Ghosting

©2018 by Tom Sparough

Ghosting

Sitting at the hotel bar by himself Gene noticed Lee Ann working on her computer at a nearby table.

“Can I buy you a beer?”

She answered, “No, but I’ll take a scotch and soda.” She had nursed her way through a rum and Coke, just giving her the edge she needed to finish her report. She knew she didn’t want any more caffeine.

It turned out to be a blessing in disguise that Gene’s wedding ring was at the jewelers for repair. He told her he was recently divorced. She told him she had never been married because she was always too busy at work.

Gene thought that Lee Ann had the most joyful laugh.

One drink later, they went their separate ways. In the morning, though, they saw each other at breakfast and exchanged emails and phone numbers.

Gene, of course, only gave her his office information.

They met three other times before they became lovers.

A couple months after that, Gene received an email from Lee Ann that she had been diagnosed with breast cancer. She wrote, “You are the rock to keep me stable. You are the person who brings me joy and hope.”

It was too much for Gene. He thought it prudent not to respond to the note. So he ghosted her.

There were other emails, a series of texts, and five voicemail messages. Gene did not send or answer any of them. Then the relationship died, or at least one member of it, painfully quick over the course of 13 months. He had no idea.

Just after the passing, Gene was stamping a few letters using the office machine. Although there was a rule against using this machine for personal mail, Gene was careful to mix his business mail in with his personal letters.

As he stamped the birthday card to his sister, Lee Ann came into the room. She was wearing a flowing white dress, and her long black hair was out of control in just the way Gene liked it.

She caught Gene’s eyes, raised her eyebrows, and strutted out of the office.

Gene normally loved this kind of attention, and he was excited, because she looked good, but co-workers might have seen what just happened. “She shouldn’t have come to my office,” he thought, “even if she is feeling better.”

Yet he hoped he would see her again soon.

It was just the next week and Gene was doing something that he did about once a month. He was taking a hooker to dinner. This month her name was Polly Ann.

For Gene, the best part was that he had devised a way to expense the dinner. She was a potential client. The dinner would be reimbursed by his company, and because he was taking her to dinner, Polly Ann was giving him a 10% discount on her services.

She had stepped away to smoke a cigarette when Lee Ann walked over to the table and sat down in Polly Ann’s seat.

Lee Ann put her finger to her lips and then pointed at him. “Don’t say a word. Just listen. I want you to know that I have been watching you. Following you. I’ve got my eye on you, but don’t worry, I’ll be business discreet.”

With that she got up and playfully tiptoed out of the restaurant.

Gene was so perplexed he didn’t even order dessert. He had his way with Polly Ann in the back of his car and went home to his wife.

The next day Gene was in the restroom at the office. He did a little trick that he enjoyed, which was to urinate a tiny bit on the floor in front of the urinal that he knew his boss always used. It gave him a chuckle.

Laughter rose up in that marbled bathroom from one of the stalls. It was Lee Ann’s laugh, sheer delight. Gene had that sound embedded in his head after their nights together.

He zipped up, and turned toward the stalls. There was the laughter again, muffled this time.

His mind buzzed. Afternoon delight. In the men’s room. While he was on the clock. This was a good day. Crazy. But good.

Gene opened one of the stall doors. No one was there.

No one was in any of the stalls. Gene was alone and walked out of the washroom disappointed.

The next week, he was coming back from the office at 11:30 at night. He was exhausted, but had a sense of accomplishment. Once again he would be the top salesman of the company.

He had gotten into the sales program on his boss’ computer. Once in, he used his ingenious method of adjusting the sales numbers by never more than a half of percent. He knew the report summary used whole numbers and rounded up and down.

He took .2 from Bob, and .4 from Lashonda, .4 from Larry, and so on and so forth, and added them to his numbers. His fellow sales staff never had their whole numbers changed, but they lost a percentage here and there, and all that they lost was his gain.

This self-made sales winner had just turned on to Ravine Street when he heard a little rustling in the back of his car. A hand came out of nowhere and touched his shoulder.

Gene screamed and swerved the car on to the shoulder of the road.

Lee Ann laughed. She managed to pull herself between the seats to get into the passenger seat. “Did you miss me?”

Gene managed to straighten out the car. He said, “Oh my God, you are crazy. You nearly scared me half to death.”

She said, “Sorry, but I really did want to see you again!”

Lee Ann moved toward him, kissed his neck and nibbled at his ear.

“Should I pull over?”

“No, I just want you to know that I did love you, and I think I still love you, but I am here to tell you that your time is up. You have come to the end of the road and look what it’s gotten you.”

The car missed the turn and went through the edge of the guardrail and plunged into the ravine crashing into an oak tree. There were no survivors.

Lee Ann effortlessly exited through the broken window, but then leaned back into the car. “Sweetie, now you will be able to see everything clearly, but I am afraid I won’t be able to see you anymore.”

Of course, Gene never responded.

Reflection

If a person is cheating on his or her spouse, it is a good bet they will be cheating the company as well. If a person complains to you about everyone he or she knows, chances are that person complains about you as well. After all, you get what you see. Looking for a person of integrity is easy to spot over the long haul. Little things make up a breadcrumb trail to the big things.

What were the obvious signs that Gene was not a person of integrity?

What things have you noticed in people you work with that show them to be people of integrity?