Sunday, October 28, 2012

Walter Wallace - Chapter 79

Boss Citadel mashed his fists against each other, creating a chorus of cracks as the air between his knuckles gave way. He was grinding his teeth and his breath flared through his nostrils like a dragon warming up the fire before an attack. The hair on his arms and neck stood to attention as though a cold chill coursed through his veins, but he could feel only a rising heat, as though the fire had kindled, his target clearly in sight.

Sammy Tank had gone too far. It was one thing to break a man’s nose in the privacy of his office; it was a whole other matter parade his brother’s suicide on an international scale.

“The Band of Unston has become wide reaching, Tony. The man we just saw footage of is Mark Tanenworth, the second richest man in the world, brother of Boss Citadel. Even the lofty heights of capitalism royalty cannot outstay the reach of the William Unston Effect. The strength of Walter’s EE is magnified exponentially by the broadcast schedule he maintains, the negative collateral damage is ever nearing catastrophic levels.”

It dawned on Boss that he truly was out of the loop with Sammy. He had challenged the man and his motives in their last meeting but by then it was too late. The plan was well and truly in motion and all those grey areas which Sammy had so conveniently kept unexplained were proving pivotal in this final term powerplay.

As far as Boss was concerned the plan was simple. Walter is revealed, he is celebrated (to capture the initial television revenues), he is then subject to a backlash and the real science can be put into action. The final phase being a mass produced happy juice bottled at the source and sold as the cure to sadness.

Sammy had endorsed the science: Walter was the happiest man alive and the backlash would be a natural progression; they just had to wait and see what happened. The only interference would be to speed up the backlash with a high profile death and a TV special to steer the general opinion in the right direction. What Sammy had not explained was that Boss’s brother was the high profile victim and that Sammy himself was the genius scientist behind the whole operation, out in public and ready to receive the adoration and fame.

It was this last point which infuriated Boss almost more so than the death of his own brother. It was a vile and selfish emotion that bred a toxic anger within him. Sammy had denied his lust for power and glory and now he was in the midst of them both, idolising himself on television and making his final reveal to his boss that he was now in control.

In his head Boss replayed the fight they had had a few days prior. In this version the events were altered: Sammy had tried to lever Boss’s weight and momentum against him but Boss was too powerful and continued to drive his fist in the stupid cunt’s face. Sammy would try to fight back but his skull would crack as it was slammed into the corner of the mahogany desk. He would be left to bleed to death while Boss arranged for the disposal of his body.

There was always a rush of satisfaction after Boss convinced himself of the alternate ending, but it was quickly negated by the return to reality. It was the ultimate set-up and punchline of depression; a one two fantasy-reality knockdown. That same combination must have driven Mark to his sad end. He slammed his fists on the desk wishing beyond hope or reason that Sammy’s face was there to cushion the blow. “You killed my brother, you fuck!” he screamed at the TV screen, “I’m going to fucking kill you!”

Sammy sat, oblivious to the threat, laughing with Tony about some joke the two had shared. Boss had not heard but he was certain they were laughing at Mark, exploiting his death for the publicity it provided. It was meant to be Tony Holdsworth headlining the suicide pact, now he was sided with Sammy. Smithwaite always hated Sammy, but he already had two agents after him – he would be lucky to last the night. The Cit Soldiers were run exclusively by Sammy. He was organising his network, eliminating the threats. His foresight extended beyond any boundaries that Boss could comprehend. He was smarter and faster than Boss and probably already had Boss tracked and marked. Was this how it was meant to end?

Boss needed to think. He needed to outsmart Sammy. He had no time to grieve for Mark and no time to imagine Sammy’s gruesome death scenes. But maybe that is what he needed to do. If Sammy caught him running he might as well share his grave with Smithwaite, but if Boss reacted as Sammy would expect – short sighted and stupid – he might just buy himself enough time to make his own play. Boss thought for a moment, his mind experiencing an odd, resolute clarity – that same instinct that led him to challenge Sammy in the first place. He decided to call the hit on Sammy; using the Soldiers. But he was going to make sure the agent he chose would be the best – he decided to call Whisker.

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