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| There Ain't No Justice |
| #89 |
- This Week in Job Interviews -
Company: don't know. mike (flatmate) mentioned they were looking
for someone computer-literate.
Position: don't know. in fact, i didn't even send in a formal
application; i just got the address from mike and caught
the tram down there one morning. no appointment or
this is one of those huge glass towers in Queen's Parade. monstrous building.
in the lobby, i noted that the entire building was owned by the one company.
they must be worth a lot.
i walked right past the guys at the security desk. one of them called out to
me; i got out the woodsman's knife that marian had given me and waved it at
them. `it's all right, i don't have a gun.' i shouted, and took another swig
from the bottle of vodka. in the elevator on the way up, i saw how the
pinhead mask looked - it's great in the smoky dimness of a goth club, but it
looks a bit funny in daylight. i slipped it off, but kept it in one hand.
the elevator stops at the twenty-third floor; i wander around and locate a
`i'm applying for that job.' i mention vaguely. she seems to know what i'm
talking about, which is a surprise.
`one moment, i'll see if Mr. Grainger is available.' while she's gone, i
scoot around behind her desk and fiddle with the screen-colours in Windows.
red and blue chequered backdrop. lovely, although if they use Windows a lot,
i may insist that they install 486es throughout - they reboot faster.
she comes back and ushers me into this guy's office. he's in his late
forties, typical manager-type look, greying hair, suit, tie, cocksucker's
moustache and all. he's running Windows, too. jesus. haven't these people
ever heard of Desqview?
`i can see i'm gonna have to make a few changes around here.' i say sternly,
pointing at his machine. i sit down in the chair before his desk, put one
motorcycle-booted foot up on his nameplate and have a long swig of
stolichnaya. i offer him some, but he politely refuses. `so. what have you
got to offer me?'
`salary starts at fifty-five thousand a year; four hours a day, four days a
week for a one-hundred-and-fifty day period; rest of the year is paid
holiday, company car - '
`it's not one of those huge Ford monstrosities, is it?' he looks
embarrassed, but confesses that it is.
`we're thinking of replacing it with something a little more, uh...'
`useable? how about a hearse? you can fit lots of equipment in the back.'
his expression brightens at this, and he makes a note on a pad. this is a
worry; if i'm not careful, this asswipe is going to employ me. `now, what
exactly is it i'd be doing?' he smiles.
`well, as you may have seen, we use Windows quite a lot, and every so often,
one of the secretaries will be fiddling with the screen preferences, and
she'll do something silly like set the borders, text and background to the
same colour. we need someone here to fix this.' i sit there, waiting for him
to go on. `that's it.'
`that's it?' this has to be some kind of scam. `i should mention, i'm a
pagan. that means i have to have the solstices off, you know, Midwinter,
Midsummer, also the odd weekday when the rest of the coven get together.' he
nods. fine. `i'll also want to redecorate my office - you've seen the
`no, but that shouldn't be a problem.'
`black stone walls, lit from the lower edges, chains hanging from the
ceiling, floor coated in blood?'
`loud industrial music playing most of the time?'
`no problem.' i'm going to have to do better than this.
`how about an attractive female secretary that i can nail to my desk every
lunchtime?' he grins, closes his eyes in mute agreement, as if that's what
he does. `oh, hang on, i mean REALLY nail to the desk. with nails.'
`i think we can accomodate that.' sigh.
`tell you what. put a copy of the job description on a disk, let me take it
home and fiddle with it until i've got it the way i like it, then i'll get
back to you.' his eyes gleam at this; now i KNOW it's a scam. while he's off
getting his secretary to do a text dump of the WinWord file, i steal a few
sheets of letterhead from his desk, slip them into my folder.
