“I don’t understand the ways of his company.” Rook placed the tray on the coffee table.
“It’s age discrimination. That’s what it is.”
Rook stood by the couch, while Leona turned from the pictures to the tea. “But he should have retired years ago, it’s true. Then this wouldn’t have happened.”
She made her tea. Rook said nothing, having no feelings on the matter. He truly didn’t understand why he one day he was working, and on starting on a Friday he was not.
Leona took out the remote from the console and put on the TV. “What is he doing up there?”
Rook shrugged. He didn’t understand why his Master locked himself in his room, either. He watched the TV with Leona, who preferred crime dramas to Rook’s game shows. Serena hadn’t come over today because of the rain.
Rook hadn’t seen fit to introduce Serena to his Master, because he’d been locked up in his room for the past week. The birds were confused, now that they no longer had him to serve. Mirus was the only familiar who seemed to be not worried.
Sipping from the fine china, Leona concentrated on the program while Rook stood by. Then they heard a door open. Both of them looked upward.
Footsteps treaded down the stairs. Edwin appeared at the foot of the stairs, dressed in his pajamas and robe. “Leona!”
She got up from the couch. “Father? Are you all right?”
He suddenly smiled. “Better. Much better. Oh, tea.”
“I’ll get you a cup,” said Rook.
“What were you doing up there?” Leona asked while Rook went to the kitchen to fetch another cup.
“The Master is awake,” he warned Mirus and the other familiars in the room. The gremlin who handled the cutlery and dishes put on his apron, ready to work.
Rook returned to the room. His master was animated in his speech, gesturing and waving his arms. “…and did you know that Atwood, the manager of account management, has a secret love for boys?”
“Father,” said Leona, a disgusted look on her face, “how do you know all this?”
“I have my ways. I can expose the entire account management team—past and present—to questionable, if not criminal, practices.”
Rook handed over the cup. Edwin took it absently and put it on the tray.
“I’ve made a list. I have so much on them. Office politics and competition and personal time at work; their actual thoughts about clients, how they treated and felt about each other. I have it all.”
“What do you plan on doing with this information, Father?”
“Call the TV stations and the newspapers. They have to investigate the criminal behavior with all this information I have.”
Leona bit her lip. Edwin put some black tea in his cup and poured the water over it. He added sugar, stirring it.
“Honestly, Father, I don’t think that kind of information is criminal.”
“Oh? What about one account manager—who’s been there for about ten years—changed the information in a client’s record based on hearsay about the client laying off people, and then he found out a month later that the layoff never happened, so he changed the information back again?”
“Do you have proof?”
“The computer time-stamps information changes.”
“I don’t know if anyone will want to know this information.”
“Of course they will! PharmCare is the biggest pharmacy benefit management system in the city, if not the state!”
Leona finished her tea. Edwin kept talking, giving examples of “criminal” behavior. Most of them were for prior authorizations for high-ranking people in the client’s offices, or increasing of prices for one client while decreasing it for another to get them to sign on, and then increasing it steadily by a few cents a month so they were compatible.
She and Rook listened impassively. Leona rose when Edwin took a moment to sip his tea.
“I’m sorry, Father, but I don’t think anyone will care.”
Edwin paused. “What do you mean? This is important!”
“This has been going on for years, you say. Why hasn’t anyone else said anything?”
“They probably were sworn to secrecy. I’m not! I read through that contract line by line, and it doesn’t say that I can’t use my knowledge anywhere else.”
She turned to Rook, whose face did not betray the conflict in his mind. What was his Master talking about? Why would telling a TV station or newspaper information be important? Why not tell the authorities?
Leona went to the foyer.
“Aren’t you staying for dinner?”
“I’m sorry. I can’t tonight. Maybe Sunday.”
“Sunday dinner, yes. We can have your favorite, roast beef with baked sweet potatoes.”
Leona had a strange look on her face. “He’s obsessing,” she whispered to Rook. “He needs to see someone.”