Wednesday, March 14, 2007
Hunter Coleman was sitting at his ultra modern desk conferring with the Texas Division head of HR Mary Ann Lemons, the Senior VP of Marketing Ryan Harper and their corporate attorney Juanita Robinson when his cell phone rang.
"I'm sorry, I thought I had it on vibrate," he said apologetically. "Let me see if this is Alexis."
"Go right ahead," said Ryan.
"This is Hunter Coleman."
"Hunter, this is Alexis. I'm in town and just leaving Bush Intercontinental now."
"Hi Alexis. How was your flight?"
"Hit some bumpy air over Arkansas but overall it was a good one."
"Good to hear. So what's the problem that you alluded to yesterday?"
"A potentially explosive human resource issue has come to my attention."
"Can you give me some background info on it?" Hunter asked as her limo passed Greenspoint Mall.
"I'd rather discuss this in your office with Ryan and Juanita when I arrive."
"Very good, Alexis."
"My limo's on I-45 right now. When I get downtown I'll call you. Have Samantha Simon and Lauren Schmelter in your office when I arrive. "
"Good. Se you in a few minutes."
Senior VP of Human Resources Alexis Wilson was not a happy camper. She was already upset about downsizing the HR department. She was in the process of analyzing the data and determining which cities would take the hits when the e-mail came from the people at the Ethics Hotline.
She recalled her reaction when she'd heard about the mysterious resignation of Shanita Taylor. She'd already sent her assistant Shelby King down to Houston to talk to the gentleman who called in the complaint. Alexis was incensed when Shelby gave her report on what this gentleman overheard at his church and what the investigation had uncovered.
Her eyes were getting tired from looking at the laptop screen and she decided to rest them for a few minutes. She looked up just as the limo came out of I-45's ten-lane S-curve approaching I-10 and the view of the downtown Houston skyline rapidly grew closer.
Moments later she was pulling in front of the building on Smith Street that used to be Enron's headquarters. She put on her Jimmy Choo pumps and whipped her cell phone out of her purse to make the call announcing her arrival before packing her laptop into the leather briefcase her boyfriend had given her for Christmas.
She cut off her cell phone after talking to Hunter, put it in her Prada purse and waited for the limo driver to park the car and open her door.
As she stretched her stylishly dressed 5'7" frame out of the limo the cranberry juice she'd been drinking on the flight began demanding release from her bladder as she entered the revolving door of the Xavier Young Zeno Corporation Tower. She headed for the bank of elevators as the handsome security guard on duty smiled and waved at her. She had other things on her mind as she gave the bald buffed brother a friendly wave and briskly kept moving.
When Alexis arrived on the 23rd floor she knew she needed to make an immediate pit stop in the ladies room. She knew from previous corporate visits that there was one close to Hunter's office so she quickened her pace, entered it and raced to the nearest stall. I needed to check my makeup anyway, Alexis thought as she handled her business.
Not long after she setlled in she heard the door squeak open and heard two sets of heels click clacking on the floor and stall doors open a few paces away from her.
"Lauren, why are they calling us into this meeting?"
"Beats me. Just stay cool until we find out what's going on."
"You mean they didn't tell you?"
"You know that closet queen Ryan can't stand me because his precious Shanita quit."
"You mean Sheldon don't you?" Samantha said with a sneer.
"Whatever that he-she's name used to be I don't care. I got the job thanks to you."
"You're welcome. Thanks for making me your assistant."
"I believe in rewarding people who are loyal to me."
"Me and my Coach purse thank you."
Both toilets flushed and Alexis heard running water from the sinks as they washed their hands.
"Have you made any progress with Javon yet?'
"No. I can barely get his attention when were at church."
"What's wrong, Samantha?" Lauren cooed. "You can't take a man away from a wannabe bitch with a manufactured pussy?"
"I'm more than woman enough for the job, especially if Sheldon still has his original equipment. I can show Javon what he's been missing," she said as they both laughed.
"Let's go before Ms. Wilson gets here."
She heard their heels click and the bathroom door squeak as it closed. She waited a few minutes before she rose from her seated position, adjusted her clothes and opened her stall door. She strolled over to the mirror and washed her hands before checking her makeup. She checked her appearance one last time before sauntering
out of the restroom and heading to Hunter's office.
She allowed a smile to crease her ebony-hued face when she thought about the bombs she was going to drop on those conniving heifers.
"Ms. Wilson, so nice to see you." Lauren said as she entered Hunter's office.
"Hunter, can you have Ms. Schmelter and Ms. Simon wait outside until I'm done briefing you?"
