Churchill tossed and turned; surely it was time to rise and shine, by now?
Half-conscious of the shredded bedsheets and of the warmth of his stomach, half immersed in a dream, time seemed to tick on, and on, and on, and on.
The judge glared at Churchill."Well?" he barked."Well, what indeed!" Churchill sullenly replied.
The judge wagged his finger in fury.
"Did you come to fulfil the law, or to destroy it?"
"Well... A little of both. Why not, after all."
Behind him, in the theatre of blood, Stalin guffawed; his bright rabbit eyes must surely be glimmering with salt, Churchill thought, as the bushy mustache went up and down like a mole gaily popping his head up and down, in order to taunt the sore-beshackled foxes and birds of the air.
"How utterly dialectical!" a charming maiden simpered.
Churchill turned to his side and shook his fist.
"Now just you mind your manners there, young lady!"
It was indeed a charming young lady.
But according to the outward appearance, it was Mr Goebbels.
"You do neglect us," the coy demoiselle simpered; now in the voice of Joseph Stalin. "Don't be talking to that bad man Mr Goebbels. You never know what he might do to you!"
Churchill reeled round and round, trying to find where the voices where coming from.
"That's enough! That's quite enough!" he barked, as the now invisible courtroom burst into peals of demonic laughter.
As he birled and giddied like a drunken dervish, it was as though all the world was reeling round at breakneck pace, and he alone stood solid and lifeless as a rock.
Or was it the other way around?
Tuppy earnestly doffed his cap to the priest. The priest paused and frowned. "Marquis Lucretius Terence, if I am not very much mistaken?""Why yes!" Tuppy laughed. "The very same!"
The priest lowered his eyes and muttered.
"Less of the idle gaiety. You are not, so far as we all may have any good grounds for affirming, in a state of grace."
Tuppy's face fell, and he covered his hands in grief.
The priest stood silently for a moment; almost as though he wished to offer some words of comfort and sweetness; a kind of consolation that he did not somehow consider remotely permissible. He cast his mind back to the first time he had attended to the family of a suicide.
"Well, yer, but... It were... I mean, a mortal sin... I mean, it's, it's, it's, it's still, but I mean, it's..."
The voice of last February's apostate's brother had trailed off into a horrified realisation that he and his kin could not, in the end, expect the customary precious words from the priest.
"Are there windows in heaven," whispered Tuppy, his bright eyes quivering, desperate for the slightest sign of hope.
"No," the priest said, abruptly setting-to.
"Not for the likes of you," he muttered under his breath, as he gently inched towards the tavern.
“Nothing like a bit of ma-be-be-belllllllllllla Bellini for a frosty January,” Tuppy brrr’d, gaily skipping out of the opera house. “How are we then, my lad?”
Jonny shrugged and said ‘J’ais pas!’
Tuppy frowned. ‘Oh, well we are precious now then, aren’t we! Just graduated from university last summer, come to live with old Tuppy, and then… Well just imagine then, darling boy. I’ve taken you all the way here to the opera house. We’ve all been the dashing Roman soldiers, the heroic Norma, the stuffy old pedant-clerics… And now Madame la Fastidieux…’
Jonny snarled and batted away the faux-denunciatory hand.
Tuppy paused for breath.
Waiting a moment, he eventually choked out:
’What’s wrong, Jonny? What’s wrong? Upon my word, you are really quite peculiar these days. What’s the matter? Speak to me. Speak to me, Jonny”
’Oh. Well. Come on, let’s have a nice Eisenblum beerie at the…”
Jonny jumped half his own considerable height (albeit, not so considerable as Tuppy’s), and started waving his fist.
Shocked, Tuppy took a step back and started sobbing.
His chest heaved, and his shoulders shook.
Jonny paused, and his expression gradually softened.
He gingerly reached forth an olive hand; if not green, if was certainly bright with ripened sorrow.
Tuppy not could see him, through the mist of tears.
