Sunday 10 July 2016

Episode 42: GO HOME!

You know me. You followed me around the country. You loved me on the TV when I had you in stitches with jokes about my penis. You followed me in the tabloids, you supported my charitable works. Then you didn't. I don't know why. You just stopped. Now, I have people who love me again. So much that they made me their mayor. This is my new story, From Under Dark Clouds.

It would have been so easy, a forth ticket. Go back to London. The tabloids would pick my bones cleaner than a bucket of bbq ribs. But if I could just lay low for a while, they would eventually tire of it, start picking on someone else. I could turn the whole experience into a show, start touring again. Maybe. I could go stay with some friends in the States. Do some tearful tea-time chat shows about my exploits at the hands of the cave-dwelling Europeans. Get a guest-star on a soap or some Netflix series. Fuck! If Piers Morgan could get a gig over there. Might have to stay away from the bible belt but that’d be no loss. It would all have been so easy. Relatively.
The message crucified to my office door was unambiguous, it said GO HOME! And the ink had made a sticky pool on the carpet. The messenger would not be missed by anyone who wasn’t already missing him thousands of miles away.
I was sitting on the steps sucking the calm out of another cigarette when Jude arrived, he touched my shoulder as he passed to Roni who showed him inside.
Socrates pulled up next, followed by the police. He started at me, I swung a thumb over my shoulder and told him to see for himself. As he passed I grabbed his sleeve.
“Have you got any…”
He looked down and grunted. “There’s a couple of bottles in the trunk.” He looked at his watch and walked away.
When he came back out he snatched the bottle from my mouth. “I need you sober!” I disagreed, no one needed me sober, much less me. I tried to take one last deep swig but the old bastard won, the strength to fight him was in that bottle.
“There’s a fucking slant nailed to your door!” I should have been offended by his racist slur but truth was the guy nailed to my office door did appear to be Chinese, Asian of some sort, but more importantly dead and beyond caring about any other word to describe him.
The police came out in a crackle of radio and started running yellow and black tape across the entrance.
I heard them snigger,”Yellows. Blacks. One less!”
They finally ejected Jude and Roni before sealing and went back to the squawking of their radios.
Someone told the officers to call an ambulance. “Too late! Chinese takeaway, send a fridge and the cleaners.”
Socrates was still holding the bottle and my mouth was arid for it.
The staff began to arrive but a police cordon sent them back home. None of them were too eager to argue but a crowd had begun to gather, many of them holding phones and cameras in the air. One of them I recognised as the ruddy-faced Englishman from the Town Hall towers riot. Bad news travels fast. My secretary broke through and ran to me, she was no athlete but she looked good when she ran.
She pulled the flight details from her bag and asked if I wanted her to call the wife. I did but I would have to do it. My hand fell to my cigarettes before my phone so I lit and sucked hard before tapping her face on the screen.
She didn’t know what was going on but she would before the flight. I had to be sure that she would leave. I told her I would call her mother to pick them up at the airport. Greek mothers are a force to be reckoned with. She made me promise to follow after. I promised, then repeated after. I couldn’t decide whether I was being brave or stupid. Fortunately the plain-clothes arrived and I didn’t have to choose.
We gave our statements in an unsullied end of the building, an English-speaking officer had been brought in for me, Roni and Jude. Their memory cards were taken after some protest. We were left with a uniform at the door.
Socrates had not been confined to the room, he’d arranged for a couple of the boys to go up and take care of the wife. I asked if we should get a police guard. He laughed, “I’ll send some boys up, they’ll be safer.”
Roni and Jude were being very supportive. They kept asking me how I felt and what I was planning to do and who I thought was responsible. I really needed to talk to Dr Alex but we had to keep a lid on this as long as we could. The less people knew, the better and I had Roni. She was quite the sounding board. The more I talked the better I felt. You know, it wasn’t me nailed to the door. The wife and the boys would be on a plane to London soon enough and the police would get them, after all this was a threat on a major political candidate. This could even swing the vote. In a few short months, I could be running this place. That would show them.
Jude yelled “Oh yes!” from the corner. I knew he was behind me.
I mused out loud over the idea while idly tapping through my facebook feed. The same last-night party pictures, inspirational memes and coffee cups. Roni ummed and ahhed and absolutely-ed. I liked and shared some of my campaign videos. Replied ‘thx’ to some kind comments. My phone continued to ping with interest. People were liking what I stood for. The fact that I’d rattled the fascists had to be a plus.
Jude leaped to the window and yelled, “Roni, camera!” I jerked up from my phone she didn’t have to ready her tool, it had been trained on me. How much had she filmed?
The stretcher coming out of the main doors of the town hall was covered with a white sheet that did little to obscure the gore of its load. The arms protruded from each side. The rectangular shape of his peddler’s tray lay flat on his chest. The same tray that had bore the message painted in his own blood, ‘Gamoto soy sou!’ I FUCK YOUR FAMILY! I could pick out every detail under the sheet, still seared in my eyes but the face had gone. All I could see now were my own features in place of his.
The legs of the stretcher folded as it entered the back of the blue van then dropped again as it was pulled back out. Some commotion began, arms waved. One of the crew walked away waving his palms in clear rejection. Jude sniggered and Roni echoed. A police officers stood forward and grabbed one of the arms as he thrust the stretcher hit the back of the van but the arm was now parallel with the body. He did the same with the other then thrust an open palm at the ambulance crew and walked off.
The man who had until recently been crucified to my office door was probably from China, well known in the low-rent neighbourhood for peddling smartphone cases and selfie sticks as well as cheap plastic toys that were popular with the kids. He would never be reported missing. Anyone who could have known or cared would be more interested in protecting their own safety. Anyone back home might notice the cheques stopping and never learn why. Just one of nearly 1.4 billion people who would quickly be replaced.
I had to get home, I had to see my kids. I had to see someone who cared if I lived or died. I ran out of the office to tell the officer that I would be leaving, with or without their sayso. The door swung open and bounced off the wall. The corridor was empty. Through the window I could see a lone squad car, the officers were nowhere to be seen. The ambulance had taken the peddler off to be forgotten, the crowds had dispersed.
We took Jude’s rental up the mountain. He was getting used to driving in Greece and no longer made a big show of stopping at amber lights but we arrived to an empty house.


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