His door was closed, that beautiful door, that shut-out the wolves. Harold was hung-over. It was not a drinking binge done out of love, but because of dread. When his kids moved-away to college, Harold thought the pressure would be less…
How wrong he was.
His wife was religious, to the point of extremism. Harold wondered what she would have been like in the Middle Ages. He wanted to see a psychiatrist—in fact, he did this behind his wife’s back. He got some medication and was popping anxiety pills like candy.
“Honey, I have a nervous disorder.”
“Go to Father Jacob,” she said. “In fact, I’ll make you an appointment. Your problem is that you live in sin—that’s where your nervousness comes from. Now, if you had spent more time in prayer, and less time drinking behind my back, you wouldn’t be so close to having a heart attack.”
Harold found ways to cope with his work life, homelife, and everything in-between. He hid away. He took to writing in a journal. It started out as complaining and then turned into angry poetry. He was getting worried because the lines were homicidal. He drank more and read the books that he enjoyed as a child. His psychiatrist told him that his preadolescent fantasies were a complete regression to a time of life when he didn’t have responsibility. The stories were about men who used magic to conquer evil.
There was a knock at his door.
The woman who entered was tall—gigantic, in fact. She didn’t have big muscles, but it was like her whole body was a muscle, tight, rigid, and wanting to break something. Domestic violence came to mind.
“The auditor is going to be here next week, and the safety-net IEP has numerous errors in it.”
“Don’t worry—I’ll take care of it,” Harold said.
She looked at him like he was a fool, and closed his door.
Harold had perfected many ways to get rid of people. The hardest was the kind that could carry-on a conversation with themselves.
When the door closed, he breathed again. He didn’t realize he was holding his breath. There was the copy of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. He pulled it from his shelf and retrieved his silver hip-flask. Two swigs and he felt hot and alive.
There was another knock at his door. “The auditor’s here,” his secretary said.
“He wasn’t supposed to be here until next week.”
“It’s the 21st.”
“How can that be?”
“Should I let him in? Are you busy?” Lorraine asked.
“No—I’ll see him.”
Harold’s secretary was a good soul, but the bad souls, far out-weighed the good soul. It was Egyptian Hell.
“Have I found joy in my life?” Harold asked himself. “I like to read literature, and I guess, I like to drink.”
“Have I brought joy to others? Well… I think many of my colleagues enjoy tormenting me.”
The auditor was bald, short, fat, and bored. Harold wondered about his vices. Nobody could look at numbers all day, without looking forward to something else.
“I was told that many of your Safety-Net IEPs have errors.”
“Who told you that?” Harold asked.
“It’s not important. I’ll need to see your files.”
“Can you come back later?”
“Strictly speaking—I need to see them now.”
“It’s just that—I feel like I’m having a heart attack.”
“Should I call 911?”
“No, it’s probably just indigestion— give me a few minutes.”
Harold looked at the awards he had won on his walls. What did it all mean? He was five years away from retirement, but he would lose everything. He might even lose his wife, if he couldn’t bring home the bread. What was it she said, “My husband is a weak man.”? His wife told her friends that, at afternoon tea.
Harold tried to be strong. He hoped adversity would toughen him up and he had lots of that, but it only caused him to wear, like a piano wire that couldn’t play beautiful music anymore.
“No. I should’ve done a better job of hiding,” Harold said to himself. As a young man, he was naïve. He didn’t understand why women didn’t like him. He was good looking before his body went to fat.
Even then, the female understood he was a coward.
Harold opened his desk drawer, full of office supplies. There were the heart pills his cardiologist gave him for arrythmia. Enough glycerin tablets, and his heart would stop. The coroner would rule his death an accident.
“No. I can’t do that,” Harold said.
There was a knock at his door. It was the auditor, again. “See these files? The dates are wrong.”
“I’m putting you on report. The State will determine whether or not you can keep your job.”
“Thank you for your service.”
“What?” The auditor asked.
“You are a credit to this institution.”
Harold woke up. He was young. He was lying next to his beautiful wife. He had taken his first drink the other day when he started his government job.
“I need to quit my job.”
“What will you do?”
“I’m going to be a writer.”
“How will we make it?”
“You can get a government job. By the way, let’s not have any kids.”
“Those are sinful thoughts,” she said.
“Let’s live in sin.”