I was recently interviewed for a newsletter of sorts and I was asked questions like '...what's the one word you would use to describe yourself?' and '...what did you want to be when you grew up?'
I'm not sure if I answered those questions as honestly as I thought I would but for what it's worth my answers were Passionateand Batman. I mean, what kid doesn't want to be Batman when they grew up? I still want to be Batman and I'm a grown-up now.
And therein lies the problem. I just classified myself as a grown-up. I pay taxes. I have a mortgage. I carry around too much weight in my middle and I've got more grey hairs than I can count. Hooray for adulthood! See the problem here is that I still don't really know what I want to be when I grow up because I don't actually consider myself to be 'grown-up'. Yes I have a job. I'd go so far as to even say I have a career but trying to pigeon hole myself into one role; one defining characteristic....I don't think I can do that.
Granted, when asked I fired off my answer without a terrible amount of thought. I wasn't trying to be flippant. I just was caught slightly off guard by the question and provided the first answer that really jumped out at me. It was the answer I've been using since I was about 6 so there's some history there but regardless of that fact, I probably could've mapped out my response a little better.
Stewart Butterfield, the co-founder of Flickr and chief executive of Slack uses that very same question when he's interviewing candidates. According to an interview with the New York Times earlier this month Butterfield was quoted as saying
But I have to disagree with Mr. Butterfield. The question is WHAT do you want to be when you grow up? That should naturally lead into WHY? In my opinion a short answer means that your answer is definitive and clearly thought out. Let me show you.
You: What do you want to be when you grow up?
You: Why do you want to be Batman?
Fights Crime and Saves People
Short, sweet and to the point. Next Question.
Telling people that having a short answer to a question like that is 'automatically bad' is essentially telling people their answer.....is wrong. And that in itself.....is wrong.
You see, the thing that irks me is that most of us truly don't ever get to be what we want to be. We make choices that eventually lead us down the path we're on today but it's rare to know more than a handful of people that are doing exactly what they set out to become.
I've always envied those people that knew as early as Public School what they wanted to be when they got older. They kept that idea alive all throughout High School, took courses in College or University geared to that profession and then when they graduated plunged head first into the job market and relentlessly sought out and acquired their job. Destiny fulfilled! Achievement Unlocked! Way to make the rest of us look bad.
I shouldn't really complain though. I love what I do. I didn't set out to be a Training and Quality Manager in a B2B Marketing Company. In High School I earned scholarships to study Music and go to a Dramatic Arts School in New York. I passed on both. Instead, I went to University to study Egyptology. Yes....you read that correctly and yes I could tell you why I did that but that's neither here nor there at this stage of the game.
The point is I found what I'm passionate about; teaching, educating and motivating people. It took me 30+ years to find this passion, but I found it. It's what I see myself doing for the rest of my life. It doesn't mean I won't change directions at some point. I have a restless soul and as Robert Frost once said
The woods are lovely, dark and deep, But I have promises to keep, And miles to go before I sleep, And miles to go before I sleep.
I realize that I may never be Batman. Not exactly, but I still get to be likeBatman. I get to help people every day. I can be their protector, their mentor and their sparring partner when the time calls for it. I get to use my brains and my brawn to get end results. I solve problems and mysteries. I drive my Bat mobile a little too fast at times and I look good in black. I may never be the Superhero type, but I feel like one almost every time I leave the office.
So for any of you reading this that feel lost, confused or awash in a sea of ambiguity about where your career is going I'll leave you with this. Most of us start off wanting to be Cowboys, Astronauts, Princess and Superheroes and the majority of us will never be those things. Later in life we want to be Professional Athletes, Recording Artists and Movie Stars and only some of us will fulfill that wish. Eventually we will come to a point where the only thing we want to be when we grow up....is happy. Whether that's pushing paper, pushing a broom or pushing a stroller it doesn't matter because when that moment comes, you'll know you're right where you're supposed to be.
Like many people these days I often opt for the drive-thru line rather than walking into the store. The 'convenience' factor plays a large part in the decision making process as does the illusion that the line actually moves faster outside than it does inside. For the record....it does not. But regardless of those things I wait diligently in my car to pull up to that microscopic screen and raspy speaker to ask for food or drinks or whatever.
My order accuracy track record with most drive-thru lines is not good. In fact I would say without a second thought that my order is often anywhere from 'not quite what I ordered' to flat out wrong. Yet I still come back. Time and time again and I set myself up for disappointment every time. Now, I could try and psychoanalyze why I do this (much like most of you reading this) but that's not what this is really about. This post is about the importance of mastering a skill before you take on new skills. Allow me to elaborate.
