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What happened, though, was that I woke up late (near seven-thirty by my watch) and, as it turned out, that was not so clever. You can viddy that everything in this wicked world counts. You can pony that one thing always leads to another. Right right right. My stereo was no longer on about Joy and I Embrace Ye O Ye Millions, so some veck had dealt it the off, and that would be either pee or em, both of them now being quite clear to the slooshying in the living-room and, from the clink clink of plates and slurp slurp of peeting tea from cups, at their tired meal after the day's rabbiting in factory the one, store the other. The poor old. The pitiable starry. I put on my over-gown and looked out, in guise of loving only son, to say:

"Hi hi hi, there. A lot better after the day's rest. Ready now for evening work to earn that little bit." For that's what they said they believed I did these days. "Yum, yum, mum. Any of that for me?" It was like some frozen pie that she'd unfroze and then warmed up and it looked not so very appetitish, but

I had to say what I said. Dad looked at me with a not-so-pleased suspicious like look but said nothing, knowing he dared not, and mum gave me a tired like little smeck, to thee fruit of my womb my only son sort of. I danced to the bathroom and had a real skorry cheest all over, feeling dirty and gluey, then back to my den for the evening's platties. Then, shining, combed, brushed and gorgeous, I sat to my lomtick of pie. Papapa said:

"Not that I want to pry, son, but where exactly is it you go to work of evenings?"

"Oh," I chewed, "it's mostly odd things, helping like. Here and there, as it might be." I gave him a straight dirty glazzy, as to say to mind his own and I'd mind mine. "I never ask for money, do I? Not money for clothes or for pleasures? All right, then, why ask?"

My dad was like humble mumble chumble. "Sorry, son," he said. "But I get worried sometimes. Sometimes I have dreams. You can laugh if you like, but there's a lot in dreams. Last night I had this dream with you in it and I didn't like it one bit."

"Oh?" He had gotten me interessovatted now, dreaming of me like that. I had like a feeling I had had a dream, too, but I could not remember proper what. "Yes?" I said, stopping chewing my gluey pie.

"It was vivid," said my dad. "I saw you lying on the street and you had been beaten by other boys. These boys were like the boys you used to go around with before you were sent to that last Corrective School."

"Oh?" I had an in-grin at that, papapa believing I had really reformed or believing he believed. And then I remembered my own dream, which was a dream of that morning, of Georgie giving his general's orders and old Dim smecking around toothless as he wielded the whip. But dreams go by opposites I was once told. "Never worry about thine only son and heir, O my father," I said. "Fear not. He canst taketh care of himself, verily."

"And," said my dad, "you were like helpless in your blood and you couldn't fight back." That was real opposites, so I had another quiet malenky grin within and then I took all the deng out of my carmans and tinkled it on the saucy table-cloth. I said:

"Here, dad, it's not much. It's what I earned last night. But perhaps for the odd peet of Scotchman in the snug somewhere for you and mum."

"Thanks, son," he said. "But we don't go out much now. We daren't go out much, the streets being what they are. Young hooligans and so on. Still, thanks. I'll bring her home a bottle of something tomorrow." And he scooped this ill-gotten pretty into his trouser carmans, mum being at the cheesting of the dishes in the kitchen. And I went out with loving smiles all round.

When I got to the bottom of the stairs of the flatblock I was somewhat surprised. I was more than that. I opened my rot like wide in the old stony gapes. They had come to meet me. They were waiting by the all scrawled-over municipal wall-painting of the nagoy dignity of labour, bare vecks and cheenas stern at the wheels of industry, like I said, with all this dirt pencilled from their rots by naughty malchicks. Dim had a big thick stick of black greasepaint and was tracing filthy slovos real big over our municipal painting and doing the old Dim guff – wuh huh huh – while he did it. But he turned round when Georgie and Pete gave me the well hello, showing their shining droogy zoobies, and he horned out: "He are here, he have arrived, hooray," and did a clumsy turnitoe bit of dancing.

"We got worried," said Georgie. "There we were awaiting and peeting away at the old knify moloko, and you might have been like offended by some veshch or other, so round we come to your abode. That's right, Pete, right?"

"Oh, yes, right," said Pete.

