The Fall And Rise Of David Beckman
Chapter 1

Caution: This Fan Fiction Sex Story contains strong sexual content, including Ma/Fa, Oral Sex,

Desc: Fan Fiction Sex Story: Chapter 1 - The story of a young man struggling with career and marital problems.

I was too upset to sleep. Erica had actually called me a loser. True things had gone bad for me over that last two weeks but I wasn't a loser. I was in bed lying on top of the blankets with my hands behind my head as I reviewed the argument in my head.

I was having, without a doubt, the worst two weeks of my life. My boss had accused me of being either incompetent or unethical and had fired me. I was still confused about what had happened. On top of everything else, on Wednesday Erica came home and announced that she was going to Los Angeles for a week of training and that she would be leaving Monday morning.

So on Sunday night I asked her to reschedule the class and stay home with me. To say that my request made her angry would be an understatement.

"You want me to give up this opportunity because you screwed up and lost your job?" Erica shouted. "You know my job is just as important to me as yours was to you and now that I am the only one of us with a job it's even more important."

"I know this is important to you," I said. "I just thought that under the circumstances you could arrange to take that class later. I am not doing too well with this situation and I would like to have your support to help me get through this."

"You're such a loser," Erica said. "This is your own fault. All you had to do was ask Bill to help you and this never would have happened. You just had to try and do this on your own and you fucked it up. Now you have lost your job and your self-respect. Well, don't expect to drag me down with you."

As I lay there with my thoughts, I could hear Erica in the bathroom filling the tub for her bath. Erica likes long baths so I knew she would be in there for a while. I just hoped that when she came to bed she would be in a better mood. She was going to be leaving the following morning for LA and I didn't want us to still be angry with each other when she left.

While Erica soaked in the tub, I tried to make sense of what had happened to me.

In 1993, I was a senior at Purdue University majoring in engineering with a minor in marketing. Two months before graduation I attended a job fair where I met James Green. Mr. Green was the personnel manager for Boswell Data Services, which was located in Atlanta, Georgia. Mr. Green was impressed with my resume and my grade point average so he asked me to come to Atlanta for an interview after graduation. The job fair had given me many good leads but Mr. Green's invitation to come for an interview looked at the time like the best opportunity.

Two weeks after graduation, I drove from my home in Michigan to Atlanta for the interview. Mr. Green introduced me to Marty O'Brien, the sales manager, who then did the interview. Marty O'Brien was tall and thin with a full head of silver gray hair. I guessed him to be in his late fifties. The interview began with Mr. O'Brien telling me to call him Marty. We talked for about an hour and then Marty thanked me for coming in and asked where I was staying while I was in Atlanta and how long I planned to be in town.

"I'm staying at the Red Roof Inn out on I-75 and I was planning on being here for another day," I said.

"Good. We should have an answer for you by tomorrow," Mr. O'Brien said as he stood and shook my hand. He smiled and gave me a conspiratorial wink. "While you are waiting to hear from us, you might want to look around for a place to live."

That evening Mr. Green called me at the Red Roof and asked me to come back into the office in the morning. When I got there, Mr. O'Brien offered me a job as a sales representative. He explained the job and what I would be responsible for and then explained the salary and benefits package and asked me if I was interested. I happily accepted the offer.

Mr. O'Brien wanted me to start on the first of July, which gave me two weeks to find a place to live and arrange to move myself from Michigan to Atlanta. That afternoon I managed to find a very nice apartment in Marietta. The apartment building was on a hill overlooking the Chattahoochee River with access to the walking and jogging trails that run along the river. I signed the lease that afternoon and spent the night sleeping on the floor and in the morning I drove back to Michigan to get my belongings. I was back in Georgia within the week and spent the rest of my time buying furniture and finding my way around the area.

When I arrived for my first day of work on the first of July, Mr. Green showed me around the facility and introduced me to the other employees that were in the building that morning. Boswell Data Services (BDS) sold computer hardware, software and services throughout the state of Georgia and my first two weeks on the job were spent in the classroom, learning about those products and services. I was also given training on how to properly execute a sales call.

When I had completed my training, Marty O'Brien called me into his office and told me that I had done exceptionally well in the training and he felt that I would be very successful at BDS.

"David, today I am going to have you ride with Jeff Henning on some sales calls," Mr. O'Brien said. "We will have you riding with him for the rest of this week and then you will get your own territory next week. Jeff will be in to pick you up shortly but before you go Mike wants to speak with you."


"Oh, that's right, you haven't met Mike Boswell yet," Mr. O'Brien said. "Mike is the owner and president of the company. Mike likes to meet the new people before they start out in the field. His office is upstairs at the far end of the floor. Just tell his secretary who you are and that Mike had asked to see you. Good luck, David."

