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Duel to the Death

Jack stood on his chair in his cell and looked out of the window. He had exhausted the possibilities with the concrete roof and he was now looking at the sky, a speckled sky of blue and white.

He was looking at the shapes in the sky. All he could see were demons. He kept trying not to see demons, but demons were nonetheless there and they all had big, white, sharp teeth.

T7 had been and gone. Jack felt sick at first and now a state of numbness had come over him. He felt disconnected and uninvolved, almost as if he was watching himself going through the motions of living and breathing. He just existed now. That was all he could say, without purpose or solace.

At the time he'd spoken to Jane Willerby, he’d felt sorry for Anderton and now he felt that it didn't really matter. So maybe he had canned Anderton. Big deal. So he'd get a lighter sentence. Big deal. Provided the trees still grew and there were clouds in the sky, what did it matter?

For some reason he had the overwhelming desire to watch the debate. He didn't know why, some element of vanity within him stirred and it made him feel more alive momentarily, like the last awakening of the dead.

He wandered over to the television and switched it on. It fuzzed grey as usual. Jack hit it.

He saw Ellephanie on the screen.

“I stand for law and order, I stand for American values. You support the farmers, you represent the farmers and therefore you are to blame for the anarchy and violence that we have had over the past few weeks.

And this, this confirms you're not fit for office.”

The screen changed. Elsee stood in front of a green background.

“What is your relationship with Duncan Anderton?”

“I was in the employment of Duncan Anderton until yesterday, I was their child minder and housekeeper.”

“Would you say he was a friend?”

Elsee hesitated. “Not a friend, no.”

“Liar,” Jack said aloud.

“And how would you describe him?”

Elsee nodded her head from side to side. “He treated me fairly.”

“And what did you see on the evening in question, the evening when you were returning from The Poseidon restaurant?”

“I was returning from the restaurant and we were driving down on our way into town and I saw Duncan Anderton, standing by the roadside. He was drunk. I'm pretty sure he was carrying a gun, but I couldn't be absolutely sure."

“And what did you do?”

“We were going to stop.”

“And why didn't you?”

“I was scared, so we chose not to go back.”

“Scared of what?”

“I don't know.”

“Well you must have been scared of something, what were you scared of?”

“It's pretty obvious isn't it?”

“It may not be to the viewers watching.” Elsee paused.

“He was unstable. Would you go up to a drunkard carrying a gun?”

“Even if you know them as well as you knew him?”

“Like I said I was scared, I was terrified. He looked terrifying.”

“Because he might shoot randomly?”

Elsee dipped her head. “Yes, because he might shoot the gun randomly.”

“And did you talk to him about the incident?”


“Why didn't you?”

“It was none of my business.”

“Was it because you were frightened of him?”


“Well why?”

“I didn't want to become involved. Like I said, it was none of my business. And I was an employee. You can't walk into see your boss and say ' Why were you carrying a gun around?' and not expect things to get very awkward.”

“Would you describe his wife as a friend of yours?”

Elsee paused. “Not a friend, no.”

“Why didn't you tell Mrs. Anderton about the incident?”

“As I said it was none of my business, I was an employee. I have chosen not to be an employee anymore. I think that says how I feel about it.”

“Did you tell anyone else about the incident?”


“Did anyone else see the incident?”

“I don’t know, there was no one around at the time.”

“Was there another witness to this?”

“Yes, there was.”

“Who was that?”

”My boyfriend at the time. He can testify to this as a witness.”

“Thank you."

Jack sat by the television screen with his hand on the glass touching Elsee's face.

The screen flashed back to Duncan Anderton and Ellephanie.

“Is this,” Ellephanie said pointing at Duncan “a man fit for office?”

“And is this,” Duncan said shouting and pointing,” a man fit for office? A man who promoted Tom Busey, a murder suspect at the time in his company. A man who employed another murder suspect, who is currently held in a cell in Hertferd, for the murder of another Carlton employee, Ralph McManan. Is this the kind of law and order you want? The law and order of violence and killing”

“Please contain yourselves to facts and not slander.” Willerby said.

“I hold by the maxim of innocent until proved guilty. And by the way I might point out that your ex-housekeeper was dating a certain Jack Robinson, who is the murder suspect in question.”

“So its guilt by association is it now?” Duncan stammered.

“I didn't say that. You did. Let me finish. This still leaves the incident of the night in question unexplained. Would you please like to explain why you were wandering around Hertferd in the middle of the night carrying a gun?”

“That is not pertinent to this election and you know it,” Duncan replied.

“So you admit that you were carrying a gun around, do you?”

“I didn't say that.”

“Well did you or didn't you? The voters have a right to know.”

“As I said that question is slanderous and is not an issue for the election.”

“It's not slanderous because it is true. There are witnesses, so perhaps you ought to be sure of your terminology. It is entirely pertinent to this election. The public want to know what kind of a man you are, who they are voting for.”

Ellephanie looked at Anderton.

“I can tell them if you can't. An unstable man who is not fit for office. A man with outdated ideals and no vision. A man who wants to stop progress, a man who wants to stop the town growing, a man who doesn't want people to have jobs, a man who wants to live in yesterday and not the future. A man who puts meaningless ideals before people's wealth, prosperity and happiness. That's your man. That’s your Anderton man.”

A massive cheer went up from the TV audience. In fact it was a cheer so big that they wouldn't stop shouting, whooping and hollering.

Duncan stood on his podium seemingly immobile and unable to speak.

Jack huddled by the TV. Tears were freely flowing down his face. He couldn't longer hold them back; they tumbled onto the floor in an endless emasculated stream.

The floodgates had opened and there was no return and he never saw himself on TV.
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