Creative Work: Short Story ‘Help Wanted’ Part 2, by Cais Jurgens

Creative WorksIn last week’s installment of Cais Jurgens‘ story ‘Help Wanted’ we found the protagonist, Fish, starting his new job at a gentleman’s club in Manhattan. We were immersed in a world of sensuous delights countered by the unglamorous reality that lies behind the scenes in such places. Cais’ work is richly textured, giving us both the glamour and flash as well as the alcoholism and despondency that pervades both sides of the bar. 

We return now to Fish and his upstream struggle to understand and belong.

Help Wanted, Part 2

By Cais Jurgens

Ja ja ja, drink it slow or you get no more. I tried my best and I took my time.  I picked up my pen and got to work.

A Degustation

How can you nurse like that
I drowned my own secret
Baby when you checked
The roast

I hoisted bitter sails
Wide mouthed
Courageous
Sunday measures

We know another on sight
Eyeing a polite bottle
Dreary longing
Eyes

How you cradle and warm it
Enjoying more the thought
Before you
Filling up floating
Dust

Your glass polished
A sundial
I’d rather see wasted than
Neglected

Knock it over
Rock it back
I’d hate to have to watch
You mop it up

Pablo was a time traveler.  He did so often and without hesitation.  I believe it was one of his only joys in life but I may be wrong.  For someone I spent up to eight hours with each day, I really knew very little about him.  What I did know was that his preferred time machine was made of Hennessy.  He’d get into his time machine sometime on Saturday evening and it would transport him to about three in the afternoon the following Tuesday.  It did this each week like clockwork.  Sometimes he would begin his time travel at work and then reappear again the following day, barely aware he’d ever been home.  He’d show up for work in low spirits but accepting of his personal hell.  Within a few minutes, out would come a stiff cup of coffee and the Baileys Irish Cream.  This would get him back to his higher function and a mindset capable of tolerating another 8-10 hours standing behind the bar.  I found Pablo to be amazing in this way.  He was living proof of the durability of the human body, a testament to what it can truly tolerate, at least in its general youth.  It’s true that he did look older than twenty-six but not a day over thirty.  

You have an order, Fish.  Off I went, food in hand.  A salmon roll, some French fries and a plate of lobster, a skirt steak, a tuna avocado roll and an order of miso soup.  It was an odd combination and therefore was going to a high roller with a couple of hungry ladies at his side.

The cashier pointed me in their direction.  The two girls were Russian.  They were tall, blonde, almost identical and spoke in a thick accent.  They flanked him on both sides at the bar in the club.  The man was middle aged, American, not a native New Yorker.  If you were in town on business you could request that the club print the name of a different restaurant on the receipt so that you could charge everything to your expense account without your company knowing you just spent several hundred dollars at a strip club.  I suspected that this was the scenario I was dealing with.

Can you bring me some ketchup? 

I brought you some ketchup, it’s right here.  I handed the man the plate of ketchup I’d prepared upstairs.

No, I need more.  It’s for the lobster.  

You want ketchup for the lobster?

Yes, please.  The lobster special that evening cost eighty dollars.  This man and his two escorts were going to cover it in generic brand ketchup.

Yes, sir.  That will be one hundred and forty-six dollars, please.  He looked at me in disbelief.  I handed him the bill, which he studied while the girls laid into their food.  Obviously this man was not aware that you shouldn’t give two exotic dancers free reign over the menu when you’re the one buying.  It was a lesson I’d seen many people learn the hard way. I saw one man escorted by two very large bouncers in black.  I over heard the cashier say that apparently he owed the house twenty-six grand.  Nobody ever saw him again.

We never saw a lot of people again, that was the nature of the business.   Our lives existed around alcohol and our livelihood because of it.  Anything and everything became an excuse to indulge heavily and it got to the point where Pablo and I drank to feel normal.  It was like coffee perking us up in the dead of night.  More than once I found myself waking up at east one hundred and fifth street in Brooklyn at five or six in the morning or maybe all the way down in the financial district.  I fell asleep on the train during my ride home many times.  It took the sanctity out of night and out of sleep for there’s nothing worse than heading home and hearing birds mock you at every turn.  I liked to imagine that morning commuters took pity on me but I didn’t mind, for you don’t really, truly know comfort until you can find happiness on a blow up mattress on a wooden floor in the center of Bushwick.   Continue reading

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Creative Work: Short Story ‘Help Wanted’ Part 1, by Cais Jurgens

Creative WorksEverybody’s had one of these jobs, where a new unknown world appears and you slowly get sucked in. Help Wanted is a portrayal of just that kind of workplace that comes with a language and culture of its own. The familiar sense of community in a foreign backdrop where you almost belong, but don’t quite feel a part of. Words, Pauses, Noises is proud to showcase this debut piece from one of our own, Cais Jurgens; part one of his short story.

Help Wanted

By Cais Jurgens

 They call bullshit an art form.  I’ve always found there to be a fine but noticeable line between art and dumb luck and my job at 1674 Broadway at the top end of Manhattan’s theatre district was a result of the latter.  I wish I could tell you I’d sauntered in, put on a show of flaming cocktails poured expertly into a chilled martini glass and was hired and highly paid but it didn’t exactly happen that way.

The reality is that I was on the verge of giving up on that unseasonably warm November evening.  I was salivating at the oddly satisfying thought of ending my job search for the day and heading back to a friend’s couch in Brooklyn to hose down my empty stomach with what would be the first of several beers that night.  Instead, I pressed uptown with my rejected resume, watched the sun dip a little lower into New Jersey with every city block and eventually wandered into the swankiest Sushi joint I’d ever seen.

It was beautiful as well as classy.  Floating globes lit the room and in a warm essence that mingled with the lingering scent of skirt steak and hot oshibori towels.

I was nervous yet beaming dumbly from ear to ear and hired on the spot just for showing up it seemed.  Bar-back.  I was satisfied with the title.  My other title came to be White Boy, as I was the only person featuring both white skin and male genitalia employed at the establishment.  Continue reading

Interview: Performance Poetry with Alison Hill

InterviewsLast week we introduced you guys to the upcoming poetry and music event in Kingston known as Rhythm & Muse.  This week, we had a chat with the event’s creator, poet Alison Hill.  Alison was kind enough to share some of her thoughts with us about her work, her passion for local art and what it means to see it performed live right here in our community. 

by Stephanie Dotto and Cais Jurgens

S: So, Alison, tell us a little bit about some of your work as a poet.  Do you have anything new coming out?

A: Well, I’ve been writing since about the mid-90s, submitting to magazines and anthologies and have been published in quite a wide selection of magazines.  Some of my work has been translated into Romanian and German via poetry pf.   I also have some poems in a forthcoming anthology, Poets in Person, edited by Aprilia Zank which features twenty established poets. It’s a follow up to a reading event at The Glassblower pub last year. My new full collection, Slate Rising, is coming out in April with Indigo Dreams Publishing.

S: Who are your favourite poets?  Are there any particular movements of poetry that have inspired your writing?

A: Well Eliot and Yeats have always sort of been with me and I read lots of contemporary women poets.

C: Are most of the poets that you read self-published?

A: Well, not really, no.  But lots of the guest readers that come to Rhythm & Muse come to promote new collections, so I read their work as well.  Anthologies are great for discovering new poets. Continue reading