Adverse Camber 5: Who Can Smell The Telephone Ringing?

(Previously: Adverse Camber I/III, Adverse Camber II/III and Adverse Camber III/III.  That was meant to be the end but I brought him back for Adverse Camber IV, thinking that would be it.  But here he is again, turning up like a bad penny).

Part 1: Be All

Just when you though he was dead and gone and everyone had forgotten he ever existed, even forgotten they had forgotten he had existed, it turns out he was still out there, famous in his own mind, living out his own small ‘c’ super-czardom, lord of a small flat in an undercover town, working in a call centre.

One week after he started, Adverse Camber phoned in and told them he was going to work from home and though they said it was not that kind of job, he did it anyway – he had a phone at home and had stolen a list of names and numbers.

For every call he made, Adverse Camber prepared a new alias, embellishing each one with their own specific headspace  and various personal effects.  Switching personas constantly, Adverse Camber began to feel more typically Adverse Camber than he had for some time.

Soon the small flat was strewn with stuff started and then stopped – the paperback that he had picked up when he was playing the part of the call centre operative Bernard Rind-Worcester lay, face-down and broken-spined, abandoned at the moment in which he switched to assume the identify of call centre operative Trudy Spatchcock, with her taste in opulent jewellery, with her voracious appetite for fresh flowers.  So many flowers left to wilt and die with the arrival of call centre operative Ted Panther… and on and on etcetera amen.

Adverse wasn’t washing during this time, a time which turned in to a week-long spree of cold-calling.  He wore each persona for such a short time that it barely felt worth it.  He ate only when it fit with his current persona – on occasion this lead him to eat vast quantities, or to consume foods he didn’t usually like, like bloody lemons.

He worked until the universe took steps to intervene – not by curtailing his list of people to call, or by starving him of inspiration for new characters.  Instead it intervened by slowly but surely filling up all the space in the immediate vicinity around Adverse, filling it with the random multicoloured 3D pipes of the 1990s Windows screensaver.

When the network of pipes had expanded across his vision and Adverse was cut off from the outside world, he gave in and agreed to give up, to go offline, for a while at least.

Part 2: End All

Have you heard of Dirk Slimmens?

I hadn’t either, but then the name popped in to my head one morning.  Dirk Slimmens.  Could there be someone called that?  I checked in a search engine and could find no information about anyone called Dirk Slimmens, so I assumed it was ok to use the name.

Dirk Slimmens greeted Adverse Camber one morning when Adverse was strolling back from the shops, carrying milk and sketching out rough drafts for possible identities at a rate of 20 per minute.  This was soon after Adverse got back in to the independent call centre game, treading carefully for fear of reprisals from the universe and their multicoloured 3D pipes.

“I’m Dirk Slimmens,” Dirk told him.

“That’s great.”  Adverse kept walking, carrying, inventing.

“I’m on your list,” Slimmens said next.

Now Adverse stopped walking, carrying (the milk crashed to the pavement), inventing (identity production ground to a halt).

“What did you say?”

“I don’t know your name,” said the man named Dirk Slimmens, “but I know I’m on your list.”

Slimmens flared his nostrils, as if to demonstrate how.  But who can smell the telephone ringing?

Adverse could feel the multicoloured 3D pipes coming for him again, but this time they were only an obstruction in his mind.  He beat them back to retain his grip on reality.  He considered picking up the milk and socking Dirk with it, but then he thought about thinking his way around the problem instead.  It was certainly true that this man was on the list – he should be expecting a call from Adverse, only he had no right to be expecting a call from Adverse.  And of course, it wouldn’t be Adverse who called.  No… it would be someone else.

Adverse ground out a grin beneath his supercilious moustache.

“I look forward to speaking to you soon,” he told Slimmens, and hurried home with his milk.

Back at the flat he set about prolifically creating persona after persona and working through the list.  Tens of call centre operative lives passed by in a blur as he worked towards the name which now stood out halfway down the page.

When he came to that name, the name ‘Dirk Slimmens’ written so prosaically on the sheet, as if it were nothing special, Adverse was ready with a special persona.  It was one he had been thinking of all morning, such that it had been designed by committee, with ideas chipped in by each of the morning’s call centre workers.  The finished article was exactly right – strange as a whistle, anonymous as a search engine.

The telephone rang, the telephone was picked up.

“Good morning, this is just a cold call about your cold call needs,” said Adverse quickly, “my name is Dirk Slimmens.  Would you have a moment to speak?”

“That’s great,” said the voice at the other end of the phone, and this was definitely recognisable as the voice of the man Adverse had met in the street earlier, though now it seemed the voice was trying out a different pose, a new stance.

It did not sound so unsure, or quite as gazumped as Adverse would have liked.

“Yes,” continued Adverse-as-Dirk, not quite as confidently.  “Can I ask to whom I am speaking?”

There was a pause, as if for effect.

“Sure, this is Mr. Adverse Camber.”

[Next time:  Arg!  What now?  Can there really be two Adverse Cambers like Adverse Camber?  Find out… sometime… soon?]

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