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Saturday 8 May 2021

Newly Arrived!

     Newly arrived in the village, a man wakes up in what he considered to be the drawing room of his own home. Somewhat groggily he stood up and crossing the room to the window and drew back the curtains, and looking out his eyes fell upon a scene of an Italianate village. Confusion soon set in, disorientation quickly followed as the young man took his first tentative steps out in the village.

    He saw the bell tower, the cobbled square and stood gazing up at the Green Dome. The general store was closed, and yet the café was just opening.
    “Can I get you breakfast young man?”
    “Say this is a crazy scene, like where am I?”
    “In the village” the waitress replied opening a canopy over a table.
    “Like what village?”
    “Do you want coffee?”
    “No I don’t want breakfast, I don’t want coffee, just tell me how I get out of here.”
    “You having trouble with him?” the gardener asked.
    “No, he’s no trouble.”
    “Is there a telephone I can use?”
    “No, but there’s a phone box around the corner.”
    “Thank you.”
    The fair youth walked around the corner from the café and found the telephone booth. A sign read “Lift and press,” so he picked up the grey ‘L’ shaped telephone and pressed the small square chrome button.
    “Number please” the operator asked.
    “I want to make a telephone call to…..”
    “What is your number sir?”
    The man looked at the telephone “I haven’t got a number.”
    “No number no call” the operator said and hung up.
    There was a white Mini-Moke parked across the way, the young man walked towards it, a driver wearing a striped jersey sat behind the wheel.
    “Are you a taxi?
    “The vehicle is a taxi, I’m the driver” the young woman said.
    “Can you take me to the nearest town?”
    “We’re only the local service sir.”
    “Well perhaps you can take me to the nearest bus stop.”
    “There isn’t one” the taxi driver told him.
    “Well go on then, take me as far as you can.”
    The driver started the taxis engine, engaged first gear, released the hand brake and the vehicle moved forward. The taxi was driven this way and that, down the hill passed the Town Hall, round the bend at the bottom of the hill near the Old People’s home. Then turned round drove back up the hill passed the Town Hall, passed the cafe, round the corner, passed the cobbled square, through the first arch, through a second, taking the road out of the village. It was a hairpin bend after which was the castle, or a building which looked like a castle, yet a signpost read ‘Hospital.’ The road led back towards the village, winding its way through trees, over a bridge and through a large yellow and white arch. Down the hill again towards the Old People’s Home, back up the hill then slowing and taking a left fork, round by the pink pavilion and the statue of Hercules, up the cobbled street, then right through an arch driving into the cobbled square where the vehicle came to a stop.
    “Here we are” the driver said.
    “Back where we started!”
    “I did tell you we’re only the local service.”
    The young man alighted the Mini-Moke.
    “The fare is two units” the driver told him.
    “Units, units aren’t for me!”
    “Oh well you can pay me later” the driver told him.
    And the Mini-Moke drove off down the road, the driver looking for her next fare.
    Seeing the general store was open he was about to go in, when he was stopped by two burly set men in red jumpers.
    “Number 2 wants a word with you” one of them told him.
    “You are to come with us” the other said.
    The young man found himself being manhandled across the square, across the road, up the steps, through the front door of the Green Dome and into the foyer. Then through a pair of French doors, through a pair of large steel doors, into a large domed chamber and bundled into a black leather chair.
     There was a grey curved desk, behind which a man sat in a black global chair.
    “Are you responsible for this?” the young man shouted “you can’t do this to me man, I’ve got rights!”
    “You can go” the man sitting in the black global chair said.
    “That’s right dad, I knew you’d see sense.”
    “Not you!” than man said.
    The two guardians turned and left the chamber through the opening steel doors.
    “Thanks for the trip dad.”
    “Don’t mention it” No.2 said.
    “This is a crazy scene dad.”
    “There will come a time when you will realize that I am not your father.”
    “Why am I here?”
    “You were brought here because I wished to speak to you.”
    “And you are?”
    “Number 2, chief administrator, and chairman of the village.”
    “The village?”
    “If there is one thing you need its discipline and guidance.”
    “That’s two things daddy-oh!”
    “And I am to see that you, Number 48, will receive induction to both of those requirements.”
    “You dad….what did you call me?”
    “Number 48.”
    “Wow numbers are for squares dad!”
    “Not only will you wear your number, but when called to do so you will respond to it. And talking about wearing, we’ll get you some new clothes while we’re about it.”
    “New clothes, what’s wrong with the ones I’m wearing?”
    “A black military tunic, this isn’t Carnaby Street or the Kings road you know, such dress is inappropriate for the village.”
    “If you say so daddy-oh.”
    No.2 picked up the yellow ‘L’ shaped telephone “You can come in now” putting the phone back on his deck he turned his attention once more to the prisoner No.48 “we can continue our little talk later on. For now……”
    The pair of steel doors opened and a tall lean man in a dark blue piped blazer, accompanied by the two guardians, entered the chamber.
   “… will be left to your own devices, to become accustomed to your new surroundings. Number 22 and these two gentlemen will escort you back to your cottage, where you will change into your new village attire.
    “What about my old clothes?”
    “We’ll burn those” No.2 told him.