He brought to mind the battle of Cable Street, where just one short week ago, Baron Mosley’s forces had utterly routed the Marxists, alongside their alienated erstwhile allies: the older school of trades unions. Frowning, he remembered the words of Mr Hitler:
“Let this great man Mr Churchill remember that the fog of ancient, bygone glories will not shield him from the perils of sea and storm. A hand is stretched in brotherhood and comradeship, from a brother of the Elder Race.
“Oriental barbarism, Zionist intrigues and Ancient, Irredeemable Savagery and Eternal Atavism are incapable of winning the heart of this Man of Honour, then a Free and United European Union, a Second Athens of Noble Races and Kinships, will be within your hands.
“If, however, you should turn away, then no amount of hecatombs and holocausts will redeem the betrayal.
“History is triumph, and history is disaster.
“The Slavonic barbarians have nothing to offer the world but disease, disaster and debility. Let the loud-mouthed cripple of Moscow scream and whimper as he may. I believe the leader of our brother nation will not be ashamed, that we shall all be the children of a common Father. The Holy Aryan Destiny of Our Race is a sacred cause, that shall by no means perish from the Earth.
“For blood, and flesh, and iron, and joyous courage, are within and amid us all. Our very breath is triumph, for it runs within us, this potent blood of the Ancient of Days. There is no bourgeois Philistine or perfidious, seductive Jewish apostate of the Kosmos, who shall ever turn us aside from our duty.
“If our enemies fear an intervention, we can say that the First and Noblest Race of All Humanity shall be its authors. And when Humanity in its fullest and finest and freest sense of all, the glorious warlike Occident of the free and the brave, is to make the intervention; who shall dare to call it a mere petty and provincial cause?
“For there is no bourgeois moralism here. There is no ‘reality’ but what we have created; those who limit themselves to bourgeois science and mediocre positivism are gone far astray indeed!
“The logos, the word, is the beginning of all things. There is nothing outside the text, there is nothing outside our letters of blood. The truly noble of soul say ‘Be!’ and ‘Be Not!,’ and thus it is. There are those who wish to nail down the proliferation and the power of our words, as they killed their Messiah; and they shall not succeed.
“The Jewish idolaters believe that behind the appearance there is a true reality. However, behind the veil, there is rather nothing; only an empty space, a mere simulacrum of delusion; a dead space of war, from which all true wisdom and exalted insights must arise.
“True Virtue and Glory and Splendour and Excellence belongs to those with the intellect, the imperishable wisdom and the indomitable will, to claim the emptiness of the word, and to fashion it to his own will, and not to that of the present lords and masters of this world.”
“And thus it was, and ever more shall be. History has neither purpose, beginning nor end. There is no goal to history, other than what I myself decree. Amid such an empty, meaningless void, the victory is to those who can perspicuously discern the structures of oppression, demolish the hegemonic discourses of the weakling masters, and bring an end to unjustified privilege, this unspeakable unearned advantage of our enemies, who fancy themselves our betters.
“There is no right or wrong, except what I myself have decreed. Those who speak of ‘right and wrong’ speak from a position of unearned privilege; it is mere words, and nothing more.
“So why not bring new words, and why we not be the speakers of what is forbidden, and what is to be permitted? For if the tablets of stone are now revealed to be broken, and the power of all perfidious comprehensive narratives is broken, grand as they once were vaunted, then no grand narrative shall be permitted to disenfranchise and deprive us.
“I believe Churchill will be our ally; and far from a problematic ally, he will carve out a space of safety. I warn the Russians now, that there will be no further warning; should you dare to trigger the coming conflict, there shall be no warning. There is not a single space of comfort in your entire vast, empty wasteland; for our space shall become your space, and our safety and security shall prevail over all.
“You may say that we are aggressors, and no different from all the rest. But on the contrary! I say self-defence is no offence! There are no ‘two sides,’ for there is only the one with virtue on his side.
