Tark’s ordinarily demonic eyebrows softened into an expression of benign malevolence. He sighed. “You must see past the superficial snub, my mercurial mayflower. Let her think we’re doing her a favour. We have our own agenda, and that dreadful Spaldling woman is but a means.”
Mara’s bony elbows folded themselves into submission. “I checked, and it’s been over twelve months since we last featured on that humourless, talentless, revenueless blog. And then she just crooks her little finger, and you come running! How am I supposed to see past that?”
“Well, we were lying low of our own accord for some of that time, darling, you must admit. The super-rich have been markedly less funny since Donald Trump.”
Mara examined her freshly gilded fingernails. A lesser observer might have mistaken her body language for nonchalance. Her husband, however, was never less than more, and never more of more than when scheming and plotting, as he was now.
He was acutely aware of his wife’s discomfort. It was impossible to be anything other than aware of discomfort, where his angular amour was concerned. But the growing backlash against the super-rich had hurt her more than she would admit. She hadn’t taken her Birkin bag outside in three days, and just one week ago, he had caught her hesitating over the online purchase of a $16,000 pair of heelwarmers, knitted from the hair of impoverished toddler orphans.
He rose from the ornate throne which had once cradled the backside of Nicholas II, the last Tsar of Russia, and crossed the rare Italian marble floor of the atrium in their 12th-storey penthome to where his wife was standing.
“Look at me,” he commanded forcefully, forcing the command rather physically by hooking his right index finger under his wife’s razor-sharp chin. “Have I ever let you down?”
“No,” Mara whispered, her pupils dilating like no other part of her body ever could.
“So think about it. What benefit might guesting on that ridiculous Spurling woman’s blog bring us? Considering that she has sequestered herself out of sight, and most definitively out of mind, in a dank writing-cave somewhere in Siberia? Hmmm?”
“Oh, Tark,” Mara shivered. “You know I go weak at the knees when you utter vague threats. Either tell me, or throw me over the 17th century Ottoman and be done with it.”
“Listen, my lascivious love,” Tark breathed. “She has left her blog, unattended as a newly-passed piece of legislation. I have the PASSWORD. Now think. What does this mean for us?”
Mara’s chest rose and fell, as unaccustomed to the welcome rush of oxygen as it was to calories of any kind. “You don’t mean – surely not – but she would never!”
Tark grinned smugly, the eyebrows pointing into deliciously right-angled expressions of diabolic intent. “Precisely. You referred to it as a revenueless blog. How many years has she wasted, churning out content for no reward?”
“She’s been heard to say that readers are the only reward.”
“Yes, but she is an imbecile. And therefore, over the next month I am going to turn this waste of social media into one of the most powerful fake news sites in the world.”
“I’m not sure that’s terribly profitable, darling.” Mara’s eyes widened infinitesimally in her version of a raised eyebrow. “The market’s been cornered by Macedonian teenagers, and everyone knows they’ll work for two roubles and a bucket of chicken.”
Tark leaned against the grand piano whose ivories had once been tinkled by none other than Rachmaninov’s most talented third cousin. “Depends on what you define as power. When it comes to fake news, it’s quality, not quantity. I have a very specific campaign in mind.”
“Oh my! You’re enjoying yourself, dragging this all out, aren’t you? Do you want me to beat it out of you?”
Tark’s evil grin grew eviller. “You can do that later. No, my valiantly violent vixen, this campaign is going to have global implications. But by the time I’ve finished, you will be parading through the streets of Dublin with a €40,000 Birkin bag on both arms.”
Mara clapped her hands together in delight. The resulting crack reminded Tark of the sound the young Syrian refugee had made while cleaning the penthouse windows, when he fell off his makeshift scaffolding and fractured his skull on their balcony railing. To his eternal credit, the windows had sparkled.
“I knew it! You’re going to single-handedly rescue public relations for the super-rich! Oh, Tark! I knew you couldn’t keep away from it forever! You’re just too bloody good at it!”
“I am rather,” Tark said smugly. “Granted, some of the groundwork has been laid by others in the past year. But nobody has managed to get anyone to love the super-rich. Respect them, often; admire them, surely. But not love.”
“And that terrible Sparkling woman’s blog is the perfect vehicle! Nobody would ever see it coming from that quarter.”
“Precisely. Let her have her little break. Lord knows the world needs a break from her. It’s time to use this platform for the good of the deserving poor 1%.”Embed from Getty Images