She stared at the phone. It's "bleep-bleep-bleep" sound seemed to fill the room. After the wholesale firing of virtually everyone in the St. Louis Rams front office and coaching staff, Derinda Platt had been hesitant to answer the phone. She feared she'd be next on the termination list that had included Billy Devaney, her long time boss and friend. The phone stopped ringing, but she continued to stare at it like it was a bomb waiting to go off. It hadn't helped that right after Billy had made his final goodbyes, the first call she'd answered was from a friend in New Mexico...
"St. Louis Rams Headquarters, how may I direct your call?"
"YOUR FIRED!" Screamed the the voice on the line.
Derinda screamed too, and tipped her chair over backwards, throwing the receiver in the air as she fell to the floor. Dazed, Derinda shook her head and glared at the phone receiver. She could hear someone laughing hysterically from the tiny speaker, and she knew that voice. Snatching up the phone, she growled "Jerk! Bastard! Son of a b..." The voice on the other end of the line cut her off.
"Don't make me fire you again," the laughter continued for a few moments more...
"How are you D? I thought I'd see if my favorite person in Rams world was still..."
"You think you're funny? You about gave me a heart attack you miserable..."
"So you're a bit tense?" The laughing began again, as Derinda slammed the receiver back into its cradle.
The thought of the call made her smile as she continued to stare at the phone until a voice caused her to scream and tip over backward in her chair once again. As she lay on her back, a face appeared above her. Kevin Demoff, the Rams Vice President of Football Operations and Chief Operating Officer looked down at her.
"You OK?" Kevin asked as he fought the urge to laugh. He knew Derinda was a minor legend in this building. Stories of her were the source of more office laughter and gossip than any person he'd ever known. When Kevin first arrived at Rams Headquarters in 2009, the stories he heard about this beautiful and bizarre woman had him wondering why she hadn't been fired long ago. He'd even brought the subject up in a meeting with Billy Devaney and team owner Stan Kroenke. Kevin had been shocked when both men started telling "Derinda stories", laughing the entire time. He was even more shocked when Stan Kroenke had told him, "Don't even think about firing her... In fact, I want to know immediately if she ever thinks of quitting."
Kevin watched as Derinda shook her head to clear post-fall cobwebs, her huge mop of blonde hair whipping him across the face causing him to back up a few steps.
"Why haven't you been answering your phone? Mr. Kroenke has been trying to get a hold of you for at least a week. He called me and asked if we had anyone answering the phones at all?"
Derinda blew out a long breath, "So he's firing me? He can't even do it in person? Well let me tell you somethin' Kevin Demoff - you tell your jillionaire buddy I quit!" Derinda grabbed her large purse and began sweeping the items on the top of her desk into its open, gaping maw. Kevin stopped her as she tried to stuff her computer keyboard and desk lamp into her purse.
"Wait! Just hold on a second Derinda... He's not firing you. He wants to talk to you about..." He ducked just in time to avoid the now stuffed purse - turned weapon that Derinda swung at his head.
When her swing missed, the weight of the purse carried Derinda with it, causing her to fly over her desk top, crashing to the floor once again. She jumped up from the floor, her hair covering her face as she pointed in a direction she thought Kevin would be. He stood stunned, mouth agape for a few second, then started laughing as Derinda pointed away from where he stood.
"I can find a new job..." Before she could finish, the thought of losing the job she loved finally hit her. She tried to sit in her desk chair, missed, and fell again to the floor. She began to quietly sob, before saying..."I thought you guys liked me...?"
Kevin could take a lot of things, but a crying woman isn't one of them. He reached for the desk phone, and realized it had somehow been swept into Derinda's purse. Using the phone cord, he pulled it out and set it on the desk. Kevin dialed a number from memory, and when his call was answered he said, "I have Derinda Platt for you sir," and held the phone receiver to Derinda's ear, her head shaking slowly from side to side as she whimpered.
All Stan Kroenke heard were small triple-hiccup sounding breaths? "Hello? Miss Platt? Derinda?"
