Click logo above to see more about Barckmann's fiction

Thursday, August 1, 2019

About Digging the Golden Fungus: The SwiftPad Insurgency


The SwiftPad Insurgency

What can we do about the Trump presidency? This novel is a worse-case, very-near-term dystopian chronicle set in a fictional Portland Oregon.

But The SwiftPad Insurgency is a sequel. So if you want to jump into it without first reading The SwiftPad Takeover, here are some survival tips to help you navigate the second book without reading the first.

The SwiftPad Insurgency

Get the first book

The story in the first book, The SwiftPad Takeover, takes place about five years ago in 2014. Kip and Jim, childhood friends who grew up in a rural Oregon logging town go their separate ways, only to meet again in Portland. Kip meets a young “Goth Girl” (GG) from the east coast who was once voted “Most Likely to Virtualize” at DefCon, a Black hat computer hacking convention. She has an idea for a social media app that has the potential to blow away Facebook, and all of the other smartphone eye candies on the market. Kip helps GG’s get the app’s business off the ground, and eventually brings Jim in as well. They call the app SwiftPad.

There is a serial killer lurking amongst them all, as well as a vulture-like corporation (GIP - Global Industrial Processors) aiming at taking over both a local energy company and SwiftPad Inc. itself.

The characters: Kip, also called Chubby, aka Cornelius Welles, or as GG calls him - K - is the son of a rapacious capitalistic, hard-assed logger, (Walt Rehain) who takes over all the logging operations west of Philomath Oregon, and is hated by his neighbors. Kip hates (and loves) his father. His best friend is Jim Hunt, the son of a local failed logger who had drunk himself to death. He is raised by his Mom (Alice Hunt) who really discovers herself after her husband's death, and becomes a community and then a national left-wing shadow leader. She and Walt also have a love-hate relationship and she ends up taking over Walt’s empire.

After high school, Jim leaves his logging town, joins the army, and becomes a success in the IT industry. Chubby tries and fails at a number of business ventures, (backed by his father) until he meets GG, a nerdy genius from the Washington suburbs, a “Goth Girl” who comes up with the idea of SwiftPad. They meet, have sex and Chubby gets the initial funding for SwiftPad from his trust, and from others (some parodies of well-known Portlanders) and they start the business in Portland. Some of the other characters, such as Hadley and Archimedes were part of the SwiftPad team. How all this comes about is explained in the first book.

Spence, Kayla, Alison, and Paula are new characters to The SwiftPad Insurgency.

Nate Schuette also shows up. He was the main character in my first novel “Farewell the Dragon”. That novel was set in the mid-80s, so now, of course, Nate is much older.

Buy Farewell the Dragon

Farewell the Dragon reviews!

There were some comments concerning the near-term dates in the book. The action starts about four months after publication, (November 2019). The world is in much worse shape than it is now here in our "real" present.

So the question that begs is, will the novel date itself too soon to be meaningful, and will the story too quickly pass its expiration date? Well - People still read 1984. And really, I don't care because "...Insurgency" was inspired by the current, real emergency, and it is only meant to wake the readers up to what is at stake.

The SwiftPad Trilogy is an alt-history, a speculative tale that could almost be science fiction, and is very political in nature. In this ‘parallel universe”, things have begun to slowly veer away from the history we are living in now. It happened sometime after Nixon. Or did it? Is this world a hidden history of reality, and the world we think we know, of cable news, and Trump rallies, the actual illusion? Both cases are possibilities. But let's keep it simple, and stick to the story that the “now” we all know has gone off the rails.

As The SwiftPad Insurgency is a sequel, (and the second in a trilogy) much is explained in the first novel The SwiftPad Takeover. But the prequel turns out to be (to my honest surprise) my first novel Farewell the Dragon. In that novel, set in Beijing in 1987, we are introduced to Nathan Schuette, a 36-year-old would-be entrepreneur, and sometime English teacher. Now, he is almost an old man, in his late sixties. His journey before and after his time in China is the quintessential tale of the baby boom generation.

