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Wednesday 1 July 2020

Tales From The Village

    In the orange walled committee chamber 9 men in striped jerseys and black top hats sat around a round, segmented green baize topped table. In the centre sat No.5, a middle aged man of medium height and build, with dark hair, and dressed in grey flannel trousers and a dark blue piped blazer.
    The Chairman of the committee, No.18 spoke “You know why you have been brought before us Number 5.”
    “No…do tell.”
    “There have been a number of complaints levelled against you” the Chairman said accusingly.
    “Complaints….don’t you wish to hear my complaints?”
    “Complaints, you have complaints?”
    “I have several.”
    “Gentlemen I think it’s time……. I think we’re more than ready for a tea break. This session will resume once we have had time to assess the psychological reports regarding Number 5.”
    “But what about my complaints?”
    The Chairman of the committee stared at the prisoner through his round lens spectacles “If there are any further complaints against you we shall have no alternative but to declare you as disharmonious!”
    “But I have complaints!”
    “You have complaints?!”
    “Well fill in form B24681/2H-473Z, then we can take your complaints into consideration at the next session of this committee.”
    “When will that be?”
    “Next Tuesday afternoon at two-thirty.”
    Suddenly the lights went out, then an instant later the chamber was illuminated again and the members of the committee…..they had gone!
    The week passed slowly, with each day more or less the same as the one after and the one yet to come. The only curious thing was the complaints, and there were several laid against me! Complaints that I ignore people and do not acknowledge their greetings, one chap battered and bruised stopped me in the street and accused me of picking a fight with him and beating him up! I looked at my hands, there was not a sign of broken skin on the knuckles! I called at the kiosk to buy a copy of The Tally Ho, a bar of soap and a chocolate bar. The stallholder accused me of theft saying that I went to his kiosk and walked off with a copy of the broadsheet, a bag of sweets, and four packets of village cigarettes.
    “It was only two moments ago” the stall holder said.
    And now he demanded payment or he’d call a guardian, I mean I don’t even smoke! Later in the afternoon, I walked down to the Old People’s Home for a game of chess with my old friend No.73.
    “What you’ve come back have you, looking for more pain, two losses and a stalemate not good enough” 73 said busy setting up the board “oh well sit ye down, I’m white this time I think.”
    I didn’t understand, and told the old man that I had just come for our game of chess, and to my memory I had yet to lose a game against him.”
    “Well certainly you were off form today me boyo” 73 said chuckling to himself “your move!”
    And so it went, whatever happened, happened but a few moments of my being anywhere, I couldn’t understand it unless…………….
    I went storming up the road to the Green Dome, across the square, across the street, up the steps and into the foyer where that diminutive butler stood waiting. I told him, I told him good, well my dander was up you see. He showed me into the large domed chamber that is No.2’s office.
    “What’s the game Number 2?” I barked out across the desk.
    He sat there in that black global chair staring at me “Game, what game?”
    “You know, oh you know alright!”
    “All I know is, you burst into the foyer, verbally abuse my manservant and demand to see me. Then you storm into my office and demand to know what the game is!”
    “You have set your creature upon me!”
    “I have…….what creature?!”
    “Everywhere I go, no matter what I’m going to do, I find I have already been there and done it!”
    “And you have no memory of having done anything?”
    “There’s someone going about the village impersonating me!”
    “You don’t say, why would anyone do that?”
    “To send me over the edge!”
    “You must be mistook, you’ve been over doing it. Why not see a doctor?”
    “Complaints have been levelled at me; on Tuesday I’m to be brought before the committee to answer those complaints. I shouldn’t wonder that it’s my doppelganger who is to blame!”
    “You think you have a double.”
    “And he’s going about the village impersonating you.”
    “Haven’t any of your Observers picked anything up?”
    “They haven’t spotted anything out of the ordinary?”
    “Is that what it’s all about?”
    “Is what all about?”
    “Doubles, doppelgangers, twins, look-a-likes, and the like.”
    “I think you had better go, before I call security” No.2 said his hand moving towards the yellow ‘L’ shaped intercom.
    “I’ll go, tomorrow I’ll face your welfare committee and this time I expect them to listen to my complaints!”
    It was a slow walk back to his cottage; he wanted to lose the anger inside him before he arrived home. He opened the door and went inside. He removed his dark grey blazer and was about to hang it up on the coat rack but the exact same blazer already hung there. Music came from the lounge, Wagner. Slowly he approached the door, which was slightly ajar; putting a hand to it he pushed it open and stood framed in the doorway. Across the room a man sat in an armchair.
    “I expect you’d like a drink, scotch?”
    Entering the room I said “You’re fee with other people’s drink.”
    “Whose drink?” he asked filling a glass “I’ll make it a large one, you’ll need it.”
    “Your face is familiar to me” I said.
    The man stood opposite me and offered me the filled glass, a man with my face! The glass slipped from my hand smashing on the carpet the drink splashing out everywhere.
    “Now look what you’ve gone and done” I said….he said taking a handkerchief from his pocket and mopping up the spilled drink “I suppose I cannot blame you” I said….he said “I’d probably do the same in your shoes” I said…..he said.
    “W….who are you, why are you doing this?”
    “I could ask the same of you. I put it down to one of Number 2’s little games, but I’ve long since realized it isn’t.”
    “It isn’t what?”
    “One of Number 2’s little games.”
    I poured myself anther drink and handed it to myself.
    “How came you to be here?”
    “Don’t you know, you of all people should know. If it hadn’t been for you resigning that job of ours we wouldn’t be in this predicament now!”
    “It was a matter of conscience.”
    “So you say.”
    “You talk as if you were there.”
    “In a way, certainly I would have handled it differently.”
    “So what now?”
    “I came here, so now you must go there.”
    “Go there, go where?”
    “Well we can hardly both go on living here.”
    “What like Box and Cox?”
    “How do you mean?”
    “I have the cottage during the day, you have it at night.”
    “Oh I see” I said….he said a little slow off the mark “sadly that is impossible, you see both of us can no longer live in the same existence.”
    “You mean one of us has to die?”
    “Not quite, but don’t worry I’ll live our life here for the both of us, you never know I might even manage to escape, wouldn’t that be nice?”
    I suddenly began to feel light headed, and things seem to be receding, a darkness swooped over me, and suddenly I was looking at myself in the mirror with fresh eyes.
    “Now Number 5” the Chairman of the committee said looking at my open file “seeing as the psychoanalysts have concluded your report we can continue with your complaints.”
    “You don’t….we’re not here to discuss your complaints Number 5. Oh, I see according to the report you’ve had a change in attitude towards your fellow villagers.”
    “You could say that.”
    “In a previous meeting of this committee you suggested that you had complaints of your own, did you will in form B24681/2H-473Z?”
    “You didn’t?”
    “I have no complaints. I like it here, everyone has been really kind since my arrival.”
    “Well gentleman seeing as that is the case I think we can make an early day of it. Well done Number 5, keep it up.”
    No.5 made his way through the village and back to his cottage, there was a smug if not a smile of deep satisfaction on his face. He was going to like it here in the village, he felt the village to be a place of possibilities for a man who wanted to get on. It was stupid of him not to have seen that before.

Be seeing you

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