The permanent temp

Chapter 4

Rose climbed the steps to her floor and let herself in, opting to throw the holdall onto her bed before facing her mother. John had watched her walk off, feeling sad and determined he was going to see her again. She could have gone anywhere in the block of flats she’d walked towards he supposed but he hadn’t wanted to let her go. Why had he been so stupid and bring up about him meeting her mother? What kind of idiot did such a thing when he was only seeing her home? Now though, she might not want to see him again but he had to give it a try.

Rose now had to face her mother, who once she had heard the door open, was stood with her arms folded and waited for an explanation of what she’d just seen on the late news.

“So, that went down well then? It was all over the news. What happened Rose? They’re saying that device he was going to use exploded and there were several casualties. Do you know I was worried sick that you were one of them? Why didn’t you call me?”

With that, Jackie closed the gap and pulled Rose into a hug.

“I’m fine mum, honestly.”

“Did you get a taxi home?”

“No, Martha brought a friend with her, he dropped me off just now.”

“Who was that then?”

Rose didn’t want to go into details. “I just know his name’s John, she didn’t say much else.”

“Why didn’t Martha bring you back? I’ve not seen her for a while and what do you mean he dropped you off?”

“Just leave it mum, I’m tired.”

“Well it looks like you’re out of a job again, what’s Donna going to say this time? It was bad enough in that department store’s basement and those dummies.”

“Mum, it’s been on the news, she’ll know it wasn’t my fault. Technically, I’d say it was hers for sending me there. I’m off to bed, then I have to go back and see the agency in the morning. No doubt Donna will want to interrogate me over it.”

Martha had driven home, wondering how she’d managed to get caught up in all that. She’d seen it as a chance to see John out of the hospital and hoped she might get a proper date out of it but she should have known, Rose had her eye on him even though she’d not said anything about it. She decided she would go confront him tomorrow, casually stop by his office and ask if he wanted to go catch a film after work or maybe a drink to talk about the events that had just taken place.

She also wanted to know why he’d baled out of facing questions about what had happened in the cathedral, she’d taken ages to get away then she’d had to give all her details and why she was even there in the first place, John had just got away with it and so had Rose and Rose had been the one to invite her.

The next morning, Rose delayed as much as she could making the journey to the Noble Temp Agency and hoped Donna was having a day off. John though had called his cousin as soon as he’d got to his office, just before nine.

“What do you want spaceman?” his cousin greeted him.

“Hi Donna. Did you watch TV last night?”

“Of course I did. You called me up to ask dumb questions? Duh.”

“No, I mean the news, what happened last night.”

“Don’t you talk to me about that, it was a disaster and one of my temps was there. I’ll be lucky to get paid for that job. Honestly, I can’t send that girl anywhere, no matter where she goes, there’s bound to be trouble, I don’t know what it is with her. A while back, I sent her to this store and she claimed shop window dummies came to life then minutes later, the place went and blew up. I mean come on, it had to be students who severed a gas main or something.”

“Donna, I was there last night, with Martha,” he said with a serious tone.

Donna laughed. She knew the medical student had the hots for her hapless cousin though what women saw him in, she didn’t have a clue. He was a skinny boy in a suit, a long streak of nothing but something about the way he waggled his eyebrows and flicked his out of control hair made them swoon. It was a shame it hadn’t worked on that stuck up French head nurse. John had never been the same since she left him.

“So go on then Einstein, what were you doing there? How did Martha get an invite?”

He was about to say from Rose but thought he’d better keep her out of it, poor Rose was already in the firing line.

“I don’t know, I never asked but I think I might have met your temp, is she a friend of Martha’s?”

“Yeah, I think so. She’d better not have invited Martha, or you for that matter.”

“No, I don’t think so, Martha was surprised to see her. ’Erm, Donna, I need a new secretary. Emma doesn’t have appeared to have turned up for work this morning.”

