Sunday 28 May 2017

Episode 46: Alternative Honesty

You know me. You followed me around the country. You loved me on the TV when I had you in stitches with jokes about my penis. You followed me in the tabloids, you supported my charitable works. Then you didn't. I don't know why. You just stopped. Now, I have people who love me again. So much that they made me their mayor. This is my new story, From Under Dark Clouds.

I took my rage out on the hotel barman. They’re like hairdressers for men, their job is 60% therapy and their prescriptions a damn sight more effective than a cut and blow dry.
I was right, I was the first with the balls to tell it how it is. The bitterest pill.
“Will you vote for me, my friend?” I asked him.
“Yeah, I’ll vote for you.” He smiled. “Nobody else will, though.”
I put a ten euro note on the bar and pushed it toward him. He looked at it. “Honesty should always be rewarded, my friend.” He pocketed the note.

I asked him about his job, the place he lived, anything but me and my game. He was working his way through university. “Have a drink. On me.” I ordered. He motioned to a top-shelf whiskey. I told him to pour two. I was sick of that tsipouro shit. “Make it Irish!” the bar was empty. Apart from a middle-aged man in the corner with a young blonde. Almost private therapy. Who had the better therapist?
“What are you studying?” His English was serviceable so I dropped into my native tongue.
“Six years.”
“How long before you finish?”
“It’s hard. Work, studies.” He grimaced. “I’m reading archaeology.
“Good country for that though.”
“I’ll have to get my masters in abroad country. Only they dig in Greece.”
“So what will you do?”
“Maybe teach, maybe other work in the…” he searched for the word. “Civil service.”
I woke with a head full of therapy but little inclination to soft soap the great unwashed. The guys were in the connected room were watching something. I heard my voice.
You dream of driving a Greek car, you will drive a car built in Greece! Your children will get into university and do their job properly. They will not go to Bratislava where they have to buy their degree. They will be doctors Paid by your government, not back-handers…
“What the fuck is this?”
It was my speech from yesterday but nowhere close to what I remember.
A government you can trust!
It was on everyone’s social media feed. Me saying what needed to be said, how it needed to be heard.
“I didn’t say that!”
“Oh but you did. You did now, anyway. Even the people who were there are liking it.”
True, they were my words but they had been stir-fried into something else. More sweet than sour.
Mike the IT guy wished me a good morning through my phone in the other room. He doesn’t need to be swiped to answer, he just appears. “Sir, it is your honesty that people need but they need alternative honesty until they are ready.”
“What the fuck is alternative honesty?”
He explained that my brand of honesty needed some tempering until the people were ready for the real thing. “Mr. Socrates agrees.”
The video played on. We must grow some balls against this Eurocratic empire that our grandfathers fought against. We must have money in our pockets NOT controlled by the ECB!
My words, my words in the right order. A new order that the people could get behind.
The video faded with the words patriotism is an action!
“Play it again,” I ordered.
I watched the man in the video, wishing I could have his conviction, his bellicose determination. But, as hard as I wished, I didn’t. I wanted to go home kill zombies with the kids and have crazy sex with the wife. I wanted a stage where the audience laughed with me not at me.
My phone summoned me to the other room. It was Socrates, he does need to be swiped. His powers are quite different to Mike’s, old skool powers. He was the man who had got me into this mess in the first place and maybe the only one who could get me out. He didn’t. He banged on for nearly an hour about my role in the future of a nation that had lost its way. How only I from my objective position could see behind the curtain. Got to give it to the old bastard, he knew how to dump the fate of eleven million people on one pair of shrugged shoulders.
“If you don’t do it, who will?” Then he rang off.
Mike popped up on my screen, and flashed up my social stats. Thousands and thousands of likes, shares, red hearts and warm comments. Amongst them were some from the wife. I told him to connect us. We talked for maybe half an hour. She told me how important it was that I continue, how important it was for me to make it right, how important I was in this story of a nation finding its way. The connection dropped.
“Mike, get her back!”
He told me that some things were still beyond his control but he was working on it. He was hardwired into the net! He was no longer a man, he was a fucking algorithm and he couldn’t bring her back to me.
“Maybe she said what she needed to say and unplugged.” His avatar shrugged.
I decided to take a shower and wash this shit off me. Something bothered me.
Hot water and soap can clean more than the body and there was something about the wife’s demeanour, something about how she called me a dumbass fuckstick. Something.
The light changed, brighter, then shadow. Through the frosted glass of the shower I saw the shapely silhouette of the well-assembled secretary.
I covered myself.
“It’s hard”
It wasn’t but it had plans.
“It’s hard when you feel everyone is pressing against you.”
She moved and was illuminated. She was wearing the suit she wore in the office, the one I liked best. I dropped my faux-modesty, trusting in the frosted glass.
“You will be remembered as a big man in this country’s history. You are a big man.”
In Greek, big and great are the same word, I wasn’t sure which to understand but one of them was becoming apparent.
“It can get lonely.”
I tried to focus on the wife but she flickered as she had during our video-chat, her sentences cut in all the wrong places.
“If you can’t wash off the dirt, you may need some help.”
I turned to change the water from steam to ice. I heard tailored cloth hit the tiled floor.
“The water is very cold!” I could feel that in my back, was it me or the cold water. It was nowhere near cold enough for me. She felt as warm as I had ever imagined
An hour later, dressed in a thin film of warm sweat and wrapped in secretary, I relived a guilt I had felt a hundred times before. She pushed her face into my neck and drew a deep breath. It felt better than it felt bad.
“We are all behind you.” She ran her hand up my body pulling my neck into her face and breathed me in, my leg clamped deeply between her thighs. “We need you.”
She untangled herself from me and I watched her walk round the bed toward the bathroom. She was terribly well-assembled. The sound of water splashing on her curves made me ready for more.
The connecting door sprung open.
“Sir, we have one event in the next town and a TV interview. But not until a little later.” I didn’t quite cover myself in time but it didn’t seem to faze the young man with the tablet in his hand. “Are we OK to confirm?”
“How much time do we have?” I asked.
His eyes fleeted to the splashing from the bathroom. “Just over two and a half hours before departure.”
I sat up in bed. “Two and a half hours?”
“Yes sir.”
“Lets fucking do this!”
The door clicked behind him and the water stopped splashing.

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