CHAPTER TWENTY FOUR
“Always keep your eyes open;
Treasures can be found in the least likely hiding places!”
When I made the decision to go back to University, as you may recall, my criteria had little to do with future job prospects. I decided to go back to school because I knew that I needed to do something which would introduce other people into my life. It had been more than successful in that regards. I chose to study art because I had some interest in the subject, and had some talent in the subject. However it had never really occurred to me that art could be a career. Don’t people only make money off art four hundred years after they have cut off their ears, gone insane and killed themselves while drunk on Absinth, on some crazy night just after completing their new masterpiece, which is a self portrait of themselves nude if they were actually a women? That wasn’t the sort of career I had in mind. I had never really thought beyond the fact I’d be on unemployment benefits, they would eventually get me a job, I’d eventually embarrass myself and be fired, then I’d have unemployment benefits, they’d give me a new job, which I’d fuck up and be fired, then I’d have unemployment benefits and so on and so on. Wasn’t really what I wanted to do with my life, but hey I’m still me, what the hell else was I going to do.
So it came of a bit of a surprise when ‘teacherman’ called me up one night, and said “I think I might have found you a job!”
“Really…..I didn’t even know teachers found students jobs….I mean I thought they were supposed to teach you so that you could get your own job….not that you have done a poor job in teaching me….just that….um………..what kind of job?” I replied
“Well the thing is I had a call from a friend of mine who works for EMK Productions, you know the guys who bring out all those amazing animated movies….like the one last year about the space alien who is accidentally left behind in the Amazon, and befriends the family of monkeys and they don’t know that he is from another planet, and ….oh well you know, it was great wasn’t it?”
“Well anyway he called me up and told me that EMK are going to branch out to television. They are developing a whole range of new cartoons, which they are going to put on a cable channel…you know a whole channel for cartoons…..so he calls me up and says that they are obviously looking for new staff to work in this new division, and especially animators….so he asks if I want to join the team…and I say no, I mean it sounds bloody fantastic, but I’m a teacher…I love to teach, I couldn’t give that up….so I say to him how about one of my students…and he says “Well are any of your students good enough?”…and I say “You know I have this one student, he wrote a whole first edition of a comic book for a class and it was really, really good”, so he says “You mean the writing of the book was good, or the drawings?” and I say “Both”, and he says “can I have a look at this?”, so I say “Sure” and I sent him a copy of Explosion Man, I hope you don’t mind, and I sent a few of the other drawings you have done for me, and I got a call back today from him saying “This kid is great, can you send him in for an interview”, and I say “sure, well I’ll have to call him to see what he thinks”, which is what I’m doing right now….making the call I mean….to you”
“Fuck” I responded “Oh sorry I didn’t mean to swear”
“Don’t worry about it man….fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck….sorry…I’m just so excited for you…so I assume you’re as keen as superman is strong?”
“Of course…..that’s just amazing….I had never even thought of such a thing”
So as it turned out, two days later I skipped school to go to a job interview in the city. You may have heard before that I don’t like job interviews. In fact I would say I am quite crap at them. I am about as good at them as superman is good at losing arm wrestles with six year old girls. This was not an interview I wanted to screw up though. So I called in my super hero - Hannah, and asked once again for her to save me.
Hannah told me that first impressions would be very important, so I would have to dress up. Despite the fact she had chosen several outfits which I looked good in, none of these apparently would make a good first impression for a job interview with a major production company. I needed a suit.
So Hannah again took me to a second hand clothes shop, a different one from the time before, and again she managed to sort through racks and racks of crap and find some good stuff. She found me a dark grey suit with a light pin strip, and a white shirt and black shoes. And amazingly I looked dashing in it, or has Hannah put it “As handsome as a penguin in a tuxedo”, which I didn’t think made any sense, so she thought again and said “so good, that I’d rip your clothes off and do you right here, if that didn’t mean you were no longer wearing the suit”. That was enough for me, so I bought it.
Hannah then oh so sweetly spent the next twenty four hours showering me with more compliments than a supermodel demands from a photographer. “You’re hot”, “You have such a nice voice”, “Your drawings are so good”, “You’re the most creative person I’ve ever met”. It got to the point that by the time I was on my way to the interview I actually had begun to believe some of it. I felt good, and confident, and in control. Until I got to the building.
The building was a gigantic sky scrapper, one of the ones that you could see from the hotel where I met Lisa, and EMK’s reception was on the seventy second floor. As I walked though the lobby, looking dashing as I’d mentioned, I gradually became less and less confident, and more and more sweaty, and my heart rate got faster and faster, and my confidence fell off a precipice and was free falling towards a pile of jagged rocks on the ground below me. I got into the biggest lift I had ever been in, which had television screens on each wall showing a news channel, and in the lift with me were four men in suits. They all looked so much older and so much more mature and important than me. As we climbed the levels, so fast that the blood in your head drained to your feet and you felt like fainting, well I did, might have been the nerves too; people began to get off and others began to get in, each one looking about a million times more capable than I had ever been, at anything.
On each stop I was faced with a reception desk, often with a cute girl sitting behind it, with those ear piece things that important people wear, so that they don’t have to pick up the phone to answer it. It looked so daunting to have to walk into one of those reception areas, watched as you come in, and have to explain who you are.
After about four or five stops we were only on the forty eighth floor and I was beginning to think it might take quite a while to get to my floor. But then in one big whoosh we flew up and the doors opened to a reception area with two girls behind it and big letters EMK behind. My floor.
