Wednesday 18 July 2018

Episode 48: A Saviour is Born

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.

Roni swung her camera round to capture the scene in the bedroom. Tears ran down her cheeks. She did celebrity exposés, this had become a war zone. The Chinaman had been a shock but now she was filming someone she had known in life, with the life removed. She had met her children. She had been a character in her narrative, a mother, now a cadaver.

I was calm, collected, speechless and willing to agree to anything. “I’ll go!” ping ping! Mike was signalling NO but he wasn’t here, he wasn’t here and he should have been. “I’LL GO! You won’t see us again!”
“NOOO!” Ares cried. He would have looked like the child at the supermarket checkout screaming for the candies were it not for his statue and suit.
Wirey and Excavator took another step back, just like you do at the checkout in case someone thinks that the child is connected to you. Genuine fear in their eyes.
I pleaded him to let Roni go and she nodded fervent agreement. “Let her go!” I dropped my head. “let me go, please.”
I am not proud. I thought I was but pride is a luxury and it had been replaced by another feeling, deep mortal fear. I confessed. I confessed. I confessed.
Ares got it all on his phone. He began swiping and tapping.
“Mike! Forfucksake, do something.” I yelled into the air. There was no ping. I knew he knew where we were, I knew he could have called the police, sent someone to our location. He did nothing. Ares persisted in swiping and tapping then yelled his frustration at the device, throwing it at the wall. Splinters rained on the hard tiled floor. Roni and I would be next. We looked at each other without words, we both knew what was coming. We would not be going to the airport. Roni’s work would finish here and now as an obituary, if it were ever finished. Maybe Jude would see that it was completed. Attend the premiere with a somber face, accept the awards on Roni’s behalf, hopefully tell of his warm and inspiring relationship with me. Send his heartfelt condolences to my wife and sons. My work would be talked about, my books hit the bestseller lists again, generating some royalties for the family. This would be my punchline. I looked toward the bedroom, the door had swung closed but I could still see the disassembled secretary’s calves and feet. Her vital body flashed through my thoughts. Just a few days before, she had been warm, passionate. Just a few days before, she had been in my bed. 
Roni kicked my shin. The men had left the room, probably to decide who would off us.
When they came back in, I stared forward unblinking, tears blurred my vision, snot running down my face. Roni was terse, resolute, bold. Wirey pulled a sack over her head then mine. My tears stopped then my fear was gone. It would be quick.
Purgatory was the back of a van. It was hot and dark. I could feel the presence of another body and by the smell I thought it was the lifeless body of the well-assembled secretary. Judgement day had come and we were travelling freight class.
The twists and turns threw us into each other until our heads hit the bulkhead and the doors swung open. “GET OUT!” There were only two bodies in the back of the van, one mine and to my relief the other was Roni. Alive. We were pulled from the van and pushed into the back seats of an awaiting car.
“Where the fuck were you taking them?” I heard voices from outside the car. I couldn't discern the reply. “You were supposed to…” They had handed us over to others, associates? They were arguing about something.
“The Greek girl...? Malaka!” Then the seat in front of me was filled and the door closed. We sped off
I heard the voices from up front but none of it made sense to me. “He is going to be really pissed off!”
“You heard?”
“Yeah!.. Malakas!”
We had taken maybe five or six corners before a hand reached from the front and pulled the sack from my head and my gag down, my hands were still tied.
“You are safe, Sir.” I didn’t feel it but we were alive. “Mike gave us your location and we saved you.” I tried to look grateful. These were not familiar faces and that was the only thing I needed.
A phone rang and the unfamiliar face in the passenger seat picked up. The voice on the other end did not wait for familiarities and greetings. It was pretty sure that it was Socrates and he was on full tilt. I heard most of what was said but could not comprehend the words. It wasn't until he hung up that my fears were confirmed. The hoods were shoved back over our heads with apology. The car stopped and we were pushed out of the car onto the road.
The car screeched away leaving the bitter taste of exhaust fumes and burnt rubber. Soon there were voices and hands on me. I heard Roni squeal but no one was taking the hood off.
“Roni! Are you OK?” I yelled. She didn’t answer and I needed her to. “RONI!”
“FUCK! Someone just stepped on me.”
“Can you see anything?” Some arms pulled me to my feet. “RONI!”
I was dragged up some stairs then turned around. The hood was taken off. The sun blinded me but my arms were still tied. Roni was being manhandled up the stairs and we were both pushed through the doorway into the shade. We were safe in a police station. Safe? My arms still tied, I was marched into a room and planted on a chair. My hands were untied but I didn’t move.
“Where is Roni, the girl with me. Where is she?” I demanded.
“She’s OK. You need to worry about yourself!” the uniform leaning over me said. He pulled a cigarette from his shirt pocket and lit it blowing smoke over my head. I asked for one but he just smiled. “Last one.”
“I was kidnapped! I was nearly fucking murdered!”
“You need to watch your language!”
“But I, I'm the mayor!”
"I didn't vote for you." 
The smoke smelt tangy and I needed some. “I demand to see the chief!" 
