Widow

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Chapter 32

Peggy and Ken arrived at the bank shortly before 10:00. Ken decided to walk in first. He looked around. Because he didn’t see Ralph, he came back out with a huge smile on his face. Once she saw Ken’s smile, Peggy was certain Ralph was not inside. She got out of her car and walked in with Ken at her side.

Ken decided to stay around in the bank lobby for a few minutes. Soon he watched Miss Walsh arrive with a white envelope in her hand. She walked in to Mr. Johnson’s office, handed him the envelope and left.

Peggy felt secure after a few minutes. She insisted Ken to go back to work. He promised to return for the lunch date with Homer Tarrance.

Around 11:30, Mr. Johnson’s assistant placed a notice on the bulletin board. As the employees went up to read it there were several not so silent cheers heard around the Bank.

As soon as Peggy’s teller window line emptied, she walked to the bulletin board:

Notice

For personal reasons, Mr. Ralph Tarrance has resigned his position as Vice President of the Hamilton Bank, effective immediately. We all wish Ralph the best of luck in his new endeavors.

Henry Johnson, President

A minute later, she called Ken.

“Guess what?”

“What?”

“Ralph Tarrance has resigned, effective immediately…. . Oh, he left for personal reasons.”

“Why am I not surprised? Thanks for that wonderful news! I’ll see you for lunch in about 30 minutes.”

Homer Tarrance took them to the University Club for lunch. The lush carpet made the atmosphere pleasantly hushed. They took a table way off in a corner where they would not be overheard.

Peggy began with some small talk. “I’m glad to finally meet you Mr. Tarrance, my mom often talks about you.”

“Your mother knows me? I’m not sure I recall anyone named Waldren.”

“Waldren’s my married name. My mother’s name is Margo Mitchell.”

“Oh, Margo! Of course, I know your mother well. My late wife and I were on several church committees with your parents. As I recall, your mother is an especially attractive woman. How is she and how is your father?”

“My father passed away several years ago. But Mom’s still as attractive as ever.”

“Peggy, I’m so sorry. I didn’t know of your father’s passing…… Has your mother adjusted her social life, or is she as lonely as I am?”

“She seems to get along pretty well. But, I’m sure she has some empty moments.”

“If you would give me her phone number, I could call. Perhaps we could renew our friendship.”

“Mother’s number is 318 246 7952. I’m sure she’d appreciate a call from you.”

Mr. Tarrance noted the number into his cell phone. Next, he suggested, “Why don’t we order lunch, and then get down to business.”

As he said this, he returned the cassette and the recorder to Ken.

After they ordered, Homer asked, “Has Ralph’s resignation been announced?”

Peggy replied, “Yes it has. Mr. Johnson posted a notice a few minutes ago. It said for personal reasons Ralph has resigned and we wish him well in his new endeavors. I hate to tell you this, Mr. Tarrance, but there were many happy employees at the Bank after the notice appeared. Your son seems to have a knack for offending almost every person he contacts.”

Homer took a deep breath and then began his tale. “I’m so grateful to you both for the discretion you have used in dealing with this matter. As of now, there are only four people who know of this incident. You two, of course, plus Ralph and myself. I’d be deeply grateful to you if we could keep it limited to four.”

Ken offered, “If it leaks out, you can rest assured it won’t come from us, will it Peggy?”

“Absolutely not.”

“Thank you. Because you’ve been so kind, I want to share with you The Rest of the Story as the newscaster says. A pause occurred, while Homer prepared his thoughts.

After a while he began, “Ralph is actually not a blood relation to me. My first wife died of cancer several years after we were married. There were no children from our union.

“A few years later I met Ralph’s mother, Betty, who became my second wife. Ralph was under two years old at the time. His father was . . . well who knows? So, having no children of my own, I decided to legally adopt Ralph, which I subsequently did.

