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Chapter Twenty-two: The Secrets Of Cain
“We lost Global this morning.”
The room fell silent.
Julia Martin walked slowly to her seat at the large table in Morgan & Company’s private conference room. “What do you mean ‘Global too’?” she asked, taking her seat.
Amy Wheeden shook her blonde head with resignation. “You missed Altair Industries’ release this morning. They didn’t even inform us—just sent over a notice saying that because we screwed up their database work so much, they didn’t intend to honor the rest of their contract. So they walked.”
Julia frowned. “Have you checked with legal? Can they just do that?”
“I checked; they can.”
Julia sighed. “Where did they go?”
It was Kristen who answered. “Cain,” she said, grimly. “Who else? They’re getting all our business these days.”
Pamela, who had been sitting listening, turned abruptly to Amy. “What’s the status on the leaks situation? Have you gotten any farther with that aspect of this mess?”
Amy frowned “I’m still working on the office security report—it should be ready by end of day. I’m working on it as much as I can with Kristen on the computer network side. If the integrity’s been breached there, we could have big trouble.”
“You mean they may have tapped into our mainframes?” Julia Martin was aghast—the mainframes held EVERYTHING.
Kristen nodded glumly. “Yep. It’s possible. Most of the Accutrex material was on the mainframe and when they terminated their contract, it was because Cain had pointed out to them some of the items on the South American strategy that...”
Joanne cleared her throat. “That’s the last client we’re going to lose to those BASTARDS.” Her cadre sized her up. She was angry, which was a good sign, but could she do anything to prevent the continual slid they were on?
Pamela Henessey backed her up loyally. “Of course not Joanne. Besides,” she smiled, “they’re about to have their day in court—remember?”
The reminder seemed to perk everyone up a bit.
“True—there’s no way they can avoid taking their medicine this time. Still, whatever they’re doing is killing us. We’ve lost hundreds of thousands in billings in the last month. If we don’t stop them—we’ll be out of business. And,” she intoned sombrely, “I didn’t build up this business to give it up to an old boy’s clique of creeps like Cain!” She turned to Pamela. “Speaking of which, have you found out anything about them? Anything we can use?”
Pamela looked uncertain. She pulled out a folder and opened it. “Well,” she began, “what I have is, um, at best incomplete. I mean, it, uh, really doesn’t make that much sense.”
Joanne frowned. “What do you mean?”
“Well, to start, it took a while to find anything. The information is pretty thin about Irwin Klaw. There are no bios of him anywhere. He claims army service but the army has no record of him.”
“Where did he come from?”
Pamel shrugged. “He just sort of appeared out of nowhere in the mid-sixties, when he founded Cain Consulting. They’ve been a quiet niche player until recently.”
Joanne Morgan rubbed her forehead. You couldn’t run a company for thirty years and remain invisible. Unless... “You think he’s tied in to a government agency?”
Pam shook her head, pulling some paper out of her folder. “Not unless they’d allow this craziness to be reported. In fact, this material is all I’ve been able to find in reference to Klaw.” She passed out xeroxes of old newspaper clippings.
Joanne took the two items. The first prompted a memory and suddenly she remembered the blip of snickering that had accompanied his arrival at the Lucerne conference. She scanned the Wall Street Journal article quickly.
CONSULTANT’S ART COLLECTION: COUP OR CATASTROPHE?
Irwin Klaw, reclusive CEO of Cain Consulting, has found himself in the midst of an unusual problem—a veritable windfall of valuable oil paintings long thought either destroyed or lost.
There’s only one problem—all the art is pornographic in nature! Fragellus, the painter whose works are in question, was a well-known artist loosely affiliated with the DaDaist school of art theory through the early part of the century. After the controversial first showing of his work at the Abbey Gallery in Paris in 1917, most of his peers shunned the artist. His work, dealing with the subject of female submission to the male, was widely reviled despite the acknowledged technical genius of his work. His disappearance before the end of World War One went virtually unnoticed, as was his work—until recent years, when critics rediscovered some Fragellus prints.
“Brilliant—dark and unseemly. But thoroughly genius,” admits Franz Wickoff, Art Historian at the Free University of Berlin. “Fragellus was a sadist, reputed to have based his work on actual events, as unbelievable as that seems—considering the barbarity of the scenes portrayed. How Mr. Klaw managed to discover not one or two pieces, but the entire collection of Fragellus’ work is beyond luck. Art historians and collectors have searched high and low for this work for decades. That Klaw found it as easily as he did and under such mysterious circumstances, well... He had to have known precisely where it was—that is the only explanation.”
Mr. Klaw, whose acquisition of the work was disclosed only when a custom official checked the shipment for random drug interdiction, has remained silent on the subject, offering only to prove his legal ownership if required to do so. Anxious to put the subject to rest, custom officials have quietly dropped the investigation. Still there are questions.
“Why he would want to possess such a collection is beyond me. The subject matter is repellant. The collection belongs in a museum—preferably in a closed wing,” concludes Wickoff. Art investors, who value the collection in the hundreds of thousands, may disagree. Coup or catastrophe, Mr. Klaw’s carnal collection would seem to defy classification.
