Storm Clouds

Day 1 - Thursday, August 17 - 3:45 p.m.

Robert Patterson drummed his fingers in a rapid staccato against the rim of his keyboard as he waited for a reaction to his typed command. He stared hard into the impotent screen as if to will it to respond. A mound of paperwork on the desktop in front of him stared back. He punched the Refresh button again.
At age 45, Robert was an attractive man who favored tailored dark suits that hung comfortably from his lean, athletic frame. An even six feet tall, with dark brown eyes and sandy hair dusted with barely-there touches of gray at his temples, he could have easily been mistaken for the president of a prestigious university.
Robert exhaled the breath he'd been holding and demanded aloud, What's wrong with this machine?
He pounded his fist on his European-designed desk and uttered a most uncharacteristic expletive.
Just as Robert reached forward to buzz his assistant, Beverly, for help, the computer screen showed signs of life.
The grimace on the CFO's face relaxed as his fingers sprang into action. An up-to-date production report and a half dozen others were due to Jackson and the Board at tomorrow's meeting, and it was already late afternoon.
Robert buried his face in his cupped hands and estimated the number of hours needed to finish his day's work. It would be mid-evening, if he was lucky, before he could drive home to his wife and eight-year-old daughter.
Robert sighed. Caroline will be upset with me again. Better call her now and get it over with.

In the small reception area outside Robert's spacious, oak-paneled office, Beverly Smithson had her own problems. Her computer was sluggish, changing screens at half its normal speed. Twice in the past hour it had frozen up and required time-consuming reboots.
Time to call in the big boys, the administrative assistant decided, and with perfectly manicured fingernails tapped the well-known digits into the phone cons

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