Monday, May 07, 2007

Trick Shot 1

There’s no denying it, things have been quiet around here lately. Too quiet. We’ve been busy. We keep being interrupted by the constant demands of that pesky offline existence. Also, as I’ve mentioned on more than one occasion, I’ve become a little disenchanted with the Interknit. So let’s do something about that! Let’s create something worthwhile, goddammit! Let’s make some fine art!!!

I think what we need to liven up this place is some kind of grand scale project that will frustrate and annoy me enough to keep me interested, something that will suck you in and spark your imagination, and then I’ll abandon it halfway and go back to writing nonsensical travel brochures from Finnmärk, and you’ll hate me for it. Doesn’t that sound wonderful? Yes. What we need is a feuilleton! We need…

The Great Scandinavian Trick Shot
a SHÄDY ÄCRES blovel

Chapter 1
I’ve lived in Denver all my life, but now that I have to describe it to you it’s as if the whole city has been erased from my memory. When I close my eyes I can’t picture any part of it clearly, it’s all blurry, and I realize I don’t know how to explain that place to you. Not that it’s important to the story. The story doesn’t even take place in Denver, but it starts there, and I wanted you to get a feeling about the place. To tell you the truth, I wanted to give you an idea about Denver in order to give you an idea about myself. I am a Denver girl after all. I don’t know any other way to describe myself. So you see my problem.

It doesn’t matter. I’ve screwed it up from the beginning, and you know what, I don’t even care. If I’ve learned one thing from my time with Mr. Collier it is that you have to throw yourself into it headfirst, whatever it is you’re doing, and I’ve decided to tell you this story even if I botch it. Before I forget it. Because I was there.

You see, this whole thing wouldn’t have happened if it wasn’t for Mr. Collier. Mr. Jack Collier, attorney and counselor at law, whom I met sometime during the spring of last year. This whole thing would have never happened were it not for Jack.

He had been renting an office space on the same floor as my father’s cosmetic dentistry clinic. The clinic is located on the 8th floor of an ugly yellowish building only a few blocks away from the 16th street mall, if that tells you anything. I used to work the reception there from time to time, filling in for my sister, answering phones and doing light secretarial work and so forth. Mr. Collier would sometimes come in to chew the fat, as he called it, and that’s how I met him. One morning, I’ve never seen him before in my life, he walks in and puts a little, blue plastic whale on the counter in front of me. A little wind-up whale. “I believe this is yours,” he says, “I think you left it in my Jacuzzi last night”. Then he swooshes right into the lunch room and starts chatting up some fat nurse named Betty.

This kind of behavior would’ve probably pissed me off if it weren’t for the fact that Mr. Collier was a very, very old man. He must have been close to ninety years old, although he did look a good deal younger. He used to joke that it didn’t matter at his age if he looked five or ten, even fifteen years younger, because there were twice as many women than men alive anyway, so even if he’d had a hump and a prosthetic arm (which of course he didn’t) he’d still have to beat them away with a stick. He had a little routine to go with it, waving his cane around, hunched over, with one arm hanging down stiff, screeching in this weak, desperate voice: “Go away! Go away!” I was always afraid he would knock down a plant or something, or have a heart attack, but it was truly hilarious. You should have seen him. He could be very funny when he wanted to. He could also be a bit much.

I never saw him with any woman, like a girlfriend or anything like that. He was a widower. Didn’t wear a ring, though. His wife - first wife, second wife, he didn’t say - had died many years ago. I don’t know from what. You know how some old men, when their wives die, they just give up. Organic suicide I think is the term. They start smelling like piss, and you just know they’re going to check out pretty soon. Don’t get me wrong, Mr. Collier wasn’t anything like that. He took good care of himself. Always smelled nice, kept himself clean. He liked to wear casual black and tan outfits, and sometimes wore a Rockies cap, but not always. He wasn’t a bad looking man, it was just that he was so very old.

His hair was chalk white, what was left of it, and he wore it really short which I think suited him. Big ears, big nose, you know how old men’s ears and noses just keep growing. Grayish eyes. He wore two different pairs of glasses, one set for reading and the other he said was for winning teddy bears at the shooting booth. Those were his everyday glasses. He had wrinkles everywhere, even on the earlobes. You could see he had been out in the weather.

