“I can’t believe someone would be so stupid to pay $280 thousand for a freakin NFT,” said Matt. “It’s a measly pdf.”
“Who paid that much?” said Hector.
“Eminem,” said Matt.
“He’s got too much money,” said Hector.
“They aren’t just payin for a pdf,” said Andy.
“Well that’s what they get,” said Matt.
“They are backed up by the blockchain,” said Andy.
“That does Jack shit,” said Matt.
“You don’t know what you are talking about,” bluffed Andy.
“What the fuck is a NFT?” said Hector squeezed between the other two on the work truck seat.
“It means a non refundable ticket,” said Matt as if that closed the conversation on the topic.
“No it doesn’t,” laughed Andy. Even though Matt could hear everything Andy spoke in a hushed voice to Hector on his right, “Don’t listen to that kindergarten drop out. He was so in love with Kristen what’s-her-name from the Twilight movie he quotes the movie whenever he can. But then she came out as a lesbeen and now numb nuts over there has PTSD.”
“Good morning can I take your order?” came a cute voice over the drive-thru speaker.
“Ya, can I get 3 large double doubles. Do you guys want a breakfast sandwich?” Then Andy turned back to the outdoor speaker, “I’m gonna get a bacon egger – no cheese.”
“Did you want a hash brown with that?” said the nice voice.
“What the hell,” said Andy.
“So then that makes it a combo,” said the bored voice.
“Hector, you want some chow?” said Andy.
“Ya gemme a bacon eager too,” said Hector.
“Another eager bacon,” said Andy, playing around with Hector’s accent.
“Was that a second bacon egger?” said the tired voice.
“Yes please,” said Andy then turned back towards Matt. “Yo, numb nuts, quit holdin up the line.”
“Ya make it a combo for me too. I need the grease to take my morning dump,” said Matt.
“So it’s you stinkin up my truck with beer farts,” said Andy.
“Sorry chump, that’s just your bad breath,” said Matt.
Hector laughed hard at everything.
Hating to be laughed at, Matt elbowed Hector in the ribs.
“Watch what you say, pipsqueak,” said Matt.
“I didn’t say anything. I only laughed”
Andy saw that Hector didn’t grasp the meaning of ‘pipsqueak’.”
“Pipsqueak comes from the old Ojibwa phrase meaning ‘ye of large penis’. Did you know Matt here is part native?” said Andy.
“Hector, did you know that gorgeous Andy over there is 100% dumbass?”
Being the first day of spring work the guys hadn’t been together as a group since early December so their banter was especially vigorous as a way to say ‘I missed you’. Instead of doing snow removal, for the past three winters Matt surfs in Mexico. Andy and Hector would bump into each other at the yard when they drove snow plow. As the winter wound down Andy took March off this year and Hector hung drywall with his cousin.
They couldn’t slide out the plastic cup holder because Hector’s knees were in the way so the tray with coffees and the bag of food were on his lap. Over the winter Hector had pretty much cut out coffee but didn’t want to open himself to the circus of ridicule from Andy and Matt if he ordered a green tea so this morning he just let it ride.
“Rub-a-dub-dub, where’s the grub?” said Andy rubbing his hands together as he drove. The paper bag warmed Hector’s thighs as he listened to the song on the radio. He had no idea the band was Lowest of The Low and the song was called Salesman, Cheats and Liars but he liked the tune. He had no idea Andy was asking for his breakfast sandwich.
“Oye guey, reparta la comida,” Matt translated. As he worked over the years Hector had learned English yet many sayings escaped him. On purpose Andy would use colloquial sayings in a passive/aggressive way that helped Hector broaden his vocabulary while portraying himself as cultured and wise.
“How was Parco el Escondera bro? Some big surf and a bevy of hotties?” said Andy through a mouthful of artificially round sausage.
“Que vergüenza ese pinche guey,” said Matt making Hector laugh.
“It’s Puerto Escondido. And I’m not telling you anything because then you will want to come down there one winter and you will ruin the vibe and scare off all the bikinis,” said Matt.
