George Grimshaw poked his head around the corner of Frank Crocker's office door. "You wanted to talk to me, Boss?"
"Come in and sit down."
"They were here again Friday night. Third weekend in a row I've caught kids hanging out behind the old warehouse." George frowned, "I sent them packing but I doubt it'll do much good. They keep coming back.
"Never mind that. I'm afraid I have bad news. Sales were low in the last quarter and we've got to make some cuts. I'm sorry George but I've had to eliminate the position of night watchman."
"I'm sorry," Crocker cut in, "the decision has been made. You'll get four weeks severance pay. That's more than fair." In a slow and deliberate voice he added, "I hope you'll remember that."
"Yeah. Thanks for nothing. I"ll pick my cheque up on the way out."
"You do that, George."
George went straight to payroll. Sally smiled apologetically as she handed over the cheque. "I"m really sorry to hear about your job, George. I couldn't believe it when Mr Crocker came in this morning and told me what he was planning."
"Was anyone else let go?"
"Not that I know of. At least, I haven't been asked to draw up any other cheques but for all I know, I could be next."
"Maybe I'll see you around, Sally," and turning to leave he added, "take care of yourself."
After spending half the night drowning his sorrows, George fell asleep on the sofa. He awakened at six, famished, and made his way over to Bette's Diner.
The food at Bette's was good but the diner had far more than that to offer. For George, the main attraction was its namesake. He slid into his usual booth, at the back, near the kitchen.
"Didn't know if I'd see you here this morning." An attractive blonde-haired woman, in her early forties, placed two steaming cups of coffee on the table before taking a seat opposite George. "Sally stopped in yesterday. She told me what happened."
"Sally's got a big mouth," George growled.
"She meant well," Bette smiled, "and it's not like I wouldn't find out."
"Look George, do you want to talk about it or shall we just pretend that nothing has happened?"
George took a long swig of his coffee, eyeing Bette from over the cup. "Talk, I guess. You know, I've never been fired before. It's not an experience I'd recommend."
Bette laughed, "most people wouldn't. George, it's not the end of the world. there are plenty of other jobs out there. Besides, you always said you'd leave given the chance. Well, this is your chance."
"Actually," George mused, "I liked the work. I enjoyed doing security, especially nights. Free to do my job as I pleased with no one bossing me about. It was the Crockers I didn't like. Never trusted them."
"Your omelet, Bette," said a waitress as she arrived carrying two large plates of food. "And one Farmhouse Special for you, Mr Grimshaw. I'll be right back with more coffee."
George looked down at the plate of sausages, eggs and syrup-laden pancakes. "But I never ordered..."
"It's my treat," Bette interrupted. "I placed the order when you arrived. Dig in," she encouraged, waving her fork around. "Don't let it get cold."
George remembered how hungry he was and began to eat greedily. "What I don't get," he managed between mouthfuls, "is why they want rid of me right now when there are all these problems with the high-school kids."
"You told me last week about teenagers using the area behind one of the buildings as a hangout."
"Yeah, they go behind the old original warehouse. It's far enough away from the road that they're hidden from view. Ever since the weather warmed up, they've been back there partying, drinking under age and smoking."
"Did you call the police?" asked Bette.
"Wanted to but Crocker said no."
"George, don't you think that's odd?"
"Not as odd as him ordering a whole lot of inventory moved into that very same warehouse. The structure's wood, not steel like the other two. Seems like a bad decision if you ask me. I told Crocker I already had to put one fire out from the kids smoking back there. They just toss their butts anywhere they like. Now with me gone, if it happens again, the whole building will go up in smoke along with all that inventory."
Bette put down her fork and pushed away her plate. Leaning back in her seat, she thought a moment before suggesting, "maybe that's the idea..."
It was nine o'clock Friday night and George and Bette were camped out on Crocker Construction Supply property. They had a clear view of the old warehouse however they themselves were hidden by a large clump of bushes.
Like clockwork, the party at dusk and it wasn't long before there were at least two dozen kids present. After an hour or so, a car pulled in behind the far warehouse. George recognized it as Frank Crocker's.
Frank jumped out of the car followed by his brother, John. "You're trespassing on private property," Frank hollered. "Clear off before I call the police!"
Like bugs surprised by a bright light, the teenagers scurried off.
George and Bette watched as the Crocker boys pulled dry brush closer to the building. They saw Frank light a cigarette and toss it into the pile. Several more cigarettes were lit and they, too, were added to the make-shift kindling. Soon a blaze began to roar.
Police cars pulled into the supply yard before the flames reached the building. As they did, George and Bette emerged from their hiding spot.
George held up his cell phone and yelled over to the Crockers. "Hey Boss! I know you said not to call the police about the parties but since you fired me, I don't take orders from you anymore. Good think I called, too. Insurance people wouldn't be too happy if that old warehouse caught fire holding all that inventory now, would they?"