No One Need Know


My boss, Arthur, was innovative and magnetic. I learned that he composed the ad which attracted my interest. It was brief yet potent, described a hypothetical candidate, and invited the person for a telephone interview to discuss requirements.

Arthur defied convention. He removed the barriers imposed by human resources professionals to cull out undesirable candidates and marketed as if there were a buyer and a seller. When I returned his message, he noted the advantages of convenient public transportation, the location adjacent to Central Park, hospital housing, and the walkable distance to Upper East Side housing (where I resided). The excitement of a medical center revitalizing research facilities, advanced medical facilities, the unique concept of a hospital building its own medical school were to me purposeful and magnetic. A system where people came to clarify miffing diagnoses and address breakthroughs.

The salary and benefits were excellent. The business purposes were not sterile like the downtown designer-hewn enterprises. Fortunate for me, he was open to trying a Dictaphone rather than insisting on shorthand.

The setup of his office was unique. His desk was small, nestled inside a semicircular tabletop apron with legs, which seated six. Matching waist-high shelves, mounded with thick folders, lined three walls; there were two corner coves, each with a small, gray, upholstered barrel chair. Unlike an office where the authority of the owner was not to be questioned.

An insecure visitor could be coddled in a corner. I was relieved to be arm’s length from Arthur. He sat a chair away from me opposite his catbird high-back desk chair. I had come early and had coffee in the cafeteria. When I mentioned to the gossipy, curious older woman who sat down next to me that I was having an interview with Arthur Swift, she cackled and said, “He’s the head Director of the Personnel Police.”

He conveyed a different impression. In his office he oriented me to the various functions contained within human resources using thumbnail summaries. As he presented his domain, he proudly identified a chronology of individuals he had promoted.

When I shared highlights of my work history, he reacted favorably. We conducted a dry run dictation on a Dictaphone he had borrowed. He approved. He looked me over respectfully. I think my attractive appearance helped. Modestly attired in office casual, I wore a cardigan sweater over a high-neck blouse to conceal my buxom chest and come across as reserved.

I lived alone in a luxury high-rise one-bedroom on the Upper East Side near Yorkville, a German-American neighborhood. When I mentioned I might walk to work, Arthur brought to my attention a custom ideated by several women in his department. No matter how one got to work, it was helpful to wear sneakers and change to shoes upon arrival.

He told me the workplace encouraged participation but eliminated a suggestion system with monetary rewards as a discouragement to teamwork. He noted that he led a successful effort to discontinue exit interviews. He instituted collection of feedback in a follow-up meeting after completion of the standard three- or six-month introductory period (no longer called probation). The process was run by a joint team of social workers, human resources trainers, and second- and third-shift nurse managers. Employees were asked to anonymously compare previous employment scenarios and our facility, identifying desirable and undesirable reactions toward behaviors and rules.

I spoke up. “I like to participate. It makes perfect sense that someone no longer committed to an employer may trash her supervisor, might hold back, concerned her reference might be impacted, be indifferent. The coordination of line and staff input does away with the ugly regulatory label human resources gets, weakens lobbying by staff supervisors, and bares extreme behavior by leaders who may be the cause of turnover. Arthur, I read the article you wrote, in the college library when I went to apply for readmission. ‘Straightforward and measurable.’ I would like to be part of a process like that.”

He smiled broadly. “Our departmental budget is earmarked to spend a generous amount on training and development, with tuition reimbursement for our workforce. Your orientation will be interactive, not a series of lectures by busy volunteers. Next you and I will meet to discuss our quirks and preferences.”

I asked him to name one. He said, “I want my phone answered in three rings or less. You and I share lines. I don’t like to put calls on speaker. I prefer to interrupt what I am doing, including a meeting, excuse myself to whomever is with me, and dispense with the call with brevity or set up a call back. Why fail to pay heed to calls for help? Some people dislike this. I think it’s better than turning aside what may be stat, our word for a higher priority. How do you feel about that?

“If my wife calls when you are in my office, I would like to respect our exchanges. You will not know what she wants. I want to be able to trust you. You may be concerned with what I say to her. Please assume I will wave at you to go if I am concerned. She and I have different priorities except where it concerns the children.”

Two delightful years went by. I had taken over parts of Arthur’s hands-on role in new employee orientation. My attendance at meaningful training and development evening courses led me to matriculate, and I gained a deeper understanding of the field. I was taught how to design and present programs.

The Sensitivity Training for Managers and Employees in-house program (STME) was set for a weekend away at the Hotel Thayer. Dr. Miller, an industrial psychologist, and his partner were the facilitators. The pilot group was human resources managers reporting to Arthur.

Arthur motioned me into his office. He was frequently upbeat, smiling, and lighthearted. It was contagious and became a predictable aspect of the persona of new hires reporting to him.

