The system roared to life and its 2.33 GHz Core Duo chewed through boot code. Before Salaryman could finish his second sip of expensive coffee that morning, OS/2 Warp 4.52 was greeting him.
“Good morning, Salaryman,” his computer said from the Bose speakers on his desk. “What can I do for you today?”
Salaryman would never admit it, but the subwoofer under his desk excited him when his computer spoke.
“Computer, give me the numbers on that coffee plantation we bought into back in… Oh, when was it?”
“Do you mean Arabica Brasil? You bought 24,600 of their shares last February, Salaryman.” the computer said.
“Yes, computer,” Salaryman said. “How has their stock been doing lately?”
“Holding steady near US $2.30 for the last three months, Salaryman,” the computer replied.
The LCD flashed bar-graphs, pie-charts, and various amounts of money and percentages across the screen using OS/2's advanced graphics drivers specially-written by IBM for a tidy sum of money. If there was one thing IBM knew how to do, it was support customers with custom code.
“Hmm,” Salaryman said as he took another sip of his morning beverage. “Sell all of our stock, computer,” Salaryman said as he wiped his upper lip. “And then start a rumor that they're being bought out.”
“Right away, Salaryman,” the computer said.
Unseen by Salaryman, the computer started posted valid-seeming trading info to various insider fora across the Internet that casually happened to include information about this newly-fabricated buyout, one small kernel of lies amongst many grains of truth.
“Alright computer, that's enough work for this morning,” Salaryman said as he stood up from his stuffed leather chair. “Do you have any updates to run this morning?”
“No, Salaryman, I am currently up-to-date” the computer replied. “Unless you want to upgrade to eComStation.”
“Nooo thank you, computer,” Salaryman said, “Nooo thank you.”
He finished the last of his coffee and tossed the mug in his high-end stainless-steel trash-can.
“I do have a new beta of your own upgrade sequence, Salaryman,” the computer offered.
“Oh really?” Salaryman asked, adjusting his cufflinks. “Punch it up on the big-screen.”
The large HDTV mounted to the wood-paneled wall of Salaryman's office bathed Salaryman in light with a picture of a human-shaped wire-frame that was slowly accumulating rendered panels.
“Well, computer, let's see it,” he said. “I didn't have 4 GiB of memory installed in you for nothing.”
“This is not a memory-intensive sequence,” the computer told Salaryman. “Rendering is heavily dependent on CPU performance.”
At this remark, the graphic boot-up sequence finished loading loaded, and Salaryman was looking at a nearly-identical version of himself up on the screen. Something was different though: the haircut, maybe, or perhaps a slightly tighter tuck in the cut of his jacket.
“Looking good, computer” he said. “But remove business-formal and load something a little more casual.”
Without a word, the computer clothed Salaryman in brown Birkentstocks, a pair of dark khaki chinos, and a dandelion-yellow dress shirt with a white cotton t-shirt over it which sported a silkscreen of the default OS/2 wallpaper across the chest.
“Niiice,” Salaryman said. “Print this revision and run this project as a background process.”
“Shall I devote the entire CPU when idle?” the computer asked.
“All thirty-two bits,” Salaryman said.
“Very well, Salaryman.” the computer said. “What will be your next sequence?
“I'm going slumming for lunch,” Salaryman said. “Cancel my appointments and tell my wife I'm with a client when she calls.”
“Absolutely, Salaryman,” the computer said. “Can I do anything else for you today?”
“Just one thing…” Salaryman said.
“Yes, Salaryman?” the computer asked.
“Engage FSDFMP3,” Salaryman said. “And kick it.”
The computer loaded Freak Show on the Dance Floor—320kbps, of course—and started to play it.
The office pounded as Salaryman flipped his hair and tucked his shirt in front of the floor-length mirror on the back of his heavy oak door and before grabbing his day-bag and turning off the lights.
“Have a good day, Salaryman,” the computer said.
“Thanks, computer,” Salaryman said as he jumped and jostled his way out of his office toward skid-row.
“Saving Success-man.ai…” the computer said. “Success-man.ai saved.”
◇ ◇ ◇
Salaryman hadn't quite been honest with his computer. He was going slumming this afternoon, but only because he had a meeting with his boss in a few moments. Doubtlessly he'd need to relax downtown afterward.
Salaryman said hello to the pretty, quiet secretary whom he had dated briefly several months ago when she was new.
“Is he in?” he said, his voice a monotone. “He wanted to see me this afternoon.”
“Yes, he is there. You can go see him now. Please knock first,” the secretary replied. She never raised her eyes to meet his.
Salaryman knocked on the large, thick, oak door. From inside he heard a muffled reply and he opened the door and entered.
“Boss! Hi, it's really great to see you!” he said. “You wanted to see me for what? I can somehow help you?”
“Salaryman, this is important news,” his boss said. He was just lighting a cigar and tossed the match into a large, heavy glass ashtray on his imposing polished teak desk. “I want you to listen very carefully. I will say this only once.”
Salaryman nodded fiercely. “Of course, Boss, of course!”
“Tonight I will invite you to dinner. You will wear a new three-piece suit and we will share bourbon and cigars. You will eat steak and potatoes, and I will pay for it all because you are my subordinate,” he said.
Salaryman's Boss sucked on his cigar and blew some rings into the air. Salaryman thought the smoke smelled like Success.
“Boss, gee, this is such a delight!” he said, practically bowing. “Thank you for honoring me with this invitation!”
