Want to know what Pierce looks like?

Chapter 1

This one obviously cared about his appearance. He had the even apricot

coloring of someone who owns a tanning booth but is intelligent enough

to use it sparingly. He was of indeterminate age, although his skin

appeared unlined. A full head of white hair was slicked into place like a

close-fitting crash helmet. He wore a pale pink shirt and a deep scarlet

necktie. His suit was a rich black with a subtle gray stripe and had the

Italianate drapery of Louis, Boston. Norman and the other managers

were trained to the boxy American look of Brooks Brothers; he realized

the company was about to undergo some cultural changes.


"Just call me Pierce, Norman." He leaned forward another few inches

and studied Norman.

Norman remembered a high school biology class in which he'd been

required to study a frog with similar intensity---after he'd eviscerated it.

He smiled sheepishly, but he didn't move. He didn't want to offend

Pierce by moving away while the man examined him. Norman was wary

of offending short people, and frankly, remembering the frog, he felt

fortunate to be examined with his guts intact. Time moved as slowly as if

he were at a meeting of the company's department heads.


Pierce, the new hatchet man

"Are you the new CFO, Mr. Pierce?" Norman managed.


"No." Pierce looked down at the paper he was holding.

"I'm the new everything."


"What do you want me to do?" Norman's stomach growled from his lack

of breakfast, and he shifted uncomfortably.

Pierce didn't seem to notice his stomach growling. "I want you to help

me find the people that are at risk," he said. "People like Ackerman. The

ones with leadership potential. The ones with all the ideas."


..."I'm not usually available during the day, but you can leave a

detailed message on the voice mail. At night, you can usually get me

directly. It doesn't matter what time it is. Do you understand?"


Chapter 2

"Anything new on the acquisition today?"

"I met the new owners' hatchet man today," said Norman.


Gwen nodded as she sat down. "What a charming man."