The perky admin approached Panos as he sat trying to will his sweaty forehead dry in the overstuffed lobby chair. New York summers.
She smiled and paused, unblinking. "He'll see you now. Follow me, please." Panos rose, grabbed his ornamental briefcase and watched the woman’s ass as she led him inside. Her beautiful hand opened the door to the sun-splashed corner office, then slid back and she disappeared.
The white-haired man sprung up from behind the massive mahogany desk. His eyes were intense, a little Christopher Walken bulgy, his manicured hand gracefully swooping in. "Panos, Bob. Pieasure to meet you. Please, sit."
"Thank you for seeing me, sir."
"Hey, call me Bob. Being called 'sir' makes me feel like I'm talking to--well--just about everybody."
Panos forced a chuckle, unbuttoned his jacket and sat.
The billionaire settled into the leather couch next to Panos, "I've taken the liberty of reading through your résumé. Impressive, indeed. But just so you know, we've vetted hundreds of people for this position. Matter of fact, we we're still not done."
"Oh, yes, sir," said Panos. "Par for the course. Regardless, I’m honored to be able to see you personally."
"Well yes, thank you. So, let's get started. Says here that shortly after graduating, you signed on with Monsanto. Talk about a PR challenge! What did you glean from that experience?"
"Well, sir, I suppose my biggest lesson was that an elected official's opinion can be modified far more easily than corn seed, yet either can lead to vast financial reward for the stakeholder."
"I see. And then you accepted a position with Arthur Andersen.Your largest client was a company called Enron. Tell me about that."
Panos knew this one was coming. "Sir, have you ever had an itch on your back that you couldn't reach? Arthur Andersen and Enron each had itches, and they discovered that if they embraced each other, their itches could be simultaneously scratched. A lot of people became very wealthy from this relationship, and fortunately, I got out of there before some people made some mistakes."
"And then you came on board at Halliburton?"
"Correct. Takeways there? I’d say when it comes to government contracts, 'no-bid' equals 'no lid'." Panos was hoping the old guy would at least crack a smile, but nothing.
"From there," Goldman Sachs enlisted your services. Tell me about that."
Panos stared out the window, taking in the Chrysler Building and Empire State in the hazy distance."Let me put it this way. When your job is hiding the proverbial razor blade in the financial carameled apple, eventually some trick-or-treater’s tonsils are going to be nicked, and..."
"Okay, you know what? Just stop right there. I think I've heard enough."
Shit, thought Panos. Too graphic. Should've known with this old dude.
Mr. Kraft bounced up like a teenager, stopping inches from Panos’ still-sweating brow.
"I think we've found our man. Congratulations, Panos. Welcome to the New England Patriots."
Panos took a step backward and put out his hand. Kraft ignored the gesture and engulfed him in a suffocating hug.