Sunday, August 14, 2005

Ramblin' Irishman

Awaiting his fate

8.50am, Tuesday 1st May.

John Alvison sat on a hard wodden chair in a cold, dark 8x8 room contemplating his fate. In ten minutes' time, the door would open and he would be summoned down the long, equally dark, hallway. Once there, it would all be over in minutes. His past deeds would finally have caught up with him. His fate was entirely deserved.

He sat with both feet firmly on the floor, his elbows on his knees supporting upright arms with his head planted in his hands, staring blankly at the cracked plaster on the opposite wall, his mind full of what was about to happen and also of memories of the events that brought him here, to this room.

For a year-and-a-half he had waited for this. The date had been fixed sometime just after Christmas. He had no way out. His friends had deserted him - the ones who had brought him along this path to destruction, who taught him to disrespect authority. Now it was John, all alone, awaiting his fate.

He wanted to go back in time and tell that stupid young man he had once been to wise up: to have sense, to choose the right path. It was too late for that. Plenty of people had told him to have sense and he had laughed at them. Oh sure, it seemed like a good idea at the time. His soul was filled with regret.

8.53am. In seven minutes the door would open and the formalities would begin. They would ask him if he felt well (like it would matter if he didn't?). He would be walked down the hall and then....

The night before he had talked to his parents and confessed all that had brought him here. He had never been scared before, but oh boy was he scared now. For an hour he had talked and cried.

Nomatter what you've done, you are still our son and we love you.

He knew that deep down, they were ashamed of him. His sister, the high-flier, stood in stark contrast to this waster.

8.57am. A uniformed figure glanced through the window with a look of contempt. "I could take you on," John thought, "I could take you all on". Then he remembered that it was that sort of behaviour that had contributed to his current situation. If only they would let him start again - he knew he would be different - he would be a good, hard-working person - a model citizen.

9.00am. Footsteps marched in time up the hallway, clicking sharply on the wooden floor. The door opened - "Alvison?"

John stood straight without thinking - at least he had finally learnt some respect.

"How do you feel this morning?"

"Fine sir."

Of course, he really wanted to beg, recalling the sleepless night of worry and fear, of bowels turning to liquid, of breakfast being repulsive and of managing a few mouthfuls of stinking coffee. He wanted to tell them he would be different if he had a second chance.

"Follow me" the Voice of Authority commanded. John followed, walking straight and proud behind him, a few uniformed figures looking at him scornfully. He would not show fear

They reached the end of the dark hallway and passed through a door, the light from tall windows almost blinding John. The Voice of Authority stood behind a desk. The formalities were about to begin.

"Just get it over with" he wanted to scream.

"Alvison, you have been briefed on the procedures?"

"Yes Sir" He kept telling himself to be brave- it would be over in ten minutes. He would be free from their torture. Tears began to well in his eyes.

"Please sit... comment t'appelles-tu?"

His GCSE French Oral had begun.

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