Over time, it had become a source of anxiety for him: always doing the right thing. Or at least trying to ensure that nothing he did could ever be perceived as the wrong thing. It was a new age of ever-watchful judgment, this—a new age of Puritanism born of and fed by constant electronic surveillance and years of constant connectivity to the chronically adolescent culture of the Internet.
It was true, though, what he’d said to the crossing guard. He hadn’t a clue this morning as to which unfortunate victim of his own humanity would fall in the shadow of Nick Saint’s legion of critical fans and watcher assistants, an unofficial team of informers officially known as Watchtower. Lately it had become more and more difficult to find folks who were messing up badly enough to exploit, or at least in a big enough way to generate a little hyperbolic outrage on his blog, or his social media accounts, or the online video feed, or his cable talk show. The poor sap that the crossing guard had mentioned—an up-and-coming do-gooder who’d spent most of his days sheltering the homeless and most of his nights cuddling large-chested home-wreckers—had actually been Watchtower’s last big bust (no pun intended). That story had first aired way back in May. The crossing guard was either misremembering or had seen it on a weekend rerun of the show. Since then, Watchtower had pretty much been drilling a dry well.
Even Mark, Nick’s most enthusiastic Watchtower protégé, seemed to be having a rough patch. One day he was uncovering sex scandals, and lies, and money schemes that spanned a chain of class from a street beggar who panhandles in front of the local mission to the leader of the local Baptist church. The next, he couldn’t even find a congressman with a parking ticket.
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