Part 2: Why Guard?

Not even being scheduled to work on Christmas Eve could make Rick resentful. Hands down, the Nakatomi Corporation was the most generous employer he’d ever had, and manning the front lobby security desk at the company’s Los Angeles headquarters the cushiest gig. A better-than-merely-decent salary with pretty terrific benefits—including full medical, dental, and life insurance coverage... and even the vest-and-crest uniform, though drab, wasn’t so bad. It sure didn’t hurt that he would be pulling down time-and-a-half for the holiday shift. All he really had to do was sit and watch the monitors and wait for the exactly one non-employee guest that the big boss man personally had told him would be arriving by limousine around five. Mr. Takagi had even told Rick that he could pop up to the thirtieth floor himself for a glass of champagne and a bite to eat once Mr. McClure (...was it?) had arrived....

He certainly appreciated the gesture—it wasn’t lost on him that the President of Trading and Vice Chairman of the Investment Group not only knew his, the security guard’s, name but had extended the invitation to mingle with the Big Shots on 30—but Rick didn’t think he would. If he got hungry he could always grab a candy bar from the concession stand in the rear lobby.

If Rick’s girlfriend was at all upset that he was working Christmas Eve, she hadn’t let on when he’d told her. Rick suspected that she knew he’d buy her something nice with the overtime money to make up for it. And they’d probably still be able to make it to a midnight mass. The next day—Christmas Day—they were going to a matinee showing of something that looked hilarious starring the guy from Saturday Night Live and the gorgeous blond girl who’d starred in that really kinky movie opposite the guy who played “Boogie” in Diner.

Rick was trying to name all of the principal actors in Diner when he heard a car pulling into the large circular drive in the front of the building, just beyond the glass front doors. Rick listened as the vehicle approached, then stopped. He stood to see that the car was indeed a limo, and he was standing when, moments later, a man entered Nakatomi Plaza and walked directly up to Rick’s station. Rick kept his head down for the time being, letting the visitor take in the enormity of the lobby—and the gigantic and lavishly-decorated Christmas tree in it—undisturbed, if the man chose to do so.

Rick looked up when the man said, “Hi.”

“Good evening,” Rick said, shifting his weight to lean on the front desk proper, still holding the pad and pencil he’d been using to jot down the names of actors as he’d called them to mind.

“I’m here to see Holly McClane,” the man said. (McClane... right! )

Rick used the pencil to point to the computer screen built into the stone fa├žade of the raised reception desk. At just that moment he remembered Tim Daly and wrote that down. The other man touched the screen, eliciting a single chirp from the terminal.

“Cute toy,” he remarked.

“Yeah,” Rick agreed. It was part of his job to be agreeable. “If you have to take a leak,” he elaborated, “it’ll even help you find your zipper.” If the other man smirked at this Rick didn’t know, as he looked away just then, giving the man some privacy to find “Holly McClane” in the system. It seemed to be taking the other man some time.

Did the guy just mutter, Christ...? Had he forgotten how to spell McClane?

“Thirtieth floor,” the other man finally said.

“The party,” Rick noted, adding, “They’re the only ones left in the building.” He pointed—again with his pencil—to his right. “Take the express elevator. Get off where you hear the noise.”

“Thanks.”

Mr. McClane whistled Jingle Bells somewhat casually as he headed to the elevator bank. But Rick had already put his head down again and was trying to decide which looked more correct: Paul Reiser or Paul Rieser.

It was about half an hour later, and Rick had traded his pencil for a felt-tipped pen, when something caught his eye in the black-and-white monitor to his left. He was watching a truck pull into the underground garage of the building... when his attention was again drawn by the motion of a vehicle—this one wasn’t on a screen, though, but right out front. Headlights led a silver sedan around the circular drive. The front doors opened, and a woman—a large woman, in a trench coat—got out of the passenger side. A smaller, black man in a light turtleneck, dark plaid sport coat, and glasses came around the back of the car from the driver’s seat.

Rick jotted on his pad: Screenplay idea—Black man and white woman get lost in L.A. on Christmas Eve, stop into remote office building to get directions. Is there a mad scientist working late?

The black man led the white woman through the revolving door, and as soon as the man was inside the lobby Rick could hear that he was talking... recounting a basketball game, it sounded like.

“So Kareem rebounds, right? Feeds Worthy on the break, over to A.C., to Magic, then back to Worthy, right?” Describing the play, the man gesticulated with enthusiasm. Rick wasn’t particularly a Lakers fan, but he appreciated that the team was headed to the finals and could even——

Hey! What the—? Does that woman have a gun?!

She did. Also, Rick realized at the last moment—his last moment—that she wasn’t a woman but rather a man with long (for a man) blonde hair, angular facial features... and a pistol, which he had withdrawn from inside his trench coat, raised deliberately, and fired, once.

Still, all other things being equal, working security for the Nakatomi Corporation was the best job Rick had ever had.


Read Part 1: Fly Hard
Read Part 3: Die Hired