It's hard to be a superhero! Jumping around from one roof to another, flying in the air, throwing around criminals, risking your life to save lives and property of the people, who don't even think to thank you at the end, you know ... He brings his ...
It's hard to be a superhero! Jumping around from one roof to another, flying in the air, throwing around criminals, risking your life to save lives and property of the people, who don't even think to thank you at the end, you know ...
He brings his cigarette up to his mouth with the trembling hand, inhales passionately and strokes his hair – with that hair and beard he's more Jesus than Batman.
And as if that wasn't enough – the cops start getting on your nerve … Armored, with water cannons, helicopters, tear gas …
Are you going to … move? I ask.
Is it my turn?
He stares at the chessboard, assessing the situation. While he was “reliving” his heroic achievements, I squeezed his King into the corner and I wonder how he's going to pull out. Unless he jumps on the roof.
It's fucked … And you need to hide your real identity. From your … parents, partners, kids.
He touches the King and pulls his hand back.
They fucking killed them, when I was twelve. My parents. It's when it all started. I was sleeping when it happened. That's why I've never closed my eyes again ever since. Shit happens at night. Bastards come out. But I'm usually faster. I always prevent the shit if I can. Unless I can't ...
He moves a pawn with no reason.
And you haven't slept since age twelve?
Checkmate, I say. Perhaps it wouldn't hurt if you snored a bit, huh?
His eyes glow dangerously and he's red in the face. I move back slowly with the chair, before he gets a chance to jump on me.
* * *
It's even harder to be a cop …
Image of the hospital becoming smaller and smaller in the rear view mirror is liberating, but the thought of having to come back again tomorrow eats me alive – being there on the last day of the year. I dig my mobile from the pocket.
Commander, I say and I can hear the ringing. I switch to the speaker phone and an eternity passes before he picks up.
Uh-uh, I shake my head. I'm not sure if he's faking or he's really totally fucked up … Can you imagine all the bullshit he's saying – like he's a fucking Batman or something. We're not getting anywhere.
Look, I don't give a fuck. I want information, I want names, I want anything as long as I can nail the son of a bitch – let the fucking sheep see what happens if you fuck with the Mayor!
No buts, you damn well know, where the money for the wages comes from – yours too, in case you've forgotten! And don't use your phone while driving!
But … – toot-toot comes out – we're committed to justice and truth!
I try to call my wife, but she doesn't pick up at all.
I slow down near the Wall for the security guards to notice me – they know my car by now, so I don't have to stop. I just blink with my lights and they open the gate.
Fuck the City ...
* * *
It all started about a year ago. The Mayor made people mad with his arrogant, notorious corruption scandals and acting like a fucking star in public. Crowds in the streets wanted to let him know it's over, we don't want you so pack your bags and fuck off. They just wanted new faces, not the old asses warming each others' chairs.
When he called them The Rise Of The Zombies, it looked like the protest movement was going to develop into the revolution, each time the more of them showed, but there were also the more of … us – water cannons, armors, horses, helicopters, tear gas ...
The Mayor backed out for a while, while we were bouncing granite cubes with our heads instead of his, he appointed new staff and waited for the people to calm down, and then he came back. Again the apathy prevailed, people saw they hadn't reached anything, they started to tolerate his behavior again, and many even moved out of the City.
Professor Vladimir didn't move. He spent a couple of months in jail and in social work under the conviction of organizing demonstration. He kept encouraging his students for active citizenship, calling people to revolt through social media, writing a blog, with which he continuously pestered the Mayor and the City Councillors, and organizing guerrilla interventions. Of course he was subjected to constant surveillance, they even threatened his family. His wife could not take it long, she packed, took the kids and left. He got sacked at the University and after a while kicked out of his place, as he was unable to pay the bills. Did it stop him? Fuck no!
He took off his clothes and made himself comfortable hanging around the City Hall, holding a banner “Naked Truth – Nothing To Lose!”. No one took him seriously at first, but couple of men and women, sharing the same fate joined him after a while – some of them had already been homeless, the others were kicked out because of the unfortunate circumstances. They had nothing to lose anymore, so they too stripped naked and stood next to Vladimir, holding banners, like “Fuck you, there's nothing more you can take from us!”, “You can kiss my ass, Mayor!” ...
Those were just desperate tries to reanimate the protest movement, which did not evolve into the political party; it evolved into the tourist attraction.
Well, the Mayor slowly became tired of nudists populating the most beautiful City in the world, so he had them dispersed, built the fence around the City Hall and ordered armored police force to keep the protesters away. Vladimir had to change the strategy.
Comrades! he announced solemnly, The time has come for our movement to get back to the roots! We need to take things into OUR OWN hands – no one is going to give us anything, but no one can take anything away from us either!
He explained how he had seen the future of the movement and suggested, that they populate the caves out of the City and try to live on what nature can offer. The trouble was, that the winter was coming, and the nature had very little to offer. So they adapted the strategy slightly – they would come to the City from time to time, loot what they were entitled to from those who got them to where they were now, and return to their shelters.
