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James.Poniewozik

The Monitor

Madonna we can do. Madonna we do regular. Her too. Her, you have to give me a week or so. Well, she's a difficult phenotype. No, phe-no-type. A difficult body. Well, I did say that. Eight hundred. This is a quality service. You think you can find it elsewhere, be my guest. No problem. OK, so you talk to your friend, think about what you want, and you give me a call. Oh, we can handle it. Can you? Mm-mhm. Bbye! Come on in, you're, just a second, Mr. Sachs and Mr. Olson? Zoe, take these gentlemen's coats?

It's OK, I think I can just put it over on the.

The coat, Marty, you're embarrassing me. Give the lady your coat.

You'll get it back in one piece. Cross, my, heart.

My young friend's a little shy.

Just it's a little chilly, all right, all right.

Here, for you, miss. You'll excuse him. Only carries a roll of hundreds.

So I see. Drink?

Scotch rocks. Two scotch rocks. Go, have a seat. Marty. It's lea-thuh. Thank you, dear. Gah, that feels good. Sorry, you prefer yours neat?

They don't look like pros.

Speak up, Marty, they know what they are.

It's just, ahm, it's just, you know, it doesn't look like a. The building even. You wouldn't think you'd find one down here is my point. So near the office.

What, you think I'm going to drive you down Times Square? You and me and Joey from Great Neck cruising some walking petri dish? Cheap stuff, Marty, garish. Think it's coincidence you find that near the theater district? Caters to the same sensibility. What you got there is the Cats of the skin trade. Greasepaint and discount tickets, am I right, Mariel?

MID-night, not a sound from the PAVE-ment, has the moon lost her MEM-ree . . .

Whereas your gentleman of taste, he goes as it were off-Broadway.

CAN'T forget, WON'T regret, what I did, wait, CAN'T regret, WON'T forget, what I did . . . fahhh . . . anyway. You were waiting for?

Sit over here, Mar. Josh Sachs, I made the appointment? My boy here's getting married.

Married, you don't say? He's too young! You must be so excited, sweetie, where's it happening?

Ahm.

The blessed event.

Oh, we're, it's next Saturday up in Rhode Island.

Up in Rhode Island, he says, let me translate, Mariel. Up in Newport, specifically at the J. David Gobel summer estate, he means in full. Oh, yes. Our happy little Marty is marrying himself two symphony orchestras, a few buildings at NYU, and half an art museum. Plus assorted communications and entertainment concerns.

What a perfect time of year. I go up every year for the folk festival. Wait, don't move. I've got something for you, for the groom. There we go. You take it, it's my gift.

A rock?

It's hematite. For potency. Traditional. So for the honeymoon?

Asia. Bali, Thailand, China.

Well don't you try coming back here without bringing me a souvenir. So. For the bridegroom here you requested the

Stumm. It's still a surprise.

Right. So it's seventeen five oh up front.

'S on me. We took up a collection. Charity case.

Fuck you, Josh.

I'll decide who fucks who around here, son!

I'll need to give you the rundown, since this is Mr. Olson's first time here.

He knows the shtick.

Anyway. Substances OK, but no selling; no property damage, no personal inquiries, no physicality, no photography or cameras, we'll videotape for one-fifty per, Polaroids for twenty-five. Unprotected you can work out with the young lady in advance, but we discourage and we stress in advance. All backgrounding and necessary prior information strictly your responsibility, not liable for omissions on your part. Now. Anyone carrying?

Hah! Sorry, that tickled.

He's clean, Mar. Mine you gotta find, though. You're cold. Freezing. Lit-tle warmer. Lit-tle warmer. Cool, oh you're warmer, you're hot, oh, hose me down you're hot, you're burning, yeah, damn! you're good, sure you were never a cop?

Jesus, Josh, that's yours?

You surprised? And here I didn't know what to pick up for your wedding present. Still time to put it on the registry. You want to be ready for Colin Ferguson when he comes to check your ticket.

Your friend here thinks he's Clint Eastwood, Marty. I knew where it was the whole time. Bang, bang.

Bullshit.