“I wonder why, spaceman. Well you can’t blame me, she’s not one of my temps. I’ll have a look, see who’s qualified then. When do you want someone to start?”

“Tomorrow? I’ll see if she turns up first, she might just be late but I think she’s considering leaving anyway.”

“Can’t really say I blame her. Ok, expect someone first thing tomorrow and don’t think you’re getting a discount either, I have a business to run and a certain temp isn’t helping.”

“Well actually Donna, I knew she was a out of a job, since I was there when it all went wrong and I was thinking, maybe you could send her?”

“Don’t make me laugh John, Rose Tyler is no secretary, trust me.”

“That’s not fair and I don’t need anyone who can use a computer or do filing. I need someone who can understand my computer system.”

“No wonder your current secretary’s quit then. How many’s that?”

“Recently? What? Never mind. Can you send Rose?”

“You know her name then?”

“Well yeah, Martha introduced me. Please Donna, I know she’s not a secretary but I saw what happened last night, that was not her fault.”

“She was there, that’s enough.”

John went quiet. “Please Donna, just for me?”

“Oh ok, keep your knickers on, I’ll send Rose but don’t say I didn’t warn you cousin.”

“Thanks Donna and do me a favour. Don’t tell her I asked for her or that I’m your cousin.”

“She’ll find out it’s you when she gets there dumbo.”

“Well yeah but I don’t want her to think I asked for her.”

“Why not?”

“Well, something else happened and I took her home.”

“Aw, spaceman’s in love.”

“Shut up Donna. After she saw what happened to Lazarus, she was upset.”

“What happened to him?”

“He made himself young but he was injured, oh never mind, I just offered to give her a ride home, she knew she was out of a job.”

John knew there was no need for anyone but the three of them to know what had really happened.

“So you felt sorry for her? Well the spaceman has a heart. I thought you’d lost it when that French nurse of yours left you?”

“Leave Reinette out of it Donna, she left me, she’s hardly likely to come back. That’s what you get, for trusting someone you work with, they all leave in the end.”

“Sorry – spaceman. So if I send Rose around in the morning, not telling her you asked for her personally, you’re not interested in her?”

John remained silent. “I don’t know Donna, I just figured I owed her after what happened last night.”

“Ok, I’ll send her, don’t blame me if you end up getting your heart broken again.”

“Thanks Donna. I told her where I worked though, she might guess so can you deny you know me then?”

“That will be my pleasure – dumbo. Sometimes I don’t think I know you at all John. When are you coming round to see grandad?”

“I’ll be round on Sunday, promise.”

“You’d better, I’ll tell mum to fatten you up with her famous Sunday lunch then. Shall I tell her you’ll be bringing someone with you?”

“No, why should I be bringing someone with me Donna?”

“Rose perhaps?”

“Donna, I’m just offering her a job, that’s all.”

“Whatever you say, you skinny boy in a suit. Now, I have work to do.”

“Yeah, thanks Donna. Looks like Emma’s decided to give it a miss today.”

“I can send Rose when she turns up here, if you want?”

“Nah, best leave it until tomorrow, she might not be over last night yet. Besides, I don’t want her to think I’ve taken pity on her.”

“Duh, you have taken pity on her.”

“Well I don’t want her to know that, do I?”

“Please yourself. See you on Sunday then – with Rose.”

Donna ended the call and laughed to herself. Who would have thought it? Rose Tyler and her hapless ditzy cousin who didn’t have a clue about women. She’d really felt bad for him when that stuck-up Reinette had taken that job but considering they only hung around the hospital together and hardly ever went anywhere else, it was hardly surprising on her part. Now if he’d shown her the sights of London, taken her to posh restaurants and showed her a bit more attention in the romance department, he might well have stood a chance. Still, no wonder he was trying to avoid this Martha, if they worked in the same hospital, she supposed it was Déjà vu.

