Monday, December 23, 2019

Microstory 1261: The Saunter Twins

Cullen Gunnarsen and Einion Tamaro were aspiring actors, but since they lived in Kansas City—and were only children—there weren’t a lot of opportunities to get themselves on the big screen. They met each other in community theatre when they were both cast in a production of Newsies. After growing up, they couldn’t remember which parts they played, though it was definitely two of the younger ones. A few years later, Senator Elliot Channing approached them both with an interesting offer. They would be paid handsomely, and really get their names out there, and all they would have to do was walk around Kansas City on camera. It seemed ridiculous and random to them, but it was a job, so they took it. They figured they could quit anytime if it turned out to be a waste. It turned out to be the best choice they ever made, though they would come to find out that it was an ethically questionable one. He hired them to walk in the City Frenzy event, which of course, was generally a foot race, where the object was to run fast. After a couple years of streaming the race internationally, Channing learned that people were tuning out as soon as the saw who won. Many turned off the feed after the next to finished, and very few watched all the way through the end. This was no big deal for subscribers who had prepaid for an ad-free experience, but it was a problem for the ad-supported tier. The faster the winner got to the finish line, the less money they were going to make, and he wanted to change that. Of course, it would be really bad if he tried to get the racers to slow down, especially since he would have to convince all of them to comply, and to also keep it secret. Instead, he came up with an odd plan that somehow worked even better than he hoped. People weren’t just watching until the last real racer finally got to the finish line. They were watching for hours and hours, just for Cullen and Einion.

The two of them would walk the race at a fairly leisurely pace. They would stop to appreciate the shops they went by, smell flowers along their route, and take selfies with the passersby. People began to close the broadcast immediately after the winner was crowned at a lower rate then before, and this only decreased each year The Saunter Twins—as the papers called them—put on their own show. It was just a couple of kids walking through the metropolitan area, but enough people were fascinated by their alternate technique to increase revenue. They called it a spiritual journey, and it apparently spoke to a lot of people who didn’t have anything else going on in their lives. This was before Channing decided to end his political career, and focus solely on the Frenzy event, which might have absolved the rest of the committee of any wrongdoing, but even after he joined permanently, he was never caught; not even by the others. The Twins didn’t give him up once they were old enough to realize that they weren’t allowed to be paid for their performance, and no one else ever figured it out. Cullen and Einion moved on with lives after the former aged out, and eventually relocated to Los Angeles, so they could pursue their acting careers. By then, they were worldwide celebrities, so it wasn’t hard for them to start landing gigs, which was probably the main reason they never confessed to their involvement in the crime. They did some separate things, but they were largely considered a package deal, so casting directors often called them up to work together on the same titles. Parts were even rewritten to accommodate two actors, instead of one. They acted in movies, and television, and occasionally spent time in New York to perform on Broadway. Their fans continued to call them The Saunter Twins, but never caught onto the fact that neither of them behaved like zen spiritualists after the Frenzy chapter of their lives was over. It all seemed to work out.

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