Checkmate in a Queen’s Rookery
Checkmate in a Queen’s Rookery
“You are like shrieking cloth hawkers in a Marrakech market.” Ghazi bin Omani cursed as the principle officers of various attacked companies traipsed into the boardroom, in a piecemeal throng, to display endless bolts of bad news. “According to each, new money should be applied as suture thread to stitch up my rent empire.”
“Wall Soft’s bank account is a awfully big pair of scissors.” The Vice-President of bin Omani Transport had entered with the first bearer of woeful tidings but he had stayed on. The sub-company Rajah Fakir was in charge of wasn’t affected by today’s activities as Ghazi had secured a 51% percent interest in that one in the proxy war’s opening shots.
“It will take more than money to bring me down!” By only shortly past midday in downtown Manhattan, the beleaguered sheik looked as if he’d just climbed off a trans-Sahara caravan camel.
“Bob’s queen pulled a new gambit.” Rajah noted that the sheik seemed to like chess analogies. “He pushed forward a row of day-trading pawns by short selling to trigger a price slide. The tiny players leaped in to make a quick profit and they short sold too.”
“But it was a sly ruse to sacrifice them.” Ghazi took over describing. “The Wall Soft brokers were already replacing shorts during the plunge.”
“When the queen moves forward,” Rajah had read some chess books after gaining rapport with his temperamental boss, “the opponent needs to protect in all directions.”
“Shareholder stop-loss delimiters brought even more shares into the market so Bob took units into his portfolio at a rock bottom,” bin Omani lamented, “but with many small owners whipsawed out of the market, my buffer was weakened. I’ve had to buy just to bolster my own holdings.”
“The day traders also had to make up their short sells.” Rajah added. “Your buys weren’t quite so inexpensive as Wall’s.”
“It wasn’t just once. It’s been six times so far today!” Ghazi took off his headdress: it was as if the Aswan dam broke to flood the Nile Estuary onto his forehead. “Wall’s queen has threatened five separate companies today and hit my bin Omani Holdings entity twice.”
“She’s likely drained the day-traders’ brokerage accounts so the board is now devoid of any more pawns.”
“Probably devoid,” Ghazi corrected, “but after gambits I’ve faced so far, I’m not discounting Bob Wall’s business acumen anymore.”
“A grandmaster’s skills aren’t honed by playing against weaklings.” Rajah Fakir smiled ironically. “Sly Bob fox had the world believing he was just a lucky ugly ducky.”
A special phone tone sounded from Ghazi’s adjoining office: he shooed his new confidant away and grabbed the handset on the fourth ring.
“~Bob Wall’s star player is Collin Hersker.” An Arabic speaking male voice passed information. “~They call him The Asshole due to his sexual preferences. He’s gay.”
“~I’ve been calling him Bob’s queen,” A sardonic smile showed through bin Omani’s full beard, “~and he actually is one. That’s rich.”
“~Do you have any other orders?”
My bishop is too far from the play. Ghazi pondered while looking at compiled numbers from the day’s warfare. I really don’t want to bleed this much red ink again tomorrow.
“~I need a rental knight.” The sheik gave the details and then hung up.
Though he watched the Wall Street board until the final bell, there was no further action. At the close, he sat in his darkened room to brood.
“Even if Hersker the homo hides in a closet, I still have debts to settle.” Driven by a wafting smell, Ghazi tucked his nose down to his shoulder. “I stink worse than the downside of a horse blanket.” He had never perspired so much in a day before.
“I have to think moves beyond the early match.” The sheik’s nostrils flared as he pulled a deep draft of his pungent smell: it was as if the stink was an unguent that invigorated. “This proxy fight will continue until I buy out Wall Soft. His cash won’t purchase him power but my influence can get me the wealth I need to take him.”
‘My dearest Bijan.’ Kiani noted the girl had upped the affection in her greeting: he read on. ‘I was tickled by your cleverly written response. I read it while I was in my bed—and my hands strayed under my covers.’
