Tuesday 4 November 2014

Episode 21: Down but not out

From under dark clouds
From Under Dark Clouds
'From Under Dark Clouds...' is a Gonzo fictionalisation of current events in Greece as seen through the eyes of our unnamed hero as he fumbles from paranoia to public office, under the mentorage of the shady Socrates.

Each episode is based on real events. Readers are invited to share their experiences for the Under Dark Clouds treatment. Many have been included in cameo roles.

See link below for contributions

My face was still smarting from the slap but it didn't curb my enthusiasm, dear blogees. My motto is if you don’t do it, it doesn't get done! And if it wasn't, it would be from now on. Apparently, as the mayor, my jurisdiction did not include or get anywhere close to matters of taxation. I had made false promises to Spyros the supermarket and my arse would get bitten but these were mere details in a plan of such righteous scale that they barely warranted a second thought, were it not for my face. The well-assembled secretary picked up the phone and told me, yes told me to call the supermarketer and tell him the truth. She turned to dial the number and it came upon me to slap her arse. My hand made a paddle and began to swing when I remembered all the ruckus at the BBC and I had no time in my schedule to be the next Dave Lee Travis. I told her instead to call a meeting of all the homeless employees of the town hall. She huffed and complied. That, ladies and gentlemen, is the sign of a true leader.

I chose the conference room for the meeting, this time. Mike the IT guy and Tasos the janitor were already there and I arrived with my secretary in tow. The room began to fill, anything to get away from their desks.

I took the stage and cleared my throat. “I have some good news,” I smiled. I cleared my throat again, a little louder this time and repeated myself.  

“The mayor would like to tell you about when you’ll get paid,” Mike the IT guy said. The room went silent.

I thanked Mike, then became momentarily distracted by my secretary’s heaving bosom, not noticing her tightly pursed lips. She was staring holes in the back of Mike’s head. I prised my eyes away from her bosom just before she noticed me looking, she gently swung her head left and right.

“Yes, of course, ladies and gentlemen. But more about that after.” After I found out where Mike intended to squeeze hundreds of thousands of euros of back pay from a bankrupt town council that hadn't paid some of its staff for nearly a year. We had been financed by promises and rhetoric from central government for so long we had stopped asking. “First, I have some fantastic news about housing.”

One of the gathered lifted his head, his face still bruised from our last run-in with the police’s special forces. “Just tell us when we’re gettin' paid, will ya!” the room began to nod in unison and the mumbling began again.

“I’ll get to that in a moment, just bear with me and I’ll answer all your questions. Now I've managed to…” the room began to empty.

Soon the room echoed with silence. Just Despina stood before me with an awkward smile, she looked behind her as the door closed.

I looked to Tasos and Mike who looked to each other. I turned to Despina. “You and your boy will have a new home today, Despina.” She smiled a thank-you and asked to leave, then stopped. “We won’t get beaten out by the police again, will we, sir?”

I looked her in the eyes and swore that things would be better soon. She dropped her head and left. Mike turned to Tasos and swung his head toward the door. They left together.

It was just me and the well-assembled secretary in the big room. “I do hope you know what you’re doing,” she said and swaggered out of the room. I didn't and she knew that better than I.

That night, I tossed restlessly in a warm bed, with a warm wife, my sons gently snoring in the next room. Mike, Tasos, Despina and her young son were safe in the supermarketers apartments, but for how long.

The sun finally rose signalling the start of another cycle of life. I headed off the wife’s alarm and readied the kids for school myself. I poured milk over cereal, put things between bread and took them to learn numbers and letters.

I was last into the office but no coffee waited for me and only Despina wished me a good morning. I spent the day watching the hour hand drag its arse round the clock face. Spyros the supermarketer called a number of times and was told each time that I was unavailable. Somebody from central government called then rang my mobile racking up a list of red entries in my call history. In fact the only person I did speak to was from the mobile company trying to sell me some new package and she hung up on me.

At the end of the day I waited, respectfully for the offices to empty and clocked off. Back home where I had less scope to cause calamity or where expectations were so much lower.

I was thrusting a foamy toothbrush round my mouth when the phone rang, it was Mike. He apologised profusely for his absence that day but told me that I had to come over and see what he had found. I told him I’d see him the next morning but he insisted and I relented.

His eyes were on fire as he opened the door of his new apartment in Spyros’s block. I looked around the room, he had already made the place into a teenagers’ bedroom. He ushered me to the monitor propped up on some vegetable crates.

“It was easy,” he said. “The encryption and firewalls were a doddle. I just had to route through the TOR network so it couldn't be traced.” I stared at the grey boxes filled with numbers and other gibberish. He started changing the numbers in the boxes and pressing the update data button, then he looked at me. I stared at the screen. “It’s official and no one can trace it back.” I stared at the screen. “Don’t you see?” I didn't.

My expression barely changed when It did, from stupid to stupefied but I did realise what we had uncovered.

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