Your Community Needs You!
It was one of those mornings when you could be busy doing absolutely nothing. Anyway that is how it felt to Number 6. He was lying on his brown leather couch, pencil in hand as he tried to complete The Tally Ho crossword while the Jazz music of Charlie Parker played on the CD player. A maid in a dark blue dress, frilly white apron and white sailor’s hat busied herself with a red feather duster. A flighty young girl with a slim figure and long black hair done up in a long pony tail.
“Can I make you a cup of coffee or something?” she asked, toying with her feather duster in a provocative manner.
“I don’t know, can you?” retorted Number 6, not taking his eyes or mind from the crossword.
“Very witty I’m sure, haven’t you got anything to do?” asked Number 39, returning to her dusting.
“No, and unlike you I have all day to do it in” he returned with a smile from behind the broadsheet.
“You usually play chess with the Admiral.”
“You could go out, the sun’s shining, you could go for a walk” 39 suggested.
“Did that when I fetched the newspaper.”
“You could go for a swim then.
“I might keep going and not come back!” he said filling in 5 across.
“You couldn’t swim so far” 39 asked.
‘How far?’ asked Number 6 casually.
“I, I don’t know” answered 39, realising that she didn’t.
“Then why say it?”
‘It was something to say.”
“Well don’t! You wouldn’t be trying to get me out of here would you?’
“Why would I want to do that?” asked the maid dusting his desk.
“I don’t know, but I wish you would leave me in peace, this crossword is difficult enough!” he told her.
“Haven’t they given you a job of work yet?” she asked.
“No, I am what they term as being one of the idle rich.”
“Idle certainly” quipped the maid.
“Now who’s turn is it to be witty?”
“But everyone needs to work” said the maid.
Number 6 reached into the breast pocket of his blazer for something and flashed it at the maid “This has worked perfectly well since the day of its issue.”
“You’re in lucks way then!” smiled the maid flirtingly.
Number 6 placed his Admix card back into the breast pocket.
“But don’t you feel the need to put something back into the community, after all the community looks after you. You don’t work and it seems you don’t care either. There are those who would say that you can’t wait to leave us” said the maid standing over him.
Number 6 put his paper down in frustration, wondering what this flighty maid was getting at “I don’t want to be a social worker or anything, entertaining the old folk isn’t exactly my cup of tea either. I don’t want to be a window cleaner, milkman, painter, and I’m certainly no gardener. They won’t let me do what I do best....”
“What’s that? The maid asked.
“That my dear would be telling! Besides what has the community ever done for me?”
“You have this cottage, you live comfortably in beautiful picturesque surroundings. You are looked after, you have everything you need, and if the contents of your kitchen are anything to go by, you certainly don’t go hungry. And there’s certainly plenty of drink” said the maid dusting his collection of half filled non alcoholic gin, whisky and vodka bottles.
“I like my creature comforts, they make life here just that little bit more bearable” he said as he watched the maid.
“You have an unlimited credit allowance, you have no worries to speak of. I’d say they looked after you pretty well indeed” smiled the maid.
“But I am a prisoner here, so I would have thought it’s the duty of the community to look after me.”
“A prisoner with certain privileges it would seem.”
“Surely you’re not jealous?” asked “Number 6.
“No of course not, but even prisoners have to work don’t they, stitching mail bags, breaking up rocks and the like.”
“All that went out with Noah and his
‘What about that cup of coffee?” asked the maid.
“Go on then, on but its only instant” said
Number 6 rising from his couch.
“Then it won’t take a moment then...will it!”
In the kitchen the hot water was added to the coffee in two cups, sugar and milk was added to one and stirred. Then both cups and saucers were carried into the lounge.
“A man like you could do so much for the community” the maid suggested handing him his cup of coffee.
“Alright I’ll buy it, like what?”
“You could try and get yourself co-opted onto the Town Council” the maid suggested with a smile.
“Elections, here?” asked Number 6, almost choking on his coffee.
“Of course, The Village is run democratically” the maid assured him.
“Well I have to say that I’ve seen little evidence to back that up” quipped Number 6.
“Always the sceptical one, I read in today’s Tally Ho that a seat on the Town Council has become vacant and that Number 2 and the Committee are busy looking for a likely candidate.”
Number 6 picked up the broadsheet and unfolded it. There was a small heading in the bottom right-hand corner of the page. He read the headline and the short article that accompanied it.
“Co-option Onto Town Council”
“A vacancy has occurred on your local
Those wishing to be considered for co-option must first be nominated by Number 2. All nominations to be put before the Committee, there to be discussed in committee, and eventually put to, and voted upon by members of the Town Council of which Number 2 is Chairman. All nominations must be in, in two days time.”
