RIF (#4 of N)

Just about the time Scofield was thinking of walking out and dumping the whole business, he heard the sound of a cart coming down the corridor. He looked, and saw a young man bringing what he could only guess was a PC of some unknown brand, the ‘workstation’ he had been expecting.

“Scofield, J-7? right? This setup is here for you,” said the fellow, who looked and sounded like “Desktop Support” was his chosen line of work.

“Yes. I’m Jim. Your name?”

“I’m just an outside contractor, here for the day. Call me Jay if you like. I’m her to set this up for you.”

“OK, Jay. Well, I’ll get out of your way and head to lunch, then.”


Not the talkative type, Scofield thought.

Jim got up from his chair, and retraced his steps, all the way back to his car. He got in, drove the short distance to the closest Dunkin’ Donuts, and bought a coffee and a muffin. He sat down to contemplate the whole crazy business.

While he was sipping his coffee, Scofield spotted the facade of the big, old 19th-century public library building. He wondered if it might be open, and then realized, of course it would. On a whim, he decided to burn up a few minutes of his break with a little quick and dirty-style research on their Internet PC’s.


He first searched for mentions of Kronsys as covered by the local news media. There weren’t any, at least not since the building had gone in, a dozen years ago. Next, he searched for hits on his ex-boss and ex-colleagues. He knew, for instance, that Bob had competed in bridge tournaments, and that Skip was fond of get-togethers for tasting freshly made craft beers. And, come to think of it, hadn’t Jon submitted — successfully — a technical paper for a recent Statistical Signal Processing Workshop put on by IEEE? About waveform transformations or something?

It took a few minutes, but he did find a couple of likely-looking e-mail addresses for his colleagues. He fired off a quick “Hi from Jim, I’m back” to each of them before logging off (after checking to erase his browser history) and returning to Kronsys.


The reminder of the day was nearly as tedious as the morning had been. His workstation, that nondescript, no-label PC, was up and running as he sat down. And, glory be! There was an Excel file of the call log records. That much was a relief.

There was also a phone on his desk. It appeared, however, to be unpowered and unconnected.  The whole shebang still felt so alienating and impersonal.

Scofield worked until it was nearly 5:00, poking around the seemingly endless rows of call data, still without finding anything that seemed like a pattern. At the stroke of 5:00, in walked Severin again; he noted that he was still here, and suggested that he would see Scofield tomorrow.

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