“Dr. Miller made a recommendation which I thought I’d run by you. He reminded me that the STME program is designed to improve the dynamics between employees and managers, and we discover what you are good at as well. It is an informal activity where there is no superior and subordinate relationship, so perhaps we should broaden the list of invitees and invite you and a few other key associates.”

I tend to surprise people with my insight. I noted these goals on my pad. I was thrilled to join the select group. Arthur was sensitive to body language and hesitations which are not apparent to others. He reacted to the calmness of my answer. I was thinking of his role. He liked to evaluate trainers in the classroom. I thought evaluating Dr. Miller in action needed special handling. Was it intended that Arthur be an evaluator-note-taker or a participant in the various small group breakouts, subject to the facilitators’ control? is H

Arthur loved my question. Arthur with Dr. Miller’s approbation was to be a participant, and that wase was  ratified by the group of sixteen, by secret ballot.

The sessions were long and emotional. The group members were advised to keep aside their own prejudice or opinion about the other members so they did not sound judgmental. Once a member gained the confidence to speak freely about whatever was on her/his mind, interactions started to take place. People began to realize how other people perceived each other and themselves.

Dr. Miller asked the group after dinner in if they wanted to keep the session going to midnight or go to the bar and grill in Woodbury and chill out. He looked at Arthur, and Arthur shook off the opportunity to comment. It appeared to me Dr. Miller wanted the group to keep talking. I looked around. I was exhausted though I was mindful. I was bothered by the paucity of breaks, and others looked antsy too.  The decision to have a secret ballot vote was well received. With no dissenters, we went to the bar.

The Sunday tours and walkabouts around the West Point campus were scenic and inspiring. I was in an enviable position to observe Arthur’s personal dilemma, his wife and family. He appeared to be a loving and attentive father, though he seemed resigned to avoid disrupting his children by divorcing his wife. His diversions with female protégés were obvious to me but unseen or overlooked by others. The protégés were dazzlingly bright and accomplished and merited praise.

These escapades seemed to be risky and questionable, could damage his reputation for impartiality. He kept his bitterness well concealed to others. But had he painted himself into a corner? It pained me not to be able to help him, not neglect my own concerns or make things even worse. My attendance at the workshop uncovered intense feelings for Arthur on my part. I felt even closer to him. In our exchanges, he seemed more compassionate and paternal toward me.

I had an intricate problem. The amorphous structure of the training at its outset brought forth raw chaos, and it did not dispel. Worse was the feedback from others, which was hard to take. I realized that I was hard to read. I did not realize that detracted from my acceptance. I was concealing a terrible experience with bizarre fallout. I was a haunted runaway.

No one from work had seen my apartment, which would have raised a question of how I could afford the rent in such an upscale building without a roommate. My parents sold the Amenia Farm and Rehabilitation Center in Ulster County after I was knocked unconscious, severely beaten, and raped. The culprit(s) undetected. I was legally granted a new identity like the FBI used in protecting an informant. A single-occupancy apartment in the single-ladies-only Barbizon Hotel in midtown Manhattan was leased for me by my parents.

It took a year for plastic restoration of my palate and broken face bones and teeth, and for me to complete therapy for post-traumatic stress disorder at an elite residential unit in an expensive private hospital run by the east side Cornell Medical Center.

A troubling stress-related byproduct was the involuntary tightening of my pelvic floor muscles preventing entrance into my vagina. I couldn’t use tampons. Sexual intercourse was impossible. There was nothing to forget, no guilt. Most non-virginal rape victims react by being less interested in resuming intercourse. I was more interested.

I met a potential boyfriend in rehabilitation. Monty was ex-military. He walked away from a job on Wall Street as a stockbroker with substantial wealth and enlisted. He had PTSD from combat experiences.

Vera, my sex therapist, took me through Kegel exercises, stress management, and relaxation protocols, dilation, and finally offered to coach me and a lover in how-to sessions in foreplay to build an enabling trust. She volunteered to be in the room to direct foreplay. I did not feel ready, though Monty was sincere and willing. Vera was a religionist. Her zeal led her to compare my mindset to purgatory, which she described as a “lingering forever.” She was daunted in our discussion when I pointed out that I had no sin to cleanse, felt no guilt, yet was shamed by involuntary contractions of my entrance.

She even suggested playing Shostakovich symphonic music, which was broadly tonal and had a colossal tonality and purgatorial numbness to it. I listened to several recordings, and it was powerful and saddened me. Frank Sinatra struck me as invasive.

It did make sense to me to try it with a partner. Monty tried to reassure me, not to worry, by explaining that he would be able to get it up with a third person present. But what if he couldn’t? That would add him to the problem. Would we need a coach to be present more than once? Monty was growing on me. He wanted to be married again. I was uncomfortable making him a guinea pig. This was not a normal circumstance.

