King and Queen to be were in no great hurry to get to the border, but nor were they all that interested in seeing what was, or more likely was not going on in the Twin Cities, so they bypassed the Minnesota metropolis, and turned north. Kitty waved her hand at the town, laughing, “No titties for the Twin Cities. Maybe next time.”
“Aw! Poor Twin Cities.”
Kitty explained, “In the ’70s, there was an avant garde rock band called The Tubes. They used to tour with strippers. When they came here the local God squad picketed the venue. The band sent their girls out to counter the protest with signs saying…. Saying?”
Lance rolled his window down, and shouted, “NO TITTIES FOR THE TWIN CITIES! BETTER LUCK NEXT TIME, SUCKERS!””
As they rolled into Duluth Lance said he wanted to pick up some cheap smokes, before going into Canada, where cigarettes were gonna be $15 a pack.
“It’s a filthy habit. You should quit.”
Lance snapped, “Fuck off. If I wanna kill myself slowly, it’s my business.”
“Oh, touched a nerve huh?” Kitty said with overtones of amusement and faux derision. She could see that Lance was biting his tongue, so she let it go. “Okay, well, we’ll get them here, then. We ain’t going through the main crossing. No duty free where we’re headed.”
Kitty picked up a copy of that day’s Minneapolis Star Tribune and dropped it on the checkout counter, after lance bought his darts, “Anyone buying newspapers these days,” she asked the clerk.
“Nah. You’re the first in a week. Maybe a week of Sundays. They can’t give ‘em away. It’s all old news before it hits the stands, and no one wants to pay for it.”
“That’s true all around the world.”
The clerk nodded, and said, “It is. I have a friend stranded in Germany. She was doing a 16 hour layover in Frankfurt when she started feeling sick. She told me the airport had stacks of newspapers, German and English, all over. No one was reading one, even though they were free for the taking. Everyone was looking at their phones.”
Kitty already knew all that. “How’s your friend?”
“Pissy. Doesn’t like being quarantined at all.”
“Guy or girl?”
“Well, tell him to think of all things he’s done in his life that he should have, at least, been placed under house arrest for, but gotten away with. Then tell him the karma cops come in strange guises, and tell him that if he gets out in under five years, he’ll be getting off lightly.”
“You saying my friend’s a criminal?”
“The karma cops enforce o more than the criminal code. And I’m saying your friend is human. A male of the species, which means he has more to atone for.”
The clerk smiled, “That’s very interesting. And funny.”
“It’s funny ‘cause it’s true,” Kitty smiled. She put her arms up in a hug position, and wriggled her fingers. “Hugs to you and your people, sister.”
“Back at ya, sister,” said the clerk. “You travelling? Going far? Emergency?”
Kitty laughed, “We’re on the Highway to Hell.”
“You’re going to Thunder Bay?”
“Why?” the clerk asked, with her face screwed up. Then she thought again, and said, “Never mind. I don’t wanna know. Whatever it is, it can’t be good. Stay strong. Stay safe, sister. And brother.”
Lance and Kitty parked themselves on a picnic table outside the store, where the boy cracked open his drink, and Kitty scanned the paper, flipping through the pages without even looking at the headlines. “That’s some kinda speed reading you’re doing,” lance noticed.
Kitty flipped through both sections of the paper before bothering to reply. “There’s an old saying in the newspaper business.; editorial is just the ugly stuff that fits between the ads.”
“There ain’t but three ads in this whole paper. And I would wager that they’re freebies, given to long term advertisers. The age of print is officially over. Finally finished off by a virus, after a long, slow death spiral. The online versions won’t last much longer, if things don’t change quickly.”
Lance said nothing in response. He was waiting to see if Kitty knew. She knew a little, which is all anyone knew, but she wanted to know more. Something about cats and curiosity. “Okay, you win. I’ll ask: You wanna tell me exactly how your Commonwealth idea can save journalism?”
Smiling, Lance said, “Nope. You’re not the only one waiting for the rigt time.”
“Fair enough. I can wait.”
“You don’t want what you want from me, nearly as badly as I want what I want from you.”