“She is really one hot little thing!” Bijan left off his reading to eagerly race ahead to the new photo she sent.
In this image, the female was only wearing a skimpy red bikini. She was posed reclining in a deck chair, possibly on a hotel room’s balcony, and her one hand was waving. A bathing suit, or was it a bra and panties, suggested casualness, but her hair was styled atop her head and she wore a gold mesh veil—attached to delicate basket of gleaming metal woven into her coif. He saw her as an elegant Islamic princess, stripped of a gown.
The bulk of the letter held more titillating flattery, then his loins reacted strongly to the final paragraph.
‘Our relationship is growing ever more intimate, to my great pleasure, so I suggest we should carry our communication away from your business. Send me an email from your most secure private account. Then I can feel safe to entrust you with my deepest emotions and my private photos.’
Editor Kiani idly stroked his crotch as he imagined what those pictures would look like. He did have one ultra secure email account, but he didn’t normally use it for his personal reasons.
“It is an account where my wife would never see my digital fling.” Was there a possibility this could develop into a flesh encounter as well? Just that prurient thought swayed the Iranian man’s balance. He composed and sent an enthusiastic answer to her request—from his private mailbox.
“Welcome aboard the squid.” Bernard greeted his guest.
“It’s big.” The helicopter took up but a quarter of the flight deck. “My wives might be envious.” On those words, Ghazi stooped over and went under a spinning rotor to assist three of his favorites from the aircraft.
The young women bin Omani brought with him were each stunning. One was a Nordic blonde, the second an Irish redhead, and the brunette out last was Czech. The hair color was different but all three shared alabaster white skin, and they hurried from the deck to a shady salon to protect those flawless complexions.
“Come this way.” Stryker hadn’t helped or even stood near the rotor’s circle. He seldom rode in helicopters, and certainly wouldn’t enter one that wasn’t completely shut down. Bernard shuddered on a vivid memory. To protect Ghazi’s wives from the San Diego sun, he led them to the spacious forward deck by an interior route.
“I wasn’t aware of your having so large a yacht.” The sheik remarked. Inwardly, his comment differed. Squid is an apropos name for Bernard’s ship: it has many slippery tentacles and inks the water to hide its doings.
“Squid is probably the world’s largest private pleasure craft.” Stryker brought his party outside to where four sun-bleached blondes were playing volleyball: Bernard had ordered his crew to hoist enough sand on deck for an onboard beach.
“It seems constructed as a minor cruise liner,” Ghazi’s eyes swabbed a ship that could’ve taken two hundred passengers, “but refitted since.”
“This boat no longer matters.” Bernard indicated some chaise chairs under a canopy, where Ghazi’s wives could be comfortable. Refreshments and food had been readied for them. “I’ve sold it.” He removed his robe to take some sun, and took a seat positioned to watch the volleyball game.
“Are these sun-goddesses the entertainment,” bin Omani cast his eyes to the four topless girls playing on the deck-beach: bronze skins glistened with sun lotion and sweat, “or is one your current plaything?”
“They’re such a superbly matched set,” Bernard smiled at the foursome who could be female quadruplets, “that it would be a sin to pick just one.”
“Why did you summon me here so abruptly?” The flight from the East coast had been sudden and grueling. I was on two phones during the whole trans-continental trip. Fortunately the sheik had prepared for this type of setting: he flipped off his traditional garb to the blood red swim trunks he had on underneath. At least I’ve bought myself a reprieve for tomorrow.
“What haven’t you been up to?” Bernard Stryker pointedly asked.
“I’m in a fracas with Wall Soft Systems.”
“I didn’t ask of your recent doings—I already know them.”
“What haven’t I done?” The sheik paraphrased back the query and he twigged to the real topic. “I’m still on it.” Ghazi lied: he felt like a truant boy caught at a swimming pool and he knew his mentor didn’t buy into it.
“Hee hee,” Bob tittered at the tally, as a brutal day for his foe closed. “I’ll bet Ghazi’s rump is as raw as from riding an alligator hide saddle.”
