“It’s a lot like virtual reality, isn’t it?” Rupert asked as he steered his million-dollar LaFerrari around a hairpin turn. “We’ve been telecommuting for years, so why not telemedicine?”
Betty hung on with both hands and tried not to slide into Rupert on the sharp right curves. “Does your wife know you drive like a maniac?” she asked through gritted teeth. “I should know about telemedicine. After my accident, my surgeon operated remotely from India. Telemedicine saved my life.”
“I remember that,” Rupert said as he blithely dodged food trucks and surfboard-festooned VW buses. “But it’s all so haphazard, isn’t it?”
“Nonsense!” Betty gave a stifled scream as the car swerved between two roving basketballs and a skunk. “There is even an American Telemedicine Association to keep things regulated.”
“I just heard about this plot to limit telemedicine – or limit abortions, not any other kind of telemedicine. So is this ATA some fly-by-night con artists who just popped up in the mean states?”
“Con artists?” Betty gasped as the car became airborne over the top of a hill. “They’ve been promoting telemedicine for 20 years!”
“Oh.” Rupert appeared to concentrate on his driving as he whipped the LaFerrari onto the freeway. “So how do you do an abortion over the Web?”
“There is a live examination with a nurse, then the doctor has a video conference.” Betty cringed when she heard a police siren going the other way. “Then the doctor can release a drawer electronically. The woman finds an abortion-inducing drug in the drawer.”
“Mice,” Rupert said. “Mice, rats. In a maze. Sounds like experiments in psychology class. Do they ring a bell, too?” He zipped down an exit ramp and headed down a wide boulevard. “Oh, wait. Red pill or blue one, right? I saw that in a movie once.”
“Rupert, this is serious,” Betty said, her eyes fixed on the horizon. “They’ve actually been practicing telemedicine for over 50 years. Teledermatology, teleneurology, prenatal care, rural care. There’s only one topic the mean states want to regulate, and that’s abortion. Why is that?”
“Politics, of course.” Rupert grunted as he dodged potholes and fallen tree limbs. “No one wants to pay taxes to maintain streets or bridges. No one wants to pay for someone else’s healthcare. No one wants to be their brother’s keeper.”
A mechanical arm reached out from the car and swept a tire from the road. It rolled into a parked car as Rupert and Betty sped by. The car windows became opaque and Betty heard popping noises from outside. “I hate driving through turf wars but it shaves 20 minutes off the trip,” Rupert said.
A splat on the wall. A tree stump with a doorknob. Flowers in a swamp that partially hid a school of flying piranhas. Rupert’s brain could not interpret the solid red canvas at all. He turned to his hostess and asked, “Is this your company’s, um, famous art collection? I’ve read so much about it.”
Sonia giggled and gazed down at Rupert from atop her 8 inch stiletto heels. “Oh, no, Mr. Madasheck, this is the annual employee’s children’s art exhibit.”
Rupert looked at a sculpture nestled on a pedestal and said, “That explains why this one looks like, um, well, like it was inspired by the family pet. Or its business.”
Sonia gasped in horror. “Oh, not that one! That is an original Brancusi from his early stage over a century ago.”
Rupert held his hands behind his back and glared at the pile on the pedestal. “Well,” he said. “Speaking of business, let’s get on with it. I’ve probably just destroyed any chance at a licensing agreement with you, haven’t I? Assuming I had a chance five minutes ago.”
As bridges and buildings crumble, is Biotech funding the arts?
There must be art lovers in the Biotech world. Rupert might not be one of them. Or is he?
Is it true that Cappuccino Pharmaceuticals is planning to donate $475 million to artists who will paint pictures of dogs playing cards while sipping cappuccinos?
The first four years of All My Clones collected in a book now available at https://www.createspace.com/4166055
A spotlight centered on a microphone stand in the middle of the darkened stage. A figure strode up to the microphone and spoke in a low rumble. “Iron. Heavy. Hemingway. Light. Profound, isn’t it?”
The crowd of sales representatives went wild as Iron Hemingway took the stage and screamed through its one-hit wonder from 30 years ago. The crowd danced and gyrated, even the reps who were born years after the band fell off the hit parade charts.
