The Ed Waller Stories: Book One - Algeria Here I Come

Chapter Forty-Nine: What's the Problem?

We were sitting around a small conference table and everyone was starting to chat when the young security guard burst in the door pointing his weapon, "Everyone freeze.  What seems to be the problem here, Super Stud Waller?"

"Oz, put the water pistol away.  There's no problem here.  Everyone, this is Oz Thompson.  He thinks he's the Wizard of Oz.  Oz, have you had lunch yet?"

"Nope, I was just getting ready to go to lunch when your emissary, Mr. Blank, told me my presence was required in your office."

I pushed half my ham salad sandwich toward him, "Here, this will keep you from starving."

Oz looked at it, "Where did it come from?  That looks as if it came from the cafeteria.  The last time I ate any of the food from there, I was ill for two days with ptomaine poisoning."

I looked at everyone, "I'm going to tell you about myself, and then I want each of you to tell the rest of us your story, so there are no secrets, since we're going to be working together."

I started, "I'm Edward Waller and I'm a petroleum engineer.  I'm gay and have a partner, and we are in the process of buying a residence.  We will be living with my partner's young brother who calls me Dad.  Who would like to go next?"

Oz put up his hand, "Mr. Waller, I need to get back, or my boss will fire my ass.  We're short handed because he treats us like dirt."

"Oz, what are you saying?"

"Mr. Waller, he schedules us for a ten hour shift, and we only get paid for eight hours.  I think that he might be skimming the other two hours into his own pocket.  I can't prove it, but he drives a big Cadillac.  I can't believe the Head of Security would be making enough money to buy a new Cadillac."

"Oz, what's the Head of Security's name?"

He nodded. "It's Horace Twist."

I looked at Joe, "Please go get Mr. Twist's personnel dossier.  Oz, go back to work, and tell Mr. Twist that you have been promoted and are going to be on my staff, and come back up here."

I turned to the others, "Steve, you probably should go back to the Housekeeping Department  and check on what's happening.  You can show Juan what you would want him to do.  Greg and Grant, since you're already in coveralls, why don't you get our new offices arranged, so that we can move into them in the morning.  If you need help, call the Housekeeping Department."

Joe spoke, "Mr. Waller, I would like for you to hear what has been happening to Juan, in order for him to keep his job.  Juan, tell Mr. Waller what happens every payday."

Juan looked embarrassed, "Every payday, a Mr. Toner has been collecting $25.00.  He calls it the job insurance payment."

"Juan, this is unbelievable.  Are you the only person he collects money from?"

Juan shook his head, no, "He collects from all the people who work with the limos.  I heard him say, one day, that he needed to go to several other departments to collect the insurance payments."

"Who does this Mr. Toner work for?"

Gregg answered, "The Transportation Department is under Mr. Zikas."

I started to laugh, "Mr. Zikas got canned this morning. Mr. Toner is about to follow him out the door.  Grant, this is the type of situation I want you to get involved in.  You need to be willing to listen when persons come to us with complaints.  Once the word gets out, there will probably be a line of people waiting at your door."

"Joe, get me Mr. Toner's dossier, also.  Where's the nearest restroom?  I think I'm going to be sick.  My lunch isn't sitting too well."

Joe answered, "There's a men's room two doors to the left."

I just made it to the men's room in time because my sandwich and tea from lunch were immediately deposited in the toilet.  I was sweating and had the dry heaves.  I went to the sink and looked for some paper towels to wipe my face.  There were none and entire facility was absolutely filthy.

When I arrived in the office, I asked, "Joe, are all of the restrooms that filthy."

"Yes, Sir.  That's why I never take a crap, pardon the expression, here at work.  I'm afraid of what diseases I might catch."

I was reading the folders that Joe had brought me when something caught my attention.  "Joe, I need to go to finance, and then I want to see if I can talk to President Odom."

I went to finance and got the records I needed then I went to the Human Resources department and pulled some more dossiers.  I decided to walk into the cafeteria to see what it looked like.  The best that could be said for the facility was that it was drab.  I walked into the kitchen and immediately realized why I might have become ill from eating the food.  The kitchen was filthy.

I noticed a group of women sitting chatting at one table and another table where five men were looking at some papers.

I went to President Odom's office and the receptionist looked up at me, "Mr. Waller, I've been trying to contact you.  President Odom would like to talk to you.  It seems he's had a number of complaints about what has been happening."

I was ushered into President Odom's office and he looked up at me, "Ed, would you care to explain what is happening and why everyone is complaining about what you are doing?"

I handed President Odom the files and the information that I had collected this afternoon.  "President Odom, I don't know how this could have happened, but there are two cases of extortion that we should file legally, against individuals, or they will come back to haunt the company."

I explained what was happening with the people in the motor pool department and the security department.  I stood, "President Odom. I want to know if I have the authority to get rid of these people who are doing this, and what can we do to retrieve some of the monies?"