“You mean you would look to be co-opted onto the Town Council?” asked the maid in surprise.
“Why not? It was you who suggested that I should put something back into the community. Well what better way to do it, than by being a member of the Town Council?” grinned Number 6, sipping his coffee.
“Well if you’re determined to go through with it, you’ll have to speak with Number Two. Although in your case he might take some convincing. Your reasons must be valid otherwise he’ll think you are simply out for what you can get” returned the maid.
“Isn’t that the way with most councillors?”
“I wouldn’t know, I’m not really politically minded” retorted the maid.
At that moment the door of ‘6 Private’ opened and there framed in the doorway was the familiar figure of Number 2. He was a large stout man, in plain double breasted blazer, grey roll necked jersey, grey trousers, and deck shoes. He had a thin head of hair, and full bushy beard. An old school scarf was draped over his shoulders, and in his hand a furled umbrella shooting stick. He smiled jovially and crossed the threshold into the study.
“Anyone at home?” shouted Number 2, crossing through into the kitchen, where he found both Number 6 and the maid finishing their coffee together.
“Ah there you are” said Number 2.
“Where else should I be?” returned Number 6.
The maid shot Number 2 a nervous glance, and putting her still half filled coffee cup down on the draining board made her excuses.
“Excuse me I have to be going, there’s a new arrival later today and the cottage isn’t quite ready.”
The maid hurriedly picked up her feather duster and made a bolt for the already opening door of the cottage. Number 6 watched her go then offered Number 2 a cup of coffee which he declined.
“Tell me don’t you like it here?’
“I can think of better places to be, and better people to be with” snapped Number 6.
“Don’t you want to settle down, after all we only want what’s best for you.”
“‘What’s best for you, you mean. You bring people here, take what you want, destroy their minds and at the end of the day you either release them into the community which couldn’t give a damn about them, then when they grow old retire them into the Old People’s Home, there to vegetate for the rest of their lives.”
“But we look after them, for as long as they live, surely you have to agree with that. Look at you, you’ve not done so bad by the community have you?”
“Yes, it’s all nice and democratic, but the trouble with democracy is that there is no true democracy, someone has to be in charge and take the flack when it’s flying” barked Number 6 loudly.
“That is not the way a nominated candidate should talk.”
“It’s the way I am. I simply tell it like it is. Am I?”
“Are you what?”
“Not yet, it all depends’ retorted Number 2, adding milk and one sugar to his coffee.
“Depends on what?”
“Why you, of course” returned Number 2 with a knowing smile.
“Now whose game am I playing here, no don’t tell me she’s one of yours.”
“Who?” replied Number 2 coyly.
“The maid. After all it was she who
suggested that I do something for the community. That I seek to be co-opted
onto the Town Council.”
“The maid did, well I am gratified by her confidence in you. But no she is not one of ours whatever you may think. She was a personal assistant to a certain parliamentary private secretary to a government minister, and was about to become a whistle blower by making a certain ministerial document public. It would have been a very messy business had she not been brought here, now she wouldn’t leave for the world.”
“Not that she ever could!” quipped Number 6.
“She is being of use to the community simply by doing her job. Don’t tell me that you of all people are considering doing your civic duty to the community by wanting to be co-opted onto the Town Council?” asked Number 2 sceptically.
“I might. I’ve time on my hands.”
“Really? You usually fill yours by either trying to escape, or go
about poking your nose in where it has no concern. Yet I find I have to applaud this new found community spirit in you. I suppose it might be possible, under the flag of “special purposes,” or perhaps you have a certain expertise to offer. What have you to offer Number Six?”
“I’m an expert in my field.”
“As a secret agent.”
“I’m at my best when working under pressure. In dealing with dangerous and difficult situations I’m the best. In dealing with unknown situations I’m told I’m unique!”
“What good it that to us here?”
“I suppose I have resisted for too long. Not that I am about to roll over and play dead, that day you will never see. But perhaps there is an element of truth in the words spoken by Number Thirty-nine. Perhaps it is time I give something back to the community. As for the Council, I would be a new injection of drive and enthusiasm, cutting through the red tape and getting things working more smoothly and efficiently” returned Number 6 eagerly.
‘And that would be you would it? How do I know you’re just telling me what I want to hear? You might conspire to bring down the system from within.”
“You could do worse. Besides it takes a show of bravery to co-opt a man that is not in accord with his contemporaries” smiled Number 6, throwing out the challenge.
