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Old 06-25-2017, 06:15 AM   #51
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I sighed. She just didn't get it. The money was about 15% of my yearly salary. It was a lot of money!

But she couldn't see the bigger picture here. One of these workers was a thief, and even though the money may have been spare change to Clarissa, this was just the first time, and next time might involve more - like one of the works of art.

She needed to know that - gently. "This time it was just $5,000. Next time it might be one of the works of art. There is a thief out there, and we need to stop this now."

I was trying to decide if she really put for an effort and honestly didn't see anything, or if she really didn't even try. It was time to move on to the next tactic.

"Can you access the video surveillance system from the computer at your desk? Perhaps we can get a clue there."
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Old 06-25-2017, 01:53 PM   #52
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The idea of someone stealing my art stirred me a little more. That would be horrible. These pictures.... I'd spent so long choosing them. They were my hope, my ambition. They were me. I couldn't just replace them.

"Yes, I think I can." I stood up and walked around the desk, to where he was sitting, leaned over to the computer and logged in. "I'm not really sure how though- I never thought I'd have cause to use it. You'll have to show me."

Leaning over to use the keyboard had brought me very close to him. If he turned his head right then we might almost touch. The office was danger-quiet.
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Old 06-25-2017, 04:26 PM   #53
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As she walked over behind the desk, I detected a little bit of spirit in her step. Maybe she was going to get into this investigation. She professed that she may not know that much about the surveillance program on the computer, but leaning over and manipulating the mouse, she was able to pull up the right icon to open it. The rest would be easy for me, if the record feature had been activated.

As I worked with the program, I could feel her presence close to me. Despite the "poor little rich girl" attitude she liked to wallow in, she was not a bad looking woman. On the contrary, she was stunning, as I remembered the gown she was wearing the night of the opening, how it fit her soft curves so well that it looked like it had been painted on her.

It was definitely distracting to have her so close, and yet I didn't want to say anything that might drive a wedge deeper into the divide that already existed between us. I continued working with the computer program, aware that she was close enough to touch if I desired.....

My attention to Clarissa was broken when I discovered the surveillance footage of the night of the gallery opening. "Found it, Clar.....Ms. Barrington. Shall we see what's on it?"
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Old 06-25-2017, 04:26 PM   #54
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Old 06-25-2017, 07:24 PM   #55
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I didn't want to see but I knew I had to look. Where would this put me.... I didn't need this, didn't need staff issues. Any chance to save the gallery seemed to be slipping away.

I exhaled slowly. "Okay, do it. Let's see the truth."
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Old 06-25-2017, 08:15 PM   #56
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Using the time code, I moved the recording up to the point where I was showing Deb the exact location of the money. The video was of extremely high quality, which didn't surprise me at all - only the best for a Barrington. Looking back now, I'm not sure showing Deb was the right thing to do, but having any of these faithful employees steal from Clarissa was a surprise. She spoke highly of them, especially Deb and Rodrigo.

Deb and I talked for just a few seconds on the video, and then I shut the drawer and we both exited the office, although the camera wasn't set to pick up the door, clearly a flaw in system placement. The lights went off, and the office went black.

The surveillance program had a feature that allowed you to automatically fast forward through times of blackout, so I selected that option, and we went quickly to the next time there was either motion or light in the office. The time stamp said it was dark for 20 minutes. Whoever turned on the light in the office knew how to avoid being on camera. Instead, what we saw was a dark object placed over the camera itself, shielding the office from its vigilant watch.

Unfortunately for the person in the office, the object didn't stay on the camera, and quickly we could see back into the office. I was guessing now, but I'd say the object was picked up and placed back on the camera, and the picture went dark again.

However, a micro second before the camera completely lost its picture. I saw bits and pieces of the hand that was putting the dark object over the lens - including a familiar looking shiny object. I stopped the video and zoomed in on the object. Calling for an electronic focus, it was clear to see it was a ring - the same ring that had annoyingly clacked against the desk in an interview earlier.

I looked at Clarissa, who was standing there with her mouth open, and asked, "See something familiar?"
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Old 06-26-2017, 10:52 AM   #57
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I put my face in my hands. Really I would have rather the camera had stayed covered, the mystery stayed unsolved. I couldn't deal with this. Rodrigo was a good worker, and he'd always said that he used all the money he made for the good of his family. I liked him.

