“Where the hell were you last night?”
It was above Donna to explain to Paul her personal business.
“Look, you worry about Paul, I’ll worry about Donna!” she shot back.
A staring match ensued. A few workers took notice. It was Paul who broke away first. He was replaced by Gary.
“He was lookin’ for you on the pier yesterday”.
“Fuck off Gary,” and she too marched away.
Gary stood in place, eyeing the workers sending grins back at him. They were enjoying this-this passion play, a derision to their everyday routine, a real life soap opera where they could observe and discuss events during lunch breaks.
For the past week the death of one of their own had been the major topic of conversation. This was replaced by the Carlos and Donna and Paul show starring the three zany characters of upper management and their sidekick, the comedic relief antics of Gary Cooper.
Gary could feel their eyes upon him. Ignoring this, he continued working, crouched down at the base of his unit until he couldn’t stand it anymore and looked up, searching for a pair of eyes to lash out at.
Instead, all he saw were construction workers diligently going about their business.
“Gary, I want you inna meeting at noon today in the galley.”
It was Carlos. Gary turned, surprised at how relaxed and refreshed he looked. The dark rings under his eyes had diminished.
“Ten-four boss,” He cheerfully responded.
Carlos smiled a bit before exiting in his usual fast pace.
Workers nearby relaxed.
“Hey Gary, got some brown stuff on your nose!” one of them shouted.
Gary playfully extended his index finger at the group arousing sparse laughter.
The three engineers were present in the galley when Carlos finally arrived.
“Thanks for commin’” Said Carlos upon entering. “There’s been a change in personnel staffing,” he said before sitting. “Paul, your services will no longer be needed on Esther,” he said as he made himself comfortable in the flimsy vinyl chair.
Paul’s face dropped.
“I’ve already called your office. They expect you back immediately,” continued Carlos matter-of-factly.
Paul’s eyes darted over to Donna’s. Her eyes remained fixated to the table. He looked over at Gary. Gary’s eyes were filled with compassion.
“The boat’s waiting,” Carlos firmly stated.
Paul slowly rose and appeared to speak but hesitated. Instead, he gathered some papers, put them in his briefcase, closed it and quietly left.
The door softly closed behind him.
Donna finally looked up at Carlos.
Gary suddenly bolted from the table and caught up to Paul.
Paul stopped, saw who it was and continued down the catwalk to the gangway to the waiting boat.
Gary followed him down to the boat, the captain gunning the engine trying to keep the craft steady in the rough sea.
“What the hell was that all about?” Gary demanded.
“Whattya think, Carlos is fuckin’ Donna!” he shot back over the roar of the engines
“Geeze, no shit Sherlock! But why is he gittin’ rid of you?”
“Go figure, Einstein,” and with that Paul swung out on the rope onto the deck of the gyrating boat giving Gary one last look before disappearing into the cabin.
Gary stood, watching the boat churn the ocean into a white froth and slowly leave. He continued watching the boat crawl across the ocean towards the shore experiencing emotions ranging from anger, anxiety, and then finally, rage.
He continued watching the boat as he ascended the catwalk. Turning onto the platform he saw Carlos and Donna outside the galley talking. Carlos reached up and fixed her hair. She turned her head, flinging her hair. Gary ducked out of sight unseen, down to the construction floor where he remained immersed in his work for the rest of the day.
A week passed with construction continuing at a steady pace. Carlos was again a regular presence at the construction site now paying special attention to Donna. She was always by his side, either in serious deep discussion or throwing her head back in laughter, continually reaching for his arm.
Eyes were averted when they approached but discussions continued behind their backs. Gary would sometimes add his views on the current status of their personal lives while eating lunch with the workers. He had gained their acceptance after having no where else to go to eat and after a few feeble attempts at cordial small talk was finally accepted.
“Carlos! Phone call!” Len ran up shouting with a pained expression. “I think its Fred L. Hartman. Well, he says it Fred L. Hartman. I think it is!”
Carlos gave Donna a look of concern before briskly marching away to his office.
“Who’s Fred L. Hartman?” Donna asked Len as the two watched Carlos leave.
“Fred L. Hartman is president and CEO of Tampco Oil. A real asshole,” Len answered.
Inside, Carlos’ office telephone receiver was off the hook sitting on a pile of papers that hid his desk.
“This is Carlos”.
“Carlos Cabral, this is Fred L. Hartman. How are you today?”
“Just fine sir”.
It’s really him, Carlos thought.
“I’m calling because we have a little problem here. One of your contract engineers, a Paul E. Gray, has filed a wrongful termination suit against Tampco Oil. You know anything about this?”
Carlos could tell he was reading from a document.
“First time I’ve heard anything about…..”
“He’s naming you Carl as the bad guy.”
“It’s Carlos sir.”
“Please understand, to me it’s no big deal, the money I mean.”
An awkward pause ensued.
“Here’s what I want you to do. I want you to report to Platform Eva tomorrow and relinquish control of Esther to Len Veenmaas. Any questions?”
“No. No questions, sir.”
“Fine. Oh, and say hi to that wife of yours. What’s her name?”
“Ah yes, Caroline. Keep up the good work Carl.”
It was too late. He had already hung up.
“I’m gonna fuckin’ kill em,” Carlos mumbled leaving his office just as Donna entered.
She cautiously blocked his exit.
“Fuckin’ Paul,” is all he could muster as he brushed past. He walked to the seaward side of the platform and stared out at Eva.
Indeed. Poor Eva was the red-headed bastard stepchild of Tampco. A low producing platform on the fringe of the oil field, she had always had to struggle to float the crude to the surface and fight tenaciously for any capitol improvement monies so lavishly bestowed on her sister Esther.
Carlos sensed Donna approach from behind.
“Gotta report to Eva,” his words stern and low.
“When do you leave?” Donna asked from behind him.
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