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    Wombat Bill
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May contain graphic sexual content

Catering With Benefits (3) - An Appetite for More - 24. Some Good News

177559720_290669032644016_91277500532098 

It took Jonathan a few days, after the publication of the newspaper article, to calm down enough to speak to his wife.

“Nia we need to have a serious talk about what happened.”

“Good, I have been waiting for you to apologise, about time.”

“Apologise!”

“Yes for calling me an old boiler in public. What were you thinking of, making a statement like that on a night when you were supposed to sucking up to those that you want to vote for you. I could scarcely believe my own ears.”

“Then did you hear yourself call me a poofter?”

“Only after you insulted me, you set the tone with your remarks.”

“Look Nia, I don’t want to argue about who said what and why, it’s done, reported and hopefully forgotten in a few days.”

“Ok, so what do you want to talk about?”

“You and your part in the campaign.”

“I’ve agreed to be your loving wife in public and I will honour that agreement.”

“That’s just my point, I don’t want you anymore.”

“Oh Jon, that is music to me ears.”

“I’m pleased, but didn’t think you would take it so well.”

“Why not, we should have done it years ago.”

“Done what?”

“Get divorced, isn’t that what you said?”

“NO, I didn’t say anything even remotely like that.”

“But...but...you said you didn’t want me anymore.”

“I meant I don’t want you on my campaign anymore. Thomas thinks you’re a loose cannon when you’re drunk and we shouldn’t take the risk again.”

“Ahh, he’s shown his true colours now he’s changed sides.”

“Don’t blame Thomas, it’s his job to create my image and protect me from bad publicity when necessary.”

“I suppose so. I know how committed and loyal he can be and now it’s his job to be loyal to you. I do admire him for that. So don’t tell him what I said about him. I still love him like a son.”

“Yes Nia, you say that a lot.”

“I’m sure you know why.”

“Please, please Nia, let’s not talk about that now.”

Virginia sniffed, rubbed her eyes and replied “Well, that’s some good news, I don’t have to attend these boring political gatherings anymore.”

“Yes Nia, ...some good news.” Jonathan agreed and left before his wife noticed him tearing up.

***

On the day of Price’s interview, Thomas introduced Edward to Prism, who welcomed him and advised that Price was ready to see them.

“Jonathan, this is Edward from 2GAYfm, here to do your interview.”

As they shook hands Jonathan said “You have a lot of equipment there. Is all that necessary?”

“Afraid so, we’re only a community station with limited funds, so we can’t afford the latest equipment. These older recorders are a bit bulky.”

“Then if this interview goes well and gets me the needed publicity, I might see what I can do to help.”

“Thank you Jonathan, very generous of you.”

“Let’s see how it all goes first, before you thank me.”

“Very well, then I’ll set up me gear and we can chat while I do that. I like to just talk casually with my subjects before we start the actual interview.”

“That’s fine, chat away.”

Edward then asked Thomas to leave the room so they could relax in each other’s company.

“I will be recording and later editing this interview for broadcast next week on International Day against Homophobia, so if you could answer as if today is that day. Do you understand?”

“Yes, trick the public into thinking this is live.”

“Sort of like that.”

<>

When Jonathan seemed relaxed and comfortable talking to Edward, he started the formal interview.

“Welcome listeners to a special edition of Edward Listens, being broadcast today, because this is the International Day against Homophobia, Biphobia, Intersexism and Transphobia. Today we speak to Jonathan Price, a successful businessman and the independent candidate for the federal seat of Sydney East. Thank you for agreeing to talk to us today, Jonathan.”

“My pleasure Edward, I hope your listeners will be interested in my policies for a fairer Australia.”

“I’m sure they will be, but firstly tell us about Jonathan Price, the man.”

“I am fifty eight years old, educated at Sydney University and currently running the family diamond and jewellery business. My grandfather started this business nearly one hundred year ago with a small kiosk in the Strand arcade. Since then he, my father and now myself, have expanded our operations to every capital and major city in the country as well as being partnered with De Beers Group. Is that ok?”

“Yes excellent.”

“What else do you want to know?”

“I believe you have some policies of particular interest to the gay community. Tell us about those.”

“First may I make a statement about the significance of today.” He said as he winked at Edward. “ This is a day to recognise the discrimination and stigma that lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and intersex people face in our society, and across the world. Bullying and discrimination against LGB...T...I people causes very high rates of mental illness, self-harm and suicide, particularly for young people in our schools.”

“You stumbled over that acronym Jonathan.”

“Yes, it is quite a mouthful, but let me continue. Today is a day to take a stand against all violence, discrimination and harassment on the basis of a person's sexual orientation, gender identity or sexual characteristics.”

