Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom – Day 46 of 61

Debra smiled condescendingly. “Are you finished, then?” she asked, sweetly. “Fine. I know I’m not a member of this group, but since it was my work that was destroyed last night, I think I would like to address Julius’s statements, if you don’t mind.” She paused, but no one spoke up.

“First of all, I want you all to know that we don’t hold you responsible for what happened last night. We know who was responsible, and he needs help. I urge you to see to it that he gets it.

“Next, I’d like to say that as far as I’m concerned, we are on the same side — the side of the Park. This is a special place, and it couldn’t exist without all of our contributions. What happened to Julius was terrible, and I sincerely hope that the person responsible is caught and brought to justice. But that person wasn’t me or any of the people in my ad-hoc.

“Lil, I’d like to thank you for your generous offer of assistance, and we’ll take you up on it. That goes for all of you — come on by the Hall, we’ll put you to work. We’ll be up and running in no time.

“Now, as far as the Mansion goes, let me say this once and for all: neither me nor my ad-hoc have any desire to take over the operations of the Mansion. It is a terrific attraction, and it’s getting better with the work you’re all doing. If you’ve been worrying about it, then you can stop worrying now. We’re all on the same side.

“Thanks for hearing me out. I’ve got to go see my team now.”

She turned and left, a chorus of applause following her out.

Lil waited until it died down, then said, “All right, then, we’ve got work to do, too. I’d like to ask you all a favor, first. I’d like us to keep the details of last night’s incident to ourselves. Letting the guests and the world know about this ugly business isn’t good for anyone. Can we all agree to do that?”

There was a moment’s pause while the results were tabulated on the HUDs, then Lil gave them a million-dollar smile. “I knew you’d come through. Thanks, guys. Let’s get to work.”

I spent the day at the hotel, listlessly scrolling around on my terminal. Lil had made it very clear to me after the meeting that I wasn’t to show my face inside the Park until I’d “gotten help,” whatever that meant.

By noon, the news was out. It was hard to pin down the exact source, but it seemed to revolve around the new recruits. One of them had told their net-pals about the high drama in Liberty Square, and mentioned my name.

There were already a couple of sites vilifying me, and I expected more. I needed some kind of help, that was for sure.

I thought about leaving then, turning my back on the whole business and leaving Walt Disney World to start yet another new life, Whuffie-poor and fancy-free.

It wouldn’t be so bad. I’d been in poor repute before, not so long ago. That first time Dan and I had palled around, back at the U of T, I’d been the center of a lot of pretty ambivalent sentiment, and Whuffie-poor as a man can be.

I slept in a little coffin on-campus, perfectly climate controlled. It was cramped and dull, but my access to the network was free and I had plenty of material to entertain myself. While I couldn’t get a table in a restaurant, I was free to queue up at any of the makers around town and get myself whatever I wanted to eat and drink, whenever I wanted it. Compared to 99.99999 percent of all the people who’d ever lived, I had a life of unparalleled luxury.

Even by the standards of the Bitchun Society, I was hardly a rarity. The number of low-esteem individuals at large was significant, and they got along just fine, hanging out in parks, arguing, reading, staging plays, playing music.

Of course, that wasn’t the life for me. I had Dan to pal around with, a rare high-net-Whuffie individual who was willing to fraternize with a shmuck like me. He’d stand me to meals at sidewalk cafes and concerts at the SkyDome, and shoot down any snotty reputation-punk who sneered at my Whuffie tally. Being with Dan was a process of constantly reevaluating my beliefs in the Bitchun Society, and I’d never had a more vibrant, thought-provoking time in all my life.

I could have left the Park, deadheaded to anywhere in the world, started over. I could have turned my back on Dan, on Debra, on Lil and the whole mess.

I didn’t.

I called up the doc.

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