Rufus thinks he's received a desperate plea to rescue a pants inspector who is being held hostage in a garment factory. Upon discovery of the truth, it may be Rufus' own life that needs alterations. A new short story from the author of the international bestseller A SUMMER WEDDING.
The twenty-something receptionist reclined imperceptibly in her office chair, blonde curls cascading over her shoulders, dull blue-gray eyes oozing apathy. “I’m sorry, sir, but we don’t allow visitors inside the factory. Company policy.”
Rufus McDonal resumed his pacing in the severely over-illuminated lobby of the Carson Canyon Jeans Company. Seething with desperation, he turned to face the gatekeeper seated at the highly stylized, art-deco monstrosity that served as a reception desk and pressed his hands firmly on the glass countertop.
He glanced at her slim, metallic nametag. “Listen, Carolina. This is a matter of the utmost importance. I need to speak with Inspector #5.” A strand of oily, jet-black hair tumbled across his eyes. He hurriedly brushed it away and tucked it behind his ear.
“Mr. McDonal. First of all, my name is pronounced Car-o-lee-na. And second, I don’t really know what this is about, but company policy clearly states that I am not allowed to let anyone back on the factory floor unless you’ve filed a visitor request, and you have someone to escort you.”
Frustration seized Rufus, hands fairly trembling at this display of utter defiance. “This isn’t a government lab or anything. Can’t you escort me back?”
“Sorry. Can’t leave the front desk.”
Rufus pursed his lips, shut his eyes tightly and inhaled deeply through his nose. “I just don’t understand. All I want to do is talk to Inspector #5 for two minutes. That’s it. Two minutes.”
Carolina pushed herself away from the computer keyboard, rose to her feet abruptly and glanced first left, then right. She rubbed her forehead then leaned a few inches towards Rufus.
“Okay, here’s the deal. If you pull around the back, you’ll see a guarded parking area. That’s the employee lot. We had to lay off the security guard a couple months back, so the gate stays open twenty-four-seven. The first shift ends in about fifteen minutes. All the factory workers will exit through a large double door that says ‘Authorized Personnel Only.’ If you park on the far east end, the security cameras won’t catch—”
A locked hallway door sprang open, and a company security guard sauntered through. Carolina stood rigid. “Sir, as I explained before, we do not allow unannounced visitors on the factory floor. You need to call and make an appointment if you would like a tour.” She nodded towards the front entryway.
Rufus, not a genius by any stretch of the imagination, but also not the dullest knife in the drawer, smiled and held up his hands. “So sorry. I will call and make an appointment tomorrow. Thank you for your help.” His attempt at subtlety as he winked at her failed miserably.
She rolled her eyes.