I knew I wasn't my father. I couldn't ruin someone's life. Feeling tears sting my eyes, I shook my head slowly and dropped my hands.

"Can we.... do we have to... do anything about this? I mean, I.... I don't recognise anything from that, I have no idea who that could be." It sounded feeble even to me.
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Old 06-26-2017, 04:33 PM   #58
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I looked at her with disbelief. Who was this person who just would not face conflict, even though it was clearly needed? It was obvious that in the loyalty contest she held between Rodrigo and I, I was the clear loser, even though the irrefutable evidence showed him altering the surveillance camera in order to take the $5,000.

I stood up from the desk and waited for her to allow me to pass. I zipped up the cover of the portfolio I was using to take notes, and then turned to face her one more time.

"Ms. Barrington, I can see there is no more need for me in your life. I'm sorry you feel the way you do. You will not be bothered by me again. If you or your father wants to press charges, please call. Otherwise, good luck with your life - it appears you are going to need it."

I handed her another of my cards, to make sure she had my number. Then one more thought hit me."When you father calls me and asks about the result of my investigation, I will have no choice but to tell the truth. I won't tell him hoping he'll fire Rodrigo or have him reprimanded or whatever else may happen. I will tell him to try one more time to clear my name. It seems that I'm the only one interested in doing that."

With that, I turned and walked out the office door. Spotting Rodrigo sitting with the others, I stared at him as I made my way to the front. He could see that I knew something, but there was nothing I could do at that moment. In the eyes of the law, he was a good as free, since Clarissa had no interested in prosecuting him.
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Old 06-28-2017, 04:15 PM   #59
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As Simpson spoke to me- no, as he lectured me, I swung between hot anger and cold doubt. I didn't like the aspersions he was casting over me as a person, presuming to know who I was and how I lived. But part of me felt he was right- luck was exactly what I needed, and a lot of it. Was it that obvious that I was drowning in deep water?

I suddenly didn't want him to go. Anyone with any insight into my life must mean something, must have something to offer me- a life ring, please. Please. But I didn't say anything and I turned away as he left.

A moment later Rodrigo knocked on the office door and entered without waiting.

"Clarissa...." He was looking dead at me and clearly trying to read me. There was an uncomfortable pause, and he closed the door and approached me. "How did it.... what did the rent-a-cop say? Does he really think that one of us is a low-down thief? I mean, come on.... crazy, right?"

I didn't say anything. I sat down again and put my head in my hands and I wanted to cry and to tell him what the tape showed, and I wanted to shout at him for being such an idiot.

"Don't worry Clarissa, we'll get this all sorted out. Your gallery is gonna' be fine, I just know it."

That hurt because I knew he was sincere. A good man. Who had stolen because.... well, I didn't know. And I didn't want to, really. Without a word I stood up and left, walked right out without speaking to my Dad, drove away in my Porsche. I meandered around for a while, considering massages and beauty therapies and shopping, but none had any real appeal. I stopped on a quiet street and turned up the radio and tried to drift away. I tried for what felt like hours. I couldn't.
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Old 06-29-2017, 02:18 AM   #60
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Another day shot to hell. By the time I got back home after the fiasco at the gallery, it was nearing noon. With a little over four hours until I had to start my evening shift, I knew I probably needed some quality nap time, even though I knew it wouldn't be enough.

But I couldn't go to sleep. I was still worked up over what transpired at the gallery. That, and the fact that I was just sure Mr. Barrington would call me wanting an explanation just as soon as my eyes closed, kept me awake. What was supposed to be a simple security guard event was turning out to be an all-consuming ordeal, with no satisfactory conclusion appearing on the horizon.

Rodrigo had me angry. Mr. Barrington had me disgusted. But I kept coming back to Clarissa, because when it came to her, I was totally confused. I could not blame her for being a struggling female in an obviously male-dominated family. I could see why she could feel helpless, trapped - a victim just because she was born with the wrong chromosomes.

But it was frustrating to see that she wasn't trying to help herself out, because it would mean putting herself out on a limb with the potential of being cut out of her share of the family fortune if she went up against daddy. Because of that one factor, it meant she had lost sight of what was right and wrong - or perhaps she knew, but just couldn't make herself face it.

So with very little sleep, and with the Barrington saga weighing on my mind, I started my shift at 4:00, and immediately received a radio call - check welfare of a motorist sitting alone in a Porsche for some length of time. I logged the address and headed in that direction. We don't get many Porsche calls in this area, so I was a little nervous about what I might find.

