Thursday, March 03, 2005
Mr and Mrs No!
I answer the door and let them in. What can I do, I have to. They will start pestering me by bloody email if I don’t. Do I need to have my flat inspected all the time, I don’t know? They sometimes catch me by surprise. Not having time to pile the dirty dishes in the cupboard and throw clothes under the mattress. They pass by my book shelf rolling their eyes at the dust piled up on the ledges.
"How much do you pay rent again...and you chose those rugs?" Expecting a tour around the rooms they cringe at the chaos of the work area.
"Oh, comics? How do you find time for that!?"
"Er, it's taken me ages to get that far, I do bits when I can."
"How’s your job? You do still have a regular job don’t you?"
"Yeh, fine yeah, I’m enjoying it at the moment. The students, you know, they’ve got exams coming up, very busy."
"You are doing a worthwhile job and getting paid - excellent"
She marks it down on a bit of paper.
Mr No:"We will keep checking up on you at regular intervals, we know what you're like. Listen! You mustn't go back to your old ways, hear me! It makes us worried, and we get headaches, especially when you waste time on all that arty stuff, yes! You must be seen to be doing your share of proper work."
Mrs No: "Nice to see you’ve made an effort with the toilet this time" while peering behind the shower curtain. A glance to the right sees Mr No pushing the bedroom door open! I duck my head in and try to explain. His lips curl in horror! hurrying to the corridor: "We have to go now don’t we Mrs No, things to do?" They then begin whispering and taking notes while standing in the middle of the living room. I busy myself by turning on the oven. I think I could eat it all myself if they don't.
Mr No brings his new digital camera out and starts pointing it into each of the rooms. "We need to collect some reference material?".
"You have technology? I have technology too, lets talk about technology, we can talk about that instead?" I say.
"Why is there all this hair on the floor?"
"I don’t know, it just comes out of my head."
Their bodies deflate in a long sigh, both now sitting near me on the living room sofa.
"Stop that, get off. Bloody hell!" Mrs No irritatingly rubbs off a mark she has found on my sweat shirt with a piece of tissue paper, getting her guey salivor all over me. I am playing with toy cars in the corner and chopping spiders up.
"Did you have to do that?"
"You must look presentable. We don't want you looking like a tip?"
"Right that'll do." Says Mr No still writing down in his book.
"Something to eat then?" I say. I catch them briefly exchanging glances.
"Er, now we best be off. Time is getting on. We desperately need to get back to the safety of our road vehicle. We are so used to the air conditioning you see, and Mrs No's cooking of course."
Mr No hands me a note: "Here is a list of things we feel that you shouldn’t be doing and on the other side things that we would prefer you to do because that makes us feel better, and how do you survive otherwise I can’t understand. This to back up the subliminal messages I have already imprinted on your mind hopefully." Turning towards His wife: "Do you have the planned route map love?"
"I have it, it’s in my handbag somewhere." scrambling furiously inside her shoulder bag.
Mr No: "You can’t go anywhere without your printouts. What you have to understand you see Neil, is that there is no such thing as freedom. Ha Ha Ha. Yes. It’s in your own interest to follow procedures as best you can. You'll soon begin to realise this yourself. And we wouldn’t want to get Mrs No upset now would we?"
"Er, no, of cause not Mr No, no never."
"You need to get a file started which we will expect to see next time we come. Perhaps a desk as well with a comfortable chair to sit in so that we can go through it properly. There is a big inspection coming up and you’ll have to start getting your paperwork ready. Just treat it like a driving test, it'll be fine. As long as you do what is expected everything will be cosy."
"Can you give me a template to work from, I’m not sure…?"
"Don’t worry. Don't worry, although, it might be best if you get rid of any evidence of the artwork and um just as it says there, on the list(pointing to the list), yes, number three: Show evidence of having a job and display more optimism when talking about a life of employment, yes. Special attention should be given to the getting married and having children section naturally. Mrs No often gets upset about that one, mmn. Anyway I’m sure you’ll feel much better once you’ve attended to the list. I know Mrs No will be pleased and of course, then I'm pleased too, you see."
He stands resting his large bulky frame against the side of the front door, one arm rested on top: "Neil, you know, I would like to understand you better but under the present circumstances, well, I’m afraid it’s just not possible. But you know it's only for the best, don't you. We have to go now because we have a whole list of people to cover today. The station is hectic at the moment! Come on Mrs No, lets get to the car."
Mrs No turns towards me: "Neil, you must listen to what ‘prompt payment’, I call him that, it’s kind of a silly joke really, listen to what he says! He knows best. He’s been in the army after all, therefore he knows a thing or two about these things, right. OK then, we must get going, the people at the hospital are expecting us at 5.00pm for the special injections and shock treatment ceremony, you can come along too if you like?"
"Er, no, think I'll give that a miss. Just resting from work at the moment, you know."
"Well, see you then, bye, bye, Say goodbye to Mr No Neil."
"Bye Bye, see ye...bye Mr No".
"Careful how you go." They wave. Mr No jumps up and flies over the car floating like a bird through the roof window in one smooth motion, landing comfortably strapped and snugg, opposite the front console. Mrs No starts crazily slapping the sides and top of the car, shouting "thank god! thank god!" Her body crawling over the bonnet and roof, then being quickly sucked into the front side door, slamming it shut with supernatural speed. The windows mist up and the moving figures inside receed in clarity till they become siluetes and then slowly fade away to white. The suspension raises the car into action. The wheels crunch and spit stones as the Ford Mondeo roars away towards the motorway slip road.