Archive for September 19th, 2011

19th September
written by amber

The Audit

“We’re here to audit your books.”

Until that moment, it had been a good day. My office was small and dark, but the autumn sun was seeping into the window, illuminating the papers on my desk. I had anticipated finishing my work quickly, without interruptions, leaving early.

The two men wore identical suits, charcoal grey, generic. “Who are you?” I was annoyed to hear how shrill, how frightened, my voice was.

The younger one identified himself as a member of the RCMP, the other he introduced as a forensic accountant. I’d never known there was such a profession. They explained that the name of our organisation’s treasurer had raised a warning flag.

“Ralph? He’s been our treasurer since the spring. He saved our bacon after our other treasurer resigned. He’s been fantastic.” The financial report of the festival we ran every summer, our single biggest project of the year, lay prominently on my desk, ready for our Annual General Meeting. “See, everything’s in order.”

“Ma’am, you’ve been misled.” The forensic guy seemed to know more about our accounts than I did. He pointed at the expenditures column. “We’ve been hearing from many of these artists and other suppliers. None of them have been paid.”

“But…” Now I was sputtering. “Why haven’t they contacted me? This is crazy.”

“They contacted the treasurer. He was the one they were dealing with. His name was on the cheques that bounced. He kept them dangling until he had safely transferred the money out of the country. Now he’s gone too.”

“Out of the country? You mean, we can’t get it back?”

They talked to me for a long time, ascertaining that it had been Ralph’s idea that only one signature be required for the cheques, that I didn’t suspect that anyone else on the board was involved, showing me a copy of our bank account and that shocking balance. We’d had an approved overdraft, another of Ralph’s ideas. The account was sucked to the bottom and below. I agreed to testify against him, if they caught him. I agreed to show up the next day at the station to make a formal statement.

Afterward, there didn’t seem to be any reason to finish my preparations for the Annual General Meeting. I left the office, locking it carefully. I took the bus home, and sat staring at nothing for more than an hour. Then I called for a taxi. It took me to a small motel at the edge of town.

Ralph had parked our new motor home in the parking lot. I ran toward it.

The Story 365 project is a year-long marathon of short story writing, with a new story posted every day on this website from May 1, 2011 – April 30, 2012. Stories must be a minimum of 200 words. Please help me by adding first line suggestions in the Comment section.