When we arrived we were met with Maria, Corey and Marcus. Maria is the woman who hired us. She was a nice lady, but Paul and I both thought that there was something a bit shady under the surface. She would be happy to talk to us about work, answering our emails and texts without a second thought. But if you wanted to talk money, you’d have to phone her under the guise of work. Corey was the guy behind the project. He was a Korean American who’d been in Seoul for almost ten years. He was in his early thirties. He looked older. His face had been puffy once and was now just saggy. Koreans don’t usually look older until they get to their sixties. But that was an indication of how much he smoked and how little he slept. Corey came from serious money. His personality told you that much. Marcus was their little bitch. There was no other way of putting it. He was hired as a copy-editor. But the only document we ever saw him with was a receipt for Maria and Corey’s coffee. Both Paul and I had been in the running for his job, but we couldn’t get visas. Neither of us were Korean. Marcus was half-Korean. So they hired him. We were both pretty glad we didn’t land his job to be honest. Even if it did mean cutting the rope on the English teaching racket.
“Sup girls,” said Corey as we came in the door of the church. He was wearing a shiny Korean suit. The top didn’t match the bottom. The jacket had thick pinstripes and I could practically see my reflection in the gleam of the trousers. His shoes had those weird tips on them that made them look like pencils. He looked ridiculous. But rich.
“Hey Corey” we said. Paul and I waited until he turned around to talk to someone else before we exchanged an eyebrow about his suit.
“Hey Maria, Marcus” I said, shaking hands and getting the formalities out of the way.
Maria pushed some coffee on us, like that would make us happy. It was shit instant coffee. This far out of the city you didn’t have coffee shops. So we had these little paper cups with some sugary paste in them. It slid out of the cups like glue. I drank it anyway. Paul didn’t drink coffee. So when Maria went into the conference room I drank his too.
“Delicious. Thanks Marcus” I said. Paul turned away to hide his smile. Marcus nodded and smiled. He didn’t hear me.
“How are you guys today? Hungover? Any bitches last night?” asked Corey. I fucking hated him.
“Nah man, early bed last night. Ready for today.”
“Good, that’s what I like to hear! But on the other hand, I like to know that my boys are getting some! Cause I know Marcus isn’t getting shit!” Marcus smiled weakly. So did Paul and I. “ So here’s how it’s gonna break down.” He pulled his hands from his pockets and started moving them around in that business way. They were like magician’s hands. I only recognized it because I would be telling the kids to do the very same thing a few hours later. “I’m gonna go up there, talk some shit, sell this fucking product to these people.” I hated it when he called our ‘Presentation workshops’ a product. “Then you guys are going to do your thing. Twenty minutes each. Then lunch. Then workshops. We judge them quickly. Everyone goes home to get our dicks sucked. Sound good?”
“Yup” said Paul. I just nodded. I really hated him.
We went into the conference room. The place was full. Loads of teenagers in their school uniforms. On a Saturday!? Poor little bastards. Everyone turned to us and started smiling. We were the token foreigners in the room. We put some kind of stamp of legitimacy on this project I guess. We smiled awkwardly like we had been doing for the many years we had been living here. Very few things caught us off-guard anymore.
The thing started with Corey. He talked and talked in Korean. It went on for about two hours. I can’t speak any at all. Paul can speak a little. Neither of us knew what he was talking about though. The kids were yawning. The parents and teachers were nodding. I was dozing off. Maria leant over and gave me another cup of coffee between taking pictures of the event. I drank it. I raised the empty cup to Marcus. He just smiled again. I looked around at the room we were sat in. It was a church alright. Crosses hanging everywhere. Book cases full of scriptures. There was even a pastor in the corner. I don’t know what kind of church this was. I figured it was one of those new ones. Evangelical or something. The sign on the door said ‘Scars into Stars’. It sent a little shudder through me.
I got called up after Corey. Maria asked me to inject some energy into it. I sort of heaved myself up and shook that big smile onto my face. I did my usual. A couple of quick games to wake everyone up. Some funny lines. Examples of shitty public speaking skills. Some tips on how to do it properly. Same old same. It was so robotic now I didn’t even have to think about it. Sort of like stand-up used to be. I got off just as all that sludge coffee was wearing off. Corey gave me a hard handshake. Maria thanked me profusely. Paul gave me a wink. Marcus just sat taking notes. The kids clapped and smiled. We all went to lunch.