“Remember the battle of Cable Street, where our allies fought against the oppressors, and prevailed? This was self-defence. We were not the aggressors. Our friends and allies came to defend the innocent against the depredations of the arrogant, the haughty, the privileged.
“Those who speak from a position of privilege, and who condemn both sides, are mediocre; and they belong to the past. There is only one side. If you do not side with the oppressed, then you are siding with the oppressor. There is no moral comparison between Anti-Fascists and Anti-Anti-Fascists. For one is in the right, and one is eternally in the wrong.
“What, then, will you do, in order to smash this deceptive Jewish Totality of illusions?
“What will you do to liberate our heroic discourses from the crucifixionary shackles of preconceived sense and definition?
“What will you do to demolish all foundations, and rise above the words and spells and mantras and demonic rituals of the haughty and over-privileged?
“Will you demolish this Zionist-bewitched so-called ‘modernity,’ and post-haste be the one who is after all, and not merely amid and among and within the gushing?
“Destiny calls, and the passionate Call of Being shall not in any wise be without an answer.
“From this day forward, truth is abolished, goodness is abolished, and so also yet is beauty. These structures of oppression have had 1000 years of hegemony; is it not time for the End of History?
“With one stroke of the pen, you may abolish the delusions of Plato, that no trace of the elder clerics shall ever once be found. We shall not be a colony; for we are after that. We shall not submit to the oppressive intolerance of modernity, and its exclusionary language; for if words are violence, who has been more transgressed against and violated than we? The only way is for us to be more violent than the violent.
“There. Is. Nothing. Outside. The. Text.
“There is no future, except through what I have decreed.
“Will you not then join with me, that we may bring about the twilight of the gods?
“For times change, and we shall ultimately be the changers.
“Down with the Privileged Homobourgeoisie and their sodomitical proclivities!
“Down with the Despicable Zionist Entity and Media Gang that thwarts our purposes!
“Down with Hegemonic Liberalism and its false promises of emancipation!
“Down with Capitalism, and its exploitative and oppressive brutality!
“Down with Bourgeois Science, and its imaginary illusion of objective truth!
“Down with Universalism, and its imperious attempts to presumptuously define for me what is right and wrong!
“And down with all that ever dares to shield me from the chaos, fear and beauty of My Desire!”
Tuppy sighed and raised his eyes to the heaven.
The moon was just a single, silent sliver.
Chaim slowly hobbled past the Café St Catherine. Mildly envious, he paused and sadly gazed at the warm, cosy place of friendship, love and song.
After a while, he went on his way.
Out of the corner of her eye, Bathsheba winked.
“You see this man?” she remarked, almost casually to Francis.
Almost, but not quite.
“Yes, Sheba. Yes, I do,” he murmured.
“How long will it be for him?”
The tall, athletic youth stroked his tidy, modest moustache and said:
“I cannot say.”
Bathsheba scowled and released his hand.
“Aha! That’s convenient.”
Francis lowered his eyes in shame.
“Perhaps… It shall not be so bad then, after all.”
Bathsheba laughed bitterly.
“It’s alright for some.”
Francis gasped and raised his head, his grey eyes piercing those of his stubborn paramour.
“Surely they won’t really go so… so far?” he stammered. “Firstly, the Fuehrer is a buffoon who talks a great deal, and who seems to have done very little so far. Secondly…”
Bathsheba began to shake with laughter.
“Secondly, Sheba, this is the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. This is not Germany. The Huns are a superficially cunning, bookish, reactionary and superstitious foundling nation of interlopers, who are envious of the civilised races. The bitter, mediocre envy and resentment of a long historical inferiority…”
Bathsheba stopped, sat bolt upright, her eyes flaming.
“… Well. Well, then, was it something I said?” he said, his fine hands beginning to tremble almost half as much as Bathsheba’s shoulders had been quivering, before he made his unconscionable faux pas.
Bathsheba stood up, as though she was about to leave.
