Author : J.R.D. Skinner
“So, are ya?” He’s maybe twelve, wearing blue shorts and a Mexico City Raptors t-shirt, a leg up on the wrought iron patio fence. My lobster is getting cold.
“What?” I ask.
I realize he’s holding up a thin rectangle the size of a credit card, alternating his squints to get the thing’s picture to match my face.
“CEO Benjamin “Crush ‘Em” Hinton?”
I remember signing off on licensing my likeness to FlatMedia last May, but I hadn’t seen the cards in the wild.
I ignore him.
That might have been the end of it, but a serving girl swings by my table.
“Your bill, Mr. Hin – Ben.” She says, smiling uncomfortably.
That’s what I get for flirting with the wait staff.
“It IS you! Could ya sign my card?”
He thrusts a red stylus and the card at me. I accept, mostly just interested in checking out the cheap display on the back. There’s a rundown of my resume; schooling, management experience, time spent on corporate boards.
I tap on New Youth Limited. Not much my rookie year, but the second I was apparently one of “The Resurrection Seven”, a voting bloc that saved N.Y.L. by moving from chemical processes to genetic engineering. I remember the vote, but I don’t remember anyone using the snazzy nickname.
Sliding through the listings, I notice some of them have been marked up in a child’s block script, often with arrows pointing to individual entries, notes like: “Bob may have had seniority, but not the votes!”
“Anywhere?” I ask.
“Sure!” He says with a sloppy grin.
I tap the pen icon.
“Is it true that you punched Director Jules Wilson?”
“Heh, yeah. I mean, Wilson always came in drunk, but he fucked up my presentation. When he started pawing at Kathy Reed I was just looking for an excuse.”
I look up, wondering if I’ve said too much for a kid his age, but he seems to be eating it up with moon eyes.
“You ever gonna work somewhere huge like Kalstock again?” He asks, face imploring. I scribble and hand him back his card.
His saucer eyes begin to droop.
“Hey,” I quickly add, “I mean, there’s talk that Kalstock may revisit their policy and have me back for another term, but its hush hush.”
He brightens. I imagine him lording the harmless secret over his friends for a week.
“Tedward says you got lucky with the Talibi Merger because CEO Norma Donald was kicked by Talibi’s oversight expert system. I think he’s a craphead. You’re so smart you must have done something.”
I smile, recalling my best maneuvers.
“I bought shares in a number of Talibi subsidiaries using various fake names. I put out a lot of crosstalk showing a lack of stockholder confidence. The system got nervous. I paid good money to insert low numbers into that week’s financial reports, and the system went to red alert. Things would have been fixed as soon as they saw the next round of numbers, but I used the whistleblower hotline to point out a lie on Norma’s resume involving her university rowing team. With so much bad happening so suddenly the computer thought the world was ending and booted Norma, the only one who understood Kalstock’s real intentions.”
The kid’s smiling the whole time I’m talking, but as I finish he turns and waves to someone. It’s then I see the New Youth product watermark on the back of his neck.
“Mr. Hinton – Carl Nochek, special agent of the Securities and Exchange Commission. You’re under arrest.”