell. The CEO had his own special category. Then came the woman, the salesman and chauffeur. Lola McIntyre, who he had spotted earlier, was a nexus and gossip. Of other staff and managers, he expected to conference with the chairman before interviews assessing knowledge and allegiance. Identification of tendencies was tricky business, but private enterprise could exploit every advantage that didn’t leave traces.
Then to his left, on the short lawn in advance of a copse of trees, he was surprised to see Lola and two men cutting across. They were smiling and laughing, and the man with stringy brown hair had a bottle of champagne tucked to his side. He slowed the vehicle and gazed, unable to place them until he recognized her buddies from the company break room. He had not considered them before, but his list, as yet mental, had plenty of room.
An hour later they clustered outside the condo door: Chairman Slade, tall and grave, his wife Rhea whose short hair shone like a pewter helmet, and mournful Delfina in toga-like dress. Clamp and Acres stood by, the latter clasping a laptop computer. The chairman rapped on the door, and a minute later Stephen Slade opened it. He did not express surprise and coolly stepped aside to admit them.
“I’ve called the board to an emergency meeting. They’re at corporate. Where’s the woman?”
Stephen gestured to the back. “Asleep.” Delfina squeaked and Rhea pulled the taller woman into a hug as Acres went back to confirm the statement. When he returned the chairman said, “There’s something you need to see.” Acres opened the laptop and played the video as Stephen leaned against the wall, acting like it had nothing to do with him. When he closed the laptop, the assembly looked toward the CEO who stood upright with arms crossed.
“The board has already seen the video,” the chairman said. “It will ask for your resignation.” Stephen twitched an acknowledgement. “While we’re next door, someone needs to take the young woman home.”
“She lives here,” mumbled Stephen, then said more clearly, “There’s nowhere to take her.” Delfina stifled a cry.
“Maybe not tonight, but she’s going to have to leave, and you can’t be here. Someone should stay to make sure she’s alright.”
Rhea spoke. “We’ll stay until you get back.”
They left the two women sitting by the panoramic window. Outside, night had fallen and Los Angeles became a show of twinkling lights, some stationary, some moving and some about to go dark.
The characters and events in this story are fictitious and do not represent any living person or real event