Jason walked into the lab early, and tired. He had stayed even later than usual the last three nights. He was once again deep into the hunt, and like a bulldog whose jaws have snapped shut, there was no letting go until the job was done. Upon detecting him entering the room, his computer started the coffee machine, (new coffee machine, new programming). “Good morning my love.”
“Good morning,” he answered, tossing the empty plastic orange juice glass in the trash. “Where exactly did we leave off last night?”
“We left off on the third attempt at sequencing animal cell mutations, occurring after maturity in primates. Blue folder on your desk, second page, line seventeen, exactly.”
Jason walked to his office and picked up the folder. His focus quickly snapped back to where it had been just six hours before. His fatigue dissipated. The right sequence was there. He just hadn’t found it. He knew he was close.
Two hours passed. As the lab techs started to file in for work, Jason remained in the confines of his office. His staff was still busy helping to implement the last project and, more to the point, there was no one, (other than his “girl” of course), capable of helping him work at this level. He really didn’t want or need any distractions. The lab staff had long since learned this. Other than to warn him that the place was on fire, they knew better than to bother him. One person however, did not know better, and walked in on him without even thinking to knock.
“Good morning, Mr. LaCost.”
Jason looked up expressionless, and then answered with a smile.
“Good morning, Ms. Riker. To what do I owe this delightful visit?”
“You owe it to the fact that you seem incapable of reading, or should I say acknowledging, memos.”
“Now that’s not true. My gir, uh, computer answers all memos, and notifies me accordingly.”
“Oh sure,” Janet responded. “It answers them all right. Answers your office phone too, with instructions that you are not to be disturbed. I’ve even tried your cell, but of course, that can be ignored easily enough. Jason, you really have to start acting more…like an adult.”
He smiled. He knew Janet wasn’t really mad, just tired of having to walk all the way here from the other side of the building only to inform him of meetings and such. The problem was, she was the only one who could effectively do it. He simply ignored anyone else.
“I’ll try to do better,” he replied, bowing his head and looking at the floor. Janet rolled her eyes toward the ceiling.
“You really are incorrigible, you know that!”
“Actually, I do know that.”
Then she smiled. They both knew she couldn’t stay upset with him. She decided to change the subject. “How are things going with Sarah?”
“Good,” Jason said, instantly elated. “She spends four days a week at a science and math academy for gifted children, and on Fridays, Alison has her hooked up with the University of Chicago.” The half-smile appeared, “They’re still trying to find a way to establish a quantitative measurement of her spatial and pattern recognition capabilities.” He stopped for a moment and continued softly. “They really have no idea what they’re in for.”
Janet didn’t know about that, but it warmed her heart to see Jason this happy and involved. “Are you bringing her to the picnic this year?”
“Oh, absolutely. Wouldn’t miss it.”
“How about that pretty young lady of yours. Will I see her there?” Jason looked away. Could it be? Was he actually blushing just a bit?
“Yes, yes you will.”
“Well I think you two make a nice couple,” she replied on her way to the door.
“What is it?”
“What is what?”
“What is, the reason you came in here in the first place?”
“Oh right,” she said with a laugh. “The boss wants you in his office today at eleven.”
“Just tell him a friend is here to collect on that cup of coffee.”
The receptionist looked suspiciously at the man making the odd request but didn’t inquire any further. “Yes sir. Please have a seat.” She then got on the phone to Schimmel’s secretary and was a bit surprised at the response. “Sir, Mr. Schimmel will be out shortly.” Five minutes later, the head of Universal Biotech appeared in the waiting area, with a filled coffee cup in hand. Jack Thompson just shook his head and smiled.
“Bob, you old son of a bitch. It sure is good to see you.”
“You too, Jack. Come on in.” The coffee was left on the receptionist’s desk as the two men went into Schimmel’s office, patting each other on the back the whole way.
Bob Schimmel was a senior in high school when Jack Thompson was a freshman. Both were on the varsity wrestling team. Schimmel had wrestled all through high school and made varsity in his junior year. He was looking into Engineering School and hoping for a scholarship. Thompson, by virtue of his natural fighting skills, was simply above the curve.
After wrestling practice one night, things were set in motion. Schimmel was walking past the bus in the parking lot behind the school when he heard the commotion. He saw the other boys gathered in a makeshift circle and knew right away what was up. Whenever two guys were going to fight the same thing always happens. All of the spectators gather round to watch, and hoot, and holler. He approached to check things out and didn’t like what he saw. There weren’t two guys getting ready to fight. There were three. Two big guys wanting to fight one not so big guy.
