Adam Robison

May 1958: Harold Gets a New Boss, A Boss

Harold knew his life was off kilter since he was six, but today he felt more odd stomach than usual.

There was a horse painting that hung over the files and he looked at it.

“This isn’t going to be good,” he thought. Delores, four months in, brows arched, wadded up papers at her desk. The walls were a white that was obviously white. The boss put his head outside the door.

“Harold, ah good, come in here, come in, come in to my office here,” he said with his lips.

“Harold,” said the new boss once they were sat, “Harold, Harold, Harold.”

Harold was a district manager or something. It wasn’t clear. After the divorce he left his ex-wife’s father’s company. He did okay according to the books, and since that was a carpet shampoo place and this was a carpet shampoo place, the new boss brought him in. The new boss titled him something and sent him to a just-built office park that skirted downtown. That was last week. It was Monday. From the office park Harold went to various businesses and tried to fetch in new customers. Now he was in the new boss’s office, in the boss’s office.

“Harold,” it was warm and smelled soapy, “everyone needs their carpets cleaned. If they don’t get them cleaned, if they don’t have someone come in and shampoo their carpets, dirt will get in there and ruin them, expensive carpets, Harold.”

“No, I know—”

“It’s not like we’re not doing something that is of no value to them.”

Harold and the boss both seemed a little confused by that sentence, and there was a pause.

“We are doing something valuable for them,” Harold said, unpacking it.

“And at a reasonable price,” is what the boss said. He smiled and to Harold his teeth seemed larger than average.

Harold left the office feeling like Elvis off to war. He pulled the door closed behind him, touched a panel of its heavy oak. It felt maybe strange but acceptable for him to press his cheek to the thick glass window. On the other side Delores watched him. She was over at the cabinet filing things in crumpled wads, her belly just starting to round. Harold turned, saw her seeing him.

Later, Harold returned with three signed contracts. The workmen were deployed by Wednesday. Harold painted the walls of his apartment gray, the molding white. He drank a glass of milk for big teeth.

Adam Robison lives inside Adam Robinson in Baltimore, where he plays in Sweatpats, a rock band. He is the subject of a book by Adam Robinson called ADAM ROBISON AND OTHER POEMS, which is supposed to come out from Narrow House Books. He runs Publishig Genius.

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