Earl said, “Brankton, do me a favor and let me look into this. I'll make a few phone calls about Marcus and then call you back. In the meantime, I’ve got this.” Earl stood up from his chair, a man about to swing some of his Fred Flintstone physique around. “What is your assistant’s name?” He dug his toes into the shag white area rug that framed his desk with an extra three feet of matting. Earl was wearing his best grandson birthday party shorts and Riviera Country Club golf shirt with his sandals slipped off somewhere near the ottoman next to his desk.
Brankton's admin was still in his office occupying his $1,200 chair. “Sophia,” she said answering Earl. She heard the door open in the “reception area” where her desk was. “Hello?” she said. Sophia and Friday both jumped when the door slammed behind the security officer’s entrance, shaking the wall as it always did when visitors arrived.
“NBC Security!” said a beefy, recently honorably discharged U.S. Marine. "Is Mr. Brankton Newhan here?”
Brankton looked up at Moises Yauch and pointed to an area of the courtyard, asking if he could sit there on the low brick wall. The Rebbe gave him the pointer-thumb okay sign.
“Sophia, can you please put me on speaker phone,” said Earl.
The door opened again, and for a moment Friday thought security had left the office. But, a distinctly high-pitched Brooklyn accent said, “NBC Universal Security!”
The Marine security officer rolled his eyes at his security guard colleague from Brooklyn, “I just said that,” he said. “What, you don’t see me standing here?”
“Yeah, but did you mean it?” asked Brooklyn security. Brooklyn had been at NBC for twelve years and Marine all of three months. Brooklyn held a visceral and visible chip on his narrow shoulder because some jarhead from Newport Beach, California, already outranked him and was telling him what to do. It didn’t matter to Brooklyn that he himself never graduated high school and that Marine was an officer in the Marine Corps for six years, two tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, with a degree in Criminology from University California Irvine.
“Where are the banker’s boxes?” asked the Marine.
“I thought this was a priority walk-out?” said Brooklyn.
Marine walked back and opened the door a third time, “Here’s the priority: go get several boxes for this office to pack up some personal belongings and double-time it back here.” Marine gave Brooklyn wide berth to walk out the door with some semblance of dignity to carry out his assignment.
“Hello?” said Friday as she walked down the hallway toward Brankton’s office. She and Sophia looked at each other and shrugged shoulders.
Marine turned back to his assignment. He pulled out the email from Marcus Spilka’s office and re-read it to confirm the odd name of the executive he was to escort from the lot. “Is Brankton Newhan here?” he said as he walked in next to Brankton’s office looking about.
Friday with her long-legged stride met him within a few steps. She placed herself between Marine and Sophia. “Can I help you?”
“I don’t know if your office was made aware of this communication, but our Security group has been notified to escort Mr. Brankton’s office from the premises immediately.” Marine held up the email.
“May I see this please,” said Friday firmly as she tried to snatch it out of Marine’s hands. She was surprised how rapidly he moved it, leaving her with an awkward swipe at nothing. “Well, no we didn’t get this communication, and I’d like to read it,” she said.
“Yes, then this must be surprising to say the least, so I apologize,” said Marine ignoring her plea to read the directive and folding the email into his back pocket. “Is Mr. Newhan here or on the campus? Because we have to escort him out as well”
Brankton and Earl Buntz were both speaking, answering Marine and asking questions of their own, but could not be heard because Sophia hadn’t put the line on speaker phone properly. “Brankton, let me,” barked Earl with some finality as to which of them would be speaking to NBC Universal Security. Brankton now quiet in Austin, and Earl Buntz with a lung full of bated breath ready to pounce; both men waited for Sophia to remedy the speaker situation.
The door opened again. A slender 5’ 7” Brooklyn stood with the banker’s boxes next to 6’2” Marine who filled every seam and stretched every stitch of his paramilitary security uniform like some ancient wineskin.
“Let’s get these filled up ladies,” said Brooklyn as he tossed one in Brankton’s office and then another down the hall toward Friday’s office. “You’ve got three and a half minutes.” Brooklyn once heard a colleague say something similar to this some ten years earlier, and it just sort of slipped out of him now, like the kid who knocks the glass of chocolate milk with his elbow and knows it's on its way to the floor and that there's nothing to be done now but watch the final results splash out in an ugly way.
“Hey, what is going on here?” Friday immediately disliked the little guy with the accent that reminded her of her first husband who also just happened to be a full four inches shorter than her height of 5' 11" without heels.
Sophia added, “Yeah, who in the hell are you?” Sophia looked down at the speaker phone waiting for a word of authority to finally emanate from her GE phone system and realized her snafu. She punched the button, “Mr. Buntz, sorry about that – you’re on speaker phone now.”