Mr Manager comes back, hands me a disk, shakes my hand as if i'd signed up
already, and ushers me out of the door. i can't figure this out. i haven't
shaved for a week, my hair's the same length as those guys from ZZ Top, i'm
drunk and i'm wearing a t-shirt with glow-in-the-dark copulating skeletons
drawn all over it.
in the elevator on the way down, i look at the letterhead:
BUREAU OF SABOTAGE
(one more, and the answering machine will pick it up.)
`hello? could i speak to nikolai kingsley?'
(pause) `you're not from Encyclopedia Britannica, are you?'
`no, i'm with Hewson Rubber Devices, incorporated. we make sexual aids, and
we're looking for someone to work in our R&D department. a knowledge of
AutoCad would be useful, but not essential, and you get to play with all
manner of inflatible -'
this one wasn't actually advertised anywhere. one of my associates in HairNet
got sick of me whining about being poor all the time, and sent me netmail,
giving me an address and a time.
it was out in Belgrave, somewhere; the Volkswagon was going and i had enough
petrol to get there and back, so i looked it up in the Melways and set off on
a rather overcast sunday afternoon, skidding around the steep, rain-slick
the address seemed to be one huge block of heavily-wooded land; i had to
drive up and down a few times before i found the drive-way. huge stone lions
on either side. how did i miss them the first time past?
the road up to the house was just as winding as the roads through
hippy-riddled mountain Belgrave, and almost as long. the grounds were
immaculately kept, and looked like the scenery at the start of Ken Russell's
film, `Gothic'. the house was immense; a huge, sprawling mansion, its upper
reaches shrouded in mist, its base clothed in vines and oddly-shaped topiary.
an ancient, eroded pillar had a verdigris-stained plate set at chest level;
if one looked closely, one could discern ornate lettering which read: WASTREL
what the hell was a wastrel? something like a minstrel? the only association
i had with that word was an old cartoon strip by Dori Seda in Crumb's WEIRDO
magazine, the one where she was describing how she kept getting crabs from
her bed-partners. from that, i gathered that a wastrel was a cross between a
hippy, a New-Ager and a member of the Society of Creative Anacronism. i had
an image of young female hippy nipples poking shyly through thin cotton
shirts with gathered sleeves. this house, on the other hand, looked like the
sort of place Penelope Keith would live in. i just hope they weren't after a
just as i started up the dark grey stone steps, i caught a flicker of white
out of the corner of my eye, off in the greenery nearby. i almost turned to
look, but then i received another flash off to the other side. uh-huh. Sidhe.
i paused, rummaged around in my pocket and found a small plastic bag with a
pinch or two of white powder in the bottom. i went over to the pool-table
textured lawn, kneeled down in the centre of a vaguely-defined circle of
slightly darker grass and scattered the powder. `share and enjoy', i
murmured. angel dust. how appropriate. i thought i heard faint giggles as i
made my way up to the doors.
i rang the doorbell and stood in the freezing drizzle for exactly six minutes
before the doors creaked open. i expected the traditional decrepit
ninety-year old retainer like Faithful Old Crumble in `The Last Remake of
Beau Geste'; i certainly didn't expect the traditional sixteen-year-old
schoolgirl, short blonde hair, grey pleated skirt, hockey stick and all.
`ah. i'm here about the, ah - ' she smiled mysteriously and indicated that i
should follow her.
she led me down a dark corridor, expensive, dusty old carpets, vaguely pagan
embroidery in foot-thick frames, into a large drawing- room. heavy furniture,
masses of brown varnish and the scent of age. a table took up about a third
of the room; it looked like the sort of thing elizabethan monarchs would sign
declarations on. there was a Solburne S4000 workstation, a scattering of
floppies, an Eizo monitor and a gordian knot of cables. seated in one of
Morticia Addams' thrones was a woman in her mid-thirties, dressed in what
looked like a black lace funeral gown. her face was partly hidden by a veil,
but she was beautiful. the warning signals that had been clanging in the back
of my head ever since i'd seen the house suddenly jumped in volume. i sat on
the carpet a few metres away, crossed my legs and smiled up at her.
apparently, she was a writer, author of over a dozen successful Mills and
Boone romances, and recently she'd been contacted by her publishers and asked
if she'd like to move on to something racier.
