Bogie's adjusting his ass on the barstool and trying to catch the nice looking waitress' attention. He knocks on the bar every now and then and calls Miss!, but she just doesn't notice him. There's a big bundle of banknotes peeking from one of the po...
Bogie's adjusting his ass on the barstool and trying to catch the nice looking waitress' attention. He knocks on the bar every now and then and calls Miss!, but she just doesn't notice him. There's a big bundle of banknotes peeking from one of the pockets of his coat and the long package from the other.
Oh, come on, miss—I'm here!
He waves his hand and then she finally sees him. Bogie points his index finger at the row of the bottles, hanging above the bar.
Give me a shot of everything.
The girl is shocked, but she takes the beer glass anyway and pours a shot from each of the bottles in it.
You must be really thirsty, she says and puts a deadly mix in front of him.
Thirsty, yeah … You want a drink, too?
She thinks a bit, then nods and pours herself a glass of juice and throws in a litle straw.
So … what are you celebrating? she asks with a genuine interest.
What am I celebrating?
Bogie looks at an imaginary point on the wall.
I'm celebrating my being a celebrity here!
You have a lovely smile, he says and offers his hand. I'm Bogie.
Apollonia, he repeats. She's pretty and she's talking to him. For a couple of moments everything else in the place dissapears.
You haven't told me, what we're celebrating …
Life, my dear, he answers and takes a big sip, followed by a grimace for all of the tastes that apparently do not go well together. Let's celebrate life.
Here's to life, then, she says.
* * *
Until today Bogie lived quite a fulfilling life. At least he belived he did. He had a creative job that took him most of the day—in other roles, say, a husband and a father, he was unfortunately not that successful. He got up first every morning, made coffee (so that his wife and kids could stay in bed for a while longer), he washed, served the coffee on the table, and only after that he woke her—to shorten the time he had to spend with her—and gulped down the bitter black liquid without saying a word.
Then they woke the kids. He took them all to the kindergarten, school and work. He was a copywriter at an ad agency.
Just as every morning, he woke first, made coffee, etc … today. The ritual and heavy traffic made him arrive at work a minute later than usual. Just as every morning he entered the building, waved to the security guard and said Hi! to the secretary, who already waited for him with his second coffee.
He stood frozen at the door to the office that he had shared with the creative director, who stood up, tapped his shoulder compassionately and left the room.
Bogie's fingers let his briefcase fall down.
His desk was empty. His computer dissappeared. The everlasting muntain of papers dissappeared. Even the picture of his children dissappeared. Everything dissappeared. As if Bogie had never existed here.
The cleaning lady wiped the surface with a wet cloth for the last time and whistled loudly. The next moment two strong guys entered the office, lifted his desk, asked him to move away and took it out. The cleaning lady passed him and gently tapped his shoulder.
What the …?!
Bogie looked around in confusion. He pinched his arm to make sure he wasn't dreaming. He bent down to pick up his briefcase, and went back to the secretary.
What the fuck is this, Natasha? he asked. What's going on?
Natasha offered him a chair and a cup of coffee. She said nothing—she just tapped his shoulder and left. If anyone taps his shoulder again, he will … He sat down and brougt his coffee to his lips.
Hi, Bogie! The Boss said and tapped his shoulder, so the coffee went down the wrong way and Bogie started coughing wildly. Just a moment, The Boss said into the mobile. Just a moment … Whaaa- …? Yeah, just a moment.
Bogie wan't sure whether The Boss was talking to him or to someone on the phone, but he wasn't that interested either. He managed to clear his throat, stood up and poured the rest of the coffee in his mouth.
Come on, Bogie, step into my office, I'll be right back, The Boss said. Whaaaaat? he sang into the phone. NO, I'M NOT TALKING TO YOU! I'M NOT COMING THERE, YOU'RE COMING HERE: YOU FUCKED THE WHOLE THING UP, OKAY?! I DON'T GIVE A FUCK ABOUT YOU BEING BUSY, I'M BUSY TOO, OKAY?!
The Boss stashed the phone into his pocket and collapsed into his big Boss chair.
Sit down, Bogie … Want a drink?
Bogie shook his head.
I'll stand. No, I don't want a drink. I just want to know, what's all this about—he pointed his head in the direction of his (ex) office—where's my computer, where's my desk, where's all my stuff?
The Boss inhaled deeply, jumped up and took a whiskey bottle from his minibar.
Sure you don't want one?
Bogie shook his head again, so The Boss only filled one glass and returned to his previous position.
Where do I start, Bogie …?
He went throug his hair with his hand nervously, put on his glasses, put them away and sipped from his glass. He wanted to win some time obviously; he wanted to find the right words.
How long've you been here?
Five years, Bogie answered with a dry voice. Why the fuck you asking, he thought, you damn well know.
Five years, The Boss echoed. And those were de facto the best five years in our agency's existance …, he exhaled, starting to look at something far away, and drank some more whiskey to again win some extra time.
But, he continued—and Bogie kind of expected that "but" …
Look, what can I say … We're adults, Bogies, it's a hard time … It's been months since we had a bigger project, we barely earn enough for my sallary. I need to cut expences and, you know, fire those, who … don't generate any significant amount of cash!
But you can't run an agency without a writer, Bogie said with a forced smile.
