The Prime Minister was alone. Every now and then, a smile would appear on his face, as he looked outside. Behind the window’s glass, he could still see the lights of the fireworks, he could hear the music, the people cheering. Yes, it was a great night, a unique, historic moment. He felt a shiver, a pleasant emotion of pride. He had done it. He had done what he had promised. He had contributed to the victory of a nation, to freedom. The historians of the future would…
A quiet knock on the door pulled him out of the rainbow of triumph he had been lingering in all day. He frowned at the sudden feeling of fear, unable to explain it. There was nothing to be afraid of. His security men were outside. No danger at all. Still, this unpleasant feeling…
“Come in” he said curtly.
The door opened. A slender man entered, without waiting for any sign of invitation.
“Good evening, Prime Minister.” His voice was calm and quiet, like the knock on the door, yet it had the same effect on him. He recognized the man.
“Mr. Doe.” he said coldly. “Why do I have the pleasure to accept you at my office at this late hour?” he asked, with all the politeness he could muster. “Your visit was not announced, and certainly not arranged.”
“Yes,” said Mr. Doe, “I understand your surprise. You are right, my visit was not announced… but it was certainly arranged.”
“When did - ?”
“Let us make this quick. I am sure you are quite tired after such a… a victorious day.”
“Indeed. I am looking forward to listen to what could not wait until tomorrow.”
Silently, the man placed a piece of paper on the table. The Prime Minister read it slowly, fighting the urge to punch the man that stood before him, waiting for his reaction.
“Are you expecting me to sign this?” he asked, a tone of cold rage in his voice."Are you expecting me to take back what the people of this country earned?"
Mr. Doe smiled. “You had the chance to play the game, Prime Minister, and you declined. Now, the game plays with you.” His smile grew wider. “You will sign this treaty, or the consequences will be serious, I’m afraid.”
“Are you threatening me? Have we come to this, then?”
“Your election meant more than a nice chair. You should have realized that sooner.”
“If I sign this…” he whispered weakly, “the people, the Parliament… everyone… will think I’m a traitor.”
“That is correct”, agreed the man. “And you will be a traitor, from a certain point of view. But, on the other hand, many will greet this outcome; they will believe you had no choice. For them, you will be… well, not a hero, certainly, not a savior… but another mediocre politician, who tried his best, despite his wrong ministrations and lack of political charisma.” He made a gesture. “You see, my dear, everything, absolutely everything –including betrayal- is relative, after all.”
“That was never part of my ideology.”
“You should have remained a citizen, then” replied the man. “Maybe riots would have suited you better. There is no place for ideology in politics.”
“Once, I used to believe ideology was the root of politics.”
“A teenager’s view on the subject.”
“A teenager’s view?” The Prime Minister burst into a bitter laugh now. “You can use the word ‘fool’, I think, Mr. Doe! I am sure that’s what you meant, and, as we are not in the Council Room anymore, you can express yourself freely.”
“No, I do not believe you are a fool. Had you been a fool, I wouldn’t be here at all tonight.”
“So you wouldn’t bother threatening a fool?”
Mr. Doe cleared his throat. “I admit the negotiations would have been easier.” he said seriously.
The Prime Minister remained silent for a few minutes. He paced up and down. Finally, he looked the man in the eye.
“Tell me what stops me from exposing you and your allies right now.” He said. “I will expose your conspiracy, tell the truth to the public…”
“Your wife is in the car with your children right now.” said Mr. Doe, looking at his mobile. “The car just turned left from Liberty Street to Democracy Square. They are planning to come here to meet you, judging by what your wife just said to her friend Anna on the phone, two minutes ago. I assure you, I really hope they will make it here.”
The Prime Minister froze. “You can’t harm my family… Then everyone will know who did it and why…”
“Oh, don’t be dramatic. ‘A drunk man lost control of his vehicle’, that is all. No proof, no damage. And, in any case, would you risk your family’s lives at any cost? Do you choose all that nameless, faceless crowd over your own family?”
The Prime Minister stared at him. He wanted to speak, but the words wouldn’t come.
“I thought so.” said Mr. Doe, a satisfied expression on his sallow face. “I will see you in two days, Prime Minister, and I assume we will be on quite different terms by then. Goodnight.”
He had almost reached the door, when the Prime Minister managed to speak : “Were you like this since the beginning?”
Mr. Doe raised an eyebrow. “I beg your pardon?”
“I wonder if you have always been as corrupted as you are now? Or was it something that happened in the process?”
Mr. Doe smiled, almost politely. “In two days, you will be as corrupted as you think I am.”
“I’m not a killer!”
“I’m not a killer, either. I am a messenger. I also happen to know my place. Goodnight, Prime Minister. And ... congratulations.”
The door closed.
A firework danced in the night sky and broke into a million pieces.
The people were still celebrating, unaware of the future, unaware that their struggles, their fights had all been in vain. The crowd, he corrected himself, not the people. The crowd.