Toni Petti LIVE

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Chapter Six

“Where did Sam go today?” I’m not surprised when she just looks down at her hands.

“That guy Yan came by with his tablet,” Amelia says, referring to Yian Dahlo.

“Yee-anne is how you pronounce his name.” I correct her and then ask, “did you have it for him?”

“I did. Yes. Gorie and Camila too.”

“But not Sam?”

“He wasn’t around,” Amelia looks out the window and north up Mutual St. “Gorie said he’s job hunting,” she adds. I smile because I can’t imagine Sam doing anything except bartending and there are no restaurant jobs available this summer, due to the pandemic.

“Can we get your fan?”

“Yep,” Amelia springs up and squeezes past, seizing the opportunity to be helpful.

I transfer the footage and load both clips into my ShotCut video editing software. It’s two separate videos because I turned the camera off before the business people appeared. I need to stich them together, and then add my generic opening sequence. This is the bare minimum and that’s how it should be presented. Auditors should not edit their videos to try and make them more entertaining.

Some First Amendment auditors in the USA ruin the authenticity of their videos by adding effects. They insert sounds like ducks quacking, people clapping and gongs being rung, instead of just playing the conversations with the police as they happened. I cringe when I hear laugh tracks and when they count balls and strikes with graphics like in Family Feud. I complain in the comments when I see this; all such manipulations are highly inappropriate. They’re the mark of an inferior documentarian and someone doing audits for the wrong reasons. Manipulated media discredits the entire movement. I’m a terrible editor and so consequently I have a really light touch. The ShotCut program came with my computer and it's dead simple. I’ve never seen the need to upgrade considering how I can barely manage the basics and I don’t need to be stylish; I only make straight cuts and dissolves.

Amelia sets up her fan on my empty desk and plugs it in. She also brought her magazine.

I miss Sam and wish he was here. On Sunday we'd hung out a little bit and shared some personal stories and kissed. It was nice, and now I’ve found myself replaying our conversation and sifting it for details. Could he ever be anything more than a bartender? He studies Hospitality at George Brown which is aiming low in my opinion.

I edit the video. The first shot ends with Mr. Dewer running away from me through the glass door, and the second shot begins with Pink Shirt on approach. I clean them both up and stitch them together in a quick dissolve. It doesn’t work. It looks awful.

I click Undo and then minimize the editor to open my MS Paint Shop. I use the program to make a graphic plate with the words ′A few moments later...′ I stick this in-between the two shots and make them fade into and out of that card. That works much better. I shuffle to the front of the assembly and insert my Toni Petti LIVE generic opening sequence, the one Darnella made such a stink about. It’s compiled from shots recorded at the July 15th protest as she rightly identified. She has a keen eye. I fast-forward to the end and add calls to action and links to other videos. The end frame is the green and red Tractor PR logo and it’s so good. I laugh to myself all over again as I export the compilation. I’m thinking about Mr. Pink and wonder about his reaction. I navigate to YouTube.com and start uploading the freshly made media to my channel. The upload speeds are much slower than download here at Neill Wycik and so I crawl onto my bed for a catnap. I rest with my head on the pillow so I can monitor the hall. Amelia sits quiet with her magazine in the window chair at the end of my bed.

-

Camila’s shrill cry resounds through the apartment. Her unwelcome overreaction is directed at someone who has just entered. Is it Gorie being disgusting? No. I warm all over when I hear Sam Parris laugh. He’s always doing things to annoy Miss Chlamydia but he seldom evokes an actual scream. I open my eyes and see why.

Sam, an attractive blond youth wears a black coronavirus face mask with the name Combat 18 stenciled across his nose. It’s scary. Underneath is a picture of a cracked skull behind what looks like clenched-fist bones. The mask makes him look like a Nazi Stormtrooper.

“Take that off right now.” Camila demands. Did I mention how she plays sheriff? She polices noxious odours and quiets loud noises and now she’s about to ban offensive face masks.

“Why’s it bother you so much?” Sam asks her, and he winks at me. I smile back which probably encourages him.

“You know why. Combat 18 are neo-Nazi thugs and skinheads.” Camila says. “They aim to start a race war.”

“Why eighteen?” Amelia asks from the doorway of her own room. “Are there seventeen others?”

“Nah. It’s the first and eighth letters of the alphabet.” Sam takes off the mask. “Hitler’s initials!”

“Oh my God. That’s so retarded.” Amelia rolls her eyes.

“Thank you,” Camila exhaled, “for taking it off.”

“Oh I’m gonna keep wearing it. Hey Gorie. I got you one too.” Sam throws an unopened mask and Camila makes to snatch the package in midair but she’s too slow. There’s some more tom-foolery and I decide to get up. The sounds of UK electronica soon fill the unit.

My video has finished uploading to YouTube. I select a thumbnail and toggle Public, Outdoors, Action and I click no, it’s not made for kids. I add the hashtags #IDRefusal, #CharterRightsAudit, #BikeLaneBlocker and #BikeTO. This video will need a good title and that means I had to get creative. NHL Player Blocks Bike Lane, Toronto Police, ID Refusal. This is the best headline I could concoct on the spot and it isn’t bad. Nobody will be disappointed with that, except perhaps Mr. Dewer and Pink Shirt, if they ever see the recording.