`i wasn't shocked at the idea of writing pornography,' she murmured.
`erotica.' i suggested. she smiled.
`whatever. i wrote all of my other novels on an Underwood typewriter, but for
this, i thought i needed something a bit more modern. the publishers sent me
that,' gesturing at the workstation, `which they'd come into posession by way
of a receivership move.' i got up, went over to examine the machine.
bare-bones unix, no editor more advanced than vi. i wondered if matt dillon
had a unix version of DME handy.
the woman - Jeanette - followed me over and stood uncomfortably close. `i
need technical support, someone to manage backups, to show me how to use this
computer... a general amanuensis, even.' so, she was going to write erotica
and test it on me.
i heard a faint beat from somewhere on the first floor. cocking my head, i
`"Metal Church"; "Beyond the Black".' i guessed. she pursed her lips.
`that's Althea. she showed you in.' uh-huh. Jeanette moved even closer and
placed a lace-gloved hand over mine. `we have plenty of spare rooms here, if
you needed somewhere to stay - it would save you the trouble of driving out
from Hawthorn every day.' i stood there rigid as she put her arms around me
from behind, but it was the unmistakeable scent of opium that gave me the
impetus to escape from her clutches as politely as possible. i left her with
the phone number of a friend who knew a bit more about unix than i did.
as i backed the volkswagon around in the gravel parking area, i saw her
looking at me from a high window. her expression was one of a calculating
huntress who had seen her prey escape a trap.
`This is mike's flat. nikolai lives here sometimes. we're not in at the
moment, so please leave a message.'
`hello? My name's Alan Watson, i'm with Playboy Australia, we'd like to speak
to Mr kingsley about writing an S&M column for us. he can call me back on
double-six three, one three double four. thanks.'
`good morning, it's, (pause) quarter past eleven, thursday the fourteenth, my
name is Claudia Miller from the State Library. i'd like to speak to nikolai
about working in our Pnakotic Scripts department - a friend of mine mentioned
his name in relation to the Greek translation of the Necronomicon. could he
please call me on eight-two-oh, one oh double four? thank you.'
`uh, hi guys, this is Loki, do you mind if i come over tomorrow and borrow
your printer? i promise i'll buy a new stack of paper for it. thanks, guys.'
`hello? hello? i guess there's no-one there... uh, my name is Joseph
Morrisey, i'm the personnel manager at the Bank of Melbourne. we'd like Mr
kingsley to contact us with regards to a position we have, disposing of
slightly torn one-hundred dollar bills. the number here is six double-nine
three triple-two. thank you.'
`hello... hello... this is sean... hello... hello. oh. okay. goodbye.'
This time, i got a phone call from Germany. it was some guy called Peter
Theander, speaking in heavily-accented english.
`Yess, I em dze head of dze Colour Climax Corporation.' uh-huh. `Fee publish
magazines off quality erotica.'
`Yes, I'm familiar with your work - in fact, i have an almost complete
collection of your excellent magazine "Anal Sex".' he laughed nervously,
`I em gled fee undterstent each ozher. You see, viss dze recession in
avstralia, fee can produce our magazines dzhere viss much more
cost-effectifness. I fill be flying out dzere in a few days time, and fee
would be interested in offering you a chob.' he hung up, and i was tempted
to call telecom and have our number changed then and there, but i knew it
wouldn't stop him.
the bastard of it was, if i didn't at least go to the interviews, the
Department of Social Security would think i wasn't seriously looking for
one of his flunkies called later that day, arranged an interview in the city,
in fact, just up the road from the department of defence where i'd once
installed and bug-fixed a macintosh that was having trouble with its video
frame-grabber for BCA (that was a simple problem; i just removed a few of the
unneccessary INITS they were running). the offices were not what i'd
expected, neat, sterile, efficient. i'd expected, somehow, semen-stained
mattresses under bare light-bulbs. then again, they wouldn't have that sort
of thing in their head-office, would they?