“Later shares will be more expensive than these early ones are.” Collin glanced over at his boss and he made his face unreadable to hide the fact that the teen girlish giggling was rather annoying.
“My treasury is as plump as a Sumo wrestler’s butt.” Bob regretted the anal analogies as they reminded him of his employee’s sexual predilection.
“It went on a half a billion pound crash diet when you bought the boat.” Hersker suddenly rued his words too, but it was because they served to extend a conversation that he would rather not be having right now.
“I needed a yacht and I got it for a superb price.” Bob defended his purchase. “The Squid is the world’s largest private watercraft.”
“My best advice is that you cancel the deal and keep the cash.”
“I’ll take the loss of the deposit right up my keister!” Again Bob spoke without considering the sexual connotation first.
“A slippery squid tentacle up there now, will hurt a whole lot less than a pachyderm’s trunk—if it turns into a white elephant.”
“I did calculations before I made the offer and I’m holding enough cash to buy out Omani.” The CEO chucked his general on the arm. “Slugger, you’ve nearly knocked Ghazi to the canvas already.”
“I’ve had an awfully long last few of rounds.” Slugger? He preferred the asshole endearment. “Today, I’ll be punching-out early.”
“I would’ve never thought of this approach,” Tariq had scanned Bijan’s email and his pleasure came from looking at the header information, “but it worked. This isn’t just a public email account. Let’s see what it really is.”
[You need a protégé.]
Finally, I’ve had a half decent suggestion from Loki the Leech.
“Wench,” the hacker extraordinaire scooted far back in his chair, “park your cheeks right here.” He patted the space between his spread thighs.
“These sweet ones?” Fatima grinned and slapped her own face with her both hands. “Why, you filthy old man!” Despite her impertinence, the girl knew what he was intending and squished her bottom in tight.
“First, you run the domain name through a Whois database to get the registered owner.” The teacher kept a running tutorial for his student to follow. “Compare the name and the obvious derivatives against the output file from my Low-Key program.”
“I see several likely users.” Fatima’s painted fingernail clicked on the monitor’s glass. “I believe it’s this one.”
“Cracking into the company’s system would’ve been possible,” Tariq’s legs were snug around her hips and he watched her progress from over her shoulder—where his chin rested, “but a backdoor makes sliding in easier.”
“All we needed was the name of Bijan’s email provider.” As prompted to do, Fatima probed further. This is thrilling and my fingers are shaking.
[You were trembling like that when collapsing Jericho’s walls.]
“Now you have the access privileges than even the email provider’s administrator: you have root permissions and you can do anything.”
“But what do I do with my free reign?”
“If it were me driving,” Tariq wrapped his arms around her waist like a passenger on the back of her motorcycle, “I would install a redirect, so we have the opportunity to see his incoming and outgoing mail, before it can resolve into or out of his account.”
“Done.” Fatima had followed his instructions during the process. He had also showed her how to check for saved messages, but there were none of those. The program’s security protocols eliminated the data after it was processed and it coupled erasing with overwriting to avoid any recreating.
“From now onwards, you own Kiani’s previously secure messages.”
“I need a shower,” Collin Hersker pulled his Lamborghini Diablo into his stall under a luxury condominium building, “but I don’t know if I can stay awake for that long.” As he closed the door, the thirty-two year old executive stared glassy-eyed at his reflection in the tinted driver’s window. He loved this car, but at the moment it felt worthless to him. My salary is larger than I can spend but just now, I feel like I have nothing.
“I haven’t been home for two days,” Collin trudged into the rotunda and called for the lift, “but it will be exactly the same and empty.” He selected the penthouse floor. I don’t even have live plants needing water. But his fake ones were of top quality that almost passed as growing plants.
“I’d love to have someone waiting for me.” I’m never sure if girls want me for myself or mainly for the over-abundant money I earn. The asshole proxy general keyed the lock into his spacious suite: he stepped into a dim foyer and reached for the switch. From out of seemingly nowhere, a fist to the stomach doubled him over and his breath whooshed.
