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Joby woke up early the following morning, to find Adam in bed next to him.
"Good morning", said Adam, softly "Don't tell me you can't remember what happened!"
"The last bit I remember is Kieran and Tamaz doing their 'Come Dancing' routine", Joby winced "Oh God, my head hurts".
"I'll get you some water", Adam got out of bed and went over to the washstand.
"Ad", said Joby, taking the mug of water from him "Where are the others? Kieran, Tamaz and Lonts. We're alone in here".
"They're at home too", said Adam "Somewhere. It was quite a night. I must be the only one who can remember everything!"
Joby eventually managed to stagger into the saloon, where the sofa was piled with Bengo, Bardin, Lonts and Tamaz.
"Did we get Toppy back?" Joby asked, weakly "I can't remember".
"Here I am", said Toppy, who had slept in an armchair.
"Good", Joby mumbled "Where's Kieran?"
"In with Hillyard", Tamaz chimed.
"Oh he is is he!" Joby roared, and went into Julian's cabin (Julian incidentally was nowhere in sight). Kieran though was lying next to Hillyard in his bunk.
"You can't say anything", said Hillyard, running his hand through his hair and making it stand up on end "You and Adam were well away together when we looked in".
"I can still get narked", said Joby "Can't I?"
"No you can't", said Kieran, getting out of bed "I am your lord and master, and I haven't granted you permission to get narked, so you will have to stay narkless".
"I spose so", Joby sighed "I feel like an old man this morning".
"Will I do?" Hillyard tossed back his sheet suggestively.
Julian suddenly rampaged up and down the gangway, ringing the handbell.
"Oh the bloody old bar steward", Joby clutched his head.
"Everyone up on deck!" Julian cried "Captain's inspection!"
"What's he on about?" said Joby.
"He's suddenly turned into Captain Pugwash from the sounds of things", said Kieran.
"More like Black Jake the villain!" said Joby.
"Do you know what time it is?" Ransey yelled, holding out the clock from the galley "It's quarter-past fucking six in the morning!"
"What I have to say cannot wait", said Julian, standing on the deck in his black silk pyjamas "This was delivered to me by hand only a few minutes ago".
"Oh for God's sake, Julian", said Adam "You make such a meal out of it. You sound like you're announcing the declaration of a war!"
"I am. We are being effectively drummed out of town", said Julian "So I think it merits a certain gravitas".
"Who's drumming us out then?" said Kieran.
"The Town Constable", said Julian.
"I didn't realise there was one!" said Joby.
"Oh yes, and a more sanctimonious Bible-bashing little creep you wouldn't care to meet", said Julian "This is all your fault, Tinker Belle. If you'd sensibly left religion outlawed men like him would never get into positions of authority!"
"But what's his grievance then?" said Kieran.
"Firstly, that we didn't get his permission before staging our show", said Julian.
"We didn't know he existed that's why!" said Joby.
"Ach, we'll just apologise and grovel a bit", said Kieran, dismissively "No harm done".
"It's not as simple as that", said Julian "He says if we're not out of town by the end of today, and if we dare to stage another show, he'll have us jailed for public obscenity".
"Obscenity?" Bardin squawked "What's obscene about our show?"
"He hasn't specified parts in particular", said Julian, unfolding a sheet of paper "But instead he's handed me a list of things that are deemed 'unacceptable' in a public peformance. Ahem, I quote. (1) No blasphemy or wrongful invocation of the Lord's name, i.e oh God, oh Christ, Hell, Damn, for God's sake etc etc. It goes on for about 4 lines, but you get the drift. (2) No nudity ..."
"But there isn't any!" said Bardin "Both Lonts and Tamaz keep their knickers on, and Tamaz doesn't even show his breasts".
"I'm merely reading the list of prohibitions, I don't endorse them!" said Julian "(3) No acts of love-making or hints of sexual perversion. (4) no depiction of pregnancy or childbirth ... I'm all for that one though", he glared pointedly at Tamaz "(5) No representation of miscegenation ..."
"You what?" said Joby.
"Relationships between blacks and whites", said Adam, sadly.
"Oh so suddenly Tamaz and I aren't allowed to kiss in the act is that it?" said Finia, angrily "Well o.k I may be black, but Tamaz is of a different species!"
"That is probably too subtle a concept for the dear Constable", said Julian.
"Is there much more to this list?" said Adam "I feel like I'm listening to the thoughts of Codlik's evil alter-ego".
"Oh the usual", said Julian "Drug-abuse and swearing, that sort of thing. And no jokes to be made about the Church or representatives of the Church".
