He was an early-riser but today, he woke up way before dawn. Nerves. It was his first day as the assistant of a rock star, front-man of the biggest rock band this side of the Sahara.


He looked back on his first day at work as he waited to meet his boss. The day had been filled with various on-boarding activities. He was introduced to the assistants of the other band members. He was grilled by the band’s publicist as said publicist was in the middle of putting out a publicity fire set by one of the band members. He was given a tour of the expansive, eco-friendly headquarters where the band lived, created, played and fought. At lunch time, he was entertained and a little horrified by the various stories of legendary fights among the band members. His questions about what his new boss was like were met with knowing glances, chuckles, mysterious silences and cryptic phrases such as “seeing is believing”.

He was told that the previous assistant had left suddenly and unceremoniously. One of the other assistants had bragged about the huge amount she had won for betting that the previous assistant would not last a month. The others, after interacting with that previous assistant, had thought that he was competent enough to last a year. They were wrong.

He had asked who among them had bet that he would stay for a year. They had all suddenly got up and left, mumbling that their lunch break was over. He had smiled at their retreating figures, determined to prove them wrong, confident that he would stay much longer than the previous assistant.

At dusk, he met his new boss and his confidence wavered.


He woke up way before dawn. Excitement. It was his second day as the assistant of a rock star. He recalled what had happened on his first day at work. He had met his new boss and had been floored by his…energy. Yes, it was subdued, kept in check, especially since his boss had just woken up and looked like he was nursing a hangover. Yet, he could still feel that energy, the one that was let loose on stage and gave power to the band’s lyrics about truth, justice, freedom and love.

He had found himself suddenly tongue-tied and clumsy. He had broken his boss’s favourite mug. Close to tears and prepared to be fired on his first day of work, he had muttered an apology. Luckily, his boss had been in a good mood. He had smiled at his new assistant and had said in a quiet voice:

“Don’t worry about it. We all make mistakes.”

So yes, he was excited to go back to work and be the assistant of the coolest boss he had ever worked for.


They got into a comfortable routine. Contrary to what the other assistants had told him, his boss seemed to be a low-maintenance person. He made sure that his boss had everything he needed when he dragged himself out of bed at around 6pm, looking less like a rock star and more like a sulking first grader who does not want to go to school. At 7pm, when his assistant duties officially ended, he made sure that his boss was set up for his usual all-nighters at the studio. He made sure that his boss’s travelling assistant had everything they needed on trips. He handled his boss’s social media accounts – a nightmare! - and coordinated with the band’s publicist regarding interviews, media appearances and social media crises.

Together with the other assistants, he suffered in silence when the band members were having one of their cold war fights. The assistants were transformed into couriers of noxious notes, putrid post-its and dangerous drawings. One time, he had to deliver two recordings of his boss’ drunk-singing. One song was called “I know you don’t want to hear this but I miss you, I want you back” and the other song was called “She may be yours now but she was mine first” and as per his boss’s instructions, he had to stand there and witness the respective recipient’s reaction so that he could report it to his boss.

At least the hours were flexible and the pay was good. Very good.


He was woken up just before dawn by a phone call from his boss, who sounded drunk. He got out of bed, suddenly alert, wondering if there was an emergency.

“Sir, is something wrong?”

“No. No emergency. I just want to chat.”

“To chat? About what?”

“Anything. Everything. The weather. Life. Do you like working here?”

“Oh yes! It’s fun, I learn a lot and I get free tickets to all the shows!”

His boss laughed. “I hereby bestow upon you free tickets for life.”

“Thank you, Sir!”

“You’re very different from my previous assistant.”

“The one before me?”

“Yes. He had a strange vibe around him. I couldn’t quite put my finger on it. I wish I had paid more attention at the start.”

“Do you know why he left?”

“No. I know I’m not easy to work for but with him, I did try to be a better boss. I thought we were getting along. He bought me a nice Christmas gift. He left so suddenly.”

“I’m sorry he left but I’m also not sorry. If he had not left, I wouldn’t be having this job. I wouldn’t be talking to a rock star!”

He laughed again.

They chatted for a while then his boss suddenly cut the conversation short and hang up.

He stared into space for several seconds, perplexed at the happenings of the past hour. Was his boss okay? He quickly got ready for work to find out for himself.


The trip to the hospital seemed to take forever. After what seemed like decades but must have been just a few minutes, he finally arrived and rushed in. He found one of the band members – his boss’s best friend – in the waiting room.

November 17, 2023 19:44

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RBE | Illustrated Short Stories | 2024-06

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