Yesterday I was in line at Tim Horton's for a coffee. For those of you not familiar with what Tim Horton's is or who he was, click the link to read more. Needless to say, it's an addiction for most Canadians. There was a car in front of me at the speaker placing their order. As most of us do, knowing I was up next I turned down my radio so the person in the store could hear me when I ordered. This also meant I could hear the car in front of me ordering. Most of the order was mundane as orders tend to be, but then the driver said something that made my ears perk up. After ordering his coffee (one cream, one sugar) he said
....and Trish? Please stir my coffee.
And then he drove ahead.
I sat there for a heartbeat or two pondering that statement. Please stir my coffee? I mean....that should be obvious right? You add stuff to a coffee, then you stir it. It's that simple. I do it when I make a coffee at home. I bet you do too. Who did this guys think he was? Asking Trish to stir his coffee! I mean c'mon! But once that split second audacity passed, I thought of how many times I needed to stir my coffee after ordering it from this very same place. I thought of how many times my coffee; a simple pleasure, was marred but somebody's inability to perform a core function of their job. That's when that sentence hit me.
A few months back I had been at a conference in Chicago and during one of the breakout sessions the Speaker said something that seemed so obvious; so simple that I don't think it really resonated with me until sitting waiting for my coffee that day. In essence he said (and I'm paraphrasing here) '...we cannot teach people a new skill or ask them to perform a new task until we know that they have mastered the last skill or task.'
How often do we assign new tasks to our staff or set stretch goals for them to achieve? How often do they struggle to complete those tasks or reach those goals? Is it because they are incapable? In a word....Yes. If we expect our team to do something new and different and it requires them to use a set of predefined skills to accomplish that task shouldn't we ensure that they have mastered those predefined skills first? For example, if I ask my staff to create a pivot table in Excel then I need to be certain that they are competent with Excel on a basic level before expecting them to do more. Taking that simple fact for granted can easily lead to disappointment further down the road.
This Customer ordering his coffee recognized a gap in that Company's basic skills training. Through his own experiences he had come to understand that while the coffee was being made, it wasn't being made properly. He needed to reinforce the basics of the job; to ensure the coffee was stirred in order to get the best possible result. The person receiving that instruction (Trish) had more than likely been trained on how to make a cup of coffee. She was probably shown how to add cream and sugar and I'll go so far as to say she probably was even taught how to stir it. The issue here is not Trish (she was doing a bang-up job).
The issue was that not enough people understood or practiced the basics of the job so no matter how complex the order was; no matter how many times they made a coffee or tea, somewhere along the line they were forgetting an essential step. They were doing it incorrectly and Customers were driving away unhappy. They hadn't mastered the basics and there was a negative consequence because of that.
So the next time you give your team an assignment or you get back a less than optimal result on a project you delegated to them ask yourself whether they had the basics skills down to do the job properly. Ask yourself.....did they stir the coffee?
The house was at the end of my street. An old dilapidated structure with boarded up windows and a rusty fence around the perimeter; a thing of nightmares to a child with a vivid imagination. When the wind blew through the house it would moan and whistle as the air rushed through an incalculable number of cracks and crevices. The thing would breathe.
To the left of the house stood an old watchtower that overlooked the Wabi River; a safe outlet from the rocky waters of Lake Temiskaming. The home and tower had been around since close to the turn of the century. Deep brush and trees grew around it keeping it relatively hidden from passers-by. But all the children in the neighborhood knew it was there; jutting out of the earth at a dangerous angle like a ragged tusk. The tower listed dangerously towards the edge of a steep embankment that dropped 40 or so feet into the river below. A disquieting eyesore to the adults on the block; an ominous challenge for every kid with something to prove. I was one of those kids.
Every day after school my friends and I would walk past the house and the conversation would dwindle as eyes would quickly move to scuffling feet, the cracks in the sidewalks and the birds in the trees. Anywhere…but the house with the tower. Then a thought would pass through the group.
“Please don’t pick me. Please don’t pick me.”
But inevitably someone would throw out the dare.
“Come on! Just climb to the top and wave out the window to prove you did it. What’s the matter? Are you afraid?”….and then the mob mentality would begin. Suddenly the group would join in chanting “Do it! Do it!”
That poor kid….the chosen one had to make a snap decision right then and there. Go into the gaping maw of that tower and risk your life or chicken out and make up an excuse that you heard your Mom calling you home for dinner.
