This is the 85th in a series of 365 Flash Fiction stories I’m writing. You can find out more about the challenge here.
Car Parks, by Jonathan L. Lawrence, 24th February 2013
Word count: 926
“You did what?” the general asked his facing turning red with anger, and confusion.
“They left me no choice,” the Prime Minister said. “They’re not going to do anything about it.”
“Not going to do anything about? You moron, you fired a nuclear missile at France. At Paris even!”
“Would have served them right if I’d turned the whole city into a car park,” the Prime Minister sat behind his desk non-plussed.
“They’re mobilising their military as we speak, do you not understand that was an act of war?”
“Please, what are they going to do? Throw garlic at us?” the PM asked dismissively.
“Well your government has cut the army down to the size of an SME, and the navy has less ships than a small transport company. I think they might fancy their chances. What were you thinking, you baffoon?”
“Careful General, do you know who you’re speaking to?”
“I’m not sure, I thought you were meant to be a ‘safe pair of hands’ or whatever it was you campaigned under,” the General said.
“They insulted me first,” the PM said, almost petuantly.
The General took liberties with the PM’s intercom, “Send me in the Cabinet Secretary, whomever of the cabinet you can muster,” he instructed to the bleagured secretary who had spent the morning fending off those very same individuals.
“What’s the meaning of this?” the PM asked.
“We need to co-ordinate a response, put some kind of message out there and start dipolmatic proceedings, and it really shouldn’t be a General helping you deal with this,” the General said deriserly.
The cabinet secretary came in first, “Are we at war with France? Why was no one told?”
“We’re not at war,” the PM said, “The French were being annoying, so I had the navy fire a perfectly harmless missile at them.”
“It was a test missile,” the General pointed out.
“Be that is it may, the French are very upset about it,” the cabinet secretary said.
“Tell me about it, the French ambassadors won’t get off the lines, the only breaks from talking to the French were to take calls from the British ambassador in France,” the foreign secretary said as he entered the room, followed by most of the cabinet.
“Can you at least tell us why?” the Chancellor said.
“The French committed a grave insult,” the PM said, “That’s all I’m at liberty to say at this time.”
“We’re not parliament, we’re your government, that won’t wash,” the Justice secretary said angrily.
“Relax, they’re not going to do anything,” the PM said nonchalantly.
“You’re right,” the deputy Prime Minister said speaking up for the first time, “They won’t do anything because you’re going to phone the French President.”
“How will that help? Mr Prime Minister clearly doesn’t care enough,” the Chancellor of the Exchequer pointed out. The Justice secretary was miming drinking to the Transport Secretary.
“You think a phone call will mend relations?” the Prime Minister asked, increduously.
“Yes, you’re going to phone and apologise, and explain that it was an accidental launch during field tests,” the Deputy Prime Minister stated.
“That’s not going to be enough, even if they backed down, they’ll oppose every little thing we do. We sure as hell won’t be getting a share of the cheese subsidary,” the Justice secretary whose constituency was a major cheese producer.
“He’s right,” the Prime Minister pointed out.
“Then you’re going to tell the French President that you are resigning, that you have some health related issues,” the Deputy PM stated.
“That’s going a bit far,” the Education Secretary said alarmed at this turn of events.
“No it’s not,” the deputy PM said, “And if you don’t do this, and you don’t resign, you’ll give us no choice but to have you removed. You are in no fit state to run this country when you’re like this.” His voice was hard and firm.
The Prime Minister sighed, and looked away from the gathered crowd.
“You know,” he said turning back, “It was the most grave of insults. Smell that cheese, it’s horrendous.”
The Deputy Prime Minister and pulled the Chancellor back, “He’s lost it. I don’t think he’s been drinking, I think the pressure has literally made him snap. Will you back me on this?”
“All the way,” the Chancellor said.
The Prime Minister had gone very quiet.
“Will you do it?” the Deputy demanded.
The Prime Minister sighed, “Fine. I need the break anyway. Happy now?”
“Not nearly happy enough, but it’ll do. Phone now,” the Deputy ordered. He turned to the Cabinet Secretary, “Arrange a suitable reason for retirement, and start whatever procedures are needed to continue government during transition.”
“Yes sir,” the cabinet secretary said, turning sharply on his heels and exiting the room to gather up the troops.
“You know, I don’t regret it,” the Prime Minister said with a deranged chuckle, “I thought I would, but not one bit.”
The General walked out shaking his head warily.
“General,” the Deputy Prime Minister called, and left he room after him, “Good work in there, I’m glad someone could get through to him.”
“Yeah well,” the General said unsure of himself, “I think it’s time for me to retire.”
“I wish you wouldn’t, can you at least hold off until this French situation is dealt with, and the transition is complete?”
“Of course,” the General said with a nod of his head, “It’ll take time to find my replacement anyway.”
“Thank you,” the Deputy PM said, and walked back into the hushed Prime Minister’s office.