I shook hands with Marty and thanked him and then headed up stairs feeling a bit nervous. I was about to meet the president of the company and, while I was confident that I would make a favorable impression, I was still nervous.

Mr. Boswell's private office had windows that looked out over the entire floor so I could see him sitting at his desk as I approached. He looked to be in his late forties or early fifties. He had dark but thinning hair and his body had the girth of a man that spends a lot of time sitting.

Hi, I'm David Beckman, a new sales rep here," I said to the secretary. "I believe that Mr. Boswell wanted to see me."

"Hi, David. I'm Marcie," she said. "I'm Mike's secretary. Welcome to BDS. I'll tell Mike you're here."

Marcie picked up her phone and spoke briefly and put the phone down. "Mike will be with you shortly," Marci said.

I thanked Marci and sat down to wait. From where I was sitting I could see that Mr. Boswell was reading a Car and Driver magazine. I watched him for fifteen minutes until he put the magazine down and pick up his phone.

"You can go in now," Marci said.

When I walked into his office Mr. Boswell stood up and shook my hand.

"David Beckman, right?"

"Yes, sir, that's correct," I said.

"Call me Mike," he said. "Have a seat."

For the next ten minutes, we made small talk. Mr. Boswell showed me the Car and Driver magazine he had been reading and said that he was going to buy a new car and was looking for ideas to help him decide on what he wanted. Finally Mike got down to business. He talked about his company and how he only wants the best people working for him and he expects his employees to give 100 percent everyday on the job.

I assured him that it was my intention to do just that. That's when Mr. Boswell knocked the wind from my sails.

"Jim and Marty seem to think highly of you. They seem to think that you are a good fit for the company," Mike said. I was beginning to feel comfortable until he continued. "I am not sure I agree with them. You are going to have to show me something if you expect to last around here."

I felt like I had been hit in the stomach. Had I done something wrong to give him such a negative impression of me? I tried to think of something to say but could come up with nothing.

"That's all. You can go now," he said.

I felt so bad as I left his office I wanted to quit. I was walking through the open bay area outside Mike's office when a young man approached me. He looked to be just a couple of years older than me. He was about my size, six feet tall and around 170 pounds. He had sandy blond hair and blue eyes. His look was friendly and non-threatening which was exactly what I needed at that moment.

"You must be David Beckman," he said. "I'm Jeff Henning."

Jeff shook my hand. "You're going to be riding with me this week. Come on. Let's get out of here."

I followed Jeff down to his car without saying a word. I was beginning to think that I had made a huge mistake coming to work at BDS. We got in Jeff's car and he pulled out of the parking lot and drove about three blocks and pulled into a coffee shop.

"I think you need a cup," Jeff said. "I know I do."

Jeff ordered two coffees and handed me one and then I followed him over to a table. When I sat down I realized that I hadn't spoken a word since I left Mr. Boswell's office.

"Thanks for the coffee," I managed to say.

"I could tell you needed it," Jeff said. "I had hoped to talk to you before you met with Mike. I guess the meeting didn't go as you expected, did it?"

"No. I must have done something wrong because he apparently doesn't think a whole lot of me," I said.

Jeff laughed, which pissed me off a little. I didn't see anything funny about what I had been through.

"Let me guess," Jeff said. "Mike told you something to the effect that he didn't think you were qualified to work for his precious company, right?"

"Something like that," I said.

"That's vintage Mike. He likes to put the fear of God into new employees," Jeff said. "As a mater of fact, he likes to do that to all of his employees."

"He's always like that?" I asked.

"Well, not always but a lot of the time. Don't expect him to pat you on the back and tell you how good you are doing," Jeff said. "He leaves the back patting and praising to Marty. Mike's management style is to intimidate his employees into producing the results he wants."

"Do a lot of people quit after they meet Mike the first time?" I asked.

"Occasionally, but that's what he wants. Mike doesn't want anyone that can be scared off easily," Jeff said. "All you have to do in this company to survive is do your job and ignore whatever Mike says. You will find that everyone else in this company is easy to get along with and in spite of Mike's bark he is very generous in his financial rewards when you do a good job. Just don't expect him to tell you that you did good."

I felt a lot better after that conversation and by the end of that first week Jeff and I had become good friends. He had even invited me to his house to meet his wife, Nancy, and to have dinner. Nancy was an attractive girl with blond hair, blue eyes and what appeared to be a basketball hidden under her dress.

"When are you due?" I asked.

"End of September," Nancy said.

Looking at the two of them, I couldn't help but think that they would have a beautiful child and I told them so.

By the time we had finished dinner, Nancy was already trying to set me up with her single friends. While I didn't want her to set me up with dates, it did make me feel good that Nancy thought I was worthy of her friends. My reluctance didn't deter Nancy at all.

