"Send the next one in please."
The next girl interviewing for the job entered the room and walked, or should I say limped, over to my desk.
"Hello sir, my name is Angela Wilkins."
"Have a seat Ms. Wilkins. My name is John Forrester. The job is as my secretary and personal assistant. Mrs. Hawks is leaving due to her husband being transferred. I need someone quickly, so if you have obligations beyond this week there is no need to interview."
"I have no obligations. I lost my last job two weeks ago and could start immediately."
"Under what circumstances did you lose that job and what was it?"
"I was a personal secretary to a pharmacy owner. When I wouldn't go to bed with him he fired me."
"Are you sure that that was the reason Ms. Wilkins?"
"That is what he told another worker there. He said that I was teasing him, but I didn't do it intentionally. The other girl let him bed her and kept her job for a while. You must think I am spouting sour grapes. I'm sorry for wasting your time."
The girl got up and started toward the door.
"Wait a minute miss. I haven't terminated the interview just yet. I can guarantee that you will not be pressured to provide sexual favors here. I will have your last employer investigated though; it is not good for business to have dogs like him around. Do you have a problem with your foot?"
"My limp is the result of a broken ankle healing improperly. There is not much that can be done about it, but I can get about okay. Do you mean that you would still hire me?"
"Yes I would, as long as you have the skills I need require. I need someone who is very organized and able to work without supervision. My office is busy most of the time and I have to spend much of the day elsewhere. Your resume says that you have taken business and bookkeeping courses with good results and that you have only had the one job since school. I also see that you put yourself through school while caring for a young child."
"My daughter Meagan; she is six now and growing like a weed. My parents have done much of the work with her and I could not have done it without them. Unfortunately, Mom is very ill and I need a place with a day care facility such as this one has. I know that I am not as experienced as some applicants will be, but I have an incentive to do a good job."
"I have to have someone quickly and everyone else that has applied has to give two weeks notice before they can start. I was out of town when I found out about this and now I am pressed for time. Can you be here tomorrow morning at seven?"
"Then you have the job as long as you can do it. Be here tomorrow and Mrs. Hawks will show you what the duties are. I expect you to be dressed similarly to how you are now and learn quickly, she only has three days left."
The next day started with Angela filling out the paperwork, to include setting it up for her daughter to be delivered to the office after school. Ellington Communications had determined several years ago that many young women were not working because they were unable to afford childcare. Ellington had set up childcare in the office building and took a percentage out of the workers wages similar to health care. The cost was minimal to the company and much less to the workers than any reputable service in town. The childcare had been an unqualified success and all offices in the building were participating. Jobs were hard enough to come by that the service could probably be discontinued, but the worker satisfaction it engendered for such a small price was incalculable.
Angela was surprised after working with the departing Mrs. Hawks for several hours to realize that the job was simpler than the one she was fired from. She also realized that her new boss, John Forrester, was not the midlevel executive he appeared to be. From all that Angela could see, he owned or was the CEO of Ellington Communications. The man listed as CEO, William Dent, was just a front man and had no actual power in the corporation. All true power went through this office. She was not sure why it was this way, but Angela was sure of it.
Angela caught on quickly and by Friday, she was doing the job with Mrs. Hawks observing.
"Angela, would you come in here please?"
"On my way Mr. Forrester."
"Okay, Angela, the big question. Can you do this job and do you want to?"
"Would you answer a question for me first Mr. Forrester?"
"What is that Angela?"
"Why do you let Mr. Dent show as the CEO when you are running the business?"
"You saw through me, huh?"
"Easily I'm afraid to say. Do you own the company?"
"Yes, I do. Easily? Mrs. Hawks has been working for me for three years and she never twigged."
"I wouldn't be so sure of that sir. She probably just figured that you had your reasons and left it at that. What about Mr. Dent?"
"Bill is actually the best salesman we have. I couldn't sell anything and until I hired him I was having a lot of trouble getting the company going. Having him listed as the CEO means that people who think that they should have access to the boss don't bother me, they get Bill and he deflects them, and usually sells them more stuff at the same time. I couldn't run this place without him. And before you ask, Ellington was the name of the guy I bought the building from. Now, are you going to stay?"
"Yes, I believe I will. This job is very rewarding and I can do it. As long as you don't lie to me or try to hide things from me that I need to know, I will do it."
"If you think I am hiding something, please ask before getting upset. I may not even know that I am doing it. Welcome aboard Ms. Wilkins."
The next couple of weeks passed quickly. Angela proved to be intelligent and insightful. She kept John on schedule and provided a sharp witty sense of humor to the flow of the day. A casual comment about the father of Angela's daughter brought an unusual reaction. Angela would not actually comment on the father, but her obvious distress caused alarm bells to ring in John's head. He quickly dropped the subject with Angela but did some research on the internet later. What he found disturbed him greatly.
Angela had been raped. He vaguely remembered the story now. She had been the subject of a police manhunt several years ago in Denver. Reading the stories brought it back to him. Angela had been taken from the street as she was returning home from a friend's house. A dark car had pulled to the curb and two men had jumped out and grabbed her from the sidewalk. A neighbor had seen the abduction and called the police. The car proved to be stolen and was discovered later in a parking garage. No clue was found as to the child's whereabouts or the identity of the abductors. She was 15 at the time. There were no leads or anything until a security guard at the same parking garage heard something from a car that had been left and discovered Angela's bruised and broken body inside. She had been gone for 5 months and was emaciated and pregnant when found. Her rapists were never found. Angela was unable to supply much information as she had been held in a dark room and blindfolded when her captors wanted to use her. Her ankle had apparently been broken in the car door when she was abducted and just bandaged during her internment. Attempts were made to repair the damage, but resulted in limited mobility. Her parents would not allow her to have an abortion and moved away to an unknown area as soon as Angela was released from the hospital. John was surprised that they had not changed their name when they relocated. Now he knew why Angela did not want to discuss the child's father and he kept his new knowledge to himself. The fact that Angela had moved on and was trying to build a life for herself and her daughter spoke volumes about her character.
Disaster struck three weeks after Angela started working at Ellington. She was called by a neighbor telling her that there were fire engines at her parent's house.
"Mr. Forrester, may I speak with you please?"
"Certainly Angela, come on in."
"Mr. Forrester, I have a problem. A neighbor just called me to say that there are fire trucks at my parent's house and I cannot get through to them. May I leave to see what I can do?"
"Of course you may Angela. Do you have a way to get there? I know that your father usually drives you to work and picks you up."
"No I don't. I guess that I can get a cab or something."
"Let me take you. Maybe I can help."
When they got to the house, they saw that it was almost totally destroyed, including the garage and storage shed. The policeman they talked to said that it looked as if the fire started at the storage shed and quickly spread to the garage and then the house. Apparently, the fire started shortly after eight in the morning. No one had come out of the house. Angela said that when her father returned from taking her to work and Meagan to school, that he usually returned to bed for an hour or so before beginning his day. Her mother was bedridden and her father's day was mostly taken up with caring for her. Her mother had been on oxygen and that seemed to have caused the fire to spread very rapidly.
Angela was devastated. Further questioning showed that she had no knowledge of her parent's finances or insurance, or much of anything. The house had belonged to her grandparents who had passed away a few years ago. She knew of no other relatives in the area, there should be some of her mother's people around somewhere; but Angela had had no contact with any of them. Her parents had been shielding her from inquiries about her ordeal.
.... There is more of this story ...