Behind Closed Doors
"I am not who they say I am." He confessed, conspiratorially. Yet, his reddened eyes, watery and unfocused, and his pastie, puffy white skin gave clues to how much he had drunk the previous evening.
The men sitting opposite him, his audience for this meeting, sat in silence, smelling the stale alcohol that seeped from every pore of their hosts skin. Soaking the cheap, creased white shirt that he wore. which was already becoming loose from his trouser waist, as he leant on the table trying to seem both convivial and business-like; without achieving either demeanour.
He was harmless, both thought. That demeanour was a child wanting affirmation from an adult, knowing that he was doing a good job and wanted a pat on the back. Both looked at him with a pitilessness, knowing that business was business, and he was an inconvenience that they had to negotiate.
"My unpopularity can be clawed back. People will forgive me, and also, there is no one else that can appeal to them like I do." He said all this whilst nervously scanning their features, hoping that his appeal was working. He knew that both had been backers and supporters of his.
In the face of this appeal, they remained stoney-faced. Appraising the situation without relinquishing any control of it. They were also evaluating him, whether he was the problem as much as the solution.
Silent, the vacuum had to be filled. "You know, I have a grand plan. One that will keep us here for decades, we shall remain the controllers of our destinies. And that. That is what this is all about." He said, waving his arms about. "Think of me like Perseus." He continued, warming to the theme of his battle cry. Looking at them as though he was the strong man, he was the leader.
Sharing a glance, neither man opposite said anything. Remaining silent. Insomuch as neither had really time to read about Greek mythology so that the analogy was lost on them. But, before they could say anything to the conclude the meeting they found him stating again.
"When Troy was besieged, they fought for decades to keep the city alive and thriving. They fought for freedom, keeping the dream of freedom alive for the people. And that is what I am doing. People working hard for freedom." Neither said anything about how close his phrasing was to the sign over the entrance to Auschwitz. (Arbeit Macht Frei - Work Sets You Free.)
The knock on the door came as a welcome intermission, especially when the interlocker was a willowy blonde, in a tight black and white dress, which made both guests sigh unhappily about their wives choice of dress. Nor did the men notice that she was carrying a silver salver with a bottle of red wine and three glasses on it. Glued as they were to the young lady, they marvelled at their host's ability to attract the most sensuous females. Her perfume fragranced the stale air and made her seem ever more alluring.
"Amelia. Thank you."
Pouring wine in to the three glasses, the host looked at them. "Some lubrication, gentlemen."
Like dumb mannequins, they watched Amelia leave the room, their eyes searching for something, but not knowing what.
"So, as I was saying before Amelia interrupted us. I am so full of energy and ideas that I don't want to stop. You can't tell me to stop now, this is your chance. a generational chance to make a name for yourselves. I mean, you're here, so you must believe, a little."
Finally, the shorter of the two men spoke. "You have seen the news, I presume?"
"Good, so you know that there is a choice to be made soon." His silky voice didn't betray his own sense of betrayal, of finding himself in this invidious position, which he hoped to get out of without shredding his reputation.
"Yes, Yes." Came the ebullient reply. A fact that could be put down to the fact that he had sunk over half a glass of red wine already.
"Good. So, can we agree that tax is off the menu for our associates and us?"
"Err... Not sure I follow."
"You see." Began the other man, in expensive glasses and heavily coiffured hair. "There a few backbenchers we have been speaking to and they are fully onboard with our proposal."
"I see. And what is in it for me? For the Government?"
"I'm very sure that we can find a solution that will make you very happy."
"That's very good to hear."
"Doubtless, there will be some scrutiny, and the spotlight will fall upon yourself for this action. However, let us agree that we are doing what is best for Britain, that the Government's hands are tied, but you are protecting jobs."
"Well, of course we're protecting British jobs."
"Yes, Prime Minister, of course you are. With what you are going to do, is protecting British companies, British Jobs and British interests overseas."
"Yes, I see, Yes. Yes." His enthusiasm was beginning to boil over.
"With energy prices rising?"
"An inevitability of the Global Market."
"Exactly. Excellent." The three of them raised their glasses. "Let us drink to our health and wealth."
"Oh. And Prime Minister, none of this conversation will ever come to light?"
"No, never." He replied between gulps.