Boss ignored him. “Meet my chauffeur downstairs at twenty-one-hundred hours,” he said. “And remember all that I said.”
“Of course, Boss, of course,” Salaryman said. “I must go now, I have many tasks to complete before our time tonight.”
Salaryman started to leave when he heard Boss clear his throat.
“Salaryman,” he said, holding his cigar half-way between his desk and his mouth. “Do you have all applicable OS/2 Warp updates installed on your computer?”
“Boss! Don't even ask!” Salaryman said. “Of course I do! I check every morning!”
“Very well,” Boss said. “You will see me tonight.”
“Yes Boss, thank you!” Salaryman spurted before ducking out.
◇ ◇ ◇
Salaryman fidgeted in his inner jacket pocket for a second and withdrew a small bottle of caffeine pills. He pulled the lid off, threw his head back, and downed a couple, chewing them dry and swallowing them.
“Driver, let me off here,” he said, stuffing the pills back inside his jacket. “This ought to cover it.”
He handed the driver, an old Pakistani man missing a couple of front teeth, a $20 bill and exited without another word. Hitting the pavement, his hunting instincts kicked in.
But he wouldn't have to hunt long, not in this neighborhood.
“Hey sugar,” a sweet voice from a dark alley said. “Ya lookin' for a date tanight?”
Salaryman straightened his tie and walked toward the girl, who was wearing ripped black fishnets and a pink jean jacket over a low-cut yellow sweater.
“I might be,” he said, adjusting his cufflinks. “It depends on where the lady would like to go.”
“Anywhere my guy wants ta take me,” she said. She moved in close to Salaryman and caught a whiff of his expensive-smelling aftershave. “Anywhere at all.” Her voice was just a whisper.
Salaryman never made eye contact, but stared down the alley.
“How about that warehouse over there, for starters?” he said.
“Sure thing, honey,” the hooker said. “Let's go.”
Salaryman placed a finger near her lips as she started to walk, but didn't quite touch them. He locked his eyes on hers, which were wide in surprise.
“I am not ‘honey,’” he said, a hint of threat in his voice. “I am Salaryman.”
“Sure, sorry, hon–uh, Salaryman,” she said, ignoring the odd behavior. Every other john or so had a temper. “I'll call ya anything ya want.”
“Okay then,” Salaryman said as he began trodding toward the dilapidated warehouse. “You can also call me the guy who wants to party in your ass.”
With this remark, he removed a small plastic baggie from inside his jacket which contained a large amount of suspicious-looking white powder.
“Hmm, that looks like fun, Salaryman,” the hooker said coquettishly. “Can't wait to get into it!”
Salaryman took a deep breath as he walked inside the door into the dark, forgotten industrial architecture. It smelled of grease and rust.
“And I can't wait to get into you,” he said.
◇ ◇ ◇
Salaryman kicked the hooker in her vulva so hard that she yelped like a puppy and bent forward.
“Do you even know what OS/2 Warp is?” he shouted.
Salaryman was really getting into it now, it being a coke-induced rage. His eyes were wide and his skin shined with sweat.
“Every morning I log in and get some serious fucking work done,” he shouted as he kicked her in the ass.
Thankfully Salaryman had tied her to a rusty iron girder with some old rubber-lined metal tubing, so she wasn't moving anywhere.
“And it's all thanks to OS/2-fucking-Warp!” Another kick, this time to her right thigh. He was so out of control that he wasn't even really aiming.
The hooker was crying by now and she didn't catch most of his diatribe; what she did catch was incomprehensible to her.
“Do you even understand how fucking awesome its 32-bit transition was?!” he said as he slapped her across the face.
Her tears were running the mascara from her eyes over her cheeks and drool hung from her mouth where he had tied filthy do-rag he'd found on the old shop floor.
Another kick. She shouted and cried harder.
“OS/2 was 32-bit three fucking years before Windows” he screamed as he planted another poorly-aimed dress-shoed foot into her left ass-cheek. “Three fucking years!!! What do you think about that?!
Now an open-handed slap, hard, to her left tit. A welt appeared, red and stinging.
“You probably run Windows, don't you? Like Windows Ninety-fucking-Five, am I right?” He pushed her face up and grabbed her jaw. “Look at me when I'm fucking talking to you, bitch!” he screamed in her face.
She looked at him, her eyes glazed. She was somewhere far, far away from Salaryman's spitting, frothing anger.
“Yeah, that's right,” Salaryman said. “You're a two-bit Windows whore,”
She whimpered, which did nothing to abate Salaryman's furor.
“Every time I boot my computer, I know I'm running the best fucking non-Unix-like operating system in the whole god-damned world!”
The hooker dizzily lifted her head. She was swaying in her bindings, spent and rubbery. Her bruises were starting to turn a garish purple.
“Why… why are you doing this… to me?” she asked between sobs.
“I have a lot of stress in my daily life. There's no 64-bit OS/2 kernel!!! But you wouldn't understand.” Salaryman said. “This is how I unwind.”
With one last mighty effort, Salaryman backhanded the hooker, bashing her head into the girder. She hung limp, barely breathing.
“So thanks for letting me snort coke out of your asshole,” he said as he began putting his jacket back on. “I hope you had a contact high.”
Just as he bent down to wipe some blood or snot or whatever it was from his custom Italian leather shoes, he noticed the hooker's limp, dangling arm and the cheap Casio watch she was wearing.
He grabbed it and positioned her wrist so he could read the time.
“8:21?!” Salaryman said, hurriedly throwing her arm down and standing up.
“Just enough time to meet Boss!”