Relating to others without fully understanding how they saw me was a dilemma I now put in the spotlight. I didn’t realize until the sensitivity exercises that my soul was invisible. I expected to gain confidence and become more inquiring of others, though when the shoe was on the other foot, I was withholding and thought being seen as young, pretty, diligent, reliable was enough.

I loved the way Arthur chose to interface with me. He didn’t interfere or override. His kindness was familial. He held mirrors up for me to question myself. I loved his intention but had missed opportunities to be close to him, beyond my daydreams. I certainly didn’t want to drive him away with a risky witnessed experiment or a clumsy seduction.

“No one need know,” my inner voice whispered. “Including Monty,” it added.

I wanted to bond with Arthur, be intimate in extended detail before I moved on with my life. I sensed Arthur could benefit as well. I would lead him from the fabricated patchwork of lovers he was treading upon. He could use our close encounter to improve his approach to a sexual relationship with me, rescue a woman he trusted and deserved. He needed to be inspired by someone like me, even though I may not be worthy of him.

Monty need not know. He could still be my man. We could seek a safe, quiet life together, maybe move to Virginia to be near my parents. He joked that he would have to sell our building first. He was terrified that he would not be a good father, and I was nervous to be a mother. I could pick Arthur’s brain about parenting.

My notion that Arthur and I could help each other was not something to discuss at a bar. He was coming in to work next Saturday morning to observe the attendance of an assistant manager. The man was Asian American. His boss told Arthur that Asians were exceptional at math and could be trusted to work unsupervised; that his work would be verified by a record review.

Arthur was bringing his three-year-old son. I don’t want to appear to be smug, but Arthur was done early. The man was not there at all. Arthur did not condone ethnic bias, for or against. He was also not complacent about fraud.

I heard Arthur telling his wife on the phone he would be taking their youngest son to the Central Park Zoo to go on the historic carousel nearby. I expected that I could easily convince Arthur to let me go along, or I could implement the rest of my plan the following week.

I would tell him I had a personal matter I wished to discuss that would be more comfortable for me to do in fresh air. If that didn’t fly, I would try to get him to hear my agenda over dinner at my place the following Tuesday evening, since he was free then.

I’d tell him about the blind rape, my new identity and relocation, Monty, and my post-traumatic vaginitis. That Monty was the doorman and security person at my building. We met in rehab; they placed him there on a trial basis, and he was hired. When I came out of my coma, and they repaired my mouth, I finished recovery and wanted to leave the Barbizon for Single Ladies but stay on the East Side. Monty suggested my current building, where he could keep an eye on me. Nobody knew we were seeing each other.

The zoo, the carousel, his little boy a gem, and dinner at my place on Tuesday. Arthur arrived with a bouquet and pastries from the German bakeshop. Dinner, halibut, steamed vegetables, small salads. Robust Turkish coffee. I was almost done. Did he need a rationale?

“You could say yes and justify it as supporting my fantasy. Or just make it into our fantasy. I learned from the sex therapist about ways to perform foreplay and unlock my rape-induced vaginal panic seizures. I have an option, bring someone to a sex trial with me. The sex therapist, Vera, in person, could coach us. You or Monty, but with either of you, there are also drawbacks.” He waved that off.

“And/or?” he said, urging me to continue.

“Arthur, I may be wrong. Watching you suffer, clinging to your marriage like it was a stillborn baby, has been painful.”

“There was a stillborn baby boy. Not something I want to talk about.”

“I’m so sorry. I observed you scratching, and it wasn’t just a seven-year itch. You don’t look well wearing bitterness. I can sense your frustration, screwing more women with less delicacy, until you are hanging on to passion by a thread.”

“You want to teach me how to make love softly, and before I lose whatever touch I can muster, help you to regain your touch?”

“Before we lose hope, Arthur!”

“The password open sesame unblocked the mouth of a cave where forty thieves buried a treasure. But I am Arthur Swift, not Ali Baba.”


Melvin Einhorn’s first voluminous rejection by a noted NYC publisher was a triumph for his creative writing instructor. Melvin was seventeen. An ornery but sensitive cuss, he graduated to thrive at work in healthcare industrial relations. Women proved to be incomprehensible to him; he gingerly returns insignificant as a fly on the wall to bravely write this story from a woman’s perspective. He vowed to be published and keep going. Bless you, Tulsa Review. Eighty-three is not too old.

Emily Dangott is a student at TCC, where she is majoring in Communications. After TCC, she plans on attending the University of Oklahoma or the University of Central Oklahoma to continue her passion for photography. She has been a photographer for four years and will continue to work towards her career goal of becoming a fashion photographer. Her ultimate goal is to work for Vogue or Bazaar magazine. She currently works for several clothing boutiques in the Tulsa area, including J.Cole and Love Like Bean, and has an internship at Shane Bevel Photography.