I stumbled out, feeling light headed from the lift, and said “I’m Jason Domey….here t t t o s s s ee Shannon Michaels”. “Great, that’s all I need - to suddenly develop a stutter?” I thought to myself. I was told to take a seat and wait. It didn’t take long. I had assumed that Shannon Michaels was a man, sounds like a mans name to me, but it turned out to be a women. She was about forty and dressed like a twenty year old, in jeans and a t-shirt, and had a really friendly face.
“Hi, Jason, I’m really glad you could come in” She said as I rose to shake her hand.
“Thanks for asking me” I replied. I was happy with this response, I sometimes really screw up first comments in situations like this, I’d say something like “Why, didn’t you think I would come” and suddenly think about nothing else except what a stupid comment it was I’d just made, until I had basically missed the next three things the person had said to me, then panic about that, then fall in a crumpled heap. ‘Thanks for asking me’, wasn’t brilliant, but it wasn’t bad, I suddenly felt relaxed.
She took me into this board room with the best view I had ever seen in my life, it looked like you could see the whole world from up there, it was a clear day and the city looked incredible, so vast and so peaceful from so high up.
“Great view isn’t it” ..Shannon.. said, she must have seen my jaw resting on my shoes, and my eye balls squashed up against the window
“Just awesome” I replied
“Well you’ll get to see it everyday pretty soon”
“I’ll get to, not I might get to, not if I we offer you something you will get to, just you’ll get to, that sounds good” I thought to myself
“So sit down”
“Your not quite what I was expecting, Jason”
“How so? I asked “How fucking so?” I thought
“I don’t know, your more handsome than I was expecting, better dressed…I was expecting your stereotypical comic book nerd….I guess that’s what I get for having stereotypes…its not like that’s what most people in here look like”
“Thanks” I replied
“This is going fucking great” I thought
“So tell me about yourself Jason”
“Um well ok….well…..my name is Jason, some people call me JayJay…um…I’m 21”
“No, no, I mean tell me about you…what do you like to do?” she interrupted me with
“I don’t know….I guess I spend most of my free time either with school, or hanging out with my friend Hannah, or working on my comic book”
“You mean Explosion Man? Well yes I have read your first edition, it’s really good”
“And you still work on it a lot?”
“Yeah…all the time…I’ve done three editions now”
She seemed to like this answer because she just smiled warmly for a good twenty seconds and then said “I’d love to read those one day”
“I’m sure that can be arranged”
“Quick” She tossed me a pad and a pencil “draw me Desert Fire running”
“Oh no – a test” I thought....
“Ok” I said, before spending about two minutes drawing a pretty rough version of Desert Fire with my hand shaking like I had recently picked up a nasty bout of Parkinson’s disease, and handed it over to her
“Remarkable, you’re very talented JayJay”
“Well I don’t know what John told you about the position we’re offering you yet, but it will be a semi-fulltime, five days a week, but you’ll have some afternoons off so you can still study, you’ll be working on drawing for a new cartoon we are producing, its called “The reluctant hero”, its about a horribly shy high school nerd who has discovered he has super powers but is too shy to use them so far, I think you’ll like it……you’ll mostly be doing drawings, but you’ll also have the opportunity to offer some creative input….um….what else….oh you’ll be starting on $40,000 a year, but that has lots of potential to move, as you become more accustomed to the work….so how does that all sound?”
“So you’re actually offering me this….its not a maybe still?”
“No this is the actual offer….you’re very good JayJay, we want people like you working here”
“That sounds fantastic then” I said
“That sounds fucking absolutely fucking unbelievably fantastic” I thought to myself
“So can you start on Monday, um not next Monday, but the Monday after, the first of the month?”
“That’s great….one more thing, you don’t have to wear suits in here…we just wear whatever we want…….oh just one more thing, here is a sheet for you” she handed me a form “you can fill this out anytime before you start, but can you just make sure you drop it off by say….the twenty eighth….it just asks what kind of snacks you like, and what you like to drink….see every desk has a bar fridge and we fill it up with whatever you want at the start of the month…don’t worry you can change it every month…we like to keep our employees happy around here….you’ll find out some other cool stuff once you start”
“That’s…..that’s bloody great”
She smiled “Yeah most people like that”
We said our goodbyes and see you soons, and I caught the lift and walked out of the building feeling the happiest I had in my entire life, can you believe that? Happy! From being offered a job, but what a brilliant job!, I felt happier than if the government had made a new law requiring all attractive girls to be naked at all times, I felt happier than if I ran into a homeless man and discovered it to be Julian or Christian, or one of the other assholes from my school, I felt happier than if I had won the lottery, I felt happier than if the girl of my dreams suddenly knocked on my door and said she was in love with me, I felt on top of the world, it was just down right incredible.
I was so excited when Hannah knocked on my door that night, coming around to see how it all went, even though I was naked at the time, and had to quickly get dressed, she always had a way of knocking on my door while I was in the middle of something. Well ok, I guess I should be honest with you, I mean you know most of my dirty secrets by now, I guess this isn’t the time to start lying, it didn’t seem important, but the truth is I wasn’t getting dressed, I was lying on bed naked, you know with a magazine open in front of me, it was an exciting day, why not spread my excitement all over my body? Anyway Hannah was knocking on the door, and I had to rush to get dressed. Only thing was when I finally opened the door, trying to stand in a way to hide my only semi-disappearing erection, it wasn’t Hannah standing there. It was Ellie.