"The Art Of The Deal" by Christopher Golden
This story comes from the collection "Tell My Sorrows To The Stones" by Christopher Golden.
A man named Craig was in a bind. He was in the process of selling off his company, New England Electrical Safety Systems, or NEESS for short, to a buyer who would destroy everything his family had built. The company had been in Craig's family for forty-two years. His father had brought him into the company as a child and raised him to run the company after he was gone.
Craig did a so-so job of keeping the company afloat, but not enough. The company was bleeding money and there was nothing more that he could do to remedy the situation. He even made a promise that as CEO he wouldn't draw a salary higher than the highest paid employee. A move that cost him dearly during his divorce.
He met the negotiator from Illuminet, the company buying out NEESS, at a hotel. It was supposed to be common ground, but it was just another reminder to Craig that he had failed his eighty-seven employees. He hadn't even told his employees that the company was being sold yet. He couldn't bring himself to tell them.
While he was pondering everything that was wrong with his life, the negotiator came up behind him and introduced his wife, Anita. Craig hadn't planned on having more than just the negotiator at the bargaining table. Not only was he surprised by her presence and involvement in the deal, but her appearance was breathtaking. She was stunning. It took everything Craig had not to have an erection while standing there in discussion. He couldn't figure out why the negotiator's wife was at this meeting especially since she wasn't even an employee at Illuminet. Oh well, it was what it was.
After ordering a drink and cutting through the small talk they arrived right at the point of the conversation and meeting. Anita did most of the talking with her husband chiming in here and there where finer points were needed.
Craig was sick with what he was doing. The papers were at this lawyer's office waiting to be signed. As soon as they were signed this disaster would be done with and he could get on with his life. He didn't want to sign them though, not yet anyways.
Abruptly he bid good-day to both the negotiator and Anita. He stood up and without saying anything else, left, and went back to the office.
While Craig sat at his desk drinking Wild Turkey and drowning his sorrows Anita came walking into his office. Craig was surprised to say the least, but went ahead an listened to what she had to say. Her husband was on his last leg with his company and if this deal didn't go through, then her husband was through as well. Anita was there to make sure that everything happened the way it was planned and she would do anything it took to ensure the deal. Anything.
Anita mention to Craig that they had talked about art. She wanted to show him her art gallery. Craig was so turned on that he couldn't say no. When he asked her where they had to go to see the art, she said no where. And with that she stripped off her dress to expose her completely naked body.
Anita's body was covered with tattoos. Finely detailed and colorful. When Craig asked about her tattoos she told him they were all the old gods from different religions. She was fascinated by them. There was one god in particular that Craig couldn't get over and asked her about it. She told him it was the oldest god of them all, but there wasn't any name for it, or at least everyone had a different name for it. It had pointy teeth, a top hat, and knives for fingers. Craig couldn't take his eyes off of it.
That's when the tattoo started to move. And that's when the tattoo started to talk. And that's when the tattoo wanted to negotiate. Craig was all ears.
This was a good story about a man down and out. He was at his wits end and would do anything to not have to do what he had to do.
I like how the author integrated the negotiating into the story. Everything in life can be negotiated. It all just depends on what you want out of the deal. And if your savvy enough there is always something for you on the other side of the deal. There is an art to the deal if you will.
Just when they think that all the cards have been played an ace gets thrown down and the pot is yours. That is what happened for Craig. At least I believe it did.
Craig was dealt a bad hand, and he was given an ace. Or did he just think it was an ace? The juxtaposition was done well for the story. The characters were well developed and the the emotions were vivid. Craig's emotions came across the pages very clearly and very strong.