Saturday, December 17, 2005

TV People

Hurrah, and such. I now have Internet access at home. They were supposed to come next week, but as I mentioned earlier, they did not. I called up Cogeco on Monday, and politely informed them of my disappointment. The lady who I spoke (Karen) to was fantastic. She was honestly apologetic, and she took my feelings seriously. She told me what the problem was; apparently, I had been misinformed by the first lady I had talked to. My appointment had not been for last Saturday, but rather for yesterday.

Karen believed me, and she had them waive the service and set-up fee (almost $40.00) by way of apology. I was quite happy with this, as I can put up with a lot as long as I feel the company I am dealing with is willing to make amends for their errors. So, here I am, a week later, and I have Internet at home.

So now, here’s a long and weird story I wrote last week.

Legal Shit: The following is a work of fiction. Any similarity to any person or character, living or dead, is purely coincidental, and not the intention of the author. This work is protected under Canadian and international copyright law. Reproduction of this work, in whole or in part, may be done only with the express prior written consent of the author.

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TV PEOPLE
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While their friendship was rather odd and completely erratic, Neil Wellington and Davis Wentworth could not be said to have had a unique relationship. Certainly, the relationship was peculiar. Davis was extraordinarily wealthy, and had been since birth. He possessed the unique calm and devilish superiority of those for whom money will literally never be an object. No matter how expensive his merest whim might be, it could be fulfilled by simply verbalizing the desire; someone would hear, and make sure it happened. Davis’s family was Genie-in-the-bottle rich; only this genie was not so miserly as to limit its beneficiaries to a paltry three wishes.

On the far arc of the pecuniary pendulum, Neil was from a very poor family. So poor, in fact, that it had subsisted solely on the income derived from the public welfare system for three successive generations. Neil was unlike his parents, and possessed an inner fire and frenzy, a burning desire for success that was welded inseparably to a near psychotic need for acceptance and love. Neil’s family was foraging-in-dumpsters poor; a family for whom “dumpster” was synonymous with the words “grocery store”.

The fact that the two were friends at all was largely considered to be vaguely surprising. The fact that they later decided to share the same dorm room at the university was widely regarded by friends, family and acquaintances as being pretty amazing, but hardly unique. While none of them had ever witnessed this particular combination of seemingly conflicting personalities and widely divergent socio-fiscal life philosophies in person before, they had most certainly seen similar parings on a number of different TV shows.

Because sometimes, TV people are more real than real people.

Neil and Davis were both, naturally, aware of their nearly-television-famous relationship. They enjoyed the notoriety that this reputation brought to them, and banked upon it, invested it, and turned it into a nearly infamous degree of fame on the local party scene. Once a month, on the 15th of each month (regardless of the day of the week upon which this date fell), the two would host a television-show themed party. Davis’ money paid for professional set designers, who would, overnight, transform their dorm room into the set from any one of a number of different TV shows.

Because everyone – everyone – has a deep and lifelong fantasy about becoming a TV person, and living out their life amongst the cast of a popular television show.

The first party thrown was the now-legendary The Odd Party. Davis, naturally, played the anal-retentive neat freak Felix, while Neil was a curmudgeonly and slovenly Oscar. Each stayed true to their characters for the entire evening, playing their roles to the hilt. They refused to break character for anything. In fact, at the end of the evening, Neil ended up having sex with a woman because she looked like the lady that played Oscar’s ex-wife on the show. Davis also stayed true to his character, and had unprotected anal sex with a 17 year old twink from New York.

As their local fame and reputation grew, the two grew even closer together. They became as brothers, and each confessed to the other their most secret shames. A true bond grows between men when they share these secrets – secrets that no other person alive knows. They trade trust, and vulnerability, and even a small portion of their individuality. They become something more. It’s the kind of relationship that makes the whole “blood brothers” thing (with it’s relatively wussy cutting and sharing of blood) look a bit silly.

Their lives had been perfect, but everything came crashing to a halt when Neil won the Power Ball Lottery. On Friday, he was checking the couch for change for coffee. On Saturday, he was now rich to the tune of 65 million dollars. A few days after cashing in his ticket (before the Lottery Company had paid out, but not before he had charged the limit on all of his credit cards in anticipation), he received a phone call from the Lottery Company. They wanted him to, if he would be so kind, come in and speak to their lawyers about an “unexpected matter”. They would say no more, which left Neil feeling as if they deliberately wanted him to be frightened and angry when he arrived at their offices.

