The Sub-Generals

When the General releases us from the conference room we each walk at the same careful pace, watchful that we don’t overtake or slip back into the presence of one of the other men in the General’s inner circle.

“How I hate watching David as he slowly ambles down the hallway, through the parkette, and to our neighbouring parking spots. He has acted indifferently to me ever since the July barbecue, when I, loaded down with a full plate of dripping food, asked him if the seat next to him was taken, and he pretended not to notice me. Then, after I’d found precarious seating on an out-of-the-way railing still wet from the sprinkler (a compromise that forced me to remain seated on that rail until the end of the party, lest anyone see my soaked backside) I saw that he gladly received Peter, whom I hate, into the vacant chair–though Peter had already eaten, and even had his own chair, still guarded by his mayonaisey cutlery and recently voided plate.”

“Does Arthur know how much I dislike him? Was he aware of the tremendous slight he directed at my person when we entered the conference room for the General’s meeting, and he would not deign to bestow eye contact upon me, as if I was no better than a worm? Really! What harm could it have done if he’d lent me his attention, just for a moment?”

“I must keep my head down. I must not look up. The world of men is a worse battlefield than the hottest desert, or the most fetid swamp. I would rather be back on the roof of a humvee, hearing bullets as they whistle past my head, because then at least I have the opportunity to fire back, rather than be forced to swallow my fire and let it rise up again and again in my throat, whenever I am forced into contact with the men that I hate.”

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