Extracts from The Diaries of 'Professor' Cornelius Crane

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May 6th, 1996

I was passing Steve’s office today, and on glancing in, my eyes met a vision of great beauty and dread.

Filling the chair, with her enormous frame, on the opposite side of his desk, was Nicolette ‘Abandon all hope ye who enter here’ Kurtzman – Nikki!!!

I think my heart had skipped a beat.

Although her wild hair was held in check by an Alice band, I had recognized her immediately by her large frame and full, pink, pouting lips.

I had directly backtracked in order to prove to myself that I had indeed glimpsed correctly (Yet, I prayed earnestly that I had been mistaken).

This time I stopped in the doorway for a better look.

She was wearing a white, form-fitting polo-neck top that shaped itself admirably along the contours of her upper body. Below was a gray, tight-fitting skirt that should have reached past her knees, but had somehow managed to find its way up, onto her strong thighs. She constantly made half-hearted attempts to correct the presumptuous garment. And each time she did, Steve’s eyes were unable to avoid the naked, shapely, tanned legs that emerged from beneath her creeping clothing.

I was reminded of Sharon Stone’s character in that Basic Instinct movie – any moment now she might spread those magnificent legs to reveal yet another of her finest assets.

Amazingly, Steve was the first to spot me in the doorway. He beckoned me inside and stood up.

“Come in!” He waved a hand at Nikki. “Cornelius, I’d like you to meet Nicolette Kurtzman.”

She never waited for further introductions. She stood up, held out her hand and declared, “It’s a pleasure and an honor to finally meet you in person, Mr. Crane. I’ve been keeping track of all your…of Global’s excellent track record. Most impressive!”

I managed a feeble, “Oh?”

Steve informed me far too excitedly, “Miss Kurtzman is here for a job interview. She’s very interested in the position needed for that special project.”

I managed to repeat an even weaker, “Oh?”

“That’s right, Miss Kurtzman has a…”

She interrupted. “Nikki! Please, call me Nikki! Everyone else does!”

“Nikki has a similar position over at Futronics.”

“Oh, so you already know each other, then?”

“Yes! Well, actually, no. I’d seen her around a couple of times. She worked…works under Frank Myer in a different section.”

“Yeah, I’m pretty darn sure she works under Frank.”

“What’s that mean?” she asked frowning.

I ignored her query and asked, “So when did you two first meet?”

“Today! Today is the first time we’ve actually spoken. And may I say, ‘What a charming, intelligent young lady.’ I’m sorry I never got to know her earlier at Futronics.”

Nikki pretended to be embarrassed at the flattering remark. “Why, thank you Mr. Ferran.”

I regained my composure and asked, “Are you unhappy at Futronics? Why the decision to move?”

“The usual ones. Better pay. Better working conditions. Better opportunity for advancement.”

“Well, that last one certainly fits the bill!”

“Exactly! I told you I was impressed with Global’s record.”

“Well, I guess an interview works both ways. We both gotta be sure that what we have to offer each other is worth the…risk.”

“Exactly! I wouldn’t want to risk making the change if I didn’t think it was totally to my benefit as well.”

“Of course! And what makes you think you could be a benefit to us?”

“I’m one of the best in my field.”

“I admire your honesty and…modesty.”

“Do you know me?”

“What?”

“I mean, are you familiar with my work or…me or…” She paused frowning. “It’s just that you keep speaking as though you already know me from somewhere else?”

“It’s just my way of grilling all the possible applicants.”

Steve unfortunately came to her rescue. “She really is one of the best in her field. I’m equally impressed with her track record.”

“Sure, Steve, but let’s look at all the options before you make any decisions.” There was a small pack of folders on his desk. I flipped through them. “Are these the other applicants?”

There was irritation in his voice as he suddenly asked in a hushed tone, “Can we talk outside for a minute?” Then louder to Nikki, “Please, sit down. I’ll be with you shortly.”

He closed his office door from the outside and said, “This should have been shut in the first place!” After checking to see that the passageway was clear, he asked sternly, “What was that?”

“What?” I frowned.

“I don’t think that was very professional - talking like that in front of her?”

“Oh, really? And you think it’s professional to boost her, and her hopes, before you’ve even made any final decision? You’re still young Steve. You gotta toughen up some. Get used to the idea that this is a don’t call us, we’ll call you world, okay? People win – people lose! Get used to it!”

“Right! And the winners get to rub the losers’ noses in it?”

“I never said that!”

“Look, I know what this is all about. I know where you’re coming from!”

“You do?” I asked slightly concerned.

“Yeah, of course!” He made another inspection of the passageway before declaring, “You’re just being prejudice! She might look like a dumb, blonde bimbo to you, but she’s got a fine academic record as long as my arm.”

“Are you sure you don’t mean as long as your dick?”

“What the hell’s that supposed to mean?”

“You know exactly what it means!”

“You think I want to hire her for her looks?”

“Nah, it’s because she’s charming and intelligent. I think that little…large witch has charmed the wool over your eyes?”

“Are you suggesting that I can’t do my job properly?”

“No, I’m just…”

“No, I think you are? And if that is the case, then maybe you should also start looking for another Chief Engineer of Technology as well?”

“Would you put your attitude and your dick back where they belong? All I’m saying…all I said was, ‘You need to look at all the options before making your final choice.’ Where’s the harm in that? It was obvious that you…”

“And it was obvious that you weren’t very decent in there. You don’t say stuff like that in front of an applicant. Even if you are the goddamned CEO of a multibillion dollar company, it doesn’t give you the right to hurt anybody’s feelings.”

“You’re right!”

“What?” he asked puzzled, having the brisk wind suddenly removed from his angrily flapping sails.

“I said, ‘You’re right! I’m sorry! It was wrong of me. You’ve helped me to see my…mistake. Please…forgive me?”

“You’re forgiven, but…” He still continued to glare. This time searching my face for a hint of any insincerity that I might be trying to conceal.

“But?”

“I’m in charge of this project. The final decision is mine.”

“I understand.”

“If it’ll make you happy, I’ll look at the other applicants as well?”

“Very happy.”

“Fine! But, if I choose Nikki…Miss Kurtzman, the subject is closed – understand?”

“Clearly!”

“Good! Now if you’ll excuse me, I have an interview to finish?”

“Don’t let me keep you.”

“I’ll let you know my decision by the end of the week.”

This time he closed the door after entering his office again.

I managed to get a good distance from his office before releasing my frustration.

The unfortunate employees, that chanced to be in my vocal range, had made haste to remove themselves from my charming and intelligent presence.

For all intents and purposes, she is the best person for the job. At least the job that Steve naively believes she’s applying for!

So, I have absolutely no doubt that he will make the finest wrong decision of his whole career and life.

Sometimes, having foreknowledge is not quite as gratifying as one may expect.

Sometimes, it’s like knowing for certain that there’s a big, scary monster in the cupboard and then, foolishly, still opening it!

Time travel can be confusingly…ambiguous!!!

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