Number 2 thought for a moment, churning the idea over in his mind, weighing up the possibilities “You mean keep ones friends close, and enemies even closer? I could nominate you, then the nomination has to go through Committee, and then finally the members of the Town Council have to vote whether you are to be co-opted onto the Council or not.”
“You mean it’s possible?” asked Number 6, trying not to sound over keen.
“In practise yes, but you are out spoken and seem to care little for the citizens of this community, and you do, to use your own words, “tell it like it is.” Having said that, it might just be possible that the Town Council could use a man of your calibre, and they could do with
a bit of a shake up. I should know in my capacity as Chairman of the Town Council.”
“So you will nominate me?”
“My dear chap nothing would give me greater pleasure” returned Number 2 with a broad smile “by the way what are your politics?”
“I haven’t got any” returned Number 6 without thinking.
“Well don’t you think you had better adopt some? The Committee is bound to ask you your politics, along with your reasons to be considered” returned Number 2, getting Number 6’s mind off what he was about to say.
Before Number 6 knew where he was, Number 2 had turned and was heading out of the door.
“I’ll be seeing you later on” saluted Number 2 with thumb and first finger.
He returned the said salute in his usual mocking manner, the door already half closed.
The next morning Number 6 was an early riser. It was just as well for as he emerged out of the bathroom the blue telephone on the table began to bleep. Crossing the lounge still dressed in his blue pyjamas and burgundy dressing gown he picked up the receiver.
“Good morning, good morning, any complaints?” asked the voice of Number 2, his face appearing on the television screen.
Number 6 spun round in surprise to face the man on the screen “Several but you wouldn’t be interested in hearing them!”
“Don’t be like that my dear fellow, I’ve just phoned to tell you that your nomination was accepted at yesterday’s meeting of the Town Council.”
“Will they deal with my complaints?” barked Number 6.
“If you are successfully co-opted onto the Town Council I think that I can safely say that any complaints that you may have will no longer be a matter for you to take up” returned Number 2.
“What’s the procedure?”
“You will be expected to attend the next meeting of the Committee at the Town Hall in an hour’s time” Number 2 informed him.
“You will be expected to explain to the Committee exactly your reasons for wanting to be co-opted onto the Town Council. If satisfied your nomination with be officially adopted, and eventually voted on by the members of the Town Council. But I warn you there will be stiff competition from your opponent, there only being one vacancy on the Council. Number Thirty-nine has also asked to be nominated” Number 2 explained.
“She........anything else?” Number 6 asked.
“No, not until the Committee hearing this morning at the Town Hall.”
The telephone went dead and Number 2’s face disappeared from the television screen.
Later that morning the door bell of ‘6 Private’ rang and Number 6 opened the door to find a young woman dressed in white slacks, a red and white striped jersey and white sailor’s hat standing there.
“Yes?” he asked.
“I’m here to drive you to the Town Hall, you are expected there in ten minutes” smiled Number 21.
“Fine, let’s go” said Number 6 following the girl to the waiting taxi.
The white taxi with its candy striped canopy set off along the street and was driven slowly around The Village, and by what Number 6 took to be the scenic route!
“You did say that I was due at the Town hall in ten minutes.”
The taxi driver just smiled.
“It might be quicker if you let me out here, so that I could walk the rest of the way!” Number 6 suggested as they drove along the same street again, but in the other direction.
The taxi driver smiled as she continued the journey.
“I take it that you know where the Town Hall is?”
“Of course” Number 21 smiled.
“It’s just that we haven’t arrived yet, and the Town Hall isn’t two minutes walk from my cottage. And that’s the second time we have passed the café and from two different directions!”
The taxi driver drove round the corner at the end of the road, up the street, into the cobbled square, through an archway, and left down a cobbled lane. The taxi drove round a water fountain then passed the statue of Hercules and pink pavilion. The Town Hall was straight ahead, Number 6 could see it through the pair of turquoise wrought iron gates.
“There’s the Town Hall, just through those gates” observed Number 6.
“I can’t drive through those gates, there are steps. I’ll have to drive round!” the driver said.
“Then stop here and let me out.”
Much to the astonishment of the driver, Number 6 suddenly pulled on the hand brake bringing the taxi to a sudden stop.
“Thank you but I’ll walk from here” he said leaping out of the taxi and dashing up the steps towards the pair of open gates
The taxi driver released the hand brake and drove off down a short narrow lane and turned right in the direction of the Town Hall. Number 6 walked up the steps, through the open turquoise gates, and crossing the road paused at the steps of the large porch of the Town Hall as two Top Hat officials dressed in black suits, white shirts, black gloves, over-coats, top hats and dark glasses passed him and into the Town Hall. He turned to see his taxi pull up outside.
