Sulky thought it very chivalrous of the Apple CEO to offer his mansion as a place she could recover from the byte of the DogCow. She also saw it as a way to learn more about him as well as his connections with the DogCow project. Her left ankle still throbbed with pain and the doctors from the Genetics Labs at Stanford wanted to keep her under observation for several days. After finishing her reports to the Agency on the whole affair, she had lots of time to snoop around a bit, enjoy the grounds, the pool, hot tub, and to catch up on her reading.
Besides the soreness of her ankle, Sulky felt a bit different. She couldn’t put her finger on it, but she seemed continuously flushed and more conscious of her femininity than ever before. At first she thought it was a combination of the rare free time and the continuing pain that made her focus on herself. Now, she wasn’t so sure. Her body felt, well… full… and on occasion she set out to explore feelings her intellect had discarded years ago.
Saturday morning she was lounging in the hot tub and just starting Jim Carlton’s APPLE – THE INSIDE STORY OF INTRIGUE, EGOMANIA, AND BUSINESS BLUNDERS when she heard a lot of commotion from the front of the house. She quickly stepped out of the tub, threw a white terry cloth robe on, tucked her blue-steel, snub-nosed.38 Detective Special in her pocket, and went to investigate.
The President had arrived accompanied by some five Secret Service agents. The agents went about the business of securing the house while the President fixed himself a carrot juice at the bar in the Rec room. Not knowing who these people were, Sulky barged into the room to confront the situation.
“Why hello,” said the President, “and exactly who do we have here?”
At that precise moment a Secret Service agent stepped in front of Sulky and asked her to raise her hands while he frisked her (Usually this would have been accomplished by a female agent, but considering the President’s ‘problems’ none were assigned to this detail) He quickly found the.38 and was about to cuff Sulky, when the President ordered…
“Leave her alone; she’s okay.”
“Sorry, I can’t do that sir…not until I know she’s been secured.”
The agent then continued to frisk her and immediately detected that there was nothing—certainly nothing threatening—beneath her robe. Meanwhile Sulky blushed a deep crimson as the agent asked for ID.
“I’m Agent Nada Sulky of the FBI… My credentials are in my handbag in the front room. I’m authorized to carry that weapon and I had no idea the President would be arriving here.”
“By the way,” she whispered to the agent, “could we talk later?”
“Check her ID and then leave us alone,” ordered the President.
“Thank you Mr. President,” said Agent Sulky.
“Can I call you Nada?,” asked the President.
“Well, sir, actually no one calls me by my first name. It’s as if it’s meant to be that way. You can call me Sulky.”
“If you’d like, you can just call me Willie,” answered the President. “What are you doing here, anyway?”
Sulky was taken aback by the presence of the President and was furiously weighing options in the back of her mind, while filling in blanks in the conversation, On a professional level, she considered this an enormous opportunity to discover possible connections between the White House and the apparent computer conspiracy. And on another, dark and fleeting but real level, she sensed a personal opportunity here to grab a small piece of fame.
“Well, Mr. President, I mean…’Willie,’ that’s a very long story and I was just going to ask you the same question. I was in the hot tub when you arrived. Would you like to join me?”
The agent who frisked Sulky and accompanied the President everywhere had been recruited by the Office of the Special Prosecutor months ago. He was fiercely loyal to the President and dedicated to his job. However, an irregularity had turned up in his 1995 tax return. In fact, it was no irregularity, as he had lied about a $2,000 contribution to charity. He claimed he had donated the money, but he had no receipt to prove it. The Office of Special Prosecutor had informed him that at the minimum, he would certainly lose his job if the grand jury chose to indict him. He left the President and Sulky in the Rec Room and called his handler from a phone in the hallway.
Mutter felt alone and frustrated. He had been placed in virtual internal office exile since the incident at Cupertino and he had just about had it with Agent Sulky. Once again, she had traded the obvious explanation for the credible. The tie-in between the sound that beast made and his sister’s scrabble letters was a ‘coincidence’ and the DogCow was an example of genetic engineering that might have been illegal, but in Sulky’s words ‘hardly alien.’ The DogCow’s byte was worse than its MOOF and Sulky played her injury and heroic escape to the hilt.
She had been bitten, but had managed to wound and scare off the DogCow with a pair of office scissors. At the least she would be a guest in the CEO’s Palo Alto estate for a few more days and Mutter wouldn’t have to deal with her self-indulgent cynicism.
