Sunday 7 May 2017

Episode 44: Worried

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.

In previous episodes, 41 42 43, the Mayor announces his candidacy for the upcoming general elections. Then, he comes into the town hall one morning to find a Chinese street peddler nailed to his door. He sends his family back to UK but he decides to stay and continue what he started. His wife is worried and she's not the only one.

“You had me worried,” I touched the screen.
“I had YOU worried! What the fuck is going on?”
“Some people don’t like what I’m doing, darling.” I wanted to tell her everything was going to be OK, I really did. Technology gives us the chance to see who we are talking to but it robs us of the chance to lie.
“What are you doing? Come home. Be funny again. Do what you do best.”
Where is home anymore. Was I ever funny. I know I made people feel uncomfortable. “What about…”
“Shit, honey! They’ve forgotten about that. Nobody cares. You’re not Jimmy Saville ferchrissake! If you haven’t fucked kids, they don’t care.”
“But you said…”
“Is that…” I knew that face, she was swallowing words. “…woman still filming you?”
I didn’t notice Roni’s lens trained on me anymore. She circled round behind my laptop. I slashed my throat. She dropped the camera but the red light was still blinking. I slashed again. “Off.” She grimaced. “OFF!” She complied. I think.
“I wanted you away from those people. The drugs, the partying.”
“Now you want me away from these people!”
The doorbell rung.
“I gotta go, darling. They need me.” Roni smiled from behind the camera.
“Come home! I need you. The kids need you.”
I touched the screen, blew a kiss and clicked out.
“I’ll fucking sue” I looked to Roni.
“You signed…”
“She didn’t!” She pursed. “She won’t sue. She’ll make that Chinaman’s fate look dignified!” She shrugged. “Are you still filming?” She shrugged again. “Fuck you, bitch!” She smiled. I went to answer the door. I had to do something, I could fuck her but it’d be on YouPorn before I came.
Socrates had sent someone to take me to the studios for an interview. It was Chris, the security guard from the airport, he smiled like a child but I wouldn’t want to see him pissed.
“Your car awaits, sir.” He said in English. I thanked him. The people needed to know that I wasn’t deserting them. He spent the journey telling me what an honour it was to drive me and how he had some friends in London who were keeping an eye on the wife and kids. The need for this worried me more than anything.
At the studio, a small crowd had gathered. Some were friendly.
As I approached the open door I felt a shadow on my back and hot rancid breath on my neck. Chris pushed him away but not before I heard his words. “Next time it’s you!”
The studio was cool and calm. I was not.
“Can I get you a drink, Sir?”
“Water will be fine.” I know, I heard it too!
The station was friendly so we could expect a smooth ride but Mike the IT guy had farmed the messenger, whatsapp and viber accounts of everybody of note, just in case. The encrypted stuff was always the best read.
We didn’t have the budget to grease palms but with Mike wandering around cyber-space like a local we had plenty of shit to sling. Trust me, you can’t truly know anyone until you seen their browser history.
The set was an arc desk with the TV logo on the front and bare wood and staples on the back. Threads from previous guests’ clothes hung like a mangy dog. They miked me up and the signature tune played.
“5,4,3,.,.” The red light lit on the camera and we were off. I had no problem talking Greek in public anymore. I knew I sounded like a seven-year-old but I had the honesty and conviction of a seven-year-old, at least that’s what Socrates said.
“Good evening and welcome to The Open Files. Tonight we have with us the outsider, independent candidate who has been getting more attention than all the front runners put together.” She turned to me, “But not all of this attention has been welcome, has it?”
Fuck, she was going straight for it, no foreplay at all. A man likes to be wooed a bit.
“That’s quite right,” I replied. “But I think it only fair to say that it’s not me that’s getting the attention. I think it’s my message, Elena.”
“Yes, and that message has upset some people, has it not?”
“Has it upset you, Elena?”
She dipped her head and said, “No, of course…”
“Well, and I don’t think it has upset many of the great and proud people of this nation.” I’d like to see her browser history. My phone buzzed in my pocket.
I ventured a look.
“Something important?”
“Public duty never rests,” I said. It was Mike with her browser history. Kinky bitch. “The proud people of this nation are already tweeting.” Highlighted were sites with mother and NOT son. “Do you have a son, Elena?” She paused but her blush didn’t. “Can he vote?”
“He can’t yet.”
“Would you be happy with him voting for fascists. Not the nice cuddly ones you had from…” My phone flashed again. “1967 to 1974. No these guys would be far worse and probably bankrolled by the Germans.” That bit was mine.
“I would like to show the viewers what awaited you at the town hall when you arrived yesterday.”
“I am sure you would, Elena but I would not wish to inflict that on anyone, especially prime-time TV with kids watching.” It was too late the monitors were showing the video from YouTube of the Chinaman nailed to my door. I looked over at Roni, she shrugged. This was not her footage, someone had been allowed past the cordon, could have been the police themselves. I stood. “I can’t be a part of this. I won’t!” I pulled out the mic, holding it close enough for it to pick up my departing words. “This is the problem. Sensa… sens…” I couldn’t think of the word for sensationalism. “Making a scene of people’s suffering is your business?” I moved it away from my face and spoke to my phone. “Mike, take them down. Now!”
I walked down a corridor until my driver came to redirect me to the door. Outside the crowd had grown. I faced a forest of phones.
“Is that journalism? A man, a father, a son, a brother who died at the hands of people who want to represent you!” I directed at the audience. “You think they’ll treat you any better?” Chris looked nervous. Jude and Roni might tell the story but he’d take the beating. He tugged me into the car.
We went to a safe house. Well, it was Chris’s mother with pie awaiting. Socrates was there as well. I accepted a drink, then another. Jude had two slices of pie, Roni waved her refusal. The driver’s mother took a shine to Jude.
“Fuck! Socrates, I thought these people were friendlies.”
“Ratings, it’s all ratings.”
“They just wanted an excuse to put that inhumanity on the TV.”
“We… They wanted to show what you were up against and your resolve.” Socrates was smiling.
“So, you?…”
“This is great!” Socrates clinked my glass. “You performed better than we expected!”
“I performed…?”
He went to clink my glass again. “I thought you were going to fuck it up when you started with the son stuff. Elena’s a good friend. She likes you!”
“She likes fascists and sex with young…”
“We all have our little fantasies.” He took out his phone and wrapped it in a tea towel. “I need to have words with Mike.”
I pushed my glass away. “Socrates, this is not great. A man died a horrible death. I had to send my family away. I could end my career as a piece of interior design. This is NOT great!”
“He was a street peddler. They won’t do anything to you.”
“A guy outside the studio…”
“Oh! did you look scared?”
“I was… fucking perturbed!”
Socrates looked to Roni and she nodded. “Good.”
I took the drink back. My head was far too complicated to process this.


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