With all the excitement of launch weekend and with the Interviewing Wade Blog Tour & Giveaway beginning today, I threw caution to the wind and asked Wade for a tour of the Dungeon, and I was totally surprised when he agreed. And it didn’t take me long to realize that this tour might not be for the faint of heart.
For those of you who don’t know, the Dungeon is the name Wade’s colleagues gave the basement and sub-basements of the Pneuma building, which became Wade’s domain. Though Pneuma Inc has a state of the art R&D wing, and employ some of the best minds in the world there, the real cutting edge stuff, the stuff that comes straight from Wade’s incredible mind, happens in the Dungeon. Over the years, what originally started out simply as a private place for Wade to work and do research evolved into so much more.
Wade meets me by the elevator in the Executive Suites of the Pneuma building where I’ve been chatting with Ellis Thorne and Dee Henning. He’s dressed in his usual hoodie and jeans and his hair is mussed. I smile to myself imagining how it got that way. He nods a greeting to Dee and Ellis then motions me to the elevator. ‘Come on,’ he says. ‘Let’s get this over with.’
I know that Wade is uncomfortable about having people in the Dungeon and, until Carla came along, only Dee and Ellis had ever been into some of the more restricted areas, but the little smile that Ellis offers him and the slight nod that passes between them tells me that I’ve not violated Wade’s privacy too badly, and I know that, for Wade, saying ‘no’ is not a problem.
It seems like the elevator descends forever. The last two days I’ve entered the Dungeon through the sub-basement parking garage. ‘There’s a code,’ Wade says, as though he’s read my mind, ‘When it’s entered, the elevator goes directly between the Executive Offices and the Dungeon, no stops in between. I hate a crowded elevator, and I hate extra stops.’ Before the elevator reaches its destination, my ears have popped twice. ‘We’re quite a ways down,’ he says. ‘And the four levels of sub basements quite a ways farther.’
My pulse jumps at the mention of the sub-levels. ‘Will I see them?’
‘Not all of them,’ he answers, his jaw suddenly tight and his lips pressed in a thin line. Then he adds, ‘Even if I wanted to show it all to you, which I don’t, there isn’t enough time.’ He shrugs. ‘You’d have to overnight in the Suite, and even then … Well, some places are just off limits.’
Though I relish the idea of a night in the Suite, I have to admit, there are parts of Wade’s Dungeon that I’m not all that sure I really want to see.
The doors open with a whisper and we walk through a deserted reception area that I know is just for looks. Wade has no receptionist and no PA. Pretty much it’s invitation only to the Dungeon. As we pass through the reception area, he punches in a door code and I find myself in what I know is the main living area, and the only real public area. And yes, Wade really does live here. Still, writing about it, and actually seeing it up close and personal are two different things. The best way I can describe it is a cross between my grandmother’s kitchen, a 1950s diner, and romp through a flea market.
Carla is ensconced at an ancient Formica table with her laptop open. She greets me with a smile. ‘Sorry I can’t join you on the tour. I’m on a tight deadline for a story about sustainability, but Wade’s a great tour guide.’
He growls at her, and she blows him a kiss, then goes back to work. Teen Angel is playing on a jukebox that adds to the hamburger joint feel with its pastel lighting and its glass bubble top that shows off the 45s. A quick peek, and I see that there are selections all the way back to the 40s along with lots of classic rock and a few pop pieces as well. Next to it is a red Naugahyde stool with a heavy-bodied black phone from the 1950s that reminds me a bit of a kettle bell. ‘The land line,’ Wade says. ‘Doesn’t get used much, but Ellis insists I have one.’
On the wall above the stool is a black and white plastic cat clock, with numbers and hands on the exposed white belly. As the seconds tick, the tail swishes and the eyes roll from side to side. ‘You a cat person?’ I ask.
He shrugs. ‘I just liked the clock.’
The ratty Naugahyde and chrome sofa along the back wall must have been the colour of gray marble at one time, but it’s surface is rubbed clean from lots of butts sitting on it. In front of it is a battered oak coffee table that must weigh as much as a small car, and I can’t keep from thinking of Wade feeding Carla Chinese food on that couch. Best not think of that! ‘Garage sale?’ I nod to the couch.
‘From Ellis’ parent’s basement, believe it or not,’ he says. ‘Though some of this stuff is from garage sales and flea markets.’
‘I never would have expected you to frequent such places,’ I say.
