by Bart Van Goethem

This job is driving me insane, man.

Really? I say.

Shit. That’s why he wanted to buy me lunch in this fancy Italian place: to pour his little heart out.

Well, if you’re going to show up tomorrow morning with an AK-47, let me know, I’ll call in sick, I joke.

He’s not laughing.

I feel like I’m not in the right place, doing the right thing,’ he says. ‘I just want some recognition. Some validation. I mean, if they don’t think I’m good enough, they shouldn’t have hired me in the first place.

Why is he saying all these things to me? We’re not friends. We’ve been colleagues for only two months.

Relax, I say. Rome wasn’t built in a day, you know.

I lost a lot of credit with the Murray case, don’t you think?

No shit, Sherlock. And it cost me my promotion too.

Don’t be so hard on yourself, I say.

I just feel Tom has lost his confidence in me, he says.

Is this guy even listening to me? I’m really trying to be sympathetic and all, but all he does is talk. Why is everybody talking so much and listening so little? And why — can you explain this to me — why don’t people understand all that talking is stopping them from achieving what they want? Just shut up for a second and listen. It can change your life. But no. Yap, yap, yap, yap, yap.

Oh, come on, I say.

Maybe I should just quit, he says.

For crying out loud, what a drama queen. I hate that. Always nagging about a problem instead of looking for a solution. Always complaining instead of trying to find a positive angle. No wonder he’s a lame-ass lawyer. You know what? I’m taking this fucker down. He doesn’t deserve any better.

Okay, listen, I say. Maybe I shouldn’t be telling you this, but Tom did express his doubts about your abilities, I lie.

Jesus! If those wrinkles sink any deeper in his forehead, he’ll implode.

So what you’re feeling in your gut, I say, is totally normal. Your boss does not have faith in you, though he pretends the opposite. But you know what? Take it as an opportunity to surpass yourself. To lift yourself to a higher level.

Fucker’s not reacting. Just sitting there staring at his spaghetti vongole. I have him right where I want to.

You just have to believe in yourself a bit more, I say. Don’t let Tom get you down. What does he know? He is the kind of boss who is promoted far beyond his capabilities. You know that. I know that. Everybody knows that.

Fucker’s still staring. Eyes looking a little glazed now. Oh-oh, he’s slowly slumping over. Better stop him before he falls face down in his plate.

Hey, you okay? I say as I shake him by the shoulder.

He lifts his head up in slow-motion to look at me.

Now don’t give him a chance to say anything. Just let him stand there at the edge of the cliff.

Shit, I say, checking my iWatch, it’s time to get back to work. Listen, forget Tom, forget what I said and just give it your best shot. Alright?

Nope, he’s definitely not alright. I can see it in his eyes. They clamour for help, but it’s too late now, buddy. See you at the bottom. Personally I love that feeling of losing it. I have to admit the first time I was scared shitless, but as it happens again and again, it starts to feel familiar, comfortable, comforting even. You just have to be able to be quiet and listen, listen to the insanity running rampant in your head, ricocheting off the inside of your skull, like one of those colourful bouncing balls. It’s the best sound ever.

I drive us back to the office. When I leave in the evening I mention to my secretary I have a splitting headache. I already know I’ll be calling in sick tomorrow morning.

Bart Van Goethem is a writer, drummer and KISS fan from Brussels, Belgium. Follow him @bartvangoethem.