Nobody's Son or, Another Delinquent Boy's Betrayal (Part 1)
“Is it better for a man to have chosen evil rather than to have good imposed upon him?”
– Anthony Burgess, A Clockwork Orange
[CHAPTER THE FIRST]
A RIGHTEOUS CULIMNATION OF GRIEF AND SORROW IN SOHO
I write this only to chronicle the events as they truly happened.
Among other public buildings in the town of Goole, it boasts of one which is common to most English towns great or small, to wit, a workhouse. And in this workhouse, there was born on a day and date which I need not trouble myself to repeat, a child, who needs no introduction. He, among the other childish misdoers that once ruled inestimably, ruthlessly, across the vast City of London, proved to lead the collapse of power in the Metropole of the Second Great British Empire. In the year of our lord two thousand, two hundred and thirty-eight this young boy took his righteous vengeance against the President of our once-great country and, as historians pose, brought about the Second English Civil War.
Reports dictate that the events of the night in question culminated at around eleven o’clock on a summer’s eve in the West End. The crime scene itself, a neo-Dickensian alley, was somewhat cold and wet. Wet with tears of remorse, wet with the might-have-beens and the what nots of two lives gone down the drain. A young man stood in the cover of darkness, bowler hat tilted down over his face, eyes wet with relief beside the drain at the northernmost point of the alleyway: the one all the photographs had been take of. He removed the hat and covered the upturned face of the man beneath him with it, his life-force emptying through the wide incision at his throat and down the drain into the sewer. This, I believe in my well-informed opinion, is where it truly belonged.
[CHAPTER THE SECOND]
TREATS OF THE BOY’S GROWTH, EDUCATION, AND BOARD
For the first eight years of the boy’s life he was the product of institutionalised treachery and abuse. Although it is believed by many that his mother, an unwed, most probably a prostitute, birthed the boy at the Goole Union workhouse in the East Riding of Yorkshire – that part is confirmed. She, who only gave her name as Nancy to the parish doctor, took one look at the boy and died after the event of childbirth, saying: “Let me see my child, and die.” Of which she did.
And therefore, the boy, as the state dictates in the Newest Poor Laws and Benefits Act of 2049, was to reside on the premises thereon since he was without proper parent or guardian. This was the first in a long series of unfortunate and miserable events that continued to plague the child’s life.
The boy simply known as “wurkus”, or “workhouse” depending on one’s dialect, to those who ran the institution, was bullied by the other boys. Only inasmuch as others and not as popular as some, but he however could boast of a humble education thanks to the parish doctor. This would serve him in good stead and the boy took up extensive reading in the little spare time he had. The good Scot, Dr. Charles Barrie provided the works of James Ellroy, George Orwell and that of Karl Marx – all paperbacks of which were prohibited under Article four of the Treasons Act of 2046. And when questioned by the bully, Digby, upon possessing such materials he simply replied that The Communist Manifesto was “the truth”.
A harsh beating ensued, leaving the workhouse boy bedridden in the hospital for some six weeks: fractured ribs and a punctured lung. He lay poised, between this world and the next for some time. The parish doctor tended to his every need over those long days and nights and eventually, once the boy recovered, decided to take custody of him. The child was a genuinely kind sort, good hearted and whatnot, with straw-blond hair and a wrinkled face typical of any orphaned ruffian.
The adoption of a workhouse boy wasn’t well-received by the parish board in the slightest and so Barrie paid them a further three pounds ten shillings. They accepted with great reluctance and the now father and son subsequently moved to London. The pair hitched a ride, concealed in the back of a vegetable cart, they went on to make a life for themselves there. An opening at Great Ormond Street Hospital had presented itself to Barrie on an amiable wage and he believed he was the man to run it.
Some days later, the boy and his adoptive father took up residency in a luxurious boarding house somewhere off the bohemian Common Garden. The pair of them journeyed some mile and a half to the children’s hospital by foot every morning. The boy chose to volunteer there, using his noteworthy skills in literacy to read to the children as an attempt to comfort those worse off than he had been. Many believed him to be selfless in personality during his brief stint at a childhood. He grew to love Barrie and he paid for the boy to attend a tutor, of which he continued to commit to his studies wholeheartedly, it was believed by all who knew him that the boy would soon grow up to become a great man of influence.
