Tuesday, October 16, 2012
Phil sat in his filthy trailer staring at his blank computer screen. Well not blank, just the template of a blog with no writing inside it. All great writer’s had been here. They had all toiled, blossomed and then struggled to keep it up or face the come down. This was the moment that defined them. And now that he was one of them he faced his defining moment. Or at least his first one. What was he waiting to write? What was he wanting to write? He had lost his direction, his motivation, his voice. Who was he to write? Why did he write? For whom? To what end? Fuck.
He wrote the curse across the screen. Bold, Size 20 font, cliché to the hilt.
BullCit was still pulling in hundreds of thousands of hits a day, even though it had not been updated for a week and a half. But more impressive was the decline from his regular 10 millions, his peak of 56,786,331 in one day. 24 hours. Sure a flavour of the month effect was to be expected, but he had not expected a drop in quality and content to be an issue.
He was allowed to continue his anti Citadel tirades but only on certain subjects. Regularly he was censored. Regularly he was ghost written. Regularly he was told to just cover the Walter show. In the media he was portrayed as a borderline psychopath, one shower away from the street corner apocalyptist. He did bits and TV spots as a gag to promote this image, as a binding contractual gag. He was the network loony. He didn’t need to skip any more showers, he was already an irrelevant force ranting at imaginary followers. His blog had become his street corner, the people that stared at him as they passed by were his hits.
He deleted the curse from the page. “Grow up you faggot,” he said to himself. Willing himself, despite himself – or maybe to spite himself - to write his new expletive on the page for his audience. He was alone but he had a growing sense of being watched. But not watched in the paranoid sense (though he had indulged enough substances to develop such a complex), instead in the celebrity sense. He was being viewed, judged, rated by anybody who cared to. And as his boom waned into a backlash he was receiving his fair share of carers.
He still had his devoted fans; those who posted the majority of comments in BullCit, but it was his industry publicity report that a little more concerning. The report, which picked up his name across major broadcasters, paper and online publications and high end websites giving a rating on his media presence, suggested that he had a sustainable career as a personality. The only problem was that it trended towards a long term strategy in infamy, ultimately culminating in a D-List celebrity presents Top 50 Plastic Surgery Nightmares. The fucking thing already mapped out his life!
Phil was reading the report again, reviewing the steadily declining graphs like some self pity wank off. He despised what he had become and felt powerless to fight it. He could embrace it but it was a sinking ship, a contractual sinking ship. Either way he was fucked.
“You know I always think it’s better to be one of the Plastic Surgery Nightmares than the host of the show.”
Phil swung around to see a short man in a neat suit. Pricey – or at least shiny, but not so shiny it was cheesy, which to Phil meant pricey.
“But then again you still need to make top 10 to be really significant and most those spots are already locked down for good.”
“Look, you look important so I don’t want to say something that might leave me somewhere, but I got shit to do. I don’t need any extra shit at the moment.”
“You mean writing for your blog about the evils at Citadel? The same blog you sold to Citadel along with your freedom of speech when you signed a contract with Citadel? Maybe you could do the self reference thing and let your fans know about the irony.”
Phil felt his face flush with embarrassment and anger, reliving the consequences of his stupidity again. It was unfair that he was offered a massive contract in both sums of money and sums of pages and was expected to acknowledge the whole document with one signature. All he saw was money and protection from the robots that tried to kill him. Now he was bound to an exit clause that stated he had no rights to his blog and would be banned from ever starting up a new blog.
“It’s a shitty feeling, isn’t it?” The man said. It sounded like an old guy trying to be hip, but without the usual desperation; as if he was fully aware of how he sounded, intentional in his actions. So what was his point? What did he want?
“What do you want?” Phil asked aggressively, displaying much less control over his intentions.
“Have you ever watched the business of sport?”
Phil slumped his shoulders like a 5th grade student struggling through the last two hours of class.
“Well often a coach or player will be hovering around the fringes of the big time, noticed by a few, but the few who count. Then once he does something to break through to the big time he signs up to a big juicy contract. Now a contract is a binding agreement, no? The courts will uphold it til the end. But then if you ever watch the business of sport you see players on 4 year contracts suddenly playing for the other team. How did they free themselves?”
“You’re saying I can just leave the contract?”
“No I don’t remember saying that. I’m saying that contracts are rarely served to the date agreed upon. There are ways out.”
“Yeah in a body bag. These fuckers- You fuckers tried to kill me! And if I go I lose my blog, never to write again.”
“You’re not as significant as you think you are. Just look at the media report. You’re on the way out. And the internet is a big place. No one could have found you before you got shot. Soon no one will be looking for you again.
Phil thought about it. He could see the logic. Except he couldn’t see the motive of this stranger. “Why are you telling me this? Who are you?”
“Does that really matter? I’m giving you an out.”
“Yeah it matters. I’ve been fucked over before by you Citadel goons. That fuckwit Smithwaite can go suck a bag of herpes for all I care. Who’s to say you’re not just working for him?”
“It’s up to you to believe me or not. What choice do you really have? Freedom of obscurity or go under the knife of the public’s sadistic interest.”
“So what do I do? Write up another hate piece on Citadel?”
“That won’t fly. People expect that from you; even when you haven’t done it for a month after you sold out. You need to be smarter. Attack a Citadel asset.”
“Like the tower? The network? I don’t get it.”
“What is making the most money for Citadel right now? Capturing the attention of the world all for the benefit of Boss Citadel’s wallet?”
Phil had to think about it a while. “Walter Wallace?” Now he saw deeper into the man’s motive. “You’ve got a problem with Walter Wallace? Why?”
“I’m giving you key out of the city.”
“Don’t bullshit me. What is your agenda? This makes no sense.”
The man sighed. “I am a company man, Phillip, do not doubt me on that. But I am also a man of this world with deep values. Truth, Phillip, is the deepest sentiment this world can offer. I’m sure your flirtations with Lady Stardust can affirm to that. Truth is what drove BullCit in the first place. You sought to reveal the fallacies of this enterprise and I cannot deny that it has many and that they grate along the frontlines of my conscience. But there is always a breaking point and mine is Walter Wallace.”
“Are you saying he is a fraud?”
“I am saying it is time for you to take your moment. Find your truth again, Phillip, or you will rot away in here. Speak up as I never could because they would let you fade into the past but I would be hunted down and tortured for much less.”
With that the man handed Phil a small business card, turned and left the trailer as silently as he had entered. Phil looked at the door a moment, trying to take in what he had just heard. His life had changed considerably since he met Walter Wallace. He had become quite enamoured with the World’s Happiest Man, but what had he got out of it? He got shot, and then contracted to sell his soul. And what had the world got out of it? They got sold a bunch of products they don’t need and they got a new prophet whose work included inspiring suicides and train crashes. They may not be his fault directly but they also weren’t making anybody else as happy as him - except maybe the tyrant Boss Citadel.
Phil looked at the card. It was blank but for a 12 digit code of letters and numbers. Phil realised this was the access code for his blog. He looked back at his blank page and wrote across the title bar, “The Real Walter Wallace”. The next 1000 words were some of the easiest he had written in his life.