Bullshit. And so does Colin Ferguson, cutie. Now I'm going to put this away safe for you and see how everything is upstairs.

We could have just gone to a regular.

What, don't worry about the spiel, it's just procedure. See Mariel, you scared the boy! Strictly Disneyland here, Marty. Enjoy the ride, keep your hands inside the car only if you act up they get serious. It's just some guys, they come here with an agenda.

So you're doing Monica.

So I'm doing Monica. Quiet little Monica. Sweet little Monica. Doesn't know how good she's getting it.

My mom had a lamp like this one in the living room.

That so? I'd like to meet your mom someday.

Oh, fuck you.

Yes sir, Mr. Gobel.

It's not like I haven't been to a place like this before.

College?

It was a friend of mine, he read Kerouac and Henry Miller and stuff, if you're familiar. The idea was all these artists and writers went to whores and got laid all the time on top of it. That girls, you know, they could sense something about you. Which for me anyway worked. We went to one in Roxbury.

Where let me guess they sent you to a fleshy professional old enough to be your mother, but patient and experienced. Did she lovingly relieve you of your cherry, Marty? Did she draw you sweetly into her big mammy bosom

Gave me a handful of Kleenex and checked her watch. Had to meet her quota or whatever. Had a freaking egg timer.

Why they call it piece work.

She was skinny actually. But old, yeah. Rodge and Howard say they'll meet us up at Sidecars later?

And Rollins, they ever unchain him. He's heavy into the AuroraPharm thing. Between you and me, I think he's sinking. Between you and me, call the Coast Guard and alert the next of kin.

Tappan coming?

Pfft.

What do you think is the deal with Tappan?

Ay Eye Dee Ess. Undoubtedly.

No way.

You want to know how I know? Washes his hands. Constantly. Mornings when he comes in, after a meeting, before lunch, after lunch. Few times in between. Infection, you see. Subway poles and so forth. Fortunate to be a young man in your position, Marty. The Lord deciding to remove so much of your competition and all.

Mm. I've got an uncle who says that. The God part.

Maybe God wants us all to be lesbians.

Mr. Sachs? We're ready in 5B. If you'll go with Desiree.

I'll see you shortly, Marty. Longly as the case may be.

Wait a minute, the black chick? Excuse me, but that doesn't Josh, she doesn't look a damn thing like Monica.

She's an escort. Escorts you up to the.

To the actual?

To the actual. So I'll see you down here? OK, so enjoy. Tell them to get you another drink. Mariel, my boy wants a drink.

Scotch rocks?

Sure.

Scootch over, sweetie, and you can tell us all about the big plans. I love weddings.

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It's unlocked. I'll leave you now, you can go on in or if you need a couple minutes to get into character, that's fine, too. Bbye.

Ah. Hello?

Sit down, Olson. At my desk. I'll be with you in a minute.

Anywhere? Do you need me to

Now then. There you are. I said sit down, this is going to take a while. Don't slouch, Olson, you look like a goddamn teenager.

Wait a minute, you're

I have a lunch meeting with Daniels and Patel, so maybe we could quickly go over the briefs if you're prepared? The briefs, oh for Christ's sake, no, don't tell me, you didn't, hsssssss, OK. It's just as well, look I'll be honest with you, that isn't entirely why I called you in here. It's.

Excuse me.

It's about your performance, Olson. It's about, to be precise, what you're bringing into this office. I mean besides a certain dumb-jock charm and a profitable marriage, if you can think of something? Maybe you could tell me, because frankly I'm not seeing it here. Frankly none of us are.

Excuse me, but isn't there supposed to be a goddamn bed in here?

Ah. So about your, ah, performance review.

I'm a little mixed up here, I think.

I think we should start over. It's OK, honey, you're nervous. You don't do this every day. Remember this is improv, you can say whatever you like, we'll take it from there. Everything's taken care of, you get what you want in the end. So I'll go back in the bathroom and we'll start it again. And, ah, you might want to help yourself to a little treat there? From the bowl, by the door? As in we like to keep things safe here, kiss kiss?