“My client is angry.” The assailant threw a left uppercut that connected with Collin’s jaw. Then a meaty shoulder slammed into the slighter man and sent him crashing against the wall.
The executive dropped to the floor: he was still breathless from the first sucker-punch. I can’t even defend because I don’t see the blows coming. Hersker’s pupils hadn’t adjusted to the gloom.
“Don’t—Dick—Around—With—Ghazi—Bin—Omani.” Fierce kicks punctuated each word and the spaces between were each as the thug’s leg swung back for the vicious next.
The last blow Collin painfully felt was the one on bin that cracked his rib. The next was a steel-toe striking his temple: bright colors flashed and then black ink smudged out the gloomy room.
In Damascus, Bijan Kiani opened his private digital mailbox. His first emotion was of disappointment: his naughty schoolgirl hadn’t responded yet. However, he had another critical purpose for accessing it today.
‘Grandmaster has a special duty for you.’ Bijan didn’t add preamble: the recipient would know who this was. He typed the brief communiqué.
The Jihad Journal’s editor clicked the send button. As usual, the note disappeared without leaving a trace. He wistfully looked again at an empty inbox and sighed. “I really want to see that girl’s intimate photos.”
But the outgoing message hadn’t really gone yet. It was in the limbo of a server’s hard drive and waiting the root permission to proceed onwards. In Quetta, Pakistan, another computer’s internal bell sounded an alert.
‘Finish up what you are there for and report back to the staging area.’ Tariq read the private instruction and he appended another two lines into it. ‘Take our new contact along. His insight will benefit the larger cause.’
The hacker clicked a transmit icon and the email resumed its electronic course—as if no intermediate stopover had ever occurred.
“Why do I feel like I just jumped off another boat?” The programmer wiped his sweating palms on his thighs. His hands left two long smudges down the front of his otherwise pure white robe.
“Did I ride in a collapsing roller-coaster,” the Wall Soft proxy warrior awoke to find he had a full inventory of pain as vigorously reported from each of his body’s major nerve clusters, “or was I dragged behind it.”
Collin willed away enough of his hurt to struggle to his feet. His hand hadn’t found the switch during the assault: now it fell there accidentally. The brightness added a dazzling ocular jolt. A part of his body’s position during unconsciousness, was discernable in blood on the white carpeting. It looked like a forensics unit in haste, had drawn a patchy corpse outline with a dripping red spray paint can.
“My housekeeper is going to deserve a bonus.” Collin staggered to the bathroom to assess his injuries in the mirror. This is ugly but I don’t think I need urgent medical attention. He wetted a cloth and dabbed away the crusted blood that had flowed from his nose.
“I can’t remember when I last had a shiner like this one is shaping up to be.” The eye in question was a rich purple color and almost swollen shut.
“That’s just great!” As an added insult to his many injuries, he felt that his Breitling wristwatch was gone. It’s four in the morning. Focusing his one good eye on the wall clock supplied the information. Collin had been looking forward to a good night sleep in his own bed but had ended up on the hard floor for the past ten hours. The bruised victim gingerly peeled his clothes off and tried to tally up his wounds—he lost count.
“I don’t remember being struck in some of these places: bastard must have kept kicking me after I was out cold.” The hot water stung like iodine when he first got into the shower but then it turned soothing.
“Should I play the markets today?” The punching-bag man let water play over his back while pondering his options. One nasty thought stood prominent. “Sheik Ghazi bin Omani sent a goon right into my home!”
“I don’t even really like Bob anymore—if I ever did.” The executive looked in his mirror at a pummeled face, covered in shaving gel. “Should I be risking my safety to wage his war?” The question was still nagging as his body performed the morning routines on autopilot.
“I’ll go into the office,” he packed a bag with clothes and toiletries to anonymously overnight in a hotel “and decide on my long term plan later.”
