“It is customary to knock!” Number Eighty One bellowed as Number Six entered his flat.
“Not in The Village! And I am NOT your errand boy!” He took the envelope from his pocket, slamming it down on the coffee table. “You will kindly inform your friends that from now on they can deliver their own messages! That is the only reason I brought this one, so that I might give you notice that I resign the post of errand boy that you seem to have … ”
“Who sent you?! What are you talking about?! Answer me!” Number Eighty One screamed. He looked totally out of control, which was, so far as Number Six was concerned, a positive at this point.
“I have no idea who they were! They wore scarves that covered their numbers!” Storming towards the door he called back over his shoulder, “BE SEEING YOU!”
Number Two, now more than a little paranoid at the current goings on, was checking, double checking, and more. And the phone rang. The red one.
“Yes sir … Oh, no sir, certainly not … Of course … Of course, yes … I’m positive, sir … I’ll check … Yes … ” And he was abruptly cut off. Looking up at the screen he saw Number Eighty One leaving his flat as though on an emergency errand. The camera panned left. Number Six was there, in the background, looking … Watching?
He stood calmly by the retaining wall, seemingly lost in contemplation as he looked out over the ocean. It wouldn’t be long now. And it wasn’t. Only minutes after he had left Number Eighty One the soon to be new “old” Number Two came, nearly running, out of his flat, envelope in hand. Number Six walked slowly towards the cafe. Even a Pawn has strategic value if you’re good at the game. Now? Let the game begin.
Number Eighty One went hurriedly from one shop, one flat to another. As he emerged from each another followed, soon heading off towards another shop or flat. In less than half an hour the people he deemed loyal had alerted half the Village warders. In short order he was accompanied by four security personnel armed with nerve gas (one squirt you’re paralyzed, two you’re dead), two medics, and heir doctor, Number Thirty One. And THIS time the door opened.
The doors slid open, the diminutive Butler, his facial expression never changing, bowed and waved a gloved hand towards the control room occupied by Number Two.
Number Two, looking up from the control panel, the Supervisor standing next to his desk, pointed at Number Eighty One and said, “You are banned from this area until your committee meeting!” His color began to fade as he recognized the men with Number Eighty One. The Supervisor stepped quietly back and out of range.
“Number Four … ” Number Eighty One began.
“I am Number Two!” But his voice belied his nerves.
“NUMBER FOUR! You are accused of being of the cult of the individual and of being unmutual. You are guilty of insubordination, unlawful occupation of a Village post, and treason. Due to your obvious mental illness you will mercifully be treated as the sick man that you are.” The medics and guards were already circling the desk and chair. There was no place for Number Four to go. The Supervisor exited through the hidden doorway to the rear of the room. “You are to be taken to hospital immediately,” and Number Two smiled grimly, “where you will undergo total social conversion. Among, ” and his voice dropped noticeably, “other things.”
Number Four tried to push his way through but the guards held him back and down while the medics administered calming drugs.
Number Six sat, drinking his coffee, watching the street to his left. A taxi soon appeared carrying Number Two, an ambulance was close behind, and behind the ambulance was Rover.
“I’ve always loved a parade.”
The red phone rang as soon as Number Two entered, having just returned from hospital after having dropped Number Four off.
“Yes sir … Oh, certainly I … Yes … Yes … Absolutely … Oh, I was aware all along, it’s just that … Yes … I wanted to give him enough rope to hang himself … Evidence? Oh, yes sir, a great deal of … Yes … Yes … Oh, thank you sir, thank you very much.” And he smiled broadly as he replaced the phone on the desk.
The tables had been turned. But how? Why? Who? And he knew, he knew the “who”, but the “how” and “why” were mysteries.
Number Six, eyes closed, Bach playing softly, totally relaxed. A rare moment. That the evidence in the envelope had been concocted made no difference now. The truth never did in The Village. If they checked, and they would, they always did, they would see that given time. But they would also see that Number Four’s evidence was of the same ilk. And Number Two would look the mastermind that had foiled a plot against The Village. He didn’t care. It was better than assassinations and the mass drugging that he had seen coming. Better a prison that was peaceful on the surface than one filled with barbed wire and trained attack dogs. And then the door opened. No knock, it just opened as was customary here in The Village. Number Six didn’t bother opening his eyes for a moment. Rather, he said, “And do you ever knock, Number Two?” It was only then that he looked up.
“Why do you care?” And the question was sincere.
“I care about knocking because I value my privacy!” Number Six snapped back.
“That’s not what I mean and you know it. I know,” and looking in the direction of the hidden surveillance camera he hesitated. He knew that he was as much a prisoner as anyone, as watched as all the rest. ” … what you’ve done.”
Number Six, standing up, replied: “Oh, I’m very certain you’ll manage to manufacture some dastardly deed to blame me for so that you can … ”
“Alright, have it your way. But understand, regardless your reasons nothing has changed. You WILL be GLAD to give me the information I require or … ”
“Number Two, make yourself at home. You may as well.” He walked towards the door. “Make yourself some tea. I’m going out to plot the downfall of the regime … Be seeing you.”
“And you,” muttered Number Two.
~ finis ~