Rupert Madasheck inserted his earplugs as subtlely as he could and texted ‘Do they really like this stuff @ sales mtgs?’
Gamela Nuryandi looked at Rupert two feet away and at her team of sales reps on the dance floor. She smiled and texted, ‘They luv this band!’ She added a few emoticons and hit Send.
Rupert frowned, shook his head, and texted back, ‘Do they realize most will be laid off 2morrow?’
Gamela put her hand over her mouth and nodded. She texted, ‘Why not let them enjoy 1 last fling?’ She glanced out over the crowd, following some of the dancers as the band played its one hit for the seventh time.
Three hours later, Rupert and Gamela left the banquet hall and went into a conference room. Rupert shut the door, fidgeted nervously, and asked, “Now that we can hear again, could I ask if you’ll have any sales force left over?”
Gamela groaned, sat down, and said, “Tomorrow I’ll lose 75% of them. I wonder how many more will quit. Can’t Research make more drugs? We can sell anything but we need actual drugs to sell. Now that we can’t spend anything on swag or gifts to physicians, we have plenty of budget left over.”
Rupert paced the room and growled. “I blame the FDA. Our drugs are fine as far as I know. They haven’t killed anyone in clinical trials lately. But now they complain about ‘efficacy’ and stuff like that.”
“I don’t understand much about all that,” Gamela confessed. “After the FDA approves ‘em, we sell ‘em. Someday could you explain how drugs get developed and approved?”
Rupert looked away at the closed conference room door and sighed. “No, I don’t think so. Remember I started out selling beauty supply products.”
Gamela leaned back in her chair. “No! Really? How did you get from beauty supply to pharmaceuticals?”
Rupert sat down and leaned close. “Reverse merger. I woke up and found myself CEO of a pharma company!”
“But now all my sales force will wake up and find themselves left out on the curb. I still don’t understand why we need to cut back that much.”
“Your own sales people told you they were getting turned away at the door, right?” Rupert asked.
Gamela sighed. “Yes, ever since that Dr. Evans spread the word about how to keep sales reps out of doctors’ offices. They don’t even take our notepads or laser pens any more. They’d rather waste their time on seeing patients than get the information they really need. What happens when the nation’s physicians are ignorant of our life-saving drugs and deplete their stock of Cappuccino Pharmaceuticals coffee mugs?”
“Think how bad it must be for all the other companies,” Rupert said. “It’s not just sales forces, either. The US pharma industry already laid off about 6400 people this year and it’s only June.”
Gamela sobbed. “Rupert, that isn’t the least bit consoling.”
Rupert put his hand on her shoulder. “Well, it’s unbecoming of a professional to cry. After all, I still have a job.”
Gamela jumped back. “How is that supposed to help, you insensitive lout?”
“What I mean is, I can’t stop the layoffs here at Cappuccino. But I can make exceptions.”
“You are planning to keep me employed, aren’t you?” Gamela asked.
“It looks like you are keeping yourself employed without my help,” Rupert said as he closed his eyes.
Outside the conference room, the intensity of the sales meeting swelled as Iron Hemingway began playing their hit for the 97th time.
 Yes, this can happen! Look up Venus Beauty Supply and Fermavir Pharmaceuticals.
 Evans et al., “Breaking Up is Hard to Do: Lessons Learned from a Pharma-Free Practice Transformation,”available at http://www.jabfm.org/content/26/3/332.full
 As reported by Pharmalot at http://www.pharmalive.com/and-those-pharma-job-cuts-just-keep-on-coming
Sarah smiled sweetly in all her teenage innocence, batted her very first fake eyelashes at Rupert, and asked, “Have you seen Daddy’s rubber room yet?”
Rupert was so surprised that the peas fell off his knife. “Uh, what? I, er, no. No, I haven’t.”
“Oh, it’s OK,” Sarah said. “Daddy shows it to everyone who visits.” She resumed eating her spinach daintily.
Rupert looked across the oaken dining room table at Betty, then at their host. “I, um, that is. Ms. Lidalot and I came here to discuss possibly merging our company and your father’s. Not to, um.” He forked a chunk of turkey into his mouth.
“Oh, pay Sarah no mind,” Clarence Clegg said. “She likes shocking her elders.”