Neil arrived frightened and angry, having never even thought to ask his own lawyer to come along. He was led immediately into a dark, wood-paneled office designed in precisely the kind of way that is meant to look old and venerable, but instead looks new and shiny, so ends up looking like some geeky, pretentious teenager pretending to be Moses.

“An unexpected matter has arisen,” Mr. Wolf introduced himself as he rose, guiding Neil to a chair at the head of the panoramic oak table.

“Yeah, I know that much already, buddy!” Neil complained, looking up at the lawyer. “So how do we go about turning the phrase ‘unexpected matter’ into some kind of phrase that makes some damned sense?”

Mr. Wolf glanced over at Mr. Hood, and was rewarded with a nod. Mr. Wolf sat down next to Neil, and looked earnestly into his eyes.

“Your ticket has been contested,” he said calmly.

“What? What? What the fuck?” Neil had apparently made the decision to bypass incredulity, anger, rage, and blood-thirsty rage and jump straight to barking mad.

“We understand that you are upset-”

“Upset? Upset? Do you think I’m fucking upset? Do you think Poland was upset to discover the Germans had come to visit? Do you think Caesar was upset when he was stabbed to death by 22 of his closest friends? Do you think-”

“Yes, yes,” Mr. Wolf raised his hand, stemming the flow of Neil’s ire, “I believe I speak for us all present when I say that we can dispense with the amusing analogies and safely assume that you are distressed. Now, perhaps if we are finished reenacting the first scene of Shakespeare’s little known and very obscure play Felonious the Whining Sprite Bitches on Endlessly about Twat All, we can move on to slightly more helpful discourse.”

“Yes. Well, fine.” Neil felt like a twat.

“Apparently, a mister Davis Wentworth has contested legal ownership of the ticket.”

“What?”

“Yes, apparently he is claiming that it was he who had purchased the ticket, and that it was stolen from his night stand – along with an expensive gold watch.”

“Why? What? How?”

“I see our list of interrogatives has tripled. Very nice. At this rate, you’ll be able to ask complete questions by Thursday lunch.”

“Fine. God. Why would he do something like that?”

“You are aware of the enormous cash prize that belongs to the ticket holder, are you not?”

“What can I do?”

“Nothing, I am afraid, until the case goes before a judge. Which will take place by,” here, he paused to consult a few pages in a file folder, “March the 7th. A little less than 3 weeks from today.”

“Court? This is going to court? Is it a legal matter then?”

“The theft of a ticket worth 65 million dollars? Yes, I believe the police just might consider such a matter to be of a criminal nature.”

“So, are they going to arrest Davis?”

“No, Mr. Wellington. They are here to arrest you.”

The door to the office opened wide, admitting two uniformed police officers, who took up position on either side of the doorway. As they stepped apart, a man garbed in a long brown London Fog trench coat, a worn black two-piece suit, and wearing a black leather fedora, stepped into the room.”

“Are you Neil Allen Wentworth?” he asked.

“What’s going on here? I-”

“I ask you once more,” the man interrupted, “are you Neil Allen Wentworth?”

“Yes. And you are?”

“Detective Archer. You are under arrest. Come with me.”

Over the next few days, Neil had visitors from his public defender, his father, and an elderly man who claimed to be his priest. It was possible that the priest was telling the truth, Neil supposed, but considering the fact he hadn’t seen a priest since he was nine years old, there was no real way for him to know for certain.

From his court-assigned public defender, Neil learned that: (a) the police had found Davis’ gold watch in Neil’s briefcase; (b) Davis had hired a team of insanely expensive lawyers to assist the prosecuting attorney in court; and (c) as far as he was concerned, he was not really confident that they had anything even remotely approaching a chance for a “Not Guilty” verdict.

From his father he learned that: (a) pretty much all of the family agree that Neil was guilty – everyone except Nancy, and everyone knows that she refuses to vote the same way as her sister Susan; (b) it was a good thing that Neil’s mother was not currently alive to witness this shame; and (c) did Neil still have the phone number of that guy he knew who could get some good weed?

From the priest, he learned that he was going to hell. The priest said a lot of different things, and told a number of different stories, all of which ended with him going to Hell. The priest pointed out that his visit was more or less analogous with a doctor’s visit to the bed of a terminal cancer patient.

