"I wonder if you would mind stepping this way Andrea?" The voice of her
boss always terrified her. It triggered in her concern because she
could never hear his voice without feeling an unwarranted surge of
"Andrea?" Her hesitation had been noted and in this vulnerable moment
she was captured.
"Well actually, I'm about to start a meeting in my office and I need a
moment to collect my thoughts Don," she blurted, her arms full of
"Oh this won't take a minute Andrea."
She capitulated, swept along in his vortex.
"Close the door." She complied by gently pushing it with her foot.
Pretending not to notice that it hadn't quite shut and knowing that it
hadn't, helped to kept her spirits up. She walked towards the window,
focussing on the tree of heaven in the courtyard, as he fidgeted with
his diary on his desk. She cleared her throat, turned and took a seat,
still hugging her papers.
"How can I help you Don?" The photographs of his happy, sporty children
and wife gleamed from his desk.
"Well Andrea, it's rather embarrassing actually. You see I think that I
may owe you an apology."
For the first time she noticed his own agitated state: There were
threads of scarlet dashing his cheeks and an uncharacteristic
chumminess in his demeanor. He swiveled round in his chair and spread
his legs wide. Leaning forward onto his knees, with his large
immaculate hands clasped, he suddenly looked up at her.
"You see Andrea," she noted the wild geese on his socks.
The telephone rang. He let it sing on, staring beyond her as he waited
for the chime to cease.
"You see;" he snatched up his thread like a squash ball.
"I don't think that I had realized when I came here what your potential
was." This was really costing him a dire effort. She could feel his
flesh creep with anguish.
This bully, this under-miner, now penitent with wild geese flying round
his ankles. Whatever would he say next? Suddenly she felt savagely
angry. Her eyes widened.
"What do you mean? What are you saying? If you've got something to say
I'd be grateful if you would just come out with it."
The telephone rang again. They both stared at it with hatred. He
grabbed it viciously and slammed it down. Again, he turned to her and
resumed his confession.
"Andrea, it seems that I have wronged you. It has been pointed out to
me that?." sweat gleamed on his upper lip.
"What do you mean "It has been pointed out" Did you need someone to
tell you?" she shrieked, as acid tears sprung forth.
"Andrea you're not making this easy. I am trying to apologize. Let's
get on an
even footing here. Don't move the goal posts hey?" A leaf dropped
noisily from his umbrella plant. She stared incredulously at him. For
months now this man had made her life a torment. He had criticized her
every move and seemed only content to see her weaknesses, repeatedly
blocking and ignoring her.
"Shall I get some coffee?" he asked with all the cringing sincerity of
"No, please proceed" she managed, wiping her angry eyes with a
"Carry on." She took a deep breath and looked him straight in the
"Well Andrea, I just wanted you to know that I realize things haven't
been easy, post reorganization. Initially I think that you seemed to be
rather, well "past it". Yes, I must admit that was my
He crossed his legs and sat back, now confident in his stride, as he
ploughed through his rehearsed back down. Now he apparently realized
just how valuable she was. She had that old sick feeling bubbling in
her chest. This did not feel like being apologized to. Not for one
moment. It felt much more like being forgiven.
He uncrossed his legs and she recognized the signal. She had no idea
what he'd been saying, but she was utterly furious with him. If this
was an apology he could stick it, because her anger was now a
maelstrom. He stood. She stood. He was bringing it to an end. He put
out his hand to shake hers. She stared at his ludicrous teddy bear
print tie. She left his hand outstretched as he muttered a
"Thank you so much for sparing your time and allowing me this little
indulgence Andrea," then adding
"Now we've cleared the air we can discuss your new job description
soon. Make an appointment with my secretary on your way out will
She smiled and cleared her throat. She looked straight into his
bloodshot eyes and spat the contents of her throat full onto his teddy
bear tie. His smile remained. The saliva and mucous slowly glided
One teddy bear.
Two teddy bears.
Three teddy bears.
She was gone.
The last five minutes of his life had been so shocking for him that he
decided to take an early lunch. He wiped his tie in the men's room, but
a faint smear remained.