Frank dials another call and takes a swig of cheap wine from a hip flask. He’s so broke he can’t even afford whiskey. His wife from India takes every penny. Just as well, otherwise he’d be drinking top shelf.
Frank sounds so polite on the phone. He says he graduated from a distinguished local university but I’m not fooled for one minute. Anyone can put that down on their resume.
He’s a con man. Everyone in the profession is a con man.
I’m one too, so I know what I’m talking about.
-What’s for lunch today Frank?
– The usual, he says. , as he opened up a cheap can of baked beans and started shoveling it down his throat.
He starts shoveling down a can of baked beans.
-Wipe that sauce dripping off you face Frank.
He pulls up his shirt and wipes off the combination of baked beans sauce and drool from his face. But damn he’s a good telemarketer.
– The glamor has been taken out of my life, he says.
-You never had glamor in your life in the first place, I say.
The sun was setting outside the large windows of the front office. The eucalyptus trees outside caught the flaming winter sunset like some kind of antipode dream catcher.
I’m listening to the other telemarketers. They were all drones just like me. Sometimes the room would peak together. Other times it was dead quiet.
Generally, we were overly excited and obsequious to get that lead.
The idea was not to be consumed by the phones. I had my traveling daydreams to keep me motivated. It was mostly about volcanos and whores. Vanya described them both so well. He took me to places that I only dreamed of.
Frank always found it hard to get off the phone when someone on the other end complied. He’d say ‘god bless you’ five times before the supervisor would say quite forcefully, ‘Get off the fucking phone before they change their mind.’
The fluorescent lights were annoying. The gaudy colored brick walls painted an off brown color only inspired trips to the toilet. The artificial plants were collecting dust.
Look what my life had become, I thought.
-A good brisk walk around King’s Park will do us both the world of good, I say, and might help clear up those festering boils on your back.
-I can put my finger in one of them,’ he says, it’s so deep.
Frank has been talking about a trip up to the Great Sandy Desert. He’s keen on getting his cock circumcised in an initiation right. And I’m keen on going to Bali. It would be my first trip out of the country.
Long days and with a bit of luck I’ll be on an Air Asia flight to somewhere I really want to be. I told Frank I had read about blowjobs on tap by a writer called Vanya Vetto.
But Frank was still talking about the initiation. I’ll rekindle his imagination in due time
-So you really want your penis broke in half, I say, in a half-mocking tone.
He has been showing me gruesome photos of the initiation for the past few months. I said he wouldn’t even get past the interview stage.
-There is no need for white pansies in the desert,’ as we wound up our walk.
But Frank wasn’t giving up on the idea.
I tell him I have my eye on a cheap ticket to Bali at the end of the month.
-I’m going to escape the tail end of a Perth winter, I say, and try to write my first book.
-That’s what you keep on telling everyone, says Frank.