La Bete

After working as an office manager for a theater company in New York City for a little over four years (the company would get the rights to musicals that had just finished their run on Broadway, streamline the show, and tour it throughout the US. Occasionally, there would be international tours). I had burned out. In the beginning, the job was great; if I had nothing to do, I could write or edit at my desk. I had made a documentary film about former middleweight champion Iran “The Blade” Barkley, so I could work on that (a whole other story entirely).  If the phone rang, or someone needed something, I would drop everything. However, by the start of year five, the company had downsized, and the time balance had shifted. So, I spoke with a friend of mine who worked in finance, and he said his office was looking to hire a new clerk. The job would essentially mirror my current job, so I applied. With my friend’s help, I got it. In some respects, it was a similar position. I was responsible for the day-to-day operations which included many of the same responsibilities I’d had in the theater job. However, they also encouraged me to get my licenses, so I could trade stocks. Eventually, I got my series 7, 63, and 55. Brokers throughout the firm placed bets on whether I would pass each test. Collectively it took 7 attempts to get all three, but again that’s a whole other story as well. The first time, I missed the series 7 by one question. That one hurt the most. 

The job was also in Connecticut, so my friend, his roommate who also worked there, and I would commute together in his car, a BMW M3, which he and I referred to as La Bete; French for The Beast. Mornings would begin with iced coffee and listening to System of a Down. Even though we hadn’t discussed it previously, it was an unwritten rule that if you were going to listen to BYOB, the second track on the album, you had to play the first track, Soldier Side, which transitioned into it. It was the best way to start the morning. I had been living in Astoria at the time, and one day while listening to the radio, after the DJ had just played BYOB, he said he was going to play it again. He didn’t care whether the program director would excoriate him for violating whatever policy they had about playing the same song multiple times. When he finally finished with BYOB, he had ended up playing the song at least 5 times in a row. I told my friend about it, and together we made sure to listen to the song every day. One vivid memory I have of driving to work in La Bete included my friend napping in the backseat, and his roommate driving. I was riding shotgun and reading a book. We were on the I95, and a motorcyclist driving a sport bike pulled up next to us. 

“He wants to race,” the roommate said, “ I KNOW it.” 

Slowly, the roommate accelerated, and I closed my book. Both La Bete and the motorcycle began to weave in and out of cars; I don’t remember how fast we were going, but if we had had a flux capacitor we probably would have traveled in time. Eventually, the motorcycle needed to take an offramp, but before he exited he performed a wheelie. We both cheered and took it as a sign of respect. If my life were the film Stand By Me, this would be the point where now fifteen years later, my son and one of his friend’s would walk into my office and say 

“Dad, can we go now?

“You ready?” I’d reply.

“Yeah, we’ve been ready for an hour.”

“OK, I’ll be right there,” I’d say.

My son and his friend would leave the room. On the way out, the friend would say

“He said that a half-hour ago.”

My son would offer “Yeah, my dad’s weird. He gets like that when he’s writing.”

Andrew Davie received an MFA in creative writing from Adelphi University. He taught English in Macau on a Fulbright Grant. In June of 2018, he survived a ruptured brain aneurysm and subarachnoid hemorrhage. His other work can be found in links on his website:

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