People in the limelight often use little rituals to centre themselves or dispel nerves before an important moment—a pop star might sing a playful version of “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” backstage before a concert, a football player might kiss the ball before a shot at goal, or an actress might close her eyes in a moment of silence before a big scene. For Stan Berserkervich, it was urinating from the top of a building. As his helicopter touched down on the roof of Grand Tower, the state’s tallest skyscraper, he hopped out and jogged to the building’s edge. His security staff waited. Stan climbed up onto the raised concrete barrier, put his shiny, narrow shoes almost to the edge of the manmade precipice, and looked down at the city below. If it was not for the huge smile on his face, he might have resembled a man about to commit suicide. He spread his feet slightly, unzipped his trousers and relieved himself over the side of the tower. As Stan watched the urine stream disperse in the breeze into a thousand descending droplets, he imagined some of those droplets gently splashing the heads of pedestrians on the street ninety-six storeys below. It was an unusual ritual, but Stan never felt more composed than when he was pissing on the people he was elected to serve.
Shortly after, in the dressing room behind Grand Tower’s Conference Room A, Stan sat on a cushioned stool as a makeup artist applied a touch of powder to his forehead. Belinda, his personal assistant, ran through the key points Stan would be focusing on during the press conference. “…and so, the advice is to extend the lockdown another fourteen days.”
“Right, right,” said Stan. He grimaced under the soft makeup brush swishing against his face and squirmed in his seat.
“Are you all right, Stan?” asked Belinda.
“That’s enough,” he said, shooing the makeup artist from the room. “Did you see the papers this morning?”
“Yes,” scoffed Belinda. “Sensationalism, the lot of it. Try not to think about it.”
“I can’t help it,” said Stan. He leaned forward in his seat and tapped the side of his head. “It’s stuck in my head. I can’t think straight.”
“Did you wee off the top of the building?”
“Yes, of course. It was fun, but now it’s over and I feel so… trapped.” He began to breath heavily and loosen his tie.
“Oh no, don’t do that,” said Belinda, slapping his hand away and fixing his tie. “It’s going to be fine, okay?”
“I don’t feel fine,” said Stan. “Why is everyone out to get me?”
“Oh dear,” said Belinda. “Do I need to get Wendy?”
Stan perked up. “Is she here?”
“Of course. Wait here, I’ll go get her. And don’t undo your tie.”
Stan sighed and rubbed the bridge of his nose. He hooked his index finger and dragged it slowly down the middle of his forehead, then examined the thin line of gooey makeup beneath his fingernail. Soon, high heels tapped the corridor outside, and Stan looked up. Wendy appeared in the doorway. Her black, wavy hair draped across her brow, and her full red lips blossomed in a pout. “Oh, my poor Stanley,” she said, and entered the room. She cradled Stan’s face in her hands and planted a kiss on the top of his head. “What have they done to you, sweetie?”
Stan heaved a sigh. “Those damn newspapers are out to get me.”
“Oh, honey, you have to stop reading those.” She put her arms around his neck and pressed his face into her plump bosom. “Nobody gets their news in print anymore. Look online. Look at social media. You’re a star, darling.”
Stan sniffed and shrugged. “I guess so.”
“You are the premier,” insisted Wendy, “and your leadership has kept this state safe through the single worst health disaster in human history. Every person out there owes you their life.”
“I wish they would see that,” said Stan.
Wendy placed her hands on Stan’s cheeks and looked him in the eye. “You know what they’re like, my love. You can’t expect vermin to be grateful.”
“I’m tired of their questions. They always want to make me look bad.”
“All they have are their silly questions. And the more they try to hurt you, the more you shine like the sun.” Wendy smiled. “And for every one of those hack journalists who doubts you, my sweet, there are a hundred who see you for the visionary you are.”
Stan smiled and nodded. “I am a hero.”
“That’s right, sweetie,” said Wendy. “And when you feel overwhelmed, you just look around that room and call on one of the good journalists, and they’ll ask you a decent question, a proper question, okay?”
“But how do I know who the good journalists are?”
“They’re the ones wearing red t-shirts.”
Stan looked up at Wendy and smiled. She wiped a tear from his eye. “Thanks Wendy,” he said.
She smiled. “Do you want to have sex with me? We could do it right here. Let the press wait.”
Stan chuckled and squeezed Wendy’s hand. “Maybe later,” he said.
“All right, hun. You let me know.” Wendy winked, then turned and left the dressing room, swaying her hips as she walked.
Belinda poked her head in the doorway and raised her eyebrows to Stan, as if to ask if everything was all right. Stan nodded and straightened his tie. Belinda smiled. “They’re ready for you, Stan.”
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