Publish Date: 03/23/2022
National Microbiology Lab, Winnipeg
January 17, 2032,
“Hello, Mr. Bakshi, it’s Rosa Rojas. I’m sorry, but I need to have the lock changed for my apartment again.”
“Oh Rosa, I am so sad. He didn’t work out.”
Mr. Bakshi hears quiet sobbing.
“Rosa, what happened?”
“He hit me last night.”
“I’ll change the lock right now. Anything else you would like me to do before you arrive home from work?”
“No, I just don’t want him to be in my apartment when I get home.”
“You will need to come to our apartment and retrieve a key when you arrive home. It would be an excellent plan if Mrs. Bakshi and I spent the evening with you. When he appears at your residence, he will behave properly if you are not alone.”
“Oh, thank you. I was worried about that. I will see you after work. Goodbye.”
Rosa was suiting up to enter the level 4 containment area when the intercom in the change room ordered her to go to the director’s office.
She entered the suite of offices and stepped past his executive secretary without acknowledging her.
“Wait, you can’t continue into his office until I advise you.”
Too late, Rosa opened his door and marched in.
“What do you want?”
“Miss Rojas, that is no way to speak to me, your boss.”
I’m going back to work if you waste my time.
“I will put this incident in your record along with all the other issues I have recorded and one day I will fire you. I am your boss.”
“You are a political appointee who received your job by kissing the right asses. You will never be my boss. If you want to fire me, just say the words. I would love to visit the press.
“The public will forget your lucky moment when you saw the way to crush the 2028 pandemic. They will forget your grandstanding on the sidewalk out front informing the world, through the press, about your discovery.”
“You self-righteous ass. You and your political masters were seeking to profit on that discovery while the world paid with their lives. Everyone in this building said I did the right thing. Everyone except you. Every scientist in this building contributed to that discovery. Again, everyone except you. What did you add to the solution to the problem?”
“Someday the public will forget about you and your sidewalk announcement, and on that day you will collect unemployment insurance.”
“Quit wasting my time. What do you want?”
“Forget it. I will send you a memo.”
Rosa returned to the level 4 containment area and suited up for her day’s work. She was studying prions, which are insignificant pieces of mis-folded protein that are 100% fatal. Many researchers were trying to learn more about them in case they needed to understand them better.
Before her dramatic personality change, Rosa had been a meek, studious scientist going about her research job. Then a pandemic came along and she, with her colleagues, was studying the virus. Late one night, while working alone, she saw a solution. In great excitement, she reported her finding to her boss first thing in the morning. He told her to keep her mouth shut while “they” figured out how “they” would handle this success.
“People are dying. There is nothing to figure out. Call the press and let them know.
“That is not your decision to make. The world will know when ‘we’ tell them. ‘We’ does not include you. Go back to your work.”
Rosa returned to her lab, sat on a stool, and fumed. After 20 minutes, she picked up the phone and called a local news station and told them who she was and that she had discovered a solution to the pandemic. If they would meet her on the sidewalk in front of her employer’s building, she would reveal it to the world. She expected to lose her job. It didn’t work that way. She told the press everything, including that her boss tried to muzzle her. The press loved the drama and the worldwide public loved the cure. Overnight Rosa became famous as a heroine to the public, and a devilish thorn in the side of her boss and his bosses. They wanted to be rid of her, but knew the public backlash would be severe. They were biding their time. Rosa came to realize the power she had gained. Years of repressing herself disappeared in a flash. She received offers from around the world for higher paying jobs at other level 4 labs. Rosa did not want to leave Canada. She had grown tired of being downtrodden and would tolerate nothing from her boss. But in her heart, she was still a timid person. She was unaware that circumstances were occurring, which would make her job worries appear inconsequential.
She left work at 4 PM, which was early for her. She wanted to get home before her now ex-boyfriend showed up wanting cash so that he could go out drinking with his buddies. He had been mooching off her for 3 months. She was aware he loved her money and her fame. When they were out in public, individuals recognized her. She preferred a warm body in bed, but he was another in a series of losers that she attracted.
She knocked on Mr. and Mrs. Bakshi’s door. Rosa avoided interactions with people. Life had mistreated her, and she had her defences in place. Her main defence was avoidance. She made an exception for the Bakshis. It had started with her dumping a suitor after three months of living in their building. Mr. Bakshi had changed her lock and didn’t charge her for the job. Money wasn’t a problem for her, but he did her the favour without asking. Twelve weeks later, she had unloaded another loser that she had let move in. Again, Mr. Bakshi was kind and comforting and non-judgemental. He invited her to dinner with his wife in their penthouse. A friendship was developing. And now a third bad relationship.
