Monday, April 21, 2014

Because Of Mistakes! pt 16

Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 Part 4 Part 5 Part 6 Part 7 Part 8 Part 9 Part 10 Part 11 Part 12 Part 13 Part 14 Part 15

At about 12:19 PM on Thursday the following week, the 31st of May, Ted slapped a man on the back of his head, slapped him so hard that it gave a resounding crack and sent the man stumbling forward for several steps. Charlie turned and looked as the man stumbled past him. It looked as if he were going to fall, but he righted himself again. This was one of two men who had been walking toward them as they walked across the bridge toward Westminster. One of them had called out to Charlie "Oy!" and took off his cap and was holding it over his heart, "d'ya mind if we have a look at the watch?" Charlie was reaching to take the Latham Model 100 out of his pocket, the one Albert had let him pick out of all one hundred of them, with an emerald-green face and a gold case and chain. Part of the face actually was covered with emeralds, the rest was gold covered with emerald-green lacquer which kept a very high shine.

Charlie had taken his hand away from his watch pocket again when Ted slapped the man. The man had managed not to fall, but he had dropped his cap. Before he'd righted himself Ted had begun to shout at the two men, turning back and forth from one to the other and holding one of his enormous forefingers very close to their faces: "Oy! Ya don't bother this one! Ya don't touch him, ya don't touch any of his fings, and you certainly don't try to rob him! D'ya understand me? Oy! I asked you a question!"

The man Ted had struck mumbled, "Oy, Guv, we understand," as he picked up his cap and set it on his head again with both trembling hands. The other said, "Yeah, Captain, we hear you loud and clear."

"Good! Understanding is a glorious fing. Now piss off on out of it!" The two men ran away toward Lambeth without a look back. They were both about average size, but when Ted had slapped one of them and yelled at them both he'd made them seem very small. Charlie guessed that Ted was about six foot five, and his shoulders were very broad and he had very big rippling muscles in his arms and legs, you could see that through his shirt sleeves and trouser legs. They watched the men running away for a while, then Ted turned to Charlie and clapped him gently on the shoulder and said softly, "Alright then." Charlie didn't mind when Ted clapped him on the shoulder. He knew that Ted came with him to keep him safe. These occasional claps on the shoulder were the only times Ted touched him, and, just as when his Dad hugged him or toussled his hair, he knew that these claps on the shoulder were meant to express good will and the intent to protect him.

Charlie asked, "Were they going to -- "

"Yeah, Charlie, they were going to try to steal your watch."

"How do you know?"

"Hm. It's hard to put into words."

"Is it because of their social class?"

"Ah, well, no, Charlie, it wasn't that. I'm from the same class as they are. It may be that most of the people who'd try to steal a man's watch are from the lower classes, but not everybody from the lower classes is a fief."

"I guess I'm from the same classes myself."

"There you go, Charlie. Have you ever even thought about robbing someone?"

Charlie stood for a moment, trying to recall such thoughts, and then replied, "No."

"There ya go, Guv."

"Aaaaahhh. Aaaa, yah."

"What's wrong, Charlie?"

"It's... I'd like it better if you just called me 'Charlie.'"

"But I do call you 'Charlie.'"

"Just then you called me 'Guv.'"

"Oh, I see. Sorry."

"It's not a bad thing. It just confuses me when people call me 'Guv' or 'Sir' or 'Mr Evans' or 'Charles' or 'Friend' or 'Matey.' It's like when there's somebody else around named Charlie. I'm not sure whether people are talking to me or someone else."

Ted was basically Charlie's bodyguard now, and the Lathams had given him that position when they gave Charlie the gold-and-emerald Model 100. At first Ted -- like many others -- had been alarmed by the idea of Charlie carrying around a watch worth well over a thousand quid. "This ain't exactly a posh part of town," he'd said to Albert. "I know, you and your fahver and brover carry watches like that, and some customers come and go with them, but... You know what I'm saying, Sir."

"Yes, I do know."

"He's different."

"Yes, he is. But, you know, we're different too. You, me, the whole firm. We want to change things."

"Yes, Sir, and you have changed things -- "

" -- We have changed things."

"Alright, thanks for saying so. We have changed things. But do we go around asking for trouble?"

"Yes, that's exactly what we do."


"Anytime anybody wants to make a real change for the better for people who need help, they're told, 'You can't do that.' Every time someone shows any ambition to rise above what is supposed his 'station' in life, he or she is told, 'You can't do that. You'll fail. Well sod that. Do you know what I mean?"

"Yes, Sir," Ted had answered, and he felt the glow in his chest he had often gotten from working for the Lathams, "you've shown it to me before, but fank you for reminding me: you mean that if you actually want to change fings, as opposed to merely sitting around wif a bunch of pooves talking about changing fings, you're going to have to upset some people." It wasn't the extremely high wages he and all the other Latham employees got which gave Ted this periodical warm feeling -- it was the arrogant determination to change the world which was behind those wage rates and many other things they did. It had occurred to Ted then that the wages were an example of things which people said couldn't be done. No doubt people told the Lathams that they couldn't pay their people so much, that they would go broke and that it would spread anarchy and chaos and crime and disease and so forth, and, well, that it was simply impossible. It was the way that the Lathams, some more than others, Albert particularly, whenever people told them, "You can't change the world," as all of us are constantly told, said, "Sod that, watch me, I'm changing it."

Back on the bridge, Charlie said, "You 'read' them. That's what it's called, isn't it? People 'read' other people. That's how you knew they wanted to take my watch. I can't read people. I'm not good at it at all."

"That's okay, Charlie. We all have strong points and weak points. Your strong points are very strong."

"Yes, I'm becoming well-known for watch repair. And for 'reading' animals. I do that unusually well."

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