Operation Camilla

By: Tabitha Ormiston-Smith


By the end of the second week, he had acquired fifty-six friends in and around Yarrangong. He was ready for Phase Two. He set up another fictitious Facebook account, in the name of Frank Phillips; this was the name he had used on the website as the webmaster.

Cursing at his oversight in not having started the process before, he quickly joined every extreme right-wing page he could find, and sent friend requests to the most egregiously rednecked posters in those groups. This time, it took a mere three days to get to a hundred facebook friends, and it was more fun, too. He quite enjoyed letting loose with the most racist, homophobic remarks he could think of.

Thus prepared, he created a Facebook page for his false organisation and filled it with posts copied at random from similar websites to his own. Then he shared the page and waited for his new, racist, homophobic friends to like it. Response to this exceeded his wildest hopes, with twenty-three shares and seventy-eight likes in the first two hours. Finally, relying on the fabled ‘six degrees of separation’, he logged in as Judy Somerville, located his new page and the link to Mayor Polk’s page on the website, and shared it publicly, with a message consisting chiefly of ‘OMG!!!!!!’ and ‘he should sue them’.

***

Tammy had not been sleeping well, or eating well, or really doing anything very well since Ben had left for his course. It wasn’t so much that she was missing him, she told herself. Not pining or anything like that. Certainly not. It was more that she was starting to wonder, now that he was away, if it had really been wise letting him move in here. Hadn’t they, she wondered, rushed things just a tiny bit? They had only been seeing each other for a few weeks at the time.

Mind you, she’d been keen enough; it wasn’t as if Ben had talked her into anything. Right from the start they’d hit it off like cheese and olives. But hadn’t it all been a bit, well, too easy? They’d met, bam, they’d started dating, bam bam, they’d slept together, triple bam with bells and whistles and catherine wheels, but where, she asked herself, where had been the soul-searching? The angst? The drunken, tortured self-revelatory phone calls to her girlfriends at four in the morning? The tears, for heaven’s sake. These things went with love, Tammy knew, as smoke went with fire. So didn’t that mean that she and Ben were not really a match made in heaven, despite their apparent total compatibility, despite their extreme lust for each other, despite the fact they’d never spoken a cross word in four months of living together, despite the fact they enjoyed the same food, the same movies, even the same dance styles?

All through those solitary weeks, as Tammy scrubbed her bedroom walls with Domestos, as she spread a thick coat of undercoat, as she layered on the first coat and topcoat, she struggled against a growing conviction that she ought to break up with Ben.

***

Donald Blackman, barrister-at-law and Officer of the Supreme Court, suffered from no such angst. He whistled cheerily as he strode down the path to unlock his office. When he threw his rolled-up newspaper at the cat that was always hanging about, and which, he was almost certain, was the culprit in regard to the pungent scent on his office door that greeted him every morning, he did it with a smile, and his throw was almost half-hearted.

There had been a big reaction to his inflammatory Facebook post. One hundred and forty-three people had now shared it. He was confident that the news was, even now, trickling its way to its intended targets - the wives of Mayor Polk and John Mills. He tidied his office, and even asked for Shelley’s input on making the outer area more attractive.

***

The news broke the following Wednesday, with headlines in the Yarrangong Times. Blackman was not surprised at the delay, for he knew the paper’s editor had sought legal advice before printing the article; he had, in fact, consulted Blackman. Blackman, who didn’t really care if the paper was sued, since they were already his clients, had phrased his letter of advice with the greatest care, advising that he didn’t think it was likely but that there was always a possibility of litigation arising from any public statement: in essence, saying nothing. He advised the paper to express no opinion on the matter, but report only the facts. That, he felt, covered him against a charge of carelessness or Unsatisfactory Professional Conduct. As he had already gone down on the more serious charge of Professional Misconduct, and had even had his practising certificate suspended for three months, it was vital to avoid any further trouble. He spent an hour and a half on the letter, and charged the newspaper twenty-eight units. As a lawyer’s unit is six minutes, this amounted to almost double the time he had actually spent.