When the child was nine-years-old suspected anarchists conducted a chemical attack on the hospital, killing up to two hundred of its patients and staff. In reality, those who subsequently survived the ordeal had reason to believe it was perpetuated by the government. The purpose: to re-elect the forty-fifth President of Great Britain and Ireland, the leader of the Royal Legion of Gentlemen, Edward G. Stainton. The boy, in his now-published diaries, wrote:
“My father was born and died a man. On the day of the attack, a great many smoke bombs were hurled through the window panes of Great Ormond’s Street Hospital. The oncological ward, where my father worked and where I often read, was on the fifth floor of the establishment. We escaped these. My father broke open the armoury and went about fitting gas masks on as many of the children as he could. A friend, Timothy, who suffered with leukaemia, handed me his mask and so allowed me to help my father lock down the ward. A green smoke billowed through the stairwell and the sound of a rifle shot put down Nurse Gladys in her steps. I pushed Timothy off down the corridor and that was the last I saw of him. Barkers howled through the halls behind us. My father dragged me away, into the sleeping room and kicked me under one of the beds. And that was it.
The rest I hardly saw. Brown boots kicking through a green smog. Echoes of screams on marble floors. My father’s curses. A volley of gunfire.”
Now I confess, not much is known about the incident. The newspapers published that the attack had been perpetrated by a Hareem Bakhar, a Parisian Muslim who had somehow crossed the channel. He was exiled before a crowd of spectators across the frozen River Thames, reports suggest he made it some way before the ice cracked beneath him, and swallowed him whole. As for the workhouse boy, he soon disappeared after the events at the hospital and never officially resurfaced seven years later in ’35.
[CHAPTER THE THIRD]
THE OLD CODGER AND HIS PUPILS
However, certain pieces of information, unavailable to the public was in fact made to me, for a small price. I was informed that the boy had escaped the ordeal by leaping through a dust chute. He had no money for lodgings and, after being presumed dead in the attack, could no longer return to his boarding house, or even Goole for that matter. His sole aim was to get ahead now and, living off an old diet of gruel, make his way, scouring through the bloody streets of the capital.
He would have explored the layout of the city he was later intent to conquer. The flooded ruins of Fenchurch Street, stretching all the way down to the bridge and then on to the Great Surrey Road. Westminster itself, erected on its rickety stilts. A fine institution that had survived the Gunpowder Plot of 1605 and bloody damn well would survive the collapse of the Thames barrier, occurring exactly half a century later. Many Britons were un-phased by the revert of technologies, having enjoyed them and damaging their planet with fossil fuels for so long. At the time of the boy’s existence, the grand clock face of old Big Ben was being reconstructed, and the window panes washed. The workhouse boy would have admired the thin chill in the air, the flakes of snow on the surrounding rooftops, the bustle of politicians and businessmen alike scrabbling across the timber of scaffolding en-route to their office windows. Above all this, looming like a god was the President’s German-made zeppelin. The boy would have probably been told to clear off by a passing policeman that guarded the district and that would have been all.
Still, recorded sightings of workhouse exist that he lived for a brief period in Jacob’s Island among its residents, the common thuggery and underground illegal immigrants. He soon fell in with a gang of thieves, later writing:
“There, on the corner of Long Lane, was a boy of similar age to myself, regarding me. He was a snub-nosed and dirty little juvenile, like I myself had become, with sharp little eyes and the airs and graces of an accomplished man. He wore tattered shoes, a suit jacket three sizes too large for him, and a lop-sided top hat.
He asked what I was doing and produced a life-preserver when I refused to tell him. He accused me of peaching and so I informed him that I simply had nowhere to go and was again an orphan. This resonated with the chap and he put the blasted thing away. He offered me lodgings at ‘a flash ken’ where he himself and a few of his cohorts habituated. He promised to introduce me to the old codger who ran it: a fence for stolen goods.
 Burgess, A. A Clockwork Orange. (London: William Heinemann, 1962)
 Metropole – Great Britain or, more accurately, London itself.
 Marx, Karl, and Frederich Engels. The Communist Manifesto. Translated by Samuel Moore. (London: The Communist League, 1848)
 Common Garden – slang for Covent Garden.
 Life-preserver – A stick or bludgeon loaded with lead, intended for self-defence. Often referred to as a frequent weapon of burglars.
 A flash ken – a house that harbours thieves.