It feels odd describing him like this. What else? Yes, he had a thin, little mustache that he kept very neat. He trimmed it from time to time, as I found out later, with a pair of scissors and a tiny comb, both of which he kept in a special traveling set that would fit in his pocket. It had a mirror in the lid and everything.

He still had all his own teeth. Dad can be such a salesman, he talks to everybody about their teeth. But when he started sweet talking Mr. Collier one day in the waiting room, asking him what dentist he used and so on, Mr. Collier just flashed his perfect teeth and said: “Look, Fred, if the eyes are the windows to the soul, what do these ivory daggers tell you about my skeleton, huh?” Dad came right back at him: “That’s a mighty fine set of pearls you carry around with you there, Jack, but if you don’t take care of your gums you’ll be keeping them in a drawer soon.” Mr. Collier just laughed. “They’ll fit nicely in the same box as the rest of me, Fred.”

Bad gums, you know? If that’s your worst problem at ninety. The man seemed in surprisingly good health. He walked with a cane, of course, but he didn’t appear frail, just a little slow to get in and out of the elevator. In the morning when he came in he always walked briskly by the double glass doors to the clinic, waving and winking. His office was at the far end of the L-shaped corridor.

One time I came in a little late because I’d stayed over at my creepy boyfriend’s house, his parents were out of town or something, and I guess I was a bit nervous coming in that day. As the elevator doors opened I sort of hit the ground running in order to appear out of breath when I got in. As I turned the corner, ahead of me I could see Mr. Collier, his back turned, walking away from me. He must have come up on the other elevator. I was running straight at him. At first I didn’t even recognize him. He looked so old, shuffling down the hallway. He had one hand on the wall for support, the other on his cane. Then right before he came to the clinic he sort of straightened up, let go of the wall and did something with his shoulders, and he picked up his pace a little and walked briskly by, waving at the nurses through the glass door as he always did, looking fifteen years younger than his age. It was such an astonishing transformation, it just stopped me in my tracks. Then, I don’t know if he’d heard me or something, but he half turned, and he saw me standing there, staring at him. It was an awkward moment. Then he just sort of winked at me and said: “Compensatory strategies, my dear.”

What else? Oh, he was white. Caucasian. That’s about it. An old man with a cane, a mustache, and a perfect set of teeth.

But he didn’t fool me, not completely. I could sense there was something a little fishy about Mr. Jack Collier. Why was a man that age not retired? He said his clients depended on him, that he hadn’t found the right successor, which just seemed so silly. He could drop dead tomorrow. Where would his clients be then? And another thing I noticed straight away was, I have an ear for accents, and there was something wrong with his. It was hardly noticeable. A raspy sound at the back of his throat when he spoke sometimes, particularly if he was a little tired. I didn’t ask about it, because the way he talked about himself you’d have thought he’d been living in this country all his life. He was never very specific about his past. I remember him once saying something about he and his wife having moved here from outside of Cincinnati or somewhere. At another time he said he’d decided to come here after the city declined to host the Winter Olympiad, which would make it sometime after 1976. But he was never specific. I knew there was something fishy about him, though. I picked it up straight away. But like I said, I don’t think anyone else noticed.

Then, what happened next was, Mr. Collier hired me. One day he offered me a job and I took it.

This was in the fall. I had dropped out of Political Science at CU because it just wasn’t what I’d expected it to be. I had also finally broken up with my creepy boyfriend after I found him going through the text messages on my cell phone for the ninth time. Then I’d sort of gotten involved with my old boyfriend again, this musician guy I’d been seeing on and off since forever. He was helping me get over the breakup and everything, next thing you know I wake up stark naked on a mattress on the floor and there he is. Well surprise, that turned out to be a bad idea. You know how things just happen sometimes? I had no idea what I was doing. My academic aspirations had evaporated, I didn’t have a real job, and from what my sister told me my parents had almost given up on me. I was half living in this guy’s disgusting apartment, and we didn’t even like each other. We had no money.

