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Silicon Valley Tales from the imagination of California Dreamer 2001,
2002, all rights retained.

Moira and friends

Matt Grodin, my ever loving honcho, CEO of Datronix, glared at me across
the conference room table.

"You can't tighten up the software?"

"Correct. I've stripped the RTE, the Real Time Exec, to bare bones and
the sampling loop time is not the issue. We need faster AtoD conversion.
That's the main problem. I hand selected some for faster settling times,
but that didn't help much. We're just not getting a fast enough sampling

"So you're proposing?" Matt let the question hang heavy between us.

"Two recommendations, either buy five times faster AtoD's or interpolate
and smooth the data with post capture processing."

"How much more," Matt winced, "money? For the faster converters." He
scrubbed his grey flattop with a nervous hand.

"Factor of ten."

I watched his pained face contort even more.

"Can we renegotiate the contract since they doubled the number of strain
gauges on us?"

"Not likely." Matt ground his teeth.

"The number of guages is not the issue. Our EE designed for low bid."

"Okay, give me an estimate on the post processing software costs."

"Right here." I slid a paper across the table.

He eyeballed just the bottom line. "Just three days? Double that, more
likely." Matt smiled for the second time that day. Or was it that week?

"I did already. You got something goin' with Linda?" I'll get this guy
to stop belittling my task time estimates yet.

"Uh." Matt's mouth hung open.

"Heard you two Monday morning. Congrats, honch, she's the hottest babe
in the company."

Matt's mouth snapped shut.

"Did she swallow or spit?"

I stood, looking down at his bright red face.

"Enjoy." I turned and left the room, wondering which direction my next
review would go. Not really giving a damn. Not in this job market.

Back in my office, I sat staring at the HP beast. It's register LED's
were flashing slowly, as if it were meditating. I pulled its plug, wishing
it would emit a death squeal.

TGIF, I thought, reaching for the phone.

Moira's voice mail responded.

"Hi, Moira. How 'bout a beer at the Irish Pub. I'm in a pissy mood,
and need your smile. I'm headed there now."

We all had had a good week, finding a big old victorian in Los Gatos.
The lease to buy option reasonable. We could try it for a year and opt out
or buy the thing, the rent contributing to the down. I felt a little twist
in my gut, thinking about the place. Something was bugging me, but I
couldn't put a finger on exactly what.

Kerry and Dave were happy. Dave seemed to glow when she was nearby.
Aly was back to little girl mode, not vamping my ass. Much anyway. Moira
intensely involved with her work. Why did I feel... Unsettled?

"Shit, shit, shit. I need to go fuck somebody." I snarled, a little too
loudly. Someone snorted a laugh in the hallway.

Linda stuck her head in, leaning against the jam, mashing a large

"Smatta you, Rick? Talkin' trash isn't your style." She seemed
concerned behind her leering grin.

"You want a beer?" I looked up at her calm face. "I need to talk to
somebody. You got a sympathetic ear this afternoon?"

"Sure. I'll get my stuff."

We walked in silence to the pub, moving slowly in the bright afternoon

"Rick, you're acting depressed. What's the matter?"

We'd found a relatively quiet corner, and leaned our elbows on the
table, tall pints of Guinness between us.

"Oh, I don't know. I shouldn't be feeling so..." I had to think for a
moment. "Ambivalent."

I examined the laugh wrinkles in the corners of her eyes. Hadn't
noticed them before.

"It's gotta be a woman," Linda barked a short laugh. "It always is with
guys like you."

"Guys like me?" That was a surprise. "Waddya mean by that?"

"You've dropped below our radar. You're not the party animal you used
to be." She smiled and reached out to squeeze my arm.

"You don't even flirt with me anymore." She arched her back slightly,
drawing my eyes to her deep cleavage. "You used to come over for a peek
down my blouse at least once a day. Now..." She shrugged, causing major
tremors to ripple across her chest.

I gulped, somehow getting my eyes back to hers.

"Well, you and Matt..." My turn to shrug.

"Matt? I don't..."

"Last Monday, you and he were..."

"Honey, Matt and me, we don't have anything goin' on," she laughed.
"He's been hinting for me to drop my panties since he hired me, begging for
just five minutes. I finally gave it up just for the hell of it." Linda
laughed a big horse laugh, loud in the large room. "I was feeling horny,
but I made him beg for it." Her eyes danced. "I wouldn't make you beg for
it." Linda's eyelids slowly drooped half shut.

