Rene shows her true self, and Christy is more than happy to see it.
I am losing my mind, Christy thought. She was positive that she turned off the light. The matter wasn't that important; as long as she did so now. The closer she came to Lorraine's office the more she was sure that she had secured the second floor for the evening. As inconceivable as it was, she heard noises coming from Lorraine's office.
"Rene?" Christy asked as she held the door. Rene turned around, still holding files she took from the file cabinet.
"What?" Rene asked, with the look of a child who was caught misbehaving.
"What are you doing here at this time of the night? Why are you in Lorraine's file cabinet?"
"I- I was checking through some records."
"The salon closed two hours ago. There's no reason for you to be here. You're not making any sense."
"I wanted to see if we ever had other problems with this shampoo company. I guess I loss track of time."
Christy made no response to Rene's feeble answer. She had no doubt that Rene was lying. The only element of deception that surprised Christy was a lack of originality in Rene's tale.
"We've been with the same company for over five years," Christy said. "Minus this incident, we've never had a problem with and order or delivery. I would know if anything went wrong."
Rene's smile was a nervous one. "Well," she said. "I guess that answers my question." She proceeded to replace the papers she held back into the file cabinet.
"Maybe," Christy said. "But, what about mine?"
"What are you doing here?"
"I told you-"
"Spare me. If there was a problem, you should have come to me. The way you're doing this- it's like you're up to something."
"Why don't you tell me?"
In anticipation of Rene's response, Christy folded her arms. She wasn't as concerned with the expected lie as she was with the forthcoming reprimand for Rene. She chose to wait until she met with Lorraine to decide how to handle Rene. "Well," Christy said, "do I get an explanation?"
"I don't see what it would do for me," Rene replied. "You're not going to believe me."
"Can you blame me? You have no need to be here, yet, you are. At the very least, this situation bothers me."
"Of course it does. Everything I do annoys you, Christy. You've never liked me. I think you've had it out for me since the first day I worked here."
"I gave you a chance. So did Lorraine. You're the one who blew it."
"You're always defending her. Don't you ever think for yourself? You have a blind loyalty for her and it's going to get you into trouble. Don't you realize you'll go to jail if you keep helping her?"
Stunned by Rene's last remark, Christy stood and stared at Rene. She had made many outrageous comments in the past. None of them measured close to her last question. "I think you should elaborate," Christy said.
"Don't pretend. You know what's going on in this office."
Christy bit hard on her lip. She hoped that she did not draw blood. She felt it was imperative to look serious now. Rene was apt to talk more if Christy appeared critical to what Rene said. "You should think before you open your mouth again," she said to Rene.
"I'm not expecting you to say that you're involved," Rene said. "At least agree that something illegal is gong on in this office."
Christy almost choked. She held her head down and turned from Rene. She took several breaths to calm herself. How ridiculous could Rene get, she wondered. "I'm not seeing it," Christy said with sarcasm. "Lorraine doesn't tell me everything, you know. What do you think is going on?"
Rene glared at Christy. She suspected Christy's lack of interest in her testimony. She choose to disregard Christy's behavior and give the salon's manager a chance to learn what the beloved boss was involved in. "Don't be a fool," Rene said. "Lorraine has all the money in the world, but that's not enough for her. She wants to destroy everyone who crosses her path. Not even her family is safe."
The humor in this situation was departing. Rene was entering a very serious area that could result in inflicting harm upon unwanted victims. "You had better start explaining. And do it quickly."
"This is a change," Rene replied. "Are you sure you want to hear my boring story?"
"Stop playing games. What's going on?"
Rene's vindictive sneer revealed her enjoyment in the turn of this conversation. "I'll be happy to tell you," she said to Christy. "Embezzlement. Pure and simple. She stole money from her own parents to start this business."
"You can get yourself into a lot of trouble if you're not careful. Spreading lies can be a very dangerous thing."
"I'm telling the truth."
"Can you prove it?"
"I found papers that prove what she has done."
"That's not good enough Rene. This maybe fun for you, but not for me." And definitely not for Lorraine."
"You're not realistic. You're letting loyalty blind you. She'll bring you down if you follow her."
