Barry could never empathise with women who were openly attracted to bastards, bad men, wrong-uns.  The closest he could come was this: being drawn back into affiliation with a charismatic businessman he could never fully trust, but couldn’t help investing in.  Like the temptation of that repeated “last” drink.  Go on then, just one more..

Hugh had won him over from the off, in that Starbucks four years ago.  That dynamic, infectious antipodean enthusiasm, his diminutive fuck-em all stature and ballsy wide-eyed belief.  It led to a job at the small start-up company, but over time, Barry’s attitude cooled and his patience thinned.  Unpredictable hours kept by Hugh, together with his seemingly frivolous abdication of duty and care, albeit with that puppy-like abandon: it began to seriously grate.  Back he’d skip into the office after a few weeks away, chest-pumpingly buoyant and doggedly determined.  Hopeless disorganisation and flagrant number embroidery never helped his cause. 

When the company was still failing to make any sort of profit eighteen months later, morale was low and dissent amongst the staff was rife, Barry got another job and moved to the city.

He kept in touch with a good handful of colleagues from those days, the majority of whom (actually.. perhaps all?) had fallen out with the boss, parted on fractious, uncomfortable terms.  Disagreements and disputes with staff were common, he was unafraid to argue, go to courts and tribunals.  It happened so many times you thought it must be him, he must be a duplicitous arse.  Barry certainly never trusted him after a while: the false promises, the hyped hope, expectation of big things and conspicuous prolonged absences.  Was he a confidence trickster, a fraud, a phoney?  Barry knew if he conferred with other former colleagues, decent enough folk, they would each say yes: do not touch him with a bargepole.

Meeting him again a few years later, Hugh didn’t appear to have aged at all, his confidence and belief was entirely unbowed.  Perhaps a touch more humility and openness to listen, or was Barry inventing that himself because he wanted to believe it?  He sat and listened as his old boss briefed the small audience: the web designer, Barry and the latest in a line of his successors in the role, a man Barry was also unsure about.  He was stylish, well groomed and confident; a tonal, penetrating northern accent of the kind which naturally exudes authority.

Afterwards they went for sushi, just Barry and Hugh, and spoke socially about family and off-record about Hugh’s business. 

Big plans, big names.  This year, this time… 

Hugh radiated a desperate craving for a business jackpot like never before.  Many years of hard labour, a big churn of staff in what had never been a large company, many personal disputes: all that must cause you to look inward.  He confessed to the self doubt, when pressed.  Even so, Barry had to admire the man’s resilience, his fearlessness and perseverance at a difficult business route.  He tried to stop himself, remind himself about everything he knew about the man, everything his former colleagues would say.  He knew Hugh was quite full of shit about a lot of things: King of The Blag.  Maybe this time, though? 

Barry smiled and went with his gut feeling.  From a safe distance, he would join hands again.


3 Responses to swaying

  1. Barbara Andrew says:

    Can’t help feeling a bit sorry for Hugh, at a distance, as you put it. Irritating though he is, you get a feeling of a lack of confidence and rather like a dog who can’t believe you don’t want to play with him anymore, after endless throwing of the stick and, also puppy-like, a belief that you DO like him, really.
    People like that are dangerous!
    I don’t know if any of this makes sense to you?

  2. swashbuckled says:

    Suppose I kind’ve see where you’re coming from, despite the contradictions: lack of confidence, disbelief that you’d stop throwing a stick, but puppy-like belief that you DO / must like him? Would never accuse him of a lack of confidence.

  3. Pingback: wants and kneads « Swashbuckled

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