The old man’s furrowed brow revealed everything Martin needed to know. The train had jumped the track somewhere in the negotiations.
No surprise there, I just hope I’m not too late.
Martin hopped from the limo to curb. The big guy talked as they sped through security to the elevators. “Thanks for getting here on such short notice. Hartford was making progress, then A.D. started getting…difficult. Next thing you know, they’re going head to head, posturing…and Hartford…well, you know…”
Martin rolled his eyes. What idiot schedules Hartford as lead negotiator during the rut? Crikey, what a mess. It’s as bad as the ‘Snoopy’ incident in Central Park. Everything is moving right along and then some kid tosses a stray Frisbee and the negotiations devolve into a four-hour tree-marking, tail-chasing marathon.
“I wouldn’t have called you back from Sydney if I didn’t need you on this one.” Martin followed him into the elevator. A fly drifted in as the doors slid shut.
Martin instinctively plucked the insect from the air and shoved it into his mouth. He absently rubbed the bald crown of his head as he chewed. Think. Think. He swallowed the remains of the masticated fly and looked up at the old man, “Get Mr. Green and follow my lead…”
The soft click of the door announced the next round of negotiations.
Finally. A.D. wasn’t in any kind of hurry to get back to the set, but he knew that if the crew was forced to wait much longer that there might be some uncomfortable questions. He leaned back against the overstuffed leather chair. One of the chicks they had furnished nestled warmly against his chest. Another was cooing soft, sweet nothings to him and offering him another peeled grape.
I could learn to deal with this. A.D. knew he was the prime commodity they sought and he wasn’t going to settle for scratch like the others. Without me, their merger fails.
A.D. straightened as the old man returned, toppling one of his groupies with a squawk. The old man gave the girls a look, and they waddled gracefully out of the conference room in single file.
Recognizing Martin in the doorway, A.D. swallowed hard
They’re pulling out the big guns now. Good.
Martin strode to the opposite end of the polished mahogany table and mounted the surface in two quick leaps. Some weary looking sap dressed in a gray suit following Martin placed two covered pewter serving plates on the table next to Martin.
“Nice to see you again, squab.” Martin’s sarcasm drizzled coldly throughout the room. A.D. returned a quick nod.
“Sorry for the wait. As you know, your participation is critical to our arrangement. We are professionals, so let’s not mince words.” Martin slid one of the dishes across the length of the table to A.D. and lifted the cover. The wriggling mass scattered over the sides of the plate, littering the conference table.
Brazilian Teak Grubs. Nice touch.
As A.D. reached toward the feast, Martin’s smile broadened momentarily; and, just as quickly, faded as his adversary picked up a pen and began to scratch something on the nearby legal pad. A.D. nudged it forward, tapping lightly on the yellow paper, his emotionless eyes fixed on Martin.
A tiny gasp of surprise escaped Martin as he read the scrawled demand.
A.D. sighed with contentment. How do you like them apples, Marty?
Martin breathed deeply, collecting himself. “You know we can’t do that…the marketing cost alone…the advertising, the brand…”
Then I guess we’re done here. A.D. let out a nasal grunt of disappointment, shaking his head as he started shifting out of the chair. He had an ad shoot waiting, and if Martin wasn’t willing to take a little demotion and let A.D. be the star, then they were not that serious about the merger.
A.D. hesitated, giving Martin a sideways glance.
"Before you go, I’d like you to meet someone.”
Prompted by Martin’s nod, A.D. looked toward the recently uncovered plate on the other side of the table.
What is that?! A.D. could feel the pimples rising beneath his down as Mr. Green’s eyes bore into his soul. The black pupils were mesmerizing, hypnotic…A.D. felt his resilience draining into great puddles of desire, his tongue dangling limply from his bill.
Smelling victory, Martin Gecko smiled at the duck’s breathless inquiry “…aflac?...”
“That, squabbie, is the money you could be making with Geico.”
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