Ironically, Mutter had escaped physically unharmed by the ferocious attack, but was in dire pain psychologically. He was so close to so many answers and yet it seemed the closer he got, the less believable he became. After the grand inquisitions over the past few days, he had finally focused on the possibility of leaving the Agency and pursuing the truth as a private citizen.
Mutter still refused to go online with his office system. He knew they were still out there and they were monitoring his movements, and an INTERNET connection was like a beacon to their probing ‘bots. Instead, he asked his fellow workers to print out all news related to the happenings in Cupertino and Redmond. A few of the other agents in the office felt sorry for Mutter, while others humored him… they all religiously printed every word they found related to his case. As it turns out, Mutter and a certain powerful man in Washington probably read the news at about the same time:
(ATAT/4/98, Palo Alto)
President Clinton to Stay at Steve Job’s Estate in Cupertino
The White House today announced that President Clinton would be the guest at Steve Job’s Palo Alto home while fund-raising in California and spending time with his wife and daughter Chelsea.
As Mutter stared at the news and tried to understand, the sharp ring of his phone startled him. The Director, who had open disdain for the Why Files Task Force, directed him to report to the office of Special Prosecutor that afternoon. Mutter seemed stunned as he placed the Cupertino file in his briefcase and walked out of the office.
Agent Mutter decided he needed to think this through prior to his afternoon meeting and returned to his apartment for a spam sandwich and a glass of skim milk. He flicked the TV on and sat in his favorite chair and just tried to process what was happening around him. “Why would Sulky agree to stay in Palo Alto and what was the President doing there?” he wondered. “And what does the Special Prosecutor want to see me about?”
Mutter had bitten off more than he could chew—literally—and coughed a small piece of spam into his napkin. His reverie was broken by the image of an odd-looking computer on the television. The whole system seemed to glow and neither the keyboard nor mouse was attached to the unit. It looked distinctly like the sketches he had taken from people who claimed they were kidnapped by UFO’s. He grabbed his remote and flicked off the mute.
The CEO of Apple Computer was just saying “… it looks like it came from another planet—a good planet, one with great industrial designers!”
“Damn it!,” Mutter said aloud, “The sheer arrogance.”
By joking about the actual origin, the charlatan had insured that no one would ever consider that possibility.
The President returned from the changing room wearing Hawaiian boxers and a Macworld Expo T-shirt. Sulky simply stripped off her robe and eased into the hot tub. The President averted his eyes as the velvety hot water slipped over her nude body.
“Willie,” Sulky asked in her bedroom voice, “What would you like to talk about?”
“I’m glad you asked that, Sulky. I’d like to talk about the poor, the disadvantaged, and the hungry, and I’d like you to give me your insights as a federal agent into how we can make things better.”
“Yes, but Willie…well…I’m interested in all that, of course, but right now I have to tell you that your agent frisking me kind of turned me on.”
“Sulky…I hope you’re turned on to our agenda for my second term. We’re trying to accomplish a lot and with the help of citizens like you, we can certainly do it.”
Sulky was baiting the President and he seemed to resist. If she could get him to loosen up, maybe he would talk a little.
“Willie, I can’t help noticing that bulge in your shorts—right beneath the palm tree. I see why they don’t call you Wee Willie!”
“You can’t see it from here, Sulky, but we’re erecting buildings all over the country. We’re trying to use federal resources to house the poor, to jump start industry, and to make this country great again.
“Man,” she thought, “He’s so darn innocent. I’m getting nowhere. Maybe the direct approach will work better. Mr. President what can you tell me about Jobs?”
“You know, I’m glad you asked that question. Jobs are what this administration is all about. Let me make three points. The first step in creating more jobs is to balance the budget; Second …..”
Twenty minutes later…
“Willie, it’s embarrassing for me to say this, but I was recently bitten on the ankle and it’s very sore.”
“Oh…would you like me to kiss it?” he asked.
“Well…okay…it might help.”
“By the way, Sulky, if you ever consider leaving the FBI, we have a few intern positions open at the White House.”
The Special Prosecutor, Ben Parr, was generally known as the most powerful person in Washington—particularly around the Special Prosecutor’s Office. He had come a long way from that two-bit town in Texas and he wanted everyone to know it. He was a deeply religious man and read the bible every morning – right after he scoured the Washington Post for any mention of his name. He religiously clipped each story and pasted it in a scrapbook that he kept under his bed. Then he said a little prayer of thanksgiving that he was, after all, himself.