"Beg for what?" Moira's sharp question snapped our heads around. She
stood, arms folded, eyes glaring, body stiff, over us.

Linda, momentarily flustered, quickly recovered. She leaned back and
crossed her arms. The gesture seemed to emphasize her breasts.

"A little joy ride," she smiled. "His rep is that he's hung and sucks
pussy with enthusiasm."

Moira's turn to show fluster.

"Don't go 'way. I need a beer." She turned and stalked to the bar,
waving at the bartender.

Linda chuckled softly. "She gonna get territorial? She your first

"Only squeeze," I replied, realizing the lie as the words left my mouth,
images of Kerry and Aly popping into my head.

"Lucky you. She's very pretty."

I ackowledged her understatement with a nod, and a grimacing smile.

"Not much chance, then, for you and me?" She squeezed her arms slightly,
forcing major cleavage.

"Not much," I said, feeling some regret. "You look delicious, but..."

"I can come if you suck my nipples. They are very sensitive."

"I was breast fed for almost a year." I laughed, feeling better with
this exchange.

"Honey," Moira said softly.

I raised my face to hers, and she put a soft kiss on my mouth. She
pulled a chair close, and sat, leaning her shoulder against mine.

"Now," she said with great calm and dignity, "about his rep. He's not
available." She put her hand on my leg. "Except under special
circumstances." Moira grinned, her eyes dancing.

Linda laughed nervously. I just stared.

"Do you take it up the ass?" Moira asked quietly. "I'm too small for
someone his size so if..." Moira's eyebrows lifted.

I felt her fingertip prod my dressed left dick.

Linda's body lurched as if she might flee the scene, her mouth hanging
open, her face flushing.

She glanced at me for a long moment, then nodded her head.

"I might," she said with a soft smile, "if it's part of a larger
package." She smiled at Moira, and licked her lips.

The negotiations were interupted by Dave and Kerry. Dave leaned and
kissed Moira's cheek. "Hi, guys." he said, very jovial. Kerry put a soft
kiss on my mouth, holding the back of my head for a moment, smiling into my
eyes. "Howerya?"

"TGIF," I shrugged.

"Hi, I'm Kerry." She waved to Linda. "This is Dave."

"This is Linda, guys. She's an engineer for Datronix."

"I'm Moira, by the way."

Linda smiled around at the new faces before giving me an odd, quizzical
look. Her eyebrows came up, her head tilted slightly, then she laughed.

"I think I understand," she said softly, chuckling.

Dave and Kerry dragged up chairs.

"Shall we get a pitcher?" Kerry asked.

Dave seemed to examine Linda carefully, his lips pursing.

"What's goin' down?" he asked quietly, his eyes dropping to Linda's

"Kerry, let's get a pitcher," Moira said, standing.

"Sure," Kerry said, watching Dave stare down Linda's blouse.

"So, you work for Rich, Linda?" Dave asked, his eyes rising reluctantly
to her face.

"No, just for the same company," Linda said, her eyes moving from Dave
to me. "We don't interact as much as I'd like to." Her eyelids drooped

"Oh, fuck," Dave exclaimed, laughing. "You into whips and chains?" he
asked softly, turning to give me a grin. "Carol?" he mouthed silently at

"Not on the receiving end." Linda made an evil smirk.

"You're a babe," Dave said softly. "Rick tells me you're pretty hot on
your back."

Linda seemed to enjoy Dave's words, her cheeks pinking slightly. "Any
position, actually."

"Ever had two guys?" Dave asked quietly. "We haven't done that for a
while, have we, Buddy?"

"Wait for the girls. Moira's still negotiating."

Turning to Linda, I explained briefly about the house, and our decision
for the six of us to live communally.

She nodded, seeming to like the idea.

"Well, here's the rub. I'm feeling a bit out of sorts. Maybe it's
wedding day jitters, but... I'm not sure."

Linda tilted her head and pursed her lips. "So you wanna go fuck
somebody. A last fling to clear your head?" She shrugged expressively.
"You really think that's reasonable?"

"I don't know. I'm feeling antsy. I want to clear the deck and settle
down, but..." I shrugged both shoulders.

