Sunday, December 24, 2006

Christmas Party Pooper (Part IV)

The final section of my staff Christmas Party report is given below. I'm writing this with brutal honesty as a warning to all other employers. Be very careful when allowing your employees to bring guests. You may wish, after reading my example, to draw up some guidelines with respect to vetting procedures.

Part III is here

Part II is here

Part I is here


Having made up my mind to leave I almost immediately doubled back on my own thoughts and decided to remain crouched under the desk in my studio. This reluctance to move forced me to listen to the sounds of McCavity and his girlfriend having an especially good time. It wasn't a pleasant experience, for neither of them bothered to be discrete or even euphemistic with instructions on what they wanted and how they wanted it. I covered my ears to block out the sound whilst I tried to work out what to do. All thoughts of finishing the Pictionary game had evaporated, along with any idea that this Christmas party was going to help with my rehabilitation into village life.

Try as I might, I couldn't think of an easy way out of my predicament. To disturb the rutting duo would lead to substantial embarrassment. But to retreat back to the main building ran the risk of something far more unedifying - the wrath of Dolores. You see, the camera that I saw turning in my direction had to have been operated manually, because the licence for the software that normally controls the camera expired last week, and Denise hadn't got round to renewing it. Whoever was controlling the camera had seen all. I could only pray it wasn't Dolores.

How much longer I stayed there, my mind swimming with dead-ended attempts at a solution, I do not know. Perhaps it was just a few minutes, perhaps longer. I cursed myself for not being stronger, but at the same time I couldn't but help feeling sorry for myself. It was as if all the unsettling events of the last nine months had come together to haunt me one last time before the year's end, with one final stab at demolishing my self-esteem.

'WHAT ARE YOU TWO DOING?'. The scream pierced my melancholoy like a cross-bow arrow, forcing me into a state of instant alert, heart pounding, mouth dry. It was the unmistakable voice of Dolores, my normally calm and fragrant wife, screaming like a banshee. Her pointed question was followed almost immediately by a reply from McCavity. It was the reply of someone taken completely by surprise whilst up to no good.

'Nothing!', he cried. A blatant lie.

'Get dressed and Get out!' shouted my wife. I couldn't see her from my position under the desk, but I knew she would be standing with her arms folded, legs together, head held high, eyes wide open. I knew this because it is her standard approach to scaring me into doing what she wants.

I didnb't hang around to listen to the rest of the conversation. If Dolores was here, it meant that she wasn't in the main building. I had the opportunity to return and confiscate/destroy the tape. If Dolores had been operating the camera, I would at least be able to deny everything and claim the tape had been stolen by a guest. Or something like that. No time to think clearly now. Must run!

I opened the back door to my studio as quietly as possible before legging it back towards the main building. I don't think I've ever run so fast in my life. The emergency door was still open, and I sprinted inside, only slowing down once I was sure that I was no longer visible to anyone looking outwards. Having forgotten to breathe during my fifty metre dash, I was immediately forced to gulp down air and site down on a pile of boxes to re-cuperate. But the image of Dolores forgmarching Chloe and McCavity back towards the living area was enough to make me forget my lack of fitness and push on through the lactic-acid towards my goal.

I jogged as quickly and silently as possible back through labs1 and 2, keeping low in case I was visible through the windows. Looking through the window in the lab door, I could just make out that the guests were milling around in the living area. They were all wearing coats, and were clearly on the verge of leaving. Ravel was standing by the monitor. I sighed with relief, for it was now likely that he, not Dolores, had been controlling the camera.

I had not a moment to lose. After briefly composing myself and taking several gulps of formaldehyde-tainted air, I stepped out into the living area. Ravel was the first to notice me. He pointed up at the monitor, drawing my attention to the camera image. It showed Chloe struggling to pull on her left boot, whilst McCavity shielded the girl from the piercing stare of my wife. I initially thought I must have been gifted with super-human speed in my dash to the institute, until I saw Chloe topple over and realised that she was probably trying to dress herself under the influence of quite a lot of alchohol.

The vet was the first person to see me. 'Ahh, there you are. We thought you must have fallen down a ditch or something. I was just about to send out a search party.' He motioned to the small crowd of people in their coats to press home the point.

'Aaah, 'I said, my brain racing to find a suitably anodyne response. 'I was, taken, I mean, I thought I heard someone crying, in the next field, but it turned out to be a, a, fox. They sound, er remarkably human sometimes, don't they?'

I could tell from the raised eyebrow of the vet that he wasn't convinced. 'Well, never mind' he said after a slightly awkward pause. 'I think I'll be off anyway. Thank Dolores for the dinner. Bye.' A few seconds later the whole crowd was walking towards the door. They all muttered some form of thanks to Dolores. Most of them were shaking their heads as they left.

I was, in fact, glad to see them go. It meant that I could now deal with Dolores, Chloe and McCavity in private. The trio entered the living area just a minute after the last guest had filed out. Dolores was clearly fuming, whilst the youngsters simply looked drunk and shamefaced.

'Deal with them' said Dolores, arms folded.

'Huh?' I said, feigning ignorance.

Dolores recounted what she had seen happening, right down to the extraction of a test-tube from an intimate area of Chloe's body. Concerned for our extended absences, Dolores had instructed Ravel to use the camera system. We do, in fact, have several cameras dotted around the place to detect intruders. It was Ravel who alerted Dolores to the activities of Chloe and McCavity in the Art studio. 'But he couldn't find you, Joseph.' said Dolores. 'Funny that'

I shrugged and ran through my story about mistaking a fox's bark for the cries of a hapless maiden. It was clear from her stony expression that she didn't believe me, but what could I do under the circumstances (I had to confess the truth in the end to be given permission to write this blog entry. Conjugal rights have been suspended until further notice)?

Chloe and McCavity took their telling off with reasonably good grace. At one point the young lady complained about 'invasion of privacy', but was brought up short by Dolores pointing out that she had been fornicating in a public exhibition area. The argument went no further. McCavity remained silent throughout, presumably aware that, under the terms of his contract, he was strictly still on duty at the time of the indecent act. 'You will be aware', I said solemnly, 'that misuse of test-tubes is a potentially sackable offence?' McCavity nodded solemnly. I continued in the same tone, less anyone present think that I was joking: 'it falls upon me, as director of this Institute, to check the statutes on this matter. Report to me in the morning.'

With this order ringing in his ears, McCavity was allowed to take his girlfriend back to his flat, where I have no doubt they continued where they left - minus the test tube. Their leaving marked the end of the Christmas party. Ravel and Denise helped clear up the detritus, and I was told to go and do 'something in the office' by Dolores. I used my time in solitary confinement to check the statutes, just in case. After all, I could hardly be seen to make empty threats against a staff member, could I? There was no mention of test-tubes, which, to be honest, I wasn't surprised about. So McCavity got the girl and kept his job.

Lucky sod.



Kim Ayres said...

Happy New Year!

Samantha said...

Hehehe, never a dull moment :)