hubris was julius caesar’s achilles heel too.

Reporting to him is sort of like being one of Stalin’s generals or on Mussolini’s staff. He has a tendency to be too bossy and to have all the answers all the time. He really doesn’t care what you think about anything, anytime, anywhere or what you have to say about it, either…”

 

by michael estabrook

 

I’m proud that Vic is my friend. I have so few friends who have made it “big” in the world. Oh, there’s Aaron. He’s a big-shot advertising executive down in New York City. He has the Toyota account, or was it Traveler’s Insurance or Tetley Tea? I forget now. Anyway, Vic’s a Vice President at The Company, runs the largest, most important and profitable division. He has a big office out front with windows and real plants.

We’re friends because we came up through the ranks together. In the early days I was a salesman and he was my boss. He didn’t hire me into the company. He would never have done that. We’re very different. He’s power-hungry and political, a rough and ready manager, a hardened businessman, impersonal, decisive, tireless, with a no-nonsense, get-it-done, competitive attitude. He loves golf and football and fast cars and all night long poker games. And me, well, I’m more of a cerebral type. Reading is my hobby, and I write poetry. Vic inherited me after the boss who hired me moved out West.

At first we didn’t get along, because I had been around a while and was a good worker, didn’t need much guidance or supervision. And reporting to him is sort of like being one of Stalin’s generals or on Mussolini’s staff. He has a tendency to be too bossy and to have all the answers all the time. He really doesn’t care what you think about anything, anytime, anywhere or what you have to say about it, either.

But somehow we managed to slay a few dragons together and capture the enemy’s queen. He came to trust me, and even without ever admitting it, to respect my judgment in certain matters. I was never a “yes” man. If he did something I thought was improper, I told him so. He never liked hearing it, but after we finished arguing, he appreciated the input, I think.

So here I am driving over to the office for an 8 o’clock informal meeting with “The Boss” to reminisce about old times, and make plans for him and Elaine to come over for a barbecue.

Me, socializing with Vic, now isn’t that cool! I don’t brag about it at all, but everybody in the office knows, somehow people always know about these things. My wife and I go out to dinner with them, make a pilgrimage over to the Festival of St. Anthony’s in Little Italy every August, and attend the Boston Lyric Opera together.

But anyway, this morning he’s making time for me in his incredibly busy schedule of board meetings, financial strategy sessions, and international travel. And I am particularly excited about seeing him. A little poem I wrote about Elaine has appeared in a nice literary magazine and I want to give him a copy:

Merrimack College: (Instead of
Van Gogh or Kafka or Mozart?)

…….Lovely Elaine at work:
her big brown eyes with those
long lashes flailing the air;
her dark nylons and short short skirts,
told me about Merrimack,
her alma mater – a good
Catholic School with chapel bells
and no graffiti on the walls:
…….“Yes, I liked it fine there,
such a nurturing atmosphere.”
…….Looking at her smiling I knew
this was the place for my son;
where he could find himself (and his wife)
before launching into what I hoped
would be a happy productive life.
…….(But. But why do we wish happiness
rather than creativity? Shouldn’t
I be wishing for him to be
like Van Gogh or Kafka or Mozart
instead?)

I stop in the cafeteria, get myself a coffee. “No, sorry, can’t talk now. I have a 8 o’clock with Vic.” I stride upstairs and right past his secretary, merely nodding. She frowns because as Vic’s friend, I don’t have to go through any of the rigmarole, those silly checking-in-with-the-secretary formalities. I never have to listen to – “Let me check a minute, see if he can see you. You sure you don’t have an appointment?”

“Hey Buddy!” I say walking across the thick carpet to his huge oak desk.

He looks up from something he’s writing, and frowns. “Oh Mike, I forgot. But I can’t see you now anyway, have this report I need to get done for Larry. Make another appointment with Linda, will ya’.”

Originally published:
Issue Seventy
October 2015

 

(illustration: dee sunshine)


“Seems I’ve been writing poetry for so long that Methuselah should be taking notice, but in reality, time is simply doing its thing streaking ahead blithely pulling all of us along for the wild ride whether we like it or not; reminds me, I’ve published 15 chapbooks over the years, the last one being “when Patti would fall asleep” by Liquid Paper Press in 2003, guess it’s time to work on another one.” — Michael Estabrook.

More from Michael Estabrook can be found in the Vault of Smoke.

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