Ready ... Fire ... Aim!
Posted on Apr 14, 2011
By Mr. Fish
She opened the folder again and took out another cash refund receipt and handed it to me. “What about this one?” she said. I took it. She then turned around and took out another one and handed it to me. “This one?” she said.
“I’m not sure what I’m supposed to be looking for,” I said, really beginning to resent her for trying to coerce me into guessing the details of the misinformation that she had ping-ponging around inside her head.
“Do you feel as if we don’t pay you enough so that you have to steal from the registers?” she asked, no doubt misinterpreting my silence of confusion as the silence of incrimination. Hoping to diffuse the seriousness of the situation and thinking of how meager my paychecks really were, I made the stupid mistake of chuckling. “We have the proof here that you conducted unauthorized cash returns,” she continued, “and forged the customer information. You’re not a little kid, Dwayne, you’re a grown man and you should be able to admit when you’ve made a mistake,” she said.
Suddenly shoved in the direction of a blind rage at being spoken to with such condescension, I forced myself to look her dead in the face and to say, “All right! What do you want me to say? I’ll stop signing the cashier’s initials to the returns, although I’m sure that I’m not the only one who does it. In fact, I know that I’m not the only one who does it.”
“Who else?” she said.
I looked at Alan. I looked back at Heddy. “You tell me,” I said.
“Are you denying the fact that you have been stealing money from the cash registers for the past 16 months?” she said, palms against the desk, real Joe Friday-like, inadvertently tipping her hand to the fact that the incompetence of her office, besides mislabeling me as a robber of money, had taken 16 months to schedule the bogus interrogation of which I presently found myself the subject.
“Sixteen months?” I said, openly mocking the pointlessness of having a watchdog that takes 16 months to start barking.
“Yes, you’ve been stealing money for 16 months, that’s right,” she said.
“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” I said, for the third time.
“So, Mr. Booth, you’re refusing to admit that you’ve been stealing money from the registers?”
“Yes,” I said, “I refuse to admit that I’ve been stealing money from the registers. Can I go now?”
“Hmm,” she said, standing up to look into the manila folder from which she pulled the receipts, as if it contained impossible, yet undeniable, proof of suicide in both Kennedy assassinations. “You understand that by lying that you’re only making it worse for yourself?”
“Whatever,” I said, using the polite version of fuck you without compromising its content.
“OK, Mr. Booth,” she said, closing the folder and moving across the room to stand behind me, “Suit yourself. See to it that he doesn’t leave, Alan.” She stepped into the hallway and closed the door. My boss smiled and shrugged his shoulders.
“So, Alan,” I said smugly, “what kind of a day have you had?” causing him to laugh the sort of laugh that you’d imagine being squeezed out of an empty ketchup bottle just before it’s thrown away. “I’m sorry about all this,” I said, thinking of his wife and two daughters and how, even on a good day, this place sat around him like so much cold water. “Yeah,” he said, laughing out more emptiness before allowing the room to fall into complete silence. I wanted to tell him that I hadn’t stolen any money out of the cash registers, but I decided that making such a statement would’ve been useless in uplifting either one of our moods, figuring that it would’ve been like one guppy saying to another that the appetite of the shark who just left the room was unreasonable. Instead, I simply sat and stared out the window.
Ninety seconds later, the door opened with the subtle click of a switchblade knife and Heddy Markel re-entered the room. Remaining behind me, as in a stickup, she asked, “Excuse me, Dwayne, but you do understand that stealing money from your employer is prosecutable, right?” The question was phrased in such a way as to make any response that I might have seem at least a partial admission of guilt. I took expert hold of my own balls and crinkled up my forehead and said noes.
“I beg your pardon?” she said.
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