Books written by Ray Sullivan

Monday, 24 December 2012

Parallel Lives chapter 36

That evening, as the Government Jaguar containing Sam Jackson, sat between two silent and bulky Government personnel, left the M62 motorway, having joined it via a variety of back roads and various alternative routes, Jack approached the MD’s office nervously. Oblivious of Sam’s journey, Jack’s thoughts were on the reaction the MD was likely to have regarding the four page fax he was clutching. He was reeling at the speed Alan had moved, not feeling fully prepared for another roasting despite notionally agreeing to the stratagem earlier.
Knocking on the glass pane of the MD’s office he was greeted by the MD, one hand clutching a phone to his right ear, the other waving to indicate Jack should enter. He closed the door behind him and sat in the chair indicated while the boss completed his call, a personal one with a business colleague. Clearly he had calmed down sufficiently to allow Jack to sit, and Jack wondered how long that would last. Within a minute the MD had finished his call and had leant forward on his arms, palms resting down onto the leather edging on his desk writing pad.
‘Jack, I’m glad you’ve called by. I’ve been thinking about our meeting this morning and I believe I was a bit hard on you.’ The MD sat back a little, choosing not to add that he had also consulted the company solicitor and an independent organisation following the meeting, confirming that his and the company’s exposure was low. Jack swallowed as he proffered the rolling fax sheets.
‘You may wish to reconsider again. The message I’ve been getting from the HSE has been reversed, they now think the company has been negligent and are going to call you, me and several company personnel to give evidence at the Coroner’s enquiry a week on Wednesday.’ Jack waited while this sank in, watching the MD’s face draw in, his lips pursing together.
‘What has changed, Jack? Why are we now the bad guys?’ asked the MD, controlling the anger welling up again. He looked to the side of Jack at a wall full of publicity photographs depicting him meeting dignitaries local and national. Jack lay the fax sheets on the desk.
‘I don’t know,’ he lied, ‘it’s just that the messages I was getting implied that they were reasonably content with all we had done, before and since the accident. I think there may be pressure from above to be seen to cover all the angles due to the death. My contact at the HSE hasn’t given me any information, which implies it isn’t his call.’ The MD breathed in deeply before picking up the fax.
‘Who do they want, apart from us two?’ he scanned the pages, not reading the tightly typed words, merely appreciating the formal layout. Jack replied.
‘One of the production managers, two of the maintenance crew and the new guy running stores, Alinson. The MD nodded, placing the document back onto the desk top, parked his anger to one side and switched on his operational head.
‘OK, I’ll get Sandra to clear my diary for the day, although these things don’t usually take too long. I’ll get the company legal expert to prepare a briefing for all involved tomorrow, probably in the afternoon. I doubt if I can raise him tonight. Can you get the others to attend?’ Jack shook his head.
‘Most. One’s off sick at the moment and I can’t raise him at home. He might be in hospital, he was seeing a psychiatric doctor a few days a go. I’ll try and get some info from the hospital in the morning.’ The MD nodded, then added.
‘Good. You might not get a lot of information from the hospital, they’re not usually too forthcoming about their patients, for good ethical reasons I expect. I presume we’re talking about the local hospital?’ Jack nodded. The MD continued, ‘I expect you know I’m a trustee of the hospital. Any problems, see me and I’ll use my contacts. I want to make sure we have the best chance of preparing for this enquiry, and not fielding all required personnel isn’t the way to win hearts and minds.’ With that the MD picked up the phone, which signalled to Jack that he was finished for the time being. Picking up the fax sheets, Jack stood up and paused. Lying didn’t come too easily to Jack yet he was starting to make a habit of it at present, all for the best reasons he believed, but he was certain that in the end the truth would out. For a moment he considered sitting right back down and starting at the beginning, but deep down he knew it would be a waste of time. The MD looked back up, more aware that he hadn’t heard the door open and close than of Jack still standing there.
‘Was there anything else, Jack’, he asked, ‘because I reckon we’ve both got busy days tomorrow. I suggest you clear anything on your desk that needs sorting now, and then push off home, sharpen the blade so to speak.’ He produced a wan, insincere smile that said, ‘now leave before I’m forced to throw you out.’ Jack nodded, turned and left.


Copyright Ray Sullivan 2011

The characters, places and events described in this novel are fictitious and any resemblance to persons, places or events, past or present, is coincidence.  All rights reserved

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