As Casey and I entered the room, a stern looking baldheaded duo swiveled on the spot and walked through the open door behind us. Often this room was named the haven, or the den. This is where genius skulked, planning and plotting. This is where the children of Britain were being born and trained. Despite its glorified enigma, it was a very Spartan room, simple large wooden desk, pens lined up meticulously in order of size, two trays of neatly stacked papers, the corner of the large room was taken up by a large filing cupboard and a very secure and bulky safe. A mauve carpet ran up to white skirting boards supporting magnolia walls, containing nothing but the odd light switch and power point. Apart from the swiveling chair that adorned Lewis like a throne, bearing him like the would-be ruler he was, there were three other blue plastic chairs on the opposite side of the desk to where he sat. I had been to this room only once prior to this occasion, that was when I joined DOF, and Lewis wished to size me up.
I remember being sat across him, slumped in the plastic chair levelly looking him directly in the eye. I remember trying not to show fear, but inside my stomach was roiling and jumping like an epileptic washing machine. The smell hadn’t changed since then, the same bleach-lemony stink swirling and merging with the sweet scent of ‘Lynx Africa’, the air was damp with the fragrance. Back then he had admired my courage, obviously wary of me, obviously circumspect of my intentions, obviously mistrustful of what qualities my Dad had passed down to me.
It was different today, the feeling in my stomach was different, there was the washing machine sensation but it wasn’t fear, it was exhilaration. I felt for the first time, that I was on equal footing to those baldheaded lunkheads that had left to make way for my presence. The door opened behind me again, and through it stepped Alex.
Alex was the oldest child of Rob, my Dad’s halfwit guitar partner, also a staunch DOF hater, and that is why Alex hated his own father too. He looked nothing like his father; Alex was tall and thin, a mop shock of blonde hair and black-rimmed glasses. He looked like a stiff wind would knock him hard onto his bony arse, but boy you could count on him in a fight. There was time where he nailed three huge wasters out for an easy buck, thinking it would be cool to pick on the geeky looking dweeb. A broken nose, smashed teeth and a broken wrist later, these boys never made snap judgments again. Alex’s confidence leaked from his pores, emitting a power with every swaggering step he took. It never took him long to gain the reputation that he now so effortlessly upheld. I loved this dude, I always would.
“Good we are all here.” Lewis curled his interlocking fingers tightly around his hands and placed his slim cubits on the desk before us. His eyes unreadable, his mouth thin and pallid pressed into a tight smile. Lewis clucked his tongue and scanned the three of us. We must have produced an amusing image, Casey crossing her legs seductively pouting, Alex too long for the chair and pouring awkwardly out, and finally myself sitting with an attempt at hard swagger. Three misfits sat before a lord.
“Something has come up my friends, something I need dealt with.” Lewis’ singsong voice broke the silence. “Long have I toiled to keep the DOF in the forefront of the public mind. The safety of the citizens of our borough is imperative, if the community is safe, then the community is happy. I have always said that, have I not?” The question was rhetorical; it could be years before we were called here again, we were not going to risk permanent exile by challenging or disagreeing with him. Not that we would, as blinded as we were in those days.
“The community has no cause for argument. Businesses prosper, prices are low, the education in our borough is the finest in the country. Children are safe on the streets and criminals are dealt with swiftly and justly. We have no need for vigilante, and we have no need for aggression on our streets. They may as well be paved with gold for all the prosperity we, the DOF have brought to the working classes of this borough, and it shows. The prosperity leaks to adjacent boroughs and more and more of our MP’s are voted into office, who can deny our policies and our effectiveness?” Another rhetorical; another cool crystal drink from the fountain of statistics and political youth.
