Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Walter Wallace - Chapter 60

Brian Smithwaite sat, coolly stroking his chin. He was in his office at the network headquarters trying not to let his anger overheat. Tank he thought to himself, Tank did it.

He refreshed the page; read again the latest post. His cheeks were flaring, he felt ridiculed. There were already 7,000+ comments on the blog, it was getting featured on major news and entertainment sites. Social networks were abuzz with discussion. Smithwaite closed his eyes and took a short, slow breath, softly grinding his teeth in a censored version of the grating anger he wanted to express.

His phone rang. “He’s gone; left most of his stuff.”

“Freeze his assets. Put a trace on his bank account, his phone, anything else we have access to.”

“Yes, sir.”

Smithwaite hung up the phone. He rocked back in his office chair and stretched his hands up and rested them on his head. He needed to remain cool to help him make his decisions, but at the moment his head was flooded with visions of smashing that little shit’s face to a pulp. Maybe he should get in contact with Chips, the rogue henchman that shot Phil into fame. Put him on the kid’s tail and give him a license to kill. The idea was appealing, almost intoxicating to Brian. He hadn’t ever cared much for ordering a kill, not like the thug mentality of Boss, but in this instance he felt personally sabotaged. But he had kept his anger in check for a reason and that was so he could make long term decisions, and ordering a hit was not a feasible long term strategy.

On the TV in his office there was the footage of Walter Wallace and Lucy Blues talking to different guests about some coastal regeneration. The whole production looked amateurish for the most part, but he was impressed with how Angela had managed to pull the operation together. Walter Wallace had been increasingly difficult to handle onscreen lately but Angela had found some solid ground after a terrible start. More impressive was her bite. She had shouted down Tamara Hamilton in a commendable display of balls. If she could be more of a bitch more of the time she might just make it.

But Brian, unlike the loyal hordes engulfed in the wave of Walter Wallace, could not distract himself from immediate concerns with mindless drivel. Perhaps because he worked in the business of mindless drivel he was impervious to the hypnosis; or perhaps it was because the current mindless drivel on offer was his immediate concern. Walter Wallace stumbled through another line of dialogue with the Mayor of Heartsfield and lost another supporter. He had billions so it shouldn’t be a worry. But then Walter had not been in the meeting only a day earlier at Citadel Towers.

Brian had predicted a long gradual depreciation of the Walter Wallace Show. There were still so many outlets to exploit; so many TV records to break and so many salary bonuses yet to be claimed. But it appeared that Boss Citadel and Sam Tank had grander expectations of their catch and some mighty profits in the media industry paled in comparison to pharmaceuticals. Walter ought to be more careful over how many fans he loses.

And so Brian’s attention lapped back around to the latest blog on BullCit. He knew Phil had a rebellious anti-corporate nature but he also knew the kid was a coward at heart. He had been shaken up by the shootings at Newport Haven and would not put his life in jeopardy again. Brian made sure of it in the contract that had just been breached. Even if he wanted to act out he still needed approval. Group Security had denied any involvement and shown the log entry of a valid code. The IP address was traced back to Phil’s network logon. Someone had helped; someone with suspiciously convenient motives. Brian dialled Sam Tank’s mobile.

As the other line buzzed he felt his adrenaline build. Then he felt a nervous flutter in his gut and an urge to hang up. After almost ten rings he had calmed a little, expecting the phone to ring out-

“Yes,” Tank spoke, free of emotion.

“Sammy?” Brian said, his inflection taking out any bite from his opening.


“Sammy,” Brian said again, cursing his complacency, “You think this is funny?” he had not wished to play hardball so soon, there was small talk to be had, passive politeness to weigh each other up, like a bull that stamps its hoof before a charge.

“What do you mean?” Sammy asked kindly, dodging Brian’s wayward advance with a wave of his red flag.

“I mean the blog Sammy, don’t play cute; don’t even fucking play here.”

“I have read the blog, yes, I stay in touch with all the current affairs, but if you are inferring any culpability on my part for it then you are mistaken.”

“Fuck you.”

“That’s inappropriate, Brian.”

Brian hung up the phone. He was furious; furious at Sammy and furious at himself. He had let it get out of control too easily. He needed to rein the situation in. He needed proof of Sammy’s involvement. There was only one way to get it. He searched his phone and found Chips’ number.

“Your boy has escaped,” Brian said when the phone answered. “Bring him back alive. To me.

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