“So, our boy is into dirty pictures. I remember this came out a few months ago—odd. What else?”
Pam pointed at the next article. “Something weirder.”
WEEKLY WORLD NEWS EXCLUSIVE
Joanne chuckled. “Don’t tell me he’s Elvis!” But Pam wasn’t laughing. She picked up the tabloid cutting and began to read with increasing anxiety.
CONSULTANT A WAR CRIMINAL?
Is Irwin Klaw, international consultant and CEO of Cain Consulting, the reincarnation of a Nazi war criminal—reputed to be dead for forty years?
Esther Kohlberg thinks so. Mrs. Kohlberg, a seventy-four year old widow who fled to the U.S. following World War Two, recently filed a complaint with the Palm Beach Police Department encountering Mr. Klaw in Miami International Airport.
“I couldn’t believe he was still alive—it has been so long and he looked so young,” she commented. Mrs. Kohlberg last saw the man she claims is none other that Obergruppenfuhrer Walter Von Sader shortly before being liberated from Kopfwald.
“It was a rape camp where pretty Jewish girls were gathered for the pleasures of the SS officers. I was only sixteen years old. It was a nightmare,” Mrs. Kohlberg recounts with tears in her eyes. “They sterilized you then trained you to be a sex slave. Von Sader organized and ran the camp. Hundreds of girls were—‘trained’—and given out as prizes to successful officers and Nazi party officials. Others who were less beautiful were kept in a bordello for the guards. Many girls killed themselves if they could. He should be arrested and tried for his war crimes.”
When police asked how the sixty year old Mr. Klaw could possibly be Von Sader, who would be well over ninety, Mrs. Kohlberg couldn’t explain it. “I don’t know,” she responded, confused as they. “But it is him!”
A subsequent call to the UN War Crimes Archives elicited the information that Von Sader was reported missing in action on the Eastern Front in the waning days of World War Two and presumed dead. Still, this reporter couldn’t help but notice what Mrs. Kohlberg saw (see photos below).”
Joanne scanned down to the photos. Aside from the clothing—one man wearing the black and silver terrorsuit of the Nazi SS officer and the other in an expensive tailored suit—the two looked like twins. She shuddered.
“Damned if he didn’t have a Nazi uncle or something—they really do look like an identical match. I’m getting the willies. Let’s keep working on it, ok Pam?”
Her number two nodded and the meeting broke up on that note. “Pamela, please hang around for a minute. I need some help on something.” The other women left and Joanne shut the door. “What’s up Joanne?”
The female CEO looked around suspiciously, maybe even a bit like a paranoid, to Pamela’s way of thinking. “Strange things are going on at Cain. I talked to the lawyer we shared—well, used to share, since he’s just fired her too—and she said that Jackson was in town at meetings over there. He dropped in to tell her that she was fired, that Klaw had given him the name of another legal firm with which he was going to do business.”
Pamela didn’t comment. It wasn’t unusual that such connections were made when a client relationship was in flux.
“You remember Chester Jackson? Tubby boy genius type? Sweet as could be—but no social skills whatsoever. And nervous around women.”
Pamela smiled. If Jackson wasn’t a stereotypical nerd, she didn’t know who was! “Yeah, sure. His glasses fogged up anytime one of us brushed up against him. Completely harmless though.”
“Well, my lawyer said he had a virtual entourage of young women with him. He was in her office with—get this—a brunette, a blond and a brown haired woman. All fawning over him like a harem. She said he was unbelievable with them—ordering them around like a pimp or something.”
Pamela shrugged uneasily. “Money buys a lot. Guess he got himself some prostitutes.”
Joanne grimly frowned. “No—that’s the thing. My lawyer recognized the brunette as a classmate of her niece’s. Her name was Avril—and she was a Wharton School grad. She didn’t know the other two, but she was pretty sure they weren’t pros.”
“Money,” Pamela repeated grimly, “will buy a lot, Joanne. Terrible but true. Some women will trade integrity for security.”
A moment passed. “Maybe,” her boss conceded, “maybe that’s it. Still, why the hell are they getting all our business? Pamela, do you think we have a mole here at Morgan feeding them confidential information?”
Pamela nodded uncertainly. “Could be. I was thinking of who had access to that kind of data.”
Joanne tapped her chin. “Kirk?”
“Normally I’d say no—but he didn’t show up for work today—and there was no answer at his apartment.” Her angry frown told Joanne at least that was one possible source of leaks. “I’ll go over to his apartment later. I was also thinking an after hours source. The security guard for instance.”
Joanne suppressed a laugh, her mood brightening. “Charlie, the security guard? But he seems harmless! God, he’s a hundred years old!”
Pamela nodded, undeterred. “True—but better not to take chances. My suggestion is to give him six months and get him out of the building at once. I can have him replaced by tomorrow with someone new—and uncompromised. We can’t take chances.”
Joanne nodded thoughtfully. “Well, fine. We can’t take chances,” she repeated in agreement. “I’ve got to get out of here—have a drink around the corner at the new fern bar?”