"Hey, buddy. Look how nice it'll be to come home to Moira and Aly. I'm
really looking forward to good times with Kerry and Paul. I don't want to
bach' it any longer. It's time for us to settle down."

"Dave, I accept your logic, but emotionally," I had to pause and shake
my head, not having any words to describe my feelings.

"What's Moira think," Linda asked.

"Haven't brought it up yet. I didn't realize how I felt until today.
My project meeting with Matt sorta..." I turned to Dave. "We'll be
overbudget unless I can come up with a good hack. I got pissed when he
questioned my time estimate. It was right after that I realized I'd over
reacted, and was just dumping my malaise on him."

Moira and Kerry returned bearing pitchers and tall frosted mugs.

"You all look pretty serious for a Friday afternoon. Whatcha talkin'
'bout?" Kerry smiled over the beer pitchers.

"Rick seems to be feeling a resurgence of wild oats," Linda stated.

"That's how I expressed it, but it's something else," I said, looking
from face to face. "Life was simple, now it's getting complicated."

"As in taking on responsibilities?" Moira asked. She leaned close,
putting a hand on my arm. "Being responsible for other people scare you?"

"Mm?" I asked, with my usual eloquence.

"I have to feed and care for my kid," Moira said, her voice flat and
tight. "That's the bottom line. Nothing takes priority over that."

"I've never had to be responsible for anyone except myself." I looked
around the table. "I take out the garbage when I want. I change jobs on a
whim. No loyalties asked, none given."

"That's an interesting juxtaposition, garbage and job," Kerry said
softly, her eyes dancing.

"Don't make anything of it. I'm just illustrating range of freedom,
trivial to significant."

"What's your dream, Ricky," Moira asked, stroking my arm.

I covered her hand with mine and leaned towards her.

"I've never had a dream. I'm not obsessive compulsive about anything."

Dave snorted a laugh. "Bullshit," he said. "You were about women." He
looked around the table. "In the old days, anyway."

"No, seriously." Moira waved Dave off the topic. "Do you want to start
your own business? Do you want to become a freelance contractor? Where do
you see yourself in five years, ten years?"

I contemplated her beautiful green eyes thinking everybody interviews me
these days.

"With you, my love. With you and Aly. Raising a family, nurturing our
kids. I have no professional expectations. There's always jobs for guys like me. Us bit kickers are in demand. It's a sellers market."

"He's right, guys. Did you hear Intel's announcement?" Dave scanned the
faces around the table. "They're sampling an eight bit cpu chip."

Silence. No one tracked his context switch.

"That computer box on Rick's desk will fit in your shirt pocket soon.
That's means job security for us techno geeks."

"I have a dream," Kerry said, her voice plaintive.

"What's your dream, Honey?" Dave asked her.

"Well, when I was a little girl, my daddy took us crabbing every summer.
Once we caught a crab with green blood." She paused to look at me then
Linda. "I went to the library and found that it used copper like we use
iron in our blood. So that started my dream. I want a doctorate in
biology so I can research stuff like that." She looked down at her hands
and shrugged. "All day I watch silicon crystals grow, two inches in
diameter, ten inches long. Kinda boring, but it pays the bills."

"Okay, who here has a dream?" I asked, looking at the solemn faces
around the table.

"I'm living mine," Moira spoke into the silence. "I'm a woman in a
position of responsibility, of authority. I'm in charge of the accounting
department, and I love working with the numbers."

She looked me in the eye.

"The only thing is, is that women are starting to get into accounting.
It was a men only field, but now..." she let her words trail off for a
moment. "I'd like to build a support group for women climbing the
corporate ladder. The Valley seems to have it's own rules, but it's still
hard for women to be taken seriously and advance."

Kerry and Linda nodded thier heads in agreement.

"Drink more beer, you guys. This is too serious for a TGIF beer bust."

"Beer bust?" Linda asked.

"Yeah, we can drink 'til we bust a gut," Dave laughed. He leaned closer
and poked a finger at my chest.

"You're just scared of a new living style, Rick. Get over it, move on.
That's my advice. Time to grow," he said with authority, poking my chest
again to emphasize his point. Moira squeezed my arm.

"Transitions are tough, my love, but we're all in this together." She
smiled hopefully.

Kerry picked up a half empty pitcher, and waved it over the table.

"Let's see who busts first," she said with a grin. "Let's talk about
going to the Red, White and Blue now."

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