Roxanne Ward stepped off the elevator on the ninth floor of the McKenna building, promising herself that she would stop feeling sorry for herself that she had to work tonight. Because she did, she was going to miss the company's legendary Christmas party, held this year at the skylight lounge up on the twenty-ninth floor. It was an event that people waited for all year, and she was going to miss it.
"Well you knew the drawbacks when you took this job," the blond-haired twenty-one-year-old said to herself as she ran her identification card through the scanner, gaining access to the buildings security section. "so just live with it."
A student at the local University, Roxanne had taken the security job for a number of good reasons. First of all, the hours were great. Working the late shift gave her a lot of flexibility in scheduling classes. The pay wasn't bad either and the job gave her plenty of time to read and study. Finally, regardless of what job she held in the corporation, Roxanne was eligible for tuition reimbursement, which practically doubled her pay since she was getting back almost everything she was paying for school. So if the price of the job was missing the party, well so be it.
"Good evening, John," Roxanne said as she entered what was officially called the central observation center but referred to by anyone who worked there as the fishbowl.
"And a very good evening to you young lady," the retired police officer said as he looked up from the book he was reading.
"Quiet night?" she asked as she dropped her gym bag on the counter.
"Quiet as a tomb," John Clancy smiled broadly as he rose from his station. "Just about everyone took off early to get a jump on the big party."
"Good, if I can't go to the party, then I guess I can at least get some work done," Roxanne said as she removed a large textbook and a binder full of notes from the bag.
"I really wish you could go to the party with the rest of us," John said.
"I know, but someone has to be here to make sure they don't steal all the chairs and filing cabinets," Roxanne laughed. "And like it or not, the junior person gets stuck. I just happen to be the junior person since Roger quite last week."
"Still it's a shame," John said sympathetically, "and with you having bought that lovely dress and all."
"It's okay, John, I'm sure I'll have another occasion to wear it."
"Aye, but there'll be a lot of bonny lads who will be all the poorer that you're not there," the jovial Irishman smiled.
Roxanne didn't comment but merely smiled back in appreciation of his concern.
"You just enjoy yourself for both of us," she finally said.
"That I will," John said as he gathered his things and began to leave, "and my Elle said to especially thank you for coming in early so we could go to the party. She and I both appreciate it."
"Then go and enjoy it," Roxanne said in mock impatience as she sat at the desk and checked that all the monitors were clear.
John had just gotten to the door when he remembered something he'd forgotten to tell her.
"By the way, Lass, they finally fixed the camera in the copy room, so be sure to count it when you make your log entries."
"It's broken for six months and someone finally gets a burr up their ass and fixes it on a day that no one wants to work," Roxanne thought as she thanked him for the information as the door close behind him, "That's corporate efficiency at work."
With the room now all to herself, Roxanne leaned back in the big comfortable chair and closed her eyes for a few moments. This really was a no brainer of a job. All you had to do was monitor the cameras set out in various public spaces around the office and take note of anything unusual. If there ever was something you felt should be checked out, all you had to do was call down to the desk and one of those guards there would be sent to take a look.
The reality of it all was that the entire system was a joke. Something to show clients how seriously they took security and the protection of confidential information. That the cameras were only in public places guaranteed that she's never see anything interesting on any of the monitors. Still, it seemed to make some clients happy and the accounts they brought in far made up for the expense of having it.
Turning to the reading she planned to get done, Roxanne gave one last thought to the party. What John had said about a lot of men being disappointed she wasn't there. Truth be told, the result would've been the same had she gone. Her lack of interest in men wasn't something that she advertised, but neither was it something that she hid or was ashamed of.
In fact, her social life was pretty far down her list of important things nowadays. In the six months since she'd broken up with her girlfriend, Susan, Roxanne hadn't gone out on a single date. School came first, she kept telling herself, there would be time for everything else later on.
Two hours went by and as was usually the case, her entries in the security logs recorded that all was well. The party was already in full gear and Roxanne doubted that, aside from her and the guards down in the lobby, there was a soul still in the office.
Twenty minutes later, Roxanne found herself wrong as she looked up at one of the changing images on the central monitor and saw someone on it. The screen changed before she had a chance to get a good look so she used a second monitor to manually check all the points she was responsible for. To her added surprise, the image was from the newly fixed camera in the copy room.
"Someone's not in a mood for a party," Roxanne thought as she used the remote camera controls to sharpen the picture and tighten the frame. There were limits to how good a picture you could get on the black and white screen and none of the cameras were equipped with sound.
Still, the resolution was enough for her to realize that she knew the woman using one of the copy machines. Her name was Kathy Prince and Roxanne had run into her a couple of times in the small company gym. That was another one of the perks of this job, membership in the gym.
Ten years older than Roxanne with jet black hair and an inspiring build, the security guard had often thought she should ask Kathy out for a drink to see if she might be interested. But each time an opportunity came up, she had let it pass. Some women just politely let you know that it wasn't their thing and that was fine. Others took personal offense at being thought of as gay or bi and could cause problems. Especially if you were on the bottom of the corporate chain. Better safe than sorry, Roxanne had decided.
Since Kathy had a perfect right to be using the copiers, whatever the hour, Roxanne went back to her studies. After all, it wasn't likely the senior account executive was going to be xeroxing inappropriate parts of her anatomy. An event John told her had happened during the Christmas silliness a few years ago. That was before the camera had been installed and was another reason why the party was now held off site.
When she looked again at the monitor five minutes later, Roxanne was surprised to see that Kathy was still at the copiers. It occurred to her that the clerical staff usually handled any large copying job. Still it might be just something she wanted to get done and not wait until Monday.
Another five minutes passed and Kathy was still there, holding the folder with the small pile of papers she had copied. It was pretty obvious that the older woman wasn't there just to use the machines. Roxanne began to wonder if maybe she should call downstairs and have someone come up and take a look.
Roxanne liked the account executive and would hate causing her a problem if all she was doing was making some personal copies. Yet it also occurred to the blue garbed guard that it might also have been something that shouldn't be copied. Hence her waiting for the office to be deserted. Everyone knew about the broken camera in the copy room. Especially if you wanted to copy anything personal. Obviously, since it had only been fixed this afternoon, no one really knew it yet.
It was a quandary, but the young guard finally decided that her job wasn't worth making a mistake, no matter how cute Kathy was. Roxanne reached for the phone, but stopped as she saw the copy room door open again and a second women step in. When the new arrival locked the door behind her, the blond put the phone down.
"This looks interesting," Roxanne though as she quickly looked at the other monitors so she could give the copy room her full attention.
There was a video recorder hooked into the system and Roxanne hit the record button. If something illegal were going down, it would help to have a record.
At first, Roxanne could only see the back of the new arrival's head. Just enough to tell that she had short, curly brown hair and was just an inch or so shorter than Kathy. Then she turned so that the camera could get a good look at her and Roxanne realized she knew the second woman as well. Actually, recognized would be a better term since she had actually talked to her before.
Her name was Carol, or Connie or something that began with a C, Roxanne told herself. Cute, but a little too boyish for Roxanne's tastes. She preferred more feminine women like Kathy. The girl was maybe a year or so older than the security guard and part of the company's intern program.
.... There is more of this story ...