The two big guys were apparently upset because Thompson had, by making the team, taken the position previously held by one of their friends, relegating him to the Junior Varsity squad in his senior year. To add insult to injury, this had been done by a freshman. They were going to give him the beating he deserved.
Schimmel quickly intervened. It just didn’t seem very fair. The two seniors were in the 160, and 170, pound class. Jack Thompson was a freshman and hadn’t really filled out yet. He tipped the scales at 135. Bob Schimmel was the biggest guy on the team. He was their heavyweight. That, combined with being team captain, commanded enough respect to stop this, at least for now.
Afterwards, Thompson didn’t know what to say. He stood staring at the team captain for what seemed an eternity, before pushing out “Uh, thanks.”
The big guy patted him on the shoulder.
“Your welcome,” he said quietly, and just turned and walked away. Didn’t make a big deal out of it. Didn’t ask for change. Just turned and walked off, like nothing had happened.
As luck would have it, three days later the same two fellows approached Thompson again in the parking lot after practice. This time Schimmel wasn’t there. A beating followed, but not quite the one the two older boys had expected. A half-hour after the fight started, found them both in the hospital emergency room. Two broken noses, along with assorted cuts and bruises, had changed their minds about picking on that frosh kid. Jack came to school the next day without a scratch.
When the wrestling coach threatened to kick Thompson off the team for fighting, (he was after all responsible for two of the squad missing the first 3 weeks of the season), it was Schimmel, again, who came to his rescue. At first, he argued to the coach that they started it, that it was two against one, that Jack was merely defending himself, but with no success. Fighting was simply against the rules, the coach pointed out. He would have to be kicked off the team.
Seeing this was getting nowhere, Schimmel changed his approach, (a skill he later found invaluable in business). He calmly pointed out that if Jack were to be kicked off the team for fighting, so would the other two guys. That would leave the team three men short. Also, if Jack could take care of two guys, who each outweighed him by thirty-some pounds, how could anyone in the 135lb. weight class hope to beat him? And, we never have had a 135 pounder go to state, have we?
The two of them became great friends, exchanging favor after favor for each other over the years. Schimmel changed his engineering major to business in his third year of college, and eventually came to own 53 percent of the stock in a company called Universal Biotech.
Jack Thompson went undefeated during his entire four years on the team. His record was 83-0. He then went on to reach the rank of Captain in the Navy Seals, officially serving two tours of duty in southeast Asia.
Eleven o’clock found Jason sitting in Bob Schimmel’s office, impatiently wanting to return to his lab. The big man came in exactly on time, and quickly sat down. “Jason, I need to go over some things with you before the board meeting. From here on in we will be moving faster than originally planned on this project of yours, and there are things you need to know.”
While his tone was reserved and business like, Jason could see that Schimmel was as serious as could be right now. He kept quiet and listened.
“First of all, that situation with Fred Listerman turned out to be more serious than it first appeared. I don’t think the man had a clue who he was getting involved with.” Schimmel paused to let that sink in a little. Jason leaned back in his chair and waited.
“OK. boss. You’ve got my attention.”
“I expected someone to be snooping. It’s not unusual when you get as big as we are, and it’s not the first time I’ve had to deal with that type of thing. I have to admit though, I was a bit surprised when I found out who was ultimately behind it”
Jason concentrated and relaxed at the same time.
“Huboral? As in Huboral International?”
Schimmel was uncharacteristically caught with his mouth open. Janet was right. It really was hard to get used to him doing that.
“Uh, that’s right. Huboral was behind it. Do you know about Huboral?”
Jason shrugged. “Well, not really. I know they are a huge multinational corporation. They deal heavily in oil and have a fair share of government contracts.”
“Some would say an unfair share,” Schimmel clarified.
“Oh. OK. What else should I know about them?”
Schimmel’s tone became even more serious
“What you should know, is that these fellows are hard core. Definitive bad guys. The company is run by a fellow named Oscar Crowne. To say he has a history is an understatement. He’s a ruthless profiteer, who operates on a global scale. The man has allegedly been involved in everything from black market arms dealing, to deposing foreign leaders. Needless to say, his influence is formidable. He has extensive political connections worldwide, including Washington, and his financial clout is enormous. Reading a spread sheet on this company isn’t sufficient, being as so many of their assets are unreported. Suffice to say, they could probably buy a small country.”
Jason looked at Schimmel.
“Wow indeed. Now, there are a few more things you need to know. Coffee?”