It was a fine day in early spring when Mr Wilkinson witnessed the act of foul sex. He was in a public toilet in a park, a place where, one would think, a civilised person could carry out his personal business without having to experience those sorts of goings-on. There were children playing outside, for God's sake!
As he entered the building, he noted the other cubicle door was firmly shut. He tried not to overhear the muffled sounds of someone groaning, as with a difficult bowel movement, as he sidled into the empty one. There he sat and unfolded his newspaper, but the harder he tried not to listen, the more the sounds of the other man intruded on his conscience. Could the chap not give it up as a bad job? This is what comes, thought Mr Wilkinson, of not having enough fibre in one's diet. He himself was more grateful than he could say that Mrs Wilkinson made him eat his Oaties every morning.
There were more uncivilised sounds from the other side of the wooden partition, and Mr Wilkinson was just about to speak up and ask the gentleman if he had ever tried Oaties and, if he had not, to recommend them heartily, when there was another grunt, Mr Wilkinson was sure, produced by a different throat. And something that sounded suspiciously like a stifled giggle.
Mr Wilkinson stiffened, bowel movement forgotten. There were two of them in there, no doubt indulging in some illicit act of unspeakable profanity. Disgusting!
Motivated by a keen desire to do his civic duty, Mr Wilkinson quickly scanned the wall and found a tape-covered hole in the wooden partition at about eye height. The tape he removed with the utmost attention to detail, ensuring that it made no sound.
Thus revealed to him was a scene of such unabashed carnality that Mr Wilkinson felt quite faint. One young man, his trousers nowhere in sight, leaned against the cistern, his legs spread wide. The other deviant was pressed up against his behind, moving in slow, terrible rhythm. One of his hands gripped the first's male member in a dreadfully familiar way.
Mr Wilkinson was unable to look away and could only watch as first one man, then the other reached their climax. The sodomer withdrew himself. Mr Wilkinson saw he had been wearing a condom, but he did not consider this went very far towards salvaging the morality of the situation. The sodomee released his grip on the cistern and turned to the sodomer, who was refastening his trousers. Both grinned at each other in unrepentant glee at the public spectacle they had just perpetrated, then the sodomee found his trousers and they departed.
The next day, Mr Wilkinson wrote a letter to the council. Dear sir, it said, It has come to my attention that there are goings-on in the public toilets of Harton Park such as would not be believed. Troops of sodomites march in and out of the place at all hours, shamelessly inflicting their dirty and amoral acts on any innocent person who happens to be there for a more legitimate purpose. Only yesterday two young deviants flaunted their idea of erotic pleasure before me as I sat helpless to resist. They were completely unashamed of what they did and indeed seemed to enjoy the manner in which they had flouted all ideals of common decency.
Clearly it must not happen again.
24 Primrose Lane, Harton Estate.
* * *
The Mayor left Mr Wilkinson's letter at the top of his in-tray and went out to lunch. The Mayor's assistant, a young blond man, came in to water the plants and the letter caught his eye. He began to half-read it for amusement while he grappled with a packet of fertiliser sticks, but then one or two significant phrases caught his eye and he stopped and read it through from the start. Then he read it again, and again. A whole carnival troupe of emotions rabbled across his face as he stood there, staring at Mr Wilkinson's letter in the Mayor's in-tray. Then, decisively, he snatched up the letter, took it to the council photocopier, xeroxed it and returned the original to the Mayor's desk.
After that, he too went to lunch.
He went first to the chambers carpark and sat in his car. There he pressed a button on his mobile phone. It rang somebody.
"John," he said, "it's me. You busy? No? Good. You're not on speaker are you? Well, turn it off. Listen, you'll love this. I was in the Mayor's office and there was this letter and... No, shut up, listen!"
And he read out Mr Wilkinson's letter with unseemly relish.
There was silence on the other end of the blond man's phone.
"You still with us, John?" he asked.
"'Flaunted their idea of erotic pleasure before me'?" came John's incredulous voice. "Nick, you're having a laugh."
"I'm not," said the blond man. "I swear to God there was this letter from a guy called Percival Wilkinson on the Mayor's desk about what we did in the park yesterday."
"How the hell does this Percy know what..." John stopped. "Shit, Nick, I told you we should've waited til he left!"
"Kind of late now," said Nick.
John let that go. "But hang on," he said instead, "how's he know if we were unashamed or enjoying flouting common decency or whatever? The most he could've heard was a few noises."
"Our Percy," said Nick with satisfaction, "is a pervert."
"Gaah," said John. He wasn't too keen on someone who used phrases like "goings-on in the public toilets" and "dirty and amoral acts" spying on him and Nick together. "So what're we going to do about it?" he asked.
Nick gave a very evil grin in the yellow lighting of the underground carpark. "Why," he said, "we're going to thank our Mr Wilkinson warmly for his community-minded concern."
* * *
Nick carefully pinched the stamped envelope entitled "Mr Percival Wilkinson, 24 Primrose Lane, Harton Estate" from the Mayor's out-tray and read the letter contained therein. It was, as he had hoped, the Mayor's form letter for dealing with Concerned Citizens, which always ended with assurances that the matter would most certainly be looked into, sir.
The only difference was that this time, the matter would.