"Do I fit into that?" said Kieran.
"I notice all forms of violence seem to be quite acceptable though", said Ransey, dryly "He hasn't ruled out murder and battery!"
"I wouldn't be so sure about that", said Julian "It was his wife who slapped Joby yesterday. She's got the Constable onto this".
"Well that's o.k then", said Lonts "We can just take Tamaz to see her, and he can tell her he's alright".
"You make him sound like a hostage!" said Joby.
"You've done nothing but get at me lately, Joby", said Lonts "I'm going to go and have my pipe!"
"What do you suggest we do, Jules?" said Adam.
"Leave", said Julian "There is no point staying where we're not wanted".
"But we are wanted!" Bengo exclaimed "All the other punters enjoyed it. It was only that old boiler who objected".
"And we can't run away just because of a bit of controversy", said Bardin "Anyway, it's good for business".
"Is being jailed good for business too?" Julian snapped.
"They'd have to jail all of us", said Kieran "And I doubt they've got room for a dozen prisoners in this town!"
"Oh Jules, let's do it", said Adam, enthusiastically "I'd love to be involved in a really risque production".
"There is nothing remotely risque about this show", said Julian "Unless of course you have the warped mind of the Barlazzi Town Constable!"
"But Bardin's right, we can't run away", said Adam "And we could prepare ourselves for arrest. I'll knock us up a picnic hamper for it we have to spend a night in the cells".
"Adam!" Julian exploded "You always were completely irresponsible. You take after your mother!"
"Yes, and I'm glad I do", said Adam "It's an improvement on taking after my father. He'd have been on the side of the Town Constable!"
Hillyard went out as usual and notified the people that the Indigo Players would be performing their revue once more before leaving town, which gave the Constable plenty of time to put a stop to it. As he didn't, the show went ahead in the market square exactly as it had the day before. The locals, (like their counterparts in No-Name, they were glad of any diversion), turned up to watch once more, although Joby was relieved to see the Constable's wife was nowhere in evidence.
Kieran was intending to launch into his rollerskating routine the instant 'The Stallion' finished. He and Tamaz would skate round Bardin whilst he sang. Whilst 'The Stallion' was in progress he talked to one of the local women, a young mother who had brought her baby to see him. She also presented him with a couple of loaves of bread, so freshly-baked that the ash from her oven was still on the bottom of them.
"I'm glad I've met you at long last", she said "You don't know what it means to us women the way you ensured we could emerge into the world again".
"I can't take credit for that", said Kieran "It was simply the time was right for change".
"No I disagree", said the girl "If you hadn't been around we'd have always been at the mercy of the Ministry, and we lived in terror of them. We used to have to hide in this town everytime strangers docked here, in case it was them".
"It was like that in Toondor Lanpin when we first arrived there", said Kieran "The women would only emerge after dark, or they'd disguise themselves as young boys. It's certainly not like that now!"
"Her generation", the girl lifted up her baby daughter "Will be the first in a long while to live her life entirely out of hiding. That's why I wanted her to meet you. Even if she's too young to remember, she'll still be able to say she did".
"Who knows, I might meet her again someday when she's older", said Kieran, holding out his little finger for the baby to grab. "Perhaps she'll be the first woman governor of Barlazzi! Or any governor of Barlazzi come to that!"
"No, I don't want her to stay in this place", said the girl "It's a dump, and the Constable runs it like a religious commune. Because we've got no governor, no one stands up to him".
"He's not exactly much in evidence though", said Kieran.
"Oh but he's around alright!" said the girl "He's like God, all powerful and all seeing. He only appears in public first thing in the morning, when he makes a big point of coming out to wash in the horse-trough here. Thinks he's proving to us by doing that, that he's a simple God-fearing man. No one believes it for a moment!"
'The Stallion' came to an end, and Kieran had to put his skates on for his number.
"You looked a bit subdued in it today, Lo-Lo", said Adam, handing a shirt to Lonts "I hope you're not letting that dreary Constable worry you too much".
"I had a bad dream last night, Adam", said Lonts, getting dressed.
"You should have told me before. What was it about?" said Adam.
"I dreamt we were all shut in a greenhouse", said Lonts "And there were these two huge black bears having a fight outside. They were enormous. As big as the greenhouse. And one kept trying to push the other through the glass, and I thought we were all going to be crushed by it".
"It sounds terrifying", said Adam "Perhaps you had some kind of premonition about us being harrassed by the Constable".
"It sounds like a sexual dream to me", said Julian.