The following week was kind of scary because I was given my own sales territory, which was geographically located South and East of Atlanta. I spent the first two days calling existing BDS customers in my territory and setting up appointments to visit them so that I could introduce myself.

Once I got out into the field, I found that I really liked the job. I quickly found a sales technique that worked for me. Rather than telling my customers what products and services I had for sale, I found that if I let the customer tell me what he needed from his network and then worked with him to design a solution I was able to establish a good rapport with them and close a lot of business.

For the next six months, I took the advice that Jeff had given me and worked hard and ignored anything Mike said to me, which was easy to do because I was seldom in the office and when I was Mike seldom spoke to me. Two weeks before the end of my first six months, I made a cold call on Clinton Products in Macon, Georgia. They had a large facility in Macon but were not currently a customer of BDS. I met with their Chief Information Officer (CIO) George Harris. Mr. Harris explained to me that Clinton Products had contracts with two different providers for their computer hardware, software and services. He said that they liked to use more than one supplier to insure that they were getting the most competitive prices and the highest quality of service. They felt that the competition between the vendors would make them perform better. Then Mr. Harris winked at me.

"I think that's bullshit myself," he said. "I think we would be much better off using a single vendor but the CEO wants to do it this way."

I spent most of the afternoon with Mr. Harris and before I left he agreed to add BDS to his list of vendors and I managed to win a third of their business. This was only worth about $100,000 a year but it got our foot in the door. I was pretty proud of myself for pulling that off.

As a new employee, I was due for a six-month review in January. Marty and I went over my results for the first six months. I achieved 130% of my quota during that period and Marty was very pleased. After I finished talking to Marty, he told me that Mike wanted to see me so I headed over to Mike's office. I wasn't expecting much from him but I figured my performance deserved at least a thank you from Mike.

When I walked into his office, Mike was sitting at his desk. He didn't offer me a seat and he didn't even look up at me as he began to speak to me.

"I guess you think you're hot shit now because you made 130% of your quota," he grumbled. "Christ, with that low quota Marty gave you and the cherry territory assigned to you, I would have expected you to do at least 150% of quota."

I was pissed but considering that it was Mike saying it I just let it go.

"I see you brought in a contract for Clinton Products."

"Yes. It's just a foot in the door for now. I hope to gain more of their business over time," I said.

"They are eighty miles from the office. Who the hell is supposed to drive out there to service the account?" Mike said.

I knew that we had a service tech that lived fifteen miles outside of Macon but I let Mike rant on.

"I also see that you gave them two points more than our usual discount."

"I saw it as an opportunity to win a new customer and I wanted to get my foot in the door. I just felt that since they would be my customer, I would do what it took to win them. I'll make up those two points in ongoing business."

"What the fuck do you mean by your customer?" Mike growled. "Is your fucking name on the outside of this building? They are my customers and if you can't understand that then perhaps you don't belong in this company."

I knew that Mike was just baiting me but I was too angry to let this go. I had often thought of a speech that I would make to Mike if he ever pushed me too far and he had just done that.

"Well, okay then," I said as I turned to leave his office. I was sure he wasn't about to let me leave until he was ready to tell me to leave.

"Where the hell do you think you are going? I didn't tell you to leave yet."

"I am going down to personnel and tell them to cut my severance check and then I will pack up my personal effects from my desk and I'll be out of here within the hour."

"I haven't fired you yet."

"I decided not to wait until you fire me," I said. "I can't work for a man who doesn't appreciate my efforts. Especially when I know I can walk out that door, make a few phone calls and have another job before the end of the week, probably working for one of your competitors."

Mike's eyes got real big and his face turned red and he seemed to have trouble thinking of anything to say so I turned toward the door again.

"Wait. Maybe I came on a little strong there," Mike said. "You actually did a reasonably good job. I just want you to know that you can't slack off just because you had some early success."

Mike stared at me waiting for me to say something so I decide to push him a little.

"So are you saying that you don't want me to quit?" I asked.

I could see that this was very hard for him. "No. I don't want you to quit but if you threaten to take a job with a competitor again I will let you go. Now get out of here."

I was pretty pleased with my self. That was the closest that Mike had come to apologizing to anyone that I had ever heard. I made him back down.

After that I got along a lot better with Mike. He never praised me but he didn't criticize either.

On January 17, two weeks after my victory over Mike I was at Jeff's house for his birthday party. Jeff and I were laughing about my meeting with Mike when Nancy interrupted us so that she could introduce me to one of her friends. I had become used to this being a regular occurrence as Nancy had introduced me to at least seven of her single friends over the last six months.

"Mind if I interrupt?" Nancy asked.

"You are never an interruption," Jeff said.

Nancy smiled at Jeff and kissed him on the cheek. I always like being around Jeff and Nancy because their love for each other was so obvious.

"David, I just wanted to introduce you to my friend Erica Patterson. Erica, this is David Beckman."