“I’ll wait for you” the driver smiled.
Number 6 turned, and mounting the steps finally entered the Town Hall, this time there was no electrical force field to stop him. Once inside the foyer he instantly recognised where he was, all fresh and totally redecorated, yet keeping the same style as well as fixtures, furnishing, and decorations. Walking around the round oak table he approached the foot of the stairs.
“That’s not the way” announced a disembodied voice.
Turning away from the stairs Number 6 walked to the pair of doors.
‘Nor that way either, that’s right straight ahead” said the voice.
Number 6 approached a pair of French glass doors and pulled them open, passing through and standing at the top of steep stairs leading down onto the floor of the Council Chamber. He slowly descended the steel steps, at the foot of which stood the figure of the butler. The wall of the circular chamber was decorated in orange and purple colours, from which was suspended a large black disc with a large white
Penny Farthing painted on it. There was also a large grey abstract high backed chair with steps on either side. In the centre of the chamber, sat round an open circle of green baize topped tables, was the figure of Number 2 and his fellow Committee members.
“If you would sit down in the vacant chair Number Six” said the butler
In the centre of the open circle of tables was a leather chair. Number 6 slowly walked forward, taking in both the chamber and the twelve members of the committee each dressed in black trousers, various striped jerseys and black top hats. The butler pushed the small control consul out of the gap in the circle of tables and switched it on. As he took his seat, the butler pushed a curved table forward in order to close the circle of tables.
“It may interest you that not only have I been in the Town Hall before, but in this very chamber” said Number 6, turning his chair and looking at each Committee member in turn.
“When was that?” asked Number 2.
“Some little time ago now. I see that you have had the builders and decorators in since. It looks so much better, and you have maintained both the style and colour that’s a nice touch” quipped Number 6 turning back to face Number 2.
“It’s not for me to approve or disapprove.”
“You’ve got that right” Number 2 said.
“Should you be accepted and co-opted onto the Town Council” began Number 2 “you have the opportunity to reach a position of high standing within the community, to stand tall beside your contemporises and the chance to introduce change within the community.”
“Thank you Number Two” said the Chairman-Number 38, a top hat perched on his head and spectacles on the end of his nose “we received your nomination for Number Six’s co-option onto the Town Council, which we thank him for. I take it that no-one on this Committee has any objections?”
No-one spoke, each face of the Committee member remained silent, the expression on each face impassive. Suddenly all the lights went out, rendering the Council Chamber into pitch blackness. And in an instant the light came back on, and both Number 2 and the butler had departed the chamber, leaving Number 6 alone with the Committee.
“Number Six you will now be given the chance to state your qualifications for your co-option onto the Town Council. If we find those reasons valid, you will then go before the Town Council, and they will vote.”
“Any questions?” asked Number 6 sharply.
“Of course, but I must remind you that everything which you say is being recorded” returned the Chairman.
“What about Number Thirty-nine?” barked Number 6.
“We are not here to discuss Number Thirty-nine. Her time will come as yours has done. For the moment we are merely interested in you Number Six, and in particular your reasons for wanting co-option.” returned the Chairman.
Number 6 sat silent in his chair twiddling his thumbs as he thought and considered.
“Well Number Six?” prompted the Chairman.
“In the time I have been here in The Village, I have found it difficult to adjust and settle down. I found life here restricting and so I began to lose purpose. However I have come to realise that I have been guilty of allowing the community to look after my welfare at no cost to myself. If one simply takes from the community without putting something back, where will the community end up? I feel it is time to give something back to the community which has looked after me so approvingly and completely” he stated as clearly and resolutely as he could.
“Very commendable Number Six, but how are we to know that you are not seeking to be co-opted onto the Council, just so that you can bring about change within the system, indeed to bring about the system’s downfall from within? Your record shows that in the past you have been aggressive, you have resisted the community that has looked after you so well. You have interfered in the affairs of Number Two, you have attempted to escape, and blatantly refused to accept your situation and settle down. Yet here you sit before the committee, and expect us to take what you say at face value when it is clear that in the past you have not cared one Penny Farthing for the community of which you are a part.”
“That’s the trouble, I have been apart for too long, and there is always room for change, because as we all know, if things do not change they will stay as they are” returned Number 6, in hope that this is what the Committee wanted to hear.
The Committee members applauded as one man at hearing this
statement from the candidate.
