Between the Lines

Enrique’s televised appearance was worse than mine. His was a fucking disaster. Funny as Hell, though. Oh man, it’s long been Enrique’s dream to appear on television. That dream ended as a waking nightmare.

Channel TV were running a series on successful immigrants to the Island to counter the accusations of institutional racism levelled at the island by Amnesty International. They had done a feature on the Japanese man who works at the Indian take-away. It doesn’t just do Indian food, it also does fish and chips. Also there was one on the black man in town. I think there might also be another one but I think that guy went home. Anyway, they filmed one on Enrique and his rise to being a branch manager in our shop.

6:45pm was broadcast time so at 6:30 he’d closed the shop and we all went into the office. Somebody, probably Paula, had laid out a platter of the ends of sausage rolls and bottles of Oasis. Enrique made me set up the CCTV camera so it was pointing at the television because the recorder for the camera had funny cables that didn’t go into the telly. It was the only way we could video it. He reckoned he was going to send the tape to Colombia but I didn’t think it would work. I think Colombia probably has different television settings. I mentioned this to him but he just shook his head, so I left it.

Now it was nearly time and Enrique was playing it cool, laughing a lot but you could see he was getting more nervous as the seconds ticked by. He reckoned he hadn’t fucked up while being filmed but I suspected the opposite. I was hoping he was going to say, on local TV, that he was happy to be here in America. We are not in America. We’re in Jersey. Old Jersey, not New Jersey. Enrique thinks we’re in New Jersey. He wants to visit Ground Zero.

In his office he lit a cigar and sat on the corner of his desk. Paula sat in Enrique’s chair and I stood against the wall.

“De lies, man, turn off de lies,” he told me and I turned off the lights. I was standing next to the light switch. When the logo of Channel TV came on I could hear Enrique breathe. Enrique, white suit and hat shimmering in the glow of the TV nodded while chewing on his cigar and the swirling smoke added to the atmosphere.

Before they got to the main piece they showed a snippet of what was to come. An establishing shot? It was a distant shot of Enrique and Claire, the TV presenter, walking through a field. Paula cooed and Enrique chewed his cigar faster while smiling but didn’t look at her. He was fucking loving it.

And then it began. “Now in our series blah blah blah …”

As a voice-over introduced him they showed Enrique at work in his stupid white suit, snake skin shoes and White fedora chatting to a woman. The woman was Gertrude the Whore who is at least 90 and was a Nazi sympathizer during the occupation, she’s in every other day and buys a shit-load of cat food. On TV he was outside and helping put her shopping in the car – like he’d ever do that! I shook my head very slightly.

After it had given an explanation of his meteoric rise to the top it then cut to the very office we were in! Enrique confirmed to Paula that we really were somewhere that was on TV by nodding and gesturing around while holding his cigar with his teeth. Paula nodded. On the TV Enrique was sat behind the desk, in the chair Paula was sitting. Enrique pointed to the chair and Paula politely nodded then he went back to watching himself on TV. On TV he wasn’t wearing his hat for this bit and his hair was slicked down with a centre-parting.

Claire was asking him about whether as a small child growing up in Bogotá he ever dreamed of being where he was now.

And this is when it all went great. See, Enrique answered about never knowing the limit of his abilities and all that bullshit. I understood it but get this, Channel TV added subtitles to his replies! Oh my God! It was fucking beautiful and I sucked in a breath.

Enrique looked at me.”Chu fuckin’ wid de remo?” He asked with his cigar clamped in his teeth.

“No Enrique,” I replied. “They’ve had to add the subtitles because people can’t understand your English.”

“Lodos Mios?” He went or something.

“Your English is very poor, look, subtitles.” Enrique wasn’t watching the TV, he was thinking and looking behind, into a corner. After a few seconds he stood, extinguished his cigar in a sausage roll end and stormed out. Paula and I watched the rest of the show, it was only about 5 minutes. Apart from the subtitles Enrique didn’t really fuck it up. And then I turned the lights on and said, “what a fucking nobhead.”