The SwiftPad Insurgency, like its predecessors, is filled with hyperbolic catnip for fantasists, conspiracy nuts, paranoids and seriously disturbed cynics. SwiftPad Inc. is now established as the primary source of information for the world at large and is the only institution that the dictatorial Presidential junta can not turn off, and it is centered in Portland Oregon. The @real-Prez appears to have gone totally around the bend and has been overthrown by his own Vice President, or “@temp-Prez”. But natural and manmade disasters, combined with fascistic actions, have made millions homeless. To be homeless is now as criminal as to be an “illegal alien” was in 2019. Millions are either camped around Portland or are on their way. Temp-Prez has sent the reconstituted para-military (V)ICE (V for vagrancy), to overthrown liberal Portland and send the refugees to Haliburton-built camps in the desert.

As to what happens, well you are invited to get the novel(s) and find out!

Check out two recent reviews!

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Farewell the Dragon Reviews

  Buy Farewell the Dragon here!

 Take a look at the reviews so far!

"Farewell the Dragon is a rigorous examination of personal agency and universal morality. It contains all of the toxic glamour of Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby and a moderate dash of Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code...Barckmann’s novel is one that has achieved something rare: It has uncovered a unique corner of twentieth-century culture and delicately sculpted it into a story worth remembering and reading for years to come."

Farewell the Dragon was a finalist for the 2018 "Book of the Year"  award by Red City Review

Red City Finalists

"...Barckmann is reaching for a depiction of time and place and character that rivals more classic tales of flawed individuals struggling with their exotic environments and their own shortcomings...There are similarities also in flaws, introspection, regret ...which echo Graham Greene’s characters, "

"A compelling read that will have readers sticking with the book long after bedtime. It’s hard to put down"

"Both secrets and honesty were used as weapons throughout Farewell the Dragon. Farewell the Dragon brings relationships, sex, international intrigue, religion, politics, and a society in flux to create an examination of human nature that is at once blunt and nuanced."
Poet and author T.L. Cooper

"A Great Read. Barckmann is a terrific storyteller"
"This Week in America's" Ric Bratton

6. Mark Oulton on Goodreads

This book is a cross between a double murder whodunnit and a fascinating and sexually charged romp in China that can sometimes be found in tight expatriate communities (in this case both from within the group and amongst the few Chinese who could interact with them) ...  the book is a valuable link between post-revolutionary China and the present as seen by a foreign observer. It is also written with a great deal of humor.

With twists and turns and surprises unraveling, this book keeps you on edge from the beginning to the end. The author depicts China’s cities and sounds extremely well. He makes all the characters stand out in a unique way which makes them fit perfectly in their role. The text explores the cultural impact of Beijing’s culture on foreigners. I loved the wonderful thoughts shared on this tome. Author Barckmann is well-versed in China’s religion, world politics, and philosophical ideologies. This makes the book not just entertaining to readers but also eye-opening....This novel is a top candidate for pure escapist entertainment. Packed with mystery, thrill, and international history, it will undoubtedly take readers on an emotive and fascinating odyssey. For this reason, I give it 5 stars. The text does not allow historical events to override the fascinating plot but instead grants readers a developing story that takes center stage.

Virginia rated a book it was amazing
Farewell the Dragon by S. Lee Barckmann
Farewell the Dragon
by S. Lee Barckmann (Goodreads Author)

I recently finished FAREWELL THE DRAGON, the prequel to the SwiftPad Trilogy by Lee Barckmann. I’m giving it high marks. It is an ambitious first book.

The time and place of the book: 1986, China. The adventurer, Nate, displays an admittedly modest understanding of the vastness of China. Because of his ability to speak Chinese better than most foreigners, many doors open for him. He lives his dream of being an expatriate: teaching, selling software at the beginning of the boon, falling in and out of love (bedding many women from around the world before the aids virus cooled everyone’s appetite).

There’s lots of drinking on the rooftop bar of the Friendship Hotel where the characters in this murder mystery seem to be playing three- dimensional chess with global politics. The gang loves discussing politics. They are a loosely connected characters in time. These were the Reagan years. References to the classic book, 1984 by George Orwell and THE GOOD EARTH by Pearl S. Buck hit the mark.

Barckmann introduces us to dozens of characters: Molly, his shapely, flirtatious, and shallow girlfriend. Dexter, his red-haired look alike who was 10 years younger and one dimensional, his beautiful Chinese woman friend who was always identified by waving just the tops of her fingers. My favorite was the Chinese neighbor who Nate drank tea with for an hour each month and who Nate realized was a solid source of high-minded wisdom. All swirled by, the murder is solved, and Nate takes us on a whole other journey in a reflective letter to his father in the last chapter.

