The Human League (Part 10)

Charlie Drake was a slightly younger version of his older brother, Damon. Terry and Shawna met him in the lounge of the Pierre Hotel where they were staying on their way back home to New England.

Shawna could see that these two men were tight. And as they told their stories she could see why. They were indeed kindred spirits.


“So, New York, huh?” Terry said.

“Fish where the fish are, amigo’. Charlie said. “The incompetence here is just as great, if not greater, than anywhere else. So many fires to put out, so little time.”

“Terry has told me almost nothing about you. Charlie. What exactly do you do here?”

Charlie took a sip of his beer. “Misconception and willful ignorance,  my dear Shawna, are everywhere. But in New York, it happens to be packed in tightly and most of it is within walking distance of my apartment. Right now, I’m doing a lot of course corrections for businesses that thought they knew a lot about AI, but in actuality knew next to nothing. These folks been sold a bill of goods by the new charlatan class. These are next generation scammers. Most are just crooks who flunked out of the big tech schools but tell everybody they graduated because most people don’t bother checking education creds. You kinda are what you tell people you are.

“Anyway, sooner more often than later, these companies find themselves in a complete mess. I started early this year just cold calling big IT departments. I got almost every meeting I asked for because the little dweebs in these companies realized almost from the get-go that they were in way over their heads. So I hold their hands, set them on the path to glory and send them a whoppin’ big bill for my time, and they pay it almost instantly. In just six months, I’ve already sewn up troubleshooting contracts with a dozen companies and have my number of a dozen more rolodexes. Life is good thanks to the criminal element of the AI universe.”

“Whoa.” Shawna said. “I had no idea.”

“Yeah, well, it’s not like they’re broadcasting it. These companies, they call them early adaptors, are really just greedy little American predators trying to maximize their profits and minimize their overhead. Simple greed economics and nobody does it like the good old USA..”

“So I guess offering you a well-paying job in an out-of-the-way place like Plymouth, would be an exercise in futility.”

Charlie just smiled. “I’m flattered, but…thanks but no thanks. Everybody’s got a tolerance for this city, and mine is pretty high. Maybe after a few years, when it all settles downs and the rules get written into law.”

“At least let us take you out to dinner?” Shawna said.

“I’d love it.”

They finished their drinks and headed down to 58th Street and then east to an Italian Restaurant called Serafina where Terry had reserved a table the night before. He knew that Charlie loved Italian food and always raved about Serafina.

As they walked along Charlie said. “You know, my brother called me the minute you guys left to tell me how pumped he was. He hasn’t been this excited since the Lilliworx days. I think they want to make you a partnership offer.”

“Yeah?” Terry said, pretending to be surprised.

“Yeah they’ll probably want 40% but they will cover off all the marketing, sales and service.” Charlie said. “They’ve got the best network in the country by a long shot. All really smart people. All reliable. You try and build a network like that yourselves you’ll go nuts. I know The Anchors almost did.”

“Yeah.” Shawna said. “We were hoping they would like the program enough to want to partner up for that very reason.”

“If this goes the way of Lilliworx’ You can look forward to a lot of travel. They don’t like being out in front. They’ll want you guys to do all that.” Charlie said.

They arrived at the restaurant and stood at the bar for about twenty minutes with another drink. Then they got their table. And proceeded to get stuffed on veal scallopini and Valpolicella wine.

As they said goodbye to Charlie, he said. “You know who might love to be part of this is Kyle Jameson.”

“I thought he was teaching?” Terry said.

“Naaa…we keep in touch. I think all his tolerance for young idiots is all used up. I’ll text you his number.  Give him a call.


The next day they headed back to New England. All the way back, they talked about their battle plan for the best-case scenario, which was a partnership with the Anchor 44 Group.

“Did you know that Deacon Fredericks actually wrote a book about the whole Lilliworx thing?” Shawna asked.

“I knew about Lilliworx,’ Terry said. “Charlie told me about it. I understood the programming. That’s really all we talked about. He told me the lady who created it lived down in Virginia somewhere. But he never mentioned a book. Was it good?”

“Yeah. I read it as part of my Master’s research. It was quite thoughtful. They were really and truly in love, Deacon and Penny. They had a baby about a year after they sold the rights to Apple. They named her Lilli.

“That was a big deal sale. Biggest thing Apple ever bought at the time.”

“Yeah, and Penny and Deacon created a huge foundation with the money they made.”

“You want to do something like that? I mean, if we get that big?”

“I don’t know what I want, Terry. My dad always told me to keep my dreams to myself. That way if they don’t come true, you can always just say, oh well, it was just a dream. Let’s wait and see how this works out.”


They slept late the next morning because it was a Saturday. Shawna drove into the office to spend some alone time with the Bloodhound software, to see if she could find any glitches before they, hopefully, brought the program down to Washington and to do a security check on The Human League server.

It was then that she discovered the hack. Someone had sent Judy Stoneman, one of the Human League programmers, an email. It looked a little odd, so Shawna took it apart and sure enough found a small Trojan Horse embedded in it. The Horse would give the user access to any and all information that was on the server. It was hard to tell what, if anything had been downloaded, but Shawna didn’t care. This was an invasion of privacy and she was totally pissed. Since very few people actually knew about the Bloodhound program, she realized that Judy Stoneman must have inadvertently, she hoped, opened the email and unleashed the hacking program.

Shawna called Judy, and told her what had happened. She wanted to see her reaction and figure out if it was just a mistake or not. Judy was genuinely upset but Shawna calmed her down, and told her that she was on top of it.

‘Hacking a hacker’, Shawna thought to herself, ‘Now that’s a bonehead move.’

Shawna spent the next half hour finding and then tracing the origin of the hacker’s email. She ended up at a location in Boston. She opened her Google Maps and saw that it was a row house in the north end of the city.

She then called Terry and explained what had happened. “Do you know any tough guys, guys that would put the fear of God into anyone?”

Terry thought about it for a few seconds. “Sure. Artemus Briggs.”

“Call him, and ask him if he’s up to a trip to Boston.”



Jim Murray
Jim Murray
I have been a writer since the age of 14. I started writing short stories and poetry. From there I graduated to writing lyrics for various bands and composers and feature-length screenplays, two of which have been produced. I had a  20-year career in senior positions in Canadian and multi-national agencies and a second career, which began in 1989, (Onwords & Upwords Inc), as a strategic and creative resource. Early in 2020, I closed Onwords & Upwords and effectively retired. I am now actively engaged, through blogging and memes, in showcasing businesses that are part of the green revolution. I am also writing short stories which I will be marketing to film production companies. I live with my wife, Heather, in the beautiful Niagara Region of southern Ontario, after migrating from Toronto, where I spent most of my adult life.

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