Ian stepped away from his desk at noon, he was tired, his head ached and he wanted be with his family. He stood by the window and looked across the park, wondering about the young homeless girl he’s seen that morning and hoping she’d found somewhere warm to spend the day. A limo pulled up to the front door.
“Hey Gina,” he called over his shoulder, “come look, maybe this is Valerie.”
The both pressed their faces against the window, hoping to see the person who could make or break their Christmas. All they saw was the top of her head! The limo was followed by several white vans.
“Oh no, maybe she’s closing the place down and the vans are here to take away the furniture.”
“No, it wouldn’t happen that quickly. Look they’re bringing boxes in, not taking them away.”
Ian was right. A team of folks worked diligently unloading the vans.
“Come on, we’d better keep working or Madame Scrooge will be screeching at us again.”
No one could concentrate. What if the mysterious Valerie was coming to close the place down? The idea of starting a new year looking for a job wasn’t appealing.
At 1:30 Lucy, the office manager came into the room and clapped her hands loudly.
“Listen up, as some of you may have heard, Valerie Street is here. She wants to talk to us all in the conference room at 2:00. Don’t be late!
Ian and Gina looked at each other. “I guess we won’t be wondering much longer”
There was a line by the window in the hallway when Ian and Gina arrived for the meeting. Fred was at the back of it.
“We tried to get in, but the door is locked, there was a lot of activity in there a few minutes ago. Sounded like Desiree was shouting at someone, but not any more.”
The buzz of anticipation was catching. Was it dread or excitement?
Felicity from marketing was pointing out of the window to where Desiree was striding across the car park. No longer wearing her dangerous spikes, instead she had tennis shoes on her feet. Her expensive leather brief case was full to bursting and she carried a box. There was a chirp as she unlocked the door of her black Audit TT. She opened the boot and she placed her briefcase, and the box, inside. She sensed she was being watched and turned around. With a flourish she gave the double two-fingered salute to one and all. Then she jumped into her car and with a screech of tyres, she left the car park. The applause started slowly and quietly and then escalated. Fred clapped louder than anyone. Ian and Gina looked at each other puzzled.
The double doors to the conference room opened and Christmas music filtered out. The bewildered employees made their way into the beautifully decorated conference room. It was a Christmas wonderland. Catering staff filled glasses with champagne, but everyone was too stunned to drink.
“What do you think we’re celebrating?” Ian asked.
Fred picked up his glass and held it high. “Desiree’s departure is good enough for me”
The lights dimmed. The music stopped and a solitary figure appeared at the front of the room.
“Merry Christmas everyone, I’m Valerie Street, some of you may remember me, but no doubt I’ve changed since we last met. I’m here to run the company the way my father used to and I want to start with a celebration to thank you all for your hard work.”
Cheering and applause was long and loud. Gina and Ian looked at each other in utter amazement. The young lady standing at the front of the room caught their eye and raised her glass.
Ian raised his glass and mouthed. “Well played!”
“What’s going on?” Fred asked. “Do you know her”
“She’s been around for a week or so.” Ian replied, “Sitting under the bridge.”
Fred laughed. “George used to play that trick too! Pretended he was homeless. Said it was the best way to test people. Fired many folks because of the way they treated the less fortunate. She’s her fathers girl alright. I knew she’d be back.”