A call from the other side of the world. Garbled and coming from some centre ether cord. Pulled down from a high cloud.
His name is t-e-d Ted, he says. My basement’s overflowing, my carpet filling up like a sponge, contaminated ground water.
–I don’t really have time for this, Ted.
–That’s fine. But I just wanted to tell you about a special offer, just for preferred customers.
The inserted pause at the end of Ted’s speech is mine. I look down at my feet and they’re as wet as they’re going to get. I pull up a chair, take off my socks. Over the course of the conversation I pick wet lint from in-between each toe. Ted continues, but he never really asked for permission not to stop.
Ted takes the Service Charge off. He lowers my Monthly Fees. I don’t quite understand. I don’t know– why? What have I done, I don’t get. Some other provider? Fees upon fees? Maybe, or maybe less, but why? I’ve been paying my bill every month, they placed me in some kind of ‘preferred suckers list’, I can feel it.
My head kind of, my eyes. I’m a, ah uh, oh, my head and my eyes pull together, taut as a rope, the cord stretches. Something tingles at the base of my skull, near the neck.
I’m on the phone with Ted.
The phone’s overflowing and spilling onto the floor. I’m on the phone with Ted, and his talk is curling out of the phone in thick gelatin chunks, wrapping around my neck and dripping onto the floor.
Ted? Ted, where are you-?
–Let’s just connect you into the system. Let’s, we’re connecting you into– it’s sort of like an answering machine, is that okay André? It’s just like an answering machine, you’ll understand. I have to enter my I.D., that’s first, then it will ask me some questions, which I answer. You just listen. I can give you my I.D. here, right now. Do you have a pencil and paper ready? It’s 27232; that’s for me, Ted. The computer will ask that and I’ll put it in. Then there are questions for you, first you say your name, that’s André Bxbxn. Say it just like that, ok? Then it asks you yes or no questions, that’s all. Pay close attention to what it says, ok? When it asks you to press pound, I press pound. Got it?
–I know this is weird, but just for my own curiosity, that’s all- where are you from, Ted? What country, or city, I mean? Can you tell me? Is that allowed?
Silence as he connects and the other side beeps in. Wherever he’s from, Ted is a busy man. Do you got that? Is that okay?
—Ok. Let me tell you two things. You’re born the same year I was born. You were born in the same year I was, except I was born September 13th. So you’re older five months less nine days, that’s right? And I have a brother named André, isn’t that nice?
–Yes, it is sort of nice. It is sort of– Ted? Where are you from? Ted? My head burns out, right now, I don’t fully understand which provider, are the fees in addition or instead? Ted? I can’t complete my… thoughts, just answer the question. Where are you from, Ted?
—Ok. I will explain it all to you. I will give you the answers. I will explain it all to you in a way that you understand. I like your questions, you are a sharp man.