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A Man Can Tell a Thousand Lies

Suzanne Feldstein and I had been having an extended exchange of emails. I think she was about to ask me if she could write an article about me when Watson Holmes told her about my localization of the killer and totally distracted her. She was obsessed with the story suddenly, grilling me about every detail I could recall from those frantic few seconds of telepathic contact. I don't think she realized that I figured out fairly early on why she was so fixated on solving the murders (she made a couple of slips in our one phone conversation).

I had to admire her. I don't think I could keep up with a young thing like Simon now, much less at her age (only a few years older than I am, actually).

Not that I've ever had an opportunity to explore that particular side of human interaction.

But anyway.

I answered with what I could, reminding her the whole time that she couldn't publish her information. She was good, though, managing to suggest a potential locale (the murder of the Jellyfish in Staybird, where the Wonderful House is located, certainly was a nice touch) without blowing the gaffe.

I was getting caught up on her latest posting after a particularly rough day of client parent conferences. If I ever have to answer the idiotic question of, "Why don't you just fix her/him already?" again in my lifetime, it will be far too soon, but I know I will; practically every parent asks it. The simple answer is, of course, that the nature of telepathy and the human mind means that there are no easy fixes. The complex answer that they very rarely understand is that to do such a thing would alter the fundamental fabric of their child's mind, personality, and being, and if they really want something like that, I'm sure there are a few supervillains who don't blanch at murder and would be happy to help them.

In any case, I was reading Suzanne's latest post when I suddenly realized that I was missing It's a Wonderful House.

I've gotten less and less on-the-spot with tuning into my show (yes, my show) since the livestream glitch. Pearl says it's natural to avoid the site of a trauma, even a minor one. I just think I'm dreading the inevitable: we will unmask the killer, and they'll televise the whole atrocity. Because death and insanity and evil are valuable commodities, dontcha know.

So I tuned in almost half an hour late. My tardiness was rewarded, though, by Simon's abs.

There they were, displayed for all the world to see on my screen, six feet of high definition wonder. The camera lingered lovingly on his well-defined six-pack, his rounded pecs, a line of sweat trailing over his muscular shoulder... and, of course, the pale surgical scars that stood out on his dark-skinned chest. As the view pulled back, I was treated to Tom's barechested glory as well, as he and Simon were lifting weights together in the House's workout room. I expect they only took their shirts off for the camera, though. Tom had a grim sort of resignation on his face as he worked his intensely sculpted muscles. Simon was less ripped, but still admirable, and had, besides, a very cute little scruff of black hair over his breastbone. Both of them were wearing baggy athletic shorts and sneakers, and had towels nearby.

I fanned myself with the nearest patient folder to hand.

The shot shifted to Lizzie, back in the kitchen that she seemed to be making her own domain. She was making a roast beef and cheese panini in one of those chic electric panini grills. "No," she was saying to someone, "I don't work out. Jeshri does -- she runs and stuff -- and of course Simon and Tom do. But I hate working hard for nothing. You don't get anything out of pumping iron, no tomatoes or chicken eggs or corn or whatever. Just a lot of sweat and trouble." She looked at the camera with a pronounced curl to her lip. "I suppose you think that makes me like Brandon."

And so, of course, we got to see Brandon lounging in his patterned boxer shorts and a long-sleeved t-shirt in the living room, playing some sort of sports videogame on the television. There was an open beer bottle at his elbow. "Watch this, man, this is awesome!" he exclaimed, mashing some buttons on his controller.

Back to Lizzie. "At least I don't pretend to work out while playing some videogame, or think I can learn to dance from one." She opened the grill and took out her panini with her bare hands. I could see a small glow around them after she set the sandwich on a plate, and she shook them like they tingled. "I'm plain and simple and boring, and the producers are probably sorry they brought me on."

"I think," Jeshri said, a little breathlessly as she jogged along through a park, "that everyone is grateful for Lizzie being so exciting. It took the heat off the rest of us in a bunch of ways. I mean, I'm so dull: working girl with a functional family." As she jogged along, I could see the river behind her, trees and bushes and careful plantings of spring bulbs erupting. "I bet the producers are kicking themselves for bringing me on. Did you know that one of them asked me if I was going to have an arranged marriage and if so, could they film my first meeting with the groom-to-be?" There was a noise of disbelief from her camerawoman (the camerawoman must have been on rollerblades or... maybe flying? are all the crew para too? after all, if your para power is to fly six inches off the ground, you'd make a crappy superhero but a kickass camerawoman). "Yeah. I had to disappoint them, though. And then he asked me if my parents would be willing to arrange one -- you know --" she made airquotes "-- 'a big Indian one with all those flowers and stuff' if the production company paid them. I very nearly walked out on the whole thing right then."

One of the editors was probably going to get a pink slip, I thought, for televising that. The forums were probably on it already.