Hector took a bite of his breakfast sandwich, then looked to his left in expectation of Andy’s response.
“Las nenas guey, una chulada, te digo,” said Matt.
“Orale,” said Hector. Hector likes working with Andy. But Andy has this way of joking with Hector’s English that Hector can’t figure out. So he likes it when Matt speaks his Spanish to kind of even things out.
Out of nowhere Andy slammed on the horn because some idiot didn’t put on their left turn signal. He squeezed his coffee so tight with his right hand that the brown plastic top popped off and hot coffee soaked his leg and crotch.
“Asshole! Learn to drive! Even better, don’t drive at all,” yelled Andy.
“You really told him. I don’t think he is ever going to drive again,” said Matt.
“Gimme your coffee,” said Hector so Andy could dry his pants.
“Great, now it looks like I pissed myself,” said Andy, steaming.
“So what does Eminem get for $280k?” asked Hector.
“A bored monkey,” said Matt.
“Exactly. That’s what Matt sees when he wakes up in the morning,” said Andy.
“No Seriously,” said Hector.
“Google it,” said Andy. Hector pulled his phone from his inside pocket.
“Not board you Mexican midget. Bored,” said Matt watching Hector type.
Matt knew Hector was from El Salvador. Matt was born in Poland and came to Canada when he was one year old so he had no accent but spoke decent Polish.
Hector’s belief in himself as a man was in flux but his spine was strong. He loved Canada. He loved that his daughter could walk to school. He loved Matt and Andy because they looked at him with eyes that demanded results from a peer. Hector was having trouble with his wife because he was having trouble ridding himself of a third world mentality.
“How do you spell NFT,” joked Hector.
“I’ll let Andy tackle that one,” said Matt.
“Bro, it’s a cartoon!” said Hector looking at the picture of the NFT on his phone.
“Hector hermano, but actually you should see some of these NFT’s; they are like a psychedelic trip. But without the drugs. They are really cool. It’s a whole experience. Not just a static image.
“What’s the point?” says Hector.
“Money,” said Andy.
“Yes, money. But the tech behind it can root out forgeries because if you cannot connect your pdf to the blockchain it is a fake,” said Matt.
“Fake what? It’s right here in front of me,” said Hector.
“That’s what I’m sayin,” said Matt.
Andy had reached his limit of his Google search sound bites and succumbed to the most comfortable defence; “Fake news,” he said.
“Blockheads like him,” Matt motioned towards Andy, “Don’t have the mental bandwidth to grasp blockchain implications. De hecho hay un guey que me está ayudando con todo eso. Se puede ganar un chingo de dinero,” Matt confided in Hector about his investment.
Hector’s wife would pummell him and then divorce him if he were to risk their savings on a bored monkey.
He was impressed with how much Matt’s Spanish had improved. Matt just got back last week and was all tanned. He could tell Matt loved tossing around slang and swear words but it resonated as an empty cool. Plus his gringo accent made him sound like a congested substitute teacher.
“What the hell, why is Fields calling me?” said Andy looking at his phone and putting it on speaker.
“Ron, what’s up?”
“Kurdak is calling me wondering if you guys are coming today. What’s going on?” said the boss.
“Nothin. We’ll be there in like 20 minutes,” said Andy.
“Hey Ron this is Matt. First day of the season ya know. We had to find where everything was in the sea can,” said Matt.
“Where the fuck is Hector?” asked Fields.
“Right here boss,” said Hector.
“Ok good. Well, welcome back boys. And let’s get this Kurdak thing done and get outta there. He’s drivin me crazy,” said Fields.
“You got it,” said Andy.
“Should be maximum five days work,” Matt said smiling at the other guys as he leaned towards the phone on the dash.
“Five days!?” said Fields.
“Ya the ground is probably still frozen in parts at the side of the house. If we can wait a few weeks then it will probably only take three days,” said Matt trying to muscle Andy out of being team leader.
“I can’t wait any longer. I need this done. Go rent a jackhammer to break up the frozen shit,” said the boss.
“Ok,” said Andy, knowing that he would drop the guys and the tools at Kurdak’s place and spend half the morning going to get the jackhammer.
