Even without the sounds of the bugs pattering against the window screen or the avatars furiously battling on the computer, the low frequency vibrations of the spirits conversing in the dark closet would have been imperceptible to Shan-Wei. He was oblivious to the fact that they had been eavesdropping during his entire conversation with Yun-Sheng and telepathically reading his recollections of the events leading up to Qian’s death.
With a look of extreme depression on his face, Qian spoke first. “I finally understand what they are looking for.”
Of course none of the words or stolen thoughts made any sense to Qu-Kai. “What is it? I’ve been watching this whole time and I didn’t hear any mention of it.”
“It was all just negotiating for power and money. I never dreamed that it would involve so many people or progress to the extremes that it did.”
“Give me some background about those deals and maybe I can help you figure out how what caused your death.”
“Well, let me think. About two years ago, congressman Yen Shao-Zhang called requesting that I organize a special dinner party for some important guests, promising a big surprise. This confused me because I organized monthly social gatherings of the business elite to promote the mutual exchange of “opportunities” and the last meeting had been less than a week ago.”
What guests would you like me to invite?
I want to introduce a few of my friends from the legislature to discuss business. I don’t want any outsiders to attend so I will provide the guest list and, of course, be sure to include your partner.
“I had a pretty good idea what the purpose of the meeting was and wanted to provide maximum privacy for the important government officials so I instructed Huai to arrange for catering from a five star hotel and to get the company guest house in order.
“By 7:00 o’clock Friday night all preparations had been meticulously executed and I was sitting beside Huai on the purple velvet contoured sofas waiting for the guests of honor to arrive. I couldn’t help admiring the sheer opulence that I had designed into this retreat. From the sofas, the guests had access to high end state-of-the-art Karaoke equipment and large screen flat panel video displays. Behind the sofas, an intricately carved sliding wooden panel separated the living room from the gaming room where mahjong and poker were often played for absurdly high stakes.
“Close to the gaming tables was an elaborate buffet arrangement always amply provisioned with the best cuisine available in Taipei. Beyond the buffet was a floor to ceiling wine rack fully stocked with imported wines concealing a kitchen where late night snacks could be prepared, once the buffet had been consumed.
“The second floor featured an intimate conference area for the serious negotiations, again screened off from the sauna and the three private apartment suites provided for the guests desiring more intimate accommodations. As for myself, I preferred to end my day at my own apartment where I would often work late into the night and then crash in my comfortable bed.
“When the guests arrived around 8:00 o’clock, I was surprised that I had consumed almost an hour reveling about the luxury in the company retreat. First through the door was Congressman Yen followed by a group of middle aged bureaucrats in their typical conservative style, department store suits and short cropped hair sleeked back. Zhang offered a plausible but perfunctory explanation for their tardiness.”
You know those Finance Committees. They can’t ever agree on anything quickly and their meetings always drag on for hours. I should have picked a different day.
I realize how busy everyone is these days. A few minutes delay is not a big inconvenience.
“Yang sensed that I was impatient and a little insulted at the congressman’s offhanded attitude and quickly intervened to forestall any potential unpleasantness by extending a hospitable invitation to dine.”
Well, everyone must be starving by now so, please feel free to eat at your convenience.
Wait, before we wander off, I have neglected to introduce my fellow congressmen to our gracious hosts. Of course you are familiar with Minister of Economy Lin Yun-Sheng and National Science Park Administrator Jiang Jun-Hao so I’ll move on to the new guests that I would like to introduce. First, Zhao-Yu from the National Science council. Next, Director Liao of the Engineering and Technology Department and last but not least, Director Tian of the Water Resources Agency. Fellows, meet Yin Mo-Qian Chairman and head of product design for Yin-Yang Electronic and Yang Jin-Cheng, partner and General Manager of Production.
“After all had shaken hands and exchanged business cards, Zhang headed toward the food without further ado leaving Yang and I to mingle with the new guests as we ambled towards the buffet. Zhang has no social graces when it comes to food; like a pig at a slop trough.
“Food is always a safe and easy topic for conversation when strangers meet for the first time and all parties are feeling each other out. Of course, everyone lavished praises on the feast laid out on the buffet tables and Yang’s tips on where to find similar gourmet dishes for very reasonable prices were greatly appreciated.