“Who the hell am I?” Brooklyn looked up at Friday as he walked past her to show Sophia exactly who the hell he was. “I’m the guy who’s going to drag your bony ass up and out of here if you don’t get to steppin’, sweetie.”
Brooklyn grabbed Sophia by the arm and hauled her up and out of the Herman Miller chair. “Ouch, hey!” she screamed not so much in pain but fear and annoyance because no asshole should be allowed touch a woman with such disrespect. Friday immediately moved to the nearest object to swing, a silver platter sitting on its edge on one of Brankton’s bookshelves would have to do. It was engraved with the first public offering information for an Idealab company that Brankton was partly responsible for early in his career: four million shares were issued in its name raising over $22 million. It had never been used for anything but proud display, and with its two carrying slats on the side, it was perfectly suited for Friday’s double grip and her French tipped acrylic fingernails.
Marine hesitated for a brief second when he heard someone barking, “This is Earl Buntz! This is Earl Buntz!” He moved to go around the desk to grab a hold of Brooklyn's arm, hopefully snapping it in the process. He imagined throttling the little jerk’s neck as well once they got this office cleared.
Friday spun and aimed for Brooklyn’s head. Having played 3 years of softball and swung a hammer for almost 7 years as a contractor, she could bring the lumber when she needed to. She swung the platter with all of her might, wanting to knock Brooklyn into unconsciousness. She caught Marine mid-step and square in the side of the face instead. Pwang! The reverberation of the impact on Marine’s head almost broke Friday’s hand. She dropped the tray writhing in pain. The former-Marine security guard just stood there. Still. Not reacting.
“Son of a bitch!” said Friday. “Oh, my gawd, I think I broke my hand,” she grabbed her hand and held it close to her body. "Oh, my gawd!"
Earl continued, “This is Earl Buntz! This is Earl Buntz! My name is Earl Buntz! I am the President of NBC Universal.” Earl had a bank of three sliding doors that lead to his veranda. They were all slid opened and the entire party heard Earl telling all who had ears to hear that he was Earl Buntz. The clowns in clown make-up; the 6 yr-olds in Sponge Bob regalia; the moms and dads sipping on beers; the Mariachi band sipping on tequila shots with hot sauce between sets; and Earl’s wife Marjorie who just rolled her eyes. For about 30 seconds, the party turned in to an E.F. Hutton commercial waiting for the other shoe to drop.
Brooklyn looked on with full satisfaction at the left side of Marine’s face that was already turning three shades of red. “Oh, that’s gonna leave a terrific mark, Col. Oliver North!” Still, Marine just stood his ground. He had once been in a Humvee in Falluja when his squad drove over an IED and the explosion threw the 6-ton jeep upside down and over the wall of a compound. He and his men all thankfully survived the attack and subsequent burning vehicle and rocket-propelled grenades; the noise and pain was nothing like what just hit him in the side of the head. Six years of near-death experiences and bloodcurdling combat, no problem. Six months back and a sixty year-old, well-endowed administrative assistant from NBC Universal knocks the living piss out of him but good.
Sophia twisted her arm free from Brooklyn’s grip like she had learned in self-defense class, “Let go of me.” She turned back to the phone, “Mr. Buntz, security is here trying to make us leave the office and we don’t know why.” She almost teared up, but fought it with all of her might.
“Who is there with you, Sophia? Can you read me their names that should be on their uniform,” said Earl.
“Sir,” Marine spoke up, “I recognize your name from your memos. Uh, we were told by Marcus Spilka’s office to come and escort Mr. Brankton and his staff from the lot.” Marine yawned, trying to hear right. His hearing was muffled, except for the ringing from platter up against the side of his head. That was pitch perfect.
Earl cut him off, “Let me stop you right there, sir. I’m going to look into this right now. And, by "this" I mean the way Security treated our NBC colleagues in Mr. Brankton’s office and the sequence of events that lead you to believe you were supposed to escort these folks from the lot. And by "right now," I mean right effing now! If it is even half as bad as what I just heard, somebody’s going to lose a job. Sophia, are you and your colleague okay?”
“We’re okay,” Sophia looked over everyone in Brankton's office, and only Brooklyn seemed unscathed by the entire incident. He was still smiling at Marine.
Brankton hung up the phone. He had heard enough. He knew someone would be calling him back with details, even if not good news. Brankton half-expected that there was a chance he’d lose his job this year, but he didn’t think Marcus Spilka would be the one terminating his livelihood. His hands were shaking a bit, so he rubbed them on his jeans and let out a long exhale -- a nervous habit from his mom the sigher. He hadn’t noticed at first with all of the yelling back at Team Brankton HQ, but there was the unmistakable aroma in the air of a dry-rub. Mo' the Texan had fired up the grill and had whipped up a mean rub to season the tri-tip steak that was going on the grill for his afternoon meal. It smelled like carnivore heaven.
Please find part 9 here to continue reading ...