I was sitting at my desk with my shoes off, wiggling my toes. It had been a long day and a break was very much needed. The reports were off and some of the clients had been calling saying significant sums of money had been coming up missing.
My eyes were fixed on the computer screen when SaLynne walked in. "Hey, Quintina, are you really busy?"
"It can wait a few minutes," I said, moving away from the keyboard. "What's going on? Why are you so dressed up?"
"I've got a hot date. Remember that corner store owner I told you about?"
"The guy from Africa?"
"Yes, girl, he got money and I'm trying to find out if he's willing to share some of it."
I picked up a pen and tapped the end of it on my desk a couple of times. SaLynne was a very smart, ver nice woman but she had gold digger tendencies. I admired her tenacity but there was no way I could blatantly come out and ask some random guy for money. Especially a guy I just met. Something about that sounded a little too hooker-ish to me. Fortunately, I've never found myself in that sort of predicament. My no good husband was good for something, but that's another story.
"So where are you two going?" I asked.
"Girl, I don't know. He just told me to wear something sexy and I did."
"What if he's just taking you to a hotel?"
SaLynne put her hands on her hips, "As long as he drops the money off first I could care less."
I shook my head. "Girl, get your crazy butt out of my office."
After work, I headed straight home. I was hoping that Cortez would be home when I got there but no such luck. There was a note on the fridge that said he was helping his brother move. On a Wednesday? Yeah, whatever. Cortez like leaving notes. I couldn't get him to call or just send a text when he was going to some where. I called his phone to see when he thought he would be finished, but it was turned off. I hated that I always wondered if he was out messing around, but I knew how he was when I married him. I just hoped that he would change. So far, he hadn't.
On Friday, the report from security came. I didn't want to look at it but there was no point in putting it off. The report showed the last employee to access the accounts that had discrepancies. I picked up the phone.
"Can you come to my office?" I said.
"I'm on the way."
SaLynne had a big smile on her face when she walked in. "Hey, girl, what's up?"
I printed the email and handed it to her. She scanned through it. "What does this mean?"
"It means that you have been stealing. Why SaLynne? You could have come to me."
"Girl, I didn't do this."
"SaLynne, that's your access number."
"I don't care. Somebody's trying to set me up," she said staring at the paper.
"SaLynne, you know you could get in trouble for this."
" I said I didn't do it. You mean you don't believe me? I told you this is a set-up."
"Who would set you up?"
"Shit, I don't know. Did you set me up?"
"Why would I do that?" I wondered if she was on drugs.
"Because you're miserable and you want everyone else around you to be sad too." She was referring to my marital problems. That was a low blow, but I knew she was upset so I let it slide.
"SaLynne, $3000 is a lot of money. You could get fired. This is a felony, you could go to jail."
She jumped to her feet and threw the papers in my face. "I told you I didn't fucking do it. But if you don't believe me, you and this job can kiss my ass," she said and then stromed out.
I decided to let my friend calm down and come to her senses. I didn't want to recommend disciplinary action.
Monday morning, SaLynne knocked on my office door. "Since when did you start knocking?" I asked.
"Since I acted a monkey at work and had everyone looking at me crazy when I walked out." I motioned to the chair in front of my desk and she sat. I didn't say any thing, I just let her get her thoughts together. "I had a dream that I was in jail. All of the people that I stole from had hired inmates to beat me up and do all kinds of things to me," she cringed.
"Wow. That's deep."
"Quintina, I'm sorry. Girl, my money funny and I figured it wouldn't hurt anything to skim a little bit off the top. I mean those folks got plenty money. I didn't think they would miss it."
I just shook my head.
"Quintina, I know that wasn't right, but I was desparate. I had to do something. I got an eviction notice on my front door and my car was on the verge of being possessed."
"SaLynne, you make decent money, you don't have any kids, no sick or needy family members, what the heck have you been doing with your money?"
"Going out to eat, shopping."
"You mean you spent your rent and car note on food and clothes?"
"Okay, okay," SaLynne said, "I go to the casino. They send me coupons for free rooms and free food and $40 to play with. Sometimes they give me gifts like woks and electric skillets."
"That's great but how often do you win any money? I'm sure you give them a lot more than they give you."
"Every once in a while I'll hit for $400 to as much $5000."
"And what do you do with the money?"
"Spend it. More gambling. Sometimes I catch up on my bills.
"That's sad. So you've gotten so behind on your bills that now you're jeopardizing your lively hood?"
SaLynne shrugs, "Shit happens. I'll pay it back."
"It's not that simple. There's paperwork to be done and we may have to put you on a two week suspension."
"I need a vacation..."
"Quin, girl, I need my cheese. You made me feel so bad about my sugar daddy that I broke up with him. I can't pay back $3000 on my own."
I blew out a sigh. I knew I would regret it, but my friend needed me. "I'll fix it."
"How? How can you fix it?"
"Don't worry about it. I'll take care of it."
SaLynne grabbed Quintina and hugged her. "You're the best sister I never had. Thanks sweetie. I'll make it up to you, I promise."
I watched SaLynne bounce out of myoffice. Then I sighed again, shook my head and laid my head on my desk.