Leah Walker is at the conference table in her office evaluating companies who’ve submitted proposals to work on the NSA contract. Tracey McIntosh sits to Leah’s right, concentrating on a file folder that lies open in front of her, a pen perched between the index and middle fingers of her left hand. Across from Tracey is Roscoe Delahunt. He’s pushed away from the table, leaning back in his swivel chair, his feet on the base of the chair, applying alternating pressure with his feet which causes him to rock back and forth. The chair squeaks with each pass, which slightly annoys Tracey, but not enough to break her concentration.
“Solid proposal,” Tracey says. “They’ve dotted the i’s and crossed the t’s definitely.”
“I like them.” Roscoe grabs his water bottle and takes a drink. He holds the bottle on his lap rather than return it to the table. “They run the gamut of experience from old school programmers to young turks up on the latest bells and whistles.”
“I’m a little concerned about their lack of security expertise,” Leah says. “But, that’s why we have interviews. Let’s schedule them and see how they plan to address what they lack.”
Almost in unison, Tracey and Roscoe say, “ Agreed.”
Tracey closes the file and sets it on top of a small stack of those who’ve merited further consideration. A much larger stack sits beside that, containing those who’ve been passed over. Tracey rises and heads toward her desk. “I’m getting some WD40 for that damn chair.”
“Thank you, Tracey,” Leah calls after her.
“Hey, it’s my thinking chair,” Roscoe says.
“Think quieter,” Leah says. She picks up a file and looks at the company name. “Synergistic Dynamics. That sounds very familiar.”
Roscoe sits up. “Yeah. They’re the West Coast firm that relocated here after they went through some trouble a couple of years ago. The founder was accused of discrimination and had to pay a large out of court settlement.”
“I remember hearing about that.” She opens and reads over the file. “Robb Dennison? He’s the principal?”
“I guess. Why? Do you know him?”
“We have a history, actually.”
Tracey returns and signals to Roscoe. “Up.”
He stands and she sprays several spots underneath the chair, moving it to see if she’s having the desired effect. She motions to Roscoe and he sits. The chair is much quieter. She resumes her seat, but keeps the spray can handy.
Leah slides the file over to her. “What’s the story here? Why are they on the short list?”
Tracey looks over the information. “They’ve submitted a very good proposal. Hard to beat the price with the experience they’re offering.”
“You know their history, right?”
“I’m aware of it,” Tracey says. “It could work to our advantage. They’ll be looking to polish their image and probably won’t try to haggle.”
“Have you taken a look?” Leah says to Roscoe.
“I have and I agree they’re offering quite a lot for less than a company with their experience would normally charge. What exactly is your history with Dennison?”
“I cold cocked him once when he wouldn’t take no for an answer.”
Tracey shakes her head. “How long ago was this?”
“College for me. He was post-doc.”
“Any chance he would have forgotten?” Roscoe says.
“Not much. If we bring them in for an interview, could our history create any problems for us?”
“I don’t think so, as long as that’s not a factor in your decision,” Tracey says. “But it would be difficult to prove it isn’t.”
Leah considers it. “Then I won’t make the decision. I’ll go solely by what the two of you recommend.”
“I’m in favor of bringing them in,” Roscoe says. “They definitely have the know how.”
“I agree,” Tracey says. “All things considered, they seem like a good fit. And they’ve got one of the best proposals. They really want the business.”
Leah laughs. “All right, then. Schedule them but don’t let them know about the history between me and Robb.”
“Probably a good idea,” Tracey says.
“This should be interesting,” Roscoe says.