Jack Cannon's American Destiny

Rachel Thompson

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

FATAL GREED #Excerpt by John W. Mefford @JWMefford #AmReading #Thriller #Suspense

Heat crawled up my neck and into my face. I glanced at Paula, who rubbed her temples, then affixed her hand to the bottom of her chin.
“Kamal, I have to say I’m a bit shocked.” The pitch to Paula’s voice was higher than usual. “I’ve asked you directly about your ‘synergy targets,’ what I call job cuts, and you said nothing. I spoke with Turug about this same issue before the deal closed, and he denied layoffs were part of your strategy.”
“My dear Paula, I don’t recall such questioning, but—”
“I’m sorry?” Paula interrupted. “You don’t recall me asking you if you expected any layoffs? I find that hard to believe. In addition, I made a compelling business case for how we can continue to grow the business and improve operating margin by using our current approach.”
“I’m not going to get into a ‘he said, she said.’ I will only say Turug and the PHC board expect to take any newly acquired business and make it more profitable than we found it. That is how we make money.”
Paula moved to the edge of her chair.
“You make money by delivering on your commitments to your customers. You make money by giving incentives to your employees to deliver outstanding service. That increases your sales.” Paula jabbed her knee with each key point. “We have no millionaires working at J&W. How many do you have working at PHC?” Paula had launched her first major attack.
“I had hoped we would see eye to eye on this very important aspect of this transition process.” Kamal sorted papers on his desk. “But we are not changing our plan.”
Paula leaned back and started swinging her leg. I clicked my pen.
Kamal avoided Paula’s glare and addressed me. “I will be sending both of you this file electronically. But in order to meet our deadlines, we need the first round completed by Friday. Help Paula with this spreadsheet.”
I dug my fingernails into the wood of the chair arm. Paula jerked the spreadsheet closer.
“By when will the first round be notified?” Paula asked.
“A week from Friday,” Kamal said.
“What’s the goal of this whole exercise?” Paula flapped the paper.
Kamal ignored her question.
“Lowering our cost will provide more bonus potential for the people who remain, especially those in management, such as yourselves.” Kamal smiled as if he was trying to sell us a used car.
“So, you’re saying we can get satisfaction through all this if we fire our friends and dedicated colleagues, all because of some mythical bonus,” she fired back.
“I wouldn’t word it that way. And there are many factors that go into calculating bonuses at PHC.”
“So, the promise Turug gave me, where J&W would operate as a separate business unit under the umbrella of PHC…that was just a pile of horseshit?” Paula said. I sat motionless in my chair, stunned at her defiant attitude and proud that she flew directly into Kamal’s crosshairs on behalf of the people of this company.
“Paula, I can assure you we made no such promises.” It was obvious Kamal knew he had the upper hand regardless of where the discussion went.
Paula wouldn’t back down. I made sure my jaw stayed closed.
“Okay, so let me ask again, since you appear to be hard of hearing. What is the goal of this exercise? How many layoffs are we expected to make and by when?” Paula spoke with even more force.
“You know this information must be held in the utmost confidence.” Kamal eyed each of us. “For this initial round, we are looking at fifteen percent. But all businesses can cut fifteen percent without affecting their operations. That is a known fact.”
“You might have learned that fact in some expensive business school, but it doesn’t work that way in the real world, Kamal. Not if you’re trying to grow the business, which you say is the point.”
“As you might imagine, we will be redeveloping our revenue targets and goals for the year. While we go through this process we will be expected to maintain our current level of service.” Kamal looked at his monitor, then his fingers rattled the keyboard.
“Let me ask again, how many rounds are we going to have? And what is the ultimate target layoff number?” Paula’s veins were bulging in her neck.
“We haven’t determined the final number, but we believe our synergy contribution could reach between fifty and seventy-five percent. Some jobs will be replaced by our outstanding employees in India, while others will be absorbed by remaining employees. Of course, the higher percentage, the better your bonus potential,” he said with his Cheshire Cat grin.
There goes the carrot again. We weren’t biting. I wanted to jump into the fray, but Paula had taken the reigns. She had little to no ammunition but had uncovered their concealed transition plan. She dropped her hands in her lap on top of the now-crumbled spreadsheet.
“Okay, you’ll have it by Friday.” Paula stood abruptly.
“Paula, we will evaluate more numbers when you have cooled down,” Kamal said to her back. “We also need time to review the severance package.”
She ignored Kamal.
“Michael, please come to my office,” she said.
I did, looking into her eyes, dark circles beneath them, her teeth clenched. I had only one thing to say. “It’s an ethics thing.”

Behind the fa├žade of every corporate takeover executives pull levers this way and that, squeezing the last profitable nickel out of the deal. But no one knows the true intent of every so-called merger. 

No one knows the secret bonds that exist. 

An Indian technology giant swallows up another private company that has deep roots in North Texas. For one unassuming man the thought of layoffs, of losing his own job to a bunch of arrogant assholes feels like a kick to the jewels. 

Until the day Michael’s life changes forever.   

Perverse alliances. An affair of the heart. A grisly murder. A spiraling string of events thrusts Michael into a life-or-death fight to save a tortured soul and hunt down a brutal killer…one who lurks closer than he ever imagined. 

Greed knows no boundaries.
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Genre – Suspense, Thriller
Rating – R
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