“That is as maybe Number Six, but what this Committee wants to know is, what are your politics?” the Chairman asked.
“I believe in the freedom of speech, in the democratic process, for without democracy chaos reigns. That everyone has the right to vote and that not to exercise that right, is flying in the face of democracy and the democratic process as a whole. I don’t like secrets, I believe in openness and loyalty. In my experience most council members are only out for themselves, and care little for the community they represent…..and that the majority of right thinking people are wrong, and that history should be consigned to the past, and that the only thing that stands between The Village, its community, and success, is defeat. For The Village and its community the future lies ahead!”
The Committee members remained unmoved by Number 6’s words.
“An excellent speech Number Six, you are a most admirable candidate. Indeed it has been some time since the committee has heard such refreshing words as yours echoing around the Council Chamber. The Town Council is in need of someone who is not afraid to say the things that need to be said. Someone who is prepared to stand up and speak his mind. I think that you will give Number Thirty-nine something of a run for her money. Now all that remains is for the Council members to decide” returned the Chairman, accompanied by the applause from his fellow Committee members. “Gentlemen it’s time…. I think we are all more than ready for a tea break” announced the Chairman.
The Chairman banged his gavel and with it the Council Chamber was once again plunged into darkness. And when the lights came up again a few moments later, Number 6 found himself sitting alone in the chamber. He rose up out of his chair and pushing a segment of the baize round table away, stormed up the steel steps, out of the Council Chamber and into the foyer of the Town Hall where citizens sat waiting, but stood up and applauded Number 6, his words being spoken through a black loudspeaker set upon a rostrum.
“The majority of right thinking people are wrong, and that history should be consigned to the past, and that the only thing that stands between The Village, its community, and success, is defeat. For The Village and its community the future lies ahead!”
Outside a crowd of citizens had gathered and cheered him as he emerged from inside the Town Hall. A taxi was waiting just along the street for him, but he stood on the steps of the Town Hall for a
few moments acknowledging the cheering citizens. A reporter and photographer had been waiting for their chance of a picture and a first interview with Number 6.
“Allow me to introduce myself. I am Number One-two-one and this is my photographic colleague Number One-two-one-b, we contribute to The Tally Ho you know” began the reporter
“No I didn’t know!” said Number 6 climbing aboard his waiting Taxi, the engine starting.
“Why did you seek nomination to be co-opted onto the Town Council?”
“Smile” said the photographer with a click of his camera.
“I have nothing to say” returned Number 6 as he climbed into the taxi.
Number 121 stood by the taxi and made a note on the writing pad in his hand “To make change for the better. How do you stand on exports and imports?”
“It’s a fair trade!” Number 6 replied with a smile.
Number 121b continued to take photographs.
“What will first motivate you if you are
“I shall increase the dividend!”
“To make the Council more efficient, more
accountable to the people, as well as cutting out so much red tape” noted the
“What will your primary objective be?”
“Smile” said the photographer with another click of his camera.
“I think town-twinning is the way ahead. I
intend to twin The Village with say…..
“I’ve nothing to say!” noted the reporter.
“Drive on” ordered Number 6.
“Where to?” asked Number 21.
“Central Office of course” returned Number 6 seriously.
“My cottage!” replied Number 6 with a wry smile
The taxi driver pressed down on the accelerator and drove slowly through The Village, oblivious to the citizens.
That night as Number 6 was settling down for a good night’s sleep, an elderly maid placed his night cap of hot chocolate upon the bedside table. He emerged from the bathroom in his blue pyjamas and striped dressing gown. A gentle lullaby was playing through the black loudspeaker.
“Drink it while it’s hot, it’s good for you” the maid told him as he emerged from the bathroom.
“Good for someone” Number 6 he replied.
“Be seeing you” saluted the maid with thumb and fore finger.
Number 6 entered the bedroom and sat on the edge of his bed. He picked up the cup of hot chocolate and began to sip the hot liquid as the day’s events went through his head. Something didn’t feel right. It had all the feeling of a put up job. There was Number 39’s suggestion that he seek Number 2’s nomination to be co-opted onto the Town Council. Then Number 2’s readily acceptance to nominate him to the Committee. And the Committee, all too easily convinced by his reasons for co-option as a Town Councillor, after all they had read his file. Perhaps they were under orders from Number 2, or perhaps some other higher authority….. Number 1 would be favourite. And what’s Number 39 about, what’s her game? Suggesting that he should give back something to the community by looking to be co-opted onto the Town Council, only to find out that she has also been nominated by Number 2! What has she to gain? The cup drained of its contents Number 6 took off his dressing gown and climbed into bed. As soon as his head touched the pillow he was asleep, unconscious to the world. Suspended above the bed from the ceiling, the light shade began to slowly descend until it was just above the slumbering face of Number 6. Its light pulsating and a quiet hypnotic hum, deepening the sleep of Number 6.