I had noticed Erica earlier in the evening and felt that there was something familiar about her but couldn't figure out what it was. Erica was five feet seven inches tall and had long dark brown hair and dark brown eyes and a lithe dancer's body and I felt myself drawn to her the first time I saw her talking to Nancy. I was hoping that she was the girl that Nancy intended to introduce me to that evening.

As I held her hand and told her it was nice to meet her, Nancy said, "You guys have something in common."

"What's that?" I asked.

"You both live in the same apartment complex."

"I knew you looked familiar. How do you two know each other?"

"I work with Nancy at Dean Healthcare," Erica said.

Nancy took Jeff by the arm and led him over to talk to some of their other guests. Erica and I spent the rest of the evening together. Before the party ended I asked her if she would have dinner with me the next night and she said yes.

After dinner, we went back to the apartment complex and decided to take a walk along the river. During our walk, we exchanged histories. I learned that Erica was from Courtland, New York and had graduated from the State University of New York (SUNY) at Binghamton just two months before coming to Georgia. She had come to Atlanta because she had been offered a job at Dean Healthcare, a large healthcare insurance company in Marietta. We had a very pleasant evening but when we got back to her apartment she didn't invite me in. I must admit to a little disappointment although I had no reason to expect to be invited in.

"I had a wonderful time tonight, David," Erica said and then she kissed me. There was something in the kiss that told me that I would be seeing a lot more of Erica and I was right.

Over the next two weeks Erica and I went out together seven times.

On our seventh date, Erica said that she wanted to ask me something important so we found a quiet place to sit and talk.

"These last two weeks have been wonderful and I find that I have very strong feelings for you but I can't go any farther with this relationship unless we can agree to make it exclusive," Erica said. "If you don't feel that you can make that kind of a commitment, I would rather know that now than to be hurt later."

"As far as I am concerned, I have been in an exclusive relationship since our first date," I said.

Apparently that was the right answer because Erica threw her arms around me and kissed me hard and long.

"Take me home please," Erica said as soon as she ended the kiss.

"Home? Why?" I asked. "I though we were having a good night."

"It is about to get much better," Erica said and then she kissed me again leaving no doubt that she wanted me as much as I wanted her.

We started on her sofa, exploring each other's mouths with our tongues as I unbuttoned her blouse and began to massage her breasts. When I opened her bra, Erica responded by guiding my mouth to her nipples. Erica had wonderfully firm breasts and I loved kissing and sucking on them. What I liked even more was Erica's reaction to the attention I was giving her. As I sucked on her nipples, Erica made little noises of enjoyment.

My next move was to put my hand on the inside of Erica's thigh and slowly move it up under her skirt until my hand was resting on the crotch of her panties. As I pressed my fingers against her mound, I could feel the heat of her sex through the thin cotton strip. Erica's reaction was to push her tongue as far down my throat as she could, all the while making small whimpering sounds. When I slipped my fingers inside Erica's panties and began to slide them up and down her slit, Erica pulled away from me and leaned her head back against the sofa and closed her eyes.

When I pushed my fingers up inside Erica's already wet pussy, she clamped her thighs together and pushed her hips forward, forcing my fingers deeper inside her. My excitement was such that I couldn't wait any longer. I had to taste her hot sex. I pulled my hand out of her panties and started to pull her panties off. Erica lifted her hips up to make it easier for me and, once I had her panties off, I moved Erica around so that she was lying down on the sofa and then I positioned myself between her legs. As I moved in closer to her, Erica lifted her legs and spread her knees giving me full access to her wonderful pussy.

I managed to give Erica a very big orgasm orally and when it was over she pulled me up so that she could kiss me and as she did she put her hand in my crotch and squeezed my cock. I opened my pants and Erica slid her hand inside my briefs and released my cock from its confinement. She gently stroked my cock with her hand while she kissed me. Then Erica lowered her head into my lap and began kissing the head of my cock and eventually took more than half of my cock into her mouth.

Erica's mouth and tongue felt wonderful as she bobbed her head up and down on my engorged shaft and it wasn't long before I had to fight to keep from climaxing. I finally had to tell her to stop so that I wouldn't cum in her mouth. It was at that point that Erica suggested that we go into the bedroom.

In the bedroom, I helped Erica remove the rest of her clothes and then she did the same for me. Naked, Erica climbed onto the bed. I stood looking at her and couldn't believe how fortunate I was to have such a beautiful woman love me.

I reached for the condom I had in my wallet but before I could tear it open, Erica stopped me.

"I am on the pill and I can promise you that I have no diseases that you need to worry about. As long as we are exclusive and you can make the same promise, you won't need to use a condom with me," she said.

I smiled at Erica and said, "I can guarantee you that I am disease free."

