Chapter 9: Defensive Blocks, Expensive Clocks
I flipped through the phonebook, searching for the pizza listings.
Liam, kid. I said. You're eventually going to have to tell me why you're here.
He leaned against the silver kitchen countertop with his back towards me. Dad, I don't want to.
You have to. I said. Now do you like pizza pizza? Can I order that?
No, pizza pizza is just awful. Liam said.
Fine, what about two for one pizza? I asked.
Liam snorted. We can't afford anything better?
I rubbed my eyes. You got a problem with Gino's pizza? I don't think there's any other f--king pizza in this city, so either take Gino's or start rolling your own pizza dough.
I like Gino's, dad. Liam said. No need to swear.
I ordered a medium pizza and then glanced at my watch. I had fifteen minutes to solve my son's problems, buy him nutrition, and find him a distraction so I could play naked rugby with Lacey in peace.
Liam, let's get serious. What happened? I asked.
He rolled his eyes. I told you Dad, I don't want to talk about it.
I can yell at my clients until my throat bleeds, but I cannot yell at my kids. Well... then what are you doing here?
I don't know, just hanging out I guess. He said, shrugging his shoulders.
I laughed as I reached for some plates in a cupboard. The last time you wanted to hang out with me was around the same time I still had a full head of hair.
Well, I guess I like the new bald you. Liam said.
Liam, come on. I said, laughing. Cut the bullshit, what happened?
Dad... Liam said.
Liam, tell me. I said firmly.
Now Liam. I said.
Fine. He said, keeping his back towards me. I guess nothing really happened. I just got tired of Mom and Mr. Hedden.
Why the f--k did you just call him Mr. Hedden'? I said.
He asks us too. Liam said.
Call that cowardly little bitch by his first name Liam. I said.
Dad, the swearing...
I glanced at my watch. Look Liam, I have a guest coming over in ten minutes. Now let's go pickup the pizza and I'll drop you off back at your mom's.
Dad, I want to stay here. Liam said, turning to me.
I quickly thought of the scene at the Tin Can, desperately trying to remember if Lacey and I were quiet enough that we wouldn't be heard by a lingering Liam. No, Liam you can't. I have a guest.
But Dad, I want to stay here. I'll stay in your office. He said.
Liam, you can't. I said. For one thing I have a guest, and for another I'm not legally allowed to have you here.
But Dad, I can't go back... Liam said.
Why Liam? I asked.
He looked up to me with moist eyes. Because, I ran away. I told Mom I wasn't coming back.
My heart dropped into my stomach. Are you telling me she doesn't know where you are?
No. Liam said. She doesn't.
Liam! I said, covering my face with my hands. I can get in a ton of shit for this, a ton. You can't be here, you have to call your mom before she calls the cops.
The doorbell interrupted him. I walked out of the kitchen and into the hall, with Liam following me. You have to go Liam, and that's final. I said.
I looked through the peep hole and saw Lacey on my front porch. Come on Liam, I'll get Lacey to drive us to pick up the pizza and then she'll drop you off. I said, reaching for the door handle.
Dad, don't make me go. Liam said. Mr. Hedden asked Mom to marry him.
Christine sat across from me, at the same pub our sexual deal had been formulated only weeks prior. What are we doing here Dan?
I smiled. Oh, I'm no longer Mr. Grant?
No. She said. You're still the cheap, broke, flaccid loser that begged me for sex.
I leaned back in the booth and laughed. I reached into my jacket and pulled out a jewellery case.
Christine eyed me suspiciously as I set the case down in front of her. What the hell is this Dan?
It's what I've been doing for the past month, it's what you asked me for. I said.
She looked nervously at the case in front of her. You're not proposing, are you?
To some office whore like you? I said, smiling. Of course not.
She rolled her eyes. Are you trying to get laid? Cause that's not going to help.
I raised my hands. You're right, I'm sorry. Just open it, okay?
She opened the case and her eyes immediately lit up. She picked up the watch and gazed at the silver emblem. Is this what I think it is? She asked.
It is. I said.
Dan... She said. I don't know what to say.
How about a meet me in the women's washroom for a thank you blow job'? I said.
So you bought this with company money? She asked.
I did buy it with company money. I said. I bought it with the recent increase we've been receiving from Lacey, and since her record is going to be released soon I thought I'd show my appreciation.
