CHAPTER SEVENTEEN- At home with Barb & Ray.
Ray spent Sunday and most of the following week reassessing what he really knew about the climbers. Steve Vaan had caused him to rethink all that he had learned, weeding out what might be termed The Gilbert Factor. Ray looked at all the files he had duped off Gil's web site. Yep, not much truth here. He could see that now. Or so he told himself. And he did not want to see any more climbers. Not now, thank you very much. Just process the information at hand. That's all. Ray called Steve the following weekend to double check a couple of things in Gilbert's files that he just couldn't figure out. Was it the truth, or just the consequences? By mid-July, Ray was comfortable with what he thought he knew. Now he just had to figure out what he was going to do with it.
All this time, Ray was just going through the motions at work. He was doing his job, and doing it well, but he was just doing his job. No socializing, no after hours guy stuff, and no practical jokes. None. Now it's true that April First was The Big Day for practical jokes and focused mayhem, but it wasn't limited to that one day at the Granville Corporation. No, sir. You could do it for free any day of the year. There was, on the average, one good joke a month pulled off for the benefit and humor of all concerned. With Ray taking an unofficial sabbatical, that average had dropped considerably. People were starting to mope. There were fewer Hawaiian shirts on Casual Day. The bowling team was losing. They couldn't go through the Summer like this. Something had to be done. Such were conditions at the now somber Granville Corporation when Ray Meadows got The Call. It was J. P. Granville, Jr.'s secretary. Could Mister Meadows stop by Mister Granville's office at his convenience? Like right now? Thank you. Click.
Ray knew when to waste time and when to make haste. Guess which one this was. He moved to the elevators and made vertical headway with astounding speed. The object here was to be in Granville's office before anyone thought it would be possible for him to get there in that length of time. And he did. Granville's secretary did a classic double-take. Ray Meadows? Here? Now? How is that possible? She stammered a bit and went for the intercom. She announced his presence to J. P., then had to confirm it. Yes, Ray Meadows was here. Really. Yes, right now. Already. Waiting. Send him in? Yes, sir. Ray just smiled and walked through those big dark double doors like he was headed in to see an old friend. Which, in a way, he was. After that big dummy drop last April, there was no doubt that J.P. knew Ray, and that Ray knew J. P. Not that they had lunch or anything, but people knew. Ray's supply requests were being filled a little faster these days. His office was a little cleaner now. He could get a burned out light bulb changed by the maintenance crew within a day. Of course, the maintenance crew was headed up by his fellow prankster Paul Scoggins, who had achieved unheard of status by assisting Ray in that winning prank last April. But still, his lights never got fixed that fast before. Now here he was, hobnobbin' with The Man. What could he want? Ray strode right in with a smile.
"Sit down, Ray, it's good to see you."
Ray sat down.
"You too, sir. What can I do for you?"
"Anything, Ray. Anything."
"I've got a problem and I know you're the solution. You can do anything."
"Thanks for the faith sir, but what's the problem?"
"I don't know."
"That's going to make the solution a little tough to find, sir."
"No, no. I know what the problem is. It's morale. The Grande Esprit de Corps. I know it's hot, and it's summer and all, but everyone here seems to have slowed down."
"Production's down? Sales are down? What's down?"
"Ok, the figure's aren't the problem. We're doing fine. Sales are good. Up from last year. I never worry about that. I can