He was changing the world in his own way and on his own terms and it didn’t get much better than that. He was intent on eradicating sin in its various guises and no one, absolutely no one was above his law. All of those beautiful people…all the athletes and beauty queens and popular heroes who ignored him all his life, could no longer look the other way. He had arrived and he wielded a terrible swift sword!
His morning had gone particularly well. He issued several more subpoenas, pressured another witness into corroborating his obstruction of justice charge, and had held an impromptu news conference on the steps of the capital in which he had once again done his ‘No one, absolutely no one, is above the law’ routine. He loved that speech because it implied that perhaps someone considered himself beyond the reach of the law. In his mind it was a double-edged salvo that the opponent couldn’t answer!
Benny was just about to pop another jelly bean when his executive secretary ushered Agent Mutter into his office.
“Agent Mutter, thanks for taking the time to come over and have this chat.”
Though a little nervous, Mutter appeared outwardly pretty calm. “Not at all, the Director said you wanted to talk to me?”
“Yes. Please have a seat.”
“What a clever interrogative technique,” mused Mutter, “as subtle as a freight train.”
Moments passed. The silence grew increasingly awkward, but Mutter would not let himself be drawn.
“Agent Mutter, tell me about the Why Files Task Force.”
“I’m sorry sir, but much of my work is classified. You would need a minimum of a Top Secret Cosmic clearance.”
“Agent Mutter,” he chuckled, “My clearances stem from the hand of God. Would you have me call your Director?”
“No sir, that won’t be necessary. The Why Files Task Force has been tasked to investigate cases involving inexplicable phenomena.”
“You wanna say that in English, son.”
“We investigate cases that relate to stuff no one completely understands like UFO’s, satanic instances, ESP, and the like.”
“My sources tell me that you’re in over your head right now with some investigation.”
“That’s right sir. We believe there is a conspiracy to slow the evolution of computer technology on this planet. And the evidence seems to point at two of the major players in the industry.”
“Agent Mutter, we are aware of this investigation. What is your relationship with Agent Sulky?”
“Strictly professional, sir. We’ve done a lot of work together, but she’s turned….political.”
“Well, in the face of incontrovertible evidence, Agent Sulky seems to value her credibility and political standing within the agency over the truth—no matter how controversial.”
“Agent Mutter, I have some disturbing news concerning your partner, but that will wait. I am ONLY interested in the truth. As you know I maintain that no one is above the law.”
“And no thing?”
“That’s right, Mutter. I have arranged for you to work with us for the next six months. You’ll be part of the Greywater team. I should let you know up front that we are intimately familiar with most aspects of your investigation and over the next few months intend to subpoena the heads of both companies, Agent Sulky, the DogCow, and the President of the United States of America.”
“Sir, if it’s the truth you’re after, then clearly I’m your man.
Specifically, what role would you like me to play in your investigation?”
“Mutter, it may take some time, but I think we need someone to take an inside look at Macrosoft.”
Alas, the hot tub adventure with the President had fallen a bit flat, so to speak. In any event, she had learned very little…. about conspiracies that is. The President was off taking a nap and so Sulky decided to do a little exploring. It was on this quick reconnoiter that she found the one functional computer in the house. Located on the roll top desk in the study, the odd shaped little system seemed to glow when she powered it up.
Sulky double clicked on the Word 5.1 icon and waited briefly while Word booted up. Using Open under the File Menu, she looked through the Documents folder and noted several documents bearing the initials BP. The one she opened was a note explaining that ‘the lamb is ready for the slaughter,’ and it was signed by the Special Prosecutor. She wasn’t sure about the reference, but decided to copy all the BP documents.
Sulky withdrew a floppy disk from her purse in the hopes of finding some incriminating documents. She looked around…
“Where’s the damn drive?,” she thought.
“Whoa, no drive? That’s odd.”
Then it occurred to her. “No drive means the net. That forces more people to go online where they can be monitored. I’ve got to get this information back to Mutter!” she thought. As she headed back to her room, she had the undeniable urge to scratch her rear against the stair rail.
“Wow…this is weird,” she sighed, “What’s happening to me?”
Indeed, it had taken some time. Creating a bullet proof cover story for Agent Mutter’s new identity, Trevor Owen Fowler, establishing the proper paper trail, and modifying his appearance, accent, and keyboarding style were all time-consuming processes. Even then, the Special Prosecutor had to lean heavily on one of the ‘human resource’ specialists in Redmond to get Mutter hired.