"Appy polly loggies," I said careful. "I had something of a pain in the gulliver so had to sleep. I was not wakened when I gave orders for wakening. Still, here we all are, ready for what the old nochy offers, yes?" I seemed to have picked up that yes? from P. R. Deltoid, my Post-Corrective Adviser. Very strange.

"Sorry about the pain," said Georgie, like very concerned. "Using the gulliver too much like, maybe. Giving orders and discipline and such, perhaps. Sure the pain is gone? Sure you'll not be happier going back to the bed?" And they all had a bit of a malenky grin.

"Wait," I said. "Let's get things nice and sparkling clear. This sarcasm, if I may call it such, does not become you, O my little friends. Perhaps you have been having a bit of a quiet govoreet behind my back, making your own little jokes and such-like. As I am your droog and leader, surely I am entitled to know what goes on, eh? Now then, Dim, what does that great big horsy gape of a grin portend?" For Dim had his rot open in a sort of bezoomny soundless smeck. Georgie got in very skorry with:

"All right, no more picking on Dim, brother. That's part of the new way."

"New way?" I said. "What's this about a new way? There's been some very large talk behind my sleeping back and no error. Let me slooshy more." And I sort of folded my rookers and leaned comfortable to listen against the broken banister-rail, me being still higher than them, droogs as they called themselves, on the third stair.

"No offence, Alex," said Pete, "but we wanted to have things more democratic like. Not like you like saying what to do and what not all the time. But no offence." George said: "Offence is neither here nor elsewhere. It's the matter of who has ideas. What ideas has he had?" And he kept his very bold glazzies turned full on me. "It's all the small stuff, malenky veshches like last night. We're growing up, brothers."

"More," I said, not moving. "Let me slooshy more."

"Well," said Georgie, "if you must have it, have it then. We itty round, shop-crasting and the like, coming out with a pitiful rookerful of cutter each. And there's Will the English in the Muscleman coffee mesto saying he can fence anything that any malchick cares to try to crast. The shiny stuff, the ice," he said, still with these like cold glazzies on me. "The big big big money is available is what Will the English says."

"So," I said, very comfortable out but real razdraz within. "Since when have you been consorting and comporting with Will the English?"

"Now and again," said Georgie, "I get around all on my oddy knocky. Like last Sabbath for instance. I can live my own jeezny, droogy, right?"

I didn't care for any of this, my brothers. "And what will you do," I said, "with the big big big deng or money as you so highfaluting call it? Have you not every veshch you need? If you need an auto you pluck it from the trees. If you need pretty polly you take it. Yes? Why this sudden shilarny for being the big bloated capitalist?"

"Ah," said Georgie, "you think and govoreet sometimes like a little child." Dim went huh huh huh at that. "Tonight," said Georgie, "we pull a mansize crast." So my dream had told truth, then. Georgie the general saying what we should do and what not do, Dim with the whip as mindless grinning bulldog. But I played with care, with great care, the greatest, saying, smiling: "Good. Real horrorshow. Initiative comes to them as wait. I have taught you much, little droogie. Now tell me what you have in mind, Georgie-boy."

"Oh," said Georgie, cunning and crafty in his grin, "the old moloko-plus first, would you not say? Something to sharpen us up, boy, but you especially, we having the start on you."