“Rosa, come in. We’ll just be a minute and then we can go down to your place to wait for your ex to show up. I took care of the lock.”
When they were in her apartment, Mr. Bakshi asked,
“Rosa, do you think you should tell the police about him hitting you?”
“No! I think it’ll be OK now that you have fixed the latch.”
There was sudden pounding on the door.
“Open this effing door, Rosa.”
The chained door was opened byRosa.
“What the hell are you doing? Let me in.”
“You hit me.”
“You deserved it. Open the effing door.”
“NO! You don’t live here anymore. Here is a thousand dollars for a few night’s accomodation. Phone to choose a time to pick up your stuff.”
He crashed against the door, breaking the chain and was inside in an instant. Then he saw the Bakshis, and it startled him for a moment. Mrs. Bakshi was on her cell phone. She called 911 and said she needed the police because of a violent intruder and gave them the address and apartment number.
“Give me that damn phone, you Paki bitch.”
She handed her phone to him. He threw it on the floor and stamped on it. Then he turned on Rosa.
“You owe me more than a lousy thousand bucks for tolerating you for three months.”
The noise had attracted a neighbour who now stood in the hallway.
“Excuse me, miss. Do you need help?”
“Sir, I have a feeling that these folks want you to leave. Are you going to do that?”
“Who the hell do you think you are? Mind your own damn business.”
“Sir, I am minding my business. I am a cop.”
“No uniform, no badge, no authority. Get lost.”
“It doesn’t work that way. Step into the hall with me now so that you can tell me what the problem is.”
“The problem is that I live here and they won’t let me in. I pay the rent.”
“Officer, I am Mr. Bakshi, the owner of the building. Miss Rojas signed the lease. I have never seen this gentleman before a few minutes ago. Miss Rojas asked me to change the lock because she was ending her relationship with him after he hit her last night.”
He looked at Rosa and mouthed the word ‘sorry’ because he had mentioned the assault.
“She’s a lying bitch.”
“In that case, sir, you are better off without her. But I got a call from my station since there was a 911 call and the dispatcher knew it was in my building. There is a car on the way here, so we’ll just wait for them to arrive.”
“To hell with that. I’m leaving.”
“That is not an choice now that they have accused you of battery. I notice the door is broken. You will need to discuss that with my colleagues.”
The ex sat in the hall with his back against the wall. Two uniformed officers arrived. After getting statements from everyone, they checked if Rosa wanted to press charges against him for the hit the previous evening. She declined. The Bakshis were asked if they wanted to press charges for the damage to the door and cell phone. They declined. Mr. Bakshi said,
“We would just like him removed. I have a locker in the basement where we will place his things from Rosa’s apartment. He can call and make an appointment to pick up his stuff.”
“She still owes me. I put up with her for three months. If we were together for twelve months, we would be equivalent to married and it would entitle me to half of her money. She owes me 3/12 of her assets. I know the law.”
“Since you know the law, then you recognize what you are saying is nonsense and your math is wrong, anyway. Time for you to leave. If we find you in or around this building again tonight, I will arrest you for trespassing. Let’s go.”
After they left, the cop neighbour said,
“When he calls to pick up his things, you should call me and we can ‘help’ him get his stuff out of the building, Mr. Bakshi. Rosa, I am sorry that we haven’t met before, being next-door neighbours. I hope you will consider getting a Protection Order against that guy. He is trouble. He doesn’t remember me, but I arrested him ten years ago and have followed his career since, if you could call it a career. You haven’t heard the end of him. Be careful.”
“God spoke to me last night about the evil in Canada. We must stop the woman who has thwarted God’s plan. Every day she is working in her lab to stop God’s punishment of sinners. She succeeded with the pandemic. God did not tell me what his next plague will be to eradicate the evil on his earth, but Rosa Rojas is working to stop him. We must go to Canada and bring this spawn of the devil to God. The end days are near. Dios está de nuestro lado.” God is on our side.
Many Texans are bilingual in Spanish and English and will switch even in mid-sentence. Religion runs deep in the heart of many Texans and the state has its share of wackos. Now they had their sights on Rosa.
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