Angela sat on a park bench across the street from Channel 8 studios. She was in a sort of daze which was due in no small part to the lingering effects of her morning bong. But weed had always been merely a symptom of her abandonment issues. It was a promise of escape; an exaggeration of the time between waves of depression. She was flatlining on that numbness now but could feel a growing sense of dread at the impending jolt of life. She was completely unprepared and every drawn out moment solidified her belief that she was not able. All she could hope for was a good enough excuse to turn off her phone and hit the bong again.
Only a week or two earlier she had experienced the rush of the complete reverse of that emotion. She was given her first shot at producing a live national telecast of Walter Wallace. Every physical and mental impulse was reflected but with an outlook of potential and success. But she had fallen short in the test and then the Walter Wallace juggernaut stalled and stuttered and eventually imploded, dragging down everything tied up to it. Angela had gone down with the rest of them and in her last moment of redemption she had let Walter escape with Lucy Blues.
Smithwaite, the one to give her a shot at the big time and the one who saw her hard work at controlling Walter, was gone; Walter and Lucy were gone; Manny was gone; Hippy Flip was a fugitive; the whole gang, the crew that was creating history on the road with Walter had abandoned her. Then the network forced her to take leave, said they would be reviewing her position in a few weeks. She had nothing. She was nothing. Her mother was right: She would fail and disappoint before long.
“That doesn’t look like the face of a Channel 8 producer.” A voice said. Angela looked up but the Sun was reflecting sharply off the giant golden 8 on the opposing building directly in her eyes. “Here let me help you there.” In absence of visual cues Angela was trying to place the man’s voice when he stepped left and shielded the glare. Her eyes adjusted and she saw the kind face of Sam Tank looking down at her with backlight giving him an almost holy aura.
“Mr Tank?” she said with a sense of awe, “sorry, Dr Tank?”
“Call me Sam,” he smiled. “C’mon let’s take a walk, exercise is the first tool against depression.”
“I’m not...” Angela trailed off; it was almost pointless trying to disguise her state.
“I am a doctor Angela, I can read into people’s emotion pretty well. In fact I would guess with confidence that you were thinking of your mother.”
Angela was stunned, “How did...” she trailed again.
“Don’t worry I’m not reading your thoughts. That’s actually just a psychologist magic trick. Most people think of their mother’s when they are sad; they either want them or they blame them. Which one are you?”
“Actually I think I just want to blame her.” Angela said bluntly.
Sam laughed, “Humour! That’s the second tool to happiness! You’ll be smiling again in no time.”
Angela did smile, and she found the walk around the park warming up her limbs. “I don’t know why they put Walter Wallace on TV, they should just put you on.”
Sam laughed again, “I would if it was that easy, but I don’t think one man can make more than just one person happy at a time. But he could make countless people unhappy and miserable.”
Angela didn’t fully understand, and her expression was enough to encourage Sam to continue.
“How could I have this conversation with you and 10 million other people and still make it worth something. We dilute each other’s happiness. Fame does not really exist, just infamy; an inspiration of jealousy and longing. An emptiness, and yet we all aspire to it for some strange reason. We worship it.”
“So why did you make Walter Wallace famous?” Angela asked.
“It was not me, Angela. I wish I could take back what I did. Yes I did point Dr Lucy Blues in the right direction but she carried out her grand plan thinking that the happiest man would be the people’s inspiration. She didn’t realise he was on a road to martyrdom.”
“But you called him out. You are the one who vilified him.” Angela said, remembering Sam’s telecast with Tony Holdsworth.
“He is still just one man. He was poisoning so many minds with the plague of hope. What good is this hope and trust in someone else’s happiness? It cannot be shared, only idolised. Walter would make someone happy just by talking to them, just like you and I are brightening each other’s day, but he had no capacity to expand upon this intimate connection.
“I may have brought the Walter myth back to reality and possibly scarred him for it but they would have done worse. You would have done worse, Angela, you would have crucified him before the end.”
Angela could see Sam’s point, but she felt a pang of frustration. “But it’s not fair,” she said.
“Walter will be fine. He is the happiest man after all.”
“No, not Walter. I mean...me,” Angela said, embarrassed but honest. “It’s not fair that this happened to me.”
Sam sighed. “There is no end to life. There is death but it is no good to wait for it. In the meantime we will have only the endless challenges of day to day life to inspire us. No rhyme or reason or force of nature will hold luck or chance to trial. You can only keep working your way forward.”
The pair came to the same point of the park that Angela had been sitting. The setting Sun no longer glanced off the Channel 8 logo and with the fading light came a light chill. Angela suddenly felt a strong urge to hug Sam. She wanted him to hold her and keep her warm. “But what can I do?” she asked.
“What do you want to do?”
“I don’t know. I felt so much purpose when I was helping with Walter Wallace, but that all turned to shit.”
Sam thought for a moment. “You know Lucy just wanted to help as well. She thought Walter would change the world for the better. But in her error of revealing Walter to the world she accidentally created a counter culture that may just achieve what she set out to do.”
“You mean like the new hippies?” Angela asked, unconvinced.
“No, not quite.” Sam smiled. “Here.” He passed her a card and looked straight into her eyes. “You have more power than you think, Angela. We all have a place and a purpose and only so many chances to synchronise them.” He leant in and kissed her on the cheek; her heart danced between the confines of her chest. Sam stepped back, turned and walked away. Angela watched him disappear into the building she first met him in. She looked down at the card in her hand. It was blank all over except for a small website printed in the top right hand corner.