In the Control Room Number 2 and the night time Supervisor-
Number 283 a grey-haired Caribbean gentleman, were standing watching the slumbering Number 6 upon the wall screen.
“Be careful, we mustn’t damage the tissue, not just yet anyway!” said Number 2.
“I don’t see why we have to go to so much trouble. After all he’ll soon have peace of mind once he’s co-opted onto the Council” 283 suggested.
Number 2 rubbed his hands together with glee “We have to give him a certain amount of satisfaction, after all there is the democratic process which has to be observed.”
“I realise that sir. But why not simply put him in his place and have done with it?” asked the Supervisor.
“I have every intention of doing just that” smiled Number 2.
“I was sure that a man of his calibre, The Village would have found a use for him” retorted the Supervisor.
“It will do, once he’s co-opted onto the Town Council. Number 6 will then be in our back pocket and of no further trouble to anyone” smirked Number 2, with a feeling of self satisfaction.
Number 2 turned away from the screen and began walking up the steel steps onto the gantry.
“Take care of our friend, he has a busy day tomorrow.”
“I will. Goodnight sir” saluted the Supervisor.
“Be seeing you” returned Number 2 as the pair of steel doors closed behind him.
An Observer swivelled round in his chair away from the monitor he had been watching
“Supervisor, Number Eight breaking curfew.”
“Put up camera thirty-six, night vision and sound” ordered the Supervisor.
There on the green night vision screen, a darkened image could be seen running along the foot of the cliffs, he was heading for the Outer Zone. The Supervisor continued to watch the screen as he picked up an ‘L’ shaped telephone and ordered “Attention all units, all posts, orange alert, orange alert.”
From somewhere below the sea the white amorphous mass of the Guardian was released, contorted by water pressure as it rose up from the depths to suddenly burst through the surface, skimming over the waves in the direction of its latest prey. From that moment, the fate of the escaping Number 8 was sealed, it would be a terrifying and terrible death for her.
The next day saw Number 6 out and about The Village. Citizens going about their daily lives, some were interested to know Number 6’s intentions should he be co-opted onto the Town Council. He visited them at their places of work, the Café, the General Store, the Job Centre, Citizens Advice Bureau and various kiosks dotted around The Village. He chatted with painters and gardeners, all of whom appeared totally disinterested! Upon his visit to the Old People’s Home, he shook hands, drank tea and promised free public transport for the elderly. There wasn’t really the need, but Number 6 felt urged to make a spontaneous speech.
“Good people of the community, fellow citizens. I stand before you today a candidate for co-option onto your Local Town Council” he began “since my arrival here I have fought against and resisted both The Village and its community. But that has been a mistake. And since realising what the welfare of this community has done for me, I fully intend to repay its administration.”
The people promenading, and generally enjoying themselves in the Piazza didn’t seem to be taking any notice of Number 6, that’s because they weren’t.
“My opponent Number Thirty-nine may be well established in The Village and no doubt some of you may know her personally, and she might think that she knows what its community, indeed you, its citizens, need. She may tell you that you are better off with things as they are, but let me tell you this, if things here in our
community do not change they will remain the same!”
Number 6 looked down on the people in the Piazza, his speech having fallen on deaf ears gave it up as a bad job, and returned to his cottage.
“You know” said Number 73 to the lady sat next to him on a bench “he certainly makes you think doesn’t he?”
Returning to his cottage along the path, Number 6 approached a dispensing device for The Tally Ho broadsheet newspaper. A strange device consisting of a wooden frame with a candy striped canopy, situated underneath a pair of rollers and box unit at the bottom. To one side was a large handle, which when operated dispensed a copy of the latest issue of The Tally Ho.
“Good morning sir, copy of The Tally Ho, certainly sir” said Number 113c turning the handle and tearing off the copy and handing it to Number 6 “That will be two Units if you please sir.”
Number 6 took his Admix card from the breast pocket of his blazer and handed it to the man, who waved it over the small debit machine and handed it back.
As he strolled along the path towards his cottage, he read the headline and part of the accompanying article.
