I took another pull from my Blue Moon and scrolled to his number on my cell phone. I giggled before pressing TALK. After two and a half rings he picked up and murmured, “what’s up, dude?”
A moment later I screamed into the phone, “NATION! How the hell are those waves out there?”
I always had to trick him into talking with me because most of the time I called just to berate him about loathsome qualities he didn’t possess or to squeal about my own doubts and anxieties. How I’d never make it as a writer, or how we’d all soon be sex slaves to a super race of bisexual Chinese business tycoons.
I was always having these thoughts like, “times are strange and things are weird”or “it’s a fucked up world out there and it’s a fucked up world in here.”
It was a wonder to me that Nation ever answered my phone calls.
“not bad, dude. I work at Scripts now, so it’s only five minutes from being at work to being in the water.”
There was a hint of excitement in the big bastard’s voice. “it’s tight, dude. I get to surf on my lunch breaks.”
Woopty – doo! I get to drink myself into oblivion and wake up on fire escapes or in people’s trunks. We all have our fetishes.
I took another drink from my Blue Moon and then reached in, fished out the orange wedge and noisily sucked it apart.
“what are you up to?” he asked.
I hesitated before whispering, “well, Nation, I’m doing a little work for this company. I’m a producer. And a researcher.”
I looked around the booth. There were a half dozen empty pint glasses with orange rinds in the bottom and a few clippings from newspapers I’d pasted to the wall with Pete’s Hot Sauce. The clippings were of big breasted cartoon aliens and I’d set them up so that they were attacking a framed photograph of James Dean.
“oh yeah? That’s cool.”
“it is cool, isn’t it?”
“what kinda company, or, research are you doing?”
I could tell his excitement was fading. He’d probably begun to tap his pen on his desk.
“Nation,” I hissed, now above a whisper. “that’s not important. What is important is that I need funding for a small porno I wanna shoot and I’ve decided you’re my man, moneypants.” I began to snigger and then gasped, “now that you’re a fucking DOCTOR! DOCTOR Nation, now, right?”
“oh, Jesus Christ,” he sighed. “dude, I gotta go. I’ve got a meeting with my boss.”
“Nation goddamn it! This isn’t a joke. Not some schlepshow idea by some schlepshow rookie. This is the REAL DEAL. Now, how much can I expect from you? I’ll need at least fifty grand for starters. Even in this economy these midgets aren’t cheep. You can send a bank check to four twen-”
“I’ll talk to you later, man.”
“Nation, you’re a greedy, heartless bitch, you hear me? A real first class asshole!”
I kept yelling profanities into the phone long after he’d hung up. Then I turned to one of the big breasted cartoon aliens and smashed a pen through her stomach and into the wall. Over the rim of my pint of Blue Moon I saw one of the cooks’ heads peep out from the kitchen. He’d been on my case all morning.
A few moments later my waiter approached. He noticed the pen sticking out from the wall and turned to me.
“sir, is everything all right?”
I looked away, at the wall, regarding the cartoon, then splashed some more hot sauce under the pen so it looked like she was bleeding from the stomach. Spicy, tasty blood. I was just about to lick it off the wall when my waiter raised his voice.
“sir! You’re going to have to-
“no! No, kid. Nothing is all right. In fact, everything is terrible. And wrong.”
A few tense moments crept by before I tossed a twenty on the table, grabbed my things and growled, “and it’s all your fault.”
On my way past the kitchen I stopped and stuck my face in through the order window and yelled to the cook who’d ratted me out.
“hey! Hey you!”
He turned and frowned and balled his fists as though he’d been waiting for this moment all morning.
“hey, take a good luck at this face here, all right? Because you’ll never be seeing it again.”