by Stewart Wilson
August 12th, 1983
Dawn and the London sky is blue, oppressive heat already beating down on the residential area where Jim still lives. Most of the students have finished finals and fucked off back home, back to mummy and daddy and money. No such luck for the Tooting Bec Anarchist. Jim's out in the street, smoking a cigarette, watching the few die-hards walking back from their all-night booze-ups. He's seen the girl again, three more times since he started. Every time he gets more and more attracted to her, every time he wants to go with her down the road one Friday morning, follow her to wherever her crowd of punks meet. It's more and more obvious to Jim that it's her crowd no matter how much she tries to pretend otherwise.
He's talked more and more with her, getting to know her. She called him the Tooting Bec Anarchist before the papers reported on his protest of government policies on Wandsworth Comon. Part of him wondered if he was in love, but she was barely 25 and every day he got closer to thirty, it wouldn't last even if it were.
Here they came now. Five of them plus her. Leather, chains and Mohawks, piercings through everything Jim could think of and some others besides. And there she is at the back, amber eyes flashing over him as he offers a cig without a word. She smiles and lights both of them.
"We've got to stop meeting like this. People will talk." Jim offers a wry smile to go along with the comment.
"Who gives a toss if they do? Let the bastards think that." She offers a grin. "Just as long as you don't think you're getting in my pants just because people think that's what's going on."
"Wasn't going to think otherwise."
She tilted her head, the motion all the more birdlike for its suddenness. "Going to come back with us, Jim? I'd be a laugh, and you look like you want to do something more than just hold up that sign of yours."
"Er... sure. Yeah." He wondered what she meant about wanting something more. And as he walked off with her, it clicked. He'd never told her his name.
"How did you..."
She paused, letting the group get well ahead and pulling him in. For a brief second Jim thought hew was going to get lucky, but the press of her knee against his bollocks told him otherwise. She whispered, sultry in tone if not in content.
"You've seen the tat, I know. Means I can read your mind, Jim. But I don't want other people knowing because that would mean you might get hurt and I don't want that. You look and sound like a good bloke, so you got asked to come with us, but if you ask one more hard question in the morning I'll leave you thinking you're a five year old girl, got me?"
He ran his hand through her hair, understanding the level of her paranoia and how well he had to pretend, without getting too frisky. "You can read my mind and you think we're being watched?"
"I know we are."
"I bet you'd get one of those fuckers to tie a ribbon in my hair. I'll believe you for now."
They broke off their impromptu clinch and made an exaggerated display of straightening their clothes, joining the other punks to cheers and whistles of encouragement. They carried on to a house a couple of miles up the Trinity Road from Jim's.
Once inside, he was offered beer and cigarettes, both of which he accepted. A guy with a leopard-print tattoo over where most of his hair should be looked to Jim.
"Welcome to the People's Front. Not that we're commies, but we may as well be."
"We'll have to do something about all that clean skin, mind." A grin, Jim couldn't tell whether it was friendly or predatory. Fortunately, the girl with amber eyes stole him off to a side room before he could find out.
"Don't mind Harry, he was joking. I wasn't, earlier."
"You can read my mind. You really think?"
"I know." She was serious now, deadly serious. There's a couple of plastic discs stuck in my brain that tell me I can. I've got the skull x-rays to prove it. And if you want I can fuck with your brain to prove it to you."
"Steady on, I believe you."
"Good. And I'm Gloria. That's what they called me in the regiment."
"Gloria Mundi. They like a laugh there. I was supposed to show people what they wanted to see, but I didn't turn out like that after I figured out what I could do."
"So what is it you go here, Gloria?"
"We drink, we take drugs, and we wait for the right moment to hit Whitehall right in the niagras so we can build a better England."
"Sounds good to me."
"The rent's cheaper too."
"Bonus. But I ain't getting whatever Harry decides would look good inked on me."