Simon was emerging from the shower with a small white towel wrapped around his waist, Old Spice Guy style. He had nice legs too. Oh, Suzanne, you cradlesnatching object of envy. If only the world knew, you'd get all sorts of hate mail. "Oh, the producers hate my lawyers. I'm so much less scandalous and interesting than they'd hoped. After the early rounds of transbashing, ol' Brandon gave it up as no fun and even his camerabro has mostly stopped giving me the stinkeye. But at least I'm on the periphery of the drama. I think Tom's a great guy, but he flatly refuses to have drama for the camera. Makes me think they're saving up some big reveal for him."

"Do I have hidden depths?" Tom said, pulling a t-shirt down over his head and adjusting it as it clung to his torso. "BLEEP no. The most I've got going on is a deep-seated desire to beat the BLEEP out of Brandon. But I think everyone's got that. Even his camerabro rolls his eyes behind his back. The guy's unredeemable. That said, I'd probably break my hand on his invulnerable skull, so I'm just not doing it." He gave the camera a surprisingly natural smile, considering that his persona was all about looking grumpy, and said, "If anyone's got to have hidden depths, it's Brandon, don't you think? The frat douchebag thing has to be an act, right? He's an accountant or something; no one would keep him on if he was that much of a douche in real life, right?"

"You'll never guess what I found out," Jeshri said to Simon and Lizzie, coming into the living room on another evening, still dressed from work.

"My breath is bated," Simon said.

"Please tell me it's funny, at least," Lizzie said. She was looking through a stack of paperwork and was kind of drawn and haggard.

"Hilarious," Jeshri assured her. "You know how he's always talking about what a great job he has, what a fabulous accountant he is, that sort of thing?"

This was rarely shown on the show, I note, but I'd seen it quite a bit on Twitter.

"Yeah?" Simon said, eyebrows rising.

"Well, one of the women I know at work has a sister who's an accountant for Bonafide and Faux," Jeshri said, grinning. "She told me her sister said that Brandon's not an accountant at all. He's a mail clerk."

Lizzie whistled. Simon smirked.

The view cut away to a middle-aged white man in a suit, who the screen identified as Mitchell Bonafide, partner in the Bonafide and Faux accounting firm, apparently caught in the entryway of an office building. He looked perplexed as he glanced at the camera and said, "No, I don't know any Brandon DeJong, and he's definitely not one of our accountants. Please talk to our Human Resources department if you need more information."

Cut back to Brandon, whose face was crimson, eyes wide and muscles in his throat straining. "You little BLEEP!" He took a step forward with fists clenched.

The view widened, and we could see Jeshri skip back a step from the foot of the stairs, where Brandon was looming. I noticed her hand going to her pocket and palming something out.

Tom said, without even looking away from the television, "What's the matter? Were you counting on your fame as an accountant to get you laid more?"

"Not like you'll ever tell any woman the truth anyway," Lizzie said, apparently bored but standing near the doorway to the kitchen. "Just think of it as fair warning via network television."

Brandon glowered down at Jeshri for a moment longer, then turned and stormed back upstairs.

They waited to hear the door slam in the attic before the three of them exhaled. Jeshri slid the screwdriver back into her pocket. They all looked at each other, and then jumped when the front door opened and shut.

Simon walked in -- no, he paced in, like a cautious animal, head subtly lowered, and if he had wolf ears in this form, they would've been flat against his head. "What's wrong?" he said, and I saw his nostrils twitching.

"Brandon just found out that Jeshri spilled his beans," Tom said.

"And he overreacted," Lizzie said.

"Just a little," Jeshri said.

Simon cocked his head.

Switch to Brandon's disastrous bathroom. I could see the patches of black mildew on the white shower curtain, and a heap of t-shirts and underwear and wet towels, and just the edges of one of the most disgustingly filthy toilet bowls I have ever seen. Then the scene was blocked out by Brandon, still scarlet-faced, now with bulging veins in his forehead and throat, as he took hold of the front of the camera and shoved his face up to the lens. "I will get her if it is the last thing I do," he hissed. "I will make her wish she'd never opened her ugly little mouth and shamed me. I will make her remember her place, the little BLEEP. I don't lose to BLEEP like her."

Back to the living room. Simon's normally shapely mouth was pressed into a thin line. Everyone else was watching him. "Lizzie, are you still sleeping on Jeshri's floor?" Simon said.

"Yeah," Lizzie said. "I can't live up there with him. I'd kill him in his sleep."

Simon's expression changed ever so slightly, becoming completely unreadable.

"Is he threatening Jesh?" Tom said, leaning over the back of the sofa and watching Simon.

Simon nodded.

"He won't just stop with her, you know, if he's really been set off," Tom said, gazing steadily at Simon. "You want to sleep on my floor, man? Or you want me to sleep on yours?"