“All that is true, but I would prefer if you said it in your own words, instead of reading from a script.”

“You expect me to remember all this stuff?”

“Refer to your notes, by all means but your answers should sound spontaneous.”

“I’m not an actor you know.”

“To be a good politician you need to have many skills, including acting. However on this occasion I need you to sound natural, not acting.”

“Ok, go ahead ask me another question.”

“The prime minister has sitting on his desk, as far as we know, A Religious Freedoms Review, and it is believed it calls for the further winding back of anti-discrimination laws. What is your stance on this matter?”

Jonathan looked at his notes and replied “Some religious groups have advocated for a Religious Freedoms Act for greater licence for people of faith to refuse to employ staff or provide goods and services to others based on their religious beliefs. For example, a religious school being able to fire a gay teacher. Not only would this wind back existing discrimination protections for LGBTI people; it would also extend situations where discrimination is allowed. Whatever the outcome of the Religious Freedoms Review, we should be moving forward with protecting human rights in this country, not backwards. The Religious Freedoms Review should not be an opportunity for those that campaigned for a No vote in the marriage equality plebiscite to re-litigate hostile amendments already rejected by Parliament last year on that historic day. It will not be true marriage equality if our rights to equal treatment under our laws are stripped away in its wake.”

“You said our rights Jonathan. Is there something you want to share with our listeners?”

“What?...oh sorry, no...that’s how it’s written on my notes.”

<>

The interview continued in this manner until Edward decided he was unlikely to get the real Jonathan Price on tape.

“Thank you Jonathan Price for your time today”

“You’re welcome, I hope your listeners now understand my policies.”

Edward then said for the recording “End interview.”

Edward thanked Jonathan for his time, while he packed up his equipment, then left his office.

<>

Thomas was waiting anxiously in Prism’s office. “How’d it go?” he asked.

“Is there somewhere we can talk, privately?”

“Sure.” Then directing his question to Prism “Ah Miss, can we use the meeting room?”

“Sure go ahead, Thomas.”

<>

“What’s the problem?” Thomas asked

“I don’t think I can make much of an interview out of all that. Plus I’m afraid, even if I do manage to edit it into something broadcastable, it’s not going to do anything positive for his campaign prospects.”

“Why what did he say?”

“A lot, but it wasn’t him. Did you give him notes?”

“I gave him heaps of material, don’t tell me he went rogue?”

“Quite the opposite, he read the answer to almost every question word for word from the notes. It was not natural at all.”

“I gave him the notes because he had no idea what his policies were. I was hoping he would read them and formulate his own answers from the material.”

“Well, he just read them like a book, without feeling and no conviction that he actually understood or believed in what he was saying.”

“Thanks for your effort anyway.”

“That’s ok, I’ll do an edit as best I can and then give you the final cut. You can then decide if it’s worth going to air.”

“Thanks mate. Can I buy you a drink?”

“Thought you’d never ask.”

<>

Thomas and his committee set a date for the Gay Community political function. He then confirmed the bookings for venue hire, catering and drinks service. As it was not a fund raiser but more a rallying of the supporters, it was advertised at a modest price that would just cover costs.

He also hired a professional speech writer for Jonathan and intended to ensure he practised the speech many times. With all those plans rolling along Thomas then turned his attention to the granting of the funds raised, to some local charities. He came up with what he considered a brilliant idea. It required Jonathan to make a series of short promotional videos aimed specifically at niche groups. He then planned to purchase a number of large screen TVs to be presented to the various groups by Jonathan and play the video on the TV, instead of Jonathan making a boring speech. The videos would have Jonathan present his policy specific to the appropriate group, with a little bit of digital magic.

***

Tim Shand, the journalist from the Sydney Daily News, who had attended Price’s first political function finally got back to his office after a few days continually on the road chasing politicians around the state. He checked his messages left on the company’s voicemail system and attended to those requiring a follow up. Written messages were rare these days and he almost discarded a hand written note from the office reception desk. It referenced his Weekend Political Roundup column. He did not recognise the name of the caller so he put the note aside and started writing up the stories he had gathered over the past few days.

Early afternoon he had a call from reception. “Tim I have a caller on the line who says he left a message for you earlier in the week and is waiting for you to call back.”

“Where’s he from?”

“He doesn’t say, just says his name’s Bernard and it’s about politics.”

“Did you say Bernard?”

“Yes Tim, do you know him?”

“No, but I do have the message so if he’s that keen I might as well speak to him, probably just some whinger with an axe to grind about politicians. I mean who hasn’t. Put him through, thanks Diane.”