Rupert laughed. “Oh. So there’s no, um, no rubber…”
“Why, yes, of course there’s my rubber room,” Clarence boomed. “Would you like to see it?”
Sarah brightened. “Daddy does piercings, too.” She looked between Rupert and Betty. “He taught me how to do my own. Do you have any?”
Rupert shivered. “Ouch! Certainly not.”
“Rupert,” Betty warned. “Mind your manners.”
Clarence frowned at Sarah. “Let’s not discuss your latest-”
“Would you like to see my booby pin?”
“Bzwxtlfump,” Rupert said as his peas fell off his knife again. “Is that-did you…That’s sick!”
“It has a ruby in the middle and goes through both-”
Mrs. Falla Clegg laughed loudly enough to drown out Sarah. “Well, there aren’t many piercings kids can do that would shock anyone any more.”
Clarence pushed himself away from the table. “We won’t be let alone in peace so we might as well do the tour of the chamber now. Then we can get to business.” He led Betty and Rupert down into the basement and to a door labeled ‘Torture Chamber.’ After some fumbling with a large ring of keys, he opened three different locks with a crash and slowly eased the door open. “I assume you are already familiar with the standard toys. You know. Blindfolds, handcuffs, whips, clamps, electrodes.”
“Do you keep horses?” Betty asked. “Look at all those riding crops.” She looked at the roaring fire with hot coals.
“Oh, no, that’s for my special friends,” Clarence said.
“That’s psycho!” said Rupert as he looked around the rubber-walled room.
“Not true!” Clarence boomed. “All of my favorite BDSM activities are perfectly normal.”
“Normal?” asked Betty. “As far as I understand, they are clearly linked to mental disorders and psychopathology.”
“Again, not true,” said Clarence. “As a matter of fact, researchers in the Netherlands clearly demonstrated that we BDSMers are no more or less prone to mental disorders than control groups of boring normal people.  We even scored better in several categories including wellbeing and awareness.” He led the way back upstairs, where Sarah and Falla waited with cups of lavender crème brulee.
“It is the policy of Cappuccino Pharmaceuticals not to pry into people’s personal lives,” Rupert said with a shaken stutter. “I have never met anyone so, um, so open about such an unusual hobby. What kinds of people, um, er, partake in your, um, festivities.”
Falla laughed. “You’d think it was the dregs from Reefer Madness, wouldn’t you?” Rupert nodded.
“As a matter of fact,” Clarence said, “most of us here in the BDSMalibu community are doctors, lawyers, and nurses. And CEOs like me.”
Betty shook her head. “Well, if BDSM really isn’t a mental illness, what is? Anything?”
Falla cleared her throat. “According to someone from Oxford University, religious fundamentalism is.”
Rupert grabbed a napkin and prevented his dessert from escaping across the table. “What?”
“Mother, businesspeople aren’t supposed to talk about religion or politics,” Sarah said.
“Oh, bother,” said Falla. “I’m not businesspeople, and this is now medical rather than religion.” She faced Betty. “Someone named Kathleen Taylor from Oxford said that someday we might treat fundamentalism of any religion as a curable disease.” 
“All those people who are so rabidly against gay marriage and stuff?” Sarah asked.
Falla smiled sweetly. “Yes, dear, just so. Someday the tables may turn and they will gay away the pray.”
Rupert brightened. “We are in the business of developing therapeutics, you know,” he said. “We can come up with a nebulizer and… Wait for it…”
Betty groaned and said, “Spray away the pray.”
 SOURCE: bit.ly/14eYiKc The Journal of Sexual Medicine, online May 16, 2013.
“You should have a look out the front window, sir.”
Rupert smiled as he swiveled his chair towards the floor-to-ceiling glass. He loved being called ‘sir,’ especially by one of the Three Marketeers. “Which one is she?” he thought as he gazed at the 27th floor windows straight ahead of him on the other side of 42nd Street. “Maybe she’s Alice.”
The view looked spectacular, just like any other day. “Well, it’s very nice, Alice,” Rupert said. “Should I look at anything in particular?”
“Sorry, sir, but I’m Janet,” she said. “Alice is already down at the lobby with our security guards.”
