Monday, 10 September 2012

Fiction Installment #31: (Part II, Ch 4, Jake) "Grunt Work"

    Jake re-read an old delivery from Exconfessio he’d been scanning during the call.
   Ex A.W. (Vancouver, BC)—
   1. I pissed on my ex-boyfriend’s new female roommate’s bed before I moved out.
   2. I put dog shit under some asshole’s car door handle (he he he).
   3. I threw dog shit at my neighbour’s house.
   4. I rubbed my ex’s mom’s hand mirror all over my snatch and asshole before returning it.
   5. I hate women who either marry into money or inherit money and have a nanny to take
    care of their kids five days a week so they can go to the gym (cunts).
   6. I hate men that comment on how great of shape these bitches are in.
   7. I’m a bitch and an asshole driver.

   Jake figured that the final admission counted as two, technically. He deleted the staggeringly vindictive message—he believed in an absolute line between titillating misbehaviour and non-stop ugliness—and emptied the computer’s trash. Today’s confessor sounded dire; the poisonous admitted bitch looked like a juggernaut of trouble from the Fatal Attraction school and gave nothing to savour, only depressing, mouth-puckering bitterness.
   Jake saved the lively confessions and revisited them in the same way as he imagined other people turned to a newspaper’s Daily Smile quotation with its tacky retro humour—“What is practical nursing? Falling in love with a rich patient!”—and kept each of the miniature episodes archived and ordered (and, when restless, reordered too: “I would be happy to handicap any able bodied person who imagines they have a right to park in the handicapped parking spot” recently losing priority status to “When I worked in an unsupervised position at my current job, I would do things like take off to the casino for hours and smoke a joint on the way”). Intoxicating snippets from the lives of strangers, they never lost their caustic zing. Stitched together, the scenes would make for an awesome, unsettling movie.
    The envy-consumed turd handler, though, merely stood out as an unpleasant reminder of how awful and twisted people could grow. The woman—or a guy text-transvestite: Exconfessio made no claims to verify the legitimacy of the confessor, and Jake had read many supposed admissions that triggered suspicion about the writer’s true motivation and real identity since guilt or braggadocio seemed beside the point—reminded him of the coffee mug of Mick, his second boss in the industry: “Yeah, I’m an Asshole. Just Try Me.” Though forthright the mug’s honesty didn’t compensate for hours spent under the unbearable man’s hairy thumb. At least, Jake hoped, he’d never meet this scheming malevolent creature face to face. He felt leery of anyone who acted like an asshole and patted himself on the back for possessing brutal directness. Such wastes of space made his sac contract tight. Cruelty dressed up as courage: another performance the world could get by without.
    Jeremy had sent just one bit of trivia. A slow week, Jake guessed.
    The subject line: “FW: ‘Roid rage?”
   “Muscled Pumped and Raging - 38
   I’m a ripped, very well muscled guy looking for other muscular guys only! If you’re fat, fuck off! If you’re soft and flabby, fuck off! If you’re thin and don’t work out, fuck off! I’m only interested in other guys with the mojo to dedicate themselves to work out and invest in what they have. If you have the cojones to not be offended by this ad, then I’d like to hear from you.”

