A Shadow over Guernica

Is it me, for a moment?

Work overflowed from the screens before me.  Two steps forward, three steps back.  I analyzed dates and progress. I reviewed pages of reports that were ignored, blank or filled with the spineless words, “no work done.”  I sent out emails that had to make me look like the bad guy, questioning how projects could go months without significant work or updates.

I rarely see myself as the bad guy.  I’ve realized belatedly a few times that I was the villain in a scenario. By and large I try to do the right thing not do things right. There have been people in my life I’ve perceived as villains.  Saruon to my Faramir.  I’m no hero, but I try to be a free thinking, positive influence.  Recently I heard one of those villains would be on the periphery of my work life.   Being an adult, I thought I would rise above the fray and keep looking for ways to keep Minas Tirith away from the infections Mordor wish to spread.

I see the bad moon arising
I see trouble on the way
I see earthquakes and lightnin’
I see bad times today

It was hard to miss the rodent of a man walking the halls like he owned them.  Hearing him was bad enough; I could feel his swagger and arrogance from 2 blocks away.  My exterior did not reveal my inner turmoil.  At least I hope not.  Little by little I felt unease begin to pound the shoreline of my soul.  This was both unplanned for and completely unexpected.  I struggled, but got through the day by keeping to myself.  A coworker mentioned I looked “spent” at days end.

The next day, death stood behind me, looking for his pale horse. I tried to shake him, but always stayed at the edge of my vision; after a few hours I had forgotten he was there.  Perhaps he was just a dust bunny destined to keep my day from it pristine potential.

Laughter rang down the hallways. I’m sure everyone heard the joyful brown nosing.  I heard the cacophony of a maniac.  The Joker laughing as he toyed with Batman, empty spaces resonating the distasteful noise to 11 on the dial.  My sense of right and wrong bristled at this horrific sound which had no right to be within 50 miles of me.  Every time I heard that laugh, for this monstrosity is neither quiet nor terse, a large jagged edge ripped at my soul.  In my mind, there was plenty of blood on the killing floor. This was a being who believed a novel should be recited and repeated when the question called for a simple yes or no.  To him I was a layman.

The silicon chip inside her head
gets switched to overload

My rage slowly simmered over the next hour or so.  Then, the emotion boiled rapidly, spewing particles far and wide, attacking the compartment I tried to force it into. The walls broke down and rage filled me, the way Thoros of Myr lead men into Pyke, relentless in their fury, onward to crush their rebellious foes.

I was not myself. I hoped no one saw the shaking I was sure I felt rising from within.  I tried to maintain my composure.  It wasn’t working. Shortly after 12, so I left the building.    I walked. Where, I wasn’t sure, but I wasn’t going anywhere my coworkers might remotely go to.  Alone was my singular thought.

One bourbon, one scotch and one beer

A tap room I’ve been known to frequent after work became my destination two blocks in. I rarely have a beer at lunch.  Being safe, I stayed off the front patio and took my double IPA to a dark corner inside.  Even If someone from work walked in, I wouldn’t be obvious.  I was a bit befuddled as the high alcohol drink softened my frayed nerves.  Seriously, I was drinking my lunch.  There was no food, just beer.  Reacting to my emotional attack, normal behavior was just out of reach.

But he forced a smile even though
His hopes lay dashed where offerings fell

Walking back to the office, I was less stressed, but far from right.  Of course I walked by a restaurant, its walls opened to the world, letting the delightful May weather in.  There sat Sauron, yucking it up with 2 others.  My stress level soared as I nodded politely to the man who signs my pay check and kept walking.  What little solace the day and the beer offered, fell by the wayside as I envisioned death, now on his pale horse, using his scythe to great advantage.  The hairs on the back of my neck stood on end as I felt a tide of blood chasing me down the street.

In the shuffling madness
Of the locomotive breath,
Runs the all-time loser,
Headlong to his death.

In a fog, I wandered back to the office, hoping to get lost in the mundane.  Eventually, with the help of caffeine in near overdose levels, my pulse and nerves evened out.  Paperwork and status updates became my balm.  After about 90 minutes, I was parched and headed to the lunchroom for a glass of water.

As I rounded the corner, I stood 2 steps from Sauron.  There he was, gray eyes, steeled in malice.  His voice was all sunshine and light in greeting, but his eyes betrayed his thoughts.  Hard and focused, recalling every perceived injustice he had ever been forced to endure.  In the past I had said a few things to him; ugly truths morphing from minor faux pas to gangrenous wounds, fueling his now visible anger.  I’m no angel, but I had not been trying to be malicious.  He, on the other hand, admitted undermining my projects because of his perceived slights.  He had held that anger so long that when he finally let it loose, I was actually afraid. Rabid dog was what I thought at the time. I saw that same look in the hallway.   My mind screamed, “Evil” as I walked toward my intended refreshment, wishing for vodka instead.

They say history is written by the victors.  I didn’t win.  No one did and no one will.  I’m pretty sure I’m the only one that feels that way. But if you look closely and skew the focus, you’ll see this as my Cave of Altamira; my record, painted in blood.

And a rock feels no pain;
And an island never cries.

Leave a comment


  1. He is not death on his pale horse, so do not give him such powerful imagery, even in jest. He is but a windmill, and you can choose to tilt at him or not. Easier said than done, I know.


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