Register Thursday | June 20 | 2019

Betrayal of the Hart

Third-place winner in our Pulpy and Midge "Worst Boss" contest

From across the corridor comes the sound of a full bookshelf of scripts and books and DVDs coming unscrewed from the wall and a metric tonne of entertainment crushing my wee but mighty boss. I kick off from my oversized assistant desk, sending my ergochair wheeling into eyeline with Hart’s office door. It’s closed, as usual, these days.  I listen for other indications of death. Or life too, naturally. I hear neither. My knuckles rap polished wood as the sound of a smaller bulk (a dictionary? a statuette?) smacks drywall a few feet away. Someone, at least, is alive inside and throwing things.

“You okay in there?” I don’t try the doorknob.


“Can I help with anything?”

“Sorry, a few things fell down.” His face will be red now. Fluffy, thinning hair tousled. Deep-set eyes narrowed to black bullets. Somehow, I think because his body is tinier than most men’s, rage has a more transformative effect on him. Less bulk to dilute it with. He’ll be smoothing his tie now. Practicing whatever homework his therapist has given him.

My boss, Hart, has decided that one day I will betray him. He is waiting for it, fearing it, and I suspect relishing it. Betrayal, for whatever reason, is his belief system. For a time I found this energy/insanity compelling. Today I have grown tired.

I am tired of his drive towards perfect integrity, which plays more on unachievable respect-seeking from his now-dead father than on any real sense of high quality. I am tired, similarly, of the relationship with his Penelopean/Circean mother. I am tired of closed doors behind which he processes the one-night stand he had with his subordinate, my colleague, Owen. I am tired of bending over backwards and forwards to keep projects rolling, of buttering my co-workers to slide through his idealistic exigencies, of forever getting it wrong when he asks for my opinion.

The glossy door opens and Hart strides into the corridor. He pauses outside my office but skips eye contact. He knows I know that the bookshelf explosion was just another tantrum about his boyfriend, his mother, his office tart, himself. Not at me, though. Despite the betrayal prophesy, he cherishes me. He knows I know he has rages and flings scripts. He knows I know him and that I keep his secrets. He knows that eventually I won’t, too, and that the betrayal will come.

“Back after lunch?” I hope not.

“Doctor at 3:00.” He means shrink.

“Okay then.”