Agnes Dumont, a lab technician in Paris falls for a scientist.
|When we came back to work, Renee was not in her usual station in the laboratory. I saw her coat was gone so I surmised she went out to have lunch. It was not out of the ordinary in her to have lunch outside the laboratory. In fact, with the cafeteria in the first floor, many of the lab workers went downstairs to eat. But with Renee’s coat gone, I decided she had a more formal reason to go for lunch outside of the building.|
I was left at my laboratory by Michael who smiled at me with a special squeeze on my arm with his capable hand before he went back to his work. “I’ll see later,” he said.
“Yes,” I replied, but felt unable to add anything else. I didn’t want to break the spell that was between us. I tried to see if anyone else was witnessing our leave-taking after lunch and nobody was around,
I puttered around the laboratory and decided it was too late to start an experiment that might run through past five o’clock this afternoon. So I made some reagents and felt rather satisfied that these were ready to use whenever anyone wanted them.
It was after three o’clock that Crespo came into the lab. “Renee - I need Renee,” he said peremptorily, bursting into the room with his usual gusty attitude.
“I haven’t seen her since I came back from lunch,” I replied, looking up from my desk.
“I can’t believe it,” he exclaimed.
“Well, believe it. She didn’t leave me a note either.”
“Did she take her coat?”
“Yes, she did,” I nodded.
“Well, she might have decided to take the rest of the day off.”
“Good for her don’t you think?”
“No, it isn’t good for me. Listen, since you’re here,” Crespo decidedly said. “I need to get some of her results. Could you rummage through her lab notebook and find the entries from the last five days of her work? You can scan them in the copy machine and give them to me. I’ll be in my office.” With that he disappeared into the hallway.
I felt reluctant to rummage as he said through Renee’s notebook. It seem too much for me to do, as I respected Renee’s work. I hadn’t had to do that for anyone since I started with Crespo and Hardaway. But, I followed Crespo’s directions and looked for Renee’s notebook.
Renee was a good laboratory technician and her notebooks were very neatly stacked on the top of her desk. I looked for the most recent notebook, It was there right where I would have predicted. I went through it and then took it to the copy machine where I copied several pages of her work. I didn’t see anyone on the way to Crespo’s office.
Crespo was on the phone when I got there. “I’m looking for those now, ah,” Crespo said and then saw me enter his office. “I’ve got the lab notes. Thank you Agnes.”
I said nothing and took the lab notebook back to Renee’s desk.
I sat back in my desk and then I felt rather strange. I couldn’t shake the feeling that there was a Presence in the room. It was so ominous that I had to leave. I went in search of Michael and saw him having a cup of coffee chatting with his colleague. He saw me and got up to talk to me.
“I”m feeling a strangeness - as though a ghost is in my presence,” I told him simply.
“That’s odd. You must be imagining things.”
“No, I’m not.”
“Well, let’s go where you felt this ghost.”
We went back to my laboratory. It was gone. The Presence was gone. “I know I felt this - this - ghost just a few minutes ago.”
Michael sat down on the edge of my desk. “I’m sure it was as you said, but this means you are a very sensitive individual.”
“I’ve never had this happen in my life,” I replied.
“That means it could be that what you were doing made it happen.”
“All I did was take Renee’s notebook to get scanned and made copies of the last five day’s work.”
“Crespo asked for it.”
“Oh, he wanted them?” Michael looked around. “Where is Renee anyway? She’s not here?”
“No,” I drew closer to him as though a grasping motion had tried to come for me from behind. “Oh, Michael, this isn’t good.”
“I’m sorry, this isn’t me. I don’ t know why I’m feeling scared.”
“I’m going to take you home now,”
“No, it will be ok. Just knowing you’re around will make it better.”
He took me in his arms and held me lightly. “I’ll be here. Don’t worry.”
“I’m sorry. This is very strange indeed.”
“I’m wondering whether you are taking medication?”
“I have been. I’ve been seeing a psychiatrist.”
“Yes, after I had a breakup with that horrid Paul, I saw a psychiatrist to get over the breakup.”
Michael rested his chin on my head and smiled. “You see, that might be that you are getting too much of this medication.”
“Well, it’s a low dose. How could it be doing that?”
He looked puzzled. “I don’t know Agnes. I do not know.”
As we kept talking the door opened. It was the Surete officer. “Bon jour. Excusez moi. Looking for Mrs. Renee Beauvoir’s friend, Agnes Dumond.”
I started. “That’s me.”
MIchael stood between me and the officer. “What is the matter?”
“Who are you?” Demanded the officer,
“Well, we have news about Mrs Beauvoir.”
I sensed Michael steel himself. “Go on,” Michael said
“She’s in hospital.”
“What!?!” I gasped.
“I”m so shocked.” I went on. “What do you mean she’s in hospital?”
“She had an accident at precisely one-fifty-seven this afternoon.”
Michael seemed to lose his easy attitude. He looked stern and almost official. “What happened? How did it happen?“
“She was hit by a lorry. A delivery van. Someone saw her cross against the light.”
“Oh, mon Dieu!” I leaned back against the desk. But Renee in hospital was not good news,
“Why would she - “ Michael started and then checked himself. “This is rather a shock.”
“Why are you looking for me?” I ventured.
“She had your name in her purse.”
“My name? What do you. Mean?”
“I mean Mademoiselle, that she had it written in her purse.”
“That is what I want to know,” retorted the officer.
“Ok, then what questions do you have for me?”
“Did you. Know Renee Beauvoir well?”
“We;ve worked together here in this room for over four years. That is about it. She kept to herself. She never spoke much about her personal life. Neither of us shared this sort of thing with each other.”
“Do you know her next of kin?”
“No.” I replied, with a shake of my head. I could tell Michael was watching me.
“This is very difficult.”
“Why don’t you ask her boss?” Michael asked coolly. “I can take you to his office, officer.”
The officer looked rather disturbed by this proposal. “I need to ask Mademoiselle Dumond some more questions but that can wait.”
“Fine, I’ll be here.”
Michael took the officer away to search for Crespo.
When it seemed that it was safe, I decided to go to the cafeteria to find something to drink. The release of stress from that visitor was palpable in my bones. I did not like the way he looked at me. Why would Renee have my name in her purse? And why would she cross the street across the light? These questions swirled in my mind as I went into the lift. There were others in the lift and it seemed as though the news of Renee’s accident had spread for they were conversing about her demise. Someone looked at me and smiled slightly.
“You knew Renee Beauvoir, did you not?” She asked.
“I worked in the same lab, but not very well as a person.”
‘Renee was a loner, was she not?”
“She had her life,” I shrugged and then looked away to tell them I preferred not to discuss anything further.
Ronan came to find me as I was halfway through my coffee. He looked seriously at me. “I think we should visit Renee. Crespo is on his way there. Then,” a smile touched his lips. “We can have our evening together.”