The very first time I heard Ken’s voice I felt comforted. The soft vibrations of middle-aged vocal chords suggested a man who had given up on life, but not on smoking. Smoking, in a way, had become the one constant in Ken’s life. Smoking and long bus-driver socks.
I liked that.
I smiled and with words dripping in honey suggested that he help me with my little bureaucratic problem. “Germans,” I told him, “the Germans are keeping me from my driving dreams.”
The soft wheezing caused by his emphysema made me think he understood. He understood and he was going to ensure that we beat the German system together. Just Ken and I.
But I was mistaken. In reality all that existed behind his two black lungs was an even blacker heart. Ken wasn’t really interested in helping me or pulling his socks down to a reasonable height. He just wanted his next cigarette and to him I was nothing more than a roadblock he’d have to beat his way through.
Oh Ken. It could have been beautiful, Ken.
It wasn’t beautiful, Ken.
Upon hearing my request, Ken’s hoarse voice turned cold and unpleasant, like a suppository. His brain shuddered and cowered away from the idea of doing work. Forcing back a gag reflex at the mere thought of it, he explained that he had no intention of actually doing anything. He worked for the RTA service centre, he reminded me, and suggested that I ask the moon for help because that would probably garner better results. Then with one final wheezing sound he hung up.
Oh Ken. I wish your name was Kevin.