CNTRL: Chapter 1

This is the first chapter of my book CNTRL, published in Amazon that you can find available in paperback, ebook, full or divided in its three parts. More info in the link in the cover image:

I hope you like it, please let me know!

Chapter 1

The newspaper’s office swarmed with noise and people in the never ending day that started ten months ago with the resignation of the forty-ninth president of the republic. Other papers described that action as some sort of plot after the unexpected political shift that the leader had taken in his last moments. But not this one, which had tried to put any sensationalism aside from the start. Whether the reasons were those or not, what everybody officially knew was that the step back had been justified with a health issue, not giving any further detail in an attempt to respect the president’s privacy. There was nothing suspicious about it in spite of the lack of statements or a good bye speech. When the vice-president also resigned, not even a month after his new designation as acting president and just a few days since he, surprisingly, backed up the critic message of his predecessor, a general astonishment made many media to start echoing the growing and confusing conspiracy theories. Although most of them were complete nonsense, only fostered by the opposition parties, they just served as entertainment for the public opinion and as an excuse to discuss about the private life of the two former presidents. Their party, historically known by its conservative turn, had been steadily ruling over nineteen years and every poll have them as winners in the incoming elections that would take place in six months. That second renunciation forced new elections before that and produced an odd atmosphere for a campaign that would be marked by those two recent and strange political deaths. Despite all the noise and aggressiveness coming from the different contenders and their supporting media, it did not surprise anybody when the new candidate from the conservative party got the presidency by a vast majority, using a speech that appealed to the traditional values that the two men of the hour had doubted with their baffling last days.

Before disappearing, both politicians had drown their party immersed in a deep crisis by questioning its ideological compass. In any case, their speeches, claiming for ecology as the new cornerstone of any future decision, declaring war on any sort of corruption, or announcing an unprecedented new set of social measures, were rapidly silenced through countless interventions that gave a different meaning to the words of the two ex-presidents. The most demagogic and sinister face of politics entered the room, trying to convince everybody about the true relevance of ecology in their party and in the future of the country, about the significant reduction of the corruption since their party took the chair, and about the irresponsibility in going forward with the announced social measures. Empty words in the end. The eternal fight for the control of the public opinion between the papers with a tendentiously progressive editorial policy and those on the opposite side was taking place with more ferocity than usual. Objectivity and impartiality at the service of the nation had been gone for years without no one claiming for them or, what was worst, without anybody remembering them even. Politics and journalism, two activities with the essence of public service, were lost in the search for the best storytelling, trying to convince anybody, no matter the cost. Even at the worst of all: the cost of lying. But this was nor new, neither surprising so the people were already used to it and participated as VIP spectators: asleep, weary, and letting themselves to be seduced by the most entertaining speech, even if the goal of that speech was to rule over their opinion.

When a few weeks later the new president swore the oath of allegiance and announced an unplanned press conference where he wanted to express a “very important message” and share his “new vision on the future of the human kind”, all warnings became red and everybody that had the chance to see the announcement on the Government’s official account was shocked. Surprise became bigger once, in less than an hour, there were no sign of it in the social media, disappearing as if it had never existed. As it had been nothing but a bad joke. But what citizens never knew was how the president’s office contacted the most relevant media in the country, requesting to silence the message and forbidding the publication of whatever news about it, adducing they had asked under National Security considerations. The issue was put down so fast that, even if a big number of journalists from the whole country had witnessed it all, nobody realized what had happened there. What everybody could see after two weeks of an absolute public isolation was the spokesperson informing that the president had resigned irrevocably due to personal matters that were not revealed and that he would say goodbye to the citizens shortly and explain his reasons for that unexpected departure. Although the announced farewell would never finally come, not a single soul insisted on it after the normality that a few months with the new acting president had brought again. The pursue of the truth behind that sequence of strange events was no longer a Government’s prohibition but an idea buried below the unstoppable wave of the latest news which swept any desire of getting informed. That was the sign of our times, a constant rain of stimulus that turned any issue into obsolete in a matter of hours. Many times, much faster than that. Not even the death of the first of those three presidents revived any debate because the health issues that forced him to renounce had never been published. Practically every media praised the work of a man who had dedicated his life to politics. They chose to omit any mention to the odd final moments that could make people think in any kind of madness produced by an unknown disease. Truth was dependent on honoring the memory of a man of State who had been, putting any ideology apart, and, above all, an honest politician for almost forty years.

As time went by, the hustle and bustle present in the editorial office during the last months turned into a well-known routine in the same way the murmuring full of excitement over the inexplicable switched into the typical noise of a newspaper, just a few hours before the publication deadline. In this scenario, Roland Sou was lying in his desk, doodling over an old notepad, and making time until the end of the day. He had already finished his article and had nothing else to do but wasting time. Another day in the office for him. He was still immersed in his thoughts when a sudden shove brought him back and made him drop his cup of coffee.

—You’re falling asleep, Sou!

—Fuck off, Renan. Don’t you have to write any of your bullshit and stain the minds of the poor bastards that have the bad taste of reading your articles?