I, yeah. I'm sorry. You know you do look just like her.

I hope not! Kidding, it's my job. So lights, camera?

Yeah, lights.

Sit down, Olson. At my desk. I'll be with you in a minute. Now then don't slouch, Olson. You look like a goddamned teenager.

Sorry.

I've got a lunch meeting with Randall and Patel, so I thought we could go over the materials, if you'll? Olson?

Uh, I don't actually have them on me.

Oh for Christ's, hsssss, no don't bother getting them, Olson, that's not actually why I've called you in here. It's about your performance here. In so many words, it's about what you're bringing to this firm. Because frankly we're not seeing it, Olson? Olson, what the hell are you doing?

I'm sorry, Jesus! I thought it was the cue to take, shouldn't I be taking my clothes off? I mean otherwise you could let a guy know when.

OK, let's, just a second. The idea as I was told is you're supposed to be in the aggressor role.

In the?

In the aggress, oh wait a sec. I'm guessing you weren't prepared here. By any chance this was a surprise?

Ah, birthday present.

We see that happen. A more complicated role-play, it's really better if the person knows.

Knows?

The idea is that it's a role reversal, like, you're the boss? This Helen Chambers, I'm guessing she's some kind of boss, some kind of supervisor of yours? Or whatever they call it there?

She's both of ours, mine and Josh Sacks, he brought me here? He's been telling me about this place for months. I guess you've seen him before.

A few times. Not in that way.

No, I guess it's the same girl. He's with her now. Every time he comes in, he fucks Monica, girl at the office.

Receptionist?

Legal assistant. Incredibly smart, Dartmouth. Twenty-two years old and she's already married pretty, but the thing is, early on, she let Josh know in no uncertain terms, you know. He's showed me a picture, picture of the Monica here, I mean damn, you guys here it's really a great likeness.

Doesn't it creep you out, I mean, aren't you and Monica?

Huh?

In the scenario, the prep materials, you've been having a thing with Monica? I guess he just wrote that in. One point I'm supposed to grab your balls and ask does Monica ever do this for you?

No, we really Marcia. He probably wrote Marcia. Or he meant to write Marcia and it was you know a what do you call it. She, Marcia, well, she's actually my fianc e.

Don't worry. I wasn't expecting a ring. So maybe you want to try again?

Maybe I shouldn't.

This is what you call a highly subjective situation. You do what feels right. You want to change the game, too, we can change it. We can even do a regular. Or nothing.

Thanks. What I said before about you looking like her, like Chambers, I was talking the hair and makeup, not, you know, the body.

I know.

How does it compare here, working here? I mean not like I know whether you've done a lot, but.

Monetarily, the money is excellent. Physically, there's far less work. Do you know everyone asks me that? Like they're going to open a franchise. But really. I mean it's skilled. Skilled pays. While you can do it, skilled pays.

So you've got something going outside, I mean, you could be an actress or something?

Or something.

No personal, right? That's OK. I I've got this wedding coming up, you know? And, like, well, you're supposed to feel this way before a wedding, right? It's kind of a big deal. They're hiring a chamber orchestra. They're hiring a, like a juggler. I don't know why I'm saying all this.

I think maybe you should relax. Maybe you should have your personal review.

I think, yeah.

So you picked yourself out a? No don't worry, I'll get it. Pick your color?

Gr, ah, blue.

Yellow. Catch. Blue makes it look diseased. Don't you think? So you can stand . . .

. . . over by the.

Sit down, Olson, I'll be with you in a minute. At my desk. So if you'll, I said sit, Olson, this is going to take a while.

I think I'd rather stand.

I don't have time for this. Sit, stand, did you bring in the Simmons and Patel file? I've got a lunch meeting, get off the desk, Olson.

You don't want me off the desk. You've been watching me ever since I started here.

I, I don't know what you're talking about.

The, like that time, in the new-business conference last week? And you made that comment, that dumb-jock comment? Except maybe you need a little dumb jock. You're always, you're always going around, you know, so tense. Maybe you need a little relaxer?

Olson, I

Mr. Olson.

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Jesus.