Rose was on her way to the agency and on her arrival, the receptionist, Kathy, told her to take a seat, not really surprised to see her back and it was only Thursday. Three days was the tops Rose kept a job but Miss Noble had just rung through to say when she arrived, she was to be sent in.

Rose felt like she was being summoned to the principle’s office to be told off for not trying hard enough at school which she supposed was a reasonable comparison. She’d let down the agency again and was surprised how she kept getting paid. She knew being a temp was no proper career, most of her friends had steady jobs but no, not her. All that time wasted skipping school for a loser guitar player and ending up broke and with that other loser Mickey Smith, whom she’d not seen for the last week, thankfully.

“Miss Tyler, you can go in now,” Kathy informed her.

Rose gathered her thoughts and her purse and managed a weak smile.

“Good luck,” Kathy smiled back. She felt sorry for the poor girl.

“Morning Rose, no need to ask how last night went then?” Donna smirked, shuffling folders around on the desk and bringing Rose’s out, not that she needed to really find it, it was the thickest one on there, she could have found it blindfolded.

“I know, I don’t need a lecture if it’s all the same, Miss Noble. You’re gonna tell me you can no longer keep me on your books, that I’m a liability and I needn’t think I’m gonna get paid for the last few days.”

“No, just the opposite actually. Lazarus laboratories just made a bank deposit, you’ll be paid accordingly tomorrow. Lucky you. They say on the news there was a tragic accident and the place has been closed down and all outstanding accounts have been paid by the receivers, that’s why you’ve been paid, plus I think they were a bit embarrassed, I mean come on, it had to be a joke, right? A machine that can make you younger? A jar of night cream can do that.”

“Yeah, well he looked a bit different when he came out of that machine, trust me.”

“Oh come on Rose, he was in there putting make-up on to fool everyone. The device wasn’t really spinning, it just looked like it was, it stayed still, a make-up artist was in there and they slipped out while the attention was on him.”

“If that’s what they say. So, I’m still on your books then?” Rose asked hopefully.

“What do you think? We still have vacancies to fill, not everyone goes through several jobs a week Rose. One just came in half an hour ago, it may be your thing, seems this bloke in a hospital needs a secretary, he doesn’t want anyone who can use a computer, says he has his own system. You should be able to handle that.”

“Ok, where is it then?”

“The Royal Hope and before you say anything, no, it’s not the A & E department though why you’d think a load of students dressed up as robots posed a threat, I don’t know. No, it’s some mad professor who treats the deluded or something. Here’s the details.”

Donna took the card she’d scribbled John’s details on. Rose stared at it. It read ‘John Smith Psy.D, BSC, Ph.D– Royal Hope Hospital.’ She wondered if it was the same John as last night. Her heart leapt. No, it couldn’t be, could it?

“So, who is he then? What’s those fancy letters after his name?”

She couldn’t tell Donna she thought it was the same bloke who had stopped the professor’s device blowing up last night, nothing had been on the news about the real events, it had all been covered up, thankfully.

“How would I know? He just made a point of spelling them out to me, I think he was trying to make himself sound important if you ask me. Just go to the main reception in the morning and show them the card, they’ll find him I expect, can’t be that many blokes with those letters after their names there.”

The card gave no other details, Rose was no wiser when she left Donna’s office but at least she wasn’t out of work or out of pocket. She put the card in her pocket and went outside, it was raining, just for a change. She went into a nearby coffee shop and had just sat down after treating herself to a vanilla latte in a paper cup, not a posh white crockery one that her mother called a soup bowl when her phone rang. It was Martha.

“Hey Martha, sorry about last night, going off like that but John was giving me a ride home.”

“Yeah, it’s him I’m mad at, not you, leaving me to answer all the questions by that officer. I had to tell them he was like that when we found him and we’d only gone with you because you were concerned when he’d gone in that ambulance. So, how did your boss take it?”

“Ok, at least she didn’t fire me. She’s sending me to some doctor’s office tomorrow morning, at your hospital.”