Rupert sat up suddenly. “Guards?” he asked. “Why?” He put his head against the window glass and peered down towards the street. “Augh!” he shouted as he jumped back. “There’s a missile pointing up at me!”
“Yes, and it has our logo for HoriXentalBop on it.”
Rupert glared at her. “Is this your idea of a marketing campaign? Or was this Alice’s bright idea? Or – who’s the third one of you?”
“Malisma, sir.” Janet coughed and said. “That is not our idea or our missile. No one seems to know why it’s there and why it is advertizing one of our drugs.”
The phone on Rupert’s desk rang. Rupert and Janet watched it ring a couple times. “What is that thing and why does it make that annoying noise?” Janet asked.
Rupert snapped awake. “Oh, yeah, right. It’s a landline phone, I forgot.” He picked up and dropped the handset. He fumbled for a while, then pressed a green button on the phone.
A loud background of car horns and shouting rushed from the speakerphone. “Hello?” said an authoritative voice. “Am I speaking to Mr. Rupert Madasheck?”
Rupert leaned forward and said, “Yes, Chief, this is Rupert. Over.”
“Um, sir, this isn’t a walkie talkie,” the Chief said. “You don’t need to say ‘over’ any more.” More shouting spewed out of the speakerphone. “Sir, we have some assclown here who wants me to inspect this missile he just parked in front of our lobby.”
“What?” Rupert asked. “Why? Alice here tells me it’s not ours.”
“Janet, not Alice,” Janet said. “Alice is down there.”
“Janet. Whatever. Not our missile. What’s going on down there?”
More incoherent voices and a loud rustling of papers rattled through the speakerphone. “He just gave me this folder with his driver’s license and passport and stuff,” the Chief said.
“In case you need to contact me,” a stranger’s voice broke in.
“Back off, clown!” the Chief said. “Sir, I called for the corporate attorney and she just showed up.”
“Should I come down there?” Rupert asked.
“No!” the Chief shouted. “Do not come down here.” Rupert’s office started to shake as a chopping sound filled the air.
“First news helicopter incoming,” Janet said as it loomed large in Rupert’s window.
“Duck!” Rupert shouted as he dove under his desk.
“Relax, sir,” Janet shouted above the roar. “It won’t crash into the building.”
“The cameras!” Rupert shot back. Janet ducked under the desk with him. “Oh, this is cozy,” Rupert said as they rubbed shoulders. A blinding flash filled the office. Rupert cowered. “Oh, no, cameras. Maybelle doesn’t need my photo on the front page. Again.”
A female voice shouted through the speakerphone but Rupert could not understand it over the helicopter’s roar. There were several shouts from different voices, then the noise died down a few dozen decibels. “What?” the Chief said. “She’s Melvyn Weiss in lipstick?”
The helicopter veered away from Rupert’s office window and the speakerphone calmed down to a low background hiss. The Chief said, “That assclown said he was their ‘Chief Fun Officer.’ And he called our attorney here – who’s Melvyn Weiss?” 
“Rupert? This is Sosumi Ciyuencourt. I made that guy take his missile out of here and we will take legal action to get our HoriXentalBop logo expunged from all of their materials.”
Rupert crawled out from under his desk. “What materials?”
“Planes, tanks, missiles, military hardware,” Sosumi said. “He was planning to drive around Manhattan next week with this massive phallic symbol and distribute free condoms. Disgusting. I already got an email from him about all the free publicity for us. But that’s not the worst of it.” Sosumi took a deep breath. “He said I was hot enough to ride his missile next week or even tonight.”
This episode is so outrageous that it couldn’t possibly be true, could it? Um…could it??
Does Cappuccino Pharmaceuticals’ Chief of Security have a specific definition for the word ‘assclown’?
Will landline phones make a comeback in 50 years during another wave of retro nostalgia?
Why is it that Rupert’s desk just happens to have enough room for two people to squeeze together underneath?
Melvyn Weiss in lipstick? Maybe he meant to say ‘Robert Simels’? 
“Nothing is certain except death and taxes,” Rupert said. “I heard it from a great authority.” 
“I’m sure you would know, since you were there when Ben Franklin wrote it,” Betty Lidalot said.
