Z-anon-sensei Speaks #89
“Middletown isn’t like the town where you came from.” William Burroughs
Blake Steele had done what he could to prepare him. But Chard was a fucking idiot, and Steele could only help him so much. Steele found the hearing on his radio, just to see how badly Chard was screwing it up. Steele lives in the small suburban community of Stepford, between Baltimore and DC, inside a gated neighborhood within the larger village. He wears a tie— no jacket— and is driving a silver Tesla S into work at his P.R. firm— a few small offices housed in a warehouse building in an industrial park in Bowie. His business is called simply “Steele, P.R.”, signifying not a lack of imagination on his part, but rather carefully calculated to project a solid but unpretentious self-confidence, a businesslike moniker that showed his belief in himself and at the same time that he would not put his own interests above his clients’. Solid as Steele, was his unspoken motto, and this low-key approach seemed to appeal especially to politicians and public figures who wanted help in keeping certain things under the radar, so to speak, just a little PR magic to quiet noisy crowds and oil rough waters and gloss over the less-glossy parts of their lives. He was good at that, and it had made him a fortune.
Steele has two great heroes in his life. One of them he is open about, with pictures of Edward Bernays in both home and office. He’s fond of saying, at cocktail parties and soirees, that the illustrious but little-known founder of his profession was the nephew of Sigmund Freud. An air of scandal seems to cling to Freud, and the mention usually gets the ladies at a party a little aroused and therefore suggestible. Steele’s second great hero is not someone he can discuss at public events, or keep pictures of in public. In his man-cave basement, though, where only a selected few people gather, photographs of this man and many related artifacts and symbols are displayed proudly.
Despite his carefully projected naturalness and lack of pretension, there is no lack of ambition in Blake Steele. He has no intention of spending his life getting mobsters on the boards of charity corporations, and helping pedophiles become the chairmen of orphanages and such— easy and lucrative as those things were. No, Steele wants nothing less than to re-shape the world, using the power of his language to capture the souls of men and to lead them into a new, if somewhat darker, age. Steele is a ^poetwizard sworn to the service of ^darkpower. His little gated neighborhood in a peaceful, suburban town, is actually a ^darkpower safe zone, and it houses some of the most evil people in the world.
On the radio, TempSec Wolfe stumbles over a softball question lobbed his way by a ^repo Senator. But it’s a Senate committee hearing, so there’s really no worries. Thump’s tools and allies on the committee will give five minute speeches instead of asking questions, and the majority of them are ^repos. The one question mark, Senator Rheumney, took a pass on the hearing. Steele had sent sample questions and good talking points to the committee chair to be used by the ^repos. Use the word “terrorist” a lot, and “anarchist”. Always hook the adjective “violent” to those nouns. Basic stuff. Wolfe too often ignores Steele, but today he manages to remember to say “violent” a lot. And, hey, he just used the word Steele had given him— “fulsome”— though not to great effect. Subliminally paint all the efforts of the ^goonies and DHS as “wholesome”, you know, the way a mother’s breast might be called, “fulsome.” Wolfe is trying, and may learn, eventually.
Chard Wolfe-at-the-door gestures with his hands when he talks, emphasizing his breasts as women do. Wolfe likes to dress as a woman sometimes, which is fine of course, but embarrassing, so he keeps it secret, just like his childhood hero JEH did. Steele knows everything about Wolfe-at-the-door. Too much. And he cringes every time Wolfe speaks. Sure enough, Wolfe just forgot the memo, and mentioned aloud that HHS is responsible for the custody of the immigrant kids and sometimes transfers them to DHS. That’s a slip that’s gonna cost, for sure. And it was exactly the kind of slip that was going to doom Wolfe eventually. Note to self— plan cover-up in case this one gets noticed.
The only questioner who really gets at anything real is Senator Barris. Damn her, but she is pretty good! She boxes Wolfe into answering a yes or no (Steele had told him specifically not to do that!) about whether or not he had communicated with any of Thump’s campaign staff, and Wolfe says, “No”. He was perjuring himself, of course, but that wasn’t really the issue. Nothing they could ever prove or use as leverage. But it was going to sound bad as a clip on YouTube.
Steele had consulted with AG Burr before his chat with Congress the other day. Oh, now, Burr was good at this stuff! That was someone Steele could really admire, especially with so much history behind him. Steele might even have to put a picture of Burr up on the wall in the man-cave.
TempSec has become an official designation in the Thump cabinet, providing a convenient end run around Congressional approval of appointees. Steele doesn’t mind the fact or the designation, but he tries to discourage its use. “Acting Secretary” sounds a little better, at least, than “temporary secretary” and most of the ^repos remember to use it. Though Steele is trying to get ^repos to just say “Secretary” Wolfe so that people forget his lack of official appointment. Not to mention his lack of qualifications.
The hearing ends without any more issues of concern, just as Steele pulls into his reserved parking space at the office. He sits in the car for just a minute, going over the steps in his mind. Okay, he thinks, finally opening the door. I’ve got some calls to make.