President Odom surprised me, "Ed, you have the authority to fire anyone who has been performing illegal acts and taking advantage of the company, or its employees.  I'm appalled that such a thing could be happening.  Let's go talk to Mr. Kravitz in the legal department."

When we arrived in the Legal Department, a young woman was sitting at the reception desk.  President Odom spoke, "We'd like to speak with Mr. Kravitz."

The lady looked up, "I'm sorry, sir.  I'm the only person here.  I was called to fill in, since the others in the department are having their weekly golf outing."

President Odom asked, "What weekly golf outing?"

The young lady answered, "Sir, I honestly don't know what's going on.  They left me a note saying that I should call Mrs. Kravitz and some of the other wives to tell them that their husbands wouldn't be home for dinner, because of a business appointment."

I looked at the young woman, "Ms Grimes, tell me about yourself, in three minutes."

She looked at me and frowned. "I'm Tammy Grimes and I have two young sons that I need to take care of.  I'm a widow. My husband was killed in Iraq.  The government is paying us a stipend, but I need to supplement that payment with some extra income to be able to provide my two sons with some extra things."

President Odom asked, "Who's taking care of your sons?"

"My parents.  My Father was wounded in an industrial accident and is confined to a wheel chair.  He has developed a business that he conducts from home.  My Mother is a registered nurse and a full time Grandmother."

I looked at Tammy, "Ms. Grimes, if you would like a full time job, be in my office tomorrow at 8:00."

She looked up at me, "Mister, none of you bigwigs are ever here at eight o'clock.  You straggle in at all hours."

President Odom took the ball, "Ms Grimes, leave a note for Mr. Kravitz, and tell him to meet us in my office at eight o'clock in the morning.   It will be interesting to see what time he shows up."

"If you don't show up in Mr. Waller's office at eight in the morning, we'll know that you aren't really interested in making life better for your two sons."

Ms Grimes looked at us.  "Okay, so he's Mr. Waller, but do you suppose you could tell me who you are, so I can tell Mr. Kravitz where he's supposed to be at eight o'clock, and where is it that I'm supposed to be at eight o'clock in the morning?"

President Odom started to laugh, "Ed, I think you might have hit the jackpot with this young lady.  Ms Grimes, just tell Mr. Kravitz to be in President Odom's office at eight o'clock.  Mr. Waller's office is going to be on the forty-ninth floor.  I think it's suite 4903."

Ms Grimes looked a little sheepish, "Sorry, I didn't recognize you, President Odom.  You don't look at all like I thought you would.  I had you pictured as a big man who never smiled.  Heck, you look like the All American Grandfather.  Mr. Waller, I'll be in your office in the morning if I don't pass out from lack of oxygen in the air."

After we left the Legal Department, I took Mr. Odom to the cafeteria to show him how grim it was.  When we walked in, the same group of ladies were sitting, talking, and the five men were still sitting at the table, looking at the newspapers  I took him into the food preparation area and he was appalled.

"President Odom, I would like permission to shut down this facility and fire all of the employees. This facility is a health menace.  I had a sandwich from here at lunchtime and I got physically ill.  I have some ideas on how this could be a money making proposition for the company."

We were accosted by an older lady, who had a cigarette dangling from her mouth, "What the hell are you doing in here?"

President Odom grabbed the cigarette and threw on the tile and stamped it out. "Lady, this is a smoke free campus.  You and your entire crew are summarily relieved of duty."

The lady looked at us, "What the hell does that mean."

President Odom smirked, "That means that you are no longer employed here.  Now, if you and your minions will give me your security badges, I will make sure that you never step foot in this building again."

The lady was indignant, "Look, mister, I've worked here for thirty years.  You can't fire me.  Who the hell are you, anyway?"

President Odom tried to maintain his dignity, "I'm the President and CEO of this company.  Your services are no longer required here.  We are shutting down the cafeteria for health reasons.  I will check to make sure that you are all out of the building within the next hour."

He turned around and called someone on his phone and told the person what was happening, and needed to happen.

When we returned to the eating area, the group of women were still sitting there.  I walked up to them, "You have been sitting here for almost two hours.  That must mean that your services are not needed by the company.  I'll take your badges.  I suggest that you be out of the building in twenty minutes."

One of the ladies looked at me, "Who do you think you are?  You can't fire us.  We haven't done anything."

President Odom answered before I could, "You're right about not doing anything.  Mr. Waller said you were dismissed from the company.  For your information, I'm President Odom.  I suggest you give your security passes to Mr. Waller, as he asked."

I walked up to the five men who had been there the same amount of time and did likewise.  The paper they were looking at was the Racing News and they were betting on the horse races.

