Death in HR – Part V

(Vi Lee, HR Manager at Hi-Tech Industries has disappeared.)

Robin, admin assistant to Vi Lee, 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.


By the afternoon, the department was buzzing with rumors. Vi Lee, ‘the Dragon Queen,’ had not come to work and no one knew where she was. At this point, Jeremy picked up the personnel file for Vi. He called her himself several times. Getting no answer, he called the head of the company and requested a meeting.

In the big guy’s office, the two men reviewed the file.

“What do you think happened?” The CEO asked Bright.

“Well, sir, I believe she had a fight with her boyfriend. Maybe they broke up? She has been very on edge recently and there may be some. . ..” He gestured with his hand tipping an imaginary bottle into his mouth.

“Oh. . .,” Dan Cole breathed out, a note of understanding.

Bright nodded and shrugged.

Cole scratched his chin and gazed out. Then, “We don’t do anything for 24 hours. Give her a chance to show up. Don’t want to cry wolf and that kind of thing.  After that, Jeremy, it will be your job to call the mother. If the woman knows nothing, tell her to call the police.”

Jeremy frowned at this pronouncement but said nothing.  

“And, shit,” Cole, spit out. “Just when we need those figures to wrap up the year end. How could she do this to us? If she’s off on some damn fling with another boy-toy, I will personally wring her skinny chink neck myself.”

Jeremy grimaced at the racial slur. Backing out of the office, he promised to call the second he heard something.

The next day, Jeremy Bright was standing in front of Vi’s apartment door knocking.  He had coaxed a neighbor to buzz him in. He stood there several minutes. No answer. An old lady across the hall finally peeked out.

Feeling foolish he said “Looking for Vivian Lee. We work together.”

The old woman looked quizzical. “Well, she goes out early every morning in her gym clothes. Don’t know where she goes. I see her when I walk my dog.”

“Have you seen her today or yesterday?”

The old woman thought. “Don’t know. Don’t think so.”

“Thanks, ma’am. The manager?”

“First floor.”

Cursing, Jeremy took the elevator back to the first floor and went to the security desk. He pulled out his driver’s license and a business card and began explaining to a very reluctant guard how he needed to get into Ms. Lee’s apartment.

After several minutes and several phone calls; the senior security guard slowly got a set of keys and went back up with Jeremy. The guard knocked several times, then, unlocking the door, he went in with Jeremy following.

“Miss Lee, Miss Lee, security.” There was no answer.

Both men cautiously entered and went from room to room. Nothing. Shafts of sunlight played through the louvered blinds. Jeremy could see dust motes hanging silently in the air.

“Well,” the older man said, “she doesn’t look to be here.” He gave Jeremy a helpless look.

“It would appear,” Jeremy answered tartly. “Thanks,” he said bruskly and stomped back to his car.

Back at the office, Jeremy pulled out Vi’s personnel file again. He located the phone number of the mother.

“Fuck!” he said loudly to the room and made the phone call. 

The next morning, they had still heard nothing.  A hysterical Mrs. Lee rushed into their office in tears. The secretary led her to Mr. Bright’s office.

Mrs. Lee finally made the phone to the police and promptly collapsed on Jeremy’s silk sofa, choking with emotion. 

“Jesus, I hope she doesn’t ruin that silk finish,” he thought grimly to himself.

Instead of voicing his thoughts, he offered the distraught woman a glass of water. Carefully helping her up off the sofa, he had his girl help her out of his office and out of the building, sobbing the whole way.

“Great, now I get to do that damn report. Shit, and I was going to get out and do some hiking this weekend. Maybe some fishing. Crap. I’ll kill that bitch,” he mumbled to himself.

Plopping down at his desk, he stared out at the brilliant view of the San Francisco harbor and the deep blue of the ocean. Why didn’t I become a science teacher like my brother? ‘Cause you hated science and were never very good at it, he answered his own question. Bitterly he got to work.


Police detectives were assigned to the case. Two officers came to the office and began asking questions. It doesn’t take them long to figure out what the staff thought of Ms. Lee. 

Far away, in a secluded Buddhist monastery, a ragged figure stumbled onto their property and collapsed. The monks rushed over, picked up the body and took it to their infirmary. The person was unconscious and could not answer questions. They lit candles and started saying prayers.


Two months later, things at Hi-Tech had almost returned to normal. Robin, the assistant, in a surprise promotion, moved into Vi’s place. The business as usual approach dominated the atmosphere. It was almost as though Vi Lee had never worked there. 

Police were still doing inquiries but, a body had never been found and they seemed to be out of leads. The mother and grandmother, however, were still heavily grieving and mourning her loss. Neither had given up hope of finding their girl.

Continued in VI

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