Docked and feet back on familiar ground I was approached by two stout fellows wearing peculiar badges on the left breast pockets of their police uniforms.
‘Lord Game…’ said the taller of the two, both bowing their heads fractionally.
I was immediately taken back. These officers certainly knew who I was, it seemed.
‘Your presence is required by the Crown. If you would please accompany us to the City-
‘Hang on a minute there…mister officer. I’ve been away for almost two years, now I ain’t going nowhere till I’m good and ready, especially not for any fucking King of England!’
The men frowned, then shared a look. It seemed that I had missunderstood something here.
‘Forgive me Lord Game, it is not King George who summons you.’
The marines milled passed us and wooped into the arms of their loving families. Most of them avoided looking in our direction. I avoided giving a fuck.
The oddly dressed police men waited, glances swapping back and forth. I wouldn’t say they were nervous, but, I don’t know, something wasn’t right about this picture.
I zeroed in on the one who hadn’t said a word yet. ‘Talk then!’ I startled him. ‘Who has the fucking audacity to summon me, right fucking now, the precise moment I land-
‘The Crown!’ he blurted, cheeks flushing red.
Some of the marines began ushering their families away from our little gathering as quickly as they could. I didn’t blame them.
‘Begging your pardon Lord Game,’ recovered the officer, stumbling over his apologetic mumbling. He stepped forward, fancy paper outstretched.
I noticed the coat of arms, “The City Of London”, in the top left corner. One word across the middle: Kratzenstien.
I frowned at that word. Maybe I would finally find out who plucked me from the abyss of eternal unrest? I wasn’t holding my breath, not that that would kill me if I did, but something stirred. I felt hopeful.
Belatedly I felt ashamed that I hadn’t even spared a single thought for the tongeless surgeon who stitched me back together. I wondered what he was doing now. Then I thought of Claric…I turned away from the memory of my old friend.
I conceded with a nod. The officers deflated in unison. I mused that now they looked even shorter. Dwarf secret policemen. Ha!
I gave the letter back to the gloved hand of the taller officer.
‘The carriage awaits, Lord-
‘Look, it’s just Henry or Game, if you must, I ain’t putting up with all that Lord and Sir shit, all right?’ I think they smiled as I barged past them and into the waiting carriage, also festooned with the coat of arms of the City of London.
I don’t know what they found so funny.