William Doonan

I write books and stories.

MedicineLand: Chapter Four

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Sentec Dynamics’ world headquarters sprawled across twenty-three acres of West Sacramento industrial park.

“We try to provide an appealing work place,” said the woman from human resources as she began the tour.  “We have a state-of-the-art gym, complete with aerobics and kick boxing twice a week.  We’re having ballroom dancing lessons starting soon.  Do you like to dance?”

Adam nodded slowly.  ”Six years on Broadway.  I had my own show.”  Was she kidding?  He smiled when he saw Hammermill coming their way.  Rescue, he thought hopefully.

“Glad you made it, Adam.  Has Elise given you the five cent tour?”  Hammermill shook his hand.

“I think we got through only about two cents but I get the picture.  Could we have a look at the lab, maybe meet some people?”

“Right on.”  Hammermill stole him away and brought him to a conference room on the second floor where several men sat around a large glass table.

Finally meeting the board, Adam thought.

“Gentlemen,” Hammermill began, “this is Dr. Adam LaPorte, he’ll be working in S.H.  You all have seen his paperwork.  Adam, this is Sentec’s house counsel team.”

Adam shook five hands and waved to the guy in the back by the window.  “You all are lawyers?”

“That’s right, Dr. LaPorte.  We have some documents for you to sign before we go any further.”

Adam sat.  He looked up at Hammermill.  “We did a contract in Portland.”

“Nondisclosure agreements,” said the lead lawyer.  “Sentec operates eleven semi-independent operating units.  Five are grant-funded and therefore have their own oversight boards.  Therefore, eleven separate nondisclosure agreements, each specific and comprehensive.”

“All standard?”

“Somewhat more substantial than the industry standard,” Hammermill began.  “Someone asks what you do, you say you’re a chemist, or a flavor chemist, or a scientist, or you make something up.  Any further questions and you back out of it.  Nobody, not your wife, your girlfriend, your boyfriend, your priest, not your Mom or your frat buddies know what projects you work on.”

Adam nodded.

“No disks, no USB drives,” one of the other lawyers continued.  “No digital media leaves the compound.  This is all standard.  No paperwork goes home with you.  If you are contacted by headhunters or receive any outside offers of employment, you report them.  If you are questioned by authorities or outside agency about specifics of your employment, you contact us day or night.”

“It’s the Snack Happy way,” said the skinny lawyer closest to the door.

Adam turned slowly.  “The what?”

“The Snack Happy way,” the man repeated.

“The what?” Adam asked again. “What the hell is Snack Happy?”

Hammermill jumped in.  “Snack Happy is the research division you’ll be assigned to.  Six of the thirty divisions are folded into it, so you’ll have a great deal of authority.  Some of the other divisions don’t deal with material that is as confidential so the nondisclosures are not as comprehensive.”

“Snack Happy,” Adam repeated.  “I don’t work on candy.  I told you that in Portland.”

“No candy,” Hammermill assured him.

“What then?”

“Cookies and snack cakes,” another lawyer answered, “with an emphasis on snack cakes.”

Adam nodded.  “Just so we’re clear on the candy thing.”

The older man, the one standing by the window opened a leather binder.  “Dr. LaPorte, I’m Tom Kerwin, I’m Mr. Kessler’s personal attorney and chief operating officer.  Mr. Kessler could not be here to welcome you personally.  He is currently at our facility in Geneva, but he asked me to extend a warm welcome on his behalf.”

“Thank you,” said Adam.  “I look forward to meeting him.”

“I also read your letter of referral from Dr. Henning in Amsterdam,” Kerwin said, grinning.  “He said that by the time you were through, he could set a pistachio nut on a shelf for a decade and it would neither deteriorate nor lose flavor.”

“Delicious and long lasting,” Adam said.  “That’s also how I describe myself to my lady friends.”

The lawyer by the door laughed out loud but stopped abruptly when no one else did.  Hammermill closed his eyes.  “Why don’t we have a look at the labs?” he said.


Written by williamdoonan

October 13, 2012 at 8:02 pm

Posted in MedicineLand, Mystery

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