Valley Boys by Thomas Sullivan

Two corporate men hover beside a large video screen, preparing to deliver a presentation to a group of potential investors. Dave, the VP, fiddles with a laptop while Rob, the CEO, checks the guest list on his Blackberry against the group of men assembled around a mahogany table. Everyone is present. It’s time to start.

Rob clears his throat and begins.

“Gentlemen, welcome to Defender Corporation. Thank you for coming. Today Dave and I will be presenting Defender’s newest security device, which we have named Raptor. Its nickname around here is “Lefty.”

Rob pauses a moment, chuckles, and says “You will soon see why. It is truly impressive. Dave?”

Dave clicks a button on his computer and the video screen springs to life. The investors see a man’s face. He’s looking downward at something and mumbling to himself. His neck is adorned with a tattooed line of hash marks running above the words “cut here.”

“This morning we sprinkled unattended laptops around coffee shops in town,” Rob continues, “and waited for one to get snagged. It didn’t take long, given this economy.”

The investors laugh quietly.

“So now this thief is somewhere, using his purloined treasure. The real-time video you see is captured by the laptop’s camera and relayed via satellite to our servers here at Defender. We will now give this guy a chance to come clean and right his wrong. Dave?”

Dave clicks a button. On the screen, below the thief’s face, a message appears in bold red letters:
YOU ARE USING A STOLEN COMPUTER. RETURN IMMEDIATELY TO: Defender Corporation, 157 Vallejo Drive, San Mateo, CA 81259. NO QUESTIONS ASKED.

Rob steps up to the screen. He taps the message with a pointer and says, “The punk is viewing this message right now. We do this to protect the rightful owners from any unwanted reprisals. We don’t want to identify them, for reasons that will be obvious in a minute, so we take temporary possession of the laptop as a safety precaution to our customers.”

The investors glance at one another, murmuring their assent. An angry voice suddenly fills the room. The investors look up at the screen and watch the thief. His lips are open, revealing a nasty set of rotting teeth. He growls and then barks “Yeah, fuck you too.”

The conference room fills with the investors’ laughter. On the screen, the thief minimizes the message and returns to what he was doing before.

Rob smiles and says “Okay, we expected that. It’s time for the final warning.”

Dave taps a key.

Another red-lettered message appears on the screen:

THIS IS YOUR FINAL WARNING!! YOU ARE USING A STOLEN COMPUTER. RETURN IMMEDIATELY TO: Defender Corporation, 157 Vallejo Drive, San Mateo, CA 81259. NO QUESTIONS ASKED. IF YOU DO NOT COMPLY IMMEDIATELY WE WILL INITIATE MORE STRINGENT ACTION!!

The thief rears his head back and shouts “Initiate this, motherfucker!” He smacks the screen on the laptop and goes back to “work.”

“Which,” Rob says, his voice rising with excitement “brings us to the highlight of our presentation. Let ‘er rip Dave”

Dave hits a key. The thief screams and lurches backward in his chair, unleashing a stream of obscenities. His hands rise up into the picture frame.

Dave taps a key and the video freezes. The investors lean forward and stare wide-eyed at the image of the thief’s hands. His fingers are bright red and swollen like little uncooked sausages. Angry howls and crashing sounds continue to fill the room until Rob directs Dave to kill the audio.

Rob grins and says “Mission accomplished.”

The investors laugh wildly and then start demanding specifics.

Rob collects his thoughts for a moment.

“The particulars are, of course, secret and patented. But the general idea is this. The underside of the keyboard is fitted with a layer of silicone coated, nano-fiber energy multipliers. Exactly thirty seconds after the final warning is issued a bank of sensors search for the presence of fingers on the keyboard. When activity is detected, a message is sent to Defender. A technician initiates a shockwave that emanates from the stolen computer. It has the heat of a blowtorch and is precision guided to leave the keyboard unharmed. The blast zone is limited to a six-by-eight inch area directly over the keyboard, so nothing but the hands are impacted. It’s like a mini IED, but far more sophisticated and non- lethal. For the unlucky recipient, it feels like his hands have been plunged into a deep fryer, but the pain goes away in a few days.”

Rob pauses to let this sink in. Then he grins and says “If you’re planning on stealing someone’s computer, its best to be a one handed typist.”

A balding investor cackles and says “Must tough learning to wipe with the other hand.”

The room roars.

A second investor raises a hand in the air.

“What’s to prevent the thief from now destroying the stolen laptop?

“Well,” Rob says, “you didn’t see it on your end, but just after the shockwave an image of the thief appeared on his computer. Below that was a message stating that if the computer is touched, the image and details of the theft will be forwarded to the local police. Theft over $500 is serious business. We’re betting on these guys having records and not wanting to push it.”

A beady eyed investor throws out a question.

“What’s your marketing catchphrase for Raptor going to be?”

You can’t kill ‘em, but we can grill ‘em,” replies Rob.

There is one more question.

“Where do you find the techs to initiate the shockwave?”

Rob chuckles and says, “We’ve found that guys from the kill rooms of poultry factories are ideal.”

He checks his watch and then says “Thank you for coming. Within two years we expect Raptor to be on nearly every computer sold in first world nations. China too. If you’ll pardon the expression, we think the market will find our invention to be quite handy.”

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About the author:
Thomas Sullivan is the author of Life In The Slow
Lane, a comic memoir about teaching drivers education. For info on this title,
and to view more of Thomas’ writing, please visit his author website at
http://thomassullivanhumor.com.

4 comments:

Kevin Atherton said...

A nice reward for lap-top thieves here. I hope you didn't get one stolen as an incentive to write this.

thanks for the read,
Kevin

Bill Baber said...

nice to read something a little bit different...
well done!!

Bruce Harris said...

You have quite an imagination. Very clever!

ajhayes2 said...

Irony rocks! Payback rules! I did so enjoy this.