“Oh, who’s that then?”

Rose didn’t want to let on she suspected it was John but how could it be? He probably already had a perfectly good secretary and she didn’t do secretarial work as such, just temping such as making coffee and running errands. That was all they seemed to think a temp should be doing, that and filing your fingernails and chewing gum, she did neither and often got scowled at by the other temps.

“Oh, some bloke with fancy letters after his name, it’s on the card. I’ll find out when I get there.”

“It might be John,” Martha offered, hoping not.

Martha had not had the chance to drop by his office yet and it was approaching lunchtime, she’d see if he was in the staff canteen and see if he took Rose to her door or just dropped her off, hoping it was the latter. Why exactly would John be interested in a temp when she herself was a medical student? At least she had more in common with him than Rose had.

Rose detected the tone in her friend’s voice but shook it off. It sounded like jealousy but why would Martha see her as a threat towards John?

John tried to muddle through the day, he only had four patients to see anyway. He avoided Martha successfully by going to the main cafeteria and taking something back to his office, he was in no frame of mind to be questioned if he took Rose to her door or dropped her off and what business was it of Martha’s anyway? He was surprised she’d not paid a visit to his office on some pretence or another but he wished she wouldn’t pay so much attention to him, he was going to have to say something to her sooner or later, she’d be sure to find out he’d asked for Rose to be his new secretary, temporarily or not.

The next morning, Rose was up early, getting ready for what was hopefully going to last longer than three days being a temp.

“So what’s this new job then?” her mother asked, curled up on the sofa in her pink dressing gown, a cup of tea in one hand and the portable phone in the other and watching the morning chat show that had some Scottish actor Rose thought was cute on it going on about his latest role.

“I don’t know, someone with fancy letters after his name, it’s not usually Donna’s type of thing really. Why did she give it to me?”

“You’re lucky you’re still with the agency after the other night young lady. Don’t be late then.”

John had arrived early, pulling into his reserved parking spot which for a change someone had not already parked their Jag in and he’d had to scribble a note saying theirs was the next one and would they kindly take notice next time as the one left vacant was next to a wall and gave very little room to get out, which was why they probably did it. Maybe he’d be five minutes early every morning from now on. He stopped by the main reception and spoke to a fair haired girl, with the name badge ‘Chelsea’ pinned to her jacket lapel.

Chelsea had a bit of a crush on the rather dishy Doctor Smith and always felt faint if he called ‘morning’ in her direction.

“Good morning, ’erm, Chelsea. Listen, some temp from one of the agencies will be coming in shortly, give her directions to my office will you? Thanks.”

“Sure Doctor Smith, anything for you,” she smiled, getting her a scowl from the older woman who was trying to answer two phones at once while the younger woman was flirting with the skinny consultant who needed a haircut.

John winked at her and headed towards his office, hoping Martha wasn’t doing the rounds with Mr Stoker, who kept on talking about retiring to Florida but was still there six months later. Rose got off the bus and stared at the hospital entrance. She’d been here before and wasn’t so sure about coming back and hoping no-one remembered her for walking out.

After getting a stare and general directions to go to the first floor and follow the yellow line until it became a green one, then take a left and it was the second door on the right and she was doing her best to remember, she found the right corridor that had a blue sign with loads of different departments then spotted one for psychology and she stood for a moment.

No, surely there was more than one physiologist in the hospital called John Smith but she knew that was fairly unlikely. She’d told him she worked for an agency but not given the name of it, why would he have rung Donna’s unless he’d asked Martha and that was as unlikely as having two John Smith’s in the hospital. She stood, getting up the courage to knock on the door, there was a sign that said the department name and to enter upon arrival.

She turned the handle on the door and looked inside, finding no-one sitting at the desk but another door was open and there sat John, the man who had rescued her more than once the other night and taken her home and whom she thought she would never see again. He heard the door opening and saw Rose standing there so he got up and came towards her.

“Hello Rose.”

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