You done, sweetie?

Mhn.

That usually does the job.

That was really weird. Oof, sorry.

If you'll just roll, a little, there. Yeah. So listen if you want to unwind a little, I've got a while yet. Smoke? No, it's on the house, it's good, really.

No, I should probably just. It's going to be a long night.

You mind if I?

OK, I'll, just a hit. Pff. It's a nice desk, somebody have to move it in?

It's a set, the room. Like we have another one with a sink, so it can be a kitchen or maybe a doctor's office, depending? Pff. We've got a dentist's chair. And of course for a consideration we'll go on location, that makes some things easier. The rest are normal rooms, which a bed's a bed, whether you're with Sharon Stone or, like, your sister-in-law. But you tell them it's a hotel room, that's the key, then it's exotic. Then plus makeup, plus costume. It's never exact, look close here, see the eye pencil? Up close you can see that. But, I'm doing my job, then up close you got your mind on other things. Generally you give people a few key details and they'll create the illusion themselves.

Pff. Sorry, I guess I killed it.

One dead soldier. I'm not supposed to do this, but take a card. Tuesdays and Thursdays, at Fumer. My stage name's Amy New York.

So I can use your bathroom, before I?

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Hail to the conquering hero, we were about to send a search party.

Sex machine! Glad you could make it!

Fuck you take off on me for, Josh? Hey Rodge, Howard, hey, Zee.

Hey, M. Sex machine, know what I mean?

You're a working man, you can afford a cab. We wanted to get things ready. And you know I didn't want to disturb your whatever, afterglow. Order yourself a drink, you know you have to call ahead two weeks for a private room here?

Helen Chambers, Josh? You're one sick fuck.

Nothing but the best. But seriously, I mean, they treat you right there, am I right? Cadillac ride, no?

Yeah, I had a good time.

M, seriously, Helen Chambers? Josh told us. M, man, I've never had a personal hero, but you're it.

I mean it's not like it was the actual.

Sit down, M, we were worried you'd miss the main event.

Don't tell me, you guys got a stripper.

Not in so many words.

You might want to watch the monitor, Marty.

The idea as I was told is you're supposed to be in the aggressor role.

In the?

In the aggress, oh wait a sec.

Oh, fucking, Josh, they taped it? But they can't, but I never said!

Your typical whorehouse isn't greatly concerned with the fine points of constitutionality. Surprising as that may be.

Rodge, I think we saw the, maybe you could fast-forward through some of this? Just through the yeah! Ba-da-boom ba-da-bing! Marty, next time give us a signal! Hey, watch this

I'm out of here.

Come on, sit, Marty, it's a joke, I'm up next. You know, you show me yours et cetera. Rodge, don't be an asshole, just let it play. Quit screwing with it.

Gah!

Does Monica ever do that for you?

Jesus.

Mm, I didn't think so.

Jesus.

Jesus!

Jesus Mary Joseph!

Turn it off, Josh.

You might want to try and pick up a little tan there in Bali, Marty, they've got those what do you call those all-around beaches.

Screw you, Howard. Josh, please.

You done, sweetie?

Mhn.

That usually does the job.

In a sec, in a sec, Marty. We've just got the denouement here. Be a sport, you went to a boys' school.

You're giving me the tape.

Anything's negotiable. But I mean we wouldn't want this to end up as landfill somewhere. We've got to consider its audience. You've got Marcia on the one hand and Chambers on the other, I'm thinking maybe we could arrange some sort of screening. Kidding, Marty, so what's taking you so long up there, you grab a shower?

Everything spic and span?

Everything, yeah, you found my tie, thanks.

So you need to go meet your friends now? Good luck on the big day, good luck with, ah, Monica.

Marcia. Hey, you know, the what I said about the Monica thing, it wasn't exactly true. From the office? It was just one time, we were working late, we had a drink. She I mean, she felt bad about it. After. But Josh doesn't know, as far as I know.

Maybe he's a little jealous.

Maybe he's, you know, in bed. I guess you're all not supposed to talk about that, either?

Ouch!

Hey, Josh, I'm

Forget about it, Marty.

