All Tucked In
The Account Director for Kraft Canada was wearing my winter coat. Not the same colour and style off the rack as mine, but my winter coat. He was a hefty guy, it shouldn’t have fit him. He was agitated. A production docket dormant since Y2K, a sinkhole of unpaid client fees, was now active. We had to deliver the agreed upon point-of-sale materials by 2015. Yet I knew 2020 was already winding down. I looked around my office, a fluid kaleidoscope of my first cockroach apartment when I was a student in Montreal and a mishmash of the six or seven offices I’d occupied as an ad man in Alberta. I told him I was out of the game; that I didn’t care, that Cheez Whiz was best utilized as plumber’s putty or maybe a really repulsive lubricant.
I roiled awake in a tangle of damp sheets. My grey t-shirt was sopping, black with perspiration in the darkness. I was shivering, chilly all of a sudden. The bedroom floor was on the ceiling. Time was abstract. It was hours after midnight and hours before the dawn; a pillow concealed the red digits of the clock-radio on the night table. My feet found a pair of unlaced running shoes because that’s where I always leave them, just so. I shrugged into a fleece half-zip and put on my Brooklyn Dodgers baseball cap. The nights are getting cold.
Once in the kitchen I opened a tin of diet Pepsi. The real prize was a sandwich wrapped in butchers’ paper from the Italian Centre. Spicy cold cuts and provolone cheese slathered with hot ajvar, a red, eggplant-based vegetable spread. An Italian sandwich is a rare and always welcome treat. I took a stool and settled down with the latest issue of The Economist, intent on giving my subconscious a healthy dose of reality.
One particular item caught me eye: “Brazilian police raided the home of Chico Rodrigues, a senator allied with the president, Jair Bolsonaro, and discovered 30,000 reals* ($5,000) wedged between his buttocks. Mr Rodrigues denies diverting funds meant for the pandemic.”
Me? I guess I’m from the Leonard Cohen school: cracks allow the light in. I sat in the stillness, chewing and contemplating the nature of dirty money. Just how thick is a 30,000 real wad? Thousand dollar bills no longer circulate in Canada because they were too efficient a denomination. Illicit cash that once fit in an envelope now requires a gym bag. Larger amounts of smaller denominations are bulkier, difficult to move.
I suppose I understand corruption and the hunger for ill-gotten gain on some base level, but I will not abide embarrassing ineptitude. I guess this is why “politician” and “ass” go so well together in word-association exercises. In for a centavo, in for a pounding. My sweaty, fever dreams are entirely rational in contrast.
The brand name Pepsi derives from “pepsit,” the Greek word for digestion. I knew the soda would roil up the hot pepper in the salami and condiment. Spicy food does not agree with me anymore, but some old habits are so hard to break because there’s no accounting for a pack-a-day smoker’s tastebuds. As I crept back into bed and pulled the covers over me I calculated I had maybe four hours before I would have to clench like Chico and hotfoot it down the hall to the toilet. In the meantime, I had places to go and things to do. I hoped I was done with work for the night.
*The magazine spelled it “reais,” which I assume is a typo.
meGeoff has been your most unreliable, unbalanced and inaccurate alternative source of peculiar lower intestinal stirrings since 2013. Sign up for e-mail alerts from the Crooked 9, use that thingy on the right. The second wave and winter are coming; you’ll need a distraction.