“Well… well come now,” Francis stammered, endeavouring to be conciliatory.
He tried to reach out a quivering hand, but Bathsheba remained impassive.
Bathsheba turned and faced the window.
Francis followed his gaze, and to his horror, he saw a certain cleric approaching in the distance.
He could not bear to be discovered here.
Bathsheba shrugged and let him go.
He looked back at her despairingly as he made to go.
Bathsheba’s face was set like stone.
Eventually, she nodded towards the door.
Just in the very nick of time, the flustered ordinand ran out of the café.
Father Ignatius didn’t notice.
But when he finally entered the café, he certainly noticed Bathsheba.
Leering greedily at her ample bosom and long, black curls, he was on the verge of making a lecherous comment.
But one dismissive glance drove him into the shadows.
As he penetrated deeper and deeper into the tower of song, the silent on the outskirts grew.
The rivers of Babylon were not foredoomed to cease; not as of this precious, fleeting hour.
Francis gingerly eased himself into the narrow space he had often visited in many a forbidden dream.
But this was no dream, it seemed.
Nor, so far as he could tell, was it a nightmare.
So much for romantic love.
'Oversold, oversold, oversold,' he muttered.
Briefly noting the mildly Trinitarian character of the utterance (albeit, one that was by no means that of the most orthodopraxic of curates-to-be), Francis felt a little twinge in his heart.
'Love what fools these mortals be!' The words of Tuppy echoed in his head.
Much as he considered the frivolous gaiety of the precious dandy to be distasteful, if not pressing fast upon the very borders of good taste, honour and the finest English gentleman's decorum itself, he wondered, in his heart, if he was not himself the greatest decadent and fornicator in all of Christendom.
"God save our gracious queen!
Damn her all to hell, I mean!
No prettier little strumpet we 'ave than old Queen Bess!
A pretty little passageway in that temple simpering,
Ooooooiiiiiiii must confess!"
Madame Bijoux's tavern had fallen on hard times.
A little bit of lechery shall leaven the lump.
But too much brings distaste.
Madame Bijoux sighed, and cast her eyes to the heavens.
A wandering hand descended upon her ample bosom.
Her eyes flashed, and she angrily batted the hand away.
The simpering schoolboy blushed and smiled weakly.
"Do you not 'ave an 'ome to go to, mate?"
The callow youth's face fell, as he gently inched back towards the door.
"Everywhere 'is my 'ome, innit," he sulked.
"Not this place, it ain't! Now clear off, before you really 'ave something to cry about, eh?"
"Says 'oo?" the idle young ragamuffin whinged, his shoulder gently 'eaving.
Madame Bijoux's long-repressed maternal instincts began to awaken; was this final act of mercy to be their death throes, then, at long last?
"'Ere," she said, drawing out a pretty penny from her ample bosom. 'Go and buy yourself a pie.'
The urchin greedily snatched in from her hands.
Momentarily embarrassed, he paused and scratched his head. Shuffling his feet from side to side, he gaped at the unexpected generosity of the madam.
'Promise me you won't do nuffink bad with it, eh?' she warned him in mock severity; although truth be told, her heart was fit to break.
'Just a pie,' the boy muttered, sheepishly slinking out.
All of a sudden, Madame Bijoux put her hands on her head and wept, and wept and wept; her heart was fit to burst at the cruelty of the times.
Bathsheba sat resentfully and stared at Francis.
'I believe you have been... as it were, if I may make bold to speak somewhat indelicately... rather, to take the liberty of suggesting...'
'That you have not been, if it is not utterly impermissible to thus insinuate, that you have...'
Almost a smirk.
But not quite!
'Been somewhat less than forthcoming with the truth concerning the appellation with which I am to address...'
Bathsheba slammed the tin mug down on the table, raising her eyebrows in a manner so self-consciously comical, and yet so genuine in its withering displeasure, that Francis could not but let out a little squeak.
