Huckster: The Opening Of A Job (As Told In The Style Of A Raymond Carver Story Edited By Gordon Lish)[admin / May 26th, 2011 / Young Bright Things ]
L.T and I go out for a drink at this cafÃ© that serves cold sandwiches and alcohol. This is after I opened a new job back at the agency. We donâ€™t always drink at lunch. Sometimes we drink other times of the day, too. Thatâ€™s a joke L.T. says all the time. People always laugh, but thereâ€™s something underneath the laugh. I donâ€™t think L.T. notices, so Iâ€™ve never mentioned anything.
The job is for a banner ad, so you can see why weâ€™re drinking. Between drinks, L.T. says, â€œWhy are we doing it?â€ and I tell him because the ad is free and he says, â€œThereâ€™s a reason why itâ€™s free.â€ I nod my head because I know. â€œThose things work as good as the ladiesâ€™ room,â€ he says. The ladiesâ€™ room has been out of order all week. Heâ€™s right. I agree with him.
L.T.â€™s last partner died doing a banner ad. Bashed his head into a flatscreen, then lit himself on fire. He finished the banner ad before everything went out because he was that kind of guy.
We eat lunch and finish our drinks. L.T. is feeling light as a feather, I can tell. When we get back to the office, we get a coffee from the office barista, who just had a birthday heâ€™d rather forget. I want to ask him if heâ€™s ever clicked on a banner ad. I want to ask him if thereâ€™s any deal a goddamn banner ad could offer that would make him click it. Would it help if he knew the ad agency got the banner ad for free? But I donâ€™t say a word. I keep my mouth shut. Even when I drink my coffee, I keep my mouth shut. This makes a mess.
I go to the bathroom to clean the coffee off my pants. I unbutton, then realize unbuttoning isnâ€™t necessary. I can just scrub them, so I scrub the top of my left pant leg, where the coffee left the stain. I scrub, but the stain wonâ€™t give, so I scrub harder. Thatâ€™s when Jessica walks in, an account coordinator, because the Ladiesâ€™ room is out of order. I turn my head, my eyes all scrunched up from the scrubbing, and she just turns around and leaves. â€œNo, Jess!â€ I yell out, but the â€˜Nâ€™ gets chopped off because Iâ€™m nervous, so it sounds like, â€œOh, Jess!â€
I think about the banner ad. Itâ€™s the goddamn banner adâ€™s fault.
I look for Jessica and there she is at the copy machine, trying to put new toner in. â€œJessica,â€ I say, but she doesnâ€™t look at me. Sheâ€™s looking at the toner cartridge and then the copier and then back at the cartridge.
â€œLet me help,â€ I say, and I try to take the toner cartridge from her, but she pulls it away. She finally looks at me, screams, and then smashes me in the head with the cartridge.
â€œFreak!â€ she yells, â€œfreak, freak, freak!â€ Thereâ€™s commotion, but I canâ€™t make anything out because toner is in my eyes.
â€œWhat happened?â€ I hear another woman yell. More talking, more commotion.
â€œI can smell the liquor on his breath,â€ I hear Jessica say.
I clear my eyes. Toner is everywhere, but mostly on me. Itâ€™s at that point when I realize I forgot to rebutton my pants back in the bathroom. Theyâ€™re now at my ankles, and I try to pull them up, but itâ€™s hard. Itâ€™s hard when the world is mostly magenta.
Goddamn banner ad, I think. Whereâ€™s L.T.? I think. He can explain. He can explain everything.
The commotion dies down. I havenâ€™t moved. My pants are still around my ankles, my face and body dusted with magenta. Jessica is sitting in the office next to me, crying. I want to tell her that this was all one big misunderstanding. I want to tell her about the coffee, the stain. I want to ask her if sheâ€™s ever clicked on a banner ad. I want to ask her if thereâ€™s any deal a banner ad could offer that would make her click it. What if she knew the agency got the banner ad for free? How about then?