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Surveillance – Ch. 19

Taking a deep breath as the elevator slowed, Finch adjusted his tie and braced himself for the fallout. The doors slid open and he stepped into the busy office space, making his way determinedly through the maze of cubicles as he tried to avoid eye contact, to avoid being noticed. No such luck.

“Harold?”

He winced. Of course, it had to be Cindy, because God forbid she actually get some work done while there was gossip to be shared and goings-on that needed to be observed. He stopped and turned, pasting on a semi-friendly smile as she hurried over.

“Hello,” he said. “How have you been?”

“Me?” she asked. “What about you? We heard you’d been fired.”

“Oh…no…” he said with a humorless chuckle. “Transferred, but it didn’t work out, so…here I am.”

“Well, I’m glad you’re back,” Cindy said, and for an instant, he almost believed her. “Did your friend ever get in touch with you? That tall guy – the good-looking one with the blue eyes? He was in here looking for you the day you left.”

“Oh, right,” Finch said, trying to ignore the pain in his chest. “Him. Yes, he found me.” He tried to step past her, but she turned and began walking with him, taking small steps to match his pace. He hated that.

“I don’t think I ever got his name,” Cindy said, trying to sound casual and failing.

Finch swallowed hard. “His name was John.”

Was?” she repeated, arching her professionally tweezed eyebrow. The company was paying her too much. “Harold, you don’t mean…”

“Yes,” he said, “he’s dead. He was killed in an accident five weeks ago.”

“Oh, I’m sorry. Were the two of you close?”

“No.” He averted his gaze, glancing around the office. “We were just associates. Excuse me, I should get to work before Dave sees me-”

“Oh, that’s right, you weren’t here,” Cindy said, trying to keep a straight face, but he could see the amusement in her eyes. “Dave got fired a couple of weeks ago. Apparently, he’s been embezzling money from the company for several years.”

“You don’t say,” Finch said, his surprise genuine as he raised his eyebrows. Well, he had been terribly distracted, but that was no excuse to let something like that slide. The company would prosecute, of course, but that took too long. Before the afternoon was over, Finch could drain all Dave’s bank accounts, close his 401K, send his credit rating into the double digits, cancel his credit cards, and he might just ask Reese to pay him a-

“I really need to get to work,” he said, stepping into the empty cubicle. It wasn’t the same one he’d left, and he quickly decided he didn’t like it very much. It was too close to the lounge and faced away from the elevator. He didn’t like his chair either; the lumbar support was worn out and it made a faint squealing sound when he moved. With a sigh, he sank into the oblivion of mind-numbing office drudgery.

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