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Ballad of the Filthy Assistant

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Channonfeedyarrow+GPS Angels 8 ++ itsalwaysmonday

Tiarra keeps getting my set wrong. If I have to dance to Thigh Five again, I'm going to rip her wig off and smother her with it. Felicity wants to take the first show tomorrow because she knows the tips are the best when the audience is fresh; last dance of the night gets the guilty applause and the skint. Tiarra should remind her that the new girls have to earn pride of place, and I've got rent to pay. Maybe take Ziang some place romantic. Or buy him something shiny. He's always looking for new ware. That's my cue – and sure as shit, Tiarra's got Thigh Five on the speakers again. That fucking DJ should at least know better than to play the same song twice.

 

Channonfeedyarrow+GPS Angels 8 ++ extratuesday

I don't know why he even had a typewriter. You'd think a fuckhead like that, a journalist, would be all about dictchips. Fuck knows he was the orating type. He showed up shirtless, reeking of smartfizz and those really evil old school cigarettes, the unfiltered kind that the anti-cancer set just loves to suck on. I smoke, yeah, and I've got the trait, but I still use filters. I'm not an animal.

This guy. This guy should have been an animal. Everything about him, bared teeth, bastard roar, boots for stomping. But animals don't type, I guess. And they don't break up fascist smackdowns with sheer force of personality, either. I don't know if personality is really a word that can be applied to this guy. Spider fucking Jersualem. In the full-force flesh.

They don't have any pictures of him at the Wolfit School of Journalism, but everyone knows who he is. It was like waking up in bed next to a celebrity. Ziang's going to spark a fucking punch-in when I tell him.

I remember his Red Page Rant against the President about six years ago. The feeds practically ran with venom. And the media blitz that howled in trying to bring the Hush to that little tirade? Just a tiny bit memorable. And it must have worked, too, seeing as how that was the last word from Spider J until I ended up on the roof with him tonight.

Just being on the roof at the Angels 8 riots should earn me a free pass this semester. Hell, just standing next to Spider Jerusalem and inhaling his carbon dioxide should land me a Grade 1.

But maybe it should get me expelled instead.

History happening right in front of me, and did I take any notes? Did I track down an interview? Was I in the thick of it with a spy-eye and a mic hitched to my dictchip? I watched the riot over Jerusalem's shoulder and cried on his fucking keyboard. How did he phrase it, 'the people who have to live and work here, weeping openly'. Jersualem knew exactly what was going on. The Civic Center paid off some transients to start a fight, and that gave the cops the excuse they needed to get truncheon-happy. Fuckers.

Fuckers. There isn't a word that can really describe these people. Cops, supposed to protect and serve, and one caved a kid's head in and draped him over the hood of his ride. Unarmed men, women and children, boxed in and cut down. We could feel the sting of the gas, but people were bleeding from the eyes down there. And all I could do was cry.

What the hell would have happened if that fuckhead and his typewriter hadn't shown up? He said all he could do was write it down. There were already at least thirty dead and hundreds bleeding by the time the storm troopers closed up shop. If he hadn't stopped them by speaking out, by telling everyone what he'd seen, they would have just cleaned house. There are 30,000 people in Angels 8. The riot only lasted maybe 40 minutes in real time, but it would have gone on 'til dawn. I can hardly wrap my mind around it, and I was there, the burning cars still hot on my face eight stories up, the black rasp of cheap military cordite, the screams. Jesus, the screaming. And I know the Transients got off easy. That whole fucking neighborhood would have been one big chalk outline, if not for that loudmouthed little fuckhead, with his douchebag tattoos and his utter willingness to spit in the eye of The Man. I don't know if I've ever seen something that… that weirdly pure.

The typewriter offered me a job. Well, the guy on the feed on the typewriter. Mitchell Royce. He edits The Word, and he's got Spider Jersualem on retainer. Royce says the pay is shit and the company's worse, but it's got a bedroom in the smooth district and I'm getting bored of stripping. My barcode tit tats are fading, along with my patience for drunk dickwads, stingy with tips. Royce made it clear that a fuckhead like Jerusalem will have definite need of a bodyguard, and if I'm ever going to make this journalism thing real, there's no way to get closer to the living, stinking truth than spending time with a man whose rage can fuel the engines of social reform. He did more than observe and report; he made something happen. Worse, he made me think maybe I could make something happen, too. I know that can only be dangerous, but somewhere along the line, I said: I'm going to tell the world what I see, and maybe someone, somewhere, will really give a shit.

Maybe. I'm gonna fucking hold my goddamned breath. But still.

After the heat died down and Jerusalem finished chatting up his bossman, he hung his head a little and I thought maybe he was crying. I handed him my wrap so he could wipe his face, but he just set his teeth in that mean mule sneer he had fixed on his face when he first walked in and said, "Crying blurs your vision, kid. If you want to see, you have to stare into the black heart of the beast, and you can't fucking blink."

They don't cross your palms with silver as a pay-dacoit unless your knuckles are bloody first. You blink when you take your shot, you miss a chance to take a second one, and in that moment, you could get tagged first.

I've already learned not to blink. Now it's time to learn how to see.

END