Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Walter Wallace - Chapter 51

Smithwaite was rather bored. It was all becoming too easy for him. The Walter Wallace saga had played out beyond anyone’s expectations. The natural drama and cosmic coincidence was enough to have half the world tuning in weekly. Lucy Blues wouldn’t sign anything more than a show by show contract which she read through quite diligently each appearance, but for some reason she was staying on. Maybe she liked Walt after all.

The Newport Haven Disaster Tragedy Massacre had all but blown over. From assimilating the outspoken hippy to twisting the angle of the coverage on Mark Tanenwoth’s idiocy it was all just too easy.

Smithwaite didn’t have proof but if he could take one thing from the event it was that it was planned. There was no reason for all those reporters to come to town without some insider tip off. He hadn’t placed it, but he did catch wind of it that morning. Tip offs always meant a good bit of drama but nobody had thought it would be so grand. Then there was the hippy assault, the Tanenworth comment (the subsequent disappearance of Nancy Hardwick after she broke the story), the outspoken terminal manager and Sam Tank’s request for assistance in covering up the commission’s proceedings.

But really what was a world without conspiracy? There would probably be documentaries filmed and journalistic investigations made which all added up to more television. Not to mention a favour to Sam Tank in his pocket. Whether the weasel would ever uphold his debts was another thing. The idea of Sam dishonouring the unspoken agreement flashed as a possibility in Brian’s mind. His stomach churned a little. Their last encounter hadn’t been favourable – and that didn’t even have anything at stake.

Smithwaite shook off the feeling. He had been in fine form since then. His management of the greater communal conscious was exceedingly proficient. Meanwhile Sam Tank was apparently overwhelmed in his position – whatever the fuck it was.

Tony Holdsworth was another pawn in his set. The former king lay in his coma with Manny by his side whenever he had a long enough break from tour. Who knew if the man’s brain had turned to mush but each day that he didn’t wake up was another day closer to someone pulling the plug. At the moment Brian resisted approaching Manny with the issue - delicate as it still remained - But eventually it would need to be done. It would be according to Brian’s discretion as to how the matter should be dealt with: Sacrifice the man’s slim hopes of revival to transplant his body parts all over the place; or Portray Manny as the heartless ingrate who pulled the plug. Manny was a smart kid; he would know where his loyalties lie.

The hippy kid was under control at the moment. Bound by his ego for now, soon it would be by his contract – whenever he rediscovered his values. It seemed inevitable that he would rebel again as per his disposition, but by then his credibility with both his core idealist fans and the curiosity of the general public will both be too jeopardised to salvage.

And finally there was Walter Wallace. Every moment with Lucy was now considered a gift. The show will go on beyond her eventual exit. The formula will have grown stale and the spin offs and specials will dwindle down to a more sustainable level. Walter was expected to grow into a lifelong celebrity who might choose books or television or movies or self imposed obscurity. Brian couldn’t see him delving into drugs or sex or any other vices – to his credit Walter had managed to convince even his greatest sceptic that he was the real deal or something close (though there were still many sceptics beyond Smithwaite).

Maybe once the hype has dissipated they could run the machine again, see if Walter is still number one. Maybe they could have an annual special and get a new prophet every year. The idea was quite engaging. Re-invent the reality TV landscape. Compare the past winner to the new one. Maybe rewire the machine to have happiness battles. Allow it to produce some sort of quantitative score per person. The possibilities were seemingly endless. The machine would live on long after Walter Wallace retires.

But for now Smithwaite had to attend a meeting on that exact subject: The future of Walter Wallace. He had prepared his presentation on the expected longevity of Walter’s career which he would deliver, but after that he was unsure of the context. What other outcomes were really possible? Once he had overstayed his broadcast welcome he was not of much use to the network or to Citadel Inc. The number of company heavies that were to attend the meeting raised a sense of curiosity and also alarm. This would be interesting.

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