Bakey? Is that you?
Yeah how’s it going?
How did you get this number?
I don’t know I’ve always had it.
I just got this number a few hours ago.
Oh I don’t know my agent must have gotten it you’re not mad are you?
Nonono. Surprised to hear from you. Not because it’s you. I’m surprised to hear from anyone.
Ummmm, no, I’m…I don’t know, I mean, I’m—everything good with you?
Me come on you know I’m tasty as can be but listen Galena.
Did you say—
Oh Bakey. You don’t want me. I have ter—
I want you.
I have terrible rhythm.
Exactly that’s just what I’m looking for I need exactly one person with terrible rhythm and warm hands!
It was fun last time.
Galena it was better than that we had a resoundingly ideal time the time of all times now come down tonight I need you in two hours we’re in Philly we’re set up in this gigantic beautiful sauna in the bottom of somebody’s houseboat somewhere on the Schuylkill there are swan feathers everywhere.
Why do you have swan feathers?
What time is it there? Like, two in the morning?
No idea I’m in a sauna with the lights turned off this phone is probably going to electrocute me in my ear Galena guess what.
We have a sound-proof booth in the next room.
Yeah, okay, Bakey, I—
Say it three times!
We had some fun last time didn’t we?
Hand clapping all kinds of things clapping in the sound-proof booth what’s the matter Galena?
I don’t think I can make it in two hours, Bakey.
Oh come on aren’t you in Brooklyn I can send somebody to pick you up if you’re too numb to drive.
I’m not in Brooklyn, Bakey. I’m in the Siberian taiga.
You mean the giant coniferous forest that encircles the Northern hemisphere near the artic ARC-tic circle?
That sounds neat what are you doing there?
I’m just being in the taiga.
Huh. Listen if you get digested by a bear can I write a song about it?
Are you okay Galena?
I’m sort of…not that okay.
Why are you in the taiga?
I better go.
Galena come on don’t hang up I’m sorry I was talking like that I really did want you to come for hand claps but I also missed you and I didn’t know you were feeling down don’t hang up just talk to me for a little bit what’s wrong?
I’m staring at a man.
What kind of man?
He’s a billionaire.
Oh so you’re in a disco?
No, he’s not Russian. He’s actually from Tennessee. He’s here because he wants to cut down this forest to make toilet paper that he can sell to China.
What are you doing with a man like that?
I’m not with him. Today I’m a security guard for the Russian owner of the pulp mill, and I’m watching the two of them meet.
You’re like a hundred and two pounds.
But I’m tough.
You’re not really a Russian security guard.
No. But my cousin is truly the head of the security detail here and when I found out mister money bags was coming to visit I begged him to let me drive down for the day. So just for today I’m a bodyguard. Tomorrow I’m driving back to the taiga.
Does it smell like hell there?
It smells like hell here, Bakey.
Paper mills are the worst.
They really are. You should see the faces of the people working here. They have wrinkles in very strange places on their face.
From now on every time I wipe actually I’ll never wipe again after hearing this but whenever somebody else talks about wiping I’m going to picture a Chinese person uprooting a spruce tree wiping with it once and discarding it in a reservoir of drinking water for every billion wipes the earth warms a degree.
Oh come on that was at least almost worth laughing at.
I better go, Bakey.
Are you going to tell me what you’re doing there? In the taiga?
Maybe someday, Bakey. I don’t really want to talk about it.
Can I call you?
I won’t have a phone for much longer. I’m not taking it with me when I leave the city.
Will you write to me?
I will. I’ll write a long letter. I promise.
With all the sulfur in the air and the mercury in the water—there are tons and tons, literally tons of mercury in the water here—this rain is going to make me hallucinate.
Sulfur in the airrrr / Mercury in the water / The only people that carrrrre / Are on the dance floor / With the billionairrrrre *Chorus* Billionaire Disco! Wipe your sweat with your inheritance. Billionaire Disco! Clear out a forest and pull down your pants. Billionaire Disco! Oh I need your hand claps for this Galena!
Bakey I’m going to go.
Will you write to me?
Next time, Bakey. Next time.
Inspired by the Wall Street Journal article, “International Paper’s Big Pulp Bet Hits a Frosty Siberia,” http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887324183204578567410469034722.html