George Contenumbaes said, “Well, speaking in my official CFO capacity, those two exceptions are not exactly valid.”
Betty and Rupert stared at George. “Were you hoping to live forever?” Betty asked.
“Technically, corporations can live forever. Some states insist that Limited Liability companies are partnerships and must have a finite lifetime. But Cappuccino Pharmaceuticals can live forever. Wrong again, Mr. Franklin.”
Rupert eyed George warily. “Are you suggesting we can also avoid taxes?”
George raised his eyebrows in a blank look of utter innocence. “Oh, no, not me. But Apple and Google seem to suggest just that.”
Betty grunted. “Yes, I’ve been reading about their scam to offshore everything to Ireland and avoid billions in taxes. They wouldn’t be the first company.”
“Oh, there’s also Yahoo using both Ireland and the Cayman Islands,” George said. “Let’s not forget Amazon avoiding British taxes by putting its headquarters in Luxembourg. Same with Skype.”
“What a surprise,” Rupert said. “Corporations doing everything legally possible to save money. That party might be over, since I read that Ireland is discussing tax avoidance with the European Union. And France might impose some cheese-eater’s culture tax.”
“Enough of international corporations wheeling and dealing,” Betty said. “None of those are biotech related companies. Tell me something inevitable in our business.”
“Tossing out heads of R&D,” said Rupert. “You heard about AbbVie, Merck, and Bristol-Myers Squibb in the latest round, I’m sure.” Betty and George nodded. “Others might follow anytime soon. J&J’s CEO sent out a memo to its employees to reassess their corporate credo – not a good sign.”
“That doesn’t mean they will toss their R&D Vice President,” said Betty.
“Why not?” Rupert asked. “That’s what we do whenever there’s a problem.”
Betty rolled her eyes. “Rupert, there’s a wave of production disasters around the world. For one, there is the Canadian recall of drugs that used ingredients from a Chinese contract manufacturer. Boehringer Ingelheim is imploding and shaking up its management because of production disasters. But all of those are failures of execution, not of research.”
“You want failures of research?” Rupert asked. “Let’s talk about Alzheimer’s Disease drug failures. Baxter, Lilly, and the J&J-Elan collaboration. Three failures that waited until the most expensive time to fail. Why can’t failures happen before clinical trials?”
George sighed. “There’s only one thing left that’s certain in this business.” He paused for dramatic effect until Betty started tapping her foot on the tile floor. He inhaled and said, “Medicinal pot.”
Betty and Rupert groaned and glared at George.
“Hear me out on this one,” George said. “How many people like taking their meds? Think about the way Avastin is used to treat macular degeneration. I hear they inject the stuff right into the eyeball.”
Betty blanched. Rupert covered his eyes and muttered, “Ick, that’s disgusting.”
“Yes, there are well over a million eyeball injections per year,” George said. “But what about cannabis users? There was a study to study the link between pot smoking and what people thought the benefit of pot smoking would be.”
Betty looked dazed. “Are you saying they asked pot smokers if they liked smoking pot?”
“They asked if users had positive or negative expectancies of using pot. Funny thing, those who expected positive things from using pot, um, tended to keep using pot.”
“So people who like using pot will use pot,” Betty said. “Right?”
“Wouldn’t that fall under the ‘Well, Duh!’ category?” asked Rupert.
“Yes indeed,” said George. “It was a study done at the VA in Palo Alto. Using your tax money.” 
“My tax money!” Rupert and Betty cried in unison. “Augh!”
Rupert looked over Cassandra’s shoulder at her computer monitor. “No,” he muttered. “That’s impossible. People don’t do things that stupid, and not our competitors. At least not people who got to that level. Do they?”
“I told you so,” Cassandra said. “No one believes a thing I say. Their disaster makes our company look good.” She toggled back to the Retraction Watch website, which featured a large-type headline of ‘Retraction Watch Retracts a Retraction.’
“So every single author claimed the whole clinical study is fake?”
“They claimed the published articles about the drug trial are fake,” Cassandra said. “Each one wrote to New England Journal of Medicine to confess plagiarism from an article written by our own scientists. And that they falsified their data. In effect that means their whole ReCycloPenxax trial is bogus.”