At 4:15, I pulled in behind the car in question. I ran the plates as I watched the driver, who seemed to be making at least some slight movements. When the tags came back, I just lowered my head and sighed.....what was she doing here, of all places....
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Old 06-29-2017, 07:32 PM   #61
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I had been crying for a bit and thinking a bit more. Where am I going..... where the hell am I going.....
I felt comfortable in my car, and didn't want to move. How long had it been? I wasn't at all sure. It was still light at least.

Maybe I could just stay here.... just for today and tonight. Safe and Sound. I didn't feel hungry, didn't feel the need to go home. The rest of the day without interaction appealed. Or maybe I should go home, have a shower, and go out to a bar? Get picked up and fucked by some stranger who didn't know and wouldn't ask. That would be something new.

I heard an engine and checked the mirror. Police. It didn't worry me. The police didn't bother people like me, unless it was for some sort of high level white collar fraud or something. Otherwise they tended to be respectful, subservient, and careful- at least in this city. I wondered what they wanted.
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Old 06-29-2017, 07:57 PM   #62
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I thought for a bit before I got out of the car. I had two choices - I could still be angry at the way this morning's questioning went, or I could put that behind me and try to show her I really did care about how she was being treated, and how she seemed like she was lost and going in a direction she was not choosing.

I stepped out of the car and walked slowly to her driver's door. I don't think she recognized me at first, since I was wearing my sunglasses. As I tapped on her window, I could see that she had been crying. For some reason, it tugged at my heart, and the problems of earlier just disappeared. She needed help, and I would try, even though I did not think she would accept.

"Ms. Barrington - Clarissa - are you okay? Is there something I can do to help you?
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Old 06-30-2017, 07:53 PM   #63
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The sound caught me by surprised and I jumped, despite having known the person was approaching. I wiped my eyes in a hurry, smearing make up.

I wound the window down and it was him, Simpson. What was it with this guy? Always there for my moments of humiliation. Three so far and counting. I wasn't sure what to say or how to play it, so I didn't try to play or hide.

"What?" I wiped my eyes again, shrugged my shoulders and gripped the wheel at ten and two and stared forwards. "What is it? What do you want? I don't have anything more to tell you, about the money or anything else." I shook my head, a little too hard. "I don't have anything for you. I'm fucked. I'm miserable and utterly fucking fucked." My voice broke a little at the end and it didn't feel good.
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Old 07-01-2017, 12:26 AM   #64
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Seeing her like this, and hearing her wail away at me between the tears and the smeared makeup, flipped a switch, and all of the other issues we had escaped my mind. She went from being Clarissa Barrington, art gallery puppet-owner and spoiled rich daughter of William Starks Barrington III, to being just Clarissa, a citizen in need.

So I used my best soothing voice and said, "Clarissa, I'm not here for that. I'm here because I received a call about a motorist in possible need of assistance. Now that I'm here, I can see you're distraught, and I want to help.

"Why don't you get out of the car and take a little walk with me? Fresh air will do you good, and we can see what I can do to help you."

I opened her door and smiled as I extended my hand to help her out of the car.
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Old 07-02-2017, 06:03 AM   #65
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Getting out of the car was awkward- I was stiff and sore from so long motionless. His hand was warm and the support strong, but I didn't want to look at him, didn't want him to see how I felt, if he hadn't already.

I locked my car and we stepped onto the sidewalk, started walking slowly. There was nothing nice to look at, the houses were bland, the small gardens at their front bland, the weather bland, and no one else outside in view. I speculated sickly what he must think.... I wasn't completely lacking in self-awareness, I knew that my problems must seem small, pathetic to blue-collar people. They wondered how someone with so much could be so miserable. I wondered that too, all the time. All the time. And my mind returned each time to my family.

I glanced at him quickly, but didn't say anything. I wasn't going to speak first.
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Old 07-02-2017, 03:16 PM   #66
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The tension was thick as we walked - but at least she was walking with me. I knew there was no hope in reaching her if she had stayed in the safety of her car. Perhaps sub-consciously, she was ready to be helped - to know that someone cared not about her money, but about her well-being.

She glanced up at me, and that gave me the courage to stop and face her.

"Clarissa, I want to try something. For at least a little while, I want to drop the fact that I'm a cop who worked your gallery opening and encountered problems. I want to drop the fact that you're a gallery owner and daughter of the richest man in town. For the next few minutes, I was us to just be Joe and Clarissa - nothing else getting in our way, no baggage to impact our opinions of each other.