Perhaps that’s why the stories continue.
From "Eugene Scene” magazine...

The protagonist, a young red-haired American, discovers the bodies of two foreigners in a dorm room at a guest house, which leads to a plot of intrigue: Was it murder or a murder-suicide?  How did they die?  Who killed them?  Now the young American became a suspect. The plot unfolds through his interrogation by police and through flashbacks, and it has something to do with an ancient and mysterious stele, a stone tablet bearing an ancient Chinese script...many characters from various countries who all found themselves in Beijing at the time —  various Europeans, an Australian, American CIA, and others, mixing with various Chinese people,  all desperately seeking and sometimes finding work, love, sex, and the deeper meaning of life. For China watchers, Farewell the Dragon is an intellectual feast, and it delivers an emotional wallop...

More Reviews for “Farewell the Dragon” by Lee Barckmann


Jeffrey Kinkley

I found this book to be a good read. One of its attractions is all the odd, intriguing characters from the Chinese expat community in Beijing prior to "Tiananmen" (they're not academic researchers, either--an assortment of Russians, East Germans, Central Europeans, PLO, Mossad, Americans, you name it, and among their Chinese friends, a People's Liberation Army "General's daughter" and a blind erhu player). Advisory: they sleep around with each other relentlessly.
Another attraction is the book's very convincing overview of China in this age when it was beginning to take foreign capital, but before the economy, urban construction, and the destruction of old neighborhoods were set to go full-throttle berserk in the 1990s and after. All the plot threads come together in the end. It reads like a mystery set within a tale of personal exploration in a peculiarly welcoming, and yet rather mysterious foreign environment.

Great Murder Mystery, Great Read!
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I loved the story with its background in the Chinese culture shown through the eyes of an American expatriate, Nathan Shute. I think that anyone who spent time on a college campus could relate to things that happen in this murder mystery. The overlapping intrigue of international spies, cultural treasures,and personal love affairs kept me totally involved. There are some books that you never want to end because you are enjoying them so much. This is one of those books!!!
Carl Warner
Farewell the Dragon definitely held my interest, keeping me awake at night. The murder mystery provides a good expat perspective on China during the period before much of the rampant economic expansion, as well as historical facts and lessons in Chinese culture. The protagonist is entangled in a mix of detective work, political intrigue, and sexual escapades. Highly recommended.
David G. Traeger
This was my "bus book" for a week in January. My constant companion for 3 hours a day amid the hustle and bustle of life on board a Max train and TriMet bus. The book held my attention and kept me quite happy while commuting. And it gave me a quote for my commonplace book: "Serene Hopelessness and tight quarters produce strict rules & nobody breaks the rules or even calls attention to them. Discontent is not allowed, especially discontent based in individualism; the appearance of unfairness must be smothered even if it not "gong ping", not a level playing field, not equal opportunity for everyone. You can not break out; it is the most important rule. You bear it. You mildly complain and listen to the mild complaints, but is repetitive and useless, just empty noise to no end."
Laura B. Raynolds
Farewell the Dragon is a wonderful postmodern work set in China in the 1980's, before the Tiananmen Square demonstrations. With a highly tuned ear for dialogue, Barckmann weaves many strands of different stories and histories into one murder mystery, rather like Thomas Pynchon's Crying of Lot 49. Like other postmodern works, Farewell the Dragon embodies ambiguity, complexity, density, and interconnectedness with references to many disciplines. Barckmann uses the coming-to-an-end of Old China along with events in the plot to enable the reader to experience a universal wistfulness and longing for that perfection in memory that is lost and will never come again. His work is a superb piece of fiction that deserves a wide readership. Bravo Barckmann!
J. Charles Kirby
Lee Barckmann has created a world that is inaccessible to most casual visitors to China. Because of his occupation as an English language teacher in the mid to late 80's ,the protagonist, Nathan Schuett is especially suited to understand the nuances of Chinese life. This story, however is about what Nathan does not know or should know but doesn't. This story is about China complicated by murder. Nathan finds himself in the middle of a detective story with misunderstood evidence and unexpected sex.I thought of the movies Chinatown and My Year of Living Dangerously.I can recommend this book
Dave from Oregon
Farewell the Dragon is a very enjoyable look at the Western expatriate community in China leading up to Tiananmen Square. I enjoyed the book as a prologue to China's post-Mao resurgence as well as an interesting set of the interplay between different groups in the expat community that are difficult for an American living in the US to imagine.

