Magazine article Risk Management

Company Man

Magazine article Risk Management

Company Man

Article excerpt

Icarus Hemlock hates his job. As a corporate hitman for the Company, he's the guy that Accounts Receivable sends out to rival skyscrapers, where he must battle past nameless, gun-toting goons dressed in cheap suits so he can get whatever it was he was sent to collect. For Icarus, racking up 50 or 60 hash marks on his twin automatics is just another day at the office. A day that won't end until he returns to his cube and answers the 100 e-mails that piled up while he was out, files his field report triplicates to auditing (all those bullets need to be accounted for), answers a half-dozen meeting requests and prepares for his upcoming performance review. His boss is a jerk, his colleagues all want his job, and he's fairly certain that the water cooler has been poisoned. Every bullet graze he takes means another workers comp claim, just as every stray bullet fired means another reason for Communications to scramble the Spin Patrol. And when your employer is in the business of corporate espionage and discretionary warfare, the Risk Management department has a whole different set of rules to play by.

Taking a job as a white-collar mercenary seemed like a good move at the time, but as Icarus is learning the hard way, when you do anything long enough, it becomes a bit of a grind. So when the Company's competition, the Firm, asks Icarus to interview, he senses an opportunity. Sure, he'd be doing the same stuff for the Firm that he already does for the Company, but he'd have an office instead of a cube, free Starbucks in the kitchen and every day is casual Friday. All he has to do is make the interview. But as Icarus Hemlock is about to find out, the only thing harder than working for the Company is leaving it. And Management is certain that if Icarus leaves at all, it will be feet first.

That's the general idea for a novel I'd like to write called Company Man. It's an action-movie send up of corporate life that is meant to draw on two things I know pretty well--action movie cliches and the universal frustrations of the white-collar workplace. The idea for this thing came at me fast and furious once I began working in Manhattan. What if all of these skyscrapers housed things like the Mafia and the CIA, and their operatives were working stiffs, too? What if the people handing out sidewalk freebies were from Smith & Wesson, giving away one-shot derringers? What if the problem with random, action-movie gunfights breaking out all over wasn't the collateral damage, but that they tended to make you late for the evening train? …

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