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Thursday 20 June 2019

A New Arrival!

   It was a bright sunny morning as a new arrival in the village drew back the net curtains of his cottage. He stood shocked and bewildered. It was sure some party at Maxine’s last night, but where is he, this isn’t London. Sure, he was in what looked to be his own room, but something wasn’t right, in fact it was far wrong!
   McGill found the door to his cottage and went outside. The architecture was a mixture, mostly Italianate suggesting he was somewhere on the
Mediterranean. In the Bell Tower a bell tolled the hour of nine O’clock. There looked to be no-one about, save for a waitress unfolding table parasols at the café, and a gardener hosing down the patio. He spun round and made for the door and took his first steps into his new surroundings. Disoriented and confused he made his way down steps, across a road, through an arch, across the Piazza, through another arch, and across the road to the café.
    “Good morning sir, would you like breakfast?” the waitress asked.
    “Look I’m a bit confused. I don’t know where I am, or how I got here” he told her.
    “You’re in the village?”
    “The village?”
    “Do you want tea or coffee, being an American you’ll want coffee” the waitress suggested.
    “No, tea will be fine” he said.
   The waitress was about to go inside when he grabbed her arm.
    “Look, I have no idea why I’m here, but it would help if I knew where I was. What’s the name of this place?”
    “The village.”
    “Yes the village” he said now beginning to get annoyed.
    “It’s the village” the waitress told him.
    “Alright you win lady, can I make a telephone call?”
    “We don’t have a telephone” the waitress told him.
    “Now why doesn’t that surprise me!”
    “There a phone box just around the corner” she said “I’ll get your tea.”
    The man smiled, and taking a pack of
Pall Mall cigarettes from his pocket and striking a match, he drew hard on the cigarette leaving a trail of smoke in his wake as he made his way to the telephone booth. For information lift and press said a notice in the booth. There was a shelf on which sat a grey and black ‘L’ shaped telephone, McGill picked it up and pressed the chrome button.
    “Number please” the female operator asked.
    McGill looked at the phone, and around the booth “There isn’t a number” he said the cigarette in the corner of his mouth “Look I want to make a call to….”
    “What is your number sir?” the operator asked.
    “I haven’t got a number” he said in frustration.
    “No number, no call” the operator told him and hung up.
    McGill put the telephone down and moved away from the booth, taking the cigarette butt from his mouth he dropped it on the ground. There was an information board by a tree, and he was just about to walk over to it when a white Mini-Moke with a candy-striped canopy suddenly pulled up.
    “Taxi sir?” the attractive blonde taxi driver asked peering out of the side of the Moke.
    “Well you’re a sight for sore eyes” he said taking a bundle of pound notes from his jacket pocket “look I’ll pay you to take me to the nearest town.”
    “We’re only the local service” the girl told him.
    “Well take me as far as you can” McGill told her climbing into the front passenger seat.
    The taxi moved forward passed the café, round the corner, up the road, passed the Green Dome, along the road, under two arches and appeared to leave the village. The road wound through the woods, over a bridge, through a yellow and white triumphal arch, and back into the village. Then down the hill passed the Town Hall, towards the Old People’s home. McGill realized he was being taken for a ride both literally and metaphorically. The taxi driver smiled at him, reversed the Moke and drove back up the hill, taking a right hand fork, round a statue of Hercules and up a cobbled lane. Left into a square, then left coming to a stop in the road.
    “What kind of taxi driver are you, don’t you know the way out of this place?” this was the second time McGill felt frustrated.
    “I did tell you we’re only local” the girl said “That will be two units.”
    “Units, what the hell are units, I’ve only got Pounds!”
    “Oh well, pay me later, be seeing you” the girl saluted him, then drove off down the road looking for another fare.
    McGill stood in the middle of the road watching the white Mini-Moke disappear around the corner at the bottom of the road. The General Store now took his attention, glancing in the bay window he walked round to the door and opened it.
    “Ah good morning sir, and what can I do for you?” the stout shopkeeper asked from behind the counter.
    “Do you have a map?” McGill asked.
    “A map, colour or black and white?” the shopkeeper asked.
    “It doesn’t matter, I just want a map.”
    “Very good sir.”
    The shopkeeper turned and opened a cabinet, from which he produced a map and dropped it onto the counter. McGill read the words Map of Your Village on the cover and unfolding it studied the black and white map. The woods, the mountains, the sea, the cliffs and caves, the beach, the Old People’s home, the ship, tower.
    “This isn’t what I meant.”
    “Really sir, what did you mean.”
    “I meant a larger map.”
    “Only in colour, much more expensive.”
    “That’s okay, that’s fine, I can pay” McGill said throwing a number of pound notes onto the counter.
    The shopkeeper looked at the notes on the counter and turning his back he returned to the cabinet and produced a second map. McGill took the map, the words ‘Map of Your Village’ were embossed on the leather cover. Unfolding the map he found it was larger, yet identical to the other one, but in colour.
    “Now look I’m fed up with being given the run-around!” McGill shouted banging his fist on the counter “I want a map of a larger area.”
    “I don’t have any, there’s no call for them” the shopkeeper said nervously.
    “Can I get hire a car here?”
    “No sir, only taxis” the shopkeeper told him.
    “What kind of town is this?”
    “It’s not a town sir, it’s the village.”
    “Yeah, well you can keep it. If I can’t drive out of here, I’ll walk!”
    McGill returned to his cottage but only to collect his suitcase. The telephone began to ring, he picked up the receiver.
    “Is that Number 6?”
    “Oh it’s you again” he said recognizing the operator’s voice.
    “Is your number 6 sir?” the operator repeated.
    He glanced down at the telephone “That’s the number on the dial.”
    “I’ve a call for you.”
    He suddenly felt lifted “A call, who is it?”
    “Come and join me for breakfast, Number 2 the Green Dome.”
    McGill left his cottage and made his way to the Green Dome, he climbed the steps, and hung about on the balcony for a few moments before walking under an arch and stood at the front door. There was a wrought iron bell pull, he pulled it, and from somewhere a deep sounding bell tolled. The front door to the Dome opened and stepping into the foyer he was greeted by a diminutive butler in black tails who directed him through a pair of open French doors. McGill walked through and up a couple of steps where a pair of steel doors slid open to reveal the large domed chamber beyond. He paused in the open doorway before stepping forward, the steel blast-proof doors sliding shut behind him.
    “Do come in” bid the man from the relative comfort of a black globe chair “breakfast is ready.”
    He stepped forward, down the ramp and across the floor taking in his surroundings.
    “You’re not thinking of leaving us already are you Number 6?”
    He put his suitcase down “Look, I don’t know who you are, where I am, how I got here and why…..what did you call me?”
    “Number 6” the man told him.
    “My name is McGill” he shouted, his voice echoing round the chamber.
    “I know your name McGill, but we do not use names here. I am Number 2, you are our Number 6, and your breakfast will be getting cold.”
    McGill walked over to the small side table. Lifting the silver plate cover he found a plate of ham and eggs, there was also toast, marmalade, with both tea and coffee. He slammed down the cover back over the plate.
    “What the hell is all this about?”
    “You have an impressive file” Number 2 said “you were certainly good at your job in American Intelligence. But then it all went wrong for you, accused of treason you were forced to resign.”
    “This is old history, it’s not worth raking over again” he said taking a pack of cigarettes from his jacket pocket, and striking a match he lit it.
    “I’d rather you didn’t.”
    “I’d rather I did” McGill said blowing out smoke and demonstrating an air of non-conformity.
    “You’ll learn McGill, and if you don’t we’ll teach you.”
    “That sounds like a threat.”
    “A promise” Number 2 told him.
    McGill walked around the chamber “If you’re Number 2, who’s Number 1? he shouted.
    “As far as you’re concerned I’m in charge.”
    McGill looked at the large wall screen which displayed a lava lamp affect, wax rising and falling in globules and long streaks in hot oil. He turned his attention back to the man seated in the chair.
    “So why have you had me brought here?”
    “An ex American Intelligence agent working as an unlicensed private investigator for hire at a rate of 300 Pounds or Dollars a week, plus expenses.”
    “What, you want to hire me?” McGill said sarcastically dropping his cigarette butt on the floor and putting it out with his foot.
    “What at 300 Credit Units a week plus expenses?”
    He walked briskly over to the desk leaning across it said “Then what do you want from me?”
    “Your knowledge, and your expertise” Number 2 said with a smile.
    “Me work for you, let me talk to your boss” McGill said angrily.
    “I’ve told you, as far as you’re concerned I’m in charge” Number 2 repeated.
    “Well I’m not working for you, and you can’t make me! I’ll break out of here, and when I do I’ll go straight back to American Intelligence….”
    “It might interest you to know McGill, that it was those “good old boys” of American Intelligence who had you put in here.”
    “You’re lying!” McGill shouted.
    “I’m not, they did, and here you are. I suggest you settle yourself in, and we will talk again Number 6.”
    “I’m no number, my names McGill” he shouted his voice again echoing around the chamber.
    “Of course it is, the
Butler will show you out Number 6. Be seeing you.”
    The pair of steel doors at the top of the ramp slid open. McGill picked up his suitcases and ambled up the ramp and through the open doors sliding shut behind him. In the foyer the
Butler stood waiting to show the visitor out.
   “What number do they call you?”
Butler looked up at the visitor and said nothing.
   “That’s right my friend, you mind your business and let others mind theirs. I’m not going to be around long enough to care either way. As the man said, be seeing you!”



