Thursday, January 12, 2012

Sixty-Nine Cents an Hour

My first real corporate gig since shilling boner at private pool parties for the Chicago mob landed me right in the peaking tip of the dot-com boom. This time I got to be the old shuggie with the time-done-alive cred if nothing else. The mean street in between had been a beautiful government sliding down a rainbow of duty and patrimony, but I was ready for all the opportunity and glamor of a whurl-wide pyramid schemata. Even though you know already my only retirement income said and done now is from leasing out these tracts.

My new boss was half the size I had been at his age and twice as green. With a twitch. Always seemed to be sweating it out, this guy Pete Steeves-- what if they fire me, well it's curtains for me and the wife and kid, that's whut, and forget about the options. Just lettem get you drunk and goofy after work, dick-flip yr earlobe now and then, fetch a few things, learn the acronyms. VC is no longer Viet Cong.

But Pete also had another thing i didn't know he had, what they called hunger back then. It's also when they started leveraging the word leverage's leverage all over the place, almost like they were leveraging it. Just like when pundits and academics started saying the word "piece" all the time. Like, "And then the other... oh, i don't know...PIECE of this is, i think..." (they had to pause before the word piece as if they had just then thought of using it in that particular kind of brilliant figurative play). Around that time or a little before they also decided that the "UH" sound is too like a troglodyte. So everything has to be "AH" instead, as if a light bulb is going off over your caricature. AHnbelievable. Then the final golpe with the engine-like, throaty cackle talk, wicked-witch-of-the-west schtick to sound hip, ironic and also sassy!

Stumbling along a quaintly sooted, deeply rutted urban lane only meant for drunk young guys in ties leaving downtown bars at night, a street like the hormonally ergonomic curved charnel chutes for beef, Pete mistily confided that he trusted me in a special way. He expressed that as, "I feel like I can tell you anything." Next thing I knew I had responded to an urgent-toned invitation to his country home for a meal.

The Steeves' house was so old you could not even change a diaper in it due to its landmark status. It looked like "Shakespeare" condos, but lower, maybe where the ponies were groomed by jockeys. The double-dutch doored entrance with the capital X's on each under-wing opened wide to reveal an eerily medievally scene for riding the information revolution. The wife-- was it a bonnet? No, one of those prep girl tortoiseshell tiara deals--perched on a short stool across from the daughter, who was actually in a bonnet, being a baby, in a Georgian wicker, no, a varnished Confederate willow-switch ship bed, squeaking slowly. Was it a tyke rocking itself to some primordial Esperanto hymn in a flammable cradle edging our land's hearth, or another shriveled and catatonic relative?

As in a roadside "Mystery Spot," I could not stand up completely straight at any point, angle or coordinate in the structure. Pete and Nancy had developed stoops, though they could have geometrically fit erect in a technical sense, maybe just not psychologically quite like duck's backs around the time-travel/ anachronistic lifestyle piece. Pete, intuiting that I wouldn't stay on for whatever was boiling in the cauldron at the end of a hag's long spoon, immediately presented me with a gift. It was warm from being in his hand, and it stayed that way even after leaning-to in the cool vinyl toll-coin tray of my GM tank for the hour it took to get back home to Highchank.

Pete's gift is made of a hard, dark wood that holds energy beyond its own life better than most other previously living tissue. It is so much more valuable as a dead absorber of however the sun can stir dust into sparks and finally fish-lizard-rat-ape-calculator. Pete's gift you might call a totem he picked up from some port where they give a tourist a dark kernel of place and a little more, which can taint. You might call Pete's gift a fertility symbol with just the suggestions of parts carved roughly and all from one piece, but that was also the whole point. Along with how it can't stand up even though it's obviously a man. The soles of his feet are badly cut, really more like hacked at by a god making sixty-nine cents an hour.

by Donna
for Metacognitive Talk Therapy Apologist, Autumn Double Issue

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