Unrecoverable Situations (pt. 1)
First Operator Balso Snow pushed back from his desk, watched the incendiary plume puff out from the warehouse halfway ’round the world, then scratched another bullet-point onto his shopping list: Jiffy Pop popcorn. He laid his headset over the yellow joystick and ambled to the break room, where of course Captain Fuckface sat scraping a bead of mustard onto a rusty cracker like the fuckface he was.
“Hey, cool killer, how’s tricks?” asked Fuckface, whose name was Jones, whose ranked had been advanced last week to Major.
Balso cursed the slight tremor in his hands as he pawed open a second packet of artificial sweetener and shook it into the foam cup.
“Fine, fine,” he said, stretching to read the upside-down lettering of Major Fuckface’s mid-morning Lunchable, a Ham & Swiss Val-U-Pak, “We just took down two units; my Indian figures eighteen points minimum.” Balso caught himself thinking, if he is what he eats then this fuckface is a year’s recommended allowance of cured ham product and processed cheese food. Then he checked back in. “All in all, a highly actualized morning, sir. And we’re just gearing up for this afternoon.”
Jones popped a cracker wafer and declared over his chomps, “Rings like Grade‑A Work, Balso; keep the dead ’a rolling.”
It was the plane dream, again, and Balso couldn’t shake the heebie-jeebies. He’d woken on the futon sweated with anxiety, with visions of 767s snaking through his childhood neighborhood: fuselages torquing through alleyways, over the low shingled roofs of airplane bungalows, then twisting in on themselves like a Gordian knot before exploding themselves into fire.
Balso switched on the antique table lamp and the fluorescent tube shook to life as he scratched his testes.
“Hotel,” he spoke to the room in general, not remembering where the microphones were in this flop or if he’d even bothered to look, “Hotel, I would like to order room service. American Breakfast, eggs scrambled, wheat toast, bacon or sausage — whichever’s better here.”
For a moment he wondered if he’d set the room to Sleep mode, then the lilting voice of the Motel Roache announced: “Processing, processing. Mr. Snow, a charge of twenty-four dollars will be billed to your account. Would you care to order a beverage?”
Balso glanced at the in-room coffee maker and tried to tally the times he’d run scalding water through that shitty diaper of grounds and paper.
“Yes, Hotel, Yes. A pot of hot coffee, please, then switch on the TV and tune to headline news and pornography. As smutty as you’ve got.”
Balso surveyed the wreckage from the night before: empty bottles balanced head-down on the desk in the corner; an impossible number of fortune cookie wrappers crumpled into a cellophane-wrapped guest glass from the hotel. The TV snapped awake, and Balso returned to sleep.
Care to Share?
Consider posting a note of comment on this item: