Rory and Tim are arriving at the Diplomatic Club. A club that is diplomatic in name only. People go there to drink themselves into oblivion, to eat food of the refuelling type and when they can, to get laid. But perhaps most of all they go there to forget about their work. To escape from the awfulness of the daily grind. And most of the people that go to the Diplomatic are involved in a particular kind of daily grind. A daily grind of national importance.
Rory is heading to the bar while Tim grabs a table for them both. The club is dark, sweaty, smoky and hot, a visceral type of hot somehow. Rory is drinking his beer in a few burpy gulps. It’s dribbling down his sunburnt and unshaven chin. An attentive observer would note that both men have scrubbed clean hands. Sterile hands that have seen a lot of washing.
Tim kicks the evening off. “So, Mr Rory you must have had a shit time. You bought the first fucking round! Where were you today?”
Rory is looking up. Haggard, almost broken. “The stadium. I’ve had a two day job there. Big numbers.”
“Christ you poor bastard.” Tim looks like he means that. “I hate it there, so public and so big. And y’know they always seem to be noisier and fight back more. Cos it’s public I always think. But the boss likes public. And there’s the money too.”
“When are the girls due in?” Rory is asking.
As it happens, the girls are walking towards Tim and Rory. They’re both looking exhausted, unkempt and in need of a drink.
Charlotte is whispering in Tim’s ear “go on get us a bottle of bubbles – we’ve been at the central all day”.
Tim nods, whispering back ” so you’ll need some distraction later on then?”. Charlotte is making a lewd gesture but Tim is heading to the bar anyway. On a promise he reckons.
Rory is sitting back, assessing Katie’s chest. He’s well aware of the fact he won’t ever get near her tits but imagining a bit of a grope takes his mind off work.
“How was the central?” he’s asking as Tim gets back with the bubbles.
“Pretty busy, new batch in from the north needing re-orientation. Bit of a struggle at first but they nearly all came round in the end.” replies Katie.
“I had a few resisters, had to send them on to the stadium,” adds Charlotte ” anyway, fuck it, let’s get pissed.” Tim is rating his chances of a shag more positively.
“We gonna eat here or go on to Johnny’s – he might have the game on later?” Rory is asking ” anyways I’ll get some more beers in.” He is soon making his way to the bar, shaking a few hands and giving a few high fives on the way. They’re a small bunch, closely knit, nearly all colleagues.
Katie and Charlotte are talking clothes shopping, teasing Tim about his dress sense and hairstyle. He takes it – Christ he has worse things to worry about than his jacket and jeans habit.
Rory is getting back from the bar with the beers – two one litre glasses. Tim can see it’s all getting to Rory. It gets to us all he’s thinking. It always comes to him in waves, he starts to drown, then it recedes. For a while.
The girls are drinking their second bottle of fake champagne, the guys are well into their third litre of the cheap and gassy lager that the club offers. The four of them are enduring a long silence. A few burps. A bit of quiet lust.
“Why do we do it?” Rory is clearly on the edge.
“You know we never ask that, never.” Charlotte is pushing the thought away.
“Well I AM asking.” Rory is starting to cry. Really driving at his colleagues. His friends.
Tim finds man-to-man emotion hard, let alone positive man-to-man physical contact, but he is putting his arm around Rory.
” You know why mate, you know why.”
Rory is shoving Tim away. ” Yes I know. Of course I know. We kill, we maim, we torture. To keep him in power. We do his dirty work, he stays in power and we’re safe. He loses, then it’s us who’ll be on the receiving end, us having our balls chopped off, us having our foetuses cut out. At best we get a trial and prison. At worst, it’s our turn. We’re trapped. We can’t get out. We’re all victims, those guys I shot today, and the four of us. Those women you electro-shocked today, and the four of us. Yes I know why we fucking do it. I know.”
At the other end of the bar some music is starting to play and everyone is beginning to dance.