“Will you stop that” Michael yelled, his anger showing. The children stopped singing and the youngest jumped off the settee.
“We were only singing, Dad” Paul, the oldest, said. “What is so bad about singing ?”
“Just don’t sing along with the adverts” Michael replied bluntly. “You might end up believing them”
“Rubbish!” Paul said bluntly. “How can you believe in an advert ?”
Michael looked at his children; Paul, the youngest, sat on his favourite chair, and Mark now sitting on the settee, instead of jumping on it, looking quite dismayed at Michael’s last comment. “People make you believe them” Michael said. “Just remember, they aren’t real”
“Mummy used to do that” Mark said, his face brightening. His smile vanished a few seconds later, though, as the grim reality hit him. “before she …”
“Yes; Your Mum did do that.” said Michael, stifling a tear. “come on – it is time for bed.”
“How come you don’t like adverts then Dad ?” Paul said, challengingly. “Mum used to do them, why don’t you like them ?”
“I said it is time for bed” Michael replied.
“But Mum let us watch ..” Paul trailed off, seeing the look in his fathers eyes. Sulkily, he and his brother climbed the stairs to bed. They returned a few seconds later to kiss their father good night.
Micheal turned the Television off, ignoring the pleas from the President for people to vote for him. He, silently, walked through to the kitchen and started washing up their dinner. Whilst he did this, his mind wandered over the past months. He remembered the last hours that he and Joni had spent together.
He remembered taking the children to school with her and then driving to her office. He remembered the receptionist who had lost the schedule for Joni’s conference. He remembered with amusement the time spent trying to find it. He remembered the moment as it was discovered in the conference room, just as Joni was starting to panic. He remembered the time seven months ago, as if it was yesterday. It had been his first visit to her office. A visit which seemed appropriate since she had become the first female president of Saatchi and Saatchi. She had been awarded many privileges for this honour, many of which seemed at the time to be pointless.
The washing finished, he walked up the stairs to bed. He got into bed and lay there for an interminable time before drifting off to an uncomfortable sleep.
Michael dreamt. He rolled back and forth on the bed as he dreamt. He dreamt of the hours after leaving the hospital. He dreamt of the time he spent driving round, asking himself “why ?” He dreamt of the hoards of reporters from the afternoon news. He dreamt of the pledge he had made on peak-time television. He dreamt of those who professed to support him. He dreamt … And finally drifted of to a peaceful sleep.
When Michael awoke it was still dark. He got out of bed and looked hit the alarm which had awoken him until it stopped chirping. He stumbled through to the bathroom and washed himself.
What, he thought, do the children know ? Had Aunt Maggie told them everything ? They had been in America for the past few months, whilst he recovered from Joni’s death and set about his new work. They had been away from the country for too long to know what was going to happen.
“Do they know what I am doing ?” he said aloud, into the mirror as he shaved. “Do they, God ? Do you know who I am ? Does anyone ?”
His voice began to break down to a series of short bursts. “Why did it have to be Joni ? Couldn’t you have done something ?”
He sat on the toilet and started crying as the lose he had suffered came back to him.
“Dad, ” Mark said from the door. “Why are you crying ?”
Michael didn’t look up for a second. Then he picked up a towel and wiped his eyes. “I was just thinking about Joni” he said simply.
“We missed you, ” Mark said, tears welling in his eyes. “Joni will be OK. God will look after her.”
But will he ? Michael thought. God didn’t stop the lunatic from killing her.
Michael got up and gave Mark a hug. “Yes, God will look after her.” he said, hoping he could believe that for himself.
“Wake your brother up will you.” he said. “We want to watch the television.”
Mark ran out of the room and woke his brother up. Bleary eyes Paul walked down to the living room. Michael was waiting for them.
“When you went to see Aunt Maggie in America, ” Michael said. “I was doing something.”
“You were doing something to help Joni.” said Paul, stopping himself from crying. “That’s what Aunt Maggie said, but Joni is dead”
“I am.” Michael said simply. “Some man killed her. They say he had just left a electric hardware shop” Michael continued, aware that they might not understand, but knowing they must be told the truth.
“He had just sat for whole day, dazed watching adverts.” He looked at the two children. Neither said anything, but Paul seemed to understand. “They say he stole a car and just crashed through the outside of the building.”
As he reiterated the story he remembered the events of that fateful day. He told of how the he had heard the crash, even in the boardroom, and the whole board had rushed out to see the commotion. The man had held a secretary hostage and was threatening to shoot her if he did not speak to the boss. Joni had stepped forward and he had just shot her!
At point blank range Joni had not had a chance, but the children needn’t know that. He told of what the man had said before he jumped back into the car. “Ha! Clean that with your ‘SuperMop'” The SuperMop had been a new advertising venture for Saatchi and Saatchi, forced ahead by Joni herself.
The man had later smashed the car into a wall.
He told the children of how he had felt so guilt of the atrocity which had occurred. Fighting back more tears he said how he was going to stop all the advertisers for good.
“I’m going to become the first President of Australia.” He said finally. “Whilst you were with Aunt Maggie, I was trying to become the President.”
“But we have a Prime Minster” Paul asked, barely understanding.
“Australia became independent only eight months ago.” Michael explained. “This was the first election.”
“Did you win ?” Asked Mark, not understanding but finding something to which he could relate.
“There will be phone call in a few minutes.” He said bluntly. “I don’t feel like watching Television now”
They got up and began to get their breakfast. The phone call had not yet arrived even when they were dressed, though the reporters were beginning to appear outside for an interview, regardless of the outcome. As the sun rose over the horizon Michael began to pace around the room and feel restless.
At twenty-five past eight on the eighth of June 1995 a phone call arrived for Michael. The caller said only three words, but Michael knew their meaning immediately. “Hello, Mr President.”
There was a knock on the door and Paul opened it, not knowing the danger that lay outside. The reporters piled into the room, flashing cameras and shooting questions at him.
“How do you feel Mr President ?”
“What is it like being the first person to control Australia ?”
“Will you keep your promise to ban all adverts ?”
Michael put the phone down slowly, and addressed the last question.
“Yes, I intend to keep my promise to stop them.” he said simply.
“Do you think you will be successful in this ? ” the reporter asked boldly over the others.
“No.” Michael said, sighing. “I don’t think that even I could stop them”