Inevitably, it was my turn to be called out one day; to be dared to go into that tower and climb those rickety steps to the top---to make that life altering decision. Yes, it was life altering for a 6 year old. Being the hefty kid in the group I was an automatic target in the gladiatorial ring we knew as our street. I was tired of being teased and being called Chicken. I wanted the other kids to respect me for doing it. So I did it. I entered the tower and climbed to the top.
The details of my trip inside the tower are largely inconsequential. It was dark, musty and certainly not safe for a child. Things clearly had been living and sleeping there. The stairs were rotten and the building felt like it could fall at any point in time. After a precarious climb I made it to the top, leaned out the window and waved to my friends on the sidewalk below. And that was it. No monster came to eat me. The Tower didn’t come crashing down into the river. The most I got was a high five from my buddies and then I went home. The next day I walked past that house again and looked it up and down like it was nothing more than an ant. So did my friends. That evening we all took turns climbing to the top of the tower because it was no longer something out of a bad horror movie. It was just a set of stairs.
After that night the challenge was gone as was the mystery and sheer adrenaline-fueled panic that came with the premise that you could very well lose your life to that monstrosity. Truth be told….I missed that feeling. I didn’t really know it then, but I certainly know it now. I’m a grown man now and the house with the tower is a distant memory that haunts my deep dreams only from time to time. But it doesn’t hold the same fear for me that it once did because I conquered it and moved on to the next set of challenges.
Moving away, starting somewhere new, making new friends, having a crush, having my heart crushed to powder, graduating, leaving home, being alone, being independent, finding myself, finding someone else, finding each other, making a union, making a family, making a home. All steps in the chapter of my life that have been joyous and terrifying and awe inspiring. Throughout them all I was faced with one constant notion-----I was afraid. Afraid of not knowing what would come next; afraid of not being able to adapt or thrive. Afraid I would fail. We are all afraid of something. I don’t care if it’s heights, or clowns or the loss of a job. We are all afraid of something. And that’s ok. It’s ok to be afraid provided the fear doesn’t control you.
A few weeks ago I was sitting in a meeting that quite frankly bored me. My mind began to drift and I began thinking about that old house with the tower. Before I knew it the meeting was done. When I cleared the cobwebs from my brain and the stardust from my eyes I looked down at my notes and saw this…
There was nothing else written on the page. I didn’t think too much of it and went about my daily business. But on the drive home that night those 5 words kept spinning around in my head. I couldn’t let the thought go that perhaps they meant something more than just some absent-minded scrawls on the paper. The more I thought about it, the more I found meaning in those words.
We are afraid when we do not know what will happen next. We are afraid when we don’t have control of the environment or a circumstance and that makes us cautious and compliant and stationary. We don’t take action to change that feeling because we do not know how attacking that fear will affect us. We are afraid to lose the afraid. It is our safety net and when we challenge the feeling of being afraid, we’re forced to cut that net away. But it’s not the act of jumping that scares us; it’s knowing that there may not be a net to catch us when we fall.
If we take the leap and make it to the other side the fear is gone. That thing we were scared of loses its power over us and we are forced to move on to the next challenge. This means a bigger leap and potentially a larger fall and the cycle repeats itself.
That house and tower were torn down years ago or maybe they finally slipped into the river below the cliff…drowning the ghosts that inhabited them. Regardless of that they will always serve as a reminder to me that there is nothing wrong with being afraid. But being afraid to lose the afraid? Well….that’s just scary.
I've spent time in my garden these past few weeks and it’s
given me time to think about a few different things; namely how much planting a
garden is like managing a team of professionals. It takes equal parts time and patience as the
process is something that doesn't happen overnight. A good Gardener is required
to map out their garden long before the first seed is sown. Using tried and
tested tools of the trade, they must painstakingly turn and sift the soil;
clearing out obstacles like large rocks, old roots and debris that can clog the
growth of healthy plants. They must get dirty with their hands and knees buried
deep in the earth as they meticulously tear out weeds and bugs that could do
harm to the plants.
They must be willing
to experience the conditions that their plants will be subjected to each day.
They must face the heat of the sun on the back of their necks and on their
face; the sweat stinging their eyes and wetting their brow. They must endure
bites and stings from creatures that are perplexed by the turmoil in their tiny
world; upset that this force has come into their domain and forced change. They
must experience performing tasks repetitively with no immediate reward for the
time they've put in. And when the day is done and it is time to leave the
garden, they must stretch their aching backs, scrape the dirt from under their
nails and put away their tools to ensure they can start fresh and clean again
in the morning.
