Rise From the Fall - Chapters 1&2
The day started out normal enough, a 35 minute drive into work, a wave from the window from his wife as he drove away, the front receptionist smiling flirtatiously as he walked through the door.
He made his way down the hallway to his office. People passing by him with warm greetings, firm handshakes and hugs. His team moved into the conference room as they saw him enter the doorway to his office across from their cubicle farms.
His secretary Jenny brought him his morning latte’ as he was about to enter the conference room. Closing the door behind him he looked around the room. “Hey everyone how was the weekend? Come on and fill me in.”
“You’re the best Chuck. The game was awesome, the hotel was great, and we all had a blast. We wish you could have been there.”
“Thanks Tom” he looked around the room all eyes on him with large smiles and relaxed faces. “You guys deserved it though, you all busted your ass for me to get this project done on time especially when they screwed us and gave new requirements. Thank you all for your work. This couldn’t have gotten done without you. There is no other team here that could have pulled it off and I mean that.”
The room grew quiet as everyone looked around and back at him. When he spoke like this he could go on a motivational speech for hours that would make Tony Robbins cry. This morning though he kept it short. “I want you all to start reading the new contracts this place is bidding on and come up with some that we should do. Let’s show em how we are by just jumping back in the fire. So get outta here and I’ll talk to you all later.”
With that he picked up his coffee and went out the door. Sitting at his desk and starting his project completion report his phone rang. He looked at the digital display of who was calling. Martin Stephenson, Director of IT Operations.
“Hello Martin, what can I do for you?”
“Chuck I need you to come down here.”
“Now, we have some things we need to talk about.”
“K, I’ll be there in a minute.”
Starting to stand he dialed a number on his phone. “Jenny I’m going to Martin’s office watch things for me k?”
“You got it. Have fun.” She closed with a sarcastic tone.
“Oh yeah loads I’m sure.”
The receiver back in its cradle he made his way down to his boss’ office. Before walking in he stopped by the bathroom to make sure he looked as well as possible. Martin was a former Major in the Marine Corps and was a stickler for those under him looking as close to military perfection as possible.
In the mirror he looked at himself. His emerald green eyes exuded the confidence that made him the youngest project manager at ITS Corp. At 31 he had been there 5 years and quickly ascended the ranks without the bother of kissing ass or sucking up to anyone. He let his ethics, loyalty to his team, and his work speak for themselves. Luckily Martin liked those things and chose him for management a year and a half ago. Satisfied with his appearance he left the restroom and walked into Martins office.
Twice the size of Chuck’s office with a small conference table the office was spotless. Martin refused to let the cleaning crews come into his office he kept it this way on his own and with pride.
The office was empty except for Martin. When he looked up he looked as though he had aged 20 years over the weekend. His grey eyes were sunken in and surrounded by stress lines.
Taking a seat in front of Martin’s desk Chuck asked, “What’s up Martin?”
Taking in a deep breath Martin looked down at the desk and then up at his prodigy. “Chuck you know I think the world of you and the work you’ve done. I’ve tried to show you everything I can.”
“I know Martin and have always appreciated all of that.”
“I’ve got some bad news. This weekend all the directors, VPs, and other executives were called together. It seems that there have been a lot of things going on most of us knew nothing about.”
“I can’t go into the details but suffice it to say that when it comes out today Enron, Adelphia, and WorldCom will look like nothing.”
“What? You’ve got to be kidding, how in the hell could that be going on here? We have more contracts than anyone else and our satisfaction and completion rate is in the ninetieth percentile.”
“I know and that’s what a lot of us said but its happening. Now the bad part is there are going to be lay offs this week. It hits the news today and by Friday 31% of the staff within the US will be gone.”
“Do we know who yet?”
“I do yes, the accountants made the call not the Executives. Your team is going to be one of them.”
“You’ve got to be kidding! They have the best stats and most revenue generation in the company!”
“They are also the highest paid.”
“Well damnit they deserve to be paid what they get paid.” Chuck brought his 5’9” frame out of the oak chair and started pacing the room. His hand ran across his freshly shaven head as he looked at the floor.
“There has got to be something we can do for them Martin. Something.”
“I’ve tried Chuck, God knows I tried, but they won’t budge.”
“Well you know if they go I go.”
“You are on the list too Chuck.” Martin looked at his desk as his voice cracked.
The pacing stopped and he looked at the wall in shock. “Me too huh?”
“Yes son I’m sorry, I’m truly truly sorry.”
“Who else is going?”
“You, Pete, Jason, Mike, Andy and all your teams.”
“That’s over half the staff of this building.” His heart sank lower.
“I know. I put in my notice this morning. I’ll be here for two weeks and then I’m done.”
“Does anyone else know?”
“No, you are the only one I’m telling until Friday. I wanted you to know so you could get a jumpstart on a job search. You know I’ll be an excellent reference.”
“You know that they all know we are tight and they are going to ask me if I talked to you about this.”
“I know and I’ll trust you to do what is right.”
“I can’t lie you know that.”
“I’m gonna go give my team the day off. I won’t say why but they have busted their asses the last 6 months and deserve it if this is going to happen.”
“Agreed, and Chuck I’m sorry.”
“Thanks Martin. I’ll talk to you later.”