No.6 Tells It Like It Is!
by our own reporter
“The security and welfare of our community is my prime concern. I have every confidence of being co-opted onto the Town Council and I am sure that the community and I can work closely together for the improvement of The Village, to make it safer and more secure for it’s citizens. I believe not only in the right of the individual, but also in the democratic process of this our fine community, for the right of every true citizen to make up their own minds and to use their vote wisely, to vote for the right candidate. Remember if things do not change, they will remain the same, for both The Village and its community. The future lies ahead!”
Upon entering his cottage Number 6 found Number 2 waiting for him, an old school scarf about his neck and carrying a furled umbrella shooting stick.
“Been waiting long?” asked Number 6 finding Number 2 in the lounge.
“There was no need for that spontaneous
ad-hoc speech you know. After all no-one was listening.”
“Because the citizens don’t care about the council and its business!”
“Its all seems to be very one sided at the moment, there’s no sign of my opponent, too afraid to come out and face me on the hustings is she?” said Number 6 switching on the kettle “you will take tea?”
“Please. I’m afraid you have the wrong end of the stick my friend, the good citizens are not interested in the workings of the Town Council.”
“So have you, and I’m not your friend” he said taking two cups and saucers from the cupboard.
“Don’t be like that, and after I went to
all the trouble in your nomination.”
Number 6 switched off the kettle, poured boiling water into the little brown teapot, swilled it out. Then added tea from the tea caddy spooned tea into the pot “One for me, one for you, and one for the pot” then poured in boiling water, and replaced the lid.
“No hustings my dear chap, and there really isn’t the need for you to go out and about meeting the people and making speeches. You’re not up for election, only for co-option, there’s a difference you know.”
“It’s a put up job!”
Number 2’s expression changed “How do you work that out?”
“The article in The Tally Ho, it was printed in advance!”
“That’s the press for you!”
“Two lumps” Number 2 said.
Number 6 added sugar and milk to the two cups while he allowed the tea to brew.
“Perhaps they just recognise a good man when they see one” Number 2 said brandishing his own copy of The Tally Ho.
Number 2 watched Number 6 pour out two cups
of steaming hot tea, and handed a cup and saucer to his guest.
“I shouldn’t have thought that being co-opted onto the Town
Council warranted a newspaper story” Number 6 remarked sipping
“Any story warrants a newspaper article, in a small Village such as this. There’s little enough news as it is, and yet there is always something going on” Number 2 replied stirring his tea.
“The trouble with the press is, they like nothing better than building a chap up, only so they can take great delight in knocking him down!”
“That’s just the cynic in you coming out” Number 2 told him, and he drank his tea.
“Life here in The Village has made me so” returned Number 6 putting his cup down.
Number 2 finishing his tea walked from the kitchen through into the study. Number 2 paused at the opening front door.
“Nice chatting with you Number Six, but I have to be going. A meeting of the Committee you understand, work never stops does it? Toodle-oo!” said Number 2 with a casual wave of his shooting stick.
That night Number 6 sat on the edge of his bed as the maid brought him his night cap of hot chocolate which she placed on the bedside table.
“You were quick to take my advice I see” Number 39 smiled.
“And YOU kept it quiet!”
“There might be only one vacancy on the Council, but they like to have at least two nominations” she told him.
“Number 2 is playing a double handed game!”
“How can you say that? I’ve hardly been in the public eye, it’s all been about you. I’m sure your being co-opted onto the Town Council will be merely a formality” she told him.
“That would hardly be democratic would it now.”
“Democracy, in this place? Everyone is out for what they can get” she told him.
“And what did you get?” Number 6 sneered.
“All I was doing was my job, I merely pointed you in the right direction, that’s all” she said descending the Town Hall steps “Goodbye Number Two b, or not two be, that is the question.”
“Ah there you are Number Six, or perhaps I should say Two b” said a familiar voice “allow me to escort you into the Council Chamber.”
Number 6 was startled for a moment “Number what?”
“Number Two-b, you are to be a sub-divided Number 2. That is how you will be known from this time on, and during your long term on
the Town Council. Come with me. As Chairman of the Town Council it falls to me to introduce you to your fellow councillors” Number 2 said leading the way into the Town Hall.
In the foyer Number 2 and Number 2b met with the members of the steering Committee.
The Chairman of the Committee approached Number 2 “Are you going into the Council Chamber?”
“Yes” Number 2 said.
“And Number Six?”
“You mean Number 2b” said Number 2.
The committee Chairman looked nervously at
Number 2 “Aren’t you jumping the gun somewhat, the vote hasn’t taken place yet.”
“I need hardly reminding of that, seeing as I am Chairman of the Town Council” said Number 2 sternly.
“Its improper etiquette for a nominee to be brought before the Council before the vote has taken place” the Committee Chairman argued.