Christy held her hand upwards. She had grown weary of Rene's rambling and antics. "Not another word," she said to Rene. "You're in deep enough as it is. It's time you left."
Christy walked to the door and opened it. She looked towards Rene while anticipating a departure. Instead, Rene held her position. "I'm not afraid of you," she said. "You can't fire me."
"Oh but I can fire you. I'm the salon's manager, remember? Now, where were we? Ah yes, I was watching you leave, while you're still under employment here. Bye."
If a look had the ability to kill, Rene's glare would have annihilated Christy without a moment passing. She kept eye contact as she took her time in leaving the office. Christy made an engraved note in her mind. She and Lorraine would discuss preparations for Rene's termination. Lorraine could not deny her request now. Keeping Rene would only lead to disastrous results. Christy's final regret was she could not search Rene before the departure. She would bet her paycheck that Rene took documents from the office. Only a possibility of a lawsuit deterred her from pursuing this course of action.
Christy walked to the window and peered into the parking lot. She stayed there until Rene drove blocks away from the salon. She walked to Lorraine's desk and unlocked a box to expose a VCR that was still recording. She hit the stop button, pulled the tape out and turned the light off.
Christy drew one conclusion. Rene had lost her mind.
* * *
"She said what?" Lorraine asked as she giggled.
"She thinks that I'm blinded by loyalty," Christy replied. "She warned me that I'll get arrested if I stay on your side. According to her, you are involved with your father's racketeering. Hilarious, isn't it?"
Lorraine bent her head down and shook it in disbelief. "Real funny," she said, still grinning.
"You do realize this all stems from her demotion."
"I know. I should have fired her when I had the chance."
She motioned Christy to enter into the house. They began walking through the hallway. Lorraine had not realize how close to the living room they were when the stopped. She handed the video tape to Lorraine. "A present for you," she said to Lorraine.
"Anything interesting?" Lorraine asked.
"I'll let you decide for yourself." Her eyes wondered as Lorraine gazed over the tape. She tilted her head to get a better look at the man in the room.
"Oh my God," she said gasping from surprise. "Is that Philippe?"
If I had known, Lorraine thought, I would have kept Christy at the front door. Christy had a million questions Lorraine wasn't ready to answer. In due time, Lorraine planned to respond to those she felt comfortable with. Right now, it was best to escort Christy to the front door as fast as possible.
"You're seeing Philippe again, and didn't tell me?" Christy asked. "I'm not your best friend, but I thought I had a little clout."
"It's not that big of a deal. Besides, this is the first time I've seen him in two years. I couldn't talk about what I'm unaware of."
Lorraine upheld her gracious manner as she turned Christy around and guided her to the front of the house.
"Don't feel bad. Lori didn't know we were dating either."
"The comment wasn't needed Philippe."
Lorraine and Christy turned to see Philippe with his arms crossed as he leaned against the doorframe. "It's nice to see you again," he said. "You're looking well."
"So are you," Christy replied.
"See you later?"
"I know you will. I would stay, but I see that your time is- spoken for." Christy watched Lorraine's eyes as they traveled toward the front door. Catching the hint, she smiled as she walked to the corridor's end. She turned to Lorraine as the door was opened. "It maybe unimportant, but I think you should know," Christy said. "Rene mentioned some type of evidence she's seen that can prove what you're doing."
"It's about time. I thought she'd never find those papers."
Christy gave a puzzled look. Lorraine returned it with a grin. "Let's keep this to ourselves for a while," she said.
Christy shrugged her shoulders. "If that's what you want," she said.
"It is. I'll call you in the morning."
"Good night Lorraine."
Christy didn't hear the door as it closed. Her thoughts preempted any awareness of the immediate surroundings. She wondered if Lorraine saw the light at last and decidedto go back to Philippe. She began to look forward to what tomorrow would bring. She decided not to press any further about Philippe. She would find out what was going on when the time was right, and when Philippe restarted his scheduled visits to the house. The only call Christy expected in the morning was from Lorraine to inform her of her boss' "one-day illness".
She wasn't one to pry into other people's affairs. In her eyes, Lorraine and Philippe was the ideal couple. Knowing they were reuniting is all that Christy cared to inquire about.
