Sunday, 19 November 2017

Chapter 3 - Truth is stranger than fiction

He stepped out into the sunlight and breathed in deeply. Making his way to his car, he knew he had to keep it together. As he approached his car, he saw his executive assistant and upon seeing him, she quickly scuttled away.

“Blast,” thought James, “even Judi’s playing the game.”

Shaking his head, he quickly reached his car. Unlocking it, he slid into the driver’s seat. After turning on the ignition, he relaxed, secure that this environment would not betray.

Once he got home he tore off his clothes and changed into shorts and a t-shirt. He grabbed a coldie and collapsed onto the lounge. He turned on the TV, absentmindedly surfing the channels, drinking. The morning’s events replayed themselves and his emotions too played a tune that he knew he had to listen to.

He couldn’t believe Fergan. He knew it had to have been him. He was the only one authorising staff movements. Cursing, James shifted his body. Clasping his head in his hands, he churned over the unexpected series of events of the morning where he’d been unceremoniously turfed out of his office, given scant regard for his position or title, and asked to go in a matter of minutes without any an explanation, simply because process had said so.

“Damn it,” he cried, “a process gone mad.”

Shaking with fury, he pounded his fist into the cushion on the lounge until his knuckles ached with the force of his blows. After a while, he dropped his hand beside his body and it was then that exhaustion overwhelmed him.

His coughing woke him, with Kylie nudging his cheek.

He felt strangely calm and embraced his kelpie, her nose moist against his face. She barked as he reacted and stretching he lay for a few minutes until Kylie’s persistence forced him up and out into the kitchen to feed her.

It was late, he had slept for several hours and even thought he had been through an ordeal, he was determined to return tomorrow. He knew Yvonne was an ally and she understood. He was ready for the challenges.

The next morning, the shower refreshed him, and he stepped out drying his body.  Getting into his work clothes, he tried not to think too hard about the day. He hastily ate his muesli and gulping down orange juice, left the house for work.

Access to the under croft was still available and he drove to his regular parking spot. Smiling, he put this down to a good omen as he made his way to East Wing.

Yvonne was already at her desk when he arrived.

“Morning, Yvonne.”

Yvonne looked up and greeted James.

Lisa won’t be with us for 6 months. She’s gone to despatches to help with the new mailroom contract.

“Aha,’ said James, “so it’s just you and me now.”

Yvonne, nodded and James went on to say that he was ready to look at the work she had asked him about yesterday.

Yvonne rummaged in her draw and pulled out a document and handed it to James.

“Ok, James, can you check these figures against the database updates? Fergan signed off on this but I am not certain he has calculated the figures correctly. When I did a rough estimate, the 0.01% translated into cents are not accounted for on any of the totals I checked so I don’t know where the cents have gone? They are very small amounts, but there is a lot of them, so it would be nice to know anyway.”

James looked at the documents and said, “Yes, I am familiar with the budget forecasts for the upcoming fiscal year. These have come past my desk many times. I will check the totals against the figures in the database.”

“That will be brilliant,” said Yvonne and continued, “I’ve just got to get this report finalised for despatches at 10.00 so I will leave it with you.”

They both worked in silence and when Yvonne announced her departure for her meeting, James responded with an “ok” and continued working.

He was still working when Yvonne returned at NOON. She said for him to slow down, however he said that he would continue checking the figures. Yvonne left him to it and went to lunch.

As James continued, he realised a pattern was emerging with each of the 0.01%’s on the totals and the totals in the database. Scratching his head, and not certain where the cents had gone, he decided to take a break.
When he returned, Yvonne was back at her desk and she asked him how he was going. He confirmed to her what she had suspected.

There was silence as they reflected on their findings.

James walked around the office and spoke.

“Yvonne, they are such small amounts, no-one noticed the rounding. That’s why it’s never been picked up. It’s only because you did a cross-check that you realised there were anomalies. Once it’s signed off, no-one questions Fergan’s decisions….”
“Mmmm,” replied Yvonne. “If this is so, then the cents are going somewhere..…..”

They both reflected, and it was as if they came to the same conclusion simultaneously.

James moved closer to Yvonne and lowering his tone said, “You don’t think, you know, that he, he is moving out the money, somewhere else? He stopped and his voice barely audible said, “Yvonne, you don’t think he is taking it…?”

Yvonne slowly nodded and said, “Yes I suspected this was happening – is it Fergan or someone else working with him and he knows about it but has distanced himself to remove any responsibility?”

Before either could speak, Yvonne’s phone rang, and she reached to answer it.

James continued with the cross-checking and when Yvonne got off the phone said that she had to leave early but they would talk more about this over the week.

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