The Coolman & Associates Human Resource Manager coordinated writers, designers, client accounts. Killer for the company. In eight AM out eight PM.
Sexy in her way. Frantic.
Turned me on. Two years older than I was, then: she was twenty-six. We eased into chummy, casual, quick to jest, but cautious. Wary of terms.
“Hell,” I said. “We spend our lives here. Who are you?”
“Good point,” she said. “Work, work, work. Love?”
“Love the town all night, let’s go!”
We drank and gossiped like kids at recess. About colleagues, about clients, about the Coolman higher-ups.
After the bar straight to another, where she confessed to an undertow of boredom at Coolman, which flowed with the wine that loosened her tongue, to admissions of dissatisfaction, of days, weeks, months lapped by currents of anxiety, yearning.
“Career path,” she said with resolution, then softening, “But what about kids?”
And anyway what had she really been put on earth to do? This? If so, The God-Man was surely very much insane.
Drink, talk drink at the bar, then drink, talk, talk, talk at her place till three AM.
“You can’t go,” she said. “I like you.”
Hem of her night gown rising—
“No,” she said, “I can’t, I can’t.”
But she could, she could, and did, with gusto, not at all shy or her day-to-day-to-day in-office uptight.
In the morning, past noon actually, the monstrous hangover we shared kept us still and silent for an hour.
She said, “This didn’t happen. Well, it did but meant nothing. No not nothing, you’re sweet, but this can’t, we can’t do this again. My career.”
Booze-sick, bored, and not a little disappointed, I let it go. Pursuit of pure talk and brief physical connection lubricated by wine. Just that, and nothing more.
One day she didn’t come to work or call anyone at all. No show. AWOL. Not her nature. Nor did she come to work the next day or the next. Human Resources took over the case from her immediate supervisors.
Then it became a matter for professionals. Perhaps the Detective Agency, if her family had money — I didn’t know. If not, her files would be transferred from Human Resources to the Police.
She was missing, and young. Not young enough to be Missing Young. Not one of the Missing Young. Just missing.
Sometimes people disappear. In the middle of everything. In the middle of doing. At the Ad Agency, as elsewhere. One day they become gone, then quite gone. Out into The Nation. Or under it.
Police might know, or gather enough data to file a Reasonable Conclusion Report that would be marked Alert Status, for a while, on the Pyramid 2.0 Database. Or, if she came from money, The Detective Agency could pursue the the matter to conclusion, whatever that might be. Or it might languish in Alert Status on Pyramid 2.0 until reduced to Query-level after a year or however long protocol demanded — or allowed.
Her missing, like anyone’s, was a puzzle. Like the missing of The Missing Girl. Except in The Human Resource Manager’s case, no one, except Human Resources, perhaps her family, or the police, was in any great haste, that is, was passionate to make her found.
Perhaps, if she remained missing, I’d miss her, and request, from whoever kept it while the case was on Alert, the little lapel insignia that bore her name.