They were taking from the corrupt City Councillors, business scum, fat bankers, … who were soon fed up and demanded, that the Mayor and the police provide protection of their interests and privacy from the wild plundering tribe.
Overnight the Mayor built the wall around the City, employed security guards and installed surveillance cameras. Before the last brick was laid, some more people joined the Tribe. Here and there they managed to enter the City or they “expropriated” someone outside of it.
But Vladimir was a true leader – he didn't command, he inspired. And he was always a spearhead, never a dweller in the comfort zone. Some also said he was well-endowed, but the information was not confirmed.
The man I played chess with I don't know how many times up to today, did not give the impression of a great legend ...
* * *
I needed a drink. After playing a nutcase for so many days, you slowly become one wether you like it or not. Commander is fucking me to solve the case with a punishment to serve as an example for others and the Mayor has to be a winner. That's not why I became a cop, for fuck's sake!
Sitting comfortably in the darkest corner of the bar I spread my notes and the book “The Naked Truth: Who Are We Letting Fuck Us From Behind?” – I've read it from start to end and back, and Vladimir explains in it the situation our society is in today on the global and on the micro (the City) level. He's pointing his finger at the Mayor and all the scum, gathered around him. And at the Commander too. They cooked up what we have to eat today, and there is no sign that any changes are about to happen in the near future. And we are paying for it, of course, guilty of nothing, owing nothing – but we were just watching and doing nothing to prevent all the corruption, manipulation and theft ...
In many aspects I could not agree more with him.
Thank god the waitress shows up, otherwise I might have started to seriously observe the option of taking off the clothes myself and running the hell out of here.
* * *
I take a few deep breaths. It's cold it hurts, but on the other hand it feels liberating. And the truth be told, I had a glass or two too many. I spread my arms and turn around. It's full moon, the City sleeps peacefully. Undercover cop … Under what cover?
I start running and I run for about ten minutes, then slow down in the middle of the forest. I feel as if my warmed body is being stung by a million needles.
A branch breaks in the distance.
I turn back and step slowly, but two guys block the path – both of them completely naked too.
My hands slide down my body trying to find pockets, that don't exist. I take two or three steps back, turn and run the other way, but there's already a group of naked guys there, determined to not let me go away.
Where'd you think you're going?
The rigorous voice belongs to a four feet tall busty blonde, who's apparently an authority around here.
Eeeeehm, basically …
* * *
The splash of ice-cold water makes me come to myself, but I can't move, being tied to a chair – a kingdom for a scratch on my balls ...
O, good morning!
I'm not going to hurt you! I shout.
The group of naked guys burst into laughing, but the busty one looks dead serious.
Would you mind explaining me what the fuck are you doing here?
I needed a beer … And then I went for a walk.
It happened so fast, that I'm not sure wether I first heard a slap or felt the pain, but the broad is not in the mood and she hits good.
For a walk? Wearing this?!
She holds a ball of wire and a microphone I always have on me.
That was in the car, I tell her.
It sure was in the car, you couldn't have it wrapped around yourself running out naked, could you?
Don't be a smartass! Why are you here? Why are you naked and wired and what are you doing here? Have you talked to Vladimir? Is he alright?
Hey-hey, wait a minute … I can't even listen that fast, let alone talk or think … He's alright, except ...
I'm not sure what to say, and she doesn't know how to understand this.
Except in his head, I answer.
Were you in hospital with him?
You don't look insane.
I'm not. I'm a cop, I admit. I'm on your side ...
She thinks a bit and nods.
Some of us are in there so we keep in touch with him – it's a bit difficult now because of the Wall and we keep getting confused messages from him, so I'm not sure if he plays a nut or he's become one. But tempus fugit, you know! What are you going to do with this? She points at my mobile recording studio in her hand.
It's my tool, I intend to continue using it.
I meant what you recorded!
I should continue the investigation … The Commander has ordered me … to solve the case so that the fucking Mayor comes out as a positive character – and I just can't stand the prick!
The busty one gives others a look.
And … will you?
I don't know …
You don't know?
I don't know what you're going to do with me ...
Her lips form a smile – she's not that bad. She nods to them to untie me and parks another chair next to me.
Guys, I think he's cool, she smiles at them and turns back to me. How's Vladimir? When was the last time you saw him?
Today, I shrug rubbing my wrists. I think he's okay, except for the bullshit he talks ...
And you're going to see him again tomorrow?
I nod, which brightens her mood.
And you're going to do your job or what's right?
I think you're perfectly clear what I'm going to do.
You'll investigate, my darling, in-ves-ti-gate … she chirrups lightly. No time for planning, tomorrow's the Holiday!
* * *
The tables are situated in “U” shape, so there's a lot of space in the middle, in case someone would like to dance. Tonight we can stay awake till midnight. The medical staff is practically complete.
The halls are decorated, the canteen is pleasantly lit with dim colored lights and the holiday music adds greatly to the atmosphere. Enter the nurses pushing trolleys with soup and plates.