“Betty was happy of course. Overall, our marriage went well, except for Ralph. He’s always been a problem. I don’t have to tell you how obnoxious he can be. I can also share that his conduct is nothing new. He’s always reflected his despicable attitude toward other people to some degree.

“After Betty died, which is five years ago now, Ralph became even worse. I guess we spoiled him too much. We gave him every opportunity, the best schools, and every possible advantage.

“In plain English, he can’t get over the feeling that people are objects to be used as he wishes. You know, I’ve built my entire career helping people and teaching people to grow and learn. It makes me extremely sad that I have failed so miserably with Ralph.

“I don’t know whether you are aware of it or not, but one of the businesses I own is the Hamilton Salvage Company. You’ve probably seen our trucks around town picking up both commercial and residential trash.

“Tomorrow, Ralph’s going to start work out there. He starts at 5:30 in the morning. He’s going to start at the bottom, which means he will be picking up trash. I told him he would stay on the truck until he learns to treat people with kindness and respect.”

“You made him a garbage man?” Peggy gasped.

An astonished Ken chipped in, “How’d you get him to agree to that?”

“The answer to Ken’s question is the last part of the story. I’m only sharing this with you because I feel it’s necessary. I know I can count on you both to keep it confidential.”

“The last time I revised my will, I decided to give most of my estate to the University and some other charities. I did however; reserve a 10% share for Ralph.

“I told him today, if he fails to report to work tomorrow, I’ll change my will. It’ll cost him, big time. Ralph has a lot going against him. But, he’s not stupid. I think he’ll show up.”

Next, he reached into his pocket and produced a calling card, handing to Peggy.

“I told Ralph I was going to give you this card, Peggy. I told him if he ever comes within speaking distance of you, all you have to do is call me and I’ll change my will. On the basis of the power you now hold over him, I sincerely think if he sees you, he will literally run the other way.”

Peggy’s face broke into a huge smile. She got up, walked over to Mr. Tarrance giving him a big hug. She said, “Ralph has frightened me terribly. What you have done to resolve this matter is a great relief. You can trust us; we will keep your secrets.”

After she sat back down, Homer added, “There’s only one thing wrong with the way this worked out.”

“Oh?”

“You and Ken didn’t get to see Ralph this morning. He walked into my office all bent over. The shiner he has will be with him at least a month. What did you hit him with Peggy? He looked as if he’d gone three rounds with a grizzly bear!”

Peggy blushed like mad. “My Father made me learn to box. He taught me if I was ever in trouble to hit as hard as I could. After I gave him ‘the knee’ his hands dropped to his groin, leaving his face undefended….. A straight right can be a very effective weapon.”

“You did exactly right, Peggy. If anyone needed a good whipping, it’s Ralph. I thank you. I can only hope you pounded some sense into him. Lord knows, I’ve been unable to do it, no matter how hard I’ve tried.”

For some reason Peggy’s guilty conscience took over. “You’ve been so nice…. . I feel I have to share one part of the story I’ve kept hidden, even from Ken.”

“Oh?”

“When Ralph was lying there moaning in the parking lot and I was safe back in my car, I was still smoking mad. I grabbed two raw eggs and tossed them at him. Direct hits! I’m sure one egg landed in his precious long hair! That was really terrible of me wasn’t it?”

Peggy looked at Ken. His chin dropped about a foot. Then she looked at Mr. Tarrance. He was trying not to laugh. Then he gave up and let out a major guffaw. Ken began laughing too. Finally, Peggy joined them. They laughed so hard every one was gasping for breath. Peggy decided she hadn’t been so terrible after all.

As they were leaving the University Club, Homer Tarrance turned to Peggy.

“I did learn one thing from this lunch. I now understand why Ralph is so smitten with you. You are an intensely attractive, intelligent woman. If I were a younger man, Ken, I promise you’d have some serious competition.”

As the two men laughed, Peggy felt her face turning red again.

Homer added, “Oh Ken, if I can give you a little advice. Don’t get Peggy mad at you! Judging by the way Ralph looked this morning; the consequences can be extremely severe!”