The scene that had taken place with the women was repeated except one of the men started to stand and take a swing at me.  President Odom grabbed the man's arm, "I wouldn't do that, sir, or we'll have you up on charges of assault and battery.  I'm sure that my word will take precedence over yours, since I'm President Odom.  Mr. Waller informed you that you no longer worked for the company, so I suggest that you leave the premises immediately."

As we were leaving the cafeteria, President Odom laughed, "Ed, you've managed to get at least 27 people fired today.  How many more are going to be sent packing?"

I chuckled, "Don't forget the people that didn't show up for work in housekeeping, today.  They have also been relieved from duty, since the new head of Housekeeping has informed me that they were way overmanned.  In answer to your question, there will be at least two other staff members and possibly others exiting the premises for the last time today."

He nodded, "I think I'd better accompany you to make sure that you don't get decked.   But first, I need to visit the men's room.

He returned almost immediately, "Ed, that restroom is filthy."

"I know, sir, that's something I'm going to have taken care of as soon as I get all of these other problems taken care of."  I told him what Joe had said when I complained about the condition of the restroom.

Mr. Odom laughed, "Gees, Ed, you've been in your job for two days, I would have thought you would have had everything resolved by now.  Where to now?"

"Let's stop at security and get that investment scam taken care of first.  I'm guessing that more than Mr. Twist's head is going to roll on this matter.  He has to have an accomplice or accomplices in the Accounting Department, to have been able to pull off the skimming from the employees and into his investment account."

As we approached the security desk, we were greeted by Oz, "Good afternoon, President Odom and Mr. Waller.  Mr. Waller, Mr. Twist has been trying to get in touch with you.  He says that he won't release me from this position, and that you don't have the authority to have me transferred."

President Odom took a deep breath, "Mr. Thompson, is Mr. Twist in his office?"

"Yes sir, I'm sure that he will be leaving shortly, though.  He always goes home about three thirty.  He claims that he has to be flexible, in case he needs to come and check on the night crew which is a bunch of baloney.  I've never seen him at night when I work the night shift."

Mr. Odom grinned, "Mr. Thompson, I think you had better accompany us into Mr. Twist's office."

"Let me tell Myrabelle where I'll be, so she can cover the desk for me."

Oz went to the office and returned with an older lady.  "Ms Miller, I believe you know President Odom.  The gentleman with me is the infamous Mr. Waller."

Ms Miller shook the President's hand, "Good afternoon, sir."

When she shook my hand she chuckled, "So, you're the Superhero that everyone is talking about.  I expected to see you wearing a cape.  How can we help you?"

I grinned, "I understand that Mr. Twist has been trying to get in touch with me.  We thought we'd talk to him in person.  In the meantime, we've been collecting badges from these people.  Make sure that they don't try to take the building with them when they leave.  You might have your guards check any large packages that are being taken out of the building, today." 

"I'll pick the badges up later and take them to Human Resources, so they know who has been fired today.  There will probably be more before the day is over."

An older gentleman came from the back room, "Myrabelle, I'm leaving."

Oz spoke, "Mr. Twist, Mr. Waller is here to talk to you." 

Mr. Twist didn't even look at me, "Tell him I'll talk to him in the morning."

President Odom spoke, "If you're going to talk to him in the morning, then you'll probably be calling from jail."

That caught Mr. Twist's attention, "What the hell are you talking about?  I haven't done anything wrong."

I decided to lower the boom in front of those people who were watching, since he was being such a jerk, "There is a little matter of the Twist Investment Fund that has been taking in any overtime that you have required your security officers to work.  Mr. Thompson, please relieve Mr. Twist of his security badge, and any keys that he might have, since his services are no longer required here."

The color had drained from Mr. Twist's face, as I had been talking and President Odom added more heat, "We're going to be filing charges against you, in the morning."

Mr. Twist looked as if he were going to black out.  He leaned on the desk, "I'm not taking the rap on this by myself.  Kyle Peabody in payroll and Carl Jarvis in Human Resources are involved also."

President Odom looked at me, "Call Mr. Peabody and Mr. Jarvis and tell them I would like to meet with them in Mr. Twist's office, immediately.  Mr. Thompson, please escort Mr. Twist and me to his office, so I can call my secretary and have her come take notes.  Ed, keep Mr. Peabody and Mr. Jarvis busy until Marlene arrives."

I made my two calls and looked at Ms Miller, "I hope you know who these people are, because I sure don't know any of them."

She laughed, "I'll keep you out of trouble."

There was a ruckus at the exit as one of the women who had been relieved of duty earlier was trying to take a folder with her.  The young security guard was trying to be very diplomatic, but the woman was screaming at him.  I went to the woman, "I'll take this, thank you.  We'll be filing charges against you."

I looked at the guards, "How did you know to challenge this woman?"

The young woman guard answered, "Easy, these are the only two doors that are open and we're requiring that everyone show us their security badges as they exit as Ms. Miller suggested."