A day went by with no visits, because his public defender had an emergency court date to attend for another client. Neil’s ex-girlfriend had jumped on a Greyhound bus from her home over 700 miles away when she heard about his winning lottery ticket, but she had turned around a little over half-way there when she heard about the criminal charges. On the next day, Neil was told he had a visitor, and was taken to the viewing room. The inmates were seated in a row, separated by thin green privacy walls; between them and their visitors was a protective glass wall, with telephones provided for communication.

Neil blinked in surprise as Davis took the seat across from him. Davis picked up his phone, and began to move his lips. He waved at Neil, and gestured towards his handset. Neil grabbed it, and placed it to his ear.”

“Neil, how are you? Keeping that anus virgin territory, I hope?”

“Why are you doing this?”

“Are you really that stupid Neil? It’s 65 million dollars.”

“But you … you don’t need it.”

“You’re right, I don’t. I don’t need it at all. After I win, I will forget about the money entirely. It’ll just fade into the pile.”

“Then why? What’s the point?”

“Because,” Davis’s eyes narrowed, and his face seemed somehow more intense, and he locked eyes with Neil, “I don’t like the idea of your kind with money.”

“What the fuck are you talking about?” Neil was simultaneously personally shocked and morally stunned.

“Your breed wasn’t meant to have money. When it happens, its an accident, a malfunction, a malfeasance, a malady. It’s the kind of illness that puts our society at risk. And it’s up to men like me to strike with surgical precision to excise such malignant tumours.”

“What do you mean breed?”

“Your kind, your ilk, your species,” Davis somehow made the last word sound as if it had more in common with the word feces than just the rhyme. “You’re a sub-par, sub-standard sub-species.” He did it again.

“We were friends,” an accusation.

“We were never friends,” Davis leaned back and spat on the screen. Neil watched the spit wad drip and slide slowly down the screen. “You were a pet. You were fine and fun when you were in your place. You were well-trained, and I could amuse my friends by having you do tricks. But like any dog, give it too much freedom and it starts to think like maybe its actually your equal. It forgets its place, and needs to be reminded again. Consider this your metaphorical swat across the nose with a newspaper.”

Neil sat back slowly, stunned, the phone sliding from his fingers. As the enormity of Davis’ words washed over him, his mind wandered to various scenes in the past in which Davis had provided monetary assistance. Phrases such as Don’t worry about it, I’ve got more than I can ever spend, and It’s just a few bucks, don’t deny me the pleasure of helping you out floated through his mind. He saw it all, this time from a different perspective. This time, it was not a supportive and caring friend doing what he could to lend a helping hand. This time, it was a dog owner, indulging his pet with an expensive toy or a fancy new food.

It made him feel unhealthy. It made him feel unclean. It made him feel like a whore.

“Well, Oscar, its not like I didn’t warn you,” Neil could hear Davis’s voice drifting from the receiver, doing his very convincing Tony Randal impersonation.

“What?” he asked sluggishly as he raised the phone to his ear.

“I always warned you Oscar, if you didn’t clean up your act, I would enact my revenge.”

“That was … a bit,” Neil whispered. “That was a fucking scene.”

“It sure was, Oscar,” Davis whispered back. “It sure was.” He hung up his phone, and blew Neil a kiss before turning his back, and walking outside.

Because sometimes, something slips, and we become TV people.

7 comments:

Auntie Bernie said...

Very cool!
Wentworth and Wellington, huh?

Rach said...

Too long!

Asher Hunter said...

Kim: Yup. I always choose names very carefully. Every name is chosen for a reason, and quite often feature overall themes. Its all behind-the-scenes stuff, but I like it.

Rachel: Sorry its so long, not every post can be for those with short attention spans! :P

Rach said...

Sorry what was that? You lost me.
;)

Grammarian said...

It's too SHORT. What happens next?

By the way, many of those calls from visitors at jails are recorded in the hopes of having the prisoner say something incriminating. For Davis to admit what he did would sink the case.

BStrong said...

I need more.

Half way through the story I thought that Davis was playing some kind of elaborate prank on Neil, something Davis may have seen on TV and a prank that only lots of money could buy.

B

Asher Hunter said...

grammarian: I don't think Davis actually says anything that could be used against him. After all, he just admits to "doing it", which any fancy-pants lawyer could have dismissed.

bstrong: Sorry, that's the story. :) I like the fact that you saw the story going in a different direction. I don't like my works unless they go somewhere that even I didn't see coming at first.

Out of curiosity, did you read the Bill Keane tale? :)