Lori. How she missed hearing Philippe utter that name.
* * *
"She always liked me," Philippe said.
"She likes both of us," Lorraine replied.
"Yes, but I'm her choice when it comes to men for you. By the way, kicking her out wasn't very nice. But, it's expected, I suppose. After all, it's been a long time, and you do want me all to yourself."
Lorraine ignored the smug remark. "Don't you have your nerve telling Christy we are dating again? I haven't decided that I would see you after tonight."
"Only a matter of time. I'll give you a couple of weeks to get your wardrobe together for me."
"Well aren't you the gracious one."
"Watch the sarcasm darling. What's on the tape?"
Lorraine almost forgot the tape that Christy delivered. She re-entered the living room and placed the tape in the player. "Rene has made several detrimental mistakes," Lorraine said. "Her behavior has become peculiar lately. Christy saw her going through offices in search of- something. Last week, I decided to help her along in her quest. Christy was right- I should've fired her."
"All of this started when I demoted her to receptionist. I placed a hidden camera in my office hoping I could find out what she's trying to accomplish. I know she's been in my office at least twice before tonight. Christy walked in on her tonight, too."
"Be careful how you use that tape," Philippe said. "You don't want to face a charge of entrapment."
"That won't happen," she said. "You see, I lock my office door when I leave for the day. If she got hold of a key, she stole it. She entered my office without my authorization. If she didn't use a key, she forced her way in, which is also against the law."
"I don't know if you can say that."
"In any case, she shouldn't be in my office."
Lorraine sat next to Philippe. She picked up the remote control. As the tape played, they watched as Rene moved throughout the office in a near hysterical state. She approached the file cabinet. She struggled to open it until she discovered that it was locked. She rushed to Lorraine's desk and pulled out the drawer. Rene shoved files back and forth until one caught her eye. She pulled out it contents, jammed the papers into her pants pocket, and returned the folder back, and closed the drawer. She continued her search through the desk until she came across a key. To her delight, she opened the file cabinet and resuming her search. It was then that Christy walked in. Lorraine hit the stop button, tossed the remote onto the table, and leaned back into the sofa.
Philippe took Lorraine's hand into his. "Are you all right?" he asked.
She tightened her grip in his hand. "I'm fine," she answered. "She's going through my office. This is a violation."
"You're not going to take this lying down. God help the poor girl."
"Don't waste your pity. She's not worth it. But this will take time. I can't afford a wrongful termination lawsuit."
"I doubt if she would sue you. That's very expensive."
"Or not. I know of lawyers who take cases like that for little money. They get their cut when the case is won.
Her stress level was rising faster than she would confess to. "There's something else," she added. "I can't explain it. It's a feeling I have. This will go past a few stolen papers or firing her."
"I don't see what she can do to hurt you."
"I can't put my finger on it. It's a cold, dark feeling I get every time I see Rene. For now, it's best to say nothing and give her enough rope so she can hang herself."
Philippe stoked Lorraine's hair. He knew better than to believe Lorraine would sit and do nothing. She wouldn't stop until this receptionist suffered total obliteration. He prayed that the worker would have the sense to quit before Lorraine made her life a living hell. "Want to watch a movie?" he asked.
"Can you stay up that late?" she responded. "If I recall correctly, you can't function without eight hours of sleep."
He sneered at her before he reached for the remote and traveled through the cable's infinite amount of channels until he found one adequate to his taste. He bent over allowing his arms to rest on his lap while he viewed the movie. "Is there anything you want to talk about?" he asked as he looked in her direction.
Lorraine was surprised by the question. "There's nothing I can think of," she said. "Do you have something on your mind?"
"Just a simple question. How did you cut your head?"
Her minor injury had slipped her mind. She wasn't prepared to do battle with one of the top lawyers in Los Angeles. She didn't have the strength to deal with a probe about Gene. "This?" she said. "It's nothing."
"I didn't asked what it was," he replied. "I asked how you hurt yourself."
"It's not a big deal. I dropped my fork and hit my head on the table. I've been clumsy lately."
"You're lying to me. From now on, I don't want to hear anything but the truth. All right lady, tell me. How did your hit your head?"