“A Murder in Ankara” – Episode III
Two days earlier, George Kaufman had returned from lunch to find an overstuffed brown folder on his desk. The documents inside did not look familiar and he was about to send it back to the mail room when his secretary looked up from the magazine she was reading.
“That’s yours. Harry Mays sent it down.”
“Mays?” Kaufman looked puzzled. “I’m not working with him on anything.”
“Now you are. Something about Turkey, I think.” She flipped another page in the magazine. “Harry Mays phoned and said you should read it. I think he said you’re going to Turkey tomorrow night.”
“Turkey?” Kaufman was sure he had not heard her correctly. “What am I supposed to do in Turkey? You know I have meetings all this week with the new IPO, plus I’ve got to finish the contract for that factory in Bulgaria.”
“That smelly cow manure place?” She closed her magazine and made a face. “I’d think you’d like a chance to go to Turkey. I hear it’s just lovely.” She pointed to the stack of Travel & Leisure magazines on her desk. “I can tell you, as soon as I finish my graphic arts degree I am going to get a job on that magazine. Working in a law firm is so boring.”
“Susan, please, could we just focus on me for a second?” He hefted the brown folder. “Whose project is this and why in god’s name was it dumped on me?”
“Cathy Norton was supposed to leave for Turkey this week for the due diligence on the Markiz International contract,” Susan said. “But she called in sick yesterday, and today she called again, saying her doctor told her she has a bad ear infection and can’t fly.”
Susan leaned forward and dropped her voice to a conspiratorial whisper. “My friend Kevin, the one who works upstairs for Harry Mays? Kevin says Hays flipped out when he heard Cathy was sick. Mays thinks Cathy made this all up because there’s a rumor that Cathy’s being wooed by another law firm. They want to make her a partner in two years and she’ll get to work on high-tech mergers, which is exactly what she –“
“Susan, spare me any stories about Cathy Norton, please.”
As of late Kaufman had tried to avoid hearing about Norton’s meteoric rise in the world of corporate law. The two had finished Columbia Law School the same year and were hired together at Lichtmann & Paneth, a large New York corporate law firm. The first two years they even shared an office in the midtown Manhattan building that housed the firm, but after that their paths diverged. Cathy Norton was now a favorite third-year associate, handling those big contracts that the partners did not have time for but still wanted to oversee.
But Kaufman had not managed to keep his favored status in the third year and he was still trudging through the same bond offerings of utility companies that he had been working on his first two years. Or at least, that’s what the situation had been like since the Algeria debacle.
Kaufman winced as he remembered the contract in Algeria. He pushed it out of his mind and suddenly thought of something. “This is one of Cathy Norton’s deals, right?”
Susan shook her head. “Haven’t you heard anything I said?”
“Of course I did, but…” Kaufman nodded slowly. “If this is one of her projects, then this means it’s a big deal. It means I’m being given another chance, it means –“
“It means that Cathy is sick and they can’t find another chump to take on some piddling contract due diligence and drop everything at the last minute and fly to Turkey. That’s what it means,” said Susan.
Kaufman gave her a dirty look. “Thanks Susan. I’ll remember this when it’s time for your Christmas bonus.”
“Don’t worry, by Christmas I’ll be at Travel & Leisure. That’s for sure.” She matched his dirty look. “But for all you know, you’ll be stuck in a Turkish prison. Ever see Midnight Express?” She nodded her head. “Fuck up this deal, and it won’t be like Algeria. No way. You’ll be sitting in a Turkish prison, rotting away. I saw the movie. It wasn’t pretty.”
“Give me a break,” he said. “It’s due diligence, not drug running. It’ll be a breeze. Besides, I heard that the film exaggerated everything.”
He turned towards the elevator. “Do me a favor. Instead of planning my prison visits, please just call Kevin and tell him I’ll be up in a few minutes to see Harry Mays about the trip.”
Read the next installment of “A Murder in Ankara” by Lee Sherman. Available only on NewsPlink.