“Nonsense, it’s a forgone conclusion any fool can see that, besides Number Thirty-nine has decided to stand down!” uttered Number 2 brusquely brushing the Committee Chairman out of his way.
Number 2 could not hide his annoyance, but felt that it would make no difference to the final outcome as he lead Number 6 through the open French doors, through the opening steel doors and down the steel stairs onto the floor of the Council Chamber. It was the same large chamber as used by the Committee, its orange and purple walls and large black circle with a white Penny Farthing hung on the wall. Number 2 walked round and up the steps to the large grey abstract chair, a blue light set into the pointed back of the chair began to flash intermittently. In the centre of the chamber floor was a round podium with a rostrum set upon it.
“Please stand on the centre disc Number Six” said Number 2, taking his own seat.
Number 6 stepped slowly forward onto the podium Set in a circle were 12 rostrums, each of which was denoted by subdivided number 2a 2b 2c 2d 2e 2f 2g 2h 2i 2j 2k 2l. Standing at each of the rostrums, except for the vacant 2b, was a Town Councillor each wearing a black badge with a white Penny Farthing and red numeral set upon it and dressed in varying striped jerseys, black trousers, black top hats and deck shoes. He turned to each of the Council members in turn and studied their faces, each wore a blank expression. Eyes stared straight ahead, dull and lifeless. Not one of the Council members spoke, not one of them moved, it was doubtful to Number 6 that any of them could think. But one thing was now painfully clear, he was destined to become one of their number!
“I might have guessed. Where did you get this bunch of brain-dead morons?”
“Strangely enough they form the ‘collective Two.’ You might wish to question them.” offered the Chairman.
“I would if I thought that they could answer!” barked Number 6.
“Number Six stands before you, nominated by me to be co-opted onto the local Town Council, the nomination is carried unanimously” Number 2 picked up and banged a gavel once “all that remains is for Number Two-b to officially take his position at the rostrum.”
Number 2b didn’t move, he just looked at each of the Councillors in turn.
“Number Two-b it is time you officially took your rightful place upon the Council” urged Number 2 “as you can see your rostrum is waiting together with a change of clothes. Trousers, striped jersey,
and a black Top Hat.”
“What join this bunch of brainless imbeciles, get yourself another co-operative!” barked Number 6, his voice echoing around the chamber wall.
“Not join, become” stated Number 2.
At which point the Committee Chairman appeared at the top of the steel stairs.
“What is the meaning of this intrusion? Number 2b is about to take his position upon the Council” barked Number 2.
“That cannot be allowed to happen” said the Committee Chairman.
Number 2 stood up and flew into a wild rage
“What, what do you mean it cannot be allowed. Who are you to……”
Suddenly the room was filled by the cool blue light. Number 2 turned round to look directly into the light emanating from the eye in the abstract chair behind him. There came a loud piercing sound.
“Yes of course………yes I do realise………a substitute must be found.”
Suddenly the light dimmed, and the sound ceased. And picking up a gavel Number 2 banged it once, ready as he was to make an announcement.
“There has been a marked error in judgement. Number Six’s co-option onto the Town Council is null and void. Please stand down Number Six.”
Number 6 stood down from the podium.
“A substitute must be found” Number 2
“No sooner said than done” said Number 38 the Committee Chairman.
At that point the pair of steel doors to the left of the stairs slid open. Two medics in white attire emerged through the door. Between them was a third figure, that of Number 39. The two medics slowly escorted the figure of Number 39 forward to take her place upon the vacant rostrum of 2b. She was now dressed in an orange and white striped jersey, black slacks, canvas shoes and a black top hat. Number 2 stepped forward, removed the 2b badge from the lapel of Number 6’s blazer, and pinned the Penny Farthing badge onto the former 39’s striped jersey. There was a dead, blank staring expression upon her face, the same blank staring expression as that of her Council colleagues. Numbers 6 and 2 looked on in shocked silence as the newly elected 2b now stood at her rostrum, staring straight ahead, unmoving, unthinking. There being no further business at this time, the meeting of the Town Council was unanimously closed with a bang of the Chairman’s gavel.
back to the confines of his cottage. Two gardeners were busy working in a flower bed “Who was that?” asked Number 52 watching the man pass by the statue of Hercules with the world upon his shoulders.
“How should I know. Are you going to fetch those plants or not?” asked Number 18, busy with his trowel.
Number 6 walked up stone steps and along the path, the door of his cottage opening automatically for him. How often it is that yesterday’s Mr Everyman is today’s Mr Nobody!