“But ReCycloPenxax is already FDA approved. Will the FDA withdraw its approval?” Rupert asked.
“They might,” Cassandra said. “As soon as Retraction Watch posted an article about this, the company’s stock crashed. FDA was bombarded by thousands of emails demanding that ReCycloPenxax be banned as a wanton endangerment to the public.”
“Good!” said Rupert as he smiled with satisfaction. “Zeptomyseis Pharmaceuticals has been our arch-rival far too long.”
Cassandra glared up at Rupert. “Not good,” she said. “All those emails were written by sock puppets.”
“I thought I knew what a sock puppet was,” Rupert said as he held his hand up, thumb waggling with his words. “I guess it doesn’t mean one of these hands with a sock over it.”
“No. It does not. It’s a fake email source. One person can generate hundreds and claim to be a whole cadre of people. Or be tracked down by the FBI. Now that Retraction Watch retracted their retraction, it could bounce back and hit us.”
“Oh.” Rupert squinted at the monitor. “I’m not quite seeing what happened.”
Cassandra pointed at a paragraph on the monitor. “Why would someone who committed such crimes suddenly confess? And why would every single author confess? There are more than twenty authors.”
“Maybe they feel guilty about claiming their drug is better than ours?” Rupert guessed.
“It turns out the authors called the police and asked what’s with all the newspaper reporters at their front door,” Cassandra said. “They never wrote those so-called confessions. Then they called in the FBI.”
Rupert sucked in his breath. “Don’t tell me some Cappuccino Pharmaceuticals scientist hacked into their account.”
Well, to use a sesquipedalian characterization,” Cassandra said, “these sock puppets or online aliases had an apotropaic function.” 
Rupert looked dazed. “Whuh?”
“Apotropaic, to ward off the demons of our arch-rival Zeptomyseis Pharmaceuticals.” Cassandra turned away from her monitor and looked at Rupert. “Did you guess right? Could it be one of our employees hacked their email addresses?”
[Insert abrupt music signifying a cliffhanger here.]
Who could have hacked the competition’s email accounts?
Will the FBI come tapping on Rupert’s door?
No one has believed anyone named Cassandra in 2500 years! Should she change her name?
 This delicious phrase was adapted from Armin Lange and Esther Eshel, BAR 2013 39(3):58.
“It needs to be a lunchtime meeting,” Gamela Nuryandi said. “You don’t want to be in that part of town after sunset.”
Malisma Collins, Vice President of Marketing, looked at the proposed invitation and asked, “Then why would anyone want to show up at all?”
“Think about it this way,” Gamela said as she spread her hands wide. “We can spend big bucks on dinner at a restaurant fancy enough to lure physicians from their busy lives. They won’t bother attending if you rent a room at a Boston Market. They will insist on the best restaurants with at least a Zagat rating so they can order bottles of Opus One – on our tab.”
Malisma shook her head. “Yes, but I see some of those states are rethinking their strict gift ban from pharmaceutical companies. It seems their restaurant associations are complaining about the loss of business.” 
“That’s nice, but we also need to consider our own budget,” Gamela said. “We need the same boost in prescriptions, so let’s try this avenue in my sales territory. Inviting patients to lunch is much cheaper than hosting physicians for dinner. The majority of patients won’t expect the same five-star meal as an MD. Plenty of them will flock to, yes, even to a Boston Market for a free meal. We save big-time with no alcohol on the bill and we might have a bigger effect in driving prescriptions.”
Malisma looked unimpressed. “But for every doctor we could invite, how many patients will we need there? How do we know they are really patients?”
“Many of these diseases have their own communities. We can reach out through the advocacy groups to the patients and to caregivers. Multiple sclerosis, for example. There’s a National MS Society with online social networking. Several of our other drugs have the same potential relation to patients. These are savvy people who know how to advocate for their own health, and they can act as our pharma reps to guide prescriptions.”
“Would we still need a key opinion leader to give a talk?” Malisma leaned back in her chair.
“Certainly. These are savvy patients, remember. They know the medical issues and they recognize names of our KOLs. These patients are motivated enough to take time out for lunch in the middle of a day, too.” Gamela smiled sweetly.
