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“John, it’s me.”

“Who’s this?”
“John.”
“Who is this?”
“John I’m calling you.”
“Is this Ben?”
“I’m sorry.”
“You’re sorry? For what?”
“Tell Pete I’m sorry too. Will you? Will you do that for me?”
“What are you doing?”
“I’m apologizing.”
“You don’t have to apologize to me.”
“I would apologize to everyone if I could.”
“Even to my wife?”
“Yes.”
“And my children?”
“Yes.”
“You’re on speaker phone.”
“Hello.”
“Everyone’s here.”
“I was just telling John how sorry I was for what happened.”
“What happened?”
“Who’s this?”
“It’s Frank.”
“Frank, I’m sorry.”
“What for?”
“For acting like a horse’s ass.”
“You?”
“Easy, easy.”
“You never do anything.”
“What’s my middle name?”
“We love you, Ben. We know you would never do anything to make us uncomfortable.”
“Now you’re making me feel bad about it.”
“No one’s making you feel bad about anything.”
“John.”
“They’re not.”
“John.”
“What.”
“John, don’t do this.”
“Do what?”
“Don’t do it.”
“You’re breaking up.”
“No I’m not.”
“What.”
“I’m on a land line.”
“I can’t hear you. Ben?”
“Where’s Sy?”
“Right here, Benny.”
“Sy. What’s the weather like, baby.”
“It’s dark and cloudy.”
“Is there a chance of rain?”
“That’s what they think.”
“I thought there was supposed to be a drought?”
“Enough.”
“John.”
“So what else is new?”
“It won’t happen again.”
“What won’t?”
“What did I do that was so horrible?”
“Nothing.”
“What I said didn’t mean anything. That was just bullshit, baby.”
“I said I wanted that on a roll.”
“Who’s that?”
“Now clean it up!”
“Tim?”
“I said clean it up!”
“Is he talking to me or someone else?”
“Pick up after yourself for chrissake.”
“Tim, it’s me, Ben.”
“Who is this?”
“It’s Ben. Tim? Is that Tim? Who’s this?”
“It’s Tim, it’s Tim. And I wasn’t talking to you, Benjamin, I was talking to someone else.”
“Who else is there?”
“Does anyone else want to talk?”
“No.”
“Not me.”
“I’m fine.”
“John.”
“Well, thanks for calling.”
“John.”
“It was nice talking to you again.”
“John.”
“You take care of yourself.”
“John.”

We Have Nothing To Talk About Anymore

You learn something new every day. Today I learned that the Soviet Union used Gary, Indiana as a blueprint for their own City of Steel, Magnitogosrk. I learned that Gary, Indiana used to be called “Magic City.” I learned that a large group of American engineers moved to the Soviet Union in order to help build Magnitogorsk, and that while they were there they designed their own little city, patterning it after Mount Vernon, New York. This city was known as “The American City.” I learned that Stalin would kill off, en masse, the men known as the “Bourgeois Engineers,” as soon as he felt they had acquired too much power and knowledge, and that he replaced them with men known as the “Red Engineers,” who would not question Stalin’s leadership. I learned that “the plan is the plan.” I learned that Herman Kahn coined the term “wargasm.” I learned that some people pronounce the word robot as “ro-butt.” I learned that history rolls on and on and flattens everything in its path. I think this is something I already knew, but that doesn’t matter, because it’s something that always needs to be learned again and again.