Patricia Brown writes:
This story brings chills down my spine! It is a gripping story of a double murder in Beijing and its story line is moving, intriguing and intense!
I find the investigation a very intriguing scene because you will have to guess and think carefully about the killer of the bodies that was found in an apartment by the lead, Nate! Nate is the male lead that provides interesting dynamic to the story. His ability to be clever and mischievous made the case a lot more interesting and a lot longer to solve. I believe though that this scene would have been made shorter to give more emphasis to the life that the he has lived. His life was the most interesting because he had multiple relationships with women, he sold software’s and taught English for a living and also had wonderful inputs about religion and politics. Moreover, I believe that because of the psychological and political impact of this book to the readers, I would have to say that is also educational apart from interesting.
I believe that anyone who loves thrilling books and murder case stories should read this book! It is indeed one of a kind.
Terry Crossman writes:
An engrossing read about a time 8 years before I arrived in Beijing. At times it was a bit slow and plodding and the time jumps and plethora of characters were a bit confusing at times, but the mystery and unsuspected surprises kept me going. I probably know many foreigners who lived in the pre-Tiananmen days in Beijing and I certainly do know many University teachers here and even did a post retirement stint as one myself. His portrayal of undercover missionaries and Taiwanese run joint ventures were so spot on. While I have never liked the drinking culture of expatriate life, I found the depiction of Friendship Hotel life fascinating especially as this has been my home city for over 25 years. I also love the authors appreciation of old culture and realistic portrayal of "drinking tea" with security folks. All in all a good read.

Sunday, July 7, 2019

Moving on From The SwiftPad Takeover

See a recent reviews here!

Reader Views

Kirkus review of "The SwiftPad Takeover"

The SwiftPad Takeover was written in a pique against my former employer after I was laid off in 2014.  I wanted to expose my impression of the infighting, greed, and incompetence at the company to release the pent up anger and hostility I felt so I could put the experience behind me and move on.

I am better now.  I was able to focus on writing "the revenge story" and at the same time satirizing Portland, as well as other types of corporate IT cultures. I had worked as a consultant at old-style firms with IT departments that had top-down vertical management structures, as well as young social media companies with horizontal structures and The SwiftPad Takeover illustrates both types. The main characters of the novel were two men, childhood friends now in their early forties, who grew up in the coast range of western Oregon. They encounter a young woman who has an idea for social media Facebook-like software, (SwiftPad) and they join up with her to make a company, based in Portland Oregon. One of the men, Jim Hunt has spent most of his career with "Global Industrial Processors", (GIP) but has quit and has returned to work for the local Portland Power Company.

GIP is after "the business" with both the power company and SwiftPad, and we follow the corporate intrigue from the inside.  And, oh yeah - one more thing, as Columbo used to say - a Serial Killer is lurking among cast of characters, leaving bodies in inconvenient places.

The SwiftPad Takeover was written as a literary experiment, an attempt to stretch myself as a writer. I decided to create some rules for myself to follow as I wrote.  I had already written a novel seven years or so previously, and I wrote that with no rules at least at first.  By that I mean, I would sit down and imagine a scene create action and dialogue and see how it fit together later. This time I wanted to plan it and have a product at the end I would recognize as what I intended at the beginning. I made a list of requirements I would follow as I wrote the book, rather than, just writing and seeing where it goes.  I think that next time, I will follow my old method and just let the story flow where it will go. I think you get a more organic product that way.   But nevermind, this is what we have got.

My first novel Farewell the Dragon
Buy Farewell the Dragon
was written in first-person and I wanted to see what I sounded like in third person. I wanted to write about the culture of Portland Oregon.  As I said, I wanted to write a revenge novel against my former employer for laying me off before I was ready to retire.  And I wanted to write an homage to my former profession.  I lucked into the work as an IT roust-about in my mid-thirties and it worked out well.    It required a lot of persistence, a certain amount of analytical ability, and a talent for spotting and spouting bullshit.  I wanted to move on and begin something else, and writing a book about the way it was allowed me to put it all into perspective and the rear view mirror.

