One of the three men gazes out the tinted windows, admiring the neatly manicured grounds surrounding the building. He had never really noticed how nicely the grounds were maintained before. This may be my last day, maybe my next to last day, he thinks. He decides he will miss the place.
The other two men wear nondescript dark blue business suits. Sitting at the conference room table, they flip through the papers before them, not really reading because they have already read the material. Nervous tension fills the air. Since the most basic pleasantries were exchanged, nothing has been said. The loud second hand on a clock incessantly reminds them of each second and minute that passes.
The door opens. A fourth man enters the room. His hair is gray, close cropped to his head, and he is neatly dressed in a dark suit. The three men in the room promptly give him their full attention as he sits at the head of the table. They have come to respect him as a thoughtful, hard-working man.
He briefly flips through his copy of the report. He takes his glasses off and places them on the report while rubbing the bridge of his nose. Finally he speaks.
"No use in mincing words. We all know this represents a colossal failure. Colossal! When we do our jobs properly, we cover all the details, none escape our attention." He then looks into the eyes of each of the three men.
The man who had been gazing out the window earlier speaks up.
"I have here my letter of resignation. I accept full responsibility as the team leader." He respectfully slides the typed letter toward the head of the table.
The senior man glances down at the letter disdainfully, but doesn’t read it.
"Not now. However, I am going to hold on to it pending what develops in the next several weeks. It is imperative that none of this leaks. Not one word. Do you realize what will occur if any part of this leaks? All the good we have done, all the good we are trying to do, won't matter. It will be irreparable. We will be blamed, bashed, bludgeoned. No matter that we are not responsible. It will be a blood bath, heads will roll." The end of the last word echoes off the conference room walls.
One of the other men in the room asks the inevitable question.
"Sir, are we staying the course?"
"I have given that a great deal of thought. Barely slept last night.” He pushes back from the table and stands up straight. He walks toward the window and stares out at nothing apparent except the slight movement of oak tree leaves.
“Yes, the goal remains the same,” he says, turning back toward the conference room table. “This is important. We need answers. Not one more mistake. Not one. Understood?"
He looks now to his right at his general counsel, the only man yet to utter a word.
“Bob, have you calculated the anticipated direct costs of the crash, assuming we discreetly pay the lion’s share?”
“Yes sir. I have made inquiries to accounting and estimators and did significant research on various aspects of that question and on the Phoenix’s technology. On the losses, I can safely say the gross valuation is between 160-200 million dollars. I recommend we cover three-fourths of that valuation and no more, which is still a huge number.”
“Hell yes, that’s a huge damn number! One we never anticipated. Let me ask you this: what’s the value of the Phoenix technology?”
“It wouldn’t be less than five billion dollars in the first five years, assuming we can replicate the Phoenix’s initial research and results.”
“So the Phoenix numbers mean this: yes, it’s worth it. That’s all, gentlemen,” he abruptly says, sweeping up his papers and exiting the room.
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