—Come on, boy! You should’ve seen the jokes on sleeping journalists back in the time. That would definitely annoy you. I’d pay to see it.

The old man bent down with effort due to his generous belly and picked the cup up while laughing at the grumpy face of his angry pal.

—I was not sleeping, I was just waiting for the deadline —answered Sou while he helped his partner to stand up.

—Have you already finished today’s article? Gosh! I would like to see if you could be that fast writing about politics. Culture section… What a heaven! I should ask for a change so I could scratch my balls or take a nap before the deadline without the boss breathing in my neck.

—We’ll welcome you with open arms, although I doubt you would enjoy as much as you do writing about your adored party —said the young man while he was soaking up the coffee puddle from a carpet tattooed with stains.

—I’m a journalist, buddy. If the other options are a complete rubbish that doesn’t make me any adorer —replied Renan with a serious tone, feeling a little offended by the inexperienced man questioning his impartiality.

—Are not rubbish all of them?

—There are different classes, even in hell. Don’t forget that —answered the old man.

—Are you seriously telling me that the president and his party are not swimming in a barrel full of shit? I’m sick of listening to people whose arguments consist in looking at their neighbor’s toilet instead of the shit in theirs —said Sou while he was picking up the dirty papers and throwing them to the bin next to its table.

—So, you point out my incoherence by using an incoherent argument, how appropriate. You blame them for being full of shit, but it’s me the one looking at my neighbor’s toilet, right.

—No, Renan. What I’m saying is that there are no classes and that I don’t defend anyone. They are the same kind to me. Two toilets full of shit.

—Alright, alright. Let’s not get upset. We don’t need to agree, right?

—I guess not. It won’t be me trying to convince you about anything. You have every day’s reality to do so. By the way, what happened with all those resignations? Are you going to tell me that doesn’t stink?

Renan nodded and looked at the window for just a second.

—Kid, that does stink and I couldn’t ever deny it. Worst part of it is that we don’t know absolutely anything about that matter.

—A friend told me that he knows someone at the police forensics who told him that Meyer’s had no sickness, that it was a lie, and he took his own life.

—Or maybe he took his own life because of the sickness? The friend of the friend of a neighbor told my doorman… You know how it goes. We shouldn’t say stupid conspiranoical bullshit just because it sounds interesting. If we begin to doubt everything, also those things, our job has no meaning —expressed Renan.

—But shouldn’t be that, precisely, what we are supposed to do, partner? Shouldn’t we doubt everything till finding the truth? —replied Sou.

—Sure. But if you doubt the doubt itself you become part of a Shakespeare’s monologue, although this one would be meaningless and far away from being Hamlet, I’m afraid. I cannot deny we don’t know the truth about the three presidents, but there’s a big step between that and alien conspiracies that I won’t take.

—Doesn’t matter. No one really gives a damn with the new elections in two months.

—It’s a fact of life, kid. Time doesn’t stop and, although there are tons of shit buried, there are bigger things happening right now.

—And that’s the trap, my friend. There is always something more important that makes you forget what’s going on and that’s how our country goes down the drain. Elections. For sure they couldn’t make us live with an acting president for the rest of the term. A new campaign, endless number of news, bulletins… At least the new green party promises a little action as far as I have heard.

—Those shitty communists, you mean? —replied Renan with visible irritation—. That’s just what we needed with all the instability and an incoming financial crisis. A “plant-eater” in diapers that was a no one two days ago, singing the glories of living a country life. Action, sure. Ha! The picture is not complete without a damn populist giving a speech against the tide. Don’t you realize they want the same thing? To get a chair and live by our wits fooling everybody!

—To be honest, I don’t really know what’s going on with politics, I just heard he has many supporters.

—Four poor bastards —said Renan—. Four poor bastards without a job who believe we will shut down the factories and go on planting carrots.

—You’ll tell me once you interview their candidate.

—Kine, you mean? I can tell you right away: he is a clown and I know that before the interview. I can see through him already.

—When did they make the appointment?

—Next week.

—I would pay to watch —said Sou, laughing so loudly that made the old journalist go mad.

—Why don’t you come with me? —he dared—. You could check in person how this old hound can be fucked in everything but in its nose.

—I’d love it, but I seriously doubt the boss would grant it.

—Fuck the boss! I can always bring any assistant I want. If you are serious about it, you just need to have your article ready before we leave next Tuesday. You’ll learn some journalism instead of taking a nap.

—What the heck, why not? —said Sou with a joyful face—. I don’t care about politics at all, but the picture of you in front of this guy sounds like lots of fun. You got a deal, sir.

—Deal then, Sou. Don’t get cold feet. Now, please, leave me alone. Not all of us are as lucky as you and we have still job to do. Loser! —and he left, throwing the pen holder over the table, laughing as he run away like a child after a prank.

—Deal, asshole —sighed Sou while he picked up the dropped pencils and looked at the clock in the front wall, that was telling the time over the big newspaper’s logo. He still had a boring hour and a half before the deadline.

—I need a hobby —thought the young man, right before he sat on his chair again and got his old notepad back, ready to continue with his squiggles.

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