I really wrote SwiftPad for myself, not for a particular reader.  With so much 'situation' to write about, well, maybe the characters were short-changed a little.  Jim, Chubby, GG, Macy, Trek, (aka OSWL), Alice, (Jim’s Mom), Walt, (Chubby’s Dad) and others all have somewhat predictable characteristics that weaken the book.  But it is a murder mystery novel, and I know it works on that level because several people who have read it say they were guessing right up to the end as to who was the killer. I learn some new plotting tricks and the futuristic satire of social media technology is pretty clever I think, if a bit goofy.  So it is what it is. Now that that is done, I want to move to the next project.

I am about to take off on a long trip, taking the train from Saigon to St. Petersburg, stopping a lot along the way, then on to Hamburg and then home.  I have a half-assed plan to write a sequel and have an idea that will develop the characters further - Chubby in particular, focusing on the recent election and some nastiness that will require Chubby and Jim’s girl friend Macy to confront the source of the attack on America’s Democracy.  It is still vague, but I am thinking the trip might flesh out the story.  We’ll see.

So really, I see The SwiftPad Takeover as a prequel to the real story, the coming, as yet unwritten real story.   

Check out the sequel here!

Saturday, June 1, 2019

Digging Up New Business:The SwiftPad Takeover - Chapter 9

Buy the book

Mark Ruskin (MBA), a “Business Consultant” for GIP, stretched and twisted in his striped silk pajamas in front of the opened sliding glass door, and looked out into the morning darkness of his Pacific Ocean–facing Santa Monica condo. He had just taken a piss, but still had his morning woody, and he tried to remember the last time he had sex in the morning, and why it had been such a long time since it happened.
He knew there were two kinds of women in Santa Monica, or at least in his condo building. He was clear about which ones he wanted to sleep with. There were the needy ones that said hi to you and the other kind, usually thinner, more elegant and stylish, the ones that smiled slightly or only lifted their eyebrows. Those were the ones. That is what he wanted, that is what he was waiting for! He had seen them on the elevator, in the park, at Whole Foods, in the gym, they were everywhere. He dreamed about having a girlfriend who always looked gorgeous, whose hair was always perfect, yet natural, a woman with that perfect uplift on her breasts, but not too big. Cheekbones, he really wanted cheekbones. That is what he was waiting for.
He knew if he kept a clear head, didn’t compromise, didn’t fall for a needy girl, one that was too quick to say hi or who continued talking too much, those were the ones to avoid…if he could stick to his plan, eventually, when he mastered his professional life, the rest would fall into place. He knew that. It takes money to get a perfect woman and he knew he was on the right track.
5:55 A.M. Mark was getting ready for the call. It was starting to get light out and he saw a strange flash out over the water. A plane taking off from LAX, catching the sun? He reminded himself to take out the trash.
He dialed in. “Hello, who’s on?” It was his boss, a woman who he had never met in person. Her name was Persephone Jackson. The name Persephone was a clue, could she be Greek? Mark didn’t think she liked him. She might be black, he thought. But he couldn’t picture her as black. Persephone…in some Greek myth, didn’t she fuck the devil?
Mark here,” he said.
Hi Persi, it is John. Ken just texted me that he can’t make it. Suzanne will join later if she can.”
OK, let’s get started,” Persephone directed.
Mark’s heart sank a little. Ken Oren was the VP in charge of BD Outsourcing. Big Data. He wanted to get connected with him. “John, why don’t you lay out the project?”
They heard a “BIP” on the line.
Well, it is a small energy company up in Or-ee-gone…” John began.
Hi, this is Suzanne, I just joined. I think we can say it is a mid-sized company, John…looking at the balance sheet, it doesn’t sound like much as these things go, but it is a chance to refine our approach, get requirements aligned with the model, analyze strategy. We want to go through the process on a small scale and figure out where we need to focus resources going forward. This could be a big play we use again and again. That being said, here are the main points.
The company is Northwest Consolidated Electric and Gas. It is an old company, and they have a protected market, a franchise from Oregon to sell natural gas…and electric power. Electric co-ops compete in outlying areas. It is all one big valley up there, isn’t it? Great football team lately. Ducks, right? They are about to break into some new markets. Potential regulatory nightmare, but we have people working that and the state legislature is…”
