Wednesday, July 25, 2007
PRISON WITHOUT WALLS
He sits and surfs, sits and surfs: night bleeds into day, his eyes water, the beard grows and greys, his infant son shuffles awkwardly in the gloom. His boy is putting on weight.
He thinks his son is a wimp, it disappoints him, he worries about his own genes. He knows men should be strong and tough and he feels as if he's drawn the short straw. Another dad scammed, an expired warranty. He wonders if the boy's mother would holler and growl, spit in his face, tell him to drum some manly values into the brat. If only he knew where she was. Some online dating agency, behind his back - or so she thought. But he'd learnt to unearth every secret, discovered how to trawl the URLs for clues, how to track and trace the tendrils of loneliness behind the monitor. Maybe she was now shacked up with a man who'd once used underscores and numbers in his name. Or lying in a brown pond, throat cut, behind a dumped Tesco trolley, a polluted hell where even shit-eating ducks fear to prowl.
Sometimes he feels like giving his son a back-hander, a good, solid crack across the cheekbones, as payback for all the grizzling and tears. But then the thought of brute violence against vulnerable and kindred DNA chokes him into shock. It makes him feel like a vicious arsehole, a stay-indoors slob with Superbrew for brains. And then he hugs his son and kisses his greasy scalp, and wishes he could be a better father. But there's always work to do -
"There's a virus in the inbox," the child sobs, his voice high-pitched. "A worm's been detected! A worm, papa!"
"Aye lad", he chortles, as the child quakes behind his back. "A worm, alright! A big, slithering worm that'd crawl up your backside and never come out! But don't cry, lad. I'm here to snip the head off the worm! No worm's got past your pappy in the last two years, and none's getting past now! What do you make of that, lad? I'm the worm-batterer! I kill the wee pests all day long, don't I!?"
Old URLs expired. Domain hosts who couldn't possibly care. Abandoned blogs and no-comment holes. He'll kill the fucking worms; all the fucking hackers and spammers in the world. The Nigerian conmen and the sneaky, cowardly trolls. The anonymous hordes and their malicious comments. "DON'T THINK SO, GET CANCER YOU CUNT" //"I'M GLAD YOUR DAUGHTER DIED YOU NAZI BITCH" //LOL//404 after 404, where do they all go? // WHAT A PATHETIC BUNCH OF GAYLORDS WANNABE POSERS 'AWAY CREW' MY ARSE // "Perhaps you should try zipping up and getting a life instead of misinterpreting Zizek - oh hang on, you went to Retchford Poly, what the fuck would you know beyond 'Semiotics' anyway?" // DAMN GIRL UR HOT! Link me, not them, me, me...
He types like a maniac and squeezes the mouse til it pops, he won't let them get away with their crimes. Not this time. The chatroom abusers and the corporate slugs who clog up perfectly decent Superhighway lay-bys with their brands, site maps and Flash. A distantly remembered site dedicated to submissive kneesock fetishists fades into lists of fantasy football leagues, archived from autumn 2000. The Friends Reunited entry who suddenly realised it was a bad idea, and never logged back in after registration.
The boy rustles through the fridge, grimaces as his milk teeth scrape against the red wax, cries as he tries to get at the lump of cheese beneath . I should let him go outside, he thinks, I should let him mix with the other kids. Let him take in fresh air and exercise. But the things you hear...he knows the perils. His son's too precious to make it, he couldn't survive out there, he'd be a carp out of water. A target for every paedo monster and bullying scumbag. He's safer here, he can eat, sleep and learn; learn the lucid art of the Internet Drifter, become the sentinel, the bulwark against the filthy slime that permeates the WWW.