What started out as a normal day with beautiful weather, clear skies and great mountain views suddenly turned into a dismal turn. He made his way down Austin Bluffs Parkway to his home. He was trying to figure out how he was going to break the news to his wife, Morgana. He knew he would walk into the house and find her there taking care of their 5 month old son Tristan, tired but smiling at the same time.
He pulled into the driveway and sat there for almost an hour before she came out and knocked on the window of his Escalade.
Opening the door he got out of the car and gave her a hug.
“Why were you just sitting in the driveway?”
“Lets go inside, we need to talk.”
Her face fell and she started to worry as they walked in the house. He pulled out a chair at the kitchen table for her. This was one of the things that she loved about him. Even at home he was always a perfect gentleman.
“Okay Chuck you are scaring me what is going on?”
“I’m getting laid off on Friday, me and the whole team.”
She sat in stunned silence just looking at him. At last she spoke “You are getting what? How can they do that? I don’t understand.”
“The company is going to be caught up in a scandal, it comes out this afternoon and part of it will result in getting rid of 31% of the company.”
“But you and your team are so valuable.”
“I know but Martin said it was the accountants making the call and our pay is higher than most for our positions.”
“But you guys also make more than anyone else.”
“I know but its going to happen.”
She reached over and pulled her husband into her embrace. She knew he wouldn’t cry even if he wanted to. But she held him there to let him know she was with him.
“We’ll be okay Chuck, you’ll find another job, we’ve got our savings, and I’m sure there will be severance pay. So we can make it.”
Through a cracking voice he replied, “I know dear, as long as I got you and Tris everything will be okay.”
“Well you’ll always have us.” With that she let him go and he got up kissing her on the top of her head. Making his way back to his office he was grateful for having everything he had and her words gave him a new sense of hope.
Four months had gone by since the lay offs happened at ITS. Chuck sat at his computer checking the balances on their accounts. It was 10:30 and Morgana should be home any time. She was taking Tristan for his latest check up. She had left him sleeping knowing that he had not slept well the night before.
After checking the accounts and adding up how much longer they would be able to get by he moved into the kitchen and looked at the clock. 11:30. It was not like her to be late, he picked up the phone and tried calling her. 4 rings and voice mail. Maybe the doctor was running behind.
He poured himself a cup of coffee and sat down to read the morning paper. The paper now read he looked at the clock again. 12:20. He went to the phone list she kept next to the phone and called the doctor’s office.
“Dr. Calen’s office.”
“Yes ma’am I’m looking for Morgana Evans, is she still there by any chance?”
“Let me check for you sir, um, no sir it looks like she left already.”
“Do you know when by any chance?”
“Oh I think it was almost two hours ago.”
He pressed end and tried her cell phone again. A man’s voice answered,
“Who is this?”
“Is this Mr. Evans?”
“Yes it is who the hell is this?” Fear shot through him, he knew Morgana would never be unfaithful to him, but he wasn’t sure what was happening.
“Mr. Evans I’m Officer Bryant. There has been an accident and we have a car coming to your house.”
“What! What kind of accident! Where is my family?”
“Sir, please wait there the car should be there any moment.” At that instance the doorbell rang. He looked through his windows and saw the police car sitting in front of his house. He dropped the phone and ran to the door. Jerking it open he looked crazily at the cop waiting. “Where is my family?”
“Please come with me Mr. Evans we need to get to the hospital.”
He went numb throughout his body and grabbed the door frame to steady himself. The officer reached for him and helped him regain his composure.
“This way sir.”
The officer led him to his car and drove him to the hospital in silence. Finally as they pulled into the Emergency room parking he asked, “Are they okay?”
“I don’t know sir, I was closest to your house and was called to get you. I’m sorry I don’t know anymore.”
They made their way into the hospital’s Emergency room and Chuck was immediately taken into the back by three officers and led to a small room. Two of the officers stayed with him while the other left.
Nobody would answer his questions about his family. He was stopped every time he tried to leave the room and asked to sit back down. After 10 minutes the third officer entered with a doctor. The doctor sat next to him.
“Mr. Evans your wife and son were in a very bad car accident. Apparently a driver sped through a stop light and hit your wife’s car.”
“Where are they?” His voice was devoid of emotion, ice had taken over his vocal chords.
“Your wife is in surgery right now and your son, I’m sorry Mr. Evans but your son passed away almost immediately.”
He shot up out of his chair and stumbled back until he hit a wall. He started moving to his right when he bolted for the door. “I’ve got to see her, where is she!”
The officers grabbed him as the doctor produced a needle and inserted it into his arm. “This will calm you down Mr. Evans. I’m sorry I had to be the one to tell you. We are doing all we can for your wife. I’ll be back as soon as we know.”
He fell to the floor and moved into a corner. He pulled his knees to his chest and rocked back and forth. After five hours in the corner the doctor came back in the room again. He looked at Chuck and met his stare. “I’m sorry. We did all we could.”
Everyone in the ward turned in the room’s direction as he let out a harrowing scream and then succumbed to tears. He felt the needle enter his arm again as he cried. And then the officers lifted him to his feet and helped him to a bed that had been set in a private room. He lay in the bed shaking and sobbing. Tears still flowing down his face. When he finally closed his eyes, he had dreams of his wife and son being killed in a horrific accident. He woke two hours later and asked the officer in his room to take him home.