She screamed for the second time in the last hour. Derinda Platt had just exited the ladies-room when a hyper-caffeinated young man in a business suit jumped out from behind a potted plant next to the door. Her flight response included trying to lunge back into the restroom, but the door, with it's auto-close feature, met her half way...In the face. She bounced of the door. Staggered, her hands covering her face due to the door's hardwood smack to her face, she wheeled on the last known location of her attacker.
"You guys are like cockroaches!" Her vision cleared, and Derinda realized she was talking to the potted plant.
"My employer is just trying to ensure the St. Louis Rams have the latest information on our clients before free agency kicks into high gear in March. In fact, I'd be willing to schedule casual player... Let's call them conversations for now? ...Then we can move forward more quickly, and put a deal on the table that..."
"Why in the hell would you think scaring the crap outta' me is going to make anyone want to deal with you, or whatever slimy sports agent creature you work for?" Derinda kicked him in the shin, and headed back to her desk. The young sports agent yelped in pain as he hopped after her. She spun around. The young man stopped hopping. Derinda pointed a finger at him as she growled, "One more hop, and I'm kickin' somethin' besides' your shin!"
A handful of business card flew in the air as the agent hopped away in the opposite direction...
March 13th couldn't arrive fast enough for Derinda Platt. She had kept her job with the St. Louis Rams - in fact she'd actually been promoted - after the great Devaney-Spagnuolo purge in January. Her old job as the executive assistant to then General Manager Billy Devaney had been replaced with a new title, and even an office to call her own. She now held the title of "Assistant General Manager for Operations and Team Quality Control". Derinda had asked Kevin Demoff, the Vice President of Operations and CEO for the Rams, to explain her new title.
"Mr. Kroenke felt you would be the perfect person to assist in quality control and operations. You'll be the Rams front line representative to the fans, as well as responsible for facilitating communications between the different organizational entities through the use of state of the art electronic media." Kevin had said as he glanced at his watch.
Derinda had smiled with pride when he started to explain her new job. By the time he finished, she was totally confused? Then everything he had said suddenly unscrambled in her mind, and she glared at Demoff. "So you're saying I'll be answering the phone? How is that different from my old job?" She poked Kevin in the chest.
"Well, for one thing, you'll be doing the answering from your very own office. Plus, you'll have some damn snappy business cards with your new job title... Oh, look at the time?" He pointed at his watch, then ran for the building's main entrance, and yelled over his shoulder, "We'll talk later..." They never did talk, not about her job anyway. Over the next few weeks, as new people began to arrive to fill all the recently fired positions after the "purges", she found herself kind of shunted aside. The Rams new General Manager, Les Snead, hadn't been in the building all that much. The NFL Combine and meetings with new head coach Jeff Fisher had taken up the majority of his time.
She hadn't actually met Snead yet. The one time she had been near enough to introduce herself, she could have sworn there was fear in his eyes when he'd looked at her. In fact, he'd turned away and ran into his office, slamming the door shut. Derinda's office was next door to his, and she wondered why the only times she had seen him - since their "sort of meeting" - he was running by her open doorway. The man ran everywhere, it seemed?
When Derinda asked for an appointment with Snead, his new secretary Agatha Bingewell made one excuse or another why it "Just wasn't possible at this time..."
As she thought about ways to corner Les Snead, she stared at the phone on her desk. When she looked up, a young man was siting in one of the chairs in front of her desk. Her third scream of the day preceded her reeling over backwards in her chair. Scrambling off the floor, she growled. "I hate you guys! You know that, right?" Blowing out a long breath, she look at the young man again, who sat quietly in his chair.
"Ok, who the hell are you? You know I have nothing to do with any free agent thingy-s, so you're in the wrong office. So go away!"
The look of confusion on his face didn't register with Derinda as he introduced himself. "I'm not here to talk about free agents. I'm here to talk about you?"
Derinda's eyes narrowed as she studied him, "Why in the hell would you want to talk about me?"
"Let me back up a bit," he stood and extended his hand to Derinda. "I'm Brandon Birkhead. I write for a St. Louis Rams fan site, and I'm here to interview you." He withdrew his hand. Derinda had picked up a stapler from her desk, and prepared to throw it at him.
"Think carefully when you answer this next question Mr. Snorkhead, or whatever your name is: What site do you write for, and who said you could interview me?" With her other hand, she had reached into her purse and found her pepper spray.
