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troublemag | October 25, 2020

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The Day Everyone Told the Truth

The Day Everyone Told the Truth

FICTION

David Thrussell

 

I’m not a scientist or anything. I have no explanations for what happened. You could be tempted to call it the start of another average day. Sun rises. Birds chirp. Various people wake and prepare to go to work. I make breakfast and then my wife gets ready to leave. She leans over to give me a kiss and … out it comes.

“It’s not that I dislike you,” I blurted. “Not at all. It’s just that I’m … ambivalent.

“I assume there must have been some spark of passion way back some time, but I don’t feel a damn thing now. You just feel like a fairly intimate lodger. A decent lodger, I’ve no particular grievance to air. I just feel nothing.”

Well … she just looks embarrassed for a moment, then casts an almost sympathetic eye over me. “Fair enough then”, she says in a neutral voice, and shuffles out the door.

I must admit I felt a bit odd.

Not that I’d really done anything wrong, but I was a touch bewildered by what had just come tumbling out of my mouth. In a dazed autopilot I fussed about the house a bit.

Turning on the radio, the git on there sounded more like he was in the confessional than on the mic. He warbled on about how he’d been up since sparrows fart, and didn’t know if he could be arsed with it all. Said he was suspicious we were all complete twats anyway and then the radio went dead like he’d just up and wandered off.

It was getting toward the time when I would normally head off to work, and the strangest thought crossed my mind. Why should I bother?

I mean really, what was the point of it? Generating endless amounts of meaningless paperwork while following arcane bureaucratic procedure. Yet I was in an entirely amiable frame of mind, so I set off toward the office to tell them of my decision. You know, no hard feelings and all that, but I wasn’t going to be coming back.

A short while later I arrived to see a group of my former workmates standing about. We got to talking and there was pretty much universal agreement. This workplace was, like many others we suspected, just a kindergarten for adults. Keep us off the streets, keep a little cash flowing in, but really just a holding pen to make sure we didn’t accidentally do something a bit more meaningful.

The boss even chipped in, saying he was kind of sorry for being an arsehead, but that his sex life was a disaster. He also resented playing father to such a dull bunch, and admitted that he often had this terrible empty feeling deep inside, a bit like what he imagined death might be like.
A couple of the group patted him on the back and said that they understood about the empty feeling, and that he really shouldn’t worry about it.

The boss said he felt a little better already and that if people really needed the money he hoped they could find something more satisfying to do.

All in all it went quite well. A circle gathered to discuss things further, but I excused myself because I had remembered that I planned to pay some bills.

I sat down and rang the electricity company, spoke to a very nice woman on the other end of the phone and said I wouldn’t be paying my electric bill anymore. It just didn’t feel right.

The lady was very friendly. She agreed that it was downright odd to have to pay companies for services that our taxes had already paid for many times over.

I asked if she thought it was some kind of plot, working all week long and only really having enough money left over to pay your bills and the rest of it, and then starting almost from scratch again the following week?

She said most likely it was some kind of plot, and she would be happy to suspend my payments until further notice.

I replied that that really was most kind. “Don’t mention it,” she said. She had done much the same thing for almost everyone who had called that day.

That afternoon at 12.21pm the Prime Minister got up in parliament and said, “Look enough’s enough … who do we think we’re kidding?”

He, for one, was sick of being a shill for a bunch of fat billionaires, and if Rupert and Gina still wanted to run the country they could bloody well come down here and do the boring stuff themselves.

The right honourables cheered and ‘ear, ‘eared.

One member stepped forward and asked if it would be alright if he left immediately to shag his secretary, adding incidentally that hanging about in this stuffy chamber with a bunch of suits gave him blue balls. The Prime Minister nodded sagely and noted that he too was keen to blow his wad inside his mistress.

There was much appreciative laughter and the gathering broke up quickly.

At 1.46pm the general manager of the highest rating television station got on the air and said he’d pretty much had enough too. He looked quite sombre for a moment, and mentioned that the owner was a nasty piece of work and that if we had heard the stories he’d heard … well … you got the idea. Anyrate, in a few moments he was going to stop broadcasting altogether, and we really should do something else with our lives. Have a conversation, a talk, a walk, whatever. That was up to us. For his end of the bargain he would stop pumping raw sewage into our living-rooms.

At that, his image shrank to a tiny dot and then vanished like the end of some old-time cartoon.

A little while later the wife came home. She said in the end she hadn’t bothered going to work, and instead spent most of the day trying to get laid but, all things considered, the pickings were fairly slim and she’d given up for the time being.

I said I understood and that I really hoped I hadn’t put her nose out of joint with what I’d said this morning. It was true enough, but she was welcome to stay around as I didn’t have anything against her really, apart from the odd idiosyncrasy.

Later that evening clusters of conversation formed in the street. Various people came forward offering points of interest and the talk ranged widely and broadly. I proffered the opinion that I’d probably behaved like a right bastard toward some of my neighbours, but that I had never considered that they might indeed be human beings themselves with their own set of emotional responses and strata of unique abilities. The portly gentleman from two doors down chuckled at what he called my “new-found verbosity” and admitted that he had thought much the same of me.

Though the banter was engaging after some time I excused myself, saying that an early night was probably in order. It had been a long day.

And tomorrow there was much to be done.

 
 

David Thrussell is a poet trapped in the body of a hillbilly. Or a hopeless romantic hidden in the twisted frame of a dark electronic musician. Late at night, Thrussell fantasises that he actually lives next door to Hieronymous Bosch in Medieval Europe, and has hallucinated the whole dreadful modern era while suffering from acute ergot poisoning. We are not entirely convinced that this is not the case – worldwentdown.com/imcc/

 

Aleta WELLING, Portrait of David Thrussell 2006, oil on canvas, 26” x 34”.

Aleta WELLING, ‘Portrait of David Thrussell’ 2006, oil on canvas, 26” x 34”.

 

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