I climbed onto the bed and Erica pulled me on top of her and said, "I want to feel you inside me now."

Erica spread her legs and helped guide my cock into her steaming sex. When I entered her, it felt warm, wet and wonderful. Erica put her arms around my neck and, when I pushed myself all the way into her, she whispered in my ear, "I love you, I love you, I love you."

I moved slowly in and out of Erica enjoying the sensations of the best sex I had ever had. What made it even more wonderful was that Erica was enjoying it every bit as much as I was and it wasn't long before she had a rather large orgasm followed shortly by my own climax. Afterward we lay holding each other for a while. When my cock was completely flaccid, I rolled off Erica and lay on my back next to her. At that moment I knew that I was in love with her.

For the next several months, our relationship flourished. We shared so many interests - music, art, literature, travel, etc. - that we had become inseparable. In addition to that our sex was incredible.

One evening after a particularly hot coupling as I was lying in bed I began to wonder how many times Erica had been in love before. I didn't care about how many previous lovers she may have had; it was just that I wondered if she had ever been serious about or really in love with anyone before.

"Can I ask you something personal?" I said.

"Yes. If it's too personal, I just won't answer," she said.

"I don't need any details, but I would like to know if you have ever been in love with anyone before me," I said.

"Just one time. I dated him about two and a half years during college but that ended during my senior year."

"What happened?" I asked. "Why did you break up?"

"I don't really know," Erica said. "He finished school in December and left to try and find a job in New Your City and after a couple of months I didn't hear from him again."

"Were you in love with him?"

"Yes, I was, at least at first but in the end I don't know," she said. "I felt bad when he left but I wasn't broken hearted. I don't feel like I miss him at all. Does it bother you that I had a serious relationship before we met?"

"It doesn't bother me that you had a relationship," I said, "but I just want to be sure that our relationship isn't just a case of my catching you on the rebound."

"You don't need to worry," Erica said. "I am completely over him... All right, your turn. Tell me about the loves in your life."

"I have only had two long term girlfriends," I said. "The first lasted for nearly a year beginning during my freshman year and ended during my sophomore year. The second didn't last quite as long. It started the beginning of my junior year and ended before the end of the second semester. After that, I was too busy trying to get through school to have much time for dating. I don't think that I was in love with either of them."

I was trying to think of something else to say when Erica rolled over and kissed me while at the same time she began to stroke my cock. I realized then that there was nothing more we needed to discuss that night.

We had been dating for a year and a half when I decided it was time to ask Erica to marry me. It is not as if this was going to be a surprise. Erica and I had talked about marriage for several months. We discussed what we thought marriage meant and what we would expect of each other if and when we got married. We had even gone so far as to shop for an engagement ring. Erica showed me several she liked but in the end it was up to me to pick one out and actually propose to her.

I bought the ring one afternoon while Erica was at work. That night I took her out to dinner. After we ate, I suggested that we take a walk along the river. While we were walking I suddenly dropped down on my knee in front of Erica. Up until that point I don't think Erica had any idea what was coming but when I got down on my knee she knew and she began to laugh.

"Oh, my God," she said.

I started to speak but she stopped me.

"Wait. Give me a second to get my composure," she said, "I can't stop laughing and I know this is serious. I'm sorry. Give me a minute."

It took her five minutes and by the time she was ready there were already tears running down her cheeks.

I pulled the ring out of my pocket and started my proposal.

"Erica, I think that by now you know how much I love you and, unless I am way out in left field, I think you feel the same way about me," I said as Erica nodded her head. "That being the case, I think it is time for us to take the next step in our relationship. Erica, would you do me the great honor of marrying me?"

Erica pulled me up and kissed me so hard I couldn't breath.

"Yes, yes, yes, ' she said. Yes, I will marry you. Of course I will. I love you."

We got married the following summer. That was nine years ago. Erica and I were very fortunate. We both had good jobs that we enjoyed doing and we had a wonderful marriage.

Everything was great until about ten months ago. It was Wednesday afternoon and I was in the office making some phone calls and cleaning up some paper work when Jeff stopped by my desk.

"You got time to stop for a drink before you go home tonight?" Jeff asked.

"Yeah, why?"

"I need to talk to you about something and I don't want to discuss it here," Jeff said.

We were at our favorite watering hole and had just taken delivery of our first cold beers when Jeff asked, "Did you hear that Mike hired another sales rep?"

"Really? Marty hasn't brought in anyone new in a long time," I said.

"You aren't listening. Mike hired this guy, not Marty," Jeff said. "I got Marci to give me the 411. She said the guy used to work for IBM in New York City. Why do you think Mike would hire someone away from IBM. Certainly not to fill an entry level sales position."

I thought about that for a minute then said, "Oh shit! You don't think Mike would do that, do you?"

"I don't know but I can't think of any other reason for Mike to hire an experienced sales rep away from a company like IBM," Jeff said.

