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Euskal Idazleen Elkartea

Juan Martin Elexpuru Arregi > Extracts

Narrative (short story and novel)

I need a 'Nokia' |

I'm going to be late for the meeting and I hate that. When on earth are they going to build the motorway? Oh, my back aches! Apparently there's a good masseur in Fitero. They're after a 500-million contract, but they'll find it difficult getting one below 600. Unless there are any kickbacks, of course. I don't know if I'll be able to make it to the course on "Marketing, public speaking and psychology". I desperately need it. Valerian is very natural and all that, but I slept much better with Valium.

-Anabel, I'm calling you from the road. Tell them I'll be arriving half an hour late. Has the Mobisa fax arrived?"

If only they could at least keep to the right of the road. Sometimes I feel like running them over. Failed cyclists, that's what they are. They get in the way of those who are working. That's no way to get the country on its feet. I told my daughter that if she failed more than three subjects, I was sending her to a boarding school for the whole summer. She had been warned. Cholesterol's o.k. now, but uric acid and transaminases high. What the hell are transaminases, anyway? The last time cholesterol was up again. With these doctors... I ought to be on a light diet; and get some exercise. When, if I don't get home till ten at night?

^-"Yes? What? They've sent the parts back? What tempering, what hardness and what the hell! Get the Quality Manager to call me!!"

That's right, I'm supposed to be on a light diet. I'd like to see how he would manage in my situation. What does he expect me to do? When I go to top restaurants with my customers, am I supposed to be content with just grilled fish and a lettuce leaf? I've heard that massage isn't good for lumbago. But I've got to do something. My stockbroker hasn't called me. There's a rumour running around that next week is going to see the start of a fall, and we'll have to get ahead of it. If you look at it one way, it's better to get home at ten at night. Rather than see the wife's long faceà We haven't done it since her birthday. Back in 1995. I haven't forgotten. Before at least I used to find the time to visit the working girls at least once every two weeks. I don't even do that now, since the market began to look up. We're doing better than ever. This year's profits are 25% up on last year, and when the new plant gets going, we will be breaking all records. We have to be ahead of the competition.

-"Yes" What? Only 5% are faulty? And you don't think that's much, you blockhead! Get a fax off right away calling a meeting for tomorrow. Tell the lawyer to get the papers ready!"

These little phones are a tremendous invention. They save so much work. But mind isn't up to the job. That Nokia the French guy had at yesterday's meeting, what a gizmo! Not much bigger than mine and apart from being a phone it's got fax, Internet access and an automatic answering machine. Too much! I put my foot in it when I bought the Donostia-San Sebastian house. If I'd known then that I was going to have so much money now, I would have bought one right on the seafront. Mortgages are much cheaper now. It was difficult persuading the boy to go off and study German. In Münster for two months. Today English alone isn't enough. That truck is driving me nuts. I'm not happy with this car; it doesn't have enough acceleration. Don't know when the new one will be arriving. A 16-valve Audi. Like the one the Megasa CEO has got. I really do need one.

-Antonio, have you taken delivery of my car yet? You haven't! Listen, I'm being serious. If it's not there by Saturday, I'm cancelling my order!"

That's how you have to deal with people like that. I ought to go to the intensive English course the company has organised. I really need English. I get the feeling Zabala is after my position. If you're not careful they tread on you. It's boiling hot! And I haven't got air conditioning. If I haven't got it by Saturday, Antonio and his Audi can go jump in a lake. I'll buy a Mercedes or a BMW. I go for German. Nothing like German technology. This year I haven't yet managed to see a single stage of the Tour on TV. And I enjoy it. I don't know why Luisa gets worked up. If we don't fuck, it's because she doesn't want to. The salary I take home is better than that of a Government Minister, she doesn't do half the work I do, and she still moans. There isn't a man born who can understand women. Apparently it works by satellite. Amazing how much technology has advanced. From your car you can send a fax wherever you want. Or receive one. Or surf the Internet. Tremendous! I'll stop on the hard shoulder and call my secretary.

-"Anabel! Are you there...! Anabel...!

But why do I get cut off? One moment you're out of range, the next you can't hear properly... I need a Nokia. Besides, there are some things the secretary doesn't need to know. I need new suits, ties and shirts. I'm ending up behind the times. During the lunches after the meetings when they talk about Dominguez, Armani and things like that I just feel embarrassed. I look like a country bumpkin. The only thing doctors know is how to prescribe tablets for backache. I'll have to try massage. Luisa won't want to help me buy suits. You, know, you've got to hand it to them running along the edge of the road in this heat. Eager beavers, narcissists, parasites.

-"Who's calling? Inversa? Do you think I've got the time the read Expansión!?...Really? You're kidding! Well, sell Iberdrola and buy Telefonica, quickly! But you are sure, aren't you?"

I need a coffee. I must ask Otazua for the name of the tablets he's taking. Apparently they give you lots of vigour. Mine are no use at all. And I'm not going to start sniffing white powder. Drugs are making the world go mad. There's a dinner tomorrow for former chairpeople of the Ikastola1 to celebrate its 25th anniversary. I won't be going. I've got more important things to do. The economy is the basis of everything. As I always say: if the economy is doing well, then everything will do well. I'm proud to be getting the country on its feet. The boy's stay in Germany and the girl's boarding school is setting me back about a million. It's no joke. But it's worthwhile investing in your children's future. If today's contract goes ahead, I'll end up with that and more. And my conscience won't be pricking me either. Our company will be making a lot of money thanks to me. I'm fed up with playing the fool. In a couple of years' time I'll have paid for the house in Donostia-San Sebastian. Maybe the best thing would be to get rid of it right now and buy that one in Mirakontxa, on the seafront. But I'm not going to start phoning the estate agent's on this second-rate phone. I need a Nokia. Oh, I've got a memory like a sieve! If today is San Fermin's day, yesterday was the boy's birthday. But I haven't got time to buy a present.

-Anabel, buy a birthday present for Pello. Whatever you think. Leave it on my desk."

It was my idea. Ever since we started holding business meetings at the Meliá, we've been securing better contracts. I've got the Japanese waiting for me there now. I only have one regret: that my father is no longer alive to see how far his son has got. That's the way of the world. I'm happy with myself and that's what matters. I've had to work a hell of a lot, there's no denying it. I ought to send a fax off to Germany before I go into that meeting. But I can't make them wait.

I can't go on like this. I've got to have a Nokia.

1:Basque-medium school.
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