Brandon began to sweat. He ran a finger along his shirt collar as he considered his answer. All he knew was that he wanted to kill his fellow writer, who had told him he'd set up the interview, and that Derinda was, "Just a sweet southern girl, who would answer all your questions. She'll give you homemade cookies too..." He couldn't think of what to say?
"Cookies!" He blurted out for some unknown reason.
Derinda put the stapler down, "Did you say cookies? What kind? If they're oatmeal, you're a dead man!" She pointed the pepper spray at Brandon, who dove for the floor and began crawling out of her office. In a flash, Derinda ran around her desk and kicked her office door closed before he could escape. "Not so fast, cookie boy!"
He stopped crawling and looked up from the floor at the tall blonde crazy woman standing in front of him. Brandon held a hand up, and gave her a small wave. He gurgled something that sounded like "me-so-sorry-no-cookies-Mommy..."
Derinda stared at him for a second, then crouched down and looked at the strange young man. She tilted her head to the side, and said "Do you know a guy named Doug?". The terrified Brandon, still on his hands and knees, began to nod furiously.
"Oh hell... Get off the floor, and sit back down." Derinda walked back around her desk and sat down. Brandon crawled to his chair, and slowly slid into his seat. "So he told you to come here for an interview, and that I said OK?" Brandon nodded as his heart rate began to slow. He began to plan ways of getting back at Doug. He had wondered why his "friend" had been laughing when he'd called to ask him to set up the interview.
"Look, I'm sorry if there is a problem. Doug told me he'd cleared this interview request with you? I guess we got our wires crossed somehow", he said as he began to squirm in his seat. "Since I'm here...If you could answer a few questions for me, I'd really appreciate it?" He flinched as he said this.
"Yeah, yeah... Whatever... Ask away Briskin," Derinda rolled her eyes and blew out her breath.
"It's Brandon... Can I call you Derinda, or would you prefer Miss Platt?"
"Derinda is fine... How did you know I'm a "Miss"? What did that damn New Mexico bastard tell you?" She reached for her pepper spray again.
"He told me what a great person you are, and that you were the person to talk to about the Rams."
"Uh," she shrugged and made a flicking wave in the air, "I don't even know what I do here, let alone what everyone else is doin'... Anyway, what do you want to know? I'm leavin' for lunch in five minutes." She tapped the face of her watch to emphasize the point.
Brandon reach in his coat for a small note pad, and withdrew a pen from his "Geeks are people too" pocket protector. "Well, lets start with - You're the Assistant General Manager for the Rams, what area do you see as the greatest concern for the team to address in the coming 2012 NFL Draft?"
Her eyes kind of glazed over as she stared at the strange reporter before her. Then an idea sprang into her mind, "Well, I don't like to brag, but I'm gonna be the first woman in the whole history thing to be in charge of an NFL team's draft." While Brandon scribbled some notes, she pulled up her e-mail browser on her computer, and sent a quick e-mail:
"OK You Idiot! I have your reporter buddy here. Who is his favorite college player?" She hit send. Two second later, she received a reply.
"Be nice to him. He won the "Chance to talk to a leggie blonde" photo caption contest. Brandon has a had a rough life. He recently escaped from a Scientology monastery where he was made to wash everyone's feet... A.J. Jenkins is his favorite player... I'm your hero, aren't I? :-)
Derinda read the message, then began pounding on her keyboard, "I'll hero you, you miserable..." She stopped, and looked up at Brandon who was still writing in his small note pad.
"You done writing there? To answer your question, and this has to stay between us, OK?" She smiled seductively at Brandon, who drooled as he nodded. "Well, the Rams first pick in the draft is going to be a guy named A.J. Jenkins, and ..." Derinda watched as her guest threw his note pad in the air, and tumbled over backwards in his chair. He got up, and began half dancing, half hobbling around the room, high-fiv-ing the air.
"Yes! Yes! I knew it!" He was smiling ear to ear as he grabbed his small note pad off the floor and ran from the room.
Derinda walked to her office door and peered out in time to see the reporter dancing toward to entrance, spinning around as he went. She could have sworn he was sing - "The Hills are alive... With the sight of Jenkins...", the sound ending as the door closed behind him. She walked back to her desk as an e-mail popped up on her screen.
"You just made his day!"
Derinda began to laugh as she typed, "I might have made his day, but I also found a way to get Les Snead to talk to me!" She hit send and leaned back in her chair, wondering how long it would take for news to hit the sports pages everywhere that the St. Louis Rams wanted someone named Jenkins...