Mr Theander was a completely normal-looking gent (for a pornography magnate),
mid-to-late forties, neat charcoal-grey business suit, pale tie. his desk was
amidst dozens of others which hummed with activity, all of it to do with
stock, papers, orders, invoices, and the like. they could have been running
Sports Illustrated for all i knew.
i sat down in the chair on the far side of Theander's desk, adjusted my
Pinhead mask slightly, regarded the man over the nails that ran along the
ridge just below my eyes. it didn't seem to put him off, and his accent had
improved noticeably since we'd last spoken.
`one of my assistants is something of a bulletin-board user, and she's seen
quite a bit of your work in various places. we are always on the lookout for
people to write for us - '
`you mean, that text that goes with the pictures, in four languages?' he
`yes. it can't have escaped your notice that some of our corporation's
earlier efforts were... how should i say...'
`lame?' i offered. he grinned tolerantly. i wondered if i should produce that
syringe of water i had stashed in my pencil-box and shoot up here and now, or
wait until he offered me obscene amounts of money.
`you would be collaborating with the translators; you see, together, the four
of you will devise scenarios, which we then shoot photos to go with; then,
together, you four write the text which will accompany them.' he spoke into
a phone in rapid-fire German, those twenty- syllable words that had given me
so much trouble when i'd once tried to translate the text in those A3-format
Editions C books of H.R. Giger's artwork. from somewhere behind me came three
girls, each far too attractive to be models for Theander's magazines. he
gestured to them.
`this is Marie-Therese, the French translator,' a slim girl with long,
dark-brown hair, a heart-shaped face and eyebrows that almost met, dressed in
a double-layered black georgette bias-cut skirt with a wide corset-style
waistband in leather (where the hell did that description come from? what i
know about fashion, you could store in my modem's S-registers!); `Anya, our
Danish translator,' a woman about my age, bowl-cut blonde hair, a floral
dress, somewhat the way i imagined what's-her-name, the dutch woman in
`Gravity's Rainbow' to be (why couldn't i remember her name? it can't have
been that long since i read that book), `and Angela, our German translator.'
there was no way on EARTH that this girl could have been old enough to work
in this line; she was sixteen if she was a day, short black hair, loose baggy
t-shirt with two small indentations where her breasts should have been, and -
this is the first thing that tipped me off - black lycra bike-shorts
underneath the t-shirt. argh. i resisted the temptation to gnaw my knuckles.
besides, wearing this Pinhead mask didn't allow that action.
Theander was talking about wages, working conditions, superannuation, health
and dental funds; i was only listening with one-third of my concentration.
one-third was exchanging meaningful glances with Angela. a phone call came in
for Theander; Marie-Therese and Anya went off to discuss something between
themselves, and i took the opportunity to ask Angela something that had been
bugging me for years.
`i once read, in one of Mr Theander's magazines, a german phrase: "Es war
einfach sagenhaft"...' she smiled, closing her eyes demurely.
`that would be "it was simply fabulous" or "it was simply incredible"...' she
replied, her slight accent sounding somehow sensual, when in Theander it made
him sound like an extra from `Hogan's Heroes'. i smiled back at her, before
realising how close they'd come to trapping me. think, you fool, think.
Theander finished his phone call. i stood up hurriedly, blurted the first
thing that came into my head.
`this sounds like wonderful work, and i'm sure i can, ah, perform the duties
you've outlined, but i'll have to speak to a publisher in, uh, New Jersey.
i'm under contract with them, and i'll have to make sure that i'll be allowed
to write for your corporation.' i began backing away from the desk. `i don't
anticipate any problems... so, ah, i'll call you in a few day's time.' i
made it to the elevators and escaped.
when i got back to the reassuring squalor of our flat, i changed the
answering machine message.
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