Major Jim Reynolds, disabled war vet, that's me. I left the title and part of my leg and all of the foot that was attached to it, in Bosnia. That was more then a year ago. Now I was walking into a company that had posted a job in the classifieds. Oh yes, I was walking, for the government had seen to it that I could do that much. However, they said they didn't need me anymore. They gave me a bundle of cash, transferred my records to the VA and said good-bye. The money for my missing foot and the pension wasn't going to give me much of a life though.
I walked into a room filled with people who I suspected were here for the same reason that I was. I crossed to the desk and the receptionist didn't even look up when she handed me a clipboard with the application attached. She did look up when I didn't take the pencil from her hand. I waggled my pen at her. This brought a little smile to her face. All the seats were full so I made my way back across the room where I could lean against the wall.
Just as I was completing the form, a man who I assumed was the personnel officer, came out of the next room. The woman at the desk whispered something to him. He gathered up the stack of applications and thumbed through them. He stayed, conversing with her until I laid my application on the desk. He picked it up, put it on the bottom of the stack and retreated through the door.
I thought to myself that it was going to be a long day for me. Reynolds is a long way down the alphabet and he put my application on the bottom. I considered leaving, for the job was a long shot anyway. Just too many applicants ahead of me.
The door opened, "Rupert, step into my office please." Hey maybe I have a shot after all. The lady at the desk found my eyes and smiled at me. I watched as Rupert waddled into the open office. She had been one of the two women applicants. The personnel officer gave her seven minutes. She was not hired. Everyone in the room could tell that by the dejected look on her face as she crossed the room and headed for the door. The other woman applicant got up and left with her. Everyone heard the intercom, "Marie, ask Major Reynolds to come in please." When I went by the desk I got a big smile from Marie.
I went in, closed the door behind me and then stood in front of the desk waiting. "Major, have a seat." He went to where a coffee pot was set up and took two cups with the company logo on them and filled them. I remained standing. Coming back to me he handed me the cup which I reached for with my left hand. "Hello. I'm Matt Morton." He shook my hand and then I sat down.
"Drink your coffee and let me look over your application. At first glance I would say you are what the company is looking for. Of course I don't have the final say, but we shall see." Bull shit, I thought, he was leaving himself an out. I figured what I had on the application was exactly what the company wanted. I had done some work too, before coming in here. Unless I screwed up on the verbal interview, I knew I was as good as hired. It had cost me a few beers. I had gone to the nearest bar and talked to some employees as the shift let out the day before. This allowed me to find out as much about the company as possible from some of those that worked there.
A half hour later Matt pressed the intercom, "Marie, would you tell the remaining applicants that I will not be doing anymore interviews today. Tell everyone their applications are on file and all will be looked at and thank them for coming in."
Matt started at the top of my application again. He stopped and looked at me. "You didn't indicate whether you are married or not. Is there a reason for that?"
"Not really. I married my childhood sweetheart. However, I was out of the country on several tours soon after I joined the military and as soon as I received my commission. I flew home unexpectedly to join her for our third anniversary. I found her somewhat occupied in bed with someone else and we were divorced shortly after. No children, and we are still friends of a sort when we meet when I go back to our home town. I never bothered to find another woman, one that I felt I could trust. That is if I was going to make the service my career. I'll probably start looking for someone to settle down with now."
"You're still young enough to raise a family. I think Marie, my secretary, would go on a date if you asked her."
I laughed, "I'll keep her in mind. I think she was the one that got me in so early to see you. It was the pen, wasn't it?"
Matt laughed with me. "Yes it was. You came prepared and confident enough to write in pen. So this disability you have, you don't appear to be incapacitated."
"No, I can even run for short distances. There was really no reason for the service to terminate me. I'm glad to be home though. As you can see I was a desk jockey. I shouldn't have been where I was when I got hit. The convoy needed an officer of my rank to captain it. There were no other of rank available, so I was pulled off my desk and here I am."
"Okay I'm going to say you are hired. You are now the company Security Officer. Come with me and I'll show you where your office is located. We are pretty up to date on equipment so if what you need to do your job isn't in it, just ask and we'll get it for you."
I liked the situation and said so. Then I asked, "I'm living out of a motel room. You don't happen to know of a decent rental or a small house I could lease, do you?"
"Yes, as a matter of fact I do. You might even want to purchase it if you find you like it. Our head of marketing, Alicia Garcia, lives across the street and it is only ten minutes from here. One of our salesmen owned the house, but he quit because of a death in the family. He left to take care of his mother. I'll take you up to meet Alicia and you can follow her home to see where the house is."
I stopped a minute at Marie's desk. "Does the company have a policy about the Security Chief dating those that helped him get hired?"
"Not in this world they don't."
"Are you busy Friday night? I'd like to ask you out."
"I'm not busy and I'd like to have you take me out. I'll send a memo up to your office with my address. Thank you."
I was going on a tour of all of the departments. Meeting the department heads and managers, I was given a welcome aboard. The department head of marketing was a woman about my age, maybe a little younger than my thirty years. Alicia Garcia was tall for a Latino and trim with a nicely proportioned figure. Her hair was a shiny black. Her eyes were dark too, and her skin was just a bit dusky. She was dressed in the typical woman's executive clothes of tailored suit and white blouse. Matt introduced us and said I wished to follow her home where she could point out the house across the street to me. I caught a little look as if she was momentarily disconcerted.
I met the CEO, Colin Benton, and took an immediate dislike to him. He was a backslapper. That never happened in the military and I cringed when he did it twice before I was moved along to the board room. There was a huge office off of it that said Conrad Benton, Chairman, on the door. So it was father and son that ran the company. The father, Conrad, appeared to be in his sixties. Colin was in his early forties I would guess.
The older Benton was tall, distinguished and affable enough, but without the unctuousness of his son Colin. I took to him right away. I hoped he would be the one giving me my orders and the one I would be reporting to. On the way back downstairs Matt said, "The old guy is being eased out of the company. He feels it, but doesn't know how to stop it. You better hoard up your money because the minute Colin gets total control he is going to sell the company and take off for Paris or somewhere. That is if there is anything left to sell. The damn fool is running it right into the ground."
I followed Alicia home that afternoon and she pointed out the house across the street I was interested in. "Would you like to see the inside? I have the keys."
"Very much so. Can I take you out to dinner tonight for being so kind?"
"I wish I could but duty calls and I have to work this evening." That was odd for I hadn't heard anything about the department heads having to work other than days. I let it go.
I got the keys. This bungalow was some different than the motel room I was staying in and a whole hell of a lot different than a Quonset hut in Bosnia. I immediately made up my mind I was going to buy it. I would get the information from Matt tomorrow and get the ball rolling. When I stepped across the street to give Alicia the keys, she was dressed in a cocktail dress. She was beautiful. I couldn't help but stare. "Thank you. I meant to tell you to return them to me in the office tomorrow. I'm a little behind schedule, so if you will excuse me, my ride will be here shortly."
My date with Marie was fun. I think she would have been willing to have my time with her continue longer than it did. I also think I could have found out what the interior of her bedroom looked like if I had agreed to have that cup of coffee she had invited me in for. I wasn't ready to go that far with anyone in the company yet. We went dancing and we did get damned close, but that was all. Maybe next time.
I pushed to buy the house. It was small, but I had no plans for needing more room. It did have a nice fenced-in backyard. I dropped down and dug into the soil with my fingers. I might even find time to put in a little garden. I was sure it would grow stuff better than what I had attempted behind the barracks overseas. All I got there were a few beans and some scraggly carrots.
.... There is more of this story ...