The Great Plotnik

Friday, October 22, 2010

Here is a piece of fiction. Any relationship between persons in this story and other religious leaders, or agents, alive or dead, is purely coincidental.

"The plane is late. I’m sitting against a wall at Gate One at LAX. There are large framed photographs in this walkway that connects Gate One with the rest of the Southwest Boarding Area. They change the wall art frequently. I haven’t seen these photos before. They are abstracts. I have no idea what they are. They’re curly. They may be vaginas…but they may be hose valves.

They’re not real, that’s for sure. Nothing is real in this town. Sitting six feet away from me, on the floor, is a woman who is obviously some kind of agent. She’s talking on her cell phone. The conversation goes like this.

“Hello, Mrs. Marks, my name is Francesca di Bonnano. I understand you are interested in booking Edward la Scala for your holiday party. Yes, I represent him. I said I represent, no, not resent him. No, I do not resent, Mrs. Marks I am not in his band, I…yes, he is my client.”


“Well I certainly hope so too. Ha ha ha. I have a few questions for you, if I may. Now, how many hours would you like to engage Mr. la Scala…yes, he can either play with live musicians or with prerecorded tapes. He…yes, live musicians, yes, musicians who are alive. No, Mrs. Marks, this just means that…yes, for example, a pianist or a violinist. Yes, you would have to pay for them too.”


“Ha ha, no, well if they were dead you could get them for next to nothing, ha ha.”


No, Mr. la Scala doesn’t play an instrument while he sings. Yes, ha ha ha, oh no I am not laughing at, no I only mean that…Mrs. Marks, I am simply trying to say that…well, of course, pre-recorded tapes would be more cost effective.”


“Well, perhaps you could give me your budget…no? Ah ha. But if I only knew how much you were able too…I see. No, I do not think you were born yesterday, Mrs. Marks.”

Well, then, why don’t I call Mr. la Scala and make sure he is available on that date. Yes, I am rather certain of his availability but I would like to verify with…no, you are not obligated to…no, Mrs. Marks, there is no charge for, I will phone you back shortly, I don’t know exactly, it will depend on, yes, your hair dresser, uh huh, well, fine, I’ll call you then. Thank you and…yes, thank you and…no, Mrs. Marks, I do not play accordion. Yes. No. Good bye.”

She sets her cell phone down on the floor, puts her head in her hands. She picks it back up and dials another number. She becomes a different human.

“Hey, Eddie, Frankie Bones here. I got a live one for ya, two hours, a few guys, zip zip zip, nothing to it, December 15, in town no travel. How much do you guys need? Fifteen hundred? Really? That much? I don’t know if she’ll…no, no budget, she wouldn’t tell me…say you’re not coughing are ya? You’re not gonna get sick on me again this holiday season, you know what I’m…yes, OK I’m just sayin’. OK, I”ll call the broad back, letcha know, see ya Eddie.”

She holds her finger down a few seconds, dials another number, drops her voice one octave. Miss Culture is back.

“Hello, Mrs. Marks, this is Francesca di Bonnano once more. I spoke with Mr. la Scala and he has given me the ballpark figure of $2,500. “

She pulls the phone away from her ear. A sharp noise has come from the receiver, loud enough that people from across the aisle have looked up and are now staring at her.

“No, well I…no, you see, well there are…no, I understand. That’s why you are laughing, of course. No, it’s not funny…that you’re laughing. Only that…I see. I said ballpark figure, we can always…no, not the Vatican, just any old ballpark, an idea…no of course, as I said before I don’t think you were born yesterday Mrs. Marks. “

“I see. You wish to spend under a thousand dollars. Well under, you say. Uh huh. Now we do have alternatives. Mr. la Scala would be willing to…no, he does not play accordion, Mrs. Marks, but if you wish an accordionist, we are able to offer you a package with…no, Mrs. Marks, yes Mrs. Marks, Mr. la Scala is Italian but he does not play accordion. No, he does not play mandolin either. He sings. Yes, Mrs. Marks? No, Mrs. Marks?”

I am now staring at the agent, who is leaning against the wall, under the abstract vaginas or hose valves, with her legs crossed in front of her. She wears a long plaid skirt and a stylish scarf in the same colors as the skirt. Her blouse has an extra fashionable wave of fabric at the top, as if the fabric and her head were one piece. She looks ill. Mrs. Marks has hung up. So Frankie Bones hangs up too, shaking her phone like it was wet.

She looks over at me. “These people,” she says, with a wan smile.

She doesn’t realize to whom she’s complaining. And now she’s started it.

I say “$2,500 bucks for two hours at the lady’s own house?”

The agent stares at me.

“And your boy, Eddie, told you $1,500, right? An extra thousand for yourself. You guys just can’t help yourselves, can you?”

I smile at her and she lobs the smile back at me, like an end-of-the-world game of death tennis. If looks could kill I would be dead but if disgust could drown I would have overwhelmed her with tsunami-level waves.

I worked for these scheming hose valves for too many years. I don’t have to anymore. Her client, who does all the work, will not get this gig because the agent jacked up the price without telling him. She, who managed to screw everybody with just a few phone calls, won’t either.

So I win. For now. She gets up and walks away but she’s gonna be on my plane.


At 10:58 AM, Blogger mary ann said...

This is fascinating ~ save it!

At 9:44 PM, Blogger notthatlucas said...

Not bad for a work of fiction. Obviously, this a WAY to weird for real life. Right? RIGHT?


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