"Yes, I'm sure it does to you!" said Adam, caustically "You're like Freud, everything would be a sexual dream!"
"Well huge back bears, breaking glass", said Julian "It all has that ring of violent sexual impulse to it".
"But I don't have violent sexual urges, Julian", said Lonts "Just normal ones".
"Your normal ones border on the pretty aggressive side sometimes", said Julian "Particularly when Freaky gets you too excited".
"I wouldn't hurt Tamaz!" Lonts protested "B-but he did spend the night sitting on my lap, so I suppose I might have got excited in my sleep".
"It sounds very likely", said Adam, quietly.
"But I can be trusted", said Lonts "I'm really gentle with you and Tamaz. I just make a lot of noise that's all. It's only Julian I get aggressive with".
"A very understandable way to handle Jules", said Adam, dryly "He's a big boy, he can take it".
"Never mind, Lonts", said Julian "If you get any more dreams tonight, Ada will be on the bunk below you. Just climb down and give him what-for. Have one on me!"
Lonts giggled, madly.
"Bardin's got a good voice hasn't he?" said Adam, as Bardin sang along to the accompaniment of a local man, who had brought out a homemade flute "There's a lot of strength in it".
"He's been practising a lot at home", said Lonts "He says he got a bit rusty, and needed several days to get his voice used to it again".
Kieran and Tamaz skated round them all. Their dancing had improved vastly over the past few months, and they were now effectively capable of what Joby described as "ballroom dancing on wheels". At the end of their routine another villager fetched a wind-up gramophone and everyone began to dance to it. Before long a complete impromptu party had been established in the middle of the afternoon.
Joby had just finished helping Tamaz off with his skates, when Tamaz gave a yodel and pointed at the edge of the square, where the Constable had appeared, like the spectre at the feast.
"You were given my instructions earlier today", he said to Julian, sternly "You give me no choice but ..."
"Oh goody, have you come to arrest us?" said Adam, skittishly "I've been waiting for this moment all afternoon".
"Did you have actual involvement in this so-called entertainment?" said the Constable.
"We are all as guilty as one another, aren't we Jules?" said Adam.
"As guilty as sin", Julian thundered, in censorious tones.
"That means I've got to arrest you all!" said the Constable, unable to conceal his dismay.
"Well it'll give you something to do", said Julian.
Tamaz skipped over to them. He tore open his corset to reveal his breasts. The Constable stared at him in utter confusion.
"Get yourself sorted out", Julian barked at Tamaz "I obviously should have brought the horse-whip along!"
"But now he can get us on the nudity charge too", said Tamaz, cheerfully.
Hillyard picked Tamaz up under his arm and carried safely out of near-physical range of the Constable.
"I wouldn't put it past him to slap handcuffs on you", said Hillyard, deftly refastening Tamaz's corset.
"Oh I expect he'd enjoy that", said Tamaz, and he smacked his lips gleefully.
"Here!" Joby yelled, marching over with Tamaz's skirt in his hand "I don't want you stripping off whilst we're in custody. Understand?"
"If I push Kieran into the horse-trough", said Tamaz "Can we be done on the jokes against the Church bit too?"
"I don't know", said Joby "But I strongly wouldn't advise it!"
"We'd better get weaving", Hillyard sighed "Looks like we're about to be taken into captivity".
The Constable, without a trace of embarrassment, locked them in a small building which did service as a chapel, schoolroom and courthouse. It was apparent that he intended to keep them there all night. Once the initial excitement of being arrested had passed, and the best contents of the picnic basket had ben decimated, being in captivity began to seem rather wearying.
"At least we know he has to let us out in the morning", Adam sighed "It's not like when we were put into Henang for instance".
"It all seems a bit pointless now", said Joby "We should have just left. What the hell did we think we were trying to prove?"
"That the people here are entitled to enjoy themselves whithout asking his permission first I suppose", said Adam.
"What if he keeps us locked up?" said Lonts, emotionally.
"He can't", said Joby "He hasn't got any right to do that".
"That might not stop him!" said Lonts "And he might confiscate the Indigo, or set fire to it!"
"He's a dead man if he does", said Ransey.
"You can't shoot him, Ransey", said Lonts "We'd have to go on the run then!"
"Oh give it a rest, Lonts", said Joby "You're doing my head in".
He got up and walked to the other end of the room, where Kieran was turning over some pictures that had been removed from the walls. One was a diagram of the human body, and another was an official portrait of himself from his presidenting days. A portrait of Codlik (looking like a psychotic rabbit) glared down at them from the wall.
"You'd think being a religious nutter he'd have more respect for you", said Joby.