Hersker cautiously looked both directions before entering the elevator. In the parking garage, his car looked untouched. Was there a bomb rigged to explode when the ignition was keyed? I already hurt in so many places that being blown to smithereens might be a welcome relief.
“If I was to be killed, the mauler would’ve done it in my suite.” He fired the engine and drove off into the early Seattle morning.
“I was starting to feel this fight was mine,” by the time the proxy war general got to the headquarters, he had his decision made, “and now this is one asshole who will take pleasure in drilling Ghazi a few fresh rectums.”
“The jihad captain might ask both of us to go.” Fatima pouted.
“I’m guessing that he will,” the man stood firm, “but you’re not going.”
“If he doesn’t,” the young woman persisted as if her selective hearing had omitted the last part, “you can refuse to go unless I’m invited too.”
“If Kareem’s eyes had only trained on your burnoose caboose,” Tariq turned Fatima physically around and he tightened the material against the girl’s lower body, “I still wouldn’t let you near him again.”
“Your exact words were,” she recited, “if I’m not present.”
“The key phrase in that sentence was not to go anywhere near him.”
“You can’t order me to do,” She placed her hands sternly on her hips: the stance was odd, as she was still facing away, “or not to do anything.”
“But he didn’t just see this hazy outline,” Tariq stretched the fabric again, “the target in his back sight was the whites of this delectable little derriere.” His hands flipped the bottom half of her abaya up to reenact her accidental unfrocking. “His gun is now fully cocked for it.”
“You’re jumping the gun,” Fatima crossly pushed her clothing back down, “but are you so cock sure that he’ll take you if I don’t come too?”
“If he doesn’t then he won’t,” Tariq took his hands away and he folded them into his lap, “but I will not risk my doe with that horny goat-herder.”
She glared menacingly and her lips were pressed tightly, but Fatima had no other arguments handy. The man’s decision seemed irreversible.
[A male general can only beat female one by surrendering.]
“It’s not just my protecting you either.” The Iranian knew that females were largely unfathomable to a male, but he had better try something. “I don’t want to further jeopardize our grand scheme either. I really need you back in Toronto. Sam has his part and you do too.”
“I assumed that was to be one of your jobs.” Fatima softened.
“We didn’t assign duties that far in advance.” Tariq smiled. Score one for the Scandinavian pest: this is actually working. “Now that I think on it, you’re the better one for it. Even if we could swap spots, with you going alone with Kareem and my heading for Toronto, it wouldn’t be as perfect.”
“I know exactly what you’re attempting.” Her cheeks tightened as she tried squelching a grin. “I’ll let you get away with it—but only this once.”
[Don’t blame me. I didn’t suggest that.]
Maybe I’ve just unleashed a monster.
The CEO didn’t show up for work until near the stock market closing bell. The first task of his very late morning was checking in with his proxy brigadier—who looked like he was in an automobile accident.
“The final seven words I heard before a last boot in the brain-pan were ‘don’t dick around with Ghazi bin Omani’.” He made light of his beating. “Do these twenty or so minor wounds qualify me for one purple-heart?”
“We shouldn’t joke about this.” Bob’s first thoughts weren’t about the welfare of his employee but of how he couldn’t afford to loose him. “I’ll provide a crack security team to cover you around the clock.”
“The guy wasn’t just an amateur thug: he broke into my apartment and disabled security alarms.”
“After what happened to you last night, I can understand if you went easy on the war today.”
“I didn’t ease up,” Collin gamely grinned, “I gave monetary retribution for the physical pounding he sent me. I ran our treasury down somewhat, but substantially increased our holdings in bin Omani’s core companies. I bought at good prices and he’s bleeding in as many spots as I am bruised.”
“That took guts.” Wall felt as if he should give a hug but a thought of the man’s sexual preferences quashed it: he joshed instead. “If you point a place on your back that doesn’t hurt, I’ll give it a congratulatory pat.”
“I would prefer if you just give me a safe place to spend the weekend.” Suddenly, the asshole had an idea. “Hey, is your new boat here?”