My YouTube Channel is not busy even though I have three dozen videos uploaded now. Toni Petti LIVE only has twenty two Subscribers, and I probably know most of them personally. My mom, my aunt, my friend Marcy, and Marcy’s mom, that’s four of them right there. I have one video with over a thousand views. It’s called, I only see the woman in the red dress. This is a reference to the movie, The Matrix. The shot is of hundreds of commuters on Front Street walking toward the Go Transit platform and passing through an intense sunbeam reflection from First Canadian Place on the stone columns of Union Station. It’s a gorgeous shot and one blond woman in a red dress is highly visible in the sun- dapple for about fifteen seconds. The shot lasts for three minutes or more and it’s been viewed 1074 times since I uploaded it in June. My new video should do much better than that.

Samuel Parris appears in my open door. His happy grin displays all his white teeth in his well-tanned face. His shoulder length blond hair is cut-short at the sides and frames his blue eyes and high cheekbones. He’s a handsome young man. “Hey Doll. I got you a new mask,” Sam tosses me a Combat 18 coronavirus mask still wrapped in cellophane. I catch the item and vow never to open the package.

“You think I should wear this at BLM rallies?”

“I wouldn’t recommend it,” he sits on my bed.

“Where did you get these?”

“Ex-pats. I was just in Little Britain. Have you been?” he references Arrested Development, a TV sitcom which comedically explores the existence of Little Britain in the same there’s a Little Italy, Little Portugal and Chinatown. I smile at the humour but it’s not the first time he’s mentioned it. Maybe there really is such a place?

“Where is Little Britain?”

“Just down the road, past all the statues they wanna tear down.” Sam was against Canadians removing their statues because he believed it was a slight against our British heritage. He considered our nation to be an ungrateful child. He thinks of France and his beloved England as its downtrodden parents. Germans are cousins and so are Swedes, Danes, Italians and Spaniards. All of the colonies however are ‘the kids’ and America is the oldest male child and most untrustworthy because he suffers from ADD, Attention Deficit Disorder. This is how Sam sees the world. Canada is the USA’s little sister that’s always getting conned out of her possessions and manipulated by her older brother. ′You need to pay more into NATO,′ okay. ’You need to buy our fighter jets,′ okay. ′You need to send more troops to Afghanistan,′ okay. It’s an interesting Geopolitical perspective and I’ve encouraged him to write it out and try to get published.

“Sam are you Black Lives or All Lives?”

Sam doesn’t answer which only means he’s stuck trying to generate a funny response. He times-out when my phone buzzes. It’s a text from Yian telling me there’s envelopes in my mailbox. The message includes a self portrait of himself in the mail room. He’s holding his tablet with a stern look on his face. A masked Canada Post worker stuffs envelopes into mail slots in the background, a cubby hole for every tenant in the building. Yian must be really stressed to monitor the incoming mail, but regardless this means he’s not going to accept anymore excuses.

I’m also pretty sure there’s no cheque for me. My stepdad would never proactively help me out. I pocket my phone and return my attention to the cute boy on my bed.

“Have you got time for a kiss?” Sam asks, reading my mind.

“Just one.” I reply and we kiss. His hands roam and he bumps my phone in my back pocket. I remove it so he can more easily grab my ass.

“I know that when dat hotline bling...”

“Yeah. It’s my work.” I lie to him.

“That’s what you call it?”

“What I do is hard work.” He just looks at me as if to say girl, you don’t know hard work. But he’s smart enough not to say anything like that. I’ll show him. I turn my Lenovo so it faces us and I click-open my YouTube channel and play the video I just published.

Sam tickles me and slaps my bum before I can complete the task. The video begins and I wrestle myself free and leave the room. His attention shifts to the screen as the Toni Petti LIVE generic opening plays. I go into the small bathroom and wash my face and brush my teeth. I can hear myself talking on the recording. ’...And... You’re standing in a bike lane.′ I hear myself say, and then I hear Sam giggle and I warm-over with pride.

Samuel watches my video right to the end and then howls with laughter. “Toni that’s fire! Girl that’s wig!” He leans forward over my laptop. His fingers tap the mousepad but he doesn’t know how to pause the player. “You’re grace under pressure.” He points at my Lenovo. “Rewind,” and by that he means replay my video. “And volumize.”

We both sit cross-legged on my bed and watch my video again. He laughs and reacts at every good moment including and especially when I defy Constable Silvans. He mimics me at the end. “Mmm. No thank you." He howls afresh and asks me to Facebook him the link, which I do. “Babe, this vid’s gonna blow up.”

“I hope you’re right.”

“Toni you got to take me out there with you.”

“I’ll take you out,” I say and wind-up to playfully strike his square jaw. He pushes my fist aside.

“Seriously. Take me with you. I’m a bloody natural.”

“Oh no. Hah. You’d get so bored with it. No. I work alone.”

“Oh, I get it... You don’t want your audience to see me?” He asks. “Is that it? I don’t fit your single white girl brand?”

“Well...” I pretend he’s right, and he looks shocked. Then we both laugh and kiss. I like his body and he smells good and it’s nice to snuggle with him, but after five minutes more I jump clear of his roving hands and grab my backpack.

“Ohh.” Sam complains, “you can’t leave me leave me like this...”

Part of me doesn’t want to leave, but I can’t lose the rest of day. I’m a girl on a mission. I have to check my mailbox and try and solve my money problem. Plus, there’s my own rules, and my superstitions and my long held belief in Nibbles. When it comes to taking pleasure from sin, nothing bad can happen if you just take nibbles, you know, small bites from the forbidden apple. It’s actually healthy that way. I tend to moderate everything. That means I don’t binge on food, drinks, skin care, meds or men. To get naked with a boy in the middle of the day is like drinking beer before lunch, or eating ice cream before supper. It ruins everything, and I never rush anything important. Plus I know from experience it pays to let randy boys stew in their own juices.

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