The Gardner knows though that the real work begins once the
garden has been tilled and turned. For they know that the very things that can
give a garden life can also take that life away if not properly managed. If they use the wrong soil the plants won’t
get the nutrients they need; essentially starving. If they over water the seeds they will drown.
If they don’t water them enough they’ll wilt. Too much sun and they will bake.
Not enough and they’ll be stunted and never reach their full growth potential.
It doesn't take too much to draw parallels between the
Garden and the Office or between the Plants and your Personnel.
good idea as to what you’d like to grow in your garden-Will you have time
to cultivate and nurture new seeds? Is it better to transfer mature plants from
another area?Every garden requires a
different mix of plants. Do you have the right balance in place to accomplish
your landscape and weather patterns before you plant- Will these plants
thrive or struggle to survive? Is the soil fertile enough for them to take
root? Will they be able to handle the weight of the World around them once
they’re exposed to the environment? Have you prepared them enough to come out
of the safety of the earth surrounding them? Will an unexpected storm wipe them
out before they've even have a chance to grow?
prepared to fend off both natural predators and outside pressure-There are
many things in this world that will work against your garden; whether it’s the
stubborn weed trying to strangle the young plant’s roots or the pesky animal
that likes to dig up the soil and steal the plants. As the Gardner, you must be
vigilant and be prepared to take action to protect your plants. Set up a fence
line to deter even the most tenacious pest away. Make your garden a safe place.
Control what comes in and what goes out. Then get out into the dirt as often as
possible to cull those weeds before they take back over your entire lawn.
Be prepared for small wins and big losses
for the first few seasons-Unless you’re a natural green thumb; born to
cultivate and harvest, then you will have losses. Plants will struggle to grow.
Some will never break through the dirt to see the sunshine. Some will grow too
quickly and then burn out before their peak time. Some will need to be removed
so that the other plants get the attention and resources they need to flourish.
However, if the garden is tended properly, you will see results. Small at first
but growing over time. With the right mixture of raw resources, maintenance and
guidance your garden may soon become the envy of the block.
Obviously managing people is far more complicated than
growing a garden but there is something to be said about the person who invests
their time and passion into something that can’t give back on the same level. A
truly good Gardener; much like a truly good Manager understands that the work
you put in will not always be equal to the results you get out. That there will
be good seasons and bad seasons but no matter what there will always be
opportunities to replant. In life as in business, we work with what we have. So
whether we grow in clay, silt or peat we’ll reap what we sow.
‘What is a weed? A plant whose virtues have never been discovered.’ Ralph Waldo Emerson
Soft humming overhead. Dull flickering lights around the peripherals of his watery vision. A steady drip, drip drip pattering from his nostril down his chin and onto the linoleum below; mottled grey/green tiles dulled and scuffed over the course of a thousand or so footprints. Fitzsimmons is starting to come to.
A small time hustler, occasional drug dealer and generally all around scuzzy guy. Fitzsimmons has primarily skated his way through life; grifting, begging, borrowing and stealing what ever he wanted or needed. At times he used his charms and other times he used a double-sided blade. Any means necessaryto get any necessary means he would say. Class act that Fitzsimmons.
In recent months he was doing well for himself or as well as one can be on the underbelly of society. He had a steady job as a heavy in a local dive bar. He rented a room above the bar and had all the junk food and booze he could consume in lieu of excessive pay. It was enough to get him by. If he wanted anything more, he find an excuse to beat it out of his Customers. And so it came to pass that one night Fitzsimmons would cross paths with the last person he would ever take advantage of. A pretty young thing who wandered in to the wrong bar on the wrong side of town. A naive little doe; all fair haired and freckled looking to meet a bad boy that would really make her Daddy mad. Oooohhh and did she ever want to make Daddy mad!
A few drinks later and a stumbling climb up the back stairs and
they are in Fitzsimmons's apartment. It doesn't take long before things go from
casual cuddling to a 5 year stint in the State Pen for rape. She fights well.
She cries and claws and squirms as much as she can but in the end he is just too
strong for her. It could be over quickly too if she didn't scratch his cheek
open. Skin tears, blood runs and Fitzsimmons yells. There is a flash, a
guttural cry and then she goes limp. The knife buried to the hilt in her throat
is enough to silence her. Serves the bitch
right! He thinks as he tenderly touches his torn cheek. It was going to
leave a mark and she was going to leave a stain on his couch if he didn't do
Fitzsimmons chose to settle in this neighbourhood not
because of its ambience but because a man could walk down a dark alley with a
large stuffed suitcase and nobody would take notice…..because nobody asked
questions in this part of the city. He takes advantage of this fact and drags
her down the back stairs and loads her into the trunk of his car.
