Walter was sitting in his stud apart- in his cell. It was actually very similar to his apartment: Same size, same shape, similar furnishing. The toilet in the cell had better flush capabilities but he didn’t feel the need to exploit this advantage – or the desire, considering the company he held. As for his company, the mysterious conspiracy theorist hippy who apparently liked to remain silent and pensive in shadowy corners turned out to be quite sociable and in need of a friend even more so than a bath. He talked non stop to Walter who was sometimes vaguely engaged by a recount of a dangerous protest in Ghana or a dodgy tour of a Bolivian drug prison, but most of the time it was ramblings about the government and the vile devil worshippers (which he believed to be a diversion from other grander corruption which worshipped a greater devil – Money!!!!) and Walter tried his best to be polite by nodding occasionally (mainly as he was nodding off).
They (the hippy) talked a little more of the political issues close to home. Walter couldn’t have stayed interested even if he knew of Sitwell Towers and the evil boss. He failed to register even a single letter of the website the hippy kept referencing – though he had no real use for any information if retained. He eventually settled for apologising for his inability to focus, stating that for the first time his head felt cloudy and distorted. “That’s how you know they’re getting to you, dude.” But the hippy had some positives. He noticed Walter’s stressed state and suggested that he join him for a session of Yoga. After 30 minutes of poor balance and inflexible muscles Walter felt relaxed and at ease.
After an hour or so of ranting the hippy decided he would stop talking about himself and learn something from Walter (this had been his ‘destiny’ after all). He sat beside Walter and mimicked his hunched forward seating position; elbows on knees, chin resting on hands. He turned his head slightly asking in a raspy voice, “So what’s it like…” he rasped, “…to be the happiest man in the world?” Walter hesitated. He had been avoiding the subject in his mind to the point that he almost forgot. “It’s OK if you don’t want to tell me…but they will want you to tell them. They won’t ask, though; they will demand.”
The hippy was right. Walter, whether he liked it or not was going to have to face the world soon and he probably should start trying to understand he apparent happiness so he could share it and be done with it. “Well I never really considered myself happy or sad. I just considered myself-”
“Walter Wallace!” Stevie bellowed, interrupting Walter’s first lesson. “You’re coming with me.” he unlocked the cell and stood aside, allowing Walter to pass.
“Can I come?” asked the hippy sarcastically.
“Shut the fuck up!”
The hippy spat in disrespect, though it was slightly comical as his spit sprayed like a sawed-off. “Hey,” he focussed on Walter, “stay strong, Walter. You need to stay strong. Trust in yourself, dude. Trust in Walter Wallace.”
Walter and Stevie walked out in silence to the entrance of the station. Before pushing the door open Stevie stopped. He sighed and put a hand on Walter’s shoulder and looking directly into his eyes, “This isn’t going to be easy for you Walter. I’m sure that piece of shit in there told you what happened tonight and whatever you or he can imagine will happen…it will definitely be worse.” He looked at Walter’s unflinching, almost expectant expression, finishing, “This will be your first test; brace yourself.” He opened the door. The sky was crystal clear that night - a deep, velvet blue sprinkled with tiny lights that stretched out for millennia. Walter was swept away by its beauty for a fleeting moment that lasted just long enough for him to doubt Stevie’s advice.
“WALTER!” the voice almost screamed in his ear. An explosion of noise and light erupted as if they had stepped into a storm cloud. He was jabbed in his face and ribs by microphones of all shapes and sizes. The cameras flashed blindingly and after a few moments he could barely see. The crowd swayed aggressively. The storm had settled over the ocean; waves of movement throwing him around uncontrollably. For the second time that day Walter was scared, but unlike the remote shock of Whisky’s attempted kidnapping, this threat was on a grand scale. He finally started to understand the warnings he had received from his new acquaintances.
It was Stevie who rescued Walter again. He fought off the press like they were a pack of dogs. Walter could have sworn he saw Stevie punch one or two in the face – brave considering the amount of cameras present, but it was necessary to pass through the stretch of people. At the far end the cruiser pulled up and Taylor hopped out the front seat and opened the back door. He cleared the passageway with none of the earlier finesse he used in cuffing Walter. He and Stevie met and ushered Walter to safety. The two officers entered the cruiser and almost ran down a reporter as they sped off. Walter glanced back one last time and saw the mob pushing towards him still. Most had bruises on their faces but many more than any two police officers could have caused. Walter could only assume that they were hitting each other in their desperation capture him. The thought scared him and of the countless flashes that captured his terrified expression in that final glance, one of them secured the photo that would be plastered on the front of every newspaper around the world in the next 24 hours.
Notes to the Text