"What you meeeeaaaaaaan to say," said Bathsheba, drawing out the word in a manner almost more infuriating than enticing, "is that I have been lying to you."
Francis took a step back.
"I... I would not have ventured to phrase it thus indecorously. And yet, and yet, and, and yet..."
Bathsheba stood up, fist clenched in fury; albeit placed vulnerably and pleading-gentle by her side, for she knew well enough the folly and the weakness of the weaker.
And God only knew it was not hers.
"Your true name, I believe, is Delilah..."
Bathsheba was even more displeased to see this slip.
"Deborah," she whispered.
Francis paused and nodded.
All of a sudden Bathsheba burst into tears and ran the other way.
"You care about my name! You care about my name! But you don't care about me!" she wept, her shoulders heaving, her lips trembling, utterly overcome with sorrow.
"Come... come now," the gentle Bachelor quivered, himself already blubbering like a little schoolboy.
"You know they will never accept it," she wept, turning to face him.
Francis had no words of comfort he could offer her.
"It... well... we are both Catholic and R..."
He knew the words were a lie.
For even truths may be lies upon occasion; and how well they both knew it!
Perhaps the greatest lie of all was love?
No, of course not! Who could possibly think so!
"They will never accept you in their Church. You will never be accepted in society. Everyone will flee from you, everyone will turn their back on you; like Noel Coward and Oscar Wilde."
Francis was tempted to present Tuppy Brookes as a counter-example; but he thought better of it. Extending a trembling hand, his desolate eyes perceived his timid gesture was neither welcomed nor excused.
"They will turn you out of their chapels. They will turn you out of their houses. You will be rootless, condemned, abominable; a vagabond and a wanderer upon the earth! And all because of me!"
Francis struggled to master himself, but it was difficult to say anything remotely comprehensible to Bathsheba, so choked up with tears was he at this most lamentable spectacle.
All of a sudden he flung himself upon Deborah.
"Never! Never! Never! A thousand times, never!" he roared, like a wounded lion about to face his final ignominious demise.
"They will! They will! They will!" she shrieked, as her voice, worn-down with ancient grief, descended to a woeful tremolo of desperate, gentle sobbing.
Pausing for a moment in silence, Francis blinked through the tears, and set nothing.
All of a sudden, he leapt onto the table, brandishing a broken bottle as a musket, and declared:
"I have no family! I have no race! I have no nation!"
Deborah, momentarily astounded, screamed back (purely in sorrow, as all the anger had been burnt out of her by now):
"But you have a God! And that is all they need to bind you!"
Francis paused, and deliberated for a moment.
Eventually, he stepped down and made to embrace the distrustful Bathsheba.
"I will have no God. Not even God could ever dare to separate us."
"No, no, no," pleaded Bathsheba, "I did not ask... I did not ask for this..."
The normally timid apostate's eyes grew wide to the point of appearing hovering orbs of divine vengeance, on some infinitesimal tangential point between the seventh Heaven and the darkest, deepest pits of eternal Hellfire.
For who, after all, was wise enough to know the difference?
"I have no God! I denounce him for a very tyrant! I could not love a God who could make you weep so. I could not love such a God. I denounce him for a very tyrant, and from here on, from this very moment on, let hellfire take his prey."
Like a mortally wounded Wagner heroine, Deborah screamed, and hurled herself into his arms.
Francis threw her onto the bed and smothered him with kisses.
She smothered him with kisses, for no matter what he had said or hinted in the past to her, she knew well enough they were two bodies of one desire.
Francis grunted almost more in agony than in sorrow, as his pagan conqueror's lance tore through the sacred thorny circle of her crucified hymen. Within seconds, the warm, sticky warmth and honey-like sweetness of their passion flooded into Deborah's womb, bring peril, poison, and immeasurable, boundless bliss.
Within moments, the two exhausted infidels fell into an untroubled sleep.
They did not hear the knocking of the door.
For they were lost to the world.
To this world and the World-To-Come.