"He didn't either."
"Get me some smokes. I’ll pay.” I search my pockets and found a crumpled note.
“Can’t run errands. We have serious police work to do... Sir.”
I reminded him of his responsibility, his duty, to protect and serve.
“We are not your police! Now tell me. Tell me how you got lost in the wrong neighbourhood.”
“I was kidnapped by Ares Mavrides. He was going to… he killed…”
“Now accusations like that are going to get you in trouble.” He left me sat at the old school desk, still engraved with adolescent graffiti and slammed the door behind him.
I was still getting used to being free. I wasn’t tied to the chair but I might as well have been. Something kept me there acquiescent, compliant. I needed a cigarette, a drink. I had four cold walls and a desk.
Fuck this shit! I stood and walked to the door. The handle was stiff, I pushed, I shouldered the door. I was locked in, banging didn’t bring help.
I went back to the chair. there was nothing else to do, one desk, two chairs, four walls.
The door clunked and in strode Socrates, he was carrying a bottle of Irish and a plastic cup.
“You’ve really put the wind up those Nazis.”
I was pleased to see him, I really was. He broke the seal on the bottle and poured a shot. I looked at it, it sang to me but I shunned it.
“Got any fags, I need to smoke.”
He pointed to the ‘no smoking’ sign, “Can’t.”
“Roni? How’s Roni, I haven’t seen her since we got here.”
“She’s ok.”
“OK SHIT! Socrates, I’m sick of hearing OK. Where is she, what are they doing with her? Why aren’t we together?” I stood. “FUCK! Let’s get out of here, Socrates.”
“Calm down. We have to talk first.”
“I was fucking kidnapped, I want out of here!”
“I want to go eat at a friendly taverna and drink.”
“I brought your favourite.”
I eyed the plastic cup. I wanted it but I wanted not to run away, to feel, to know.
“I want out!”
“There is a whole bunch of press outside. We need a plan.”
I necked the contents of the plastic cup. Socrates filled it again.
“Why didn’t they ask me about…”
“They don’t know.”
I know I should have told them. I know I should have sent them round to where ever she was laid out on the bed. I know, I know. I wanted out and she didn’t want anymore. Not like I did.
“Now, listen. The elections are coming and they’re coming fast. We’ve done well to get this far but you are still a novelty act—”
“Socrates! Shit! I have been kidnapped and nearly killed!” I heard my own words. “Fuck, Christina!” I said her name for probably the first time, she had always been the well-assembled secretary but now she was disassembled.
“Yeah, yeah he went too far. I told him—” He filled my cup, I had drunk it before I decided I shouldn’t. “Eggs will get broken but—”
“Eggs! She’s dead, Socrates. She’s dead and you’re using omelette metaphors?”
He paused an rephrased. “Some soldiers will fall.”
I didn’t know what to say but I was saying something. He wasn’t listening. He stood and went to the door and knocked. I called him. The door was held open for him and her turned, looking through me. “We need to find the hero in you.” And walked out. The key turned in the lock.
I ran to the door and pounded on it then turned to the bottle on the table. I had to stay lucid. I focused on what we had done over these months, the progress we had made but I kept returning to the one logical conclusion.
I should take this all and write a book, do a show, tour. The Americans would love this. Mad goings on in uncivilised Europe, it’s just what makes them feel superior AND for once it’s a war they didn’t start! It was simple. Yes, I would go back to London, join my family and do funny again.
The key turned and Socrates walked in. I told him I couldn’t do it anymore, I told him that I didn’t understand what was going on, I never had and I was going home.
“Yes! and that is exactly why you… WE need to make sure these animals don’t get in. Just imagine the blood on your hands if you give up now.”
“My hands? You said I was just a novelty act!”
“You are and novelty is your strength.” He put a full plastic cup in my hand and grabbed my chin, forcing me to looked in his sharp eyes. “These people need you, they need your British stiff upper lip, they need your wit and huge heart. They need you. They may not know this yet but they do.”
He was right. I could see the potential in these people, maybe the same potential the wife had seen in me all those years ago. They just needed a heavy but loving hand.
“But, Roni?”
“Don’t worry about her. Her career was made today.”
I emptied the plastic cup and Socrates went to the door. He exchanged some words with the officer and returned. It was time to go. He glanced at the plastic cup and I emptied it. The bottle I had refused to drink was at half mast. He said we’d leave it for the officers. There was always more where that came from.
Roni was already at the station door when we arrived. I touched her arm and she tugged a smile, half a lip between her teeth. Socrates opened the door and the press sprung into life. I had done this so many times, I could do it again. I drew breath and dropped my head to put my face on. But before I could project my defiant smile, I heard my name.
Roni had taken the stage and was telling the cameras and microphones of my courage, my unwavering contempt for bullies and how we may not have been there if it hadn’t been for my heroism in the face of people who should never be given power.
“People of Greece! I tell you now. If you don’t want this man, I will take him back home to Britain and I will not rest until he is our democratic leader!” She took my hand, folding it into a fist and held it aloft. And for the fist time in my life the press cheered me.
Socrates took my other hand, smiled and held it high. And, ladies and gentlemen I swear my feet left the ground.

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