    Jake thought he might have seen this hulking tool at the gym, fatuous and infantile in his unending self-absorption. He imagined the swaggering testosterone worshipper trapped in an elevator with the hateful could-be hag from Exconfessio. It’d be a caged death match for sure, bloody, despicable, and no-holds-barred—Japanese fighting fish in a puny tank but substantially less graceful.
    “Hey, Jake your chariot awaits,” Lora yelled from the kitchen. “Jake?” His phone gonged seconds later: “Hey, did you hear me?”
    “I’m on it, panic button,” Jake said. “What’s up with you, anyway? Did you forget to take your meds this morning?”
    “You know I take them religiously,” Lora said. “‘A centred worker is a productive worker.’”
    “Man oh man, I wished you’d never taken that seminar. Motivational speakers are just cult leaders minus the polyester suits. It’s best to avoid contact with them. Besides, the whole deal was probably underwritten by PharmaGen BioLabs as a cheap human trial experiment. You sound like you’re about ready for the grape Kool Aid. Hello?” Jake spoke to a dead line.
    “We’ve been over this, Jake.” Lora stood glowering at the doorframe. “We all have our crutches, mister one night stand.”
    Jake related anecdotes from time to time during morning lulls at the office. He selected bits cautiously, an educated guess being that if Lora—for whom going braless would be a tour-though-the-wild-side act of sexual bravado and who grew pursed and distant whenever he used the word monagony and visibly unsettled the one time he had in the spirit of earnest but jokey disclosure categorized himself as trysexual—discovered that she had been exposed to the iceberg’s mere tip, she’d be appalled (low probability), astonished (high probability), or merciless as Ming with jibbing (100% certainty).
    Lora embraced the rare poetry of birds that mate for life. Her visionary’s third eye wide open, she’d call for the looming conclusion of Jake’s galavanting; the stars predicted it plain as day. And he’d be wise to prepare for the moment true adulthood began. “Your horoscopes have been making that claim for years, woman,” Jake always replied, “time to find a better system. Tea leaves maybe. Tarot cards.”
    “Okay, okay, touché, Madame.” He stood. “I should get out there or Nicos won’t shut up about it. I’ll call from the second site and we’ll get a game plan in order for the afternoon.”
    He disconnected the laptop and pulled open a drawer. The tussle with Lora reminded him about his own daily regimen. He grabbed two chubby capsules from the messenger bag and washed them down. He’d been assured by the natural pharmacist that the arginine, tongkat ali, and catuaba bark combo added up to a “surefire male enhancement.” On a whim, he’d also bought a year’s supply of Enzyte after catching ads on TV promising suburban guys that they’d be walking hard-ons, the envy of all the other Joes on Pine Crescent and secret wish for the unfulfilled Janes.
    While the vision of a pill-popping middle age drew his breath short, the strong throb of a lower centre of gravity possessed supreme appeal. As with in-your-face D-cup cleavage, Jake found a too visible big package to be crass but unnerving provocation: people typically stared and turned away nervously, primly judging the display to be crude while helplessly responding to the voluptuous contour over and again, animal instincts triggering a gush of saliva and compelling them to bend over and take a sniff, or else cop a feel.
    Jake had used up half the pill supply. Each day he swallowed the doses half-heartedly: he hadn’t noticed the constant hum of enhanced vigor or suffered terrible side effects; he figured there must be something to them. Even placebos yielded positive results, everyone understood that.
    Knees, heart, hair, career, looks, sex appeal, good fortune: anything is a feeble house of cards that can collapse into a heap at any moment. Years ago Jake had shared philosophy over beers with Randall, the accountant Warner Brothers had sent to supervise the weekly budgets of a superhero series, the studio’s globally syndicated moneymaker. Jake’s senior by a half a decade, the man spoke as a war-weary veteran: “You know what, man, one day you wake up and you notice your skin. It’s different, looser, like the elastic waist of old underwear. Sagging steadily and then, I guess, just gone. Bibs and diapers at Sunset Manor creeping nearer every day.” When Jake attempted to counter the accountant’s fatalism, Randall had brushed the logic aside as smoke and mirrors, the fruit of inexperience: “Come talk to me when you reach my age.” You can keep your resignation, Jake had thought, viewing such passivity as a fatal character flaw.
   He tugged at the legs of his jeans and passed by Lora. Spillage: going full commando with low-hangers could be painful. “Oh, where’s good coffee?” he asked.
“Working, Jake,” she said, “working.”
    Outside, Nicos sounded the horn at the impatient regular intervals of a New York City cabbie sent over from Central Casting. “You’d better run,” Lora said. “Christ, any minute now a representative of Oliver’s finest might show up here waving a badge. Say hi to Nicos for me. And Jake?”
“I’m glad you’re enjoying my Christmas present, really, and I know you like to smell pretty, but we could all live happier here with you applying one less splash of Terre in the morning.”
“Okay, ma’am.” Although firm, Lora’s mothering was well intended.
    “Talk to you soon.”

[Part 2 of 6, "Grunt Work"]

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