“Billy, you can’t go out. We’ve explained why”.
“But Leo and Kyle go out all the time”.
Billy’s mother turned from the computer screen where the list of people she had to cold-call scrolled endlessly. She needed to work from home, to keep an eye on Billy. He was always trying to get outside to play and if that happened …
“Don’t you have a computer game to play? We bought you Devastation 9 last week. You can’t be tired of it already.”
“OK”. Billy sloped off.
Marina sighed and tapped the next auto dial.
In bed that night she raised the subject of Billy’s obsession with playing outside with her husband.
“Billy’s nine now. The only time he has been out is at the fun parks and when we take him out with us for a meal. At his age I had explored my entire neighbourhood. Nobody cared so long as we didn’t cause any trouble. It’s not natural keeping him cooped up all the time”.
“Could we take him to the fun park again?”
“At $200 a visit? We can’t afford it. We’ve gone over this a hundred times before”.
Marina shifted uncomfortably. “The last time I was at the doctor, he asked about Billy. I told him he was unhappy being shut in all the time. They have a new drug …”
“Are you insane? My son is not going to be medicated into compliance for being a completely normal boy”.
“I just don’t know what to do” Marina replied, as tears welled in her eyes. ” You don’t know what it’s like. Every half hour it’s – Mum, can I go outside to play? It’s driving me crazy”
Jay folded his arms around his wife affectionately. They lay in silence, the burden of their son’s childhood prison suffocating all joy out of their family life.
The next day after Marina had escorted Billy home from school, he shot upstairs to his room to play Devastation 9 that he’d been chattering happily about all the way home. For once relaxed Marina forgot to check the locks on the back door. While she was working Billy crept quietly down the stairs and sneaked out the back door to play in the fields at the back of their house.
Two hours later Jay came in from work. Marina smiled. “Billy is upstairs playing Devastation”.
“Great” said Jay, “I’ll go up and see him”.
Suddenly the door crashed open and an armed SWAT team swarmed into the house. Four guns pointed at them.
“On the ground. NOW!”
At the police station a child psychiatrist was questioning Billy carefully. “How often do your parents take you to the fun park Billy?” she asked.
“We went last week” Billy answered defensively.
“And before that?”
“Oh, not long”. Billy squirmed uneasily in his seat.
“How long Billy – the week before?”
Billy nodded, no.
“A fortnight ago?”
Billy stayed still.
“Longer than that Billy?”
Billy said nothing, then in a small voice he asked. “Can I go home now? Mum will wonder where I am”.
“Billy, your parents know where you are, they have been arrested for child neglect for failing to provide for your need for outdoor activities so you had to resort to breaking the law”.
The psychiatrist smiled comfortingly. “It’s not your fault Billy”.
She left the room and went straight to the duty sergeant.
“No question. Child neglect. The parents haven’t a leg to stand on”.
“Is the boy a member of a brigade?”
“No, he said his parents forbade him to join”.
“Then that is the way out for them if the boy consents”. The sergeant hit the intercom. “Send a recruiter down here right away”.
Some time later in another part of the station where Marina and Jay sat in frightened bewilderment constantly asking for Billy, a smart young man walked up to them.
“You can go home now. We are sorry about the damage to your door and furnishings but there is a team at the house now making everything ship shape”.
“You are not going to charge us?” asked Jay bewildered.
“Caution only. It will stay on both your records indefinitely – but I’m sure in your case you won’t have any further bother”. He smiled a large phoney smile and shook their hands warmly.
Next day at school Billy’s teacher presented Billy with his new brigade uniform all wrapped up in pristine plastic. All the other children in the room were wearing brigade uniforms. “Congratulations Billy. Class give Billy a round of applause”.
Outside in the playground Billy’s best friend, a Brigade Commander, gave him a high five. “I thought you were never going to do it, what took you so long?”
“Oh mum was so careful about locking the doors. What’s next?”
“Well”, the BC nodded at the parcel Billy was still holding, “once you get that on you can rove free anywhere any time of the day or night and anyone who says anything to you is classed as an abuser”. He smiled. “Going home on your own for the first time?
“Fine. On the way you pass this address. Your instructions are to ring the door bell then scarper”.
“That old woman is an enemy of the state so we are punishing her”.
“When can I go on the spy course?”
“Hold your horses. You can’t just “go” on a spy course. You have to earn credits first. You get 5 credits for ringing that door bell”.
“How many credits do I need for the spy course?”
A look of dismay passed Billy’s face. “That will take forever!”
“Look, tell you what, saying as you are a newbie, I’ll give you something else. Take this address. It is slightly out of your way. You will get 20 credits for it”.
“What do I have to do?”
“Tip out some of the old lady’s litter onto the sidewalk. Then she will get done for littering. Either a hefty fine or a criminal record, or both”.
The BC smiled. “Try not to let anyone see you”.
Billy beamed, holding the scrap of paper with the scribbled address as if it was a high honour. “Great”.
The BC clapped him on the shoulder. “Welcome to the freedom fighters club, little brother”.
Copyright 2015 Prayerwarriorpsychicnot