 

“Good day...er...Bernard, how can I help you?”

“Did you write that article about the would-be politician Price and the fight with his wife?”

“Yes I did, did you enjoy it?”

“I certainly did, will there be more?”

“Only if I get more information do you have more?”

“I certainly do, are you interested?”

“Yes, go on...Bernard.”

“Before that, could there be anything in this for me?”

“If you mean a payment, then the answer’s no, we don’t pay for tip offs and such. We’re not Sixty Minutes, with a well-padded chequebook.”

“Fair enough, just to see the story in the paper will be reward enough for me.”

“I can’t promise it will be published yet, so tell me your story and we’ll go from there.”

“Before I start, I need to know you will not reveal my name if you publish.”

“Yes, I can do that. We often print stories preceded with, a reliable source said. If that is ok with you, I will make that promise, but I do need your name and how you come to know what you are about to tell me. This is for my records and to prove your credibility.”

“Ok, just so long as you don’t identify me in any way. I am still in a vulnerable position.”

“I understand Bernard, now before we meet, can you please tell me briefly what you know about Price.”

“I know plenty about his personal life and his wife and all the people that work for him.”

“Is this related to his wife’s accusation about him being gay?”

“Most certainly it is and he is. You understand me?”

“Yes, Bernard. That will do for now. So let’s set a date to meet and you can tell me your whole story. For the record I need to know your full name, and is the number you left the best number to contact you?”

“Yes, that’s my number and my name is Bernard Johnson. I am still employed by Price and that is why I don’t want to be identified.”

“That’s fine, now would you like to come into my office or can I meet you at your place?”

“I can go to your office, but it would have to be after five, when I finish work in the store room.”

“How about today, I’ll leave your name at reception so they will be expecting you.”

Shand gave Johnson the address and went back to his writing.

***

After meeting with Johnson, Shand wrote up the story as told to him. Then, in the interest of fairness and balance in the story, he phoned Price’s office to put some of the accusations to him for comment.

“Prism here Mr Price, I have a Tim Shand from the Sydney Daily News on the line. He says you’ve met before at the fundraising function. Can I put him through?”

“No, do not. I think he’s the bastard who wrote that malicious article a few weeks ago and in any event, I will never speak to any reporter from that gossip rag.”

“Very well Mr Price. I’ll tell him you have declined his call.”

***

A few days later Edward sent a copy of his interview to Thomas.

“I see what you mean Edward. He’s really not convincing is he?”

“I did my best but no matter how I cut and paste I couldn’t make him sound any better.”

“I appreciate your efforts, but I don’t think it should be aired.”

“No problem, I’ll chalk it up to experience.”

“I’m beginning to have my doubts about Price and his ability to pull off an election win.”

“Well he certainly does not come across convincingly to the public. Can you work with him and improve his techniques?”

“I’ve got a few things in the works that should do that.”

“Good, I’ll leave it for now, but ask if there’s anything else I can do to help”

<>

When he hung up, Thomas sent a message to Price advising him the interview would not be aired and also reminded that the advertising agency would be shooting the promo videos in the meeting room tomorrow and he was to co-operate fully.

He then called Edward back, about bookings for the Gay function night. He was disappointed to hear that not one full table had been booked and there were only a small number of individual bookings. Fearing that cost may be the reason, he made a decision to make the event free and updated the social media pages and the advertising accordingly.

***

Not trusting Price to co-operate fully with the video producers, Thomas turned up at Price’s office one hour before the shooting crew were due.

As he walked into the office Price started his rant “Steadman, a number of things I need you to understand. Firstly I don’t take kindly to you giving me orders by email. It would work much better if we worked together on this project.”

“But.....”

“Don’t interrupt! Secondly, who decided that my interview would not be aired? Was it that guy from that queer radio station? I put a lot of effort into that.”

“No, it was me, because it was entirely unsuitable. Reading from the notes made you sound not only unconvincing but downright uninformed. That is not the image we want.”

“So tell me again, why I’m doing this video thing?”

“So you don’t have to make a speech when you donate the TVs to the local seniors’ clubs, nursing homes and scout and girl guides groups. The producers are experts at this, so if you follow their instructions we should get something professional from this after they put your appearances together with their digitally manipulated images and sound track.”

“Ok, but I don’t want to finish up in the rubbish bin again, especially as this is costing me a mint.”

“I’m sure the expense will be worth it. Now, there’s one other matter and that is, the bookings from the gay community are very poor, so I took the decision to make it free.”

“More expense! Every time you make a decision without me it costs me.”

“I warned you this campaign would not be cheap and it was you that wanted to shoulder all the costs and not have a fundraiser for campaign expenses.”