Malisma leaned forward in her chair and drummed her delicately painted fingernails on her desk. “And you’re sure Newark, New Jersey, is a good place to host these luncheons?”
Gamela’s smile faded. “Well…there are worse places in the world.”
Malisma frowned. “Somalia or downtown Detroit, maybe. Do we have a stock of Kevlar body armor?”
“Ha ha. Remember it’s a free lunch, not a top-notch banquet. We even have a limo service with bullet-proof windows that will guarantee safe delivery of our KOL speakers. And remember, we aren’t the first to try sponsoring a free meal direct to patients.  We don’t want to be left behind on this.”
Rupert knocked and asked, “Did anyone here order three crates of White Castle burgers?”
Rupert reached his hand through the semi-darkness of the banquet until his fingertips traced Mikung’s thigh under the table. He felt her warm flesh shiver under his touch, and his tingling fingers raised goosebumps along his arm. He kept his head turned away and pretended to listen as a seminar speaker droned on about financial statements.
Slowly, delicately, Rupert eased his fingers along the quivering thigh until they brushed against something new. Fingers reached towards his, and softly enveloped his hand with a soft caress. The lights dimmed and the speaker said, “May I have the next slide, please?” Rupert, under cover of gathering darkness, lifted his hand from Mikung’s thigh to ease along the encountered hand. Two sets of fingers interwove and Rupert slowly turned his head to meet the smiling gaze of…Mikung’s husband Ganja Din?
Rupert yanked his head backwards and awoke. He sat up with a snort and looked around the conference room. The wall clock showed ten minutes until the Board meeting. Rupert stood up and paced the room angrily. Another dalliance dealt a death blow, he thought glumly.
The first Director to arrive, Ima Punk, slipped into the room and disturbed Rupert’s thoughts. “So any idea if Mikung will show up today?” Ima asked as she sat down in the most comfortable chair around the table. “I know if Luzemore Investments tries to toss me, they will never get me off this Board. Cappuccino’s board meetings are the highlights of my year.”
Rupert glowered down at Ima. “How could Wiener Merkins Cowfield & Buyouts fire her?” he asked. Inhaling deeply, he let his shoulders slump. “Sexual harassment cases are the worst, just non-stop arguing and accusations. Now that she’s fired, can they force her off our board if she doesn’t resign? Wiener Merkins gets the right to designate a board member, but there needs to be a shareholder vote first. I think.”
Ima looked unimpressed. “Mikung is a Director for several other companies – or was.” She opened a notebook and pointed at a page. “This one, BioRidiculon, her name is gone and a Wiener Merkins partner named Bubba Hardesty is a new director.” She flipped a couple pages. “Stemophon Therapeutics doesn’t list any director from Wiener Perkins. And Perky Paternity Testing lists both Mikung and Wiener Merkins’ senior partner as directors. That can’t be right.” Ima closed her notebook and shook her head.
Betty Lidalot strode into the conference room with a dapper young gentleman. “Rupert, Ima, I’d like you to meet Mr. Georgios Skatalopoulos. I’ll introduce him officially when everyone is here.”
Mr. Skatalopoulos bowed gallantly to Ima and turned towards Rupert. “Good afternoon, Mr. Madasheck. I am proud to be here representing Wiener Merkins Cowfield & Buyouts.”
Rupert looked at Betty. “Any chance that Mikung will appear today? That could be awkward.”
Betty smiled. “Not to worry, she will not be gracing our boardroom. As far as I can tell, she is busy in Silicon Valley with lawsuits and selling off real estate to pay debts. I believe her husband is also busy, right here in New York diddling with finances…and boyfriends.” 
Rupert grunted. “Boyfriends. Her husband’s boyfriends.”
Ima looked up from her tablet screen. “Well, it looks like Mikung has set aside the harassment case and resurfaced. As a partner at Forqueue and Forqueue.”
All heads turned towards Ima. Silence. Finally, Mr. Skatalopoulos said, “Isn’t – isn’t that the law firm that’s trading lawsuits with a former employee to the tune of $28 million?” 
 A follow-up on last year’s Silicon Valley harassment case, this one contains plenty of rumors and allegations…and few facts: http://www.vanityfair.com/society/2013/03/buddy-fletcher-ellen-pao