"Oh he probably doesn't like me", said Kieran "An awful lot in me own Church don't".
"Well you can't get things done in life without making enemies sometimes", Joby sighed.
"If it was the old-style Catholic church I expect they'd excommunicate me", said Kieran "And in the Middle Ages I'd have probably been castrated for some of the things I've got up to, like Abelard".
"Charming lot", said Joby.
"Oh I'm talking about a very long time ago", said Kieran "In our time the Church had come a long way. Most priests acknowledged they had no right to run people's lives, but were there to offer guidance instead. That's the way I've always tried to be, and the power freaks don't like me for it".
"That's their problem", said Joby "I think you have a beautiful soul".
"Joby, that's the most wonderful thing anyone's ever said to me", Kieran exclaimed.
"It's what I believe", said Joby "I'm just sorry things couldn't have been different for us. I wish we'd lived together in our own time".
"I know what you mean", said Kieran "Just as two ordinary guys. I think we could have made a go of it too".
"I've never had any doubts about that", said Joby.
"Perhaps, who knows, we might yet get a chance at that", said Kieran "Not suburban heaven, but I'd like to be a street preacher. I feel it was what I was born for, and you'd be the best sidekick I could wish for. I know what you're going to say, what about Tamaz? Well I take it for granted he's with us for good. You two would give me the domestic stability I'd need to do it properly. And I do need that. I need it more than anything".
"Everybody does, if only they'd admit it", said Joby.
Julian ordered everyone to sleep soon afterwards, and they tried their best to do so on the bare floorboards. High above them was a kerosene lamp whcih smoked and made the room uncomfortably stuffy.
At the first hint of rosy-fingered dawn the door were flung open and the Constable strode in, with what appeared to be most of the town peering in behind him.
"Hear ye! Hear ye!" he bellowed "The court of Barlazzi is now in session. All people gather round!"
"The jerk's raving mad", said Joby, in disbelief.
"Oh God, this feels like something out of Kafka", said Adam, tiredly.
The Indigo-ites all felt at a considerable disadvantage. They had to scramble to their feet, unwashed and unshaven, with the remains of last night's meal around them, and a bucket which had doubled as a latrine, whilst the Constable strode to the teacher's desk on the podium with great impatience. The rest of the town piled in behind him, accompanied by several chickens and a turkey-cock.
"Have you elected a spokesman for your group?" said the Constable, after banging on the desk with a gavel.
"I'll do it", said Hillyard, before Julian could open his mouth.
"Name and profession", the Constable barked.
"Hillyard", said Hillyard "Governor of Toondor Lanpin".
This sent a ripple of delighted gossip around the town-dwellers. The Constable though was unperturbed.
"I would have thought someone in your position would know better than to get mixed up in such an obscene jamboree as your revue", he said, sternly.
"You obviously don't know Toondor Lanpin!" said Hillyard.
"Have you no shame?" said the Constable.
"Yeah, I have", said Hillyard "Haven't you?"
"Hawkefish would give his glass eye for this kind of publicity", Bardin whispered, gleefully.
"I didn't know Hawkefish had a glass eye", said Bengo, who was still wearing his tattered frock-coat.
"You never bother finding out anything important", Bardin spat, with feeling "You're too wrapped up in yourself!"
"Now hang on a moment!" Adam jumped to his feet "You claim to have us on trial for public obscenity. Well as far as I can see you have absolutely no grounds for that whatsoever. There is no nudity, swearing or sexual acts performed in our show".
The Constable hammered with his gavel and effectively drowned Adam out.
"You will respect the procedures of this court-room!" he thundered.
"Yes I would", said Adam "If there was anything to respect! But this whole thing is the most ludicrous waste of time and effort".
"People enjoyed our show", said Hillyard "And as far as I could see it offended no one".
"My wife was offended", said the Constable "Offended and deeply distressed".
"Then we regret that", said Julian "But I speak for all of us when I say that that was never our intention. The feedback we have had from the other ladies in our audience has been entirely positive. The fact also remains that your wife physically attacked a member of our company".
"You know why she was really upset don't you?" a woman squawked, instantly recognisable as the young mother who had spoken to Kieran the day before. She pointed at the Constable vengefully "Because he beat her into submission when they were first married! That's why! It's a well-known fact amongst the women of this town, because my Mother had to tend her bruises. And they were always carefully hidden out of sight. He beat her so that she'd regard him as Lord God Almighty in his own home! He's the one that has no shame!!!"