And et cetera, et cetera, we're past the good part here, I think, the star rises, puts on his jacket, good day, madam, pleasure to do you

come back and see me again some time

and he exits. And curtain.

Monica, M? Shit, Monica? Forget what I said about hero. You are my personal god.

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I'm going to be dead tomorrow. I'm going to be so dead.

Worse, you'll live. It's OK, we'll find you a cab in a sec, Ahmed'll take you home, you'll wake up in your own filth ready to take on the world. Have some fresh-squeezed and a couple aspirin, you have a juicer, Marty? You really ought to get into juices.

I'm, I'm going to actually yak now.

Just hold OK, around the side, by the dumpster, if you, Christ! Aim for the wall then. Attaboy.

Cak.

Let it all out, the rain'll take care of it, don't worry.

Cak.

Here you go. Wipe.

Thanks.

Toss it. Emily buys me a half dozen of them a week, it's some personal project of hers or something.

Josh. I fucking hate scotch.

You love it, baby, you just don't know it yet. That's a punch line, I'll tell you the joke someday you're older.

I'm supposed to go to fucking brunch. Taxi! Shit.

So. You cut me down in front of a whore, Marty. That's priceless.

What I was saying on the tape, that was just me talking shit. About Monica? You know that?

You can't even lie sober, Marty, don't try it now. What, you think you bruised my feelings? You must think I'm one pathetic fuck. Like you need to be shielding me from the truth? Pff. Shielding me.

Josh, come on, you know I never.

Drop it. You've got nothing to be sorry for. Tell you the truth I'm glad to hear it, actually.

So you're not mad?

Mad, get over here, am I mad? What you said, it restores my faith in humanity. That nobody's above it. The sheer fuckability of people, Marty. Takes your breath away.

Maybe we should move down the block.

"Celia, Celia, Celia shits."

Who?

Come on, we'll try around Duane Street. But listen. You wouldn't mind, would you, if I were say to share this bit of information with Monica? It might add to my already considerable powers of charm and persuasion.

Give me a break.

I'm asking. If it were implied, I mean, that certain information might ultimately spread further, if you were to back me up, OK, you're in no condition, we'll talk later.

I don't get it, Josh. She's not even that, I mean, what do you care about her?

You of all people on your wedding eve. Maybe it's love, Marty, don't laugh. Taxi!

Hey, you're good.

The best. This one's yours.

You, you've got your, gotta get a train.

I can be late. Emily she's ceded me certain prerogatives in our relationship.

So you going to give me the tape?

Oh, the, oh good, so you remember. Pretty good clarity of mind, or was this all your I'm-not-so-think-as-you-drunk-I-am act?

Excuse me, you're getting in, sir?

A minute, a minute. Go ahead, start the meter. You're going to the Upper East Side.

Meter she runs too slow if I'm parked.

Christ, here take it, half an hour's worth, listen to the radio. Marty, I think I need to hang on to the tape. I'm inclined to think you're going to do something foolish.

Fucking, Josh, I want to go home already.

Fine, fine, you got it. Here, hold the umbrella.

Thanks.

One thing, though. That's not your tape. It's mine.

I don't want your tape.

Course you do. Keeps me honest. Our present sexual climate that tape puts me on Court TV with my jacket over my face, Monica retires on five million of the firm's money. You watched it, you know it's not blank. You've got the tape, means I'm not planning anything funny here. Means we're new best friends. Trust me for once. Some point you're ready to trade back, you let me know.

Trade me now.

Marty, I'm just not going to do that. You want to call me an asshole today, that's fine, come on, get in. Someday soon you're gonna be in that office. She's gonna be dicking you around about new accounts this and billable hours that and you're going to eat her shit and ask for seconds. On the outside. But on the inside you're going to think, I did you. Because you know you've got her, right here. Confidence, Marty. You wait. Then you tell me I'm an asshole.

You're an asshole, Josh.

Certifiable. 'Joy your brunch.

75th between Madison and Lex. How do I know you won't make a copy?

Friends forever, get some rest. Go on, sahib. Drive.

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