Derinda heard a voice in her ear she thought she recognized, "Daddy? Can I come home? I got fired 'cause they are purg-ifyin' everybody... and before you blame it all on me, I had nothin' to do with it and if you bring up my burning down the Today Show set again I'll never speak to you again - EVER!" Her small sobs stopped when she heard laughing on the phone. "This ain't funny Daddy! This ain't like the time I got fired by Senator Grimmer. He was a grabby pervert! I'll kick him in the balls again if I ever see..."
"You kicked Grimmer in the balls?" Stan fought the urge to laugh even more, "Derinda, this isn't your Daddy, it's Stan Kroenke. Where have you been? I've been calling you for days so you'd know your job is safe, and that the team needs you..." The next thing he heard what sounded like a crashing sound, "Hello?"
Kevin came back on the line, "Mr. Kroenke? Derinda fainted, so she'll have to call you back." Kevin bit back the urge to laugh as he waited for his employer to respond. He whipped out his cell phone with his other hand and began taking photos of Derinda, now laying face down across her desk. The next words he heard caused him to drop his phone and look around the room.
"Stop taking photos Kevin. I need you to wake Derinda up, and explain her new job to her. Our new head coach should be arrive there soon, yes?"
"He should be here within the hour," Kevin said as he crawled on the floor trying to reach his cell phone that had slid under the desk.
"Good, have Jeff call me when he gets there, and Kevin?" Stan chuckled, "Send me the pics you took." He ended the call just as he heard Derinda scream, "Pervert!"
Kevin crawled away from the desk. He held his cell phone up, "I was just..." He pointed under her desk, then began to crawl faster.
"I know what you "just"! Derinda said wobbling to her feet. She glared at Kevin, then began walking toward him.
"You have this all wrong - look?" He held up his phone again, "It was under your desk and I..." He staggered to his feet, and began backing away.
Derinda stopped, looked at the cell phone, then crossed her arms in front of her, "You goin' to tell me why you needed your cell phone while you were talking to Mr. Kroenke on that one?" She nodded her head in the direction of the desk phone.
Kevin looked from her, to the phone, then back at Derinda. He felt himself blush for moment, then began to stammer, "I...I... Well, uh... There is actually a good rea...." He never finished his sentence. Instead, he ran for the front door, laughing as he ran outside, Derinda hot on his heals.
In the parking lot not far away, two men began walking toward the entryway of the St. Louis Rams headquarters building. Jeff Fisher, the Rams new head coach, and Gregg Williams - the new defensive coordinator stopped on the walkway. Fifty feet ahead of them, the front doors flew open. A man in a business suit came running out. He appeared to be laughing as he held a cell phone high over his head. The man turned right, and disappeared around the corner of the building. Fisher and Williams exchanged glances, then looked back at the doorway. A beautiful, tall blond woman attempted to run out, her face covered by her long hair causing her to fail to see the door swinging back shut in her face. Jeff and Gregg heard a "Ouff...Damn!". Then the blonde woman staggered out and looked at them, "Which way did he go?" They both point in the opposite direction of the strange, cell phone wielding man. The woman flipped off her high heeled shoes, one flying toward Fisher , who caught it in midair. The woman nodded approvingly at Jeff's catch, then turned to the left and ran after her quarry.
Gregg looked at the shoe in Jeff's hand, "Who the hell was that?"
Jeff Fisher smiled, "if I'm not mistaken, the man was Kevin Demoff, the Rams Vice President of Operations and CEO, and my agent's son. I'm pretty sure the woman was Derinda Platt. I told you about her, right?"
Gregg shook his head as he wondered what he'd gotten himself into by joining his old friend on his coaching staff.
"She's the one Billy Devaney told to never let out of my sight. Andy Reid told me he'd give me a 2nd round pick for her. He told me she tried to blackmail him into a trade for Asante Samuel last season. She's the one that burned down the Today Show set..." As they walked into the building, Jeff told Gregg a few more "Derinda" stories that Billy Devaney and former head coach Steve Spagnuolo had told him over the years.
Just as the front door closed behind them, the last word to be heard was Gregg Williams saying, "Damn!" A hint of fear, bordering on respect, in his voice...