So here it is...
When our regional manager came for his annual tour of the office, we were all quiet. His walk through the halls of the building was accompanied by a kind of hushed awe. Nobody dared speak in case it drew his attention. We all just got on with our jobs and prayed that his gaze would not come to rest upon us.
The truth is, none of us workers knew how to react. Our regional manager had been dead for six months.
He looked good, for a dead man. His skinned was tanned, his muscles were tight. He looked as if he'd been on a holiday and come back fit and healthy.
The fatal car crash hadn't seemed to produce any adverse effects, at least as far as his appearance was concerned.
When he went into a boardroom and shut the door, there was a sense of relief, yet it was edged with a note of despair. Something was about to happen. We all knew it.
Fifteen minutes later, something did happen.
"Good morning," he said as I walked into the meeting room, where I'd been summoned to see him.
"Good morning. Is everything...okay?"
He nodded, smiled, shuffled papers on the desk. His hands were large, with big knuckles. They, too, were tanned.
Without further preamble, he said: "I'm afraid we have to let you go. We're scaling down the work force. Your role has been made redundant." It was like a list of items rather than a spoken sentence. An agenda. He looked right through me as he spoke.
I hadn't even been given the chance to sit down. There was nothing much left for me to say so I said nothing and turned away.
And yet I did not feel too broken-heated. After all, it was my role, and not I, that had been made redundant.
When I left the room, I shut the door gently behind me. As I walked back along the corridor, I glanced at him through the glass panels. Our regional manager. Once again, he was looking at me, but at the same time he looked through me, as if I wasn't even there. His eyes were glassy and devoid of anything that I would describe as humanity. The word that crossed my mind was insectile.
On his calm, dead face was a tiny, wan smile. A single fly buzzed around his head but he didn't seem to notice it there. I didn’t even know if he could see it.
I left the building without picking up my stuff or saying farewell to my colleagues. I’d barely known them anyway. Five years working alongside these people, and we were strangers to each other.
I sat in my car and stared at the building, noticing for the first time the mould on the bricks, the cracks in the structure, the way the doors and windows sat at odd angles in their frames.
As I watched, our regional manager opened the meeting room window and climbed out onto the narrow ledge. He shuffled along a few yards, then paused, raising his hands to the sky and looking upward. Then he stepped off the ledge.
I started the car and backed out of the space, drove towards the main gate. When I glanced in the rear-view mirror, I saw his small, dark-suited figure stand and brush itself down. There was a hint of disappointment in his stance, the way he carried himself…or so I thought at the time. I might be romanticising the image, making more of it than there actually was.
He turned to stare at me as I drove away. I couldn't make out his individual features, only the blank, white oval of his face and the sudden movement as he raised his pale hand to wave goodbye.
©Gary McMahon 2019