What Jeff was worried about and what I was beginning to be concerned about was the fact that Marty O'Brien was going to be retiring in a couple of months, which would leave the sales manager's position open and Jeff and I were the leading candidates to fill Marty's job when he left. That is until Mike went out and hired an experienced salesman from IBM. Jeff figured that Mike was planning on making this new guy the sales manager instead of giving the job to one of us.

"I tell you if that is what Mike intends to do I am out of here!" Jeff said. "I have worked too long and too hard for this company to have Mike pull this kind of shit on me."

"You're going to quit if Mike puts the new guy in Marty's job?" I asked.

"You bet your ass I'll quit. I will leave the day it's announced."

"Would you have quit if I got Marty's job instead of you?" I asked.

"Yes, but not right away. You deserve that job almost as much as I do," Jeff said as he laughed. "If you got the job, I would stick around to support you for a while but the sales manager position is the only chance for advancement for me in this company so if someone else gets that job I'll have to leave. If you got the job David, I would be disappointed but not angry. Giving the job to an outsider will really piss me off."

"If you quit, what would you do?"

"I have a buddy in Augusta that has a small services business. He and I have talked about going into business together. We would just try to expand his business to make enough money to keep us both comfortable," Jeff replied.

"What about Nancy? How would she feel about you quitting BDS and trying to start your own business?" I asked.

"Nancy is right behind me on this. She knows how much I have hated working for Mike over the years and has always told me that I should do what makes me happy and she will support me in that decision," Jeff said. "What will you do?"

"I don't know. I never thought that anyone other than you or I would get Marty's job," I said. "I suppose I'll stay and see what happens."

"You can always come work for me but you'd have to start at the bottom and I am not sure you are good enough to fit into my company," Jeff said while laughing.

"Okay, Mike."

"Did you ever wonder what those big letters on the front of our building stand for?" Jeff asked. "You mean BDS?"

"Yeah. BDS. I bet you thought it stood for Boswell Data Services, didn't you? Well it really means 'Big Dumb Shit, ' because that is what Mike is. A big dumb shit."

Two weeks later, Mike held a meeting to make the announcement that he had brought in Bill Nelson, formerly of IBM, to take over as sales manager upon the retirement of Marty O'Brien at the end of the month. Bill Nelson was about my age, tall, over six feet and athletic. One outstanding feature that I noticed right away was that he had a salesman's smile. That just means that he smiled easily. It didn't look forced but it wasn't quite sincere either.

I was pissed at what Mike had done to us but I went over and introduced myself to Bill and welcomed him to the company anyway. I have to say that my first impression was positive. I asked Bill where he had worked before coming to BDS.

"I was an IBM sales rep in New York Midtown," he replied.

"Last year I was in a Cisco Systems sales class out in San Jose," I said, "and I met a couple of IBMers from the midtown office. Do you know Barry Schwartz and Alan Binder?"

"Yeah, I worked with them a lot over the last five years," Bill said. "Alan and I started at IBM together. It was actually kind of funny because we went to the same college but never met until we started our sales training."

While we were talking I looked around the office for Jeff but he was nowhere in sight.

"Marty tells me that you and Jeff Henning are the top two sales reps at BDS. I guess my coming in and taking Marty's job must have ruffled your feathers a bit," Bill said.

"That's an issue we have with Mike, not you," I said.

We talked for a few more minutes and then I went looking for Jeff. I found him in Jim Green's office submitting his resignation papers.

"So you are really doing it," I said.

"Mike has screwed me over for the last time," Jeff said. "Tomorrow my buddy Don and I have a meeting with a Bank of America loan manager to apply for a small business loan."

"I hope that works out for you."

"So do I," Jeff said. "I would really like to grow big enough to put BDS out of business but don't worry, if I do that I will have a job for you," Jeff said and punched me in the shoulder. "Well, I got to go."

"Stay in touch," I said as Jeff turned to leave.

When I got home that night I told Erica about Bill Nelson being hired to take Marty's job and that Jeff quit because of it.

"Did you say the sales manager's name is Bill Nelson?" Erica asked.

"Yes, why?"

"No reason. I just wanted to make sure I heard you correctly. Jeff said he would quit if Mike pulled a stunt like this, didn't he? So you shouldn't be surprised that he quit," Erica said.

"I am not surprised but I am going to miss working with him," I said.

"Will he and Nancy move to Augusta?"

"Probably," I said.

"I will really miss them," Erica said.

I did miss working with Jeff but, over the next couple of months, I had established a working friendship with Bill Nelson. After Marty retired and Bill took over, nothing changed for me, at least not right away. For the first four months, Bill let me run my territory without interference and spent his time working, I supposed, on improving our sales in other territories.

