Phil lay sprawled on his mattress. It was fairly hot outside, even for early morning (12:30pm is still morning for Phil), and so he had cast aside the bed sheets and was in the final stage of waking up. He trudged over to his door, picking up a pair of shorts on the way and hopped into them lethargically. As he opened the door he was met with a wave of fresh air, wincing his eyes a little at the bright light reflecting off the walls and tiles. He walked to the bathroom in a daze, took a long needed leak and then made for the kitchen. His mother had left a note for him in perfect bubbly cursive.
“Hi Flip, just left for work and didn’t want to wake you. Just want to say I love you no matter what. Every day is a new day to shine your light.”
Just below that note was an aggressive scrawl:
“Phil. Get a job.”
There was a series of newspaper clippings attached with part time and full time opportunities. Flip, as he preferred to be called for reasons highlighted by the two letters, rolled his eyes. He snatched the clippings off the fridge and whipped out his phone. He dialled the first number.
“Hi,” he began in perfect ‘uninterested slacker’ tones, “My name’s Phil, I’m calling about the uhh...” he took his time, exhaling heavily, “the uhh...job you guys got?” Finishing a statement in a question, he had learned, was the perfect sign of someone who can’t make decisions and should never be hired by an employer. The person at the other end replied politely. Flip cut her off, “So, I mean I haven’t really read the ad but what’s involved?” The girl started talking again. Flip cleared his throat aggressively and managed to hock up some phlegm, making no efforts to disguise the act of spitting it into the sink. “So you want me to come in for an interview, or something? I’ve never had a job so I don’t really know what to do?” The girl remained diplomatic but all signs pointed to no. “Alright I guess, I’ll from yous soon.”
Flip hung up and checked the call time: Nearly three minutes; good enough to keep his dad happy. He prepared some cereal and spoke to the next receptionist in between taking large spoonfuls of oats and bran. The third one he just called and left the hand set on the table – “Just got the machine, dad. You think they would show some professionalism?”
Three out of five was enough to pass his father’s quota so he tossed the other two classified cut outs in the bin. He ditched his bowl in the sink and went to his computer to check the daily rounds. He was a member of a variety internet boards and ran a blog which had very few followers. His alias online was always HippyFlip - a nickname from school which he used to label a skateboard trick he invented – and after browsing through the comments on a vegetarianism article he wound up on a video streaming site watching conspiracy videos and taking notes.
He closed his notebook and opened up a new post for his blog. In the title box he wrote “My Night in the Cell with Walter Wallace”. A pop up then popped up with big titted half naked girls posing in front of webcams. He closed it down with cat like reflexes and went back to his blog. He paused for a moment...then he opened a new tab and typed in the address bar: P-O-R- The drop down bar came up with a myriad of options and he went to his favourite site in the entire internet.
Thirty minutes later Flip was back to his blog. After three false starts, two changes of title and one misguided research attempt he was on the couch watching the news (Public Broadcast news because he had sworn to never watch a privately owned broadcaster). His love hate relationship with the media was an eternal struggle but the Walter Wallace fiasco had caught him up ever since he met the man himself in prison. He truly believed in some destiny which linked the two and later that day he was going to write his first Walter Wallace article since meeting him. Before that he had simply slandered the concept as another corporate scam to get you eating more shit, but he was affected by Walter’s nature and knew that planets and stars and possibly galaxies were aligning right now.
The news was reporting a string of suicides – “Just some depressing bullshit to keep us all reaching for our wallets” – when a photo of Walter Wallace came up on the screen. Flip sat up as the newsreader introduced the sequential footage as disturbing for some viewers. Walter was seated next to Tony Holdsworth of all people – “Already pretty disturbing” – and a voice came through calling himself Bill. Flip watched attentively as the scenario played out, culminating in gunshot and a freeze frame close up of Walter’s panic stricken face.
“Reports have come in from all across the world of significant spikes in suicides overnight; one reported to have left a suicide note quoting what he called passages from the book of William Unston. As for the man himself, police and morgues have no records of any man identified as William Unston. Numerous namesakes across the globe have rushed to contact family and friends to ensure they are OK.
“Walter Wallace, the alleged Happiest Man in the World, left his apartment in a huff today, looking anything but happy as he pushed aggressively through the press outside his apartment-” Footage came up of Walter struggling through the mob and almost running away up the street as they chased- “There have also been numerous sightings of Mr Wallace as he performed his daily duties cleaning the toilets along the South West to City Junction railway, many commuters saying he was unresponsive and grumpy, often isolating himself within the confines of his workplace.”
Flip almost turned the TV off at that point. “What do you expect?” he said to the television, “Just leave the poor guy alone.”
“Walter Wallace is expected to make another appearance on Channel 8 tomorrow, despite reports leaking that the network tried and failed to have Mr Wallace sign a contract. There are also groups criticising the treatment he is receiving, labelling it exploitative and irresponsible, in light of the recent alleged live telecast suicide. An executive from the network responded to these claims.”
A slimy looking individual with a grin in his eyes stood before a press conference, sponsors plastered across the banner behind him. “Walter Wallace is a grown man who knows his rights. We have a strong relationship between the network and Walter as well as individuals within the network who have been blessed to talk first hand with him. It is of his own volition that he enters the studio to talk with Mr Holdsworth.”
A press member stood up (clearly a Channel 8 plant asking a pre-approved question) “What do you say to rumours that Mr Wallace is a hack, that the real Walter Wallace was seen on the train lines this morning.”
“We have no doubts he is the happiest man in the World but when you are on top people will try bring you down. William Unston may not be an isolated case, but it is a minority representation. It is the darkest side of humanity, a side most vulgar which gives even more emphasis to need to learn and understand the complexities and simplicities of a person like Walter Wallace.” The man finished with a grin that almost taunted you, implying everything he just said was a fabrication.
Flip knew who he was. He had seen Brian Smithwaite before. He was a Citadel man. Perhaps not legally but he had liaised with Simon Citadel recently. Flip, on one of his braver excursions of bringing down the man, had broken into Citadel Towers and seen Smithwaite having an argument with a very flustered ‘Boss’ Citadel.
Flip turned off the TV. He had found his drive. He sat on the computer and reopened the blank blog page. He started writing and didn’t finish until much later that afternoon. Then as a reward he went back to his favourite site.
Notes to the Text