…the application of overwhelming force to assure a swift victory
It started with a bang. It? What? What started? What it was, whatever it was that had started, what you might term “it” for want of a better word, this “it” that had started, the ball rolling, but more than a ball rolling, more of a ball falling, less of a ball, more of a bomb, a falling bomb, picking up speed under gravity, more than gravity, it must have been thrown with some force, flung, this bomb, this “it” had begun, started, it’s started, it has begun, it’s now happening, you can’t stop it. You see, it was all to do with Helen, and the bang that started “it”, was the banging of her bedroom door behind her. However, the real beginnings, more real than the sound of the door banging behind her, could be heard in the faint scratchings and scrapings which preceded the door opening, those sounds which denoted Helen opening the padlock on her bedroom door, which was always padlocked behind her on her leaving her room, as on her entering it. And despite her picking up some speed on the banging shut of her door behind her, this falling bomb, this Helen, still had the inertial wherewithal to turn around and padlock the door behind her, depositing the key in her jacket’s inside pocket, but this didn’t take away from her momentum, which had built up over the last few minutes, hours or days, into quite a momentum, some momentum, an awe-inspiring momentum: you could see it in her eyes, this momentum, you could see it in the manner in which she threw down each step, even in the manner in which she fiddled impatiently with the padlock, turned about and gained the head of the stairs, and in the manner in which she poured down the stairs like a…
But could the beginning be traced back even further, to before the faint sratchings and scrapings on the inside of her door, which denoted Helen unlocking the padlock? Could the beginning be traced back to some spark, some thought, some idea which fired across Helen’s mental landscape, like a bolt of lightening, like something like that, like something loud, bright and fearsome? Could the beginning be seen in something more substantial than a thought, something like a spark in her eye, a smile, a kick against the wall, door or bedstead, could the beginning be seen in the manner in which Helen tugged the curtains from the curtain rails, smashed her mirror to pieces and threw herself wantonly onto her bed?
Perhaps. This is all possible; indeed, it is all wholly likely, each beginning, all beginnings, each beginning concurrently. However, as the insides of Helen’s bedroom are off the stage, we cannot tell and so it would be pointless of us to think on it, and so I must end this paragraph right here.
But this “it” continued down the stairs, through the front door (which was also banged behind her, a thunderous bang which would, come to think of it, have made more of a crisp start to “it”) and out into the world. Not that the world began and ended at the door to Number 25 Railway Street. Although, in a sense it did, what exact sense, I’m not sure, but in a sense, some sense, just as in a sense anything is possible, or in a sense it is and in a sense it isn’t, in a sense it is and it isn’t, or in a sense, the sense that Helen was a new woman, the same old woman, a frightening woman, an awe inspiring woman, and a whole lot of other things as well. But in the only real sense, the world didn’t begin and end at the door to Number 25 Railway Street. But that is all beside the point, because by now Helen had gained the end of the street and was making impressive progress towards the bus stop and certain victory.
On being questioned about the likelihood of victory, Helen would have let out a laugh, dismissing with derision the possibility of defeat. However, if questioned about what she was about to win, who or what she was fighting, what victory or loss consisted in, and what the arbiter of victory was, Helen would have had little choice but to shrug her shoulders. Well, she could have signified her ignorance of such matters any number of ways, but ignorance there was, in this matter at least, as well as in an infinite number of other matters now wholly irrelevant. And the reader must also remain in ignorance on the nature of the victory Helen was about to secure.
Which is not to take away from Helen’s victory in any way. It would be complete and it would be meaningful. It’s just that its finer points would be somewhat blurred. The prize would have to be a rather vague quantity, and the celebrations would have to be somewhat confused, though they were unlikely to be muted.
The manner in which Helen pushed her way onto the bus and stood on the whole journey into town spoke volumes of her resolution. Because there were plenty of free seats. There had been only one person in the queue before her, old woman who wore a mink stole who she had thought it necessary to push out of the way. But such matters, any matters, would not deflect her. She would not, could not, must not be deflected. Deflection would be unthinkable, especially as the actual target was an amorphous mass in the distance and deflection could only mean coming at it from a different angle, adopting a new approach.
The confusion that passed across Helen’s face when she got off the bus in St Peter’s Square was fleeting at most, and was far from essential: it wasn’t essential to Helen, to her momentum, to her anything else. It was fleeting. It is gone. Where is it? She made her way across the street to a newsagent and bought a newspaper, pulling it open at the jobs section and tearing through page after page, scanning up and down with a look of sharp derision on her face. She decided to regroup in a coffee shop over a double espresso (she was after all about to make a concerted effort), to gather her strength, pool her momentum and set herself up for the final charge.
And what a final charge it was. There were idle spectators to the left of her and idle spectators to the right of her. But she deftly bustled them out of the way. Red men and green men were not for her, she was no pedestrian, she was an elemental force, she was a well oiled bicycle, each step was certain and sharp, her look was into the distance, her face was tilted upwards, her shoulders back, her eyes slightly narrowed, her lips fuller, cheeks flushed, eyebrows raised, teeth bared, chin out, hair ablaze, breasts pointing forward, ever forward, onward and onward and nothing else, it was a relentless onward march, roll, surge, nowhere but onward, forward, ever forward and when she arrived at the offices of the newspaper she was exquisite. She was in the editor’s office within ten minutes.
“Application? I thought I’d come and see you myself.” Now these words, uttered by Helen herself, the first clearly decipherable words of the campaign (apart from the words “town” and “double espresso” which were essential to her progress earlier in the campaign), the final thrust, the winning blow, knock out… No one was knocked out, metaphorically nor literally. But the editor was charmed. The audacity he would have thought. The lips, he would have thought. The hair, he would have thought. The breasts, he would have thought.
“Of course the salary is negotiable?” Helen was teetering on the peak of victory; it would be a long slog back down the other side.