Nobody's Son or, Another Delinquent Boy's Betrayal (Part 1) REVISED
“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 account only to chronicle the events as they happened.
Among other public buildings in the small town of Goole, it boasts of one which is now increasingly 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 feel I need not trouble myself to mention, a child, who again, 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 forty-fifth President of our once-great country and, as historians pose, brought about the spark that ignited the Second English Civil War.
But that’s an educated afterthought. An idea, a concept if you will, perpetrated by the rich that the poor were the sole instigators of a bloodbath that can only be described as biblical in its proportions. Regarding the night in question, reports dictate that the events of which culminated at around eleven o’clock on a summer’s eve in the West End. The scene of the crime itself, something one can only refer to as 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 men’s lives gone down the drain. A young man had 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 drain where all the photographs had been taken of. He then removed the hat and covered the upturned face of the corpse below with it. His life-force had emptied through a wide incision at the base of his throat and down the drain, lost to the sewers. This I believe, in my informed opinion and shared by my fellow editors here at Bentley’s, who shall remain nameless, is where it truly belonged.
This book is the topic of non-fiction, although there is speculation on events featured within, the information used has been gathered by a team of Pulitzer-prize winning researchers. Certain elements of the story have been filled in for the sake of plot and characterisation but remain close to the truth if not the complete truth.
[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 what one can only describe as institutionalised treachery and abuse. Parish documents and other certified evidence exists showing that his mother, an unwed and most probably a prostitute, birthed the boy at the Goole Union workhouse (run by the notorious beadle Arthur Tumbler) in the East Riding of Yorkshire. She, who only gave her name as Nancy to the parish doctor, a Dr. Charles S. Barrie, 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 decrees 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 only to be the first in a long series of unfortunate and miserable events that continued to plague the child’s life all the way through to manhood.
The boy was simply known as “wurkus”, or “workhouse” depending on one’s dialect, to Tumbler and his affluent governors, and was bullied by the other boys. Only inasmuch as others and not as popular as some, but he however stood apart from the crowd and could boast of a humble education thanks to the parish doctor. This would serve him in good stead and the boy took up reading in the little spare time he had. The good Scot, Dr. Barrie, provided him with the works of James Ellroy, George Orwell and that of Karl Marx – all paperbacks of which, at the time, were prohibited under Article four of the Treasons Act of 2023 and its amendment in 2091. And when questioned by the workhouse bully, a burly boy by the name of Digby, upon possessing such materials, he simply replied that The Communist Manifesto was “the truth”.
A harsh beating ensued, leaving our protagonist bedridden in the on-site 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 had recovered, decided to take it upon himself to go about the process of parental custody. The child was a genuinely kind sort, good hearted and whatnot, with straw-blond hair and a wrinkled dirty face typical of any orphaned ruffian, but despite being rough around the edges, so to speak, there was a goodness there, a spirit, uncommon in most.
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. Tumbler reportedly accepted his offer “with great reluctance” and the now father and son subsequently moved to London. The pair hitched a ride, riding in the back of a vegetable cart. An opening at Great Ormond Street Hospital had presented itself to Barrie on an amiable wage and he, being the spirited man that he was, believed he was the man to run it.
Some days later, I have no exact date, Barrie and the boy took up residency in a luxurious boarding house somewhere off the bohemian Common Garden. It still exists to this day. The pair of them journeyed some mile and a half to the children’s hospital by foot every morning. The boy opted as a volunteer, using his noteworthy skills in literacy to read to the children. It was an attempt to comfort those worse off than he had been I think. Many who knew him at the time believed him to be selfless in personality. I would describe this blissful period as his brief stint at a childhood. He grew to love Barrie the boy to attended a tutor, of which he continued to commit to his studies wholeheartedly, it was believed by all who knew them that the boy would soon grow up to become a great man of influence, unspoiled by his humble beginnings.
When the child was nine-years-old a suspected anarchist and or, other anarchists unknown, performed a chemical attack on the hospital. It claimed the lives of up to two hundred of its patients and staff. Those who subsequently survived the ordeal had reason to believe it had been perpetuated by the government. The purpose: to re-elect the forty-fifth President of Great Britain and Ireland and in private circles, the leader of the Royal Legion of Gentlemen, Edward G. Stainton. The boy, in his now-published diaries, wrote that:
“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. The oncological ward, where my father spent most of his time and where I often read, was on the fifth floor of the establishment and so 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 I went about helping my father to lock down the ward. I recall a green smoke billowing through the stairwell and the whip and crack of a rifle shot. It had 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 children’s sleeping room and kicked me under one of its beds. And that was it.
The rest of what happened I must admit I hardly saw. Brown boots kicking through a blue-green dust. Echoes of screams on marble floors. My father’s curses. A volley of gunfire. Silence.”
I digress, not much is known about the incident. The newspapers published that the attack had been perpetrated by a Hareem Bashar, a Parisian Muslim who had somehow crossed the channel and our impenetrable borders. For his crime he was exiled before a crowd of spectators, across the frozen River Thames, eye-witness accounts show that 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 until some ten years later in ’35, in the Devil’s Acre slum of Westminster.
 Burgess, A. A Clockwork Orange. (London: William Heinemann, 1962)
 Metropole – Great Britain or, more accurately, London itself.
 Beadle – n a minor parish officer dealing with petty offenders.
 Marx, Karl, and Frederich Engels. The Communist Manifesto. Translated by Samuel Moore. (London: The Communist League, 1848)
 Common Garden – slang for Covent Garden.
 Barkers – pistols.