Well I don't know what to say Dan, I'm truly speechless. She said.
Well then. I said. How about we give you an actual physical reason to be speechless. I said, gesturing to my crotch.
She stood up. Well here's the thing Dan. I told you I needed a raise, not something to tell time with.
My lower jaw dropped. So after giving you a designer watch I still get nothing?
A watch isn't a raise, Daniel. She said, grabbing her purse. But thank you for the gift, I'll never be late to work again. Enjoy your dinner, Mr. Grant.
I stared at her behind as she walked out of the pub. Bartender. I yelled, raising my hand. I'll have twelve shots of jack, please. Right f--king now.
I walked shoeless into the basement. The lights were off once again, but the movement and strange music distracted me from the ridiculousness that was Martin's way of work.
I walked towards Martin, who was staring intently at a violinist behind the glass who was in mid song. I waited until the final note breathed its final breath and then tapped Martin on the shoulder.
He did not even shift. Good evening Daniel, how does the earth's positioning find you tonight.
Shut the f--k up Martin. I said. I'd ask how the band is doing, but first I have to ask who the f--k this person is.
Martin began to push various levels on the soundboard. This is a string section for the song Insomnia' Daniel, as you should have already known that as you listen to your clients work.
I stared at the back of Martin's head. Of course I knew that you asshole. But we never included other musicians in the budget for this album, so unless this guy is doing his work pro bono, he's got to get the f--k out of here now.
Martin flipped a switched and the lights illuminated the room. He stuck five fingers up towards the violinist who nodded back. That is something we must discuss Daniel, but not here. In the den.
I watched as Martin took a couple steps away from the soundboard and sat down on one of two leather couches. The den. I said, laughing. What the f--k do you want to talk about Martin.
You must discontinue that language Daniel. Martin said.
I began to type emails on my phone. I don't have any time for that bullshit Martin, what the f--k do you want to talk about?
Well Daniel, it's complicated. He said. And I hate to admit it, but we live in a capitalist society. Every decision and every feeling we feel is governed by the evil of money, and it makes me sick to the stomach to even have to live in a world like this.
Martin, quit the f--king thesis statement and cut to the chase. I said, rubbing my eyes.
Now remember, your mind is clear and you are in control of your most inner and primal emotions. Remember that as I tell you we need more money. He said.
My annoyance quickly turned to anger. Can you f--king say that again? I said Daniel. He said. That we need more money for this album.
I don't understand. I said.
Daniel, we need more money. Martin repeated.
Yes Martin, I f--king understood that. I said, the vein in my neck bulged.But what I don't f--king understand is how an independent producer working with a barely non-independent band can burn through an extremely reasonable budget so f--king quickly.
Consider your emotions here Daniel. Martin said. I have our receipts if you wish to see them.
I stood up. No, I'm not the f--king government. What I want is your head against a curb so I can break your neck.
Daniel, your primal emotions are gaining too much control right now. Martin said.
I pointed to Martin. Shut the f--k up Martin, seriously. A couple of things are going to happen now. Firstly, I may punch you in the f--king face. Secondly, you need to record whatever you need to record with this violinist and then kick his ass out. Third, you need to get your f--king act together because you have ten days left to record this album. And finally, I'm going to head over to the label and try my best to get a couple quarters more for this label, but I can't promise anything. So that means you need to sharpen up on your blow job skills because your old profession may be the only thing that keeps this album alive.
I threw my hand in his face and interrupted him. No Martin, shut the f--k up. Tonight was going to be a night of celebration, because I was going to invite you and the band out to take part in a little ritual. But now I get here and I'm not even sure if I want to go through with it.
What would that be Daniel? Martin asked.
I looked around the studio and became enraged. My mind then drifted to my soon to be married ex-wife, and my priorities were straightened. No, never mind. I'll focus on this money problem tomorrow. Tonight I want you and the band to join me in another get together.
Is this another one of those get togethers that involve flaming feces? Martin asked.
I smiled. Well, I guess it is. But this time we'll be using flaming feces and large amounts of toilet paper, so bring your baseball arm.
Martin looked up to me as I walked up the basement stairs. So what is the situation this time Daniel?
I stopped on the stairs and laughed. Well Martin, I guess this time it's a f--king wedding gift.