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Batteries

It was not yet light as Terry Baker slid into the red leather seat of his vintage Porche and turned the key in the ignition switch. Uncharacteristically, the motor groaned then stuttered. He pumped the accelerator pedal a half-dozen times and tried again to turn the engine over, and this time, though sluggish at first, it roared to life. His mechanic, Werner, had been urging him to bring the car in for service, but he’d put off the maintenance call because he’d been incredibly busy at work. Now the car was giving him fair warning.

The drive from Marin County into the center of San Francisco usually took about forty minutes, and Terry often left his house early to get a head start on the day’s work. Besides, he was quite fond of speeding his Porche along Marin County’s traffic-free, winding roads as daylight broke upon the eastern horizon. One of life’s small pleasures in a world where his fast-paced business activities often left him oblivious even to the time of day. His high profile real estate development company provided him a more than generous living—a six-figure income, numerous real estate holdings, including a one-and-a-half-million-dollar house in Marin, a top-of-the-line Mercedes and his beloved Porche 911—but free time was certainly not included as a perk. His workdays often began and ended in darkness.

Pulling out of his driveway and heading for the highway, Terry noticed that the Porche’s headlights shone dimmer than usual. He dropped the transmission into neutral and revved the engine. The lights shone brighter as the rpm’s increased. Weak battery, he thought to himself, and he determined to telephone Werner as soon as the mechanic’s shop opened for business. Werner would send a caddy to pick up the car—that was the usual procedure—and the necessary maintenance would be performed as Terry passed the day thirty stories high in the chrome-and-glass Globespan Tower, speculating, negotiating contracts, doing deals.

As he approached the city, the Golden Gate Bridge was enveloped in fog, and the Porche’s weak headlights today made driving a bit more difficult. No doubt the fog would burn away by mid-morning; the weather forecast on the radio was predicting a bright afternoon. Not that he was likely to be free to enjoy a walk by the wharf or through Golden Gate Park, but just maybe he might be able to sneak off for an hour or two with Nicole, his assistant, for a mid-afternoon Cappuccino. Though married ten years, and with two children, he’d lately taken every opportunity to spend time alone with the stunning girl he’d hired as his personal assistant nine months ago.

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