Sunday, 31 July 2011

Amy and Antony - Part Nine

Three Months Later.

Amy's weekend was taken up with a recruitment drive for Female Dawn. Donning her white jumpsuit with the universal symbol for femaleness emblazoned upon it, Amy had worked tirelessly, handing out flyers and talking to prospective members. She had got a real buzz out of knowing she was helping the movement.

It was particularly important that Amy should be seen hard at work for the movement for last week she had been appointed as Leader of the Youth Section for her town. It had been an awesome honour when Dr Craig, the leader of the movement in the town, had put the blue sash that denoted her rank on her and shook her hand in congratulation.

Amy suspected that Dr Craig had pushed for Amy to be given the position over some of the older girls and so she desperately wanted to prove that she had been the right choice.

So Amy handed out flyers until they were all gone and talked to so many would be members that her voice was almost gone. But, thankfully, Dr Craig, trying to recruit adults into the movement had smiled in approval at her efforts.

After helping to pack up, Amy made her way across the park towards home. She was halfway across the park when she saw something that made her heart jump in alarm. A group of Alphas was heading towards her. Four of them.

In stark contrast to the uniform worn by the the female movement, the Alphas wore black jumpsuits and of course wore the symbol that denoted maleness. Amy forced herself to walk past them, rather than run away, and made herself hold her head high. She was not ashamed to be a member of Female Dawn. Quite the opposite.

The four youths, who looked sinister in the black uniforms, gave Amy looks of scorn, kept on walking. Amy breathed a sigh of relief as she turned her head slightly and saw the youths still walking in the opposite direction.

The Alpha movement was growing in this town. It was no big surprise, as the town had been hit especially hard in the recession and male unemployment was higher than the national average. There were a lot of disaffected men who resented losing their jobs whilst their wives and girlfriends kept theirs. The number of black uniforms to be seen around the streets had become more common than even a month ago.

This was worrying, in Amy's view. If the Alphas were growing so quickly, they could concievably win political power at local and national levels. This very town could be run by the Alphas before long. Female Dawn was growing too, but not as quickly as the Alphas.

Amy spent a restless night worrying about the situation.

The following day, a sunday, the movement set up shop in an unfamiliar place, a grubby shoping mall in one of the working class districts of the town. It had been Dr Craig's idea. She was concerned by the disproportionate numbers of upper and middle class girls joining the movement as compared to the very small number of girls from working class backgrounds.

"We must not been seen to be some sort of chic sorority cliche, so we must entice more girls from less privileged backgrounds into the movement" Dr Craig had declared.

Amy and her sisters in the movement did their best, but most of the girls who walked past just ignored them. It didn't help that, in many cases, the girls were in the company of their fathers or boyfriends. This would have discouraged them from showing any interest in the movement, Amy thought.

Two hours into the recruitment drive, Amy noted with dismay that a bunch of Alphas had turned up. In spite of the black uniforms, Amy could tell that all of them to a man were local louts, probably unemployed (and unemployable). Their unshaven faces, shaggy hair and BO (which was overpowering even though the louts stood ten feet away) gave the game away. These were not committed activists, but troublemakers.

The dozen or so men stood there, jeering at the women and girls running the stall, telling them to give up and go home to their men, hurling obscenities at them. Needless to say, the women and girls that Female Dawn hoped to recruit were giving the men - and the stall - a wide berth. It would take a brave woman or girl to be seen in the company of the members of Female Dawn.

The leader of the men, an obnoxious brute with rings in his ears and nose and tattoos that were visible on his neck and hands, suggested that the girls should pack up their little stall and go home. They were not welcome around here. This was an Alpha stronghold.

Dr Craig stood her ground and retorted that Female Dawn had every right to be here and that they should be the ones to go home as they were obviously drunk and upsetting everyone.

"Upsetting everyone? Upsetting everyone?" said the leader, imitating Dr Craig's slightly upper class accent "Listen love, we haven't even STARTED upsetting you yet!" Spying a market stall that sold vegetables and eggs, the leader and his gang seized upon its contents. The stall holder, an elderly small man, protested, but he was shoved aside. The man got up and ran off as fast as his legs could carry him.

Picking up a tray full of eggs, the leader began pelting the Female Dawn members with them. Composed and as dignified as they could be under the circumstances, the women and girls withstood the onslaught. Cabbages, cauliflowers, tomatos and even whole cucumbers were used as ammunition but the members of Female Dawn merely grimly locked arms, willing to take whatever was thrown at them.

The gang had clearly expected a pack of what was basically a bunch of toffee-nosed schoolgirls and a few old maids to scarper at the merest whiff of trouble and leave the Alphas in control of the field of battle.

