Saturday, April 03, 2010

Shifts.



Chapter 1.


Hardwood floors always feel cool if the sun hasn’t been hitting them all day,
and I liked that. It’s probably why it was my third night sleeping a stumble from my
desk. I doubt it had much to do with me being too drunk to do anything but fall out
of my chair; making it to bed had become as daunting as climbing a mountain or
running a marathon, in that state.

The floor was where I slept and it kept my face cooler than flipping my pillow
100 times a night. Although it wasn’t very soft at all and I hadn’t vacuumed it in a
while, it did keep me cool those nights. And I guess nothing more than wood could
really be as hard as you, so it was no change. Cold and wooden; yes, it was like I was
in your arms all over again. Except at least now I was drunk and unconscious and
didn’t care this time.

Showering always feels good, no matter what crimes you may or may not
have committed the night before; or even before that. I loved shaving that day, and
even tried to press the blades into my face just to see how much pressure it would
take to bleed-out and into the sink. It didn’t work and I just ended up looking well
groomed.

No breakfast today, I knew it would make me sick. I drove to Anon looking at
those fingers gripping my wheel. I could never get my fingernails clean. The Kendall
“ToughTac” and its “3% Moly” haunted my hands forever. Fuck that grease. And fuck
the long series of checks I had to pass through just to do a job.
I have lived in Bnei Brak since 2004. Five years, now. I have driven this road
a thousand times since then. They know me. I know them.

“Papers? Who are you? Why are you going to Anon? Do you have a pass? You are Canadian Passport, why do you come to Anon?”.

“My name is Sid Heart. I am the regional sales, repair and rep. for Caterpillar International. We sell you IDF boys the D9; you know? The dozer you call “Teddy Bear”?

“Ok, Mr. Heart. Please show me your company document and access permission. And where do you live?”

“I live in Bnei Brak, corner of OrHaHayim and Rashi, you know?”

“No. Show me your car. Get out, keys on roof. Please open the boot and doors.”

“Ok, here is the number of Rebbi Kats, he is my contact at the IDF, 972-3-821-8911. Please call him for verification.”

“Open your jacket and turn toward the barrier, slowly. Please do not move too quickly, Mr. Heart, my men will shoot you.”

“*sigh*…fuck you Silverman.”

I had seen, met and even drank with ‘Mamak’ Silverman before.
‘Mamak’ Silverman is a terrible poker player. He always stands his rifle up
and rests his chin on the stalk, lightly kicking the barrel when he is bluffing. It’s a shit tell.
But we have played together, many times; when the roads are down and the
lines are long, it’s best to make friends. Yet, he always gives me shit when I see him
on those desert roads into the territories; the settlements. The bull-dozed-invasions.
I’d get arrested for a fucking camera much, much quicker than I would for an AK-47
at these checks; IDF hates foreign media. A lot.

I fucking hate this desert. And I don’t get it; people actually kill and die for
this shit. If God gave you this land, well, I think God is either an asshole or God really hates you.

Of course, Silverman and the boys let me through.

“Yes, Mr. Kats, I understand. Sorry, sir.”

Silverman half bows and quickly closes the sat. phone. He gestures to the road ahead.

“O.k., Mr. Sid Heart, you are verified for access to Anon, please be careful…”

I turn up the volume on my radio while he speaks and before Silverman
finishes I weave through the concrete barriers and posted gunners, peeling out and
off. I head for Anon, again.

My car is a modified Audi 900 with a skid-plate covering the entire chassis
belly, armoured panels and bullet-proof windows. Diesel is costly, but the IDF pays,
so I can’t really bitch about that. That armoured car looked so feeble, though, when
IDF had its doors open and the hood and trunk were up, like some prehistoric metal
bird in its dying throes or looking for a mate; pathetic and floundering.

90 minutes late. Fuck.

Anon is a shit-hole. A bulldozed shit-hole, thanks to me; thanks to the D9.
Beit Shamesh, Anon’s mayor, welcomes me like a lost brother. The only
reason he wants my D9 expertise is to clear land that isn’t his.

“Shalom. Shalom, Mr. Heart. I trust that your drive was safe? Did you encounter any problems?”

Israelis tend to refer to intifada or rocket-attacks or suicide-bombings as “problems” in the same glib manner the IRA are referred to as “the troubles”, in Belfast.
Problems. Yeah, fuck you, Shamesh. IDF gives me more grief, and I sell you shit, than I have ever gotten from any Arabs in 5 years.

“Nope, it was a fine drive through God’s country Mr. Shamesh. And Peace to your town, Selah.”

In Anon I make the tired pitches;

“The Caterpillar D9 Bulldozer is Caterpillar's most well known piece of equipment. It weighs 54 tons, stock, and is powered by a 474 HP Cat diesel engine. Not only is it capable of razing an entire town with its 13 foot blade and optional ripper attachment, it also serves a very important position in the mining, forestry, construction, and waste management sectors”.

I started as a small engine repairman after a life fixing tractor engines and
combine hydraulics for Ontario farms. I left the farms and worked in Toronto on city
snowplows and graters. Finning hired me for Cat-troubles in Toronto. The, “Willing
to Relocate?” box has always been checked on every application I sent. I never really
meant it but I still checked it.
I was, and also am, still, willing to relocate.

I am the only person in Anon without an Uzi, without an automatic machine-
gun shoulder-slung. I decided long ago that carrying a gun was making a choice in
this war of attrition, and I don’t care enough to choose. I just work; and drink and
smoke. Those are the sides I choose. Those are the only sides I’ll ever choose and
work for. At least then the war and casualties are both mine, alone.

After the sales meeting, town meeting, I dined with Shamesh at his fortress.
Orthodox dinners are the worst. The food is fine but man, every fucking table
probably looks the same at the same moment over Israel. The head of the house, the
man, talks and talks and even starts yelling; challah in hand, soup dripping down his
beard.
The poor women, wife and daughter, just sit there, head down and serving
food.
Fucking awful; I like hearing other, less bearded voices.

I like silence. And I am fucking sick of talking business between bites and slurps. I just don’t care, really. I sell to these people but to me it’s just a pay-cheque; to them it’s life, death. But I don’t care at all. A part is a part and grease is just that. I hate this place. I hate being forced to choose a side on something I don’t give a fuck about.

I wanted to tell Shamesh that Fatah had ordered three stock D-9s. Not
just to ramp prices, but to shut him up. Just to have some silence.

On the drive back I think I smoked about 20 cigarettes, one right after the
other. I threw the glowing stubs out the window and watched in my rear-view as
they hit the ground and exploded in sparks.

1 comment:

DRZ said...

It's coming along well, cap'n