I found the heart pumping and spurting blood from its many severed veins. I was already running late for my important meeting. It seemed like fate. It seemed like fate because I was also completely unprepared for the meeting.
All my bosses would be there, all ten of them. They wanted to know about meat. They said if I didn’t save the company then they would not know what to do with me. Now that I had the heart, I was sure I’d be able to explain everything to them. I was sure I’d be able to save the company.
By the time I got to the meeting, my white dress shirt was soaked through with blood. The heart continued pumping. It generated blood in never ending quantities. It was just the thing.
I quietly entered the room, all eyes on me. All twenty eyes of my ten bosses. Actually, all nineteen. One of my bosses had a terrifying glass eye, white, blank white. He was the Big Boss, boss of bosses. He used his glass eye for staring into his employees’ souls.
I’m surprised I forgot about his glass eye. It was so striking and so terrifying — which feeling it inspired really depended on who was being looked at and why.
Now that I had the heart, though, I wasn’t scared. “Here’s how meat could be the next big thing,” I said, really fast, and then slid the pumping heart on the table. I’d wrapped it in a crumpled piece of printer paper. The room was silent.
One of my bosses, one of the smaller bosses, finally said, “Come again?” I pointed at the heart on the table, pumping blood everywhere, getting blood all over everyone.
“No,” I said, and retreated to the hallway, peeking back into the conference room with the shyness of a child.
The Big Boss spoke, booming, “Come back, please.” He didn’t mean to shake the room and the hallway, but that’s what he did. I had no choice but to return.
The Big Boss said, booming again but obviously trying to lower his boom, speaking in what to him must have been his version of a whisper. “Tell me is this heart meant to remind us of the frivolous nature of trying to make the next big thing?”
“Do we even sell meat?” another boss said, the bald boss.
“We’ll get our best men on it,” they said in unison. “We will make that determination. We will find out.” They stood and shook hands, feeling something important had been settled
“Who are our best men?” they then said.
“I’ve looked into the soul of every man who works for this company, gentlemen,” the Big Boss said. “And I can say with the utmost certainty our best men is right here. That,” he nodded at me, “is our best men.”
I tried to run, again, this time more like a spooked animal than a child. I was stopped by one of my boss’s hands, which gripped my coat. I turned and stared at them, a bloody sight to see.
My expression: mewling.
It was time I admit it, my presentation was a total success.
“Actually, the more I think about it, the more I think, why did that man bring a still-pumping, disembodied heart as his presentation?” the Big Boss said. “This is a presentation about meat, probably. I really don’t think I learned anything about meat and its status with this company. Unless you think hearts are the meat that could be the meat of meats, the next big meat? Is that what you think?”
“That’s what I think,” I said. I’d picked up the heart. I was thinking about biting into it. I don’t know why. Why does anyone want to bite into anything? It squirted blood in my face, and I kept blinking because, well, because it was squirting blood on my face.
Years later, the heart sprayed blood on my face in my boss office. The wood of my desk permanently changed to a mauve color because of the constant blood spray. I owed it all to this heart.
I knew it could change things and it did. The heart made my employees think I could see inside their souls. And that’s how I have learned that the most important tool of business is knowing to be afraid and to inspire fear as often as is within your power.
Matt Rowan lives in Los Angeles. He currently edits Untoward Magazine. He’s author of two story collections, Big Venerable (CCLaP, 2015), Why God Why (Love Symbol Press, 2013) and another, How the Moon Works, forthcoming from Cobalt Press. He’s also a contributing writer and voice actor for The Host podcast. His short story, “The Ok Grocery Store Corral,” was long-listed by The Wigleaf Top 50 (Very) Short Fictions 2013. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in TRNSFR, Spork, Always Crashing, Grimoire, and Necessary Fiction, among others.
image: Lindsay Hargrave