Now they really laughed at a flaming red Peggy!


A few hours after Peggy returned from lunch, Mr. Johnson came to her window motioning for her to follow him into his private office.

I wonder what I did now, Peggy thought, as she sank quietly into the chair opposite Mr. Johnson’s desk.

“Peggy,” Mr. Johnson began, “I’m going to be direct with you. I expect you to use digression in how you share this information. For some reason Ralph Tarrance resigned this morning, without notice. Frankly, I’m not the least bit sorry. He seemed to make enemies left and right. I knew it. But, I didn’t know how to end a relationship with the son of an important member of our Board of Directors.

“The problem is, his leaving has left open an important Vice Presidential position,” Mr. Johnson continued. “Because he left ‘without notice’ we have a spot in our management team which needs to be filled immediately.

“I know you’re a few credits short of your MBA degree, Peggy, but, I’ve a strong feeling you are ready and capable of assuming that management position. However bank policy does not allow me to make you a Vice President without your having earned your MBA.

“Would you be willing to accept the management job responsibilities with the title of Acting Vice President? There will be a significant increase in your compensation, of course. When your school work is finished, we will drop the ‘Acting’ from your title.”

Peggy was flabbergasted. At first, she wondered if this was some kind of a pay back because she opted not to file a sexual harassment suit. Then she realized Henry Johnson knew nothing of what caused Ralph to resign. He must truly believe I’m ready for more responsibility!

Peggy thought a minute longer, forming her words carefully. “Mr. Johnson, I may or may not be ready; but I know one thing. I can do a much better job than Ralph did.”

“Congratulations,” beamed Mr. Johnson. I’ll put out a notice regarding your promotion right away.” As Peggy left Mr. Johnson’s office he suggested, “Peggy, why don’t you get someone to take your drive in window shift tonight? You can use the time to move into Ralph’s former office.”

“Mr. Johnson, I won’t let you down. Thank you for the confidence you’ve placed in me.”

She felt as if she were walking on a cloud as she floated out of Mr. Johnson’s office. She approached one of her fellow tellers who had no young children.

“Something’s come up. I need to get off the drive in window tonight. Can you fill in for me?”

The woman agreed to take the late shift. Peggy went back to her teller window for the last time.

She watched the clock. In a few minutes, Mr. Johnson’s secretary posted a new notice on the bulletin board. She circled around to Peggy’s window smiling. “Congratulations, Peggy. I know you’ll do exceptionally well in your new position. Here, I made you a copy for your scrap book.”

Peggy looked at the notice:

I am pleased to announce the promotion

and advancement of Mrs. Peggy Waldren

to the new position of Acting Vice President.

Her initial responsibilities will include

management of the teller staff.

I know you all join me in wishing Peggy

the best of luck in her new assignment.

Henry Johnson, President

The notice went up at 4:00 o’clock, right when the bank closed. With no customers inside the bank, people felt free to cheer and clap. In a few seconds, almost every one of the bank employees gathered outside Peggy’s workstation.

Peggy didn’t realize how many friends she’d made until that moment. They cheered, hugged her, wishing her success. It became a very heady experience. She knew she’d remember the outpouring of friendship for a long time.

After the employees drifted away, Peggy went into her new office. Cautiously, she sat in the executive swivel chair. Making sure no one was looking, she spun it completely around in it! Next, she picked up the phone, calling Ken at work.

“How soon will you get off work?’ she asked as he picked up the phone.

“At 1700 why, what’s happening?”

“After you get off work, come to the front door of the bank and knock. I’ll let you in.”

“Sounds like an unusual procedure, what’s going on?”

“Just follow me blind.” She hung up.

Peggy went to work with a flourish. First, she pulled the letters with Ralph’s name off the door. She grabbed a cardboard box from the supply room and began cleaning out the desk drawers. Into the box went anything of a personal nature, which belonged to Ralph. She found several ‘girly magazines’ confirming the rumor she’d heard about Ralph earlier.

