Monday, April 16, 2012

The Heart of Patricia Wilson


He was crying.  Patricia felt embarrassed for both of them.

“Jim, please stop that.  Don’t be pathetic.”

He was a repulsive little man.  Too short.  Too fat.  Bad teeth.  Overall a waste.

“I’m…I’m sorry….I just didn’t expect this today….you know?”

He was a fool.  He should have seen it coming.  His performance dropped.  Why wouldn’t she let him go?  She needed people that performed.  Jim Granger was no longer worth her while.

“Didn’t expect it?  Jim, your sales have been decreasing consistently for the last six months.  I can’t believe you’re honestly surprised by this turn of events.”

“It’s only been 8 points!  The economy is crap and I only dropped 8 percentage points!”

Patricia Wilson shook her head.  Jim was always making excuses.  She should have fired him sooner.

“Paul rose 10 points in the same time period.  How do you explain that, Jim?”

Jim tried to wipe his face.  Unfortunately he only had his shirt sleeves.  It was one of the least dignified things Patricia had ever seen and she had seen plenty.  Jim looked to his left.  He was looking out Patricia’s window.  He then turned back and nodded.

“Well, he’s a backstabbing weasel.”

Patricia’s signature slipped off the designated area.  She had not heard Jim speak so fiercely in years.  She smiled despite herself.

“Is this about the Thomas account?  I thought we decided that he won that business from you fair and square.  Wasn’t that we decided.”

Jim shook his head vigorously back and forth.

“No.  That’s what you and he decided but I know the truth.  He pounced at a vulnerable moment and took my biggest account and you let him.”

Patricia sighed.  Same old Jim.  A little bit of fire but the same whining.

“He outmaneuvered you, Jim.  It’s not my fault he’s better at his job.”
Jim slammed his fist down on the desk.  Some of Patricia’s knickknacks toppled over.

“That’s bullshit!  He hacked into my calendar to move the appointment and then lied to the client and told them I was off doing coke.  He then lied to them again when Kelly had to go into the hospital and…”

“Jim, really.  This is old news.  He attacked you and you didn’t defend yourself well enough.  You should have learned from the experience but instead you have become more and more useless.”

Patricia was shuffling papers on her desk without purpose.  She wanted to keep her hands busy.  She had heard of various employees snapping when they got fired.  She would have never suspected Jim.  Security had offered to be there.  She didn’t think it was necessary.  She was now having second thoughts about her decision.

“What the hell happened to you, Patty?”

He hadn’t called her that for years.  Nobody did.  They all knew better.

“How dare you!  You know that is…”

“Patty, shut up” he said with venom.

She slapped him.  All of the force she could muster went into the slap.  He almost fell out of the chair.  She was honestly surprised to see him still sitting.  She regretted it immediately.  She immediately grabbed her phone to call security.

Jim just held his left cheek and mouth with his right hand.  He took his hand away and blood was present.  She had split his lip.

He smiled softly.

“So, should I call my lawyer now or do you want to talk this out?”

Patricia was impressed.  Jim had some fire left him in after all.  He had much more than she expected.  She put the receiver back.

“You wouldn’t win you pathetic little worm.  You must know that.”

Jim looked down at the blood on his hand.

“You’re probably right.  However, I wouldn’t really need to win.  I would just need to make it bad enough that Mr. Young would want it to go away.  I think I can do that.  You probably wouldn’t keep your job much longer either way.”

“You’re a piece of shit, Jim.  Always have been.”

Jim shook his head.

“I’m not actually.  You just turned into a monster.  You can’t see it but you did.”

A weak attempt by a weak man.  She had climbed the ladder with poise and greatness.  Men like Jim always tried to keep women like her down via name calling.  She had grown beyond them.  Only the strong survive and prosper.

“You can’t even fight properly.  I feel so sorry for Kelly.  Not because of the cancer.  I’m sure that must be bad but I bet it must be even more terrible to be married to such a pussy.”

Jim bit down on his already bleeding lip.  His nostrils flared and his hands turned into fists.  If he struck her Patricia would regain the upper hand.  It was just a matter of time.

However, out of nowhere Jim smiled.