Look, Bogie, I can't cut costs by cutting our employee's wages—that would make them unhappy, wouldn't it—I can't cut costs cutting the quality of our output either, our clients are used to the level of production we deliver, so I can't compromise that. It's all-form-not-content-time right now. Do you realize, how many families depend on our agency? Do you?!
Bogie knew, but didn't answer.
We've been on the market for fifteen years, Bogie, fifteen years. You can't expect me to stub myself in the back!
This is going to last, Bogie thought, so he sat down on the little chair opposite the El Comandante's desk, which had only one purpose—to make the person sitting on it feel small. And that's exactly how Bogie felt. So small, he could creep squeaking out of the office under the door.
What about a notice period?
Look, your contract hasn't any. Plus you've been here for the shortest time. It's only logical, that those who came last fly first. But I was always happy with your work, so I'm going to take care that the agencies are aware of your availability—your working here will open doors for you everywhere, you know. No need to worry, we have plenty to show, so …
Okay, can I leave now? Bogie asked.
The Boss opened the drawer of his giant desk, dug out a fat envelope and poked it to Bogie's nose.
That's to get you started, 'til you find another job …
Bogie grabbed the envelope, quickly counted the money (five grand) and stashed the banknotes into his pocket. He crushed the envelope and threw it on the desk.
The Boss produced another package from his desk.
And here's … uhm … symbolic gift. I thought a lot about what to give you …
Bogie unwrapped it. A tie?!
A symbolic gift, he said. You'd like to suggest that I hang myself?
HAHAHA, The Boss roared with laughter and pointed his index finger at Bogie, you're cracking me up! I sure am going to miss your sense of humor. No, I didn't mean to suggest that! This tie has a story … I wore it when I took the job here and I took over the agency after two years, again wearing that same tie.
And I am sacked with it … Bogie said dryly and stood up. Thanks.
He walked out of the office.
Bogie! The Boss called. Thank YOU—for everything. No offense. Come around some time, I'll buy you lunch!
* * *
See? Bogie says and spreads the tie on the bar. For the five years I wasted for this company: it's not that I put 100 percent in every project, I literally sold my soul for … for … five grand and a fucking tie, can you believe it?!
Apollonia nods compassionately, her chin resting in her hands.
What am I supposed to tell my wife and … and the little ones? That I'm an incompetent loser, worth no more than five fucking grand and a fucking tie, because the fucking managers haven't got a clue how to do their fucking job? My wife already sees me as a trash bag no one wants to take away … Or should I just "de facto" hang myself? he asks imitating The Boss. He covers his face with his hands.
How can I look them in the eye?
It could happen to anyone, Bogie. You're not the first or the last—and it's not your fault, right?
Bogie closes his eyes.
When he opens them, he's dizzy. A coctail of voices, laughter and music from the speakers that are set too loud is banging inside of his brain. He lifts his head up with his hands, wipes the dried spit off his face and looks out. It's dark.
He turns to find Apollonia—she's not there anymore. It's late and she was replaced by some other girl, who's asking him something.
Bogie doesn't care what she wants from him. He turns away and tries to stand up from the bar stool. He holds his arms wide away trying not to lose his balance. A pint of liquor mixture splashes against the inner surface of his stomach, and it's a miracle it's still in there.
The waitress doesn't quit pestering him, Bogie waves his hand, looks around the floor for his briefcase, picks it up and totters toward the exit, where it occurs to his mind that he most probably hasn't paid for the drink. He dips his hand into his pocket, fishes out a bundle of banknotes, throws it back over his shoulder and finally finds his way out.
Outside he checks the time—half past eleven!
Fuck, my wife's going to kill me!
He rings, but no one answers. He rings again with the same amount of success, then walks around the block.
He leans on the tree, because he can either scream or try to balance, not both at the same time.
Mandy! Bogie shouts. Maaandy!
The lights in the windows start shining one by one.
Mandy? Are you deaf or what?!
The light in their bedroom, finally. The window opens.
Mandy, thank god, Bogie exhales, relieved, and almost falls when he pushes the tree away with his back. Come on, honey, open the door, I'll wake the whole town.
Instead of an answer, the pile of shirts comes flying through the window.
Then his pants, shorts and socks follow.
Bogie can't believe his eyes—the shock sobers him up.
An empty suitcase lands on his head.
You pack yourself! I'm sick and tired of you!! I'm seeing another man!!!
Mandy, are you OUT OF YOUR MIND?! MAAAAAANDYYYYYY!!!
The window swallows her head and closes, the light goes off, and Bogie spends a few moments, trying to grasp the situation.
Then he gathers the clothes, crams them into the suitcase and sits on it. His hand reaches for The Boss's symbollic gift in his pocket.
He pushes the suitcase under the tree and steps on it. He ties the wide end of the tie to the strongest branch, puts the knot around his neck and checks if it's okay.
He looks up to their bedroom window and points his fist to someone, who isn't watching, then he decides and kicks the suitcase from beneath his feet. He hangs for a while—but just before he really starts to suffocate the tie rips and Bogie stumbles down, directly on his tailbone, which hurt him like hell.
Fuck each and every one of you!!! Bogie hisses, takes off the rest of the tie, stashes it back into his pocket and grabs the briefcase and the suitcase. He looks up for the last time, then shakes his head and returns to the bar.
Hey! he shouts to the waitress. He sits down carefully and points his finger toward the bottles above the bar: Give me a shot of everything …