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Murder in the Workplace
About the Author: Bruce Harris writes mysteries and westerns.


“It’s hard to believe one of them is a murderer,” Kevin Wallace said. “I … we … both know each of them.” He paused. “Pretty well, I thought.”

Security Director Juanita Alvarez looked thoughtful. “I wonder.”

“What?”

“Maybe you did it, Kevin.”

“Me?” questioned the security supervisor.

“Could be. I remember your resume when you applied for this job. You were a butler once, isn’t that right?” but Juanita couldn’t keep a straight face.

Sales Manager Vincent Maserati sat on an Oswald’s Office Supplies Comfort Plus chair in his corner office. Rumored to become Oswald’s next CEO, the slick, cocksure forty-something sat slumped over his desk, strangled. Juanita Alvarez shook her head. She stared at Security Supervisor Wallace. “I guess we can put the second-floor paperclip pilferer on the back burner. Let’s go back in and speak to the sales force again. One of them did this. Each swore no one else entered the east wing this morning. The door automatically locks. I checked it. It’s working fine. Other than the so-called ‘Fine Four’ and Maserati, no one came or went. Of course, video from the outside camera will confirm that.” Alvarez shook her head. “Too bad old man Oswald didn’t spring for inside cameras. We could have saved ourselves a lot of trouble.”

Alvarez looked at her laptop. She scrolled through several screens, jotted the four sales people’s names and recorded numbers into her notebook. After several minutes, she said, “Let’s get to know them better.” She paused, then, “Do me a favor.”

“What?” Wallace asked.

“Gather the four of them in the conference room. I’ll join you in a few minutes.”

“Where are you going?”

“Have a look-see at their cubicles. I want to see what they read.”

“Huh?” Wallace asked, head askew.

“I’ll meet you and the ‘Fine Four’ in the conference room,” Alvarez said.

Mike Phillips rubbed his rabbit’s foot, but he didn’t feel very lucky. He wasn’t alone. None of Oswald’s Office Supplies “Fine Four” were feeling particularly fortunate at the moment. The elite sales quartet, singled out for their prior years’ performance excellence, sat around a polished rectangular table in the OOS building’s coveted east wing. The four waited in various states of agitation for the security director.

Gary Parks rose, met Security Director Alvarez a couple of steps inside the room. He extended a hand.

“Speaking for myself and on behalf of the others, we will do whatever it is you ask, answer all your questions to the best of our abilities. We all want to find out who strangled poor Maserati.”

Alvarez grinned. “I don’t think all of you want that, but I appreciate the offer to assist.” She stared at the veteran salesman. “Now please, take a seat with the others.”

Parks showed a wide smile. He gently placed a hand on Alvarez’s shoulder. “Thank you,” he said before joining everyone at the table.

“The police have been contacted,” Alvarez began. “But I’m sure that Kevin and I will be able to solve this case before they arrive.”

“I wish I had that kind of confidence,” Mike Phillips said. “I guess I’d rather be lucky than good.”

Gary Parks rolled his eyes. “Why don’t you stop, Mike. Maserati used to think of himself as lucky too. Look where that got him.”

“You two nauseate me,” Erica Beaumont chimed in. “How dare you fight when Vincent’s been murdered.”

“And one of us killed him!” Sheila Armstrong added, an amused twinkle in her eyes.

“One … or more of us,” Parks added.

Juanita observed the small group dynamics. She knew this was a talented bunch, but their behavior in light of the tragedy puzzled her. Her head moved jerkily, like a wristwatch skip-secondhand, from one salesperson to another.

“To confirm, each of you had performance reviews with Vincent Maserati this morning?”

Four heads nodded. “I went first,” Gary Parks volunteered. “Despite a couple of early year setbacks—I lost a couple of key accounts—my review went superbly,” he proudly added. “Sheila went in after me.”

“I can speak for myself!” Sheila Armstrong said, voice raised. She turned to face Director Alvarez and Supervisor Wallace. “Yes, I went second. And unlike my not so humble coworker, my review results are nobody’s business except my own.”



This story appears in our JAN 2020 Issue
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