“All had eaten their fill and were relaxing when Huai came over to point out that they had failed to open the wine before dinner.”
My apologies for being a negligent host. I have here two bottles of red wine that I should have opened and served before the meal. Get your glasses ready and I will pour it now; except for you Huai. We need you sober in case someone over indulges and needs a ride home.
“Everyone laughed at that and then commenced to discuss various wines in an attempt to assert themselves as the resident expert on culinary culture. I always hated enduring the boorishness of this type of verbal jousting but all the same nodded and smiled like a good host. Then, above the drone of the conversation, Zhao-Yu spoke up.”
Mo-Qian, how are things going over at Yin-Yang? I see the stock prices are increasing steadily every quarter. I think the share holders are fortunate to have such a brilliant product designer managing the company.
We succeed because of team work. I certainly won’t take credit for single handedly driving our rise to prominence. The production department is certainly a key component of our product delivery capabilities which, you must realize, is the key to customer satisfaction.
“I glanced over to see if my reply had ameliorated the humiliation that Yang must have felt from the praise lavished on me and hoped that Zhao-Yu had enough sense to talk about something else. Or, for that matter, keep his mouth shut. Unfortunately, that hope was short lived as Zhao-Yu continued.”
You are too modest. Where can a company without good products find customers? It doesn’t matter if the production department is the best in the world if there is no demand for your products!
“I decided not to respond to the last remarks. Yang was now livid and almost to the breaking point and any further comment on the subject would only add insult to injury. The ensuing silence seemed to drag out into minutes but, in fact, it was only a few seconds. Thankfully, Zhao-Yu sensed the awkwardness that his comments had generated and quickly changed the subject.”
So Qian, how did you first meet Jiang Jun-Hao?
“Jun-Hao had just taken a big bite of a brownie and hurriedly swallowed it in one gulp so he could get a chance to talk before someone upstaged him. I suspect this was a habit acquired as a result of many committee meetings where he often had to fight to get a word in edgewise.”
In 2002, Yin-Yang Electronics submitted an application for government funding for development of computer systems designed for extreme temperature environments. The committee was excited not only about the product described in the proposal but also because all the forms and supporting documents were in order. Most of the applications from other companies are usually incomplete and we have to send two or three follow-up memos to them before we can complete the review process. All that extra work is a big pain in the...
“Minister Yun-Sheng was annoyed at Jiang’s complaining and cut him off abruptly.”
Just like Jiang to spend his valuable off-duty time to whine about how tough his job is. After a hard day at the office, who wants to listen to his bullshit?
“This elicited uproarious laughter from the other guests and embarrassed Jiang, who could only scratch his head and giggle nervously. In an effort to restore harmony among the guests I brought out my newest set of state-of-the-art golf clubs to shift the focus from Jiang. Most of the guests were avid golfers and were duly impressed, except for WRA director Tian. He was the only one of the new guests that was not related to the Department of Economic Affairs and most likely the surprise that Congressman Zhang had promised. I wanted to give him special attention to avoid making him feel neglected.”
What do you do for recreation when you are off-duty Director Tian?
“Hearing these words, Tian suddenly perked up and a glow of excitement flashed across his face. After replying that he was a mountain climber, he enthusiastically proceeded to relate the details of his many climbing adventures and all present gathered in closely to join in the discussion.
“I was quite pleased with my masterful hosting skills and motioned to Huai to open up more bottles of wine. They all sat on the sofas drinking and chatting until most were too intoxicated to drive and decided it was time to call it a night. As the guests trickled out, eventually the only ones remaining were the regular members of the group and WRA Director Tian. Huai, as was typical, was absent, dutifully driving the over indulgent partiers to their homes.
“Those that remained went up to the private conference area and settled into the plush leather conference chairs.”
So, Congressman Yen, it appears that Director Tian is the surprise guest you mentioned earlier right?
“Minister Yun-Sheng turned to me with a wry smile on his face and fired off a sarcastic comment.”
My oh my Qian, aren’t you the perceptive one!
“It really agitated me to suffer his verbal abuse but I held back my temper so we could move on to the task at hand. Everyone had a good laugh and then Congressman Yen and minister Yun-Sheng leaned in earnestly and began explaining the purpose for calling this meeting.”