Tick tock. Tick tock.
It felt like the clock was against her today. Try as hard as she might, she was still working on this financial report that her bosses were expecting before the end of the day. It was already 4 and she wasn’t sure where that investment analysis had gone to. She needed that last piece to finish the report and get it submitted to the executive team. Her employer was finalizing an acquisition of an international manufacturing division and she was the head of the financial division that would prepare the report for the board to review and decide if they would proceed with the project or not.
On the edge of her desk she finally noticed a blue header sticking out from under a pile of papers. There it is! She pulled it out and got back underway of typing up the final piece of the report. Right as she was finalizing the report, Mary, the receptionist walked up to her desk ringing her hands and looking concerned.
“Maya, there’s an officer in the lobby. He would like to speak with you.” she said as she stared at the floor. Finally looking up to make eye contact, her eyes were full of concern.
Maya sat back, distracted and irritated that she was being interrupted right when she was nearly done with the report. “What does he want?”
Mary shrugged her shoulders and quietly stated “He says it’s a personal matter and that he needs to speak with you right away.” She turned on her heels and headed back to the main lobby without another word.
Without much choice, Maya pushed herself back from her desk and started walking towards the lobby. As she approached, she saw the offer standing there, his hands on his hips, staring out the main window that looked over a beautiful scene of downtown Phoenix.
As she approached him, he quickly turned around to face her and his eyes were soft and full of sincerity. “Ms. Brennar, I presume?”
“Yes, what exactly is this all about? If Martin sent you, you can tell him that once the divorce is finalized, he can come by and get his things. But until the final details are confirmed, he needs to leave me alone.” Maya had been married to Martin for 8 years. They fell in love quickly, married too fast, and hit a hard ending. Maya was a successful business analyst and had a healthy income that Martin was all too excited to get his claws into through their divorce. He was claiming that Maya had kept him from being able to have his own successful career and therefore owed him compensation so that he could stay on his feet for a time.
“I’m sorry, Ms. Brennar, I’m here about your father. He had an accident last night and passed away abruptly. I need to take you down to the station to identify the body.”
At these words, her entire world tilted off its axis and everything was basked in shadow. My father? I had just been to see him this weekend, what could have happened? She started to feel weak in the knees and sat in one of the lobby chairs to stabilize herself. Her and her father had always been close. Maya’s mother had left them when she was a child to live a life full of partying and excitement. John, Maya’s father, had done the best he could to raise his little girl into a strong and confident woman. There were no other family members that they were close with, so it was always just the two of them.
“Um.. Can.. Can you tell me what happened?” Maya’s eyes were filling with tears and her voice was betraying her.
The officer stepped closer and placed a hand on her shoulder. “It’s best if we discuss this down at the station.”
Maya gathered her composure the best she could, stood and excused herself. Returning back to her desk, she quickly gathered her things, including her work computer and all the documents she had been working on. She took the report over to her boss, Trina, and updated her on what was going on. Trina said she would finish the report for her and sent her on her way.
Back at the station, Maya sat on a bench with her hands in her lap waiting for the officer to finish shuffling through his papers and return over to her. Her mind was still reeling from the news of her father’s abrupt death and how he could have possibly died. Lost in thought, she noticed black shoes in front of her and slowly lifted her gaze. The office had returned and was speaking to her but she couldn’t hear him. Shaking her head to clear the noise, she finally made out what he was saying.
“Ms. Brennar, if you’ll please follow me, I am going to escort you down to the investigator’s office where they can bring you up to speed on the details of your father’s death.” He waited for her to acknowledge what he had said before turning around and heading towards a hallway.
Maya quickly stood with her purse on her shoulder and followed the officer.
After several turns he stopped in front of an office with the name plate:
As she entered the room, the officer quietly closed the door behind her and disappeared back to his normal duties. Maya stared at the closed door for a moment before she heard a voice she would have recognized anywhere.
“Maya, I am so sorry to hear about your father. When the case was handed over to me, I wasn’t sure how I was going to handle this, but even under the circumstances it’s great to see you.”
Blinking her eyes several times before really processing who was in front of her, she let out a thundering sob and fell into Special Investigator Donald Timmins’ arms. They had been childhood friends, Maya and Donnie, growing up in the same neighborhood and had stayed close all the way through high school. So many happy years they spent together, doing school projects side-by-side, attending dances as something a little more than friends, but also never officially dating even though they both wanted to. But the young life always kept them from committing to one another. Then when they graduated high school Donnie took off to enter the police academy and Maya went to college to pursue her accounting finance degree. Over the years they had stayed in contact periodically and met for the casual coffee or lunch, but never quite letting each other back into the picture.
Now they were being thrust into each other’s lives again over a tragic situation. Holding her close and rubbing his hands up and down her back, trying to get her sobs under control, Don motioned Maya over to a chair in front of his desk and asked her to sit. “Maya, I’m sorry that we have to get together under these circumstances, but there are some really important things about your father’s death that we need to discuss.”