  1. Putting McGill into the position of our unnamed prisoner is an interesting piece, David! Because for some resason I've always had the notion of a parallel or an alignment of sorts between the No. 6 character and that of McGill. Both their lives were confined to a manifest or imaginary "territory". Arguably, McGill was free to roam the whole of Europe which he did while No. 6 would be incarcerated in a golden cage known only as the "Village". Both were alienated personalities signified by a figure, the number "6", and a name, an abstract designation rather than a simple last name: "McGill". Both a bit like the character "K" in Kafka's novels. The major distinguishing line between the two is the amount of overt surrealism and symbolism of which there's almost nothing in MAN IN A SUITCASE. - BCNU!

  2. Hello Arno,

    That’s an excellent comment, and I agree, the more I watch ‘Man In A Suitcase’ the more of a parallel I seen between McGill and the No.6 in ‘the Prisoner.’ Except in my little piece McGill is No.6, and he’s in the village before McG’s Prisoner. Because McGill was forced to resign 6 years before ‘the Prisoner,’ and I work to the principle that every new arrival in the village begins more or less the same for everyone, as it does in ‘the Prisoner’ series.
    The ‘Man In A Suitcase,’ it has no overt surrealism and symbolism because it’s a straightforward adventure series, which is as Script Editor George Markstein wanted ‘the Prisoner’ to be.