But,” John jumped in, “the price for expansion is that they might be losing the lock on their franchise. If they want to grow, they don’t have a choice. They have to take the risk. Furnaces and appliances have IP addresses now and power is getting managed down to the milliwatt. They want to start exporting gas across the Pacific. So they will be international soon and need to get ready for that. They have an LNG plant but no LNG. Can’t convince the regulators and politicians to let them turn it on. They have facilities for storage with a terminal being built on the Columbia, and a pipeline from Canada. They could really take off,” he paused. “Suzanne, what do you think?”
If any of that is going to happen,” she paused, almost certainly, thought Mark, for effect, “they need to upgrade their whole way of doing business, and their IT department is a Mom and Pop operation.” She stopped. “Hang on, I have to take this…” There was some dead air.
So what do you think, Mark?” Persephone asked. “Who joined?”
It’s Ken.” The Big Data VP! Mark’s heart skipped.
Hi, Ken. This is Mark Ruskin…”
Oh, you’re the Scout on this project, right?” There was a collec­tive nervous laugh.
Yeah,” Mark laughed again, this time by himself. “I am going up there on Monday, Ken,” he paused then continued, " John...” Take charge! he thought. “…You were the primary for sales on the Northwest Energy Project?”
I was not primary, but I am working on it…”
BIP! “Hi, it’s Suzanne again. Did Ken join?”
I’m here.”
OK, do we have a statement of work?” Mark asked.
No…we have an understanding…” John sounded unsure.
Do we have a contract?” Mark felt the power coming to him. Don’t let up!
Oh yeah, yeah, we have you there for three months. But extend­ing it should be doable, if we need to…”
Suzanne was good, Mark thought. She handled all the real work for clowns like John. He remained quiet. Clearly they didn’t know what he was supposed to do, which was fine with him. Mark thought the key was to give them as little as he could so they couldn’t micro-manage him. Let Ken know that he is in charge, not the Project Manglers or the Sales Monkeys. No milestones. The best plan was no plan.
Our big goal is to provide them a path to migrate their IT services to our facilities offshore. When they grow, we grow with them. There are some other business angles to this but we don’t need to worry about that. There will be staff resistance. It could even get political because of the franchise, etc. They have a Util­ity Commission…” He wondered who Suzanne was, a business analyst obviously, but she didn’t seem like she was shilling for John like he first thought. “…that controls rates. So we need you on the ground to track all of it and help us come up with strategies to mitigate that resistance.”
Got it,” said Mark emphatically.
Excuse me a minute, Suzanne, hold the fort, I have to take this…” John’s phone BIPPed off again.
In addition to your services, the contract includes the Social Cloud. We threw it in for a three-month trial. Don’t worry about licensing. Six months, even a year free, OK, as long as we make progress. The plan requires, absolutely requires, that they utilize our business tools. The collaborative tools will allow all activity by the entire company, both on and off the job if it really takes, to be tracked and directed to unified goals. All of it, the whole package, has to be implemented. That is your charge, Mark. The first thing is to get some beta testers happy.”
I’ve heard that we don’t have a product yet,” said Mark, “Social Cloud is really that start-up…Jammit, right? I understand we are still in the process of re-badging it, but it hasn’t been through any integration testing…for smartphone data sharing…”
Shut up, he thought, realizing he was just digging a hole he would have to climb out of. He knew the “Social Cloud suite” or whatever it ended up getting called would get sucked into that massive Ooze that was GIP Software. It had to integrate with this, that, and all the other GIP products, most of which were acquired, none of which talked with each other, even though each of those other products had the same requirements when they were brought in, but none of them had really been brought up to snuff yet. What did work was slow and buggy.
More dead air, about 30 seconds. “I’m back.” It was John. “So where are we?”
Well, Mark, we can take that offline, but the key thing to remem­ber, ‘Don’t let perfect be the enemy of the good.’ I think we are done, John,” said Persephone. “Do you have any questions, Mark?”
No.” Are you kidding, he thought? Don’t let perfect be the enemy of good? Mark looked up the quote on his iPhone. Voltaire? What did he know about software integration? Mark knew that none of the people on the call had any answers for his questions, so he kept silent. Questions would only make more work for him.
He got pinged on GIPtalk. IT WAS KEN!