Kitty smiled. “Well, we’ll both have to delay our satisfaction, I guess.”
A shrug and a grin was Lance’s response. Then he asked, “What do you know about the newspaper business?”
“A lot. My father was a journalist.”
“Was? Made redundant? Git sick of it, and gave it up?”
“Not exactly. Got himself murdered, working on a story.” She said it almost matter-of-factly.
Lance guessed it was old news, but figured it was best to wait to see if she wanted to continue. She did.
“No, I don’t know what the story was. Apparently, no one did, except the fuckers that killed him. No, I don’t wanna talk about it.”
Lance put his arms out in a mock hug, and wiggled his fingers at Kitty. She returned the gesture. They kept at it until a smile returned to her face. “He was good at what he did. Old school. Didn’t have any respect for most of the new kids on the printing block, and wasn’t shy about saying so.” She pulled out her phone, clicked a few icons, and started reading:
Pathological liars, political cowards, intellectual perverts, shameless charlatans, and unrepentant lickspittles who, no matter what they do, will never, ever get the respect and love they crave from their alleged fathers, and who spend long, lonely nights masturbating into the underwear of their alcoholic mothers.
Estheticians and flower shop girls lacking the common sense to engage their gag reflexes in order to avoid swallowing all the poisonous bullshit they are fed, three or more times a day.
Former frat boys completely devoid of the ability to think laterally and critically, yet endowed with a keen understanding of the joys and simplicity of press release reportage, and chequebook journalism
J-school grads who are dumb as jocks, putting in time until they can ascend the food chain by signing on with a morally bankrupt PR firm, or hitting the big time by landing a gig as a writer for a reality TV series.
Lead by legions of self-censoring editors with mortgages to pay, these sorry fuckers are dragging journalism into the gutters where lawyers, politicians and priests pull each other’s hair like bitches while proclaiming their own piety.
She stopped, Lance whistled, “That’s some powerful writing.”
“Yeah, he could write. He used to say that 21st century journalism had, by and large, been reduced to four kinds of stories: that’s none of your damn business, nobody cares, shut the fuck up, and serves the fuckers rigt.”
Lance burst into laughter, but said nothing, hoping she would continue the tirade. She obliged him.
“He said the moment when it became apparent to large swaths of people that there really was a lot of fake news being churned out was The Battle in Seattle. 1999. The infancy of public access to the Internet. Everyone knew, for months, that there was gonna be trouble, probably a lot of it. There had been wherever and whenever the globalists had gathered before that, for a couple years. So they were all waiting with baited breathe.”
Kitty paused to take a hit from her water bottle. “But as soon as the networks started showing the kids in hoodles smashing windows, and battling with the cops, phone calls and emails started going out from behind the battle lines, from the kids. They all said what the news was not reporting, which was that specific, big chain stores were being targeted, not small independents. They also said that, in many instances, the cops had instigated the battles. The people who knew those kids, and trusted them, forwarded those emails to their entire mailing lists, and listservs. All of a sudden, people, not everyone, but large numbers of them, woke up to the fact that the news really was controlled by people who didn’t want the unwashed masses to know what was really going on.”
Kitty stopped, and took another swig of water:
“And my father predicted what would come, what has come. He said that the trick, for the monsters who rule the world, had been to fool the ignoids into believing lies. Whenever they achieved that, they were free to commit atrocities, secure in the knowledge that the sheep would condone the horrors, because they’d bought into their lies. But when the Internet came along, the monsters no longer had control over the means of mass communication, so they had to adjust, to carry on, business as usual.
“And they have. They have flooded the Internet with forty foot waves of bullshit, 24/7. The new goal was to put people into a state of deer-in-the-headlights paralysis through confusion. Convince them that nothing is true. For the most part, they have been successful, and left to carry on, with no united resistance.”
Silence sat between Kitty and Lance for a minute. Lance said, “Your father was one smart motherfucker. You must miss him.”
“No. No I don’t.”
“No. I never knew him. But I really wish I had.”
Lance put his arms out in a mock hug, and wiggled his fingers at kitty, until she smiled, did the same, and said, “Thank you!”