The court-room was in uproar. People were stamping on the floorboards, and chickens were flying into the air with a great flapping of wings. The din was horrendous. People had waited years for the Constable to be denounced publicly as the gross hypocrite he was, and now it had happened it was like a dam bursting.
"Lonts, where's Kieran gone?" said Joby, turning to one side "He should be hearing this".
"He sneaked out just now, with Tamaz", said Lonts "Perhaps Tamaz needed the loo or something".
"I'd better go and find him".
"I'll come with you".
They ran out onto the steps which led down to the square, already baking in the morning sunshine. Below them was an extraordinary sight. Kieran and Tamaz were rollerskating serenely to the gramophone, which was playing a moody and heartrending clarinet number. Kieran was stark-naked, and Tamas was stripped down to his drawers. Occasionally they joined together in a lingering embrace and rested their heads on each other's shoulders.
"What are you doing?" Joby shouted, coming down the steps "Where are your clothes?"
"St Francis of Assisi used to preach in the nude", said Kieran, skating round Joby and Lonts in a wide circle.
"You're not preaching though", said Joby "You're rollerskating!"
He pulled his t-shirt off and ordered Tamaz to put it on and cover up his breasts.
"I'm not wearing that", said Tamaz, disdainfully "It's all sweaty".
"Let him stay unclothed", said Kieran, grandly "His breasts are a beautiful sight".
"You wait til I get you home!" said Joby "All hell's broken loose in there, and I come out here to find you rollerskating in the buff!"
"Well at least it'll give everyone a laugh", said Kieran, still circling "Hopefully the Constable's wife'll see me. She could do with cheering up".
"If I didn't know better I'd swear you'd been on something", said Joby.
"Haven't touched a thing", said Kieran.
Joby let out an exaggerated sigh and sat down on the bottom step. Lonts, looking very concerned, sat down next to him and put his arm round his shoulders.
"This whole place is completely cracked!" Joby cried "Everything about it is totally insane".
"Inevitable", said Kieran, sitting down and beginning to untie the laces on his skates "It's so cut off from the world. Months can go past without them seeing anyone from up-river. That's why they didn't know Hillyard was now Governor of Toondor Lanpin. They've only recently heard about the quake in the City!"
"So how is this self-regulating gonna sort out that bastard in there?" said Joby, jerking his thumb behind him "These days he doesn't have to obey anyone. No one can fire him or kick him out".
"The people can", said Kieran "And that's what they have to do. He's only one man. He has no army to back him up, no supernatural forces like Gabriel had, no Blue Men or anyone like that. The people don't owe him for their livelihoods, and there is no universal law now that says that they have to obey his authority. They have to fire him. Them and them alone. And if they're too lazy or cowardly to do it, then they've got the leader they deserve".
"Bit harsh ennit?" said Joby.
"Not in these circumstances, no", said Kieran "Has it never narked you that people make a habit of letting one person, one bad person, dictate the law to them, and get away with making them miserable, be it in families, neighbourhoods, work or whatever?"
"Yeah, of course it has", said Joby "Loads of times".
"And usually the reason they do is for one simple fact", said Kieran "Because they believe it's easier that way than actually doing something about it. Look at your Mam. She made your whole family unhappy from what you've told me. She bullied everyone. So why didn't you ever all just get together and tell her she couldn't do that anymore?"
"Simple", said Joby "Because she wouldn't have listened. Whatever anyone said, she wouldn't have listened. Some people are just like that. It's more trouble than it's worth to try and get through to 'em. Obtuse is the posh word Adam would use for it I think. He had the same problem with his Dad. Not everyone's open to reason you know".
"Then if thy right eye offend thee", said Kieran "Pluck it out!"
"Sounds a bit ruthless", said Joby.
"No it's not", said Kieran "If there's a bad apple in the barrel contaminating all the rest, then get it out! And that's what these people have to do here".
"But what about his wife?" said Lonts "He beats her. Everyone knows about it apparently".
"Then if they all focking know something about it, why haven't they focking doen something about it?!" said Kieran, angrily "Why didn't a few of 'em get together and give him a taste of his own medicine, and in such a way he'd be too embarrrased to go squealing on 'em! But oh no, they sit around muttering about it instead, until one day the poor woman snaps her thread and lets fly at a complete stranger in public!"
"Yeah I know", Joby mumbled and blushed.
"I think you should tell everyone that, Kieran", said Lonts, solemnly.
"I'm going to", said Kieran, with grim determination "Whilst they're all in there where I can get at 'em!"
"Put some clothes on first", said Joby, firmly.
"Whatever you say", Kieran smiled.
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