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Sunday, June 29, 2008

PINCIO AND HOOCH

It was revolutionary. But was this how revolutions happened? Saul asked himself this now, every three seconds or so. The idea had seeped out at the very bottom of a board meeting, an added piece of other business, and as such passed and seconded without a moment's thought. Every pair of eyes was on the clock, which had ticked well past the usual time most people put up with a Friday before springing out into the unfathomable possibilities of a weekend. Beer? said someone, and they all agreed. It was only on Saturday afternoon, as Saul's brain blithely received a game of televised football, that the thought drifted through his head. What was it we actually agreed to?

A few calls to those present at the board meeting confirmed nothing new. Something about a special promotion? Maybe a strategic push into a new market? Saul spent Saturday night in a club, letting thumping music and bad bourbon do battle with anything his head tried to tell him, so that it was Sunday night before his hangover had subsided, and with it any worries about work.

It was a surprise then, as he walked up to the front doors on Monday morning, to see three men in overalls waiting, it seemed, to meet him.

"You Saul?" said one.

"Yeah." Saul was naturally suspicious of anything unusual, especially if it occurred before he'd had his morning coffee.

Another of the men stepped forward. "We're here about the signage."

Saul scratched an itchy patch on his cheek. "Listen," he said, pointing upwards. "I've been through all this with the council. We've had those billboards up since before the new zoning legislation came through, so there's no way I'm taking them down."

The men looked nonplussed.

Saul craved his coffee. His body expected to have access to it by this time on a Monday morning. It would not tolerate council workers standing in its way. "You can take it up with my lawyer," said Saul. "These billboards are part of my business. People expect to see movie stars above Saul Pincio's cinema. It's tradition."

"We're not here to take anything down, chief," said one of the men. "We're putting up the new signage." He jerked his thumb back over his shoulder, and Saul saw a ute parked across the street, giant rolls of paper and rollers sticking out of its tray like breadsticks.

"What new signage?" Saul was careful to keep his tone static, avoid any sense of hostility that might come between him and a carefully poured espresso.

One of the three men took off his sweat-tinged cap and pushed a hand through his hair. "Alls I know mate is that someone from here rang us late on Friday arvo and paid extra to get us here Monday morning."

"Can I ask who that was?" Saul grimaced.

"Mate," said another of the men, "We just put up the signs."

Saul's head began to ache. "Wait here," he told the men.

"It's your time, chief," said one of them.

Saul unlocked the front door and raced down to his office. Katie, the snack counter girl, however, intercepted him. She held up her hands like a traffic warden. She was smiling, and in that moment Saul already knew what she was going to say.

"Thank you again," she said. Her hands changed from traffic warden to Busby Berkley in the blink of an eye.

"Thank me for what?" said Saul tiredly. He would never drink another coffee, he was sure of it.

"For agreeing to my idea!"

"Ah."

"I just never thought I'd be a board member—" Katie's hands were now award acceptance hands, "—let alone one who could contribute so fruitfully."

Fragments of the board meeting glinted forebodingly at the edges of Saul's brain. "It was a special promotion," he ventured, "wasn't it."

"Of course it was," said Katie. "That's why I ordered the banners."

"Oh shit." All the colour drained from Saul's face.

"What's wrong?"

"Your idea. It was bring something ... to the movies ... day."

"Bring Your Dog to the Movies Day!" squealed Katie. "I couldn't believe everyone agreed to it! It was just one of those thoughts that just came to me, you know? It's going to be so cool."

"So those guys outside," said Saul, "they're putting up a banner to this effect?"

"To what effect?"

"To the effect that we will be having a Bring Your Dog to the Movies Day."

"Oh, yeah, right. Yeah, it's going to be great. The banner will go across all those old billboards with Mel Gibson and Eddie Murphy on them. It's going to make this place look so fresh."

Saul said nothing. Just turned on his heel and headed to the nearest theatre, to sit for a while, to think.

3 comments:

LiteraryMinded said...

They'll have to track down a special print of Milo & Otis, or perhaps Beethoven.

Christopher Currie said...

I thought it was self-evident, through the narrative, that they would use the criminally underrated Chuck Norris cop-dog-buddy-comedy vehicle "Top Dog".

Paul Underwood said...

Quality, love it.