Ring. Bop. Beep. Slam. Crunch.
These are the sounds that surround me. Fill me. Drive me. The phone, the stapler, the fax machine, the cars outside, the shuffle of freshly polished shoes, ass kissing. They saturate every void, crevasse, filing cabinet; like bad perfume. There is no escape. The noises blend together, into a confusing orchestra that is most often characterised as an office job.
My official title is ‘Account Manager’. I used to be an ‘Account Service Representative’, but a consultant told us we needed to “manage” our clients, not service them.
I have a girlfriend whom I neither manage nor service.
Home is an old house on the outskirts of town. You know, those houses with sash windows, manicured lawns and majestic water features? This isn’t one of these houses. The haze of a tyre factory next door lingers in the air. It looks condemned and waiting to be torn down; most of the windows are boarded up. The house itself is situated on an otherwise empty block of land, with nothing more than dried weeds covering sandy patches of ground. No one wants to live next to a tyre factory.
The wet heat of a July evening wafts through the cracks in the walls, turning the decrepit old building into a sauna. I try and relax, maybe watch some reality TV, an old movie perhaps? It becomes apparent neither is an option as the lights flicker; power is apparently a luxury, seldom afforded to this neighbourhood.
I hear a rap-tap-tap-tap at the front door. Any harder and it would have caved in.
“Jesus, I’m coming I’m coming.” I shout over the incessant knocking.
As I open the door, I realise I needn’t have rushed.
“God dammit, took you long enough!” she shouts as she barges past me.
It’s my girlfriend.
“How was work?” I ask. She gives me the usual, “fine” response. She has been arriving home later and later this past month.
“Ugh, the power’s out again?” she complains. “Do you even remember our talk?”
“Which one?” I ask.
“Perfect! Bloody perfect!” she shouts as she storms up the creaky, termite infested stairs. I don’t know why I am still with her. She’s been having an affair with some guy from her work, not that that is any of my business.
I find myself walking out into the still warm night, the fresh aroma of rubber filling my nostrils. As I explore the deep recesses of the night, I drift farther and farther away from home. The streets I walk down, turn into blocks, the blocks into neighbourhoods, the night into dawn. The city still reeks of fornication and bad consciences. Silhouetted against the early morning sun I see the world speed up, the rush of cars, the clatter of people filling the streets, the disjointed sounds of a nearby construction site.
I am tired. I have been walking the city’s streets all night. I have seen its true form, the churning cesspit of sex, violence and abuse. The streets are extended gutters and the gutters are full of blood. My job, my life, my possessions. These mean nothing.
“I don’t want to be a part of this society,” I think to myself. “A society that lets its underbelly fester away at its very foundations until there is nothing left. One that wakes up not giving a second thought to its so called ‘leaders’, who exploit the land and her people”
I wonder if my dad ever asked himself, “Did I just father the most insignificant asshole of the twenty-first century?”
My time here is coming to an end. As I wander out of this concrete maze, back into the rural jungle, I reflect on everything wrong in my life. My house, my girlfriend, my lifestyle, my job. They all have something in common. The city. The city, leeching into my life, like tar to a book; the clean white pages, becoming soaked in its irreparable black, all words lost in a shroud of darkness.