Lauren and Samantha looked puzzled as the got up from the couch in Hunter's office and headed to the office waiting area. Once they exited the room and closed the door she began the meeting.
"I've called you together because I've been apprised of a situation that has exposed our company not only to a possible lawsuit but a potential PR nightmare."
She briefed them about Shelby discovered during her investigation as Ryan, Hunter, Juanita and Mary Ann looked at her and listened in stunned silence.
When she was done she said, "Hunter and Ryan, find Shanita Taylor, have my limo pick her up and bring her here ASAP."
"Mary Ann, call Ms. Simon in please."
Samantha's nervousness shot up a few more levels when Mary Ann called her into the office. What the hell is going on, she thought as she entered.
"Have a seat, Samantha."
"You may be wondering why we called you in here today."
"That thought has crossed my mind, Ms. Wilson."
"It concerns a call the Ethics Hotline received a call three weeks ago."
"Did it involve someone in our department?"
"Yes, it did."
"May I ask who it was?"
"Someone you know very well. I can tell you it was in relation to Shanita Taylor's resignation from our company," Alexis said impassively. "Seems that this gentleman overheard a conversation take place that implicates you in the series of events that led Ms. Taylor to resign."
"We investigated it and have verified that what he told us was true. What we discovered could put you in jail for a long time."
Samantha tried to stay cool but that icy Fifth Ward bravado broke down and tears started flowing down her caramel-colored face as she told Alexis what happened.
A few moments later she sent Samantha out and called Lauren into the office.
"Sit down, Lauren."
Lauren obeyed but was on guard. She observed her assistant walk out of the office with a look that had a mixture of defeat and fear. She wondered what Alexis could have said that terrified her.
"You may be wondering why I asked you and Samantha to come in."
"I know there are rumors about a downsizing of this department."
"Yes, I can confirm that rumor."
"Do you know mow many people we're going to lose?"
"I'm still crunching the numbers, but right now it looks like only two of you will be leaving," Alexis said as she crossed her legs beneath Hunter's desk.
"May I ask who?"
"I'll let you know in a few moments. But first I have some questions for you."
"What do you know about Shanita Taylor's departure?"
"It was most unfortunate. She's a very talented person who would have made a wonderful supervisor for us."
"I agree with you. Did she state a reason as to why she was leaving?"
"No," Lauren said. "We were just as shocked when she quit."
Stop lying tramp, Alexis thought. "So was I. That's why I initiated an investigation."
"We received a complaint on the Ethics Hotline that mentioned this situation."
"May I ask what was the nature of that complaint?"
Alexis reached into her briefcase, pulled out a sheet of paper and slid it across the desk for Lauren to read. "I can't believe that Samantha would do something like this."
"Some people will do almost anything for love and revenge," said Alexis.
"It's gonna break my heart to give her the news that she's terminated."
"Don't worry about that, Lauren." said Alexis. "I've already taken care of it."
"Thank you Ms. Wilson….."
"You're going to be busy writing a letter of resignation."
"Are you serious?"
"Deadly. I want your badge and your company keys."
"You can't fire me," she defiantly said.
"Seems like that's exactly what's happening right now."
"Do you know who my Daddy is? I'll have your job."
Alexis' impassive look suddenly turned nasty as she stood up and looked Lauren dead in the eye. "Little girl, you don't know who you're messing with. I make phone calls to two of my sorors and not only will you be facing a stint at Club Fed but your Daddy's political career will be ruined as well.
"You think so?" Alexis said. "Does the name Lanita Turner ring a bell?"
She knows the ABC News reporter, thought Lauren. Who else does she know?
"I know you've heard of Senator Jason Reynolds, the man your daddy lost his US senate race to four years ago." Alexis said as Lauren digested the last comment. "And how could I forget my soror DeAndria Randall, the federal prosecuting attorney for the Southern District of Texas?"
Lauren sullenly sat in her chair as Alexis continued. "I want your resignation letter on this desk in the next thirty minutes. If either you, your father or any of his associates mess with this company or my employment status I will bring a world of hurt down on your ass. Do we understand each other?"
Lauren mumbled under her breath. "What did you say?'
"I said yes ma'am."
"That's what I thought you said."
"Are you finished with me?"
"Not quite. Just want to give you a piece of advice for your next job. Be careful what you say in corporate restrooms. It can come back to haunt you."
Lauren's eyes grew wide with shock as Alexis sat back down in the chair and said, "Especially if your boss has as you so crudely put it a 'manufactured pussy' as well."