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A Perfect Bloom 25 – Alex Ankarr
“And then, the big one,” Linnet notes. “From some low-level warehouse pilfering, on to his next job – after getting out. Looks like one of his social workers managed to lever him into a temporary paper-pushing admin gig with a not-for-profit – and he got noticed. Which seems to be kind of a pattern, for Sam.” She pauses, to angle a bright gleaming smile, provocative and cynically pleasant, at Cory. He glowers at her in response and she smirks down as she examines her flawless cuticles, clearly amused practically more than can be humanly borne.
Yeah, he has noticed Sam, since day one. It’s admitted between them, unspoken. He doesn’t see why it needs to still be such an issue, that’s all. “He did well,” Cory says flatly. He feels a kind of fulminating irritation and resentment, festering up from his gut and scratching frettingly at his brain. Brightly attractive Sam, clearly smart and able and talented, with one opportunity after another dangled before him… Is there something self-destructive about him, that he seems to have made the worst out of what might have been the best opportunity he had? Is that how it would be, if he and Cory…? Well. If nothing. He isn’t going to think about that, not here, now.
Anyway, here’s Linnet, drawing circles on the window with her bright shiny maroon fingernail, as she folds up the story. “Really well. Really, really well. One of the mid-level managers saw he was capable, promoted him up a level, then had him certified as a staff trainer. Then into the accounts department, then inside of six months special projects within accounts.” Her mouth tightens up, and instead of amused, for the first time she looks annoyed. Almost angry, which is unusual for Linnet.
“Embezzlement,” Cory says flatly. Yep, that was what had sat least well with him, what he’s spent several weeks now trying not to think about. Immediately visceral temptation, with the combination of easy pickings and a loved one’s financial troubles, that’s not hard to understand, not even for a rich man like himself. A bit different, to take a worker settled into a plum white collar job at an early age, singled out for advancement and favouritism, who then goes on to rig the system and steal – steal significantly, enrich himself handsomely – from his employer. (And a charitable employer, too.) Cory feels his heart sink a bit, down, deep down. He feels like a small boy watching a favoured toy float away, after he’s dropped it in the river on accident.
“That’s what it looked like,” Linnet confirms. And Cory chews over that for a moment, and the oddity of the phrasing jabs at him. He only looks at her. So smart, Linnet is. You often don’t need to put a question into words where she’s concerned. “The account the money was siphoned off into wasn’t actually touched,” she adds. “And Sam certainly had access to it. The paperwork was all in place, and he was authorised to use that money – illicitly authorised, of course – in all kinds of ways.”
Cory looks out the window, at the lush sweet green lawns of the company grounds. The sun has come out, in this very early evening when many workers are setting off for home, finishing up their day’s work. It’s not quite early sunset, but it’s close now. In the distance, the very distance at the perimeter of the grounds, a tiny figure is carrying a ladder, walking with a jaunty air clad in a coverall and a peaked cap. It could be Sam. It might be Sam.
© Copyright Alex Ankarr 2014
No unauthorised reproductions allowed. All rights reserved to the author. No inspirations for characters drawn from real-life individuals, no resemblance to real individuals intended.
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