Peggy typed a notice, which she posted on the bulletin board. It read:

There will be an organizational staff meeting

of the window tellers

Friday morning at 9:30 A.M.

Peggy Waldren,

Acting Vice President

As she left the bulletin board, she heard a knock on the front door. She walked over to unlock it so Ken could enter. Using proper procedure for an ‘after hours’ visitor, Peggy relocked the door. With the exception of the drive in window person, she knew there were no employees left inside the bank. On a lark, she decided to treat Ken in a formal manner although she felt sure her eyes revealed a major twinkle.

“Mr. Lister, how nice to see you. Follow me please.”

Peggy walked down the hall into her new office. She sat down in the chair behind the desk watching as Ken hesitantly followed through the door.

“How do you like my new office?”

Ken stared. His mind began working at a fever pitch.

“You got Ralph’s job?” he exclaimed.

“Well, almost. I have his responsibilities; but, my title will only be Acting Vice President until I finish my MBA. Come look at our bulletin board!”

Ken looked around. No other employees were in the bank. As she walked by him to lead the way to the bulletin board, he grabbed her administering a monster hug. “I’m so happy for you Peggy. If anyone ever deserved a good break it’s you.”

He asked, “May I kiss you in your new office?”

“Vice Presidents don’t kiss,” Peggy replied with a saucy voice. “But, I have decided kissing is legal for Acting Vice Presidents!”

The kiss took a long time. It started tender and loving. It became more than a little intimate.

She took him to the bulletin board. He read all three notices, smiling broadly when he saw the title after Peggy’s name.

Back in the office Peggy asked, “Can you see another way to arrange this furniture? I’ve some really bad vibes in this room. I think if we switch the furniture around it’ll help a little.”

They thought a minute. Ken opined, “You know, I hate sitting on the opposite side of a desk. It makes the person on the outside feel inferior. If I’m correct, your management style is to be friends with your colleagues. Am I right?”

Peggy thought about what Ken said. After a minute she suggested, “Why don’t we pull that round table into the center of the room and surround it with chairs? The arrangement will allow me to sit beside my colleagues not opposite them. Next, we can move the desk against the wall right under the window. It’ll mean the natural light comes from my left, which is the way I prefer.”

In a few minutes, they had completed the furniture moving.

“Now I have to let you out, Ken. I need to prepare for my meeting tomorrow morning. What a day this has been! I still don’t believe how well your idea to approach Mr. Tarrance worked out. He’s such a nice man, just as you told me. In fact, I felt kind of sorry for him at lunch.”

“You know, I did too…. . Peggy, I’m looking forward to our date tomorrow night.”

“That makes two of us.” She kissed him, pushed him out the bank door, and returned to her new office.

When Peggy got home that night, she sat her mom and Ned down on the couch.

“I’ve an announcement to make. Ralph Tarrance resigned today and guess who has been awarded his position??? Me. I’m now acting Vice President in charge of bank Tellers!!!!! I will have the ‘Acting’ word removed after I obtain my MBA in June!! Oh, Mom, Oh Ned, I’m so thrilled! I got a huge pay raise too!!!”

They jumped off the couch cheering. Afterwards, the three went out for dinner to celebrate. Peggy almost called Ken and asked him to join them. At the last minute she reconsidered. She didn’t want to dampen Ned’s joy at her promotion. She knew if her boyfriend entered the picture, even if it was Ned’s beloved Coach, there was a possibility it would dampen Ned’s mood.

Later, as her mother got up to leave, Peggy told her, “I met Homer Tarrance today. He’s a splendid man. So different from Ralph. Oh, by the way, he remembered you. He told me you were on some church committees together. He didn’t know Dad had died…… I really liked him.”

“Do you know why Ralph resigned?”

“The notice said for personal reasons. I only know I’m extremely grateful he’ll be out of my hair from now on. Good night, Mom. I love you.”

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