“You’ve gone under the knife 15 times now, Patricia.  Every time you come out physically closer to what you think Mr. Young considers perfect.  All in a sad attempt to crawl higher.  You started out as innocent little Patty with curly brown hair, glasses, a perfectly normal and healthy body, and you were pleasant to be around.  There was absolutely nothing wrong with you.  Now you’re this blonde monster that obviously lost her heart a few operations ago.  You might think I’m pathetic but I have a wife that loves me, two amazing daughters, and I look in the mirror every day and like what I see.”

He knew nothing.  He was just trying to hurt her.  Just like everyone.  She had to be strong.  He was just another man jealous of her.

“Is it a fun house mirror?”

Jim laughed and shook his head.

“Really?  Is that all you have?  Making fun of my appearance?  You’re right.  I’m not a movie star.  I’m not going to be getting any modeling gigs.  You know what?  That means absolutely nothing.  It doesn’t help me put food on the table.  It doesn’t make me miss soccer matches or dance recitals.  It doesn’t make me any less of a man.  Just like butchering yourself for the sake of beauty doesn’t make you any more of a woman.”

She went to slap him again.  This time he was ready.  He stopped it before it reached his face.

“How dare you!  You don’t understand.  You don’t know what it’s like.  I had to do it.  Every meeting had a new comment.  It’s a boy’s club.  I didn’t have a choice.  I couldn’t stay me!  I had to become…had to become…”

“What you thought they wanted?”

Patricia looked down at her perfectly manicured hands.  Some days she barely recognized them.

“Yes…”

Jim sighed.  His expression was now softer.  He had always had a kind face.  Not beautiful, but certainly kind.  Patricia had forgotten.

“Patty, you changed yourself into their monster.  Why?  Why did you feel the need to transform yourself so fully into someone else?  What happened to the scared but happy twenty one year old that I first met all those years ago? ”

Patricia stared at Jim.  This was supposed to be easy.  Jim was supposed to be a push over.  Why did she feel like she was the one that was slapped?

“I don’t know…”

Jim smiled.

“Well, maybe it’s time you figured out what happened to her.  Don’t worry about the assault.  I’ll tell the girls that it was a misunderstanding that happened on the subway.  I’m not going to sue you or the company.  However, I do expect a glowing recommendation and a nice severance package.”

Patricia just stared at Jim.

“What?  Why?  Why would you just walk away?  You could win a good settlement for you and the girls.  You have the upper hand.  This doesn’t make sense.”

“That’s why.”

“What?”

“I just saw something I haven’t seen in ages.  It’s only a glimmer but I still saw it.”

“What the hell are you talking about?  Saw what?”

“Your heart.  I hope you find more of it again soon.”

Jim grabbed a magazine off of Patricia’s desk and walked out the door.  He opened up the magazine to hide his face.  The office would just think he was covering it up to hide the fact that he was crying.  Patricia just watched him go.

Nobody had talked to her that way in years.  She wanted to chase after him and punch him.  However, she also wanted to chase him down and kiss him.  Her head was swimming.  She walked into her executive restroom and locked the door.  She stared at herself in the mirror.

The person who looked back was a beautiful construct.  Hundreds of thousands of dollars had led her to her state of perfection.  There was nothing left to improve and yet she was still unhappy.  Jim was right.  She was not happy with what she saw.  He had found peace with himself in a way that totally escaped her.  She examined her sculpted face and realized that she missed Patty.

She sat down on the cold Italian marble and began to cry.

*****
Two poems today for the price of one for National Poetry Month.  This entry comes from the blog “All the Other Kids had Nicknames”.  Please go check it out and spread the poetry love.

http://richardmcdermott.blogspot.com/2012/04/school-poetry-retrospective-goblin.html

Thanks everyone!

4 comments:

  1. Thank you, sir. Glad you're still coming around and reading my stuff.

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  2. Hi Andrew,

    It may seem a little late in the day as a response but wanted to thank you for the link.

    Had a look around your site and really like your writing. I particularly enjoyed the story the button although very different to my job as a teacher.

    Cheers

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    Replies
    1. Richard - I'm glad you liked what you read. It's always nice to hear. You are very welcome for the link. It's always nice to support fellow writers.

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