He likes to hear the resonance of his voice. In between impassioned speeches, he practises in front of the mirror in the bleached whiteness of his bathroom. The inflection and tone must be right. He stiffens his hair with product, buttons a crisp blue shirt and stands on the corner. His posture is straight and he opens his arms wide. It is the stance of a prophet.
The corner is frenetic. Behind him is the supermarket, its patrons scurry in and out, hunched over with bulging plastic bags when they emerge, their eyes flitting over him before moving on. He tells them the ‘truth’— society is crumbling and only strict morality will save their souls.
‘Don’t believe the politicians!’ he rails, ‘they spy on you, change the laws so your civil rights are compromised. Soon there will be no privacy at all. Drones will swoop past your windows, capturing your private moments. Don’t be fooled—they speak of safety but their only wish is to control and monitor.’
He punctures the air with his hands, emphasising the point. Sweat trickles down his neck and his face is red and furious.
She likes to watch him. The words enter her mind in staccato bursts—she does not always absorb the full sentences or their meaning. It is his passion she wants. The way the vein throbs in his temple, the way he gestures with his hands. She imagines him at home, adored by a pretty wife and children. His grey eyes show a keen intelligence. Sometimes she is sure he’s observing her, a little removed from the crowd of onlookers. She imagines him meeting the politicians he criticises, changing their minds. Freedom to live without surveillance, without the nanny state. He has convinced her it is possible.
He catches the tram back to his flat and sits at the kitchen table with a five-dollar scratchie and a coin. As the pictures underneath are revealed he sighs at the loss, but sees patterns in the numbers. Prophetic patterns foretelling a shift in the collective consciousness, a move toward freedom. He stands and walks to the window, his hands shaking. The scratchie flutters to the linoleum below. And it will be me who leads them to the truth…I will be the oracle. The sun streams through the window and frames his hair in an aureole—for a moment he looks like the man he wants to be.