"You have govoreeted my thoughts for me," I smiled away. "I was about to suggest the dear old Korova. Good good good. Lead, little Georgie." And I made with a like deep bow, smiling like bezoomny but thinking all the time. But when we got into the street I viddied that thinking is for the gloopy ones and that the oomny ones use like inspiration and what Bog sends. For now it was lovely music that came to my aid. There was an auto ittying by and it had its radio on, and I could just slooshy a bar or so of Ludwig van (it was the Violin Concerto, last movement), and I viddied right at once what to do. I said, in like a thick deep goloss: "Right, Georgie, now," and I whisked out my cut-throat britva. Georgie said: "Uh?" but he was skorry enough with his nozh, the blade coming sloosh out of the handle, and we were on to each other. Old Dim said: "Oh no, not right that isn't, and made to uncoil the chain round his tally, but Pete said, putting his rooker firm on old Dim: "Leave them. It's right like that." So then Georgie and Your Humble did the old quiet cat-stalk, looking for openings, knowing each other's style a bit too horrorshow really. Georgie now and then going lurch lurch with his shining nozh but not no wise connecting. And all the time lewdies passed by and viddied all this but minded their own, it being perhaps a common street-sight. But then I counted odin dva tree and went ak ak ak with the britva, though not at litso or glazzies but at Georgie's nozh-holding rooker and, my little brothers, he dropped. He did. He dropped his nozh with a tinkle tankle on the hard winter sidewalk. I had just ticklewickled his fingers with my britva, and there he was looking at the malenky dribble of krovvy that was redding out in the lamplight. "Now," I said, and it was me that was starting, because Pete had given old Dim the soviet not to uncoil the oozy from round his tally and Dim had taken it, "now, Dim, let's thou and me have all this now, shall us?" Dim went, "Aaaaaaarhgh," like some bolshy bezoomny animal, and snaked out the chain from his waist real horrorshow and skorry, so you had to admire. Now the right style for me here was to keep low like in frog-dancing to protect litso and glazzies, and this I did, brothers, so that poor old Dim was a malenky bit surprised, him being accustomed to the straight face-on lash lash lash. Now I will say that he whished me horrible on the back so that it stung like bezoomny, but that pain told me to dig in skorry once and for all and be done with old Dim. So I swished with the britva at his left noga in its very tight tight and I slashed two inches of cloth and drew a malenky drop of krovvy to make Dim real bezoomny. Then while he went hauwwww hauwww hauwww like a doggie I tried the same style as for Georgie, banking all on one move – up, cross, cut – and I felt the britva go just deep enough in the meat of old Dim's wrist and he dropped his snaking oozy yelping like a little child. Then he tried to drink in all the blood from his wrist and howl at the same time, and there was too much krovvy to drink and he went bubble bubble bubble, the red like fountaining out lovely, but not for very long. I said:

"Right, my droogies, now we should know. Yes, Pete?"

"I never said anything," said Pete. "I never govoreeted one slovo. Look, old Dim's bleeding to death."

"Never," I said. "One can die but once. Dim died before he was born. That red red krovvy will soon stop." Because I had not cut into the like main cables. And I myself took a clean tashtook from my carman to wrap round poor old dying Dim's rooker, howling and moaning as he was, and the krovvy stopped like I said it would, O my brothers. So they knew now who was master and leader, sheep, thought I. It did not take long to quieten these two wounded soldiers down in the snug of the Duke of New York, what with large brandies (bought with their own cutter, me having given all to my dad, and a wipe with tashtooks dipped in the water-jug. The old ptitsas we'd been so horrorshow to last night were there again, going, "Thanks, lads" and "God bless you, boys" like they couldn't stop, though we had not repeated the old sammy act with them. But Pete said: "What's it to be, girls?" and bought black and suds for them, him seeming to have a fair amount of pretty polly in his carmans, so they were on louder than ever with their "God bless and keep you all,lads" and "We'd never split on you, boys" and "The best lads breathing, that's what you are." At last I said to Georgie: "Now we're back to where we were, yes? Just like before and all forgotten, right?"

"Right right right," said Georgie. But old Dim still looked a bit dazed and he even said: "I could have got that big bastard, see, with my oozy, only some veck got in the way," as though he'd been dratsing not with me but with some other malchick. I said:

"Well, Georgieboy, what did you have in mind?"

"Oh," said Georgie, "not tonight. Not this nochy, please."

"You're a big strong chelloveck," I said, "like us all. We're not little children, are we, Georgieboy? What, then, didst thou in thy mind have?"

"I could have chained his glazzies real horrorshow," said Dim, and the old baboochkas were stil on with their "Thanks, lads."

"It was this house, see," said Georgie. "The one with the two lamps outside. The one with the gloopy name like."

"What gloopy name?"

"The Mansion or the Manse or some such piece of gloop. Where this very starry ptitsa lives with her cats and all these very starry valuable veshches."

"Such as?"

"Gold and silver and like jewels. It was Will the English who like said."

"I viddy," I said. "I viddy horrorshow." I knew where he meant – Oldtown, just beyond Victoria Flatblock. Well, the real horrorshow leader knows always when like to give and show generous to his like unders. "Very good, Georgie," I said. "A good thought, and one to be followed. Let us at once itty." And as we were going out the old baboochkas said: "We'll say nothing, lads. Been here all the time you have, boys." So I said: "Good old girls. Back to buy more in ten minutes." And so I led my three droogs out to my doom.

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