FORTUNA: Out-Takes 

 

This scene simply didn’t fit into the unfolding of the plot, but I love the dialog.

 

 

Stöcker looked up from behind his huge desk as Jim Beech strode into his office, closing the door behind him so forcefully it made Stöcker  wince. No one else was allowed to enter this way, without permission from Gisèle, but the CFO was the CFO. And they went back a long way. 

Beech picked up a chair from its place beside the glass table in the corner and swung it around so when he sat down in it he was facing Stöcker  head on. Beech wore the same conservative uniform as everyone on the executive team – stiff white shirt, muted tie, heavy Rolex, highly polished shoes – but he looked like he would be more comfortable in a basketball uniform. He put his long arms on Stöcker 's desk, folded his hands and glared at the CEO.  

“Do you have any idea who employee number 5006 actually is?” he said. 

Stöcker  hated it when Beech got like this. The man was huge, and he seemed to like throwing his weight around in the most literal sense, particularly when he was pissed off. Stöcker  was sure to break something expensive one of these days.  

“The redhead in Building 11 with the exceptional breasts?” he offered, trying to cool things down. 

“He is Nick’s fucking son!” 

“Jim, calm down.” Had Gisèle heard this outburst.? The door was supposed to be sound proof. 

“What the fuck do you have in mind here? Why didn’t you talk to me first?” 

“He showed up yesterday by surprise, looking for a job, and I gave him one. It’s the least we can do.” 

“Frank! This is a guy with a four point in computer science at Stanford University and – ” 

Stöcker  broke in. “Yes, I think he’ll do well.” 

“You’ve got him working on the multipliers! Which his dad designed? Which his dad may have talked about before he died?” 

“What’s the point, Jim?” 

“We’re running what might be the biggest scam in the history of American business.” 

Stöcker  held up his hand to cut him off. Beech ignored him. 

“I know. It’s technically legal. Maybe. But how many of our customers would be happy to know they’re paying for millions of transactions that didn’t really happen? How do you think that would fly with the SEC, legal or not?” 

“We’ve been over this ground, Jim. And as a point of fact, nobody really knows many transactions the system is processing.” 

“Yes! And what if this kid figures it out?” 

“I’m hoping he will.” 

“This is not something to joke about, Frank. You’ve got to reassign him to a different department. If he sees what we’re up to –“ 

“Jim, Jim. Calm down. He’s not going to see ‘what we’re up to.’ He’s going to see some anomalies in an algorithm. For him, it’s a math problem.” 

“The math problem is that you and I are taking home four hundred K a year plus options and he doesn’t even have enough money to rent an apartment. He works as a fucking caretaker.” 

Beech’s voice was getting louder and louder. Stöcker  glanced nervously at the soundproof door. “His starting salary is seventy-five K. I think his housing problem has been solved.” 

“Will you stop talking to me like I was our banker? The point is not what kind of apartment he can afford. The point is that we screwed his father big-time, and when he finds out about the multipliers he’s going to go straight to the nearest D.A. This story about needing a job is bullshit. He’s after us.” 

“I don’t think he sees things that way.” 

“You don’t think he knows he’s out – what? – twenty five million dollars in stock options?” 

“The timing of Nick’s vesting was unfortunate.” 

“Unfortunate! Frank – goddamn it! You are not – ” 

“Will you please lower you voice?” Stöcker  hissed, and somehow this got through. “I have a plan, and I didn’t feel comfortable discussing it when you were on your cell phone. Everything’s under control.” Control. Beech’s favorite word. “For the beginning, if Jason feels financially abused, he blames his stepmother. After all, she’s the one who sold the house out from under him and then disappeared. He really doesn’t have any experience in business. He just knows that his father worked for a company called GPC that became very successful after he died.” 

“For the sake of argument, I’ll accept that,” said Beech. “But I am strongly opposed to his getting anywhere near the multipliers. Think about it. What if he figures them out?” 

“As I said, I’m hoping he will.” Stöcker  smiled stiffly. In this chess game, he was one jump ahead. “It works like this. Jason discovers the multipliers. He comes to me. I’m horrified. But I have to admit that we suspected something, because of the inexplicable ten percent shortfalls we experience each month in this business unit.” 

“The tithe.” 

“Exactly. But we won’t call it that. We’ll call it what it really is. Embezzlement. And he will devote every cell of his Stanford four point brain to figuring out how it works – and how to turn it off.” 

Stöcker  mulled this over. “It appeals,” he said, “But I don’t think it’s acceptable that we have somebody wandering around who....” He paused. “Frank, he’s going to expect us to turn off the multipliers.” 

Stöcker  stared down at the gold embossed leather of his desk pad, an exact replica of the Florentine original had long-time girlfriend Gisele had spotted in the Met on their last visit to New York. When he looked up, his expression was grim. “I know. We’ll just have to deal with that – if he even gets that far. I understand that we have to protect the company, Jim. There are thousands of employees who depend on us. We’re not going to be the next Enron. I’ll do what it takes.” 

Beech shook his head. “You are one cold-blooded fucker, Frank.” 

“I know. What did Nick used to say? God forgive us.”