The worst thing about being an executive of any business in a time of recession is when it is decided that the necessary cutbacks are to be job losses, especially when one of the unfortunate employees is a friend or even a neighbour or even someone who is both. This morning I had to let Arthur Dempsey go. Arthur is in his late fifties, even though he is well experienced and very dependable, he is not as quick or as cheap as some of the younger members of staff, so he had to be one of the casualties.
I tried to talk to Arthur as a friend rather than a superior and surprisingly he seemed to take it quite well. I was glad that I could tell him he had another nine days of work before he had to go; some of the other guys were done as soon as I told them that they had to finish up with the company. There would be some work for him before he had to completely call it a day. There are packages put in place but unfortunately nothing of any particular worth.
It was dark and raining when I finished for the day. Arthur is usually one of the last to leave, but he wasn’t anywhere around the offices when I left, quite understandable, given he had only been told he lost his job a couple of hours ago. I went down to my car in the underground car park, got into it, and checked all the mirrors before I pulled out of my parking spot. I had to brake quickly just after I made my first turn as something; rather someone was standing right before me and directly in the way. What I saw startled me and I didn’t know what to make of it.
Arthur was standing right in front of the car, looking like something creepy from some sort of horror movie. He was wearing an unzipped bright yellow anorak. His hood was down and his shorter than shoulder-length hair was dripping wet. He scared me with his very menacing look and just as I had begun to calm myself, he picked up a shovel and began to bash the car bonnet, before smashing the windscreen.
My initial shock to Arthur’s behaviour stalled my reaction so after shielding myself momentarily from the shatter of glass from the windscreen, I got the car into gear. This, I certainly had not been expecting, this. I began to reverse the car and at speed, I reverse into an oncoming car which led me to hit my own head against the steering wheel.
Now feeling more than a little groggy, I notice the lighting in this part of the underground that I just so happened to be in begin to flicker and I made an attempt to get out of the car, losing any sense of balance and falling over as I did so. Arthur swung the shovel and my own loss of balance aided me with preventing myself from being on the receiving end of the shovel.
I managed to get up and begin to run to the best of my ability, falling over a couple of times before Arthur could come at me again. There was a small cut above my right eye and blood began to trickle down my face, but I couldn’t worry about that, Arthur was indeed coming after me. He was a guy whom I thought I knew but obviously, I didn’t know at all, perhaps even he did not expect this from himself, and there was no telling what he may do to me.
There was dizziness and it didn’t feel good. I may have had a concussion for all I knew, I did bang my head off my steering wheel when I had reversed into that other car, it is how I got cut. Feeling a little disorientated I needed to find my way out of the car park. Looking around I could not see Arthur; I knew it’d be stupid to think he might have had a change of heart and left.
His behaviour being something I would never have seen coming, maybe he was having some sort of a breakdown, or maybe just had been under a lot of pressure elsewhere in his life that this day really brought it all home. Yeah, losing a job is not a good thing and I was sure it was something he would take with some level of grace, though whatever was going on in his head I was the one who had to let him go and now he was coming after me.
I made my way to a nearby elevator and pressed the button to summon it while constantly looking around to make sure no one else was around and I was caught by surprise as the elevator door opened to reveal Arthur standing inside it with the same menacing look on his face that he had when I first came across him like this. How did he get in there? And how’d he known that this is where I’d come? There is something almost supernatural about all this.
To add to all this, he just looked at me and smiled an even more maniacal grin. Is he enjoying this? My shock and surprise again prevented an immediate reaction. A few seconds pass, a length of time that seemed to last so much longer than it actually did. Arthur began to laugh before swinging the shovel with an aim to hit my head. I manage to duck out of its way, once again I fall.
A quick roll over to avoid the oncoming shovel from connecting before I manage to get back to my feet and make it back into the main building. There would be security on duty inside so once I found someone then things would hopefully begin to calm down.
The thought that all would be well once I was back inside the main building was one that didn’t last too long. I found one of the security guards lying in a pool of his own blood and it was quite likely he had received a blow to the head from Arthur’s shovel.
I don’t know why I didn’t think of it sooner, but I reached for my mobile phone only to realize I didn’t have it. I’m sure I probably had left it in the car. I tried to use a land line but that was down. The lights inside the building had now begun to flicker instilling a fear in me that there may be more to Arthur than any sane person would assume, and I put this feeling down to possibly having hit my head a little harder than I previously thought.
My back was towards the door of the office unit I had only just entered when I went looking for a phone. Hearing movement I turned to be greeted by the shovel coming towards my face. It did connect and it hurt like hell though before it had connected, I managed to put my arms in its way taking some of the pace out of it. There was no way I was going to attempt to plea with Arthur. I just wanted to get as far away from him as I could.
Again, I get up and try to run, needing to duck and dive in order to pass Arthur. With my predicament being what it is or was, there wasn’t much speed in my run, nor was my direction heading in a straight line. Arthur just walked at a singular constant pace and I didn’t seem to be putting much distance between us. I must be dreaming; this feels like a recurring dream that just won’t go away except that is not what this is.
Got to the emergency exits and made my way to the building’s lobby. There was nobody anywhere and the glass exit doors were locked. I usually exit through the car park, so I’d have no need for these doors, until right now that is. I picked up a chair and began smashing it against the doors shattering the glass without it completely breaking it. I needed to get through and just … couldn’t.
Arthur had now caught up with me and before he had the chance to swing the shovel again, I grabbed him by his anorak with both of my hands and rammed him through one of the already shattered glass paneled doors. I took the worst of going through the doors ending up lying on my back on the pathway outside. The rain was coming down heavily.
Hurting really badly, I saw Arthur once again come at me with his shovel. At this point, I was still on my back while out on a road and in a position where I might not be able to react quick enough to Arthur as he stood right over me about to swing the shovel down and on top of me.
A car came at pace towards us, the heavy rain most likely made it difficult for the driver to have seen us and it also made it difficult to brake. The on-coming car distracted Arthur from fully bringing down his shovel. I, somehow and luckily enough, managed to scramble out of the way but the car hit Arthur full-on, though it must have caught me to some degree too, enough to push me over and not much more.
Next thing I remember I was being checked out by an EMT while Arthur was being carted into an ambulance still breathing, so I must have been out for a moment or two, and perhaps I haven’t seen the last of him. So, if your job has you in a position of hiring and firing people, I strongly recommend that you seriously think before you act…