"I want to know - friend to friend, Joe to Clarissa - if there's anything I can do to help you find a smile in your life. Other than greeting guests the other night, I have not seen you smile once. Life shouldn't be that way, Clarissa. I want to help - I sincerely want to help."

I wanted to touch her arm in a gesture of friendship. Hell, I wanted to hug her at the moment and make the obvious torment disappear. But that had to wait. What was more important was trying to establish some common ground, so that she wouldn't see me as some dumb cop with a one track mine, but instead maybe see me as Joe, who was willing to be a friend.
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Old 07-02-2017, 06:49 PM   #67
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I wasn't sure I understood this. You are who you are, you can't just forget it, surely? Pretend that we were the same- it seemed ridiculous. We were completely different and I knew it and I felt it. He couldn't understand me and I certainly wasn't going to be able to understand him. Why he had acted as he had so far. Why he cared.

But I waited, no expecting much, and my slight nod was assent, that I would try to drop it all, try to talk to him on a level. I wanted him to start though- this was against what I knew. I hadn't talked properly to someone like him in..... I didn't even remember. My family had a circle and we stuck to it. People like us. I hated them but I knew them, was one of them.
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Old 07-03-2017, 01:06 AM   #68
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I wanted to ask her what she was doing, why she was here, and how long had she been here. But that would have been confrontational, which I wanted to avoid at all costs. And I really thought I probably knew the answer anyway - this was all she could do when she needed space away from the things that troubled her - namely family. I wasn't going to check, but I imagine she even had her cell phone turned off - if she had brought it with her at all.

So I tried a different approach. I thought I would see if I could get her to talk about things other than her family, and maybe for even just a few minutes, I might get a chance to see inside the protective shell she had drawn around her.

"Random question - when you are out with friends, what do you like to do for fun? When was the last time you had a fun outing with friends?"

I left the family out of the question. Let's see if she could leave them out of her answer.
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Old 07-05-2017, 05:02 PM   #69
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Glancing quickly sideways up at him, I made myself sure that he was serious, not teasing me.

My mind felt thick and slow, and clunked slowly over the question. Fun..... Friends..... I had had some of each over the years, but what recently....

"I.... we like to just, I don't know.... meet up and go out. A restaurant, a movie or a show, then a bar or a club. Different cities, different states sometimes. And we take quick vacations in Europe sometimes too- I enjoy that, trying to learn some of the language, seeing something new."

I exhaled slowly. It was hot and my hair felt sticky and heavy. "I haven't seen too much of them recently. I was focusing on the gallery opening. That's taken most of my time and focus for the last few months. These things don't get organised by accident. And those pieces didn't find themselves." I felt despondent, irritated at the last few days, and very tired.
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Old 07-06-2017, 04:09 AM   #70
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It worked - my plan to get her to talk about something other than the gallery worked. It was great hearing her talk about other things for a change...although I felt she threw in the whole "trip to Europe" comment just to keep me in my place. Except if that's what she really did, I guess it was appropriate to mention it.

But soon the plan fell apart again, and it was back to that stupid gallery. It was haunting her, and I imagine my presence - even here on a street she'd never been on before in her life - was helping to take her right back there. After all, that was the only way she knew me, so how could she think of anything else when she saw me?

So I knew I was probably at the end of any way I could help her, and yet I didn't want to just toss her back into her little fucked-up world without trying one more time. So I tried again to get her mind off of the gallery and onto something else a little brighter.

"Look, Clarissa, you did a great job of opening the gallery. The first night was a huge success, until problems caused not by you but by somebody else derailed what otherwise was a wonderful event. And the next day's problems weren't your doing either. So why are you still beating yourself up about it?

"Why don't you call one of your friends and go away for a few days - even just take an evening off and go see that movie, or do something else you like to do. Deb is a fine employee, and the gallery will be safe in her hands until you're ready for it again.

"But you need to get away so you can be Clarissa again - not William Barrington's daughter, just Clarissa. Go out and find some life and grab onto it."

I realized then and there that the advice I was giving her was what I needed for myself as well. The divorce - the constant nagging by my ex to get back together - the extra work trying to pay for nice things for my kids....what I was prescribing for Clarissa sounded pretty good to me.
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Old 07-07-2017, 05:47 PM   #71
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"I know. But it's hard for me. We're a pretty messed-up family- always tripping each other up, always dragging each other down, shouting, plotting, all of that. But.... I don't know. It's like me and my brothers live under the shadow of our name, and our parents."