Pamela almost said yes, then thought better of it. “I better get a security update from Amy on the mainframe situation. Another time?”
Her boss nodded. “I’d better get home anyway—I can still get Katie in London if she’s up studying.”
The two parted in better spirits, but Pamela was painfully aware that the deteriorating business situation needed to be addressed if Morgan and Company were to keep its doors open. Pamela was Joanne’s second employee, hired away from McKinsey to join a very speculative venture. But since then, the two women had turned a small consulting firm into a leader and neither was about to let it go because of a downturn in fortunes. That security report was an important step in combatting their client losses.
Amy’s office was closed and there was no answer when she knocked. Amy was gone, but there was a note on the desk.
I’ve gone about as far as I could with the internal investigation. Right now, I’m researching the security leaks from home by trying to break into the network using my laptop and with Kristen Sternberg’s help. The report will be complete by tonight and I’ll drop by and leave it on your desk, along with our other findings. If you’d prefer, you can drop by and pick it up about nine.Amy Wheeden
Pamela looked at her Rolex. It was barely five and she had no desire to drive over later that night. Damn it—had everyone become unreliable at Morgan? That report was supposed to be ready now—not at nine o’clock! Fine—she’d drive over there now and get what they had so she could at least study it over a glass of wine in her own place.
As she drove over, she idly wondered about her account manager and system expert. They were evidently a lesbian couple now, that was the buzz at the office. The watercooler had been a busy place when that discovery had been made public. No one said a thing, nor had they—but the furtive hand holding and coming and going from the office together was enough. And then when they let slip that they were roommates now—well, THAT was gossip enough for two weeks over the coffee urn!
Not that Pamela was prejudiced. It was actually a coup of sorts—to have a lesbian couple at Morgan and Company was proof of how progressive a firm they were. On a personal level though, Pamela was shocked. Both girls were attractive—couldn’t they get boyfriends? And hadn’t Amy had a boyfriend when she had started at Morgan? For all her political correctness—of which she was justly proud—she still couldn’t comprehend lesbianism. If men were good for anything—a possibility open to question, in her opinion—they were good for sex. Why an attractive healthy young women would pass on that pleasure, she couldn’t fathom.
Speaking of which, she needed to get over to Kirk’s little lovenest. The events of the day had prevented her from checking up on him, but she’d been fuming all day. Wait till she got him over her knee! Wouldn’t that particular little sissy-boy regret ever failing to show up for work without her express permission! It was especially disconcerting because he had been coming along so nicely, accepting all the changes she had insisted upon, all the things he had to learn to be properly attractive for her. All the things he needed to learn in order to present himself as a darling, feminized boy secretary...
...like learning to live his life in pinks and pastel surroundings. Down with those pin-ups, Kirky-boy and up with those movie hunk posters Krissy!...
...and learning to apply his very own cosmetics (Cover Girl naturally!)...
...and to pick out a sexy outfit each day, complete with steamy undies on underneath—oooh, you look HOT in that miniskirt Krissy!!!...
...and finally, learning to make love to the various “boyfriends” Pamela procured for her secretary while she watched.
God, what a baby he had been about that at first! But they both knew he had been so tamed by that point, so re-shaped by her, that no turning back would be allowed. He had submitted like the sissy she had pegged him for from his first day. Of course—she never would have hired him otherwise! So why had be so brazenly defied her like this? She didn’t bother knocking at the apartment door, merely inserting her key and walking in.
The place was completely cleaned out!
“Krissy! Kirk! KIRK!!!” she shrieked.
“He, uh, she—that person what was here—he left,” informed a voice behind her. She turned to face a Puerto Rican janitor.
He nodded. “Yes. Left with another man this morning.” Was there a forwarding address? A shake of the head. She left, not a little dazed. He had no money, no family or friends—where the Hell? Oh well—she’d track him down. She hadn’t spent all that time breaking him in just so her little dove could fly the coop, she concluded, pulling up the condo complex drive where Amy and Kristen shared a condo.
As she walked up the staircase to the second story condo, she wished she had called first. Oh hell—Amy said she’d be online anyway. Unless she had a dataline, she couldn’t get through. To hell with politeness—she needed that report. She had her knuckles raised to knock on the door, then heard the voices and dropped her hand.
Amy and Kristen. Alone—or so they thought. Pamela the voyeur assumed control. She’d listen—just for a minute. Probably they were talking about the phone bill or what to eat for dinner
“—and you did a very good job putting together all the confidential memos on the Janus Technology account. Nice and thorough—the expense account receipts were a nice touch. Janus will flip when they see they’ve been paying for all those expensive lunches they’re taken out for. But you haven’t submitted work on Altus Advanced Design—and that is a very key account for Morgan and Company.”
It was evidentally Kristen berating her roommate Amy. And it would appear that these two were the leaks they themselves were supposed to be investigating! She leaned into the door and it opened a crack. She peeked in. The two were in a room beyond the front hallway. She had to know more—Joanne needed to know what the hell was going on! With as much stealth as she could muster, Pamela gently twisted the knob and stepped into the condo. The two were in a bedroom. She spied from around the corner. Something strange was going...