“It hasn’t left San Diego yet.” It was Bob’s turn for a brainwave. He’s gay and my slave already thinks of him as her girlfriend: they can have a sleepover. “You can stay in the apartment: there’s nowhere safer.”
“This place is tighter than a crack house.” Collin sighed with relief but briefly wondered where the girl was. “I’ve already got a bag in my office.”
“Here’s the key to the suite and another for the exterior office door.” The CEO had assembled a key ring by the time his underling returned. “Now let’s get you two settled in before I head for home.”
“Two?” The young executive stopped like a mime hitting a glass wall.
“You and Oksana.” Bob looked sheepishly. Oops, this shows I know he’s a homosexual. “Your beating makes this an emergency requirement.”
“~What’s going on?” The girl was seated in the big chair. Her eyes fell on the suitcase in Collin’s hand.
“He is staying over for a few days.” Bob mimed his words with some actions that a charades champion couldn’t have figured out.
“~This is fantastic.” The Russian woman’s expression was of delight. She took his valise hand, and dragged the man along with his luggage.
“Uh,” Collin followed as drawn, “there’s only one bed in here.”
“You’ll bunk together.” Again, the CEO acted out his instructions. He indicated both, pointed at the bed and then made a sleepy hands gesture.
Collin Hersker was speechless. Had Bob bought into the interoffice gossip about his being gay? Most people called him the Asshole but he did have friends in the company who told him what was said behind his back.
“I’ll see you on Monday.” Wall offered cheerfully
“Bob—I—uh,” Collin stammered, “I’m not what you might think.”
“Of course you’re not,” the CEO was now utterly convinced, “but you’re staying here until at least Monday morning. That’s a direct order.”
“~You’re hurt.” After Bob left, she gingerly touched his lacerations. “~It’s my turn to help you. Then I have some other plans.”
“I caught your sympathy,” Collin read her face as if spoken in a shared language, “but also another expression that my boss didn’t anticipate.”
“Under my administration,” Zafira Abdi muttered as her limo traveled the dirty streets of Quetta, “this city will actually become part of Pakistan: instead of it’s being in an unrecognized quasi-province of Afghanistan.”
“This is highly irregular.” The presidential candidate’s head bodyguard voiced his concern over the swap about to occur.
“I have to meet this person in absolute confidence.” Abdi had received secret word of a benefactor she had wooed, being ready to finally commit.
“I still don’t like it.” The security chief grumbled but followed orders and removed himself from her vehicle. The driver was also replaced.
“I’m to look after you.” The heftier of the two apparently Saudi men said as they climbed into the bulletproofed limo compartment.
“Let’s go.” Zafira’s voice was impatient. As the car headed off alone, she forgot about the Arabs and daydreamed instead of Stryker and what he promised to do for her. My political victory is all but assured now: I need only to sign-off on Bernard’s mysterious final concession.
“I’m tasked with delivering a harsh message.” The fat Saudi pulled his Walther handgun and chambered a fresh round.
“A message!” Zafira’s shocked eyes focused sharply on the black hole of the gun’s muzzle—it was aimed at her forehead.
“Unfortunately,” the Arab recited his memorized statement, “all of the previously agreed to support items become redundant on the execution of a final contract term—that being your death.”
“You sick, twisted bastard.” The doomed politician suddenly found a different meaning in the boastful statement Bernard had made in Vienna. ‘Princess Diana rode with me in a landau to this opera house.’ “Were my marital infidelity and my life only grizzly notches on your bedpost?”
“Have you any final requests?” The man with the gun asked.
I have an unfulfilled future lifetime worth of them. Zafira’s mind spoke but her lips only quivered. I should beg for Bernard Stryker to meet an end worse than this one. She doubted that either of these men would carry out that final appeal. She took a breath and asked her boon: it was the same as females committing suicide do for themselves. “Don’t mar my face.”
While a too stunned to react programmer watched on, Kareem Kareem emptied his magazine into Zafira Abdi’s heart: her beauty remained intact.