Somehow without ever being asked
or directed to
he became my immediate superior.
He had been my hero – no longer,
but I still admired him,
still glowed when invited to work with him,
still held his word as received truth.
He said about the visiting brass
said in his real or adopted countryman’s voice
that it was the same everywhere –
no 1 was a PR man,
no 2 was the one to look out for – the hatchet man.
“Number one goes around shaking hands
number two goes around hatching …. or hatchet-ing.”
official title: Assistant Director General
subtitle: Head of Personnel
I am brought to him, like a concubine to an Emperor.
The handshake was limp, soft
the face also
flesh peeking over bone, like pastry from a pan
pastry coloured – not quite cooked
weak jaw pouched by good living
hair the colour of sun on apricots – receding to high forehead
voice thin and slow of foot.
Impression: pale and insipid
the eyes weren’t –
taut, lean and muscular,
they clamped me the whole time.
He asked what I did
listened without apparent attention or enthusiasm
then summarized brutally
“so you’re just helping..”
………. but I’m….
Time is up
this is Heathrow or LAX
the controller’s focus is needed elsewhere.
The mistake of act opening for star
or first season ballplayer
or freshman congressman
more concerned with not screwing up
than taking a chance to shine.