I am a suspect in a crime I did not commit. I stand accused of stealing a man’s heart.

On Friday, the day before Valentine’s Day, the Office Manager came around and passed out chocolate hearts to all the employees at my company. My boss was out of the office on Friday. Normally, this would be cause for celebration. But in this case, it set in motion a horrific crime which sent shockwaves throughout the entire office. Little did we know the generous heart-distribution gesture made in the spirit of St. Valentine was about to upend our workplace’s fragile peace…

Perhaps forever.

The following is an approximate timeline of the chain of events as they unfolded on Tuesday morning, following the long weekend:

7:30 AM – Boss returns to office following his time off and begins his post-vacation ritual of making sure employees were suitably oppressed during his absence.

10:00 AM – While visiting the office of a colleague down the hall, Boss notices a half-eaten bag of chocolate hearts and inquires as to their origin. Reports from the scene indicate that he was informed the office manager had passed the candy out to all employees Friday morning in his absence.

10:01 AM – Boss returns to his office to look for his own candy. A thorough search of his office turns up nothing but discarded phone message slips and blueprints for his home remodeling.

10:05 AM – Boss visits Office Manager to inquire about his missing candy. He’s told that she did in fact deliver a bag of chocolate to his office on Friday morning, and she claims to have no idea as to its current whereabouts. He is also told that all the candy has been distributed and there are no leftovers that he can have.

11:59 AM – While heading to lunch with Sycophantic Associate, Boss mentions the missing candy. Sycophantic Associate reports that he entered Boss’ office on Friday afternoon to drop off some paperwork, and at that time, he spotted the candy in question on Boss’ desk, confirming that at one point, the candy was in fact on Boss’ desk as it was supposed to be. This leaves no doubt in Boss’ mind that he was the victim of an Evildoer.

1:38 PM – On returning from lunch, Boss asks me if I know anything about his chocolate. As it’s the first I’ve heard of it and don’t immediately recall the candy delivery from last week, I ask, “What chocolate?” Boss thinks I’m playing dumb and becomes suspicious. He explains that sources have confirmed to him that candy was delivered to him Friday morning, but by Tuesday morning, said candy had disappeared. He asks if I saw anyone go in his office. As his office door is not visible from my desk, I truthfully respond, “No.” Boss informs me that Sycophantic Associate in fact entered his office on Friday and saw said candy, as if to contradict my claim. Realizing I’m under suspicion, I exhibit my trademark ability to appear guilty even when I’m not guilty. My face goes red, I avoid eye contact and I begin stammering nervously. “Wh-wh-why would anyone take your, uh, your ch-ch-chocolate? We all had our own.”

1:42 PM – As soon as Boss is out of earshot, the woman who sits next to me asks, “Did you take his chocolate?”

4:36 PM – Boss stops by again to let me know that what really bothers him isn’t the chocolate, it’s that someone went in his office (the door to which is always wide open) without permission.

4:37 PM – Boss walks by eating a foil-wrapped chocolate heart. Apparently, he has been investigating the Case of the Man With No Heart for most of the day, and another employee has taken pity on him and shared his own chocolate with Boss.

5:14 PM – After an entire day of his complaining, Office Manager informs Boss: “I think you’re making too big a deal about these chocolate hearts.”

Wednesday, 9:07 AM – I notice a bag of chocolate hearts on Boss’ desk, unopened and undisturbed. I ask Boss if someone confessed to the crime and returned the candy. He responds “no”. He informs me that the Office Manager went out and bought him a new bag.

Identifying the culprit in this crime has not been easy, especially since every single employee of the company was spotted in possession of an identical item at some point on Friday. Thankfully, I am not the only suspect. Among the others:

Disgruntled Outbound Administrative Assistant: Since giving her two weeks notice last week, DOAA has made no secret about how upset she was when Boss recently moved from his old office down the hall to one directly across from her, which he remodeled and expanded to suit his whims. Not only was she closest in proximity to the crime scene, allowing her easy access to the pilfered goods, but she has confessed to entering his office repeatedly in the past, although it was only when he was screaming at someone on the phone and she wanted to close his door.

Borderline Retarded Junior Counsel: BRJC might at first glance seem to be too obvious a candidate. He is clearly not in complete control of his mental faculties and, since he has been certified by the State Bar of California, there is ample evidence that he doesn’t know the difference between right and wrong. But as movies have taught us, it’s often the creepy outcast, though just a bit player, who is in fact guilty. Plus, BRJC’s excessive girth suggests a love of chocolate that would not be satisfied with just one bag.

Sycophantic Associate: As the only person who claims to have seen the missing item on Boss’ desk during the day on Friday and the only person besides me and Office Manager who admits to having entered Boss’ office, SA is an obvious suspect. Perhaps this is a frame-up job. Has SA figured out that nobody respects him because of the way he doggishly kowtows to Boss, laughs at Boss’ inane and/or offensive jokes and always seconds Boss’ point of view, no matter how inane and/or offensive it may be, thus providing Boss with his sole source of validation for his slimy existence? Knowing Boss as well as he does, maybe SA chose to hit Boss where he knew it would hurt the most — his candy — in hopes someone else would be fingered for the crime.

Phantom Custodial Staff Member: When in doubt, blame the cleaning lady. No one knows who the PCSMs are, and as they float through our offices after hours when nobody else is around, there would be no witnesses to any candy thefts they chose to commit. Did PCSM pull off the perfect crime?

Office Manager: It’s no secret that OM has grown tired of Boss’ constant demands, as in the time he asked to move his office down the hall to one that could be enlarged and remodeled to suit his whims. Did she finally decide to get her revenge? She was in control of heart distribution; didn’t she have the most opportunity to deny him his candy? She was also the one who became most visibly annoyed by Boss’ investigation of the Case of the Man With No Heart. What is she hiding?????

Me: Several witnesses place me at the crime scene during the period in question. In fact, they’ve seen me go in and out of my boss’ office again and again, just about every single day! What else have I stolen? Paper clips? Memo pads? The satellite radio, multiple (unopened) DirecTV receivers or Tiffany clock which have been sitting undisturbed in his office for months while his candy remains so frighteningly unsafe from thieving hands?

This is by no means an exhaustive list. As Boss himself has made clear, everyone is a suspect.

The Case of the Man With No Heart remains unsolved. If you have any evidence as to the whereabouts of my boss’ heart, please inform me at once.

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