Fitzsimmons makes it to the pier and back in nearly record time.
Not like it was a race but had it been he would've had time to smile at the
cameras as he crossed the finish line. Only…they don’t normally give out trophies for murder do they? He parks his car and goes up the back stair case
to his apartment. He closes and locks the door and sinks down onto the still
warm couch. The TV flicks on and he begins watching late night TV. Fitzsimmons
drifts off to sleep.
There is a sloshing noise somewhere in his apartment; a wet, gurgling
soft sound. It wakes him from a dreamless sleep. He tries to get off the couch
but finds that he’s pinned down. He looks around frantically for anything to
help him but it’s too dark for him to see. He opens his mouth to cry out and pungent,
earthy river water begins to flow into him. He starts to sputter and spit the
water out but it’s like he is being held under. The more he struggles,
the more the water flows. Fitzsimmons is drowning and as the room starts to
grow fuzzy and he feels himself slipping somewhere farther away, He hears a
faint giggle and sees a sliver of light fall across slick, wet, blonde hair.
His eye is swollen nearly shut and his face feels like it's been used as a practice bag for the Welter-Weight Champ. He can feel the coarse ropes cutting deftly into his wrists. His arm and one leg are asleep. No, not asleep---numb. He can't feel them which leads him to believe he's been tied to this knocked over chair for quite sometime. He gently cranes his neck as far as his current bindings will allow him and tries to take in as much as he can. From what he can tell, he's in a storage room of some sort. There's a set of double swinging doors to the left of him and not much else. The doors have a round window in each; reminiscent of something you might find in a diner or a dive bar. Truthfully, this seems inconsequential until he gets free from his current predicament.
He takes in an inventory of what he must do to get back on track. It's starts with one small command; "Wiggle your fingers. Go on. Wiggle them. Get the blood flowing back into that dead arm of yours....or lay here and bleed." An easy enough task if you have blood flowing through your extremities to begin with. When you've been lying on top of them for God knows how long, well---you might just be shit outta luck. Lucky for Fitzsimmons he's a tenacious bastard; probably what got him here in the first place he thinks to himself. He feels the tiniest tingle followed by a prickling sensation. Which of course leads to the feeling of a million and one ants crawling over your skin. By now he's moving his fingers and rotating his wrist. The rope digs deeper into his flesh and he grimaces a little. But it's more of a half smile because the pain reminds him that he's regaining the use of his limbs. It reminds him he's not helpless. Sure he's lying on a filthy floor tied to a chair. He's bleeding, groggy and he's pretty sure he's pissed in his pants but by Jove he's moving now!
He knows he won't be able to break the bindings without some form of sharp object. From what he can see, that's not going to happen. He tries another approach. If he can get enough momentum he might be able to roll himself to his stomach and then subsequently his other side. With enough force he might be able to smash the chair on the floor and break free. Granted, this is not an action movie and he's no Bruce Willis. The feat which seems simple in theory is damn near impossible in execution. Still, he's a tenacious bastard as we've already established. Anyone walking into the room right now would certainly get an eyeful. This busted up punk rolling back and forth on the floor like some beached whale; grunting and groaning as he puts all his weight behind each strike. It's at that moment that Fitzsimmons stops moving and lies very, very still. It dawns on him that all this movement; this noise might draw someone's attention. Maybe whoever put him in this chair and tenderized his face might be in the next room over...or watching him from a video feed. He looks around the room as casually as he can. Well, as casually as a beaten man tied to a chair can. He scans the corners for cameras and sees none. He looks at the door and listens carefully for any sign of movement. Breathing, feet shuffling, muffled conversation. Anything really. But nothing. His heart pounds in his chest and he can hear the sound of his blood pumping hard in his ears. He could set his watch the the rhythmic 'Whoosh, Whoosh, Whoosh."
He tenses his muscles up and makes one more attempt to roll over and smash his wooden prison. He rocks back and forth to build momentum. He figures the weakest part of the chair will be where the seat and back meet so he focuses his attack there. He envisions the wood and screws bending and snapping under the weight of his frame. He whips his body from left to right rolling across his stomach. He's pretty sure he's got at least one cracked rib as the pain is excruciating every time he moves. By now he's made dents in the floor and heard the wood groan under him more than once. "So close....just a little more pressure and..."
