Benjamin Underwood rose from his flamboyantly polished desk and strode quickly to greet me as I entered his office. “Mr. Gordon! welcome,” he exclaimed. “May I call you Fred?” We shook hands. I was pleased with the warm greeting from the director of Information Processing at General Energy.
We sat in leather chairs at a small round table only a few feet apart. “Ms. Gridley in Human Resources said you were an excellent candidate for the position,” he declared. “Call me Ben. Tell me about yourself, Fred. She said your programming is remarkably creative.
I told him I had helped program System 7 at Apple and was especially good with special intricate projects. I’m ashamed to admit that I lied about this. I didn’t know a byte from a bit. He seemed pleased. “I have a project you’ll love,” he stated “Sadly, you’ll be taking over from a fellow named Gregg Lexmore.” I had heard of Gregg, of course. He had been killed in a mystifying, apparently random, drive-by shooting on Glenwood Street earlier in the week.
“Tell me about the project, Ben,” I said. “Ms. Gradley said much of the data will be enciphered.”
“It’s for special initiatives of benefit to General Energy,” he responded. “The name of the program is Genergy and is under my complete control. It isn’t listed in any company records. You and I will be the only persons knowing about it and able to access it. The funds managed by the program are drawn from miscellaneous sources within the company. You’ll need to break the code used by Mr. Lexmore. His death was so sudden you won’t have the benefit of any documentation.”
“That’s OK,” I said. I’m familiar with all the major computer codes. (Again I lied.) All I’ll need is your ID and password.
“Fred, I require complete confidentiality from you,” he asserted. Some of the funds may appear to be for my benefit but that will be incorrect. Ask me first before you come to any conclusions.”
I was hired at an extraordinarily generous salary and given the key words to enter the program. “You’ll have a private office in the Glenridge Building for your work,” Underwood said. “Ask me for anything you need.”
Over the next several weeks, I worked on the program in the middle of the night. However, I wasn’t alone. A team of six of the smartest programmers in the company toiled along with me as we tore Genergy apart. All this was done without the knowledge of Mr. Underwood but with the support of Ms. Gridley. The results were prodigious . The team established that, with the help of Gregg Lexmore, Mr. Underwood had been fleecing the company of more than a billion dollars over several years. There were secret e-mails between Gregg and Underwood concerning funds Mr. Lexmore was demanding for himself. There were also veiled threats of what a fellow named Snake might do if Gregg didn’t ease off on his demands.
It took a month to accumulate all the facts and allow me to make an important phone call. I dialed the private number of Ms. Gridley. She responded personally. “Betty, this is Bill,” I said. “We’ve uncovered information about how Gregg. Lexmore may have met his death and who was responsible. Make an appointment with the police as soon as you can.” She said she’d take care of this right away. Betty Gridley was a jewel. She and I had worked well together since I’d been named C.E.O. of the company some years before.