It takes all kinds, even in The Village. And some of these have a penchant for tossing reality in the face of authority. The Village is, after all, a real part of the real world. Funny how The Village is a part of the world regardless how hard it tries to separate itself. Looks like it can’t escape either.
Join the Royal Navy and see the world. He had left University to do just that, much to the chagrin of his father. That had only made the salt air sweeter. The Navy had been good to him. His rebellious nature only added to his flair and it had actually worked to his advantage. Of course he had toned it down a bit. He honestly enjoyed the Navy and didn’t mind a little give and take when the playing field was level and the rules fair. The officers all liked him and so did everyone else. Quick witted, glib tongued, and charming. When he wanted to be. It had been his curiosity that went before his fall. If he had never seen that file, well, he wouldn’t be here now, would he?
“Ah, Number Forty Eight, please set down!” Number Two waved to the chair as it rose from the floor. “Would you care for tea?”
“No thanks, dad,” and he sat down on the edge of Number Two’s desk, stretching out so that he was almost laying on it. “What’s the deal here, the real meat on the bone?”
“Humph,” Number Two sputtered a bit. “Make yourself comfortable, young man. You’ll be here long enough to make yourself at home, and we have much to talk about.”
His Dad had been an authoritarian thorn in his side since birth. His mother was always cowering, afraid to speak up, afraid to speak out. Her voice was always just above a whisper, as though she hoped not to be heard or noticed. It was safer that way. But safety? It wasn’t in his nature. And he wouldn’t be brow beaten. Ever, by anyone.
“Have another surveillance camera, with a microphone, installed at table six at the cafe. He seems to prefer that one.”
Number Two watched the monitor, watched Number Forty Eight walk away from the Green Dome. And he muttered to himself, “Insolent cur. He’ll soon come to respect authority.”
It had been a grand joke for him, and the old man had walked right into it. The pompous fool had gone running to the door expecting the next room to be engulfed in flames. The fire wasn’t real, but the smoke bomb was. And so was the bucket of water balanced atop the door. He had only been eight at the time. He’d thought nothing of the whipping later. The sight of his father drenched had been reward enough to offset many such whippings. He didn’t know it, and his father would never let it show, but Dad actually lived in fear of what his boy might do next. And the authoritarian bully? From time to time the father retreated. He would go into his study and lock the door. Not for the sake of privacy. It was the only place he thought he’d be safe.
“It’s all yours, dad,” and Number Forty Eight laid the papers gingerly on Number Two’s desk.
“And this is … ?”
“Why, I wrote out the answers to all of the questions you’ve been asking, oh, my daddy,” and Number Forty Eight took off his hat, bowing low.
“Really?” Number Two picked up the papers, looking through them.
The answers were real, and really there. Number Forty Eight hadn’t minded answering them. What did he care? Just words on paper, meaningless to him. It was what would come later that mattered to him.
He would be no ones “boy”. He was his own man. And he was the one, the only one, to decide what that meant at any given moment.
Number Two rushed to the foyer after having called in the alarm. He couldn’t see much for the smoke. The coat rack had been moved away from the wall and when he came into the room it was directly between him and the fire extinguisher. He shoved it out of the way so as to get to the extinguisher and in doing so caused the bucket of water, perched precariously atop the rack, to tip and fall.
Number Forty Eight smiled towards the surveillance camera and tipped his hat as he walked by it. Life was sweet, even in The Village. He was singing as he strolled, nearly dancing, to the cafe. The Supervisor would replay this for Number Two later. Several times.