Instead, to their consternation and confusion, although the girls were covered in egg yoke and tomato and the floor around them was covered in vegetables and eggshells, the girls remained, more defiant than ever. The gang, having exhausted their ammunition, were at a loss. Their exercise in intimidation had failed.

At that point the stall holder returned, with the local police in tow. The stall holder pointed excitedly at the men and exclaimed "That's them, officer, wot pushed me over and ransacked my stall. Look at it! Just look at it! All my stock! Gone! Ruddy hooligans!"

The Police Sergeant, a tall, broad man with an air of one used to being in command of any given situation, said "Calm down, sir, and let me and the boys do our job". The Sergeant was accompanied by four male constables who seemed to be in thrall to him.

The Sergeant walked over to the gang, who, surprisingly, had not bolted. It was soon obvious why. The Sergeant approached the leader and said "Ray, how are you doing, me old mate?"

Ray smirked in the direction of the women and girls "I'm very well thanks, Sergeant Walker. Got a little trouble with these women here, but nothing I can't handle".

Sergeant Walker pointed in the direction of the stall keeper "This gentleman here says you and your boys.." at this point, the Sergeant took out his notebook, flipped it over to the relevant page and dictated from it "did most grieviously assault the said gentleman and thereupon stole his merchandise, namely half a hundred weight of cabbages and over assorted vegetables and some five hundred eggs". The Sergeant shook his head "Really Ray, did you and your boys do this? Knowing you to be of sound character as I do, I can scarcely believe it!"

Ray laughed, and his gang, following his cue, chuckled also "I would say, Sergeant Walker, that the gentleman is mistaken. He IS old after all. Probably doesn't know what day of the week it is! Do we look like the sort of people who would do such things, such fine upstanding citizens as us?"

"Unfortunately Ray, and I'm really sorry about this, truly I am, but I'm going to have to take you and your boys down to the station for further questioning. Just doing my job, you understand, nothing personal".

Ray shrugged "Of course, Sergeant. And a fine job you do too, if I may be as so bold to say so!"

The Sergeant nodded in acknowledgement of the compliment. Then he turned to his subordinates.

"Haskins!"bellowed the Sergeant "Get these men into the van".

"Right away, Sarge! All right you lot, follow me!"

The Female Dawn members watched, and breathed a sigh of relief, as the gang meekly got into the police van.

But the Sergeant wasn't finished. He marched up to the stall "Right, which of you lot is in charge?"

Dr Craig stepped forward "That would be me, Sergeant". She proferred a hand "Dr Craig".

The Sergeant pointedly ignored the hand and Dr Craig, realising this, withdrew it as subtely as she was able. It was not a good omen.

There was an uneasy pause. Then the Sergeant spoke "Well, Dr Craig, you and your bunch of troublemakers are under arrest!"

"What! " exclained Dr Craig, shocked "But we haven't done anything! It was those men...."

"Silence!" bellowed the Sergeant. Even Dr Craig was momentarily cowed into silence by the stentorian voice of the Sergeant. Lowering his voice by several octaves, the Sergeant said "Haven't done anything? Let me see....pitching up a stall without authorisation, unlawful assembly, causing a disturbance of the peace, wasting police time...and those are just for starters Dr bleeding brainbox! By the time we get you down to the station you'll have had more charges than a cavalry brigade!"

The other officers chuckled.

Amy's heart sank. It was clear that they weren't going to get any justice from the local police. They were probably sympathisers of the local Alpha movement and quite possibly even closet members.

Dr Craig protested vehemently, as did everyone else, but it was to no avail. They were bundled into the van and taken to the station and put through the humiliation of being processed like common thieves.

As a minor, Amy's parents had to be informed of her arrest. They came to pick her up. The charges against her had been dropped, as Dr Craig had assumed full responsibility for the behaviour of her charges.

Mother had brought a spare change of clothes. She was angry, with Amy, that much was clear. "Get that uniform off and give it to me!" Mother ordered. Angry herself at the injustice meted out to her and her sisters by the very people who were supposed to uphold the law, Amy took off her sticky uniform. Mother turned to her husband "What did I tell you, Walter? No good would come of Amy being part of this woman's lib movement. And I was right! In trouble with the police! I have never been so ashamed of you as I am at this moment Amy!"

Amy's face burned with humiliation at these words "But Mother.."

"Don't but me, girl! You are grounded for the foreseeable future and you will leave this Female Dawn club. It's clearly leading you down the wrong path and this uniform is going on the nearest bonfire!".

Amy seethed. It's not a girls' club like the brownies, but a movement of women! And no way am I parting with that uniform!

At the moment though, Amy knew that it was pointless arguing with her mother when she was in this mood. Miserably, she got changed and trailed after her parents. She wondered what would happen to Dr Craig. Amy's heart smouldered with resentment at the unfairness of it all.

We will prevail was her enduring thought as she departed from the police station.

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