The River Bottom

The men’s restroom was the quietest place Rudy could find. He’d tried spots outside the terminal. Take-offs and landings produced noise that might go on for a full minute. Far too intrusive. He’d explored the Conch Flyer restaurant. It buzzed with constant chatter from travelers having a last drink before heading home. The men’s room provided the only viable solution. He positioned himself in a stall and locked the door. It was quiet enough until the maddening public address reminders every couple of minutes about luggage screening and proper conduct at airport security. The announcements seemed to pipe directly into the restroom. There was nothing to be done. He sat on the toilet seat. If Carter could see him now.

He inhaled and held it, imagining the activity inside the main campus of the Pax-Jupiter Corporation. Hallways lighting up. Saturday or not, forty thousand computer screens came to life, sending forty thousand electronic dawns into forty thousand brains. This was the final day of a reporting period and, in this case, the fiscal year. All hands on deck. The Trinity in wait. Solemn. Unforgiving.

He let the breath out slowly as he dialed directly into the executive conference room at the Pax-Jupiter Corporation.

Joe came on immediately. “Executive.”

“Good morning, Joe. It’s Rudy.”

“Good morning. I’m here with Manford Augustine, Quentin Augustine and Dexter Fitch. Mr. Augustine will start.”

He expected the abrupt format. The formal tone. He’d listened to it more times than he could remember, sitting at that table, never feeling the pressure on the shmuck at the other end of the line.

Rudy waited. Augustine often took his time to let the tension build. When he did speak, the threats had a smooth and matter-of-fact quality to them.

“I have a graveyard full of guys like you,” Augustine began.

***I’d never publish a spoiler post. Goes against my nature as a storyteller. You can read the conclusion to Rudy’s subplot by downloading the novel for 99 cents because Amazon won’t let me give it away.***

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