Threatening 24

Chapter 2

Chapter Two

I cued up the Songza app on my phone, plugged in my headphones, and opened up the Jay Technologies file. I rely heavily on music and coffee when I work at Rangeman. My desk is located in a nook off the back of the control room. The quiet and dim lights necessary for the monitoring stations on the floor tend to get to you after a while and I have been known to fall asleep periodically. The three cups of coffee I had before I got to my desk left my hands shaking and my heart pumping far too fast. However, I was awake and ready to work to the sounds of the upbeat workout music.

Jay Technologies was considering hiring four applicants, one in the engineering department, one as the accounts payable clerk, one as a receptionist, and one as a line worker. My job was to search the background of each of those applicants to determine if they would be safe hires. The potential receptionist looked pretty standard. A single mother with two young children and no past record or driving infractions. Her ex-husband also had no known priors and no financial concerns. The potential line worker was a married male, young, with one child. A sealed juvenile record but no criminal history as an adult. The potential accounts payable clerk looked to be a safe. There were no outstanding arrest warrants, no driving infractions, his past was wiped clean. The potential engineer was a flyer. She was one of those extremely successful women. Although quite young, she had achieved much in her school career, winning several engineering awards. I looked further but could not find anything more than massive school debt in her background.

I gathered up the files. As I prepared my report for Tank, I looked again at the potential accounts payable clerk, Nigel Lundel. Something seemed hinky with the man. I could not put my finger on it, but I decided to look into it further before I finalized my report. Something was just niggling at me.

I redid the search, pulling up arrest warrants, traffic violations, and deed searches. Nothing. I creeped through Facebook and LinkedIn and finally got a hit. On his feed, I found the names of three companies he had worked for that he had not reported to Jay Technologies. I phoned the first company for a reference and spoke to the head of HR, explaining who I was and why I was calling.

"Hiring Nigel Lundel would be a bad choice and would bring nothing but heartache. He seemed nice and normal when we hired him, but he quickly turned weird, dangerous. He was eventually dismissed due to suspicions of fraud."

"Was he ever convicted?"

"No. It never went to court. The case was dependent upon one testimony in particular and that person recanted their testimony three days before the case was due in court. Scuttlebutt around the water cooler said that Lundel had threatened the witness with torture and death of her family members."

"Do you think he would do it?"

"Yes. The idea of him torturing and killing family members does not seem farfetched. I would strongly recommend the company you represent does not hire Lundel."

I called the two remaining companies and heard the same information – he was charged with fraud but the charges were dropped when the witnesses recanted their statements. In each case the witnesses reported off the record that death threats were made to both their families as well as themselves. And each company said the same thing – he seems like a nice guy until you get to know him, and then you just think he is dangerous and unbalanced. With my recent past I understood how someone who is unbalanced can rock your world and I did not want it to happen to the nice people at Jay Technologies. I wrote details on each of the phone conversations in my report to Tank, then went to drop it on his desk. He was working on the computer.

"The gun looks good on you, Steph. It is nice to see you dressed for the office again", said Tank.

"Yeah, well, I'm still not comfortable wearing it."

"You will get there. Give yourself some time. It has only been three weeks. Have you been to the range recently?"

"No, but apparently Ranger is dragging me there this afternoon."

"Good. You need to stop fearing the gun. It is just another tool you have at your disposal to help you in your job. That's all it is."

"It's a pretty friggin' scary tool", I muttered as I walked back to the break room for a coffee. My hands had stopped shaking and I needed another caffeine boost. I ran into Hal in the break room. Nicknamed Halosaurus, he is as big as a dinosaur and as loyal as a dog. I met Hal a few years ago when he first started working for Ranger and have worked with him several times since including a one-week stint where he acted as my bodyguard.

"Are you talking to yourself, Steph?"

"That's me", I said with a sigh.

"What are you talking about?"

"My hatred of guns."

"Hey, at least it isn't in your cookie jar." It's true. I hate guns so much that when I am not working at Rangeman I generally keep mine in my cookie jar at home. It makes it seem less scary to think it is somewhere as warm and fuzzy as a cookie jar. And it's not like I keep actual cookies in the jar. Cookies don't last long enough in my apartment to make it into the jar. They go straight from the store to my home to my stomach, and if I am really desperate for a sugar fix I skip the step of taking them home.

I poured myself a coffee and grabbed a yogurt parfait, the closest thing to happy food I could find. Ranger does a lot of things right in his company, but his lack of dessert is a definite negative. He thinks of it as devil's food. I think of it as having mood enhancing properties. We always have, and always will, differ in our outlook on eating.

I opened up the file from Ranger and started researching the company and employees of PXM Health Care. I spent the rest of the morning researching and printing off employee and company backgrounds. As I went through the material, I tried to see if anything caught my eye as needing further research. Besides one drug trafficking charge and one possession charge for one of the employees – worrisome as the company manufactures a variety of different drugs – there was nothing I could find to highlight. I walked my file into Ranger's office and dropped it on his desk. My morning was completed and I was ready to go work for Vinnie for the afternoon.

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