“Update me at the end of the day,” said Fields.
“Roger that,” said Andy feeling good about his position in the tug of war with Matt for the team lead.
“Hector bro, sounds like Fields is grooming you for upper management,” said Matt.
“Fields wouldn’t even recognize me if I ran him over with my car,” said Hector.
“You have a car?” said Andy looking across at Hector.
“Ya bro. Didn’t you see me all winter pull up in that blue Nissan?”
“What year is it?”
“2015. Runs pretty good. Got it off my cousin so I can pay it off by hangin drywall for him on weekends he said,” said Hector.
“Nice,” said Matt.
“Last week Fields told me Kurdak had called him like 5 times to confirm we were going to be there today because he wanted to ‘monitor our work’ is what Kurdak said,” said Andy.
“Kurdak. That’s the spooky guy that stands behind the curtains all day to watch us work?” said Hector.
“No. That’s Mrs Moosavi. She’s a whole nother kettle a fish,” said Andy.
“Do we have to go back there?” asked Hector.
“Nope. We finished her driveway in October I think,” said Andy.
“Don’t these people ever work!?” said Matt.
“Who knows,” said Hector.
“Man they come here with wads a dough and buy a passport,” said Andy, throwing around his sayings again.
“Not like Hector the Erector here who works for his money and pays his taxes,” said Matt.
“Hector the erector, is that your porn star name?” said Andy.
“Hey, there goes a Pyramid Landscaping truck. Those guys man, they work fast and dirty. They have the worst Yelp reviews,” said Matt.
“Those guys offered me a job in January,” said Andy.
“As what?” asked Matt, both jealous and curious.
“Territory Manager,” said Andy.
“Obviously you turned it down because here you are. What kind of money did they offer you?” asked Matt.
“More than what Fields pays,” said Andy
“So why didn’t you take it?” asked Hector.
“My wife sat me down and showed me the on-line reviews and she told me there must be a reason they are looking outside the company when they need a territory Manager,” said Andy.
“It must be a real shit show,” said Matt, convincing himself where he worked was alright and his feelings weren’t hurt that he didn’t get a job offer over the winter.
Shit show; Hector liked that saying. He was going to use that.
“Basically it’s sales and customer service,” said Andy. “Putting out fires and dealing with Kurdaks. I wanted the money, of course. To buy a house and stupidly chain myself to a mortgage for 30 years. But my wife told me I would have become exactly like my father. And we don’t want that for her or for me. So now I am stuck with looking at your sad faces everyday.”
“I know, I am getting these bags under my eyes,” said Matt checking out his tanned face in the mirror in the passenger sun visor.
“You sound like a woman,” said Andy.
“You look like a woman,” said Matt with an instant response.
“No seriously, you remind me of one of those women in her flowing dressing gown,” said Matt as they turned onto Kurdak’s street. “You know the 1960’s kind who sit at their boudoir with a cigarette and their Martini to put on their makeup to go out for dinner with their aloof husband,” Andy continued. “Their young daughter stares as her mother gets ready, ‘you are so pretty mommy,’ and mommy smiles to hide her sadness.”
Hector typed boodwar into google translate.
“It’s tocador guey,” Matt told Hector then to Andy he said,
“That’s a whole lot of Disney princesses you got going on in your head bro”.
“I’m an artist,” said Andy.
“You’re an idiot,” said Matt.
“Now Matthew quit teasing your sister,” said Hector in a scolding voice.
Matt turned toward Hector, “If you were a woman Hector, you would be …,”
“If Andy was a woman …,” interrupted Hector nervously.
“What are you talking about, Andy is a woman! I mean have you ever seen him take a piss? Me neither. You know why, cuz he’s gotta sit down,” said Matt.
“Now who’s got the rabid imagination?” said Andy to Matt as he put the truck in park.
Mr. Kurdak was waiting for them in his garage with the garage door up.
“Good morning Mr. Kurdak. How are we today?”
Also from the Short Story Series: Tool by Kevin McNamara is Jerry Rig