“Yes all right, I get it.”

“By the way, how did Mrs P take it when you told her she would not be used in the campaign?”

“I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised, but she was thrilled. She never really ever wanted to be part of it. She only agreed out of a sense of duty to our marriage. Well, that and the holiday house I bought her.”

“It’s probably for the best, we can’t afford any more slip-ups like that. But fortunately all that unpleasantness is behind us now.”

Next Chapter - Jared needs something from the storeroom. - Prism has a bad turn. - Iced VoVos served.

Copyright © 2021 Wombat Bill; All Rights Reserved.
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Chapter Comments

Well, things are about to get more interesting.  Jonathan's stubbornness and bullheadedness are already conspiring to wreck his campaign, and maybe more.  His business may be impacted in a negative way, and dirty laundry aired, for sure.

J Price is, I think soon going to have his proverbial butt handed to him on a proverbial platter.

And the teaser for the next chapter-- sounds like Jared is about to catch Bernard talking to T. Shand.

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Price really seems not to be cut out to be a politician. Why does he even want to do this?

So, the former driver is getting his revenge. Just another example how being a tyrant isn't helping Price.

 

 

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Hmm the emotional moment between Mrs. Price/Virginia & Mr. Price/Jonathan where she’s talking about seeing Thomas as a son was very subtle yet I can’t help reading somewhat into it. The fact he hid his tears yet was emotional as well leads me to believe that some unspoken tragedy occurred like perhaps Mrs. Price/Virginia once had a miscarriage. Overall when it comes to politics Jonathan is hopeless and unmotivated so he should quit while he’s ahead. Bernard’s interview will likely crucify him as there may be even more skeletons in the closet we aren’t aware of. 

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1 hour ago, NimirRaj said:

Hmm the emotional moment between Mrs. Price/Virginia & Mr. Price/Jonathan where she’s talking about seeing Thomas as a son was very subtle yet I can’t help reading somewhat into it. The fact he hid his tears yet was emotional as well leads me to believe that some unspoken tragedy occurred like perhaps Mrs. Price/Virginia once had a miscarriage. Overall when it comes to politics Jonathan is hopeless and unmotivated so he should quit while he’s ahead. Bernard’s interview will likely crucify him as there may be even more skeletons in the closet we aren’t aware of. 

I'm wondering if Virginia might have been pregnant when she and J Price married.  That would have given Jonathan additional appearance of being straight.

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 @Wombat Bill rarely (if ever) introduces a character into his works and then gives them nothing to do. 

@Summerabbacat's comment is from the previous chapter, commented upon here as it would be a spoiler if put at the end of the previous chapter.

When Johnson was replaced by Jared, and his name mentioned, it was so Jared would have to do something difficult to prove himself. There were no other plans for Johnson at that time. It was only later that Johnson said I have a motive, an itch that needs to be scratched. 

Just another example of how the characters sometimes write the story for me. 

I have just written a chapter in which Jonathan takes Thomas and Jared to lunch as a thank you for their work. It was only meant to be a brief sequence but once again, the characters took control and the sequence became a full chapter. Sometimes I'm not sure if i'm a writer or a wrangler, when these pesky characters want to do their own thing.  

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I chose the sad emoticon for this chapter as for me it was the strongest of all emotions I detected.

Virginia and Jonathan share a sadness. I agree with @NimirRaj the source of the sadness may well have been a child Virginia miscarried. If so, I am certain Virginia and Jonathan must have had sex at least once for him to believe the child was his, as I cannot believe he would be moved to tears otherwise. He is very status conscious and may want to have had a child to "carry on the family name" in the jewellery business. A male heir would have been good for his ego, as well as looking good on his "resume" and potentially taking over the business later in life. Virginia's sadness I believe would have been the loss of a child; Jonathan's sadness damage to his ego and the loss of a business opportunity.

I also feel a sadness for both Virginia and Jonathan that their adult lives have been largely a sham. I don't feel any sympathy for either as it is what they have chosen to do, my sadness is that they, particularly Jonathan, felt compelled to live such a life as it was "what one was expected to do".

The final "sadness" is tinged with a feeling of anger too that Jonathan has no apparent care for anyone other than himself. His motivation to enter politics "appeared" at first to have had some degree of altruism. He had me fooled again I think. @NimirRaj previous comments about old white men wanting to enter politics as almost a hobby is beginning to ring true. If nothing else, I hope Jonathan's hair does not resemble a Brillo pad (Joanna Lumley's wonderful description of the late fool that governed the USA).

 

 

 

Edited by Summerabbacat
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