Since it was Kurt's first day on the job, I offered to take him out to lunch to celebrate. But he was tied up with all sorts of paperwork and orientation sessions and the like. When Trevor Allard returned to the office from Fidelity, around noon --- earlier than I'd expected --- I strolled over to his cubicle, and said, as casually as I could, "How'd it go?"
We didn't like each other very much, but we were good at reading each other, the way a couple of wolves size each other up in a few seconds. There was nothing outwardly competitive about the way I asked, but he got what I was really asking: Did you land the deal? You going to be my boss now?
He looked at me blankly.
"The demo," I reminded him. "This morning. At Fidelity."
"Yeah," he said.
"You were demo'ing the sixty-one-inch, right?"
He nodded, watching me the whole while, his nostrils flaring. "The demo flopped."
"Mm-hmm. The monitor wouldn't even turn on. Total dud."
"No, Jason, I'm not kidding." His voice was cold and hard. "I'm not kidding at all."
"Of course. Jeez, I'm sorry. So what happened-you lose Fidelity?"
He nodded again, watching my face closely. "Naturally. No one wants to spend ten thousand bucks per unit on a bunch of plasmas that are questionable. So, yep, I lost 'em."