I went back to the security desk and a gentleman was standing there, Ms. Miller looked at me, "Mr. Waller, this is Mr. Peabody, and Mr. Jarvis is stepping off the elevator now.  Marlene has already gone into the office."

I shook hands and introduced myself to the two gentlemen.  "If you gentlemen will follow me, President Odom would like to speak with you."

The two men looked confused but did as I requested.  When we entered the office, I made the introductions and President Odom asked the gentlemen to be seated.

President Odom went right for the jugular vein, "Gentlemen, please hand your security badges to Mr. Thompson.   You will no longer be needing them, since your employment here at Shell has been terminated.  We'll be filing formal charges against you for embezzling funds from the security department, personnel, and who knows who else, for the Twist Investment Fund."

The brouhaha that followed was almost comical.  President Odom put a stop to it, "Marlene, did you get all of that?"

"Yes sir."

Mr. Odom shook his head, "Mr. Thompson, would you please escort these three gentlemen out of the building?  We'll go through their desks and files and send them anything that might be personal."

He looked at me, "Where to next, Mr. Waller?"

"The Transportation Office.  Miss Marlene, would you have time to accompany us.  This shouldn't take long?"

She giggled, "Of course.  I hope it is as much fun as this encounter was."

As we were passing the security desk, Mr. Odom stopped, "Ed, since the Security Department now comes under you, you might to tell Myrabelle that she is now the acting head of the Security Department."

I looked at Ms Miller and repeated what the President had said, even though she had heard what he had said.

She looked at me, "I hope that means I get a raise.  I'm tired of going to the food pantries to get enough food to feed my fourteen kids."

Oz had rejoined us and heard what she said, "Yeah, her fourteen cats are so fat that they can hardly move."

I looked at Oz, "Why don't you go with us to the Transportation Office; we will probably need you to escort some more people out, after this next encounter."

The Transportation department was located near the Security Desk.  When we walked in, we were greeted by a young receptionist. 

I introduced myself and informed her that we would like to speak to Mr. Toner.  She picked up the phone, and pushed a button, "Mr. Toner, there's a Mr. Waller here to talk to you."

The young woman hung up, "Mr. Waller, Mr. Toner has been trying to contact you.  Please follow me."

When we walked into the man's office, he looked at us and grunted, "Waller, who the hell do you think you are, telling one of our drivers that he no longer works for us?"

President Odom answered, "Mr. Toner, for your information, the Transportation Department comes under the purview of Mr. Waller.  He can do what he wants with the personnel."

The pompous man stood, "Who the hell are you, and since when is Waller in charge of the Transportation Department."

"I'm Adam Odom, and I happen to be the President of Shell Oil, here in Houston.  I said Mr. Waller was in charge of the Transportation Department.  Now, sit down and shut up!  Ed, would you care to explain to Mr. Toner why he will no longer be employed here?"

I was a little rattled, but added, "Mr. Toner, I understand on good authority, that you have been collecting money from the department employees each payday as job protection insurance."

The man stood again, "That's a lie."

The receptionist was still standing there, "Mr. Waller, I can confirm that Mr. Toner has been collecting a job protection fee from us for the last three years."

President Odom reacted immediately, "Mr. Toner, we're going to be filing criminal charges against you, for extortion, in the morning."

The man jumped up, "I was only the collector of the funds.  I turned the funds over to the Director of Transportation, Mr. Soto.  I was only doing what he told me to do."

I turned to the receptionist, "Is Mr. Soto here?"

She chuckled, "Mr. Waller, that man comes to work at ten and we're lucky if he stays around until two."

Mr. Odom looked at Oz, "Mr. Thompson, please take Mr. Toner's badge and escort him off the property."

He looked at the receptionist, "Miss McIntyre, please have Mr. Soto report to my office when he arrives, tomorrow.  Please pass the word that there will be no more payments for Job Protection Insurance."

He turned to me, "It's five o'clock. It's time to go home.  I'm exhausted from all of the firings we've done today.  I'll see you in my office at eight in the morning."

I watched as Mr. Odom and Marlene started for the elevators. I stood, trying to decide what to do next; I suddenly realized that I was physically drained.  I had no idea where to go since there were so many things that I needed to take care of and none of them had to do with oil or petroleum.

Editor's Notes:

  It looks as if Ed is doing quite a good job of cleaning things up and the oil company.  I have a feeling that there will be more people who will find that their services are no longer required.  If I were Ed I think I would watch my back for a while, until things have been completely cleaned out.  He has already been shot.  I don't want him hurt any more.

This story has been full of danger for Ed and just about everyone he loves, almost from the beginning. I hope things will settle down soon, and that all the bad guys get removed.

I am, as always, ready for more!

Darryl AKA The Radio Rancher