I had discussed the idea of inviting Bill and his wife over for dinner and Erica thought that would be a good idea. My only concern was the impression that might leave with the other sales reps if they knew I had invited our manager over for dinner. I was having a difficult time with the distinction between boss and friend. This became a non-issue after a chance encounter in the mall.

It was a Saturday afternoon and Erica and I were shopping in the mall when we ran into Bill and his wife. When I spotted them, I led Erica over to where Bill and his wife were looking in a store window.

"What are you doing here, Bill? Aren't you supposed to be in the office cutting my commission checks?" I said.

Bill turned to look at me with his big salesman's smile and said. "Hey, David." Then he looked at Erica and said, "Oh... ah... is this your wife?"

"Yes, I'd like you to meet Erica... Erica this is Bill Nelson, my new sales manager," I said.

After a momentary hesitation, Bill said, "Nice to meet you, Erica... This is my wife Diane. Diane, this is David and Erica Beckman."

"So this is the Bill Nelson you are always talking about," Erica said.

"I just hope he doesn't use too many four letter words when he is talking about me," Bill said.

We stood and talked awkwardly for a few minutes and then went on about our business. As we walked away, I said to Erica, "While we were talking to them, we should have invited them over for dinner."

"I don't think that's such a good idea," Erica said.

"When I mentioned it before, you thought it was a good idea," I said.

"Didn't you notice how uncomfortable we all were? I got the feeling that Bill wants to keep your relationship professional and I got a feeling from Diane that she didn't want to be there talking to us. I didn't get any warm feelings from her," Erica said.

"Well, all right. We'll forget about inviting them over for dinner then."

About two weeks after running into Bill and Diane in the mall, I got called into Mike's office.

"David, it has been brought to my attention that a couple of your customer have complained about the level of service you have been giving them lately," Mike said.

"What? I have never had a customer complaint before. Are you sure?"

"Yes. I had Bill follow up with the customers. In both cases the customers said that you have left out items that were supposed to be in the contracts that you sent to them for their signature."

"Mike, you know that I have never screwed up on a contract before. This has to be a mistake. Who were the customers? I'll talk to them and straighten this out my self," I said.

"Bill has already taken care of it. For now, I want you to have Bill check over your contracts before you send them out."

I wanted to argue that with Mike but I knew there was no point. His mind was made up. When I left Mike's office, I was as angry as I had ever been. I could not believe that any of my customers had complained. I had always prided myself on the rapport I had with my customers. If there was a problem, they could have called me to straighten it out rather than filing a complaint. On top of that, Mike wouldn't tell me which customer complained because he was afraid that it might affect the way I dealt with them in the future. The worst thing of all was that now I would have to suffer the humiliation of having Bill looking over my shoulder. I went straight from Mike's office to Bill Nelson's office.

"What this crap about complaints from my customers?" I asked.

"I'm as surprised about this as you are," Bill said. "I told Mike that you could take care of this problem yourself but he insisted that I talk to the customers and fix the problem. Don't worry, I have no intention of interfering with the good relationship you have with your customers."

"I don't understand what could have happened and why would they call in a complaint instead of calling me," I said.

"Actually, David, they did call in to talk to you but you were out of the office. In both cases, they left a message for you but somehow Mike heard the messages and decided that we had to handle the calls as complaints. Sorry, I couldn't stop him. You know how Mike is."

"I know that Mike can be a bit obtuse at times but this really sucks," I said. "I guess he told you that he wants me to have you proof read my contracts before I send them out."

"Yeah, he insisted on that. We'll do that for a few weeks and then I'll get Mike off your back."

"Thanks, Bill, I appreciate your support."

"Did you have a bad day?" Erica asked as I walked into the house that evening...

"Yes, as a matter of fact, I did but how did you know?" I said.

"I could see it in your face as soon as you walked in the door," Erica said.

I told Erica what had happened and how Mike had decided to treat the two customer calls as complaints rather than just let me handle them myself.

"So what happened? I mean how did Mike handle the complaints?" Erica asked.

"I told you they weren't actually complaints, Mike arbitrarily decided to handle them as complaints. He had Bill call the customers and take care of the problem," I said. "I still can't believe I made a mistake on those contracts. I proof read them before I mailed them out. Now Mike wants me to have Bill proof read my contracts before they go out."

"Isn't it possible that you missed something," Erica said. "I never proof read my own work. I always ask a coworker to read my documents back to me to catch mistakes I might not see if I read it myself."

"I guess it's possible that I missed something but I have never made a mistake like that before and now I made two in the same week. I just can't believe it."

"Maybe it's not such a bad idea to have Bill proof your contracts," Erica said.

"Whose side are you on?" I asked.

"I'm on your side, of course. I just think that having Bill proof read your contracts with you before you send them out isn't such a bad idea," Erica said.

