Mr Jensen Goes To The Big City
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It was cold, it was always cold. Jensen wrapped a threadbare coat around his emaciated frame and kept walking.
The sky was steel-grey, the sky was always steel grey. The Weatherman sat atop a burnt-out building. He pulled out a tobacco tin and groped inside for a paper, then dribbled a thin line of pipe tobacco along the grey paper, rolled it into a tube and lit it.
In the street, Jensen listened to the racking cough and shook his head,
“Poor bastard. Don’t know why he carries on. Winter’s here to stay.”
Ahead of Jensen, a light flickered, he stopped. Nobody else was in town, he was sure, who would want to be? Unless they wanted him for the Journey. Then he could go to Big City. They wouldn’t shoot at him this time. They’d welcome him, and call him Hero. The Weatherman watched Jensen stagger over to the Priests, shook his head,
“They were bound to come for him in the end.”
The pig-drawn cart arrived at Big City, Hero Jensen, its only passenger. The Priests weren’t supposed to touch him or speak to him, so they walked alongside the vehicle. Jensen was greeted by respectful Guards Of The Gate. The massive steel gate was already open and the City people were jostling for a view of the latest Hero.
In the entrance stood a figure that Jensen knew would be City ArchMinister Taylor. Jensen had occasionally chatted with the Weatherman who seemed to know a lot more about Big City than anyone else.
The ArchMinister opened his arms and cried,
“Welcome, Hero Jensen.” a ragged cheer went up from the crowd. Taylor waited for the noise to subside and called,
“Do you know why you’re here?”
Jensen descended from the cart and answered formally,
“I am here for the good of the people.”
The cheering was more enthusiastic this time. The ArchMinister scowled but kept quiet.
-Cowardly scum- he thought -all I need is one Cityzen to carry our petition and I have to go to the shit-holes of England to find somebody-
ArchMinister Taylor and Hero Jensen walked a gauntlet of shouting, waving people to the steps of the Metropolis House. Jensen gaped at the four-storey building, resplendent with its white gleaming walls and Greek-pillared entrance. They ascended the steps and as the doors closed on the noisy crowds. Taylor murmured,
“Hero Jensen, these ladies will escort you to your rooms and help you prepare for this evening’s banquet in your honour.”
Jensen followed the two women, too stunned to speak. They were beautiful and Jensen wondered what the preparation involved. One of them turned and nodded,
“Oh yes, that as well. After all, you’re a Hero now, your last week should be as pleasant as possible, it’s only fair.”
He blushed furiously, the woman smiled,
“Don’t be silly, we’ve helped many Heroes to prepare for their Journey. They tend to be predictable.”
In his rooms, Jensen was stripped and shown to the bathroom. He sank into a massive tub of scented water and sighed rapturously. The two women, Stella and Maggie walked in carrying an open razor, a mirror and a pair of scissors. Jensen closed his eyes and let them cut his hair and shave him.
Stella stood back and studied her handiwork critically, she looked over to Maggie who was wiping the shaving foam from the razor. Maggie nodded,
“There, all finished now.”
Jensen stared at the face in the mirror Maggie held up as Stella remarked,
“Quite a difference, hmm?”
He nodded and Maggie said quietly,
“Our next task is to make sure you memorise our petition to be carried to the Creator.” The petition was short and easy to remember, after a second faultless repetition, Stella said,
“Excellent. Now there’s one more item to be dealt with before you begin your next stage of the Journey.”
“Would that be the predictable part?”
“Yes, that’s right.” Stella lowered herself into the bath.
Ten minutes later, a muffled gunshot was heard from Jensen’s rooms. The ArchMinister turned, opened the balcony windows, stepped out and shouted to the waiting populace,
“Hero Jensen has begun his Journey to carry our petition to the Creator – let the festivities begin.”
Closing the window on the answering wave of noise, Taylor scrutinised his extensive wardrobe. He mused –I wonder if Stella will want me tonight? Maggie’s a bit too trigger-happy for my liking. Hope the cook’s going to manage, Jensen hardly had a scrap of meat on him-
In five hundred years time, most of us will be forgotten dust. But Hitler will still be remembered, God loves irony.