KEN: Mark, great job! Call me when this ends.

Mark, get us a plan as soon as you can. We told them we’d start Monday. Can you get up there by then?” Persephone asked.
No problem.” It was Wednesday. “I’m going to drive my own car up. Any problem with reimbursement?” Mark had a Bimmer; he didn’t want to be driving a piece of shit rental for three months.
Probably not. Copy me on your first expense report. One more thing,” it was John. “They recently hired a new Operations Manager. He was working for us until last month.”
Really?” Persephone exclaimed.
Came out of the blue. He didn’t tell us where he was going when he gave notice. We found out about it from their CFO.”
What’s his name?” asked Mark.
Jim Hunt,” said Suzanne. “He was in delivery, a Systems Management guy. Our internal people didn’t have a particularly high opinion of him.” Suzanne hesitated, “And, he used to work there, at the client’s, years ago. So he probably has friends.”
Have we talked to him?”
Mark, that would be wrong,” said Persephone, “As well as risky…”
We have to be careful about tampering, it’s true,” said John. “But as things develop, in the right setting. This is your thing, Mark. Everyone says you know how to handle these situations.”
So our angel there is the CFO, what’s his name?”
DeFonzaro, Frank DeFonzaro. He is new to the company so he has to be careful. I understand he has some plans to push. ‘Bum’ Crockett is planning to set up a hostile takeover. Try to remem­ber that we have a solid, long-term relationship with the Crockett Group. DeFonzaro thinks they would be a beneficial partner but he will need to bring his people along on that.”
Like you say, John,” said Persephone, “we can’t…”
I know, I know, but it is better to know what is going on across the field, right, Mark?”
Just,” John hesitated…“Just…let this guy Hunt, Jim Hunt…you got to make sure he is still our guy. Feel him out and let him know if things go well, he will land on his feet. See that he under­stands the welcome mat is still out.”
No problem.” Mark sensed an awkward silence. He heard a cough. It was probably Persephone. “I’ll see how it goes.” He knew that the other side of the coin held true too, that a company like GIP could remove a lot of welcome mats, not just at GIP.
OK, any questions? No? I have another meeting, if anybody wants to stay on–” Persephone said. “No, thanks everyone!”
Bye.” “Bye” “Thanks.” BIP – BIP – BIP – BIP – BIP – BIP.
Mark got up and walked to his balcony to breathe. Holy Wow! He was reeling and now he had to call the VP. This was becoming exactly what he wanted, MORE! Alright. Mark dialed.
Ken, it’s Mark Ruskin.”
Mark. Great job! You ready for this?”
Absolutely! I think this is going to be a big play for us.” Mark was excited and he didn’t mind letting it show in his voice.
I have something to add, which I didn’t want to say in front of the rest of the team. We might have another deal in Portland. It is more long term but maybe not. It is not related to the Energy Company play. It is a start-up, a Social Media Company. They are staying completely off radar. They are putting simulations out on the Web which are getting amazing amounts of traffic. It is becom­ing a bit of a cult phenomenon. You still can’t google them. I have a guy looking into some things and will send you the update as soon as I have it.”
Great!” Mark was confused. Is this legit? Can’t google them?
We want you to do some recon work while you are there. Just sniff around. Once you get something, we can darken the skies with people flying into Portland. But we want to know what we are deal­ing with. It is called SwiftPad. We don’t know what it means, but it looks like they might be doing a business collaborative deal, or even going after Facebook. I’ll send you the details, but it is really only one address and one name, which I do know, and we are looking into one other…Like I said, I’ll keep you posted…We’ve dealt with him before; he is kind of slippery so be on your toes. You will know him as ‘Lonnie Wolfe.’”
OK, I’ll check it out.”
For business, you can trust him, don’t be afraid to utilize him. Just…”
Just what, Ken?” asked Mark.
Keep on your toes around him, keep it low key. And keep us out of it for now.”
Us? Mark didn’t ask him who us was.
Understood. Thanks, Ken.”