    No.48 wasn’t at all happy, he attempted to walk away from the village along the beach, but confronted by the white amorphous Guardian he was herded back to the village like some lost sheep. However youth will have its fling, but try as he might but despite a night’s drinking in the Cat & Mouse nightclub he remained as sober as a judge! He danced about, pranced about, stood singing songs from the top of the bandstand, but he did attend the regular brass band concerts, even if that meant he would ask for requests to be played…pop songs mostly!
   One day wearing his red and white zip up anorak No.48 wandered down the hill towards the Old People’s Home. He wandered across the lawn, and was spotted by No.216, a white haired gentleman sitting at a table, he had a chess set in front of him.
    “Do you play chess young man?” the old gentleman asked.
    “No dad.”
    “Well sit down and I’ll teach you.”
    No.48 sat down.
    “These are pawns, upon their first move a pawn can move forward one square or two squares, after that its one square. To take an opponent’s piece it moves diagonally. Don’t you think it’s time for you to settle down and co-operate?”
    “Deaf are you?”
    “What and end up an old man living in this place, no thanks daddy-oh!”
    “Take Number 6.”
    “What about him?”
    “He has rebelled, refused to wear, observe, or respond to his number. He’s attempted to escape, poked his nose in where it has no business, involved himself in the affairs of the village, and been generally the village’s biggest troublemaker!”
    “Bully for him” No.48 said.
    “He’s a round peg in a square hole that refuses to be made to fit.”
    “You don’t say.”
    Then there’s Number 13 an unlucky number, nothing ever went right for him. He was always in the wrong place at the wrong time. He was once mistaken for someone else, got taken away for treatment that time.”
    “What kind of treatment?”
    “I don’t know, never asked. It doesn’t do to ask questions. He tried several attempts to escape, but they always went wrong, just like it did that time when he set out to sea in a dugout canoe. Weeks he took digging out that canoe, there had been a storm you see, and out of the trunk he dug out this canoe, and fashioned a pair of paddles.
    “Where did he get the tools?”
    “He made them, flint axe and chisel, spent weeks in the woods, only to try and escape, but to die out at sea. He didn’t get so far before the Guardian got to him, the tide must have carried the body away.”
    “There was a funeral.”
    “No lad, no funeral, you need a body for that. Then there was Number 7 as lucky a number as 13 is unlucky.”
    “Unless you happen to break a mirror!”
    The grey haired shot the youth a derisory glance.
    “So what happened to Number 7?”
    “Well one day Number 7 let it be known, to one or two, that he had a plan, a foolproof escape plan. Of course they say everyone tries to escape when their spirit’s broken, but Number 7 didn’t do anything. He went to the café every day for lunch, he played chess with me in the afternoons, and in between he went to the brass band concerts. He would sit on a bench in the cobbled square reading The Tally Ho, promenaded around the Piazza for exercise. He once entered a painting competition, he painted a lovely seascape, and he loved to dress up for Carnival. And then one day he was gone!”
    “So I tell you, so it happened. No hyde nor hair of him could they find. The Observers scanned the village, the woods and a search party was sent to search as far as the outer zone, as well as to the southern perimeter. A physical search of the village, and the woods was made, but no trace of Number 7 was ever found.”
    “So he did have a plan, and he used it to escape.”
    “Well if he didn’t he’s been hiding away somewhere hereabout these past three months. And I’ll tell you what...”
    “Go on, what?”
    “They removed every trace of the number 7 from the village!”
    “Get away!”
    “It’s true I tell you, you’ll not find the number 7 anywhere in the village. But now Number 48, what kind of prisoner are you going to turn out to be?”

Be seeing you

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