A.J. Walker


More Eyes and Ears

Mid Week Flash #208 - 14.07.21

More Eyes and Ears

Every Sunday David would go along to sit in Freedom Square and soak up the atmosphere from all the life going on around him. It never failed to uplift him to sense the bustle and the comings and goings. There were the bars and cafes hosts to family get togethers, the quiet drinkers reading their papers or books, couples on dates and others half hiding their illicit assignations. All life went on here. He enjoyed to watch it flow in front of him on Sundays, but for the rest of the week he watched and listened from five miles away in his roof top apartment.

He’d felt incredibly lucky with his work. David loved people watching as long as he could remember, and to get a job monitoring conversations and meetings in the square was a dream come true. To be paid to do the thing you loved. Not many people could say that: indeed he had tapes and tapes, and transcripts aplenty of people saying as much.

It was not lost on him that of all the squares in the city Freedom Square was the most unfortunately named one. What is Freedom when every person you meet is recorded, every thing you order is noted, and every utterance is transcribed, reviewed, and filed perhaps to be used against you in the years, months, days or hours to come. He didn’t like thinking about that aspect of course. So in his own filing system in his head it was kept under the heading ‘Not Relevant’.

He wondered what would happen if a friend of his was there saying something that he’d picked up. Would he record, transcribe and file it away. He thought he probably would. But he was glad that he had made the decision to eschew friendship for life outside: for looking in. He was an observer; and very good at it.

His masterstroke came when he was able to combine his hobby with his work. The men at the Ministry had said there was to be some hard landscaping in the square to celebrate some long forgotten revolutionary action from decades earlier. Even with his great memory for anecdotes and facts he’d never heard of the event. Still, he came up with the suggestion of a wall of faces to be constructed along the western side of the square. Everyday faces of the everyday men and women of the city. Faces to look out across the square eastward towards their communist forbears. How much irony could he cram into such a display? A lot.

Better still they accepted his offer and design too. Soon he’d made a large wall of giant grotesque heads. Each face different and full of life: and death. In addition to being visually interesting the glazed earthenware heads each held the video and microphone technology required to further the monitoring capabilities in the square. And each head also had the ashes of his family’s mixed in with the raw materials. From then on each time he would be in Freedom Square watching the world go by he would be doing it along with his family. It could not be better if he’d designed the world itself. He was glad he hadn’t tried to make the faces look like his family too though, that would have truly freaked him out.