65. The Next Curve
Tara had arrived home from work, just turned on the TV and settled down with a salad and toast when Cyrus appeared on the sofa next to her checking between the cushions for crumbs. She loved her houseguest but when the phone rang she had to look around for somewhere to safely place her food . . . Aw, yes, the fireplace mantle. Lately, she had begun to dread hearing the phone ring since it often initiated a new twist in her life. Expecting it to be Jeff, she answered it while walking toward where she had placed her briefcase.
"Tara!" Felicia's voice was urgent. "Kari's missing!"
"Missing? How could that be? Is she lucid enough?"
"What does that mean?"
"Is she back to normal mentally?"
"Kari? I doubt it." When was she ever normal? Felicia thought. "The hospital called to alert me. They said she could be a danger to herself and to others."
"Do you know if she went home?"
"I have no way of knowing. I thought of calling . . . only she scares me."
"Has she ever been to your house?"
"No, not since Steve and I moved; months before he died. I am in the phone book though, for God's sake. Moreover, she could go to Amber. She knows I have an office there somewhere." Tara could tell Felicia was frightened. "I don't know what to do. I've never been so nervous."
Tara suddenly remembered her dinner. "Wait a minute." Now where did that little rascal go? She wondered. Tara moved to the fireplace to check her salad. "Alright, start from the beginning again. Tell me everything they said when they called."
"A hospital representative left a message on my answering machine asking that I return her call. I did . . . reluctantly. Look. I am really edgy. Suppose she finds me? What would I do? I'm not answering the door."
"Oh, don't be silly. She wouldn't . . ."
Felicia cut her off. "Yes, she would. When I returned the hospital's call, they said they were concerned because Kari had been acting weird that day."
"What did they mean by weird?"
"Dumb things, like throwing her lunch tray at the hospital aide. She even bit the hand of the nurse who was trying to make her take a pill. I think she's really lost it."
"When did they find her missing?"
"During the night . . . she left sometime during the night. Got dressed and just disappeared." Felicia began to cry.
"What about her memory, would she be able to find her way home? And her wound? Is that healed?"
Tara tried to console her friend but could say nothing that seemed to help. She saw her little rodent friend race across the mantel then disappear. "Damn! Cyrus! Where are you?" Tara shouted.
Felicia thought she was asking her. "He's with you. God, are you losing it too?"
"No. I'm just trying to protect my salad." Suddenly she spotted him scooting behind the sofa. Well, it's too late now, she thought. I guess I'll never know if he was in it.
Neither one of them knew what to do. Tara suggested that the police would probably find her sooner or later. Felicia did not think they would even bother. Can't a patient just leave a hospital without a discharge? They wondered. Surely, she would want to go back to her apartment. She probably remembered her pet and that may have brought her to her senses. Was her wound healed enough? If she were really crazy, she could indeed be a danger; especially to Felicia. They hung up agreeing that there was nothing either one of them could do.
The news was already over, Tara turned the TV off, deciding to skip the salad and instead finish the last piece of chocolate cake. Again, the phone rang. This time it was Jeff.
"Hi Tara. Did Craig show up today?"
"Yes. He said he left work early to keep our appointment so he must be interested. I have never seen anyone so nervous."
"Tell me every detail."
She described the meeting, quoting Craig verbatim at times. "He jumped up like a scared cat and scurried over to the window when Jim interrupted us. Who was that? He asked. After Jim left, Craig came back to his chair where his hands were twitching and he kept blinking his eyes."
"What did he say about my company?"
"He's still threatening to go to the police which is nonsense. When I again asked if the research really belonged to him or to Moore, he denied it was theirs. His obsessive personality relented a little when I told him you were willing to work with him and impressed upon him how important it was not to cause problems that might derail the IPO if you or he ever had any hopes of bringing this product to market. My argument was that you found the research at Scientific Solutions and his chances of prevailing in court were ridiculous."
"Good. You offered him stock?"
"I didn't offer him anything specific. Yes, we did discuss stock and that is the way to go. It won't cost any cash."
"How did he react?"
"He seemed open to the idea."
Jeff sneered, "I bet he did."
"It's really the best way to go, Jeff. I think the two of you can get along just fine. You run the day to day business activities, Craig will continue the research, and I'll temporarily oversee the finances."
"Did he tell you anything about how or why the research was flawed?"
"No. I could not tell if he sincerely understood the problem."
"So that bastard will own half my company."
"Jeff, look at it this way. You will be the top guy, the CEO and Chairman of the Board. Craig can be on the board and be in charge of research, that way he can find the flaw if, in fact, the research is flawed. You both will have tons of money to build your dreams." She waited for Jeff's response.
"Suppose he decides not to go for it?"
Now Tara saw a chance to take control of the situation. "Look, Craig is bright. He will not accept unless he knows for sure you will not have the power to fire him after the business gets off the ground. If both of you are equal partners, then Craig won't worry." She paused but Jeff made no comment. "That way Craig will be happy that you don't have control over him." Tara hoped he would see it her way.
"Someone needs control over him." The silence was deafening to both of them. "Yeah, you're right," Jeff admitted, "I never thought about me being able to fire him. Wouldn't that be an interesting twist? Look, I just want to get this damn IPO stuff behind me. How will this work if we're selling the stock to the public?"
"You two will hold the majority of issued shares."
Jeff was tired from a busy day. "Look, you know I don't understand all this. Just do it so I can force Craig to walk the line."
They talked business awhile, him relating that the fictitious name Quantum Solutions was registered and now official; Scientific Solutions no longer existed. He was upbeat about the level of interest old customers were showing for the company's few existing products.
"Jeff, the corporate structure will have to be changed so Craig will own half of Quantum Solutions even if the IPO is delayed by market conditions. Don't worry, it will mean that he will be sharing in the costs with you."
Jeff was getting impatient. "Look, I told you I don't understand this stuff. Just do it so we can get things off the ground."
Tara changed the subject, mentioning the stress she and Felicia had been under recently: first from Steve's death; followed by Kari's hospitalization; and now her disappearance. "She just disappeared in the night."
"Disappeared?" Jeff had never understood Kari's hospitalization in the first place and had assumed it might have been a female type thing.
"And you and Felicia really believe this?"
"Of course, why wouldn't we?"
Jeff was trying to make a joke to relax his friend. "Because I hear that hospital has a real handsome janitor. If I were you two, I'd check the hospital janitor's room?"
"Why do you think?"