It was another dark, rainy, early morning in the Offices of the Building Works Department of Lineford Council in London. The cleaning lady, in her early sixties had just about finished for the day.
“Morning” she said happily to the Manager of the Department as he banged his office door behind him and just about managed to grunt at her.
“Nice to see he doesn’t change then” she laughed to herself as another member of the Building Works team arrived. A happy, smiling Caribbean man in his early fifties this time known as Clyde. The kind of man who has a permanent smile on his face, regardless of whatever life throws at him.
“Morning – you gorgeous hunk of cuddle” he said giving her a squeeze before he sat down, opened his brief case and found a packet of ‘something or other’ that his wife had lovingly made for him and consigned straight to the waste bin with a look of distaste on his face.
“Now, now Romeo” she laughed “What would your Bella say if she knew what you just did?”
“Well” he whispered trying not to laugh. “What my Bella doesn’t know, my Bella won’t worry about. Watch out – here comes laughing boy passing through. Stand to attention”.
An Irish Man somewhere in his fifties suddenly appeared. Rather fond of himself by his attitude would have been an understatement, but then the rest of the Department all knew that and normally doubled up with laughter behind his back, but – they all knew he could be ‘a nasty piece of work’ as his Secretary described him if he was crossed.
“Better not to poke the Bulldog with a stick” was how one member of the staff described him.
Next to arrive was a the Finance Expert. Perculiar kind of man was what they all thought. Kept himself to himself. Made a lot of excuses such as where his car was parked during the day. He hardly ever spoke to anyone else in the office, but on the other hand he was excellent at his job, so no one could complain about him.
Staff shortages mean’t an Agency Worker had to be employed. As people said when you employed someone from an Agency you never knew quite what kind of person was going to arrive and in this case that was true. This particular person as definitely what people born in the 1940’s would have said was ‘three ‘appence short of a shilling’. He sang songs all day long, didn’t have the power of concentration, and used to insult people without knowing he was doing it. Somehow though he kept his job, probably because no-one else was available.
Finally, the Admin as they called her. An Eastern European lady, who didn’t speak much English, and seemed at war with herself and the world.
And so another day in the Office as the saying went began.
Tenders had to be arranged so that they could reach their target date. Telephone calls were taken from tenants who were experiencing problems in their accommodation and the appropriate workmen sent out to deal with them as soon as possible. The Admin person was fussing that they had to arrange a collection for someone who was leaving and everyone was expected to donate something to the leaving present regardless of whether they liked the person or not.
As the cleaner said – Just another day in the Office.
Except that today was the day it wasn’t going to be just another day in the Office.
It all changed at around 11am when it was time to make the morning tea for everyone. Normally everyone made their own tea, when they fancied a cup. It didn’t matter what time it was. You just went into the tea room and made yourself a cup of tea or coffee or whatever you wanted.
Suddenly the Cleaning Lady appeared completely out of nowhere, dressed in her cleaning overalls still.
“Hello” said the Departmental Manager smiling “You still here?”
“I’ve been doing a bit of extra work in another part of the building. I thought I’d pop back and see my favourite lot and make them all some tea instead of letting them do it themselves” she winked. “Not only did I do that the Admin Department over at the Town Hall had a Councillor’s Meeting complete with cakes so I borrowed a few on permanent loan and brought you lot a few to have with your tea”
“Special treatment everyone!” shouted Clyde as everyone just cheered.
Within no time, tea was made and their ‘marvel of a cleaning lady’ as they all called her as they waved her off saying they would all see her in the morning.
Later that afternoon, no-one from any other Department had been able to get through to the Building Works Team by telephone and were getting more and more frustrated by the minute. Eventually a more Senior Officer went down to find out where they all were. If the Department were left totally un-manned, he would want to know why and someone had better tell him. The site that greeted him, made him vomit straight onto the regulation green Council carpet.
Every Officer from the Building Works Team was face down on their desks, eyes and mouth open, and were dead. He spoke to a young lady, smiling as not to cause a fuss and asked her to bring the Director immediately as there was a slight problem with a Contract that needed to be addressed immediately. When she came back, she said that the Director was out for the afternoon, but the Deputy Director was on his way.
“Thank you so much my Dear” he smiled trying his hardest not to vomit.
Eventually the Deputy Director did arrive looking angry that he had been called away from his Chicken and Salad Sandwich which he was going to follow up with two jam doughnuts from the local supermarket.
“I think – I think -” he mumbled
“Well we know they’re dead for goodness sake man. Let’s call the Police very quietly and let them deal with it. We’re standing here like a pair of idiots in a room full of dead bodies and no idea how they got here. Use your mobile for goodness sake”
The Police were called and came almost immediately, sirens blazing, which alerted the rest of the Depot, which no-one really needed or wanted.
Their first question annoyed the Deputy Director no end.
“Don’t most Directors work out of the Town Hall?”
“I wouldn’t know” the Deputy almost hissed. “You’d have to ask the Councillor’s why they saddled us with the prat of a Director we have to put up with”
An inquest into the deaths concluded that the members of the Building Works team had been murdered by poison that had been added to their tea by person or persons unknown because nothing could ever be proved and no-one was ever caught.
The Director of the Building Works Department was never seen again. Nor was the Cleaning Lady. The only two people who knew where they had gone were each other. They had been lovers for a very long time, and had fulfilled their own dream of running away together to start a new life together in Thailand.