‘Who knows what you’ll find there. And next to bowling with Clyde, I find a good flea market the next best thing for thinking and inspiration.’ He grabs a plastic glass from a small Formica counter and I watch as he fills it with ice from the kind of ice machine one would find in a hotel lobby. Then from a refrigerator that looks like it came straight from grandma’s kitchen, he pulls out a pitcher of iced tea fills the glass, slaps a plastic lid on it and stuff in a straw. ‘Your drink of choice, just like Dee’s if I’m not mistaken.’ He hands it to me, and I’m moved that he knew.
Carla watches as I drink deeply and moan my approval. ‘You’ll need fortification for this tour,’ she says. ‘We’re ordering Mexican for lunch after. You up for it?’
How can I refuse such an offer! Wade bends and kisses Carla on the cheek, then leads me into a long hallway. And I become very aware of the quirk of a man who could buy half of Portland without even batting an eye, but chooses to furnish his most personal spaces with flea-market hodge-podge and yet I can just see inside the first room we pass, a home cinema that would put any mall cinema I’ve ever been to to shame.
‘We’re watching X-Men First Class tonight if you want to join us,’ Wade says, taking in my view. ‘Stacie and Harris Walker will be here. You know them.’
‘Why Wade, you’re practically turning into a social butterfly,’ I tease.
He growls and leads me down to the Incident Room, and I’m suddenly speechless as he brings everything on line with several clicks on a random keyboard. The room is wall-to-wall flat-screen monitors the size of … well the size of walls. There are keyboards and electronics and a device that looks like a cross between a gas pump and an iron maiden. In spite of all the amazing tech around me, though, my eyes stray to the metal support beam in the middle of the room, with its hook at arm’s reach.
Before I can look away, he follows my gaze, and this time he growls louder. ‘We’re not going there, so don’t ask.’ His face is suddenly bright red and I’m sure mine is too. I can’t keep the picture of him and Carla out of my head, her there bound with her hands up over her hand and him … I catch my breath. ‘I wasn’t pleased about you writing that,’ he says to me. ‘I wasn’t at my best just then.’
I thought he was pretty damned amazing, but I don’t say that. ‘I didn’t mean to intrude on a private moment,’ I manage, wondering if I made a mistake in asking him to take me on this tour. What happened in the Incident Room is only one of the events that make this tour way more personal and invasive for me than it would be for anyone else.
‘Yes you did,’ he says. ‘You meant to do exactly that, and you did it over and over again.’
‘And you let me.’
For a moment we stand there in silence, with only the soft whisper of the air conditioning in the background, surrounded by technology that I know he has used to help the police and secret service agencies all over the world solve crimes. His genius is so much more than technical, though, and yet I am most moved by the sight of that metal support post and what happened there.
At last, his shoulders relax and the sigh that passes his lips seems loud in the quiet. ‘I did. You’re right.’ He runs a hand through his already mussed hair and looks around the room. ‘I’m sorry. I’m just not used to … to people knowing … stuff about me.’
‘Hey guys, Mexican just arrived.’ We both jump and turn to find Carla standing barefoot at the door. ‘I’m starving. Either come join me or delay at your own risk.’
Wade, still holding my gaze, takes a deep breath and offers a genuine smile. ‘I think we could both use a break.’ He motions me out into the hall. ‘Sustenance first, and then we finish the tour,’ his voice turns dangerous, ‘if you think you’re up for it.’
I can’t help but wonder if I am. I can’t help but wonder if either of us is.
For the next two weeks find Carla, Wade and me on these fabulous blogs!
Mar 23 L. C. Wilkinson http://lcwilkinson.com/
Mar 24 Jan Graham http://jangraham.blogspot.com/
Mar 25 Lynelle Clark http://lynelleclarkaspiredwriter.blogspot.com/
Mar 26 Nice Ladies, Naughty Books http://niceladiesnaughtybooks.com/
Mar 27 Love Bites & Silk Ties http://www.lovebitessilkties.co.uk/
Mar 30 Books and Banter http://locglin.blogspot.com
Mar 31 Case Sharidan http://casesheridan.wordpress.com/
Apr 1 Lisabet Sarai http://lisabetsarai.blogspot.com
Ap 2 Gale Stanley http://galestanley.blogspot.com/
Ap 3 Illustrious Illusions http://www.illustriousillusions.com/
The Executive Decisions Trilogy may be over, but the story continues. Intrepid reporter, Carla Flannery, wants to interview Wade Crittenden, the secretive creative genius behind Pneuma Inc. But when, against all odds, Wade actually agrees to the interview, Carla suspects ulterior motives.
Carla has made a lot of enemies in her work and when Wade discovers she’s being stalked, he agrees to the interview to keep her close and safe. As the situation turns deadly, lives and hearts are on the line, and the interview reveals far more about both than either ever expected.