“So…uhh…Mister Whisker is your real name?” Walter sat along side his “accessory to obtaining illegal substances” as Stevie had put it – Taylor had added “I looove accessories and you are no different, Mister” - in the jail cell and the atmosphere was so tense that for the first time in his life he felt like he should break the ice. He had always felt rather cool around ice, though not cool enough to come up with a play on words to express this tendency. Had he come up with this play on words he would probably have an easier time breaking the ice should he ever want to. Sadly the anecdote continued to evade him when it may have served him well.
“Ok. And…” Walter had nothing after this. He retreated and decided to regroup. He thought back to their time together to find some more to talk about. How do people do this every day for hours? The ride in the back seat of the cruiser was uneventful. Walter had found it exhilarating beyond belief but in terms of revealing the purpose of his curious circumstances he had not learned much more. He figured he should now because he was under arrest after all. That’s it! “Have you ever been under arrest before, Mister Whisker?”
“Yes. Call me Whisker.”
“You don’t like Mister Whisker, Mister- I mean Whisker?”
Whisker exhaled heavily from his nostril.
“I guess it does sound a little…umm…” Walter had dug himself a hole.
“Sound a little what?” Whisker asked with something almost resembling annoyance if it weren’t for his uncanny ability to disguise emotion.
“Well, like cutesy-” Whisker flinched slightly, his first sign of canniness, “-or…umm…you know, like…Taylor would like it as a name,” he blurted out the harsh truth after thinking he had it wrapped up in a neat package but he realised too late it was not very neat at all. For a moment Whisker looked ready to snap but within a second he shook it off with a spine chilling twitch of his neck and recentred himself to staring blankly.
“I’m sorry if I offended you…Whisky isn’t that bad- I mean Whisker. Actually,” Walter paused and thought a moment before speaking slowly and appreciatively, “Whisky isn’t that bad.” Whisker didn’t react - but somehow he didn’t not react either. “Yeah. Whisky. How do you like that…Whisky?” Whisky shrugged and smiled rather timidly (he actually started to look more like someone named who would be named Whisker), before twitching his neck once more and re-centering once more but settling with a relaxed look to his perfectly straight shoulders.
Walter felt he was on a role and decided to take a chance, “So why did you want to kidnap me?”
“Can’t tell you, Walter. What I can tell you is,” he paused to consider, “nothing.”
“Ok,” Walter wasn’t one for being persistent. He had overheard stories of telemarketers and thought that an intrusive call like that would be horrible if he ever had to deal with one so he wasn’t about to start drilling Whisky for something he didn’t want to share.
Suddenly a shuffling sound came from the corner of the cell and a sarcastic voice spoke in a false whisper, “Did you say...Walter?” A skinny youth in his early twenties emerged from the shadow, “As in ‘Walter Wallace’?” as he said the name he looked up, motioning vaguely with his hand as if he had just seen the name in the distance, pumped out of a skywriter. “The Walter Wallace? Nah way, man. I thought to myself ‘Who’s called Walter these days? What a ‘days gone’ kinda name to have. Must have been tough to grow up with that name, if you ask me, and yet...here you are: Happiest Man Alive...or in the World or whatever the corporate slugs want us to say- but I guess that’s it,” he turned his head to gaze into a different distance before giving a sideways glance back to Walter and Whisky, “Originality,” he said philosophically, “I get it…I get it,” his voice trailed off into a softer whisper and he sat back down.
There was a necessary silence as Walter tried to absorb this hippy’s ramblings. “What’s he talking about?” Whisky sat silent and pensive. “This is starting to get pretty weird,” Walter said, though more in observation than caution.
“You’re telling me, man. Who woulda thought I would wind up in here with you. Must be some forma destiny if you ask. I’m just sitting here while those oinkers have a squabble and go off hunting down more innocents like myself. They leave the TV on and the door open and I hear fat old Papa Holdsworth – more like Puppet Holdsworth,” The hippy snickered cynically at his quip (though it made little sense as Tony Holdsworth had never once been referred to as Papa Holdsworth) “That fat troll announces that some sorry sucker called Walter Wallace is here to save the world. ‘Watch em suck him dry first.’ I said it then and I say to you now:” he let the words linger in the atmosphere, “Watch em suck you dry first, Walter Wallace.”
The hippy succeeded in delivering a dramatic performance and received a curtain closing cut as the cell door slid open with a thunderous applause. Taylor appeared at the door, “Sorry to interrupt the party, boys. Whisker,” he said, lisping only on the s in Whisky’s name, “you’re coming with me. A handsome young buck named Chips has paid bail.” Chips also managed to earn a lisp and Walter wondered how his last name would hold up in Taylor’s tell.
But now wasn’t the time for such distracted ponderings; he had one last chance to talk, “Whisky, tell me what’s going on.” For the first time in a long time he heard a worried tone in his voice. “I need to get out of here.” He seemed to have forgotten that Whisky had recently tried to abduct him, seeking solace in his assailant
“Don’t worry. They can’t keep you in here. You’re Walter Wallace now.”
“HE WAS ALWAYS WALTER WALLACE YOU PIG FUCKING PIG FUCK!” The hippy was back for his encore. “NOW YOU’RE JUST GOING TO BLEED HIM DRY! BLEED HIM FUCKING DRY AND TELL US ALL IT WAS HIS FAULT! COME BACK AND TELL ME I’M WRONG! HE WAS ALWAYS WALTER WALLACE!”
Notes to the text