Author : Grady Hendrix
Gaunt women in ankle-length gomesi bent over the stagnant pool and filled plastic buckets.
â€œThereâ€™s not much of anything in Rorongi. No electricity. No running water,â€ Walter Bennett said earnestly. â€œNo hope.â€
Emaciated children, feet swollen from protein deprivation, clung to their mothersâ€™ skirts as they walked back to the village, buckets full of heavy, black water on their heads. Walter Bennett looked directly into the camera.
â€œWith no other source of fresh water, they come here every day. An entire village dependent on this tiny pond for life.â€ He began to stroll along the bank.
â€œWater for washing, cooking and drinking all drawn from the same source. Disease is prevalent. Malaria is a â€“ oh for Christâ€™s sake!â€
He bumped into another spokesman, also with his suit jacket slung over his shoulder, also with his shirtsleeves rolled up, also speaking compassionately about the plight of Rorongi village.
â€œLook, mate,â€ the other man said. â€œWe were here first.â€
â€œI donâ€™t care. Iâ€™m Walter Bennett.â€
â€œI donâ€™t care if youâ€™re Bill Clinton, we booked the pond.â€
Three of the emaciated women came over.
â€œWhat going on?â€ one said. â€œYou need be finish by three oâ€™clock cause Intergalactic Geographic come do b-roll for â€˜Feed The Earthâ€™ Telethon.â€
â€œScrew this,â€ Walter said, ripping off his radio mic. â€œIâ€™m a professional. I donâ€™t have time for this rubbish.â€
The director hurried over.
â€œWeâ€™ll sort this, man. Gimme ten, okay? You wanna go to your trailer? Have lunch?â€
â€œTalk to my agent,â€ Walter said, storming off to his helicopter.
â€œRemind me never to work with these wankers again, Henry,â€ he said.
â€œYes, sir,â€ said his pilot, taking off and heading South.
Below them the famine-wracked poverty zone gave way to the enormous, green suburbs of Capetown. Swimming pools, heliports, private casinos, backyard polo fields – the result of an endless stream of intergalactic poverty relief money. Most of the planet looked like this, except for the poverty reserves.
Walter videoconferenced the network president. An expensive call, but Walter was an expensive man.
â€œWhatâ€™s the rumpus?â€ J.R. Moses asked. â€œEgos? Experience? Money? Is it a money thing?â€
â€œIâ€™m tired of doing this,â€ Walter said.
â€œAnd so you snapped. Happens to the best of us. Take a half day then go back tomorrow ready to care.â€
â€œI donâ€™t want to go back tomorrow,â€ Walter exploded. â€œI want to, I want to go out there and tell all those bloody aliens whatâ€™s going on. I want to bring one of them down here and show them what weâ€™ve done with their money. I want to bust this whole thing wide open.â€
He had J.R. for a moment, then:
â€œJeezis, donâ€™t scare me like that you crazy so-and-so. For a second there â€“ â€œ
â€œIâ€™m an actor, J.R.â€
â€œAnd a damn good one. Put your afternoon on our dime, whatever you want. Then go back tomorrow and work! The lifestyle to which weâ€™ve grown accustomed depends on you.â€
Walter turned to Henry.
â€œSet a course for the MGM Grand, Soweto.â€
â€œYes, sir,â€ said Henry. And they flew on into the glittering African sky.