I kicked a stone viciously, and ignored the subsequent pain in my toe. I was feeling light-headed, with too much crying and not enough food or water.

"I sometimes think I should just up and leave. Ask for a whole load of cash for some stupid thing, and then pack up and drive away. Another state, another chance, a long way away. But..... it's like..... we're close. We're always at each other, always hurting each other, but we're a close family. It's such a mess."

Realising I hadn't shown any interest in him yet, I tried to be polite. "So, how about you? What's your life like?"
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Old 07-08-2017, 01:38 AM   #72
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I wasn't expecting her to turn this back around to me. Was she serious? Was she really reaching out, interested in me and my situation? Or was she just so uncomfortable talking about her own problems that my problems were more interesting?

I decided to give her the benefit of the doubt. "There's not much to tell. My ex-wife loved me more than I loved her, and she still calls me several times a week begging for me to come back. I have two children that I'd do anything to try to provide them with the important things in life, but I don't get to see them nearly as much as I want to, and it tears my heart. I work any extra job I can so maybe they can have nicer clothes or new books for school or a chance to have college paid for without being swamped with student loans when they get out on their own."

I paused, and thought of Susie and Joey, their bright shiny faces...faces that turn sad every time I have to take them back to their mom's. I thought about Kristy - life would be so much simpler if I just loved her half as much as she loves me, and yet it wasn't fair to either of us to continue in a relationship that was being held together by band-aids made of unfulfilled promises and unrealized dreams.

I looked down at her and said, "Sorry, that all came out at once. The problems are real, but I still am able to find fulfillment through my job. Helping people still gives me a rush of adrenaline that I haven't been able to match with anything else."
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Old 07-08-2017, 02:21 PM   #73
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It was strange for me to hear this brief summary of his recent life. It coloured him for me for the first time- he was real, had problems and desires and constraints, like me. It should have been obvious before, but although I knew it really, I hadn't felt it until then.

Two kids and an ex-wife trying to drag him back- it sounded pretty intense. I felt for him- did he have it worse than me? Probably, yeah. At least I could, if I wasn't such a coward, run away from my life and begin again. He didn't really have that choice.

I wondered how he could fight against the pull of family. I hadn't been able to. How could he hear her beg him to come back, and know that it could be all of them together again as a family, and still not give in? I knew that in his shoes I would give up, go back. Be miserable but not alone.

We had walked quite a way from the car, the long silences in between our exchanges bringing us out of sight of it. We were still in the same quiet area. I saw a face behind a window at one of the immaculate houses- an expression of moderate suspicion. Not used to seeing people walking around in their neighborhood. All American suburbia and the car as king.

"How do you bear all that? It sounds... awful."
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Old 07-08-2017, 11:54 PM   #74
PapaRomantic
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How do I bear it all? I have to admit, sometimes I don't bear it well. I have dark days, where everything seems to be stacked against me. But those days are when I'm by myself, where nobody else sees me. Because when I'm being a police officer, or being a father, there's no time for dark days to get in the way of what needs to be done.

"I bear it because I have two beautiful kids who are counting on me for providing them with everything they need. I bear it because there are millions' of people in city who may not know it, but it's my responsibility to keep the peace and put the bad guys away so the city is a safer place to live. It's not a job to me - it's a calling, and I feel good every day I put the uniform on."

I looked at Clarissa, pleased to see she was listening. Maybe we had more in common than I thought. Maybe we both needed this little reality check.

"You know, that gallery of yours could be a calling as well. Think about it - when you were greeting those guests the night of the opening, you were wonderful, and people were so glad to be there with you. The purpose of the gallery is to bring beauty into people's worlds. What higher calling could there be, than being responsible for beautiful things in life?"
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Old 07-12-2017, 06:41 PM   #75
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He had a good attitude. Positive, strong. I wanted to be like that. I found it very compelling, it drew me closer to him in an emotional sense, although I couldn't quite grasp how one could make oneself feel that way.

"You're giving me too much credit there," I said sourly, and stopped and looked away back up the the street, shaking my head. "That gallery was just a rich girl's toy, that got broke, and everyone knows it. I've got to face that. I didn't earn it, I don't deserve it. It's done."
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