"I can't believe that you actually think that I need help taking care of my customers after all this time," I said.

"I know you are the best sales rep at BDS but I also know how Mike is. I am just saying that you should do this, if for no other reason than to just to keep him off your back."

I was disappointed that Erica didn't seem to be on my side of this issue but I could see the logic in what she said so I didn't argue about it with her. It was obvious that she was able to look at my situation much more objectively than I was.

That evening after dinner Erica took me to bed and gave me a complete body massage to relax me and then she made love to me. When we were both wonderfully exhausted, Erica kissed me on the ear and whispered, "Now whose side do you think I am on?"

For the next month I did as Mike had ordered and had Bill proof my contracts with me before I sent them out. Not once did we find a mistake. At the end of the month, I figured everything was back to normal but Mike called me in for another chat.

"Bill said that he was comfortable with the way you run your territory and that any problem you may have had with any of your customers seems to have resolved itself," Mike said.

"I never thought there was a problem to begin with," I said.

Mike gave me a look that said he didn't agree with my assessment. "I will defer to Bill's judgment for now. You no longer need to have Bill proof read your contracts but I want you to keep him involved in any new contracts you are working on."

"Can I ask why?"

"Bill and I think we need to have better control of our business. I want him to be involved in every significant contract to make sure we are doing the right things for BDS and for our customers."

I went to see Bill to ask him what the hell was going on.

"Mike just wants to make sure we are getting everything we can out of our contracts," was Bill's reply.

"Why am I being singled out?" I asked.

"You're not. I will be doing this with all of the sales reps. Don't worry about this. It's no big deal. It won't interfere with what you do; it's just more work for me," Bill said.

Once again Erica recognized that I was upset when I got home and I had to tell her what was going on and how much it pissed me off.

"Honey, you know it's just the way Mike gets sometimes. Don't get mad at Bill because of what Mike is making him do. Bill is just trying to help you," Erica said

Erica was right, of course, but it still annoyed me that she didn't show more support for me. I was angry and I expected that she simply agree with me that what Mike and Bill were doing was an insult to me and they should just back off. Sometimes even the voice of reason can piss you off.

Somehow Erica sensed what I was feeling and knew the right remedy. Once again it started with a full body massage.

It took almost two months before I started to see the problem. One of my customers called to complain about some missing tasks in the contract I had negotiated with them. They asked me what I was trying to pull on them. I had to rewrite their contracts to include the missing tasks. I was sure I had written the contract properly. Somebody had to have changed them.

When I discussed the problem with Bill, he asked me how anyone could have changed my contract after I had sent it out. I couldn't answer the question. The process should preclude any tampering with a contract. When I negotiated a contract with a customer, I put together a Scope of Work (SOW) and build a proposal around it including the price. If the customer agrees to the proposal, I turn the proposal over to the Contracts and Legal (C&L) department at BDS and they create the contract. Once they have the contract complete, they give it back to me and I proof read it to make sure it is complete. If anything is missing, I resubmit it to C&L for corrections and then proof it again when they finish with making the corrections. Once I am satisfied that the contract is complete and correct, I put it in the mail. No one sees the contract after me until the customer receives it in the mail.

"This is not good, ' Bill said. "We have to keep Mike from finding out about these mistakes or he'll want me proof reading all of your contracts again. You have been doing this long enough that you don't need me to read your contracts before they get sent out but you have to make sure they go out right or it will be both of our asses. Besides, I wouldn't know if something was left out unless I was with you when you met with the customer to negotiate the contract."

After a minute of silence, Bill said, "Why would they?"

"What? Why would who do what?" I asked.

"You said that you thought that someone might have changed your contracts," Bill said. "Why would someone do that?"

"I hadn't really thought about that. I don't know. I can't imagine what anyone would have to gain by screwing up my contracts but I just can't believe I am screwing up. I just don't make those kinds of mistakes."

Bill seemed to be on my side but it didn't make me feel better. I felt as though someone had to be messing with my contracts but Bill pointed out that no one had the opportunity to do that. The only other possible explanation was that someone was trying to make me look bad but I could not figure out who would do that or why?

That evening I discussed this new problem with my contracts and the conversation I had with Bill that afternoon with Erica.

"How can you be so certain that you didn't make a mistake?" she asked.

What was I missing? Was Erica beginning to think that I wasn't as competent at my job as she used to think I was? That was the impression I was getting from her.

"I don't know what's going on but I think someone is trying to make me look bad," I said.

"You can't be serious," Erica said. "You just said that you mail the contracts as soon as you are done with them. No one has access to your contracts once your finish with them. If someone could get to the contract, who would want to do that to you? Who could possibly benefit by making you look bad? No one."

I thought about what Erica said and realized I really had no answers.

"I guess you're right. Maybe I did make a mistake," I said but I didn't for a moment believe that.

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