Don leaned back against his desk, one hand resting on the hard surface and the other he brushed through his hair while letting out a loud sigh. Looking at the floor he continues on.
“I know this won’t be easy to hear, so I’ll try to be brief. Your father had a meeting scheduled last evening with an associate of his, another lab tech that he works with, they had planned to have dinner. She waited at the restaurant for him, but he never showed. After repeated calls to his cell with no answer, she showed up at his house. After no answer at the door she began walking around the house checking in the windows. Clearly she was concerned about him, but we’re still trying to establish more information regarding their relationship. Anyway, she saw his body through the kitchen window. He was face down and already dead by the time she got there. His autopsy finished up just a bit ago and it looks like suicide. He had ingested an entire bottle’s worth of Oxycodone, but for whatever reason, didn’t leave a suicide note.”
The exasperated sound as he finished telling the story told Maya that her childhood wasn’t sure if he believed the facts in front of him. Burying her face in her hands with fresh tears running down her face and heavy sobs that echoed off the dark walls, Maya tried to collect herself so she could ask Don a few things.
“My father has never taken any kind of medication before, except for maybe a small amount of ibuprofen if he had a headache. Why in the world would he have had Oxycodone and taken an entire bottle?”
She lays her head back against the chair and takes a deep breath, steadying herself to speak more. Staring at the ceiling she goes on.
“It just isn’t like him, Donnie. None of this makes any sense and who is this woman he was meeting? I talk to my dad every other weekend and he has never mentioned this… woman.”
Getting up and heading back to his office chair on the other side of the desk, Don sits down with a heavy thud and opens the thick folder on his desk that undoubtedly contains files on my father and the investigation. Don picks up his reading glasses and flips through a few pages before he finds the one he’s looking for.
“Janet Bowen, age 52. She’s a senior lab technician at Penchant Pharmaceutical working alongside your father on a recent project. According to her, they had been working side by side for the last year and had started seeing each other socially only a few months ago. We haven’t been able to get anything from Penchant yet on the project your father was working on and they’re throwing up all the legal jargon right now on confidentiality.”
Don sets his reading glasses down, resting his elbows on the desk and puts his hands together in front of his face. His eyes look wary and tired, but sincere. “Maya, I’m going to be frank with you here. We’ve known each other a long time and your father was important to me, too. But I honestly don’t think he committed suicide and whatever he and Janet were working on is a big piece of this puzzle. A puzzle I’m determined to figure out. But for now, I need you to go down to the morgue, identify the body and proceed with all the arrangements. Give yourself time to grieve and let me get this information sorted out.”
The blackness surrounding Maya’s vision right now starts to close in even more than it had when the sweet officer showed up at her work to tell her that her father was dead. She needs to start steeling her emotions now or she’ll fall apart with all that lays in front of her right now.
“I need to get going then, I have a funeral to plan.”
Penchant Pharmaceutical Trial Notes
Experiment PR-6547 Day 125
Lead Researcher John Brennar and Senior Lab Technician Janet Bowen
Extracting sample virus VR-6728 from the vial, John carefully pulls the plunger and transfers the substance onto the petri dish combining the active virus with the documented bacteria sample. They’ve been working on this experiment for months now, preparing all the samples for observsation.
John sets the final sample along the counter with the other 250 observational samples that consist of human, animal, and mixed ecomatter that was carefully combined with the latest Penchant Pharmaceutical substance. John had been briefed on this project back in February. They explained to him that he was to head up the trials and lead the research team to determine the efficacy of this substance.
We believe that this could save thousands, if not millions, of lives. You’ll be heading up a team, of your own choosing, to run the experiments and demonstrate the scientific evidence that it works. You’re most challening task will be to complete the work in 9 months.
John ran his fingers through his hair as he recalled this conversation with the President of Penchant Pharmaceutical. His job, first and foremost, was to run analysis and observe the outcome. Not to create the outcome they were looking for. He hoped he wasn’t reading too much into their directions.
He walked back to his desk and sat down, looking through his notes from the days work and updated his research logs on his computer. Janet was still cleaning and sterilizing the workroom, while he stared out watching her work. She was a beautiful woman, slightly younger than him and divorced over a decade ago. They had flirted during their months of work together. He had chosen her specifically for his team based on her past work and excellent record. She also wasn’t hard on the eyes.
She turned just in time to catch him watching her, her cheeks redened and she went back to finishing her work. After they were done finishing up for the day, they met at the doors, grabbing their coats to keep them warm in the cool spring temperatures.
As they walked out to the parking lot, John cleared his throat and turned towarss Janet. “If you don’t have any plans tonight, would you like to meet for a drink?”
Janet’s eyes grew large and she nodded her head slowly. “That sounds lovely.”