Simon shook himself, and then he smiled. "I think I'd better do the floor sleeping. Got a doggie bed?"

When I turned off the show, I thought about that whole scene. I knew, from Suzanne and from a terse email from Watson Holmes (how did that woman get my email address?) that Megan Amazon had passed on my warning to Simon. Simon must have been wondering how to ensure both safety and monitoring for almost everyone, and here Brandon played neatly into his hands. Or had they all orchestrated it to enrage Brandon into saying something foolish? Hard to know.

Meanwhile, watching my show had taken on a whole new layer of meaning that only a small group of fans shared with me.

---

From Ye Olde Author:
Had to make sure you all got an episode before I headed off to celebrate both my parents turning 80 this year! I did promise some more fan service, this time of the non-plate-smashing-into-Brandon variety.

The comment incentive in July: if I get 50 total comments from readers in July, I will post twice weekly through August. As before, if you all post 75 comments, I'll post twice weekly through September too. Get up to 100 comments, the twice-weekly postings continue through October.

And add-on to the incentive: if you post a review of Wonder City (and link it from one of the WCS posts), I'd count that as 5 comments. And if some folks were to create a full-blown TVTropes page for Wonder City, I would count that as 25 comments. *whistles innocently*









Date: 2011-07-13 02:07 pm (UTC)
kore: (Default)
From: [personal profile] kore
There they were, displayed for all the world to see on my screen, six feet of high definition wonder. The camera lingered lovingly on his well-defined six-pack, his rounded pecs, a line of sweat trailing over his muscular shoulder... and, of course, the pale surgical scars that stood out on his dark-skinned chest. As the view pulled back, I was treated to Tom's barechested glory as well, as he and Simon were lifting weights together in the House's workout room. I expect they only took their shirts off for the camera, though. Tom had a grim sort of resignation on his face as he worked his intensely sculpted muscles. Simon was less ripped, but still admirable, and had, besides, a very cute little scruff of black hair over his breastbone. Both of them were wearing baggy athletic shorts and sneakers, and had towels nearby.

I fanned myself with the nearest patient folder to hand.



AWW YEAH. Thank you!

Simon is super-sharp, as well as cute. Brandon is HORRID.

Date: 2011-07-22 12:54 am (UTC)
heavenscalyx: (Default)
From: [personal profile] heavenscalyx
For youuuuuu. And yes, Brandon is horrid. Always horrid.

Date: 2011-07-13 04:46 pm (UTC)
finch: (Default)
From: [personal profile] finch
I agree with Tom, I think there has to be something deeper going on with Brandon, totally aside from the accountant thing.

Date: 2011-07-14 01:14 pm (UTC)
kore: (Default)
From: [personal profile] kore
Hunh, do you think Brandon is possessed too, like G, maybe? (I actually suck at figuring out mysteries. I horrify people when I read mysteries by looking at the end first, so I don't spend the whole book worrying about whodunit. Ha.)

Date: 2011-07-22 12:55 am (UTC)
heavenscalyx: (Default)
From: [personal profile] heavenscalyx
Sorry 'bout the inability to read the end first here!

Date: 2011-07-22 12:54 am (UTC)
heavenscalyx: (Default)
From: [personal profile] heavenscalyx
One generally hopes there's something deeper there, doesn't one?

Date: 2011-07-13 05:01 pm (UTC)
kyleri: (Default)
From: [personal profile] kyleri
...in which the plot, far past the point of simply thickening, has begun to positively curdle (it's a compliment, I swear).

Date: 2011-07-22 12:55 am (UTC)
heavenscalyx: (Default)
From: [personal profile] heavenscalyx
... I think this is one of my favorite comments EVER.

Date: 2011-07-22 12:57 am (UTC)
kyleri: (Default)
From: [personal profile] kyleri
Yay! *dances*

Date: 2012-01-28 08:28 am (UTC)
the_leaky_pen: (Default)
From: [personal profile] the_leaky_pen
I need *this* comment on a t-shirt, too, plz.

Date: 2011-07-17 04:49 am (UTC)
clstal: (Default)
From: [personal profile] clstal
Yay! Loving the updates - thank you!

Date: 2011-07-22 12:55 am (UTC)
heavenscalyx: (Default)
From: [personal profile] heavenscalyx
Thanks!

Date: 2012-01-28 08:29 am (UTC)
the_leaky_pen: (Default)
From: [personal profile] the_leaky_pen
I kind of really don't want Brandon to turn out to be the serial killer, just because of how *obvious* that would be. Though with the foreshadowing that it may be the cameraman, now I'm wondering if maybe it *wasn't* the cameraman after all?

How deep a game are you playing here?

camera man

Date: 2013-10-01 08:50 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
I know i'm really behind i just started reading this series from the begining about a week ago but i think that the cameraman id the killer and not only is he killing people now but he is this grey phantom character that killed meteor way back when

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