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acts-of-faith‘You may well say,’ he resumed calmly, ‘that they brought this upon themselves in submitting voluntarily to such an operation. But you must not forget the force of the temptation dangled before them, the overwhelming power of these organisations that we must now strive to destroy. We have to recognise that, even though they might have invited it, they have suffered much more than they ever could have anticipated. And in their suffering, we must also recognize them as symbols of our nation, which will suffer a similar fate if at this point we do not forcefully assert ourselves. If this goes on, there will be fewer and fewer of us, and more and more of them, until we are utterly effaced from the soil of this precious land, that we have guarded with our blood through so many thousands of years. I tell you now, we cannot bow our heads and meekly endure this devastation any more.’

‘Earlier I showed you the body of a man, one of the most loyal and devoted of our countrymen, cruelly murdered while discharging his duty on your behalf. That was upsetting enough, and would have moved even a stone to anger. Yet what I have shown you now is I think even sadder. It cries out even more strongly for action to show that we will no longer tolerate such incursions upon our birthright. Let us while we are still able, all of us who cherish and belong to this dear land, make clear to the whole world and to the aliens in our midst that we are indeed men who will at any cost guard our own.’

 *

The Telex sent to Luke said, ‘Helicopter bearing Snow White with Dwarfs arriving your residence this evening. Surrendering also as tokens of allegiance two captured Socialists. Make arrangements to receive personal to yourself.’ This did not strike Mark as at all an innocent message. He ordered that Luke be interrogated to find out what precisely was going on. The commandos detailed to this task were advised to go gently, but they had other ideas for they were strongly convinced that Luke was a dangerous enemy of the people. He had not bothered to conceal the evidence about his connections with MASH and MADAM, nor his financial dealings, and the fact that he was circumcised came to light almost at the very beginning of the interrogation. While it was still going on Matthew’s television performance took place. That was the last straw. The commandos had a strongly retributive sense of justice and, soon after Mark had dazedly switched off the television after Matthew’s appearance, he was rung up to be told that Luke was probably not in a fit condition ever to appear in public again.

Mark asked for a few moments to think. He had almost reached the conclusion that the best thing to do was to cut his losses as it were, and eliminate Luke if he could only think of a plausible way of accomplishing this, when the telephone rang again. This time it was Tom with an order that Mark also address the nation that evening, to counter some aspects of the effect that Matthew had had.

Tom had not been pleased by Matthew’s reference to his own operation, and he thought it in particularly bad taste on the day on which Gerry had died. He also thought it necessary that he should be protective about Dulcie, and he told himself therefore that Matthew’s evocation of the operation Dick had undergone was even more vulgar. Certainly it seemed to him that, in prominently displaying the castrated youths after referring to the far less dramatic measures to which he had Dick and in their separate ways subscribed, Matthew was in some insidious way trying to draw parallels and thereby denigrate them.

In addition Tom was peeved at the impact Matthew appeared to have had. Dulcie declared her approbation far too warmly for his liking while Devika, who had come to know about Tom’s interest in the Chinese Lunar Calendar, went on at length about how Matthew was a typical boar, direct and forceful and unshakeable. This seemed to Tom a personal slur upon himself. All this of course could not be told to Mark. But from other reactions he received, particularly from the security forces and members of his household, Tom could quite credibly claim that Matthew had unleashed dangerous animosities against the Muslims that had hitherto lain dormant. He asked Mark therefore to do something to modify this effect.

Mark jumped at the opportunity of asking Tom whether it would be all right to divert the interest and the outrage of the populace against Luke. Tom was startled this since he did not want to lose one of the irons he had kept go carefully in the fire for so long, but when Mark told him that Luke had received a secret message from Singapore announcing the despatch of supporting forces consisting of many of those who had participated in CARP, he told him he could go ahead. He made only one condition, that Mark did not stress the Mohammedan aspect of Luke’s manoeuvrings, which Mark said would present no difficulty at all in the light of the evidence that would shortly produce itself.

It did not take Mark long to decide that there was no point in arresting the landing party and subjecting them to interrogation. A far more exciting plan suggested itself to him. Since he was not normally a very imaginative man, we can state with confidence that it was the fate that had befallen Shiva that inspired him. He was very firmly of the opinion that that whole business had been instigated by Luke, so that what he was about to do struck him as poetically just. The story that one of the men involved had come from Matthew’s constituency he saw no reason to credit; besides even if it were true it was probably irrelevant; and even if it was relevant the thought occurred to him that here was a golden opportunity to flex his own muscles and make it clear that two could play at whatever game was going on. He ordered therefore that the helicopter pad be got ready, with crack troops waiting in a state of alert.

On his way to Luke’s he dropped in at the offices of a private company for making video films which he had had occasion to use in the past. It was a very different sort of thing he wanted now from what they had done for him before, but he did not intend to allow the slightest chance of the news leaking out before he made his appearance on television. It did not take much effort to persuade the company and make clear exactly what he wanted, and by the time the helicopter appeared on the horizon the cameras were in readiness on the roof along with the commandos. Mark himself was careful not to be visible but Luke was in waiting at the doorway onto the roof, held up by two soldiers, his face suitably powdered and made up.

The helicopter landed, recorded on film. As the door opened and Snow White appeared in the entrance, with Doc standing just behind her, Luke’s handcuffs were slipped off and he was ordered to run towards the machine. He did not move. His intransigence had however been foreseen and it did not cause many problems. Instead a group of commandos rushed towards the helicopter, gunned down Snow White and Doc, and then stormed into the helicopter and sprayed all the passengers and the crew. All this was filmed, at any rate the action that took place outside, and then the cameras were placed at the door and the commandos sprayed the inside of the machine once more for posterity. After that there was a break while Luke was marched up to the helicopter and stationed at the top of the steps, facing inward. At a given signal the commandos holding him released his arms, flinging them dramatically upward and out, and themselves dived for shelter to the ground.

Luke’s own fall, as a stream of bullets struck him, was spectacular. Despite its bulk his body creased up, with the arms extended skyward as though in appeal, and then suddenly he collapsed backward and lay spreadeagled on the steps. When the scene was shown later on television, there were several people who said that nothing became his life better than his leaving of it, so elegant was his collapse.

The steps and the body with it were then thrust into the helicopter. Mark was humane enough to insist that they made sure everyone inside was quite dead before they proceeded further. They did not bother about any particular arrangement of the bodies but simply poured petrol about at random and then pushed the helicopter to the very edge of the roof and smashed down the wall there to give it egress. Then, as it tethered on the edge, they flung in a flaming brand and from a safe distance sprayed it with their machine guns. The tank took fire just as the insides erupted, and the whole machine went over with a terrific roar. Unfortunately Luke’s garden was not as big as Shiva’s had been and the commandos had omitted to check which side they were using, so as it happened the helicopter fell onto the roof of the neighbouring house. Fortunately this belonged to John’s erstwhile son-in-law, who had sent his wife and family home to John. He was therefore alone in the house, except for someone else who had no business to be there anyway; and though they were in the room into which the helicopter fell and so went up in the holocaust too, this was not something over which the commandos shed many tears.

Ceylon Today 28 Dec 2014 – https://www.ceylontoday.lk/96-80886-news-detail-cathartic.html

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