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Ester had been fulsomely invited to the party but nobody had imagined that she would come. Yet a little time after the party was finally rolling on unstoppably, and all the rooms of the apartment were as agitated and disorderly as a town square on market day, Ester was suddenly, incredibly, at the front door and venturing into the room – wearing a huge, rather awful dress of ferocious fuchsia pink – and as if through clouds of confetti, everybody was cheering and holding up pints. Whoever had dressed her and delivered her to the party remained a mystery. Perhaps on some distant planet, or down in some subterranean chamber, where everybody was like Ester, they had conspired for a fiendish purpose of their own to plant her convincingly into the party.

She was not drinking anything, and it was generally assumed that it would be an abuse of some kind to put a drink into her hand. She stood looking about at everybody, her hands nervously twisting a bit of her dress.

Ester saw her friend Tori stop in a doorway and wave at her. And then Simon was bouncing up to her, singing with triumph and pleasure. At the terminal where most of them worked, Simon maintained a fiction that he and Ester were married, and that she was forever neglecting or mistreating him, or chasing off after other men. I think that a lot of the detail of this went over Ester’s head, but she seemed to have concluded that Simon was not serious and that he was playing with her.

“Aye so you’ve come back to me, huh? Did your new boyfriend kick you out?”

Ester edged around in a rather robotic way to look at Simon. She shivered with nervous mirth.

Simon’s latest girlfriend Renata materialised over his shoulder. She smiled politely at Ester.

“Oh no!” Simon was shaking his head. “My wife is here now! I cannot be seen with you.” He began beseeching Ester desperately. “I don’t know her! She’s nothing to do with me!”

Renata smiled grimly, as if Simon’s tiresome jokes were a medical condition which everybody had to bear with fortitude and good spirit. The smiled died abruptly on her lips. “I’m bored of this party, Simon…” she confided in a low, businesslike voice.

“No! No!” Simon persisted, cowering behind his “wife.” “I don’t know her, Ester. I’ve never met her before. You’re my girl.”

Renata’s smile was again released and dispatched like a clay pigeon. “Simon, come and talk with me. I’ve found somebody’s bedroom upstairs… there’s a lock on the door…”

Simon was led away, still protesting his loyalty to Ester. The party was now roaring like a lion. Perhaps Ester felt that she had some sort of obligation to proceed into the next room, but in any case she did so and discovered Pablo and James.

Ester liked both of these characters and she believed that they were very funny and splendid, like teddy bears.

James had his hand solemnly across his heart. “If David Cameron wins the election, then I swear that I will assassinate him. Within a week of his attaining office. And this is a binding promise.”

Pablo nodded. “That is good, very good. But he needs to die like Mussolini – hung up so that everybody can see him.”

James was uncertain of this. “Shouldn’t an assassination be very sudden?”

“No you should always hang them up. You need two people: one to beat back all of his bodyguards and supporters with a stick, and another to get the rope round his neck and pull him up. If you are very good, you will be able to hang him in five or so seconds.”

“It will have to be very carefully choreographed. And I will need a lot of strength. Imagine the embarrassment if I got the rope around his neck, but I was unable to pull him up. It would be mortifying.”

“Hey, here is Ester.” Pablo grinned. “Hello Ester.”

Ester was suddenly amazed to find a funny, mincing little voice alive somewhere in her own face. “Hello chaps! Fine party, eh?” Pablo’s eyes gleamed and the voice momentarily collapsed as James fell to his knees in a fit of giggles. Then the voice was back again. “Don’t think much of this plonk – very disappointing year, what?”

“I say, Ester,” Pablo inquired with interest. “What do you think of this David Cameron? Do you think that we should hang him?”

“He’s an outrage! An abomination! He could do with a good hanging…”

But all of this had caught the eye of Tori and she crashed into the scene, dealing James a great clout on the side of the head so that he keeled over stunned. The party was falling into silence. Tory bellowed with fury, her voice harsh and alien as if naked for battle. “What the fuck are you doing?”

Pablo shrugged. There was a confused ripple of laughter. James was trying to sit up and he scowled darkly, his civilisation defeated.

Tori’s scream was melting into a gibber. “That is not funny! Really not funny!” she sobbed. “What the fuck are you doing? Have you lost your fucking mind…? No, it’s not you Ester!”

But Ester had fled. Something which she had done had put her into the centre, into the middle, and the world was now falling apart. She needed to be somewhere quiet and safe, somewhere alone. Ducking as if under gunfire, she scampered instinctively up the stairs. There was a small line of people queuing up outside the bathroom, listening patiently to a girl inside crying in a little wobbling voice. None of them looked at Ester. She continued around the corner…

A door snapped open and there was an eruption of angry laughter. Renata was backing savagely out of the room and Simon’s voice followed, imploring…

“Aw come back… I just need to concentrate…”

“Fucking hopeless,” Renata spat. “I‘ve never seen anything like it.”

“I love you Renata. I love you so much.”

But Renata then noticed the cowering figure of Ester and the significance seemed all too obvious. “Ah, here’s your wife,” Renata laughed scornfully. “I think you’re pretty well suited to each other. A nice couple – Mr and Mrs Retard!”

Simon’s pale, frightened face appeared at the door. He glanced at Ester with displeasure. “Come back Renata, I love you…. We can do this…” He was on the run, trying to recapture the escaping Renata and pull up his trousers at the same time. Ester gazed with fascination at her husband’s limp cock, which still nestled in its drooping condom like a baby put in its father’s jacket.

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