Vladimir sits in the middle – looking like that and mobbed by those sitting next to him, he looks like some lost version of The Last Supper. I guess it's no wonder that he's attracting followers. What's funny is the fact they got him in the first place. He obviously had his own personal Judas ...
Bread anyone? he asks and nods at me – Hey, chess grandmaster? You?
I stand up slowly and move toward him. He waves to the guy on his right to make room for me.
Sit down ...
His voice has some kind of a hypnotic quality now, which would hardly accept no as an answer.
My plate is over there, I point at my place.
What about …? I shake my head at the guy still standing behind me.
Vladimir dismisses him with a gesture, and the guy nods and occupies my place.
Had a good sleep? he asks.
He looks at me, wondering if I am taking him for an idiot.
I had a good sleep last night.
Good! You need to be fresh tonight.
The squeal of a microphone interrupts us, someone coughs and starts testing the sound: One, two, one, two, ...
The psychiatrist coughs again and starts: Good evening, my darlings! As you all know, the old year is bidding farewell and you can stay awake a little longer as an exception tonight. We'll have some fun and await a new year together! And may the new year be the year of a change for the better.
Oh, it will, it will! Vladimir shouts and everyone applauds.
Of course it will! the doctor nods. I suggest we all start with the soup so it doesn't get cold. Then we'll make a short pause, as our nurses have prepared a short program for you – he waves to the unit of nurses behind him – and then the main menu and, of course, the desert. After that we are going to sing, dance and admire the spectacular fireworks, a generous gift from the Mayor!
We will, we will!!! Vladimir applauds enthusiastically, and the crowd does the same. He looks at me and asks: You got that?
What?! I act surprised and feel the wires around my body.
He doesn't give an answer, but starts the soup greedily.
Nurses have prepared some New Year play for children and they jump up and down all over the place, dressed as Santas, elves and reindeers. The Commander is going to pay for that!
Vladimir pokes me every now and then and blinks at the girls – they're not bad or something, but I prefer their real performance. Right now I'm feeling the urge to ask for the pills.
After the main meal the doctor shows up again. He holds his glass of wine right next to the microphone and knocks on it with his fingernails.
May I have you attention, please!
Every pair of eyes in the room turns to him, every pair of ears eagerly awaits, what he is about to tell.
My darlings, the evening is about to end – it's ten to midnight and the year will end. Let's raise our glasses, mine with wine and yours with water for the pills, but you raise your glass with people not with drinks, right?
Vladimir seems very calm, his eyes look dangerous however.
To all of you, the doc continues, to all of you I wish a happy, and above all HEALTHY New ...
Healthy?! Vladimir interrupts him. HEALTHY?!!
The eyes (and ears) are now directed toward him.
Let me tell you something, doctor – it's not US, who's sick, it's YOU and all the world around us, okay?! We are only guilty of being quiet all the time and doing nothing to prevent you fuckers from pulling our balls!!
Vladimir takes off his patient robe.
But every story has an end, doctor, remember that!
Vladimir takes off his pyjama top, the others stand up and start taking off their robes.
It's not that I'm surprised or anything, but I haven't told Vladimir a thing about yesterday, about meeting the Tribe and busty's good mood at the end, but they apparently managed to communicate about what I think I'm going to witness soon.
The madhouse, doctor – Vladimir kicks off his pants and pauses at the last table, and I'm a bit disappointed about the legend – the madhouse is out there, not in here!
He grabs the chair and breaks it on the table – what remains in his hand is a lethal weapon. The doctor is stunned.
And now we – the healthy ones – are going to cure the really sick ones!!!
He smashes doctor's head, and now everybody – including half of the nurses – strips naked and grabs their chairs and the violence explodes.
Vladimir walks back toward me – I stand up and don't know, what to say or do.
Take off your clothes!!!
What do you mean “Take off your clothes”?
Look, pal, don't think I don't know you're not wearing any pyjamas under that robe! My boys and girls here were watching you drive away every night. And I know you've personally visited the Tribe. Quit playing dumb, now you've got to make a decision – are you with us or against us?!
We look at each other for a couple of moments, then I take my robe off.
Did you record everything?
I node and take off my shirt and jeans.
A victorious smile appears on Vladimir's face.
I pull down my pants and socks and straighten up.
Vladimir raises a brow, which I interpret as envy.
I remove my wires and the microphone, grab the closest chair and smash it against the floor, so a nicely spiked leg remains in my hand.
Well, let's smash some greedy mouths! Vladimir screams and leaves the canteen and the whole Tribe follows – the Tribe meaning myself, as well. The fireworks begin outside, and the rumble in the City ...
* * *
One, two, one, two, testing … So, Commander, that's how the revolution started in the Madhouse, which – as you've probably heard already, unless you and the Mayor are having fun with our money and young girls right this moment – is outside. Heads will fall off, mouths are going to be smashed, there will be fire and blood. What you stole from us, will be taken back, one way or another. Most probably, another!
We both well know, whose side you're on. Your mouth is next in the line, we're going to get you.
Once you're naked, you've nothing to lose, except your soul – I haven't lost my soul! Do you hear the doorbell? Do you hear it?!