It had been several weeks since ‘Trevor Owen Fowler’ had arrived from Cambridge. His credentials, of course, were impeccable and he came with the highest recommendations of the Cambridge Department of Computing. Human Resources had moved him briefly from job to job on the ‘orientation tour’ and this morning was the culminating interview that would hopefully earn him the certificate for completion of the Initial Macrosoft Assignment Course (IMAC).
Fowler sat at one end of a long walnut conference table, while four Macrosoft officials sat around the other. They all looked bright eyed, sincere, and laid-back wearing levis and open short sleeve patterned shirts. Then only clue that they were executives came from their brief cases and PowerBook portable computers. Because he could never keep track of names, Fowler (Mutter), numbered them 1 through 4 in his mind.
“Trevor, you’ve had a chance to work with Developers, Testers, Program Managers, Product Planners, Marketing Managers, User Education Specialists, Usability Specialists, Localization Specialists, and Product Support Specialists,” said questioner number one. Why don’t you describe each one of their functions for us.
“Let’s see…the role of the Developer is to become totally immersed in designing or developing a product.” answered Fowler, while the Tester gets involved with a product early on to ensure that it works meticulously.”
“Well, that’s a good textbook answer,” said number two, “but it’s a lot more complex than that. You see, you left out the word ‘profitable’ in your description of developer. That is, the developer gets totally immersed in a profitable project. The tester is more concerned that a product generally works. That let’s us release it in beta form, charge the customer, and fix the problems later. Hell, if we waited on meticulous testers, we’d still be immersed in Windows 3.1!”
“The Program Manager is the single thread that runs between all the people and the disciplines, providing everyone with a single vision. He/she ensures that a program has the right features that solve the customers’ problems,” suggested Fowler.
“Well…not exactly,” said questioner number three, “Sometimes a program requires features that the customer doesn’t know he/she wants, but can be marketed and can help sell the program.”
“Wow, zero for three,” thought Fowler, “I’d better get the next few right.”
“The Product Planner is involved with the evolution of a product. That is, he/she ensures that each new release of a product is planned for maximum impact,” said Fowler.
“Well…that’s pretty close, Trevor, but you left his/her/it’s most important role. The Product Planner ensures that product features trickle out from release to release. Otherwise, no one would pay for upgrades,” said questioner number two.
“The Marketing Manager,” Fowler continued, ” is responsible for making sure that products speak successfully to different markets. That way it sells more,” Fowler quickly added as an afterthought.
“That’s better, ” Mr. Fowler, “I think you’re catching on.”
“Let’s see, where am I, asked Fowler. Oh yes …. The User Education Specialist. The User Education Specialist is responsible for educating the market in the use of a product.”
“And sometimes that includes ‘potential’ use,” interjected questioner number three, “like when we market Excel as part of Office. We know full well that ninety per cent of the users will use at most five per cent of the features – if that; but it’s sexy to have that sucker with all of its bells and whistles sitting on your desktop.”
“Let’s skip to the Product Support Specialist, Mr. Fowler. What is his role?”
“The Product Support Specialist goes one-on-one with the customers making sure they get the help they need, because without customers, there’s no Macrosoft,” answered Fowler.
That brought spontaneous laughter from all of the questioners and questioner number two explained.
“Fowler, there’s no way we can go one-on-one with our customers. There’s just too many of them. The goal of the support specialist is to appear to give support to the largest audience of users. That way all of our customers perceive there is a support structure and that perception in itself solves many of their problems.”
Questioner number four who had remained silent throughout the proceedings, congratulated Fowler and asked him to pose for a photo as he was presented his certificate. One of the other executives took the photo, and the four left the conference room. As they departed, a senior vice president that Fowler had seen around campus accompanied by Sam Donaldson entered the room.
“Sam Donaldson, what’s he doing here?” thought Fowler uneasily.
Slowly it dawned on him. The whole future of the Why Files Task Force was at risk. He had fallen into a horrible trap.”
“Mr. Fowler,” asked Mr. Donaldson, “Just a few questions. Who do you Brits burn on Guy Fawkes Day?”
Mutter knew the game was up….he hadn’t a clue.
“I never was a history buff…,” Mutter lamely offered.
Donaldson smirked and saliva eased out the corner of his mouth.
“In fact, you’re not British at all, are you Agent Mutter?” replied Donaldson. “Tell me what one FBI Agent is doing undercover at Macrosoft while another entertained the President of the United States in a hot tub. This story will not go away Agent Mutter.”
To be continued…
Author’s Note: All characters in the Why Files are fictitious as are references to corporations or government organizations. Any resemblance to real life characters is purely coincidental.