Chapter Twenty-Three

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This is it. No doubt.

I know the engineering queue backwards and forwards, and nothing started around 5/17. Somehow that money involves Elite. I'm staring at these honking-big segments of the chart and they taunt me, they're morphing into servers and fifteen-passenger vans with death-black sides, and Jim Davis is there too, his face grumping out from within the green pixels.

It's them.

I click into the first box, from 5/17. Up pops the label JOURNAL ENTRY DEPOSIT.

I click the June boxes, the July, the August, all of them, and get the same result.


I double-click for the detailed record, which 99% of the time would take me to a screen showing the full company name, its billing address, its designated contact-person. But I know it won't now. Instead, the cornball sportscar returns—right, vroom, vroom—and moments later, a new login screen appears.

Username and password. Neither is pre-populated with Carter's credentials.


Journal entries are kinda like money that gets stuffed into the cash register between regular transactions. They don't arise from our typical billing flow, which means the details of the credit/debit are not captured—or at least not captured here in the main financials system. (I only know this because the database team asked me to debug some weirdness last month, forcing me to bone up.) The details exist, but they live in their own separate reporting environment.

Which requires its own login.

I slam my fists down on either side of the keyboard, rattling the glass desktop. A framed picture of Carter at Pebble Beach, holding a flagstick with Phil Mickelson, splats flat.

I have to get in. I have to filch his password. I hunt around his space hungrily, drawers, sticky pads, bottom of his stapler.

I know Carter has a password cheat-sheet somewhere. The Great IT Push Toward Password Security—change every two weeks, must include alphanumerics and at least one Farsi character—is great for foiling hackers on all seven continents, but makes it impossible for anybody to memorize their own.

His pen cup. Underneath his mousepad.


I minimize the Journal Entry reporting window to check his virtual desktop. Fairly clean. A few stray PDF icons scattered around his background image of pink-orange sunrise over a vineyard.

Wait! What's in the corner? Between those last two rows of grapes, off on its own?

A plain white rectangle. Text file.

I highlight the icon, causing its title to turn bold: groceries.txt.

Grocery list?

Oh Carter, you devil.

I double-click and sure enough, here's the motherlode: credentials for email, Skype, Morgan-Stanley, and two dozen more.

I scan down to the line beginning "Journal Ent DB" and copy/paste the username and password. The software eats it like a champ and begins painting UI elements across the screen. In the upper-right, account options under the heading Hello Carter K. Navigation tools in the left and top navbars.

I am expecting details for that 5/17 entry to unfurl in the middle section—the link from the financials database slickly passed in an ID, I noticed, so users don't have to go hunting for whatever they selected—but that is not what pops up.

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