There is an audible 'CRACK' and the ropes immediately loosen around him. He makes another pass at it and this time the chair crumbles under the relentless onslaught. Fitzsimmons sits upright and fiddles with the ropes. He kicks away the chair which is nothing more than kindling now and slowly makes his way to his feet. His back screams at him and for a good minute he needs to stand bent at the waist to will his back to straighten itself. When it does, there is a pop somewhere near his tail bone and the pain is almost immediately remedied. Slip-disc he thinks? He takes a moment to survey the damage done. From what he can tell he was severely worked over with a blunt object like a pipe. His nose is broken. He can feel the cartilage crunch as he passes a finger over it. His eye is in pretty rough shape too but it's not a total write-off. He'll be sporting a beautiful shiner for a few weeks. His lower half seems ok. Ankles a little stiff from the ropes but he can walk and maybe even run if need be. His chest is another story. He hears a rattling noise every time he breathes. It might not just be a busted rib he thinks. There's a good chance his lung is punctured too.
Fitzsimmons walks to the doors and looks quickly out of the greasy windows. Sure enough, there's a diner on the other side. The lights are off and the space looks empty. He cracks the door a little and slips quietly out behind the counter where he crouches until he's sure the coast is clear. He peers over the counter and surveys the dining area. The booths look empty but he can't be completely sure. It's dark and the ambient light from outside isn't helping; the vertical blinds are seeing to that. He looks around the counters and locates a large bladed knife. Used for cutting slices of mediocre pie, it can also puncture a few necks if the need arises. He feels a little more confident knowing he's now got a modicum of defense. He stands up and steps out from behind the counter; the knife poised at the ready. He looks for the door and plans to beat a hasty retreat when he sees something shuffle in the darkness at the other end of the diner.
Your eyes have a funny way of playing tricks on you. People are not nocturnal by nature so we often struggles to see in the dark. We have trouble making out details and distances and this makes us vulnerable. But it also makes us cautious and in some cases.....it makes us dangerous. Fitzsimmons is an individual of the latter classification. He tightens his grip on the knife handle and takes up a stance that clearly announces his intention to defend himself should the need arise. The diner is quiet with the exception of the humming of the refrigerated display case and the rattling in his lungs. He watches the darkness and begins to count. If he makes it to 5 and nothing happens, he'll chalk it up to nerves and be on his way.
1..........2..........3..........4 (the darkness at the end of the diner seems to breathe). "I'm not sure who you are or what the fuck you think you're doing....but I'm not in the mood right now."
The diner starts getting colder and the light (what little there is) seems to bleed into the cracks and corners rendering the space between Fitzsimmons and the exit almost opaque. A low growl emanates from the dark and the hairs on the back of his neck stand straight up. Fitzsimmon is legitimately afraid. He estimates the distance between him and the door is approximately 15 feet. He could be out on the street in mere seconds assuming the door isn't locked. Seems good in theory except that 15 feet is equally shared with whatever is lurking in the darkness. He might be able to run, but what then? He uses his peripheral vision to look for another way out. He wants to seem in control of the situation even though his knees shake and he's made water in his pants....again.....
The thing in the dark is watching him with hungry unseen eyes. It measures his moves and smells his uncertainty and although it is as dark as pitch, Fitzsimmons is confident he can see this thing smiling at him out of the gloom. But then the darkness shifts and he realizes that there are two figures standing cloaked in shadow. One clearly smaller than the other.
A voice drifts out from the dark.....
"Fiiiitttzzzssiiiimmmoooonnnnsssssss......." it whispers. "I've waited so long to find someone like you. Someone who knows how to treat a girl just right and show her a good time. I'm so happy my Daughter has taken a liking to you."
Another voice, this time from the smaller shape. "Can I keep him Daddy? I promise I won't break him like the last one!"
"Oh yes darling......you are rough with your toys aren't you? But if this one breaks Daddy will just get his sweet girl another one........"
And in that small, still moment, he knows this thing is here to do him harm. Not the physical harm he endured while tied to a chair and beaten. Not even the harm he suffered at the hands of a drunken Step Father or the harm of the elements as he slept on the street. No....he knows this thing is here to hurt him in ways he cannot fathom. To do irreparable harm to him that will mark him like a stain.
In this shut down diner on some isolated street deep in the belly of the city Fitzsimmons knows that his sins have come to visit him; to share a cup of coffee and a slice of warm apple pie.
He wonders if he'll be able to have a scoop of icecream with his slice.........