Death in HR – Part IV
(Vi – HR Manager at High Tech has broken up with her boyfriend, is fighting with everyone at work and drinking more than usual. Her life is about to change.)
Later, that day, Vi took off early and told Robin she had a doctor’s appointment. She really had an appointment with the gym. Needed to work off some steam.
Vivian was restless, and her gym workout still wasn’t enough. She decided to go to Golden Gate park to walk it out.
Fuming about the remarks from her grandmother, she didn’t notice the sun was setting. The path was darker when she saw what looked to be a small red fox dart across the path.
She stopped. Was that a fox? In Golden Gate park? Am I seeing things? Maybe someone’s dog that got loose. Did they bite?
She seemed to remember something about them being biters. Shaken but not completely frightened, she decided to turn around and go back the way she came. Back to the parking lot and lights.
Walking back, a little breeze picked up, her head jerked when she heard a soft cackling sound behind her. She jerked around. No one was there.
She picked up her pace and started to run. There was that sound again, louder now.
Vi started running full out, sweating. Thank God, she had been going to the gym on a regular basis and wasn’t out of breath.
The parking lot was ahead, and she sprinted toward it. The cackling sound got softer behind her, but she could still hear it. She dove at her car and pulled the key out of her fanny pack. Dropping it, she almost sobbed.
Snatching the key up, she jammed it into the lock, and jerked the door open.
She sped out of the lot just as the attendant was closing up his guard shack.
“I think I saw a fox back there,” she spat out.
He gazed at her blankly.
“I said a fox,” she shouted at him tersely. “Do you know what a fox is, you idiot?”
“Yes, ma’am I do,” he was finally nodding his head up and down. “But, fox? There haven’t been any foxes in this area for years and years. You sure it wasn’t a dog, ma’am?”
“Of course, I’m sure. Do I look blind?” she screamed. Finally, she pushed the button and rolled the window back up. Speeding away she thought, moron! Waste of time. But in her heart of hearts, she wasn’t so sure.
Vi sped home, made herself a double martini and downed it in two gulps. She closed all the shades on the windows and sat on her sofa. She pulled a big comforter around her shoulders and sat, shivering.
At work the next day, she parked in the underground lot as usual and came up to the front door. The old bum was poking through the trash can again.
She walked up to him and got close to his face. His reek washed over her. She stood her ground.
“You’re not supposed to be doing that. This is private property.”
“Just doing my bit for ecology, ma’am.” He laughed a little and kept poking.
She got a little closer this time. “Get out!” she screamed in his ear.
He grabbed his ear and looking frightened, scurried away, dragging his bag of cans with him.
The security guard saw the tail-end of this encounter and hurried to open the door for her and hand her a paper. She ignored him and the paper and walked straight to the elevators, turning her back to him.
He straightened his tie nervously.
Upstairs, Robin was waiting with her coffee. Vi grabbed it without comment and went into her office. She bent over, pulled a small bottle of vodka from her purse and put it in her bottom drawer. Closing the drawer carefully, she sat up and looked to see if anyone was watching.
Picking up the Starbuck’s, she took a sip and gagged. Coming out of her office, she plunked the coffee back on Robin’s desk.
“It’s regular milk, not soy. Can’t you do anything right!”
She turned around and went back to her office, slamming the door.
Shaking, Robin pulled a ten-dollar bill out of her purse. She put a sticky on outside of her cubicle ‘Back in five minutes,’ and went downstairs to the mail room.
She grabbed one of the mail clerks and handed him the ten.
“You know where the Starbuck’s is, on the corner?”
He nodded, confused.
“Get over there right now and get a regular coffee with soy milk and get back here. You got it, soy milk, not regular.”
The kid nodded nervously at her.
He ran out the door.
Avoiding the park now, Vi took to running in the early morning hours. The top of an aqueduct reservoir was close to her apartment and she liked going there. There was no one there in the morning. Good, I hate talking to people anyway. The path was covered with a loose, fine gravel which usually didn’t bother Vi in her expensive Nike trainers.
One morning, when she had done her mile and a half, she was bending over to catch her breath. The summer mornings in the Bay area were still cool and little breezes played in the air.
Damn these fucking headaches! She thought savagely to herself. Four Tylenols and orange juice and it wasn’t any better. She had a mother of a headache, plus, she couldn’t shake the feeling someone was following her. The feeling had followed her the entire run.
She heard a growling sound and jerked her head around. That same red fox was behind her. It looked bigger. She screamed. Before she could turn and run, it pounced at her and went through her legs. Its long fuzzy tail wrapped around her ankles.
Screaming again, she tottered and lost her balance. Tipping over, she fell down the cement side of the reservoir. There was a thunk sound when her head hit the cement followed by a crunching sound as the cell phone in her pants pocket was crushed as she rolled. The fall was onto the side away from the street; her body hidden from passersby.
Later that day, when Vi was not at her desk promptly at 7:30 am, her administrative assistant began asking discrete questions around the office. Wouldn’t do to have the boss think she was being gossiped about. Would be worth her job. Getting a negative response to all the inquiries, Robin went back to her desk with a fresh cup of coffee and kept glancing at the clock. Still, no Vi.
At 9:30 am, Robin carefully picked up the receiver of her desk phone and called to her boss’s cell phone.
“Hello, Vi. This is Robin. Um. Not sure if you remembered or not, but you have a 10:00 meeting. Just wanted to remind you.” She hung up the phone quickly, her palms sweating.
At 10 am promptly, Robin went into the conference room and found Jeremy Bright, one of the corporation’s other HR bosses. She whispered in his ear.
“Not here? Well, where the hell is she? We have an important meeting!” He glared at her like it was all her fault. Robin shrank back.
“I’ve called her several times, sir. There’s been no answer.”
“Well, Jesus. Keep calling!” He waved a dismissive hand and Robin tucked her head and scurried out of the room.
She slumped back into her desk chair.
There are days when the corporate salary just isn’t good enough. Christ, why didn’t I become a kindergarten teacher like my sister? Screw the money.
Scowling, she jabbed the buttons of the phone again. She had the number memorized and was desperate to reach Vi and figure out what was going on.
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