“Why would we be opposed?” He let this question hang, his cool eyes searching us, happy that all he was answered with were teenage shrugs and casual ignorance. Back then there was an astuteness in me. I was never a fool; there was dissention amongst the older generations as they shuffled past the policemen brandishing thick batons and stern frowns. An intimidating sight seen ever since the reform stating that all constituencies were responsible for their own justice system. When Lewis had become the MP he had made good use of all the reforms that had handed power to the constituencies. In 2016 a floundering conservative government had handed power to the MP’s in a bid to keep votes. It was sold to the masses as a way they could control their own lives. Three reforms were granted.
The first was the handing of curriculum for all secondary level education to the MP’s with exception to the national curriculum subjects in English, Mathematics, Science and History. The second gave the MP’s the power to police their own constituencies, and the third decreed that the constituents had the power to decide upon their own welfare system. A desperate conservative government should have thought it through more effectively. With Lewis as the local MP, Corby had become almost an independent state. If those from out of town dared come on to Corby soil and commit crimes, their justice was harsher than that of the voting constituents, or those constituents from another DOF borough. Lewis had it all worked out so slickly, twisted every reform to his own ends. His voice was the loudest among a world of others, but some other voices still had their own words. Which is why Lewis needed the three of us.
“We are opposed by the asinine, the uneducated and the ungrateful. Those who laboured under the education system prior to the election granting us the rightful place of mastering the curriculum have not had the benefit of being able to look at political history, learning from it as we have. Behind the very doors of knowledge lie a team of professors and experts in the fields of politics, geography and media that create the very important curriculum designed to breed the super minds of today’s young. This is why those more educated young minds find themselves at my door, in my office; dancing in my home, sitting in my office. The new generation of young know how to think, they know what the truth is, and they absolutely understand how the world is changing and that all must change with it.” Alex shifted uncomfortably in his chair, his loping frame adjusting to the hard stool beneath whatever part of his spine he had managed to plant upon it. Casey sat on the edge of her seat like a child awaiting the climax of a fairytale.
“Some do not change however.” Lewis exhaled sharply letting the sentence create a subheading for the rest of his monologue. “Gerard Bernstein, local writer, ex MP for the Labour party, and self-proclaimed student of political history is appearing on the radio this week. The ignorance of the radio producer to allow our slot to be filled with a debate, one where I listen to the futile whining of the opposition, responding only to have my wisdom scorned and burned by the less educated and less intelligent.” Lewis was no longer looking in our direction. He was looking through us, angrily at the pallid walls, miserable at the Spartan room. Casey made the appropriate tut to show that we shared his anger at this opposition, that although we believed it futile to argue, we also believed it ignorant. Lewis was gathering momentum, and his voice was beginning to raise, allowing his anger and frustration to waver within in his throat that little bit more.
“Bernstein wishes to sit and bend his crooked wits against that of the DOF. He wishes to discredit us, and do you know who he will aim his pathetic argument at? It will be the students, the children and those the DOF are sworn to offer there protection. Bernstein would sit and slate the very education and intelligence of those constituents whose parents, brothers and sisters votes he wishes to procure. Is that not ignorant? Is that not the very ESSENCE of belligerent?” Lewis was ramping up, accelerating, becoming animated. His point was near, the reason for our attendance was incredibly close.
“Bernstein will not sit before me and try to cloud the immensely good work that we have put in to achieve this near utopian society. His words will poison those less educated that ourselves am I correct?” Three nodding dogs said nothing. “They will begin to doubt the efforts of us all. We are handing back society to the little man, the forgotten man and this hound will bark poison through the airwaves and break the sense of euphoria on the streets, create unrest, create discord. This is where you three come in. On your way out you will be given an address, and the tools needed. I am sure you know how to be persuasive yes?” The room was silent, three teenage chumps just nodding, not quite comprehending what exactly we were supposed to do. Lewis raised himself from his chair and walked to the door opening it wide for us to leave.
Slowly we stood up and trooped out as he whispered “You won’t disappoint me now will you?” then the door closed behind us before we could answer and our leader was gone, in front of stood a bald broad lunkhead smiling widely holding a shoe box toward us.