At this time I have received 8 of 14 eligible entries for this round. A little more than 2 days left in this round, guys!
Wednesday, September 20, 1950
Jack stood in front of the yellow-white sedan, arms folded. Its chrome glittered in the sunlight as a high cloud passed on by.
“Tell me what’s wrong with this picture, gentlemen,” Jack growled.
The designers gathered around him exchanged nervous glances, but none spoke up. John Case gazed solemnly at his creation, his lips pursed.
“Come on,” Jack taunted. “No one’s got the balls to tell me what’s gone wrong here?”
“Wrong engine,” Stanton Glass muttered from his position in the middle of the throng.
“What was that, Stanton?”
“Wrong engine,” he reiterated, this time loud enough for all to hear.
Jack nodded emphatically. “It’s bad enough that we couldn’t get the V8 ready by launch. It’s flat out embarrassing that it’s still not ready a year later, and we’re stuck with just a six cylinder. So many of our competitors have eights. ACA. PMI. Olympus. Even those kit car guys have one. And the best we can do is a hundred-ish horses? Out of a 173 six?”
Desmond Wainwright gritted his teeth, but said nothing.
Jack turned around and shot a dirty look at the gathered crowd. “We have to do better. You’re all dismissed.” As they started to turn away, he added, “Except for you, John and Desmond.”
The remaining engineers shuffled away, whispering among themselves. Desmond sheepishly made his way to Case’s side.
“You know,” Jack snarled. “At the rate you two are going, these damn Bogliq upstarts are going to run circles around us.”
“Sir,” John protested. “We did what we could…”
“No excuses, John.”
Desmond’s irritation finally reached the boiling point. “So that’s it? Ask us the impossible, tear us to shreds, and then move on? Is that your plan, Mr. Chancellor?”
Jack blinked in disbelief, taken aback by the outburst. He then narrowed his eyes. “Don’t give me any…”
“Why shouldn’t I give you shit?” Desmond continued. “It’s all you give me. You throw three projects on me at once, but only give me enough staff for one and a half. And then you have the audacity to blame us? What about no excuses, huh, Mr. Chancellor? What’s your excuse for this?”
John put his hand on his friend’s shoulder and turned away from their boss. “Come on, Desmond. Calm down, let’s take a walk.”
Desmond tore the hand from his person and took an aggressive step toward Jack. “Why don’t you take responsibility for YOUR shortcomings, huh? Why does everyone else have to fall on the sword for YOU?”
“Who the hell do you think you’re talking to?” Jack sneered.
John urged Desmond again to walk away, but was ignored.
“You really want to know? A madman. Someone completely out of touch with reality, and angry because he can’t get his way.”
“I’ll remind you that we have sharehold…”
“Oh, don’t give me that line of shit, SIR. You can get rid of me if you want, hell, you can get rid of Stanton or John or Eugene too. Eventually the shareholders will figure out that you’re the problem, not us. Then where are you going to be, huh?”
“Get the hell out of here,” Jack growled hoarsely. “I’ll have your shit in a box for you.”
Desmond’s face twisted into an eerie smile, and he began to laugh as he walked away. “Thank you, Jack. Prove me right. Again.”
John glanced back and forth between Desmond and Jack, before hurrying to catch up with his friend.
Friday, September 29, 1950
Jack took a deep breath before reaching for his phone’s handset. He plucked it from the receiver and deftly spun 7 digits into the rotary dialer, each pulse click in his ear almost a taunt to his senses.
God Damnit, he thought
The line rang once. Twice.
Thrice. There was a click, and a familiar man’s voice came through the other end.
“Desmond,” Jack sighed. The line was silent. “Desmond?”
“Yes, Mr. Chancellor?” he replied coldly.
“I… I’m sorry. You were right.” Silence again filled the line. “I thought you were just shitting with me that you’ve been understaffed. Like Stanton does. But no, you’re right.”
“Staffing is your problem, Mr. Chancellor,” the engineer replied, no warmer than before.
“Indeed it is. I seem to have made a mistake in that aspect.”
“And how is that?”
Jack took a drag from his cigarette, then cleared his throat. “I… I seem to have mis-filed some personnel paperwork. It appears that I somehow fired you last Wednesday. I can’t imagine the kind of numbskullery it would take to make THAT big of a mistake, right?”
“I can,” Desmond shot back.
God dammit, Jack thought, his anxiety level increasing.
“OK, you’re right again. I should never have fired you, Desmond. I need you back.”
“Twenty percent raise,” the reply was immediate, and sure. “Immediate doubling of my staff, and another 20 percent increase over the next two years.”
Jack sighed in relief. “Of course.”
“Oh, and a five percent across the board pay raise for my entire staff, in addition to regular annual raises,” Desmond added.
“Hey now, that’s not…”
“This isn’t a negotiation, Jack. My way, or you find someone else to run Powertrain. I guarantee your Golden Boy can’t do it all himself.”
“Fine, you win.”
Jack could almost hear Desmond smiling through the phone. “See you Monday, sir.”
Jack grumbled and hung up.