So one day I’m filling in for my sister at the clinic. I’m already a little late coming in because I’ve had a big fight with my musician boyfriend, and then he calls me on my cell phone just as I’m hanging my coat over the chair in the reception. I pick up the phone, he’s screaming at me - this is not the first time he does this by the way - and the whole waiting room is just staring at me, all these middle aged women with their perfect hair come to have their teeth bleached, it’s so quiet in there it feels like they can hear every word. I’m starting to sweat. One of the nurses comes to call in the next patient, she gives me a look like I’m canine feces. All the while my boyfriend just keeps yelling into my ear about some money he says is missing from his wallet, basically calling me a thief, and something about a job interview he was supposed to be at half an hour ago but now he doesn’t have the bus fare. I still haven’t said a word to him in answer. Then my dad walks in and starts tapping the counter demonstratively with one finger, his little way of telling me to wrap it up. I just snap.

I’m holding the phone up to my face like it’s an apple I’m going to take a big bite off, telling him how I’m going to fucking kill him if he ever talks to me or calls me again, that I will take a pair of scissors to his eyes, that I will hunt him down, douse him with gas and set him on fire in his sleep if he so much as looks at me ever again. It just pours out of me like cold vomit. Then, since you can’t really slam down the receiver on a cell phone, I slam down the entire phone and it splinters on the counter. I keep banging it down a few more times until there’s so little left of it, it just seems silly to continue. Then I stop. The whole clinic, my dad, the other dentist, the nurses, the patients with their perfect hair, they’re all standing there, staring. Mr. Collier is there too, standing right inside the door. I haven’t even heard him come in. Nobody says a word. It’s as if time has frozen.

Mr. Collier breaks the spell, he promptly walks over to the counter and says: “I’m looking for a secretary. I’ll give you twice what they give you here. Can you start today?” Then he turns to my dad and goes: “No offense Fred, this is just business.” Dad makes a little wave in my direction with the back of his hand: “Jack, you can have her if you take her now,” and he turns and walks back into the surgery.

That was it. That was the exact moment it started. I took my coat from the chair and followed Mr. Collier out of the double glass doors of my father’s cosmetic dentistry clinic, all the way to the end of the L-shaped corridor. Outside his door, with the little sign on it that said Mr. Jack Collier - Attorney and Counselor at Law, he stopped and gave me the interview.

“Can you type?” He asked.

“Yes,” I said, “but not very fast.”

“Can you make coffee?”


“Will you give me a blowjob?”

“Not in a million years.”

“Fair enough. You’re hired.”

Mr. Collier took out a little key ring from his pocket and handed me a key. He then used his own key to open the door. It occurred to me that I’d never seen the inside of his office.


Blogger anne said...

okay - we need to talk - SOON

5:35 am  
Blogger Mikkel said...


6:58 am  
Blogger Mikkel said...

What - I can't write a blovel set in Denver? OK, so I've never been there and I don't know anything about the place. Don't worry, I'll just make something up.

8:24 am  
Blogger anne said...

For someone who has never been here, you know a lot...

Did you do a tarot card reading on any of your regular commenters before you put pen to paper here (or fingers to keyboard, as it were?)

Either that, or maybe you are ghostwriting for someone else?

9:33 am  
Blogger Mikkel said...

Don't tell me you work in a cosmetic dentistry clinic.

2:30 pm  
Blogger Mikkel said...

Ghostwriting. I am shocked that you would suggest such a thing. Shocked.

2:51 pm  
Blogger Antagonous said...

what?! you've never been to Denver? I feel so naive. I will never trust you again.

6:23 pm  
Blogger Mikkel said...

I'll send you a list of all the cities I've never been to if you provide me with an address.

12:44 am  
Blogger Mikkel said...

But seriously, Anne, I'm really curious - What did my psychic antennae pick up?

Whatever it was, it was completely unintentional. I just thought it would be funny to write something from the perspective of an American.

2:12 pm  
Blogger suttonhoo said...

please. no more tarot card readings.

no. more.

p.s. I liked the story very much, but I missed the bacon.

~ the american

3:44 am  
Blogger Mikkel said...

Aooommmmmmmm. Aooommmmmmmm. I sense... Spaghetti Carbonara.

11:49 am  
Blogger Sara said...

More, more, more.

1:12 pm  
Blogger Mikkel said...

Project terminated due to clairvoyance.

4:29 am  

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