* * *
Mr Wilkinson tore open the second letter from Harton Council like a child at Christmas. Generally any letter that came from the council this soon after the Mayor's was a reminder about his dog registration. But not this time. This was clear evidence that the matter of sodomite orgies in Harton Park was of real concern to the community. He'd made them sit up and take notice, by Jove.
The letter was not from the Mayor this time, but some lesser councillor named Nicholas Aldon. It read:
To Mr P. Wilkinson.
The matter raised in your letter of 08/09 has been investigated, as advised in Mr English's letter of 10/09. I took it upon myself to visit the toilets of Harton Park and their surrounds in an attempt to catch the hordes of sodomites in the act. Though I waited for many hours, not a single sodomite reared his ugly head. The only explanation that springs to my mind, sir, is that through your timely action, they have been frightened away from Harton and have taken their deviant practices elsewhere.
I thank you again, sir, for your concern.
Mr Wilkinson finished the letter with satisfaction. Yes indeed, he had the measure of those perverts. They would not be seen in his public toilets again.
He wandered around for some time after that in a daze of civic pride. Mrs Wilkinson was equally impressed.
"You're a hero!" she said, adding an extra spoonful of honey to his Oaties and promising him a special little something after lunch.
Thus all was good and wholesome in the Wilkinson household for several days hence, until the next letter from Cllr Aldon arrived.
Dear sir, it read, I must inform you that since we last spoke, in my letter of 13/09, I have had another letter, from a Mr John Masters.
The substance of Mr Masters' letter was as follows:
He is concerned for the safety of the community after discovering that there is a voyeur frequenting the Harton Park public toilets. This voyeur, he says, spies on the occupants of one cubicle from the other through a hole in the central wall. He has reason to believe the man thinks he is performing some sort of noble civil service by behaving in this way.
I assured him the matter would be dealt with.
I'm sure you can see the way the land lies for yourself, sir.
Your humble servant,
Cllr Nicholas Aldon.
By God! The cheek of the man! thought Mr Wilkinson, and he rang the council chambers.
"I wish to make an appointment to see Councillor Aldon," he told the receptionist.
"I'm sorry," she said. "Who?"
"Nicholas Aldon," said Mr Wilkinson.
"Oh!" said the woman. "That Councillor Aldon. May I ask your name, and what you wish to speak to him about?"
"Percy Wilkinson, on private business."
"If you'll wait five minutes, sir, I'll just check when he's available," said the receptionist. Tinny music played in his ear while she was gone. He was in the middle of humming along to Greensleeves when she returned. "1pm today, Mr Wilkinson, will that suit you?"
"It will indeed," replied that gentleman.
* * *
After the Mayor left for lunch, Nick entered his office and carefully hid everything on the desk that identified its owner as Martin English. He put his own nameblock on the doorward side and replaced the Mayor's photo of his wife and kids and two dogs with his own photo of himself and John at the beach.
Then he sat in the Mayor's ergonomic high-backed leather chair and amused himself by raising and lowering it with the gas pedal until the receptionist came to the door.
"Mr Wilkinson's here to see you, sir," she said, trying to hide a grin.
"Send him in," said Nick, in what he hoped were suitably Mayoral tones.
Soon afterwards, a balding middle-aged man who looked every inch a Percy came marching self-righteously into Nick's office.
Nick rose and came around the table, holding out a hand to greet him. "Ah, Mr Wilkinson! Nick Aldon. So good to meet you at last. How can I help you?"
"You can help me, Mr Aldon, by giving me an apology for the preposterous insinuations you made in your last..."
The man stopped. He was staring at Nick's face.
"Do go on," said Nick cordially.
"You..." said Mr Wilkinson. "You.."
Nick said nothing, but smiled very slowly. It looked even more evil under the white panel lighting of the Mayor's office.
Mr Wilkinson coloured an interesting shade of red. He opened and closed his mouth once or twice more, then turned and left the office abruptly.
* * *
"That was quick," said the receptionist. "Was Councillor Aldon able to help you?"
But Mr Wilkinson was already out the door.
It was just as well, because Nick's unrestrained roar of laughter echoed through the hallways a second later.
* * *
Mr Wilkinson's mortification lasted him all the way home and until he'd had several glasses of wine to steady his nerves. Then his righteous indignation returned. A letter was in order, he thought, but not to the council. Never again to the council. So he wrote to the editor of the Herald instead.
It has recently come to my attention that Cllr Nicholas Aldon of Harton Council is a homosexual and a sodomite. What sort of example, sir, are we setting our children if we allow that sort of person to become a leading figure in our community? I feel it is my duty to inform you, sir, such that you may inform the community of this hitherto unsuspected menace threatening them.
Mr P. Wilkinson
24 Primrose Lane, Harton Estate
That will fix him, thought Mr Wilkinson.
The reply came a few days later.
To: Mr P. Wilkinson, 24 Primrose Lane, Harton Estate
From: John Masters, editor, the Herald
Re: Sexuality of Cllr Nick Aldon
A few days later, Mr and Mrs Wilkinson were sitting at breakfast when a news item came on the radio about new age-of-consent laws.
"...State legislation is being passed which will bring the homosexual age of consent, currently 18, in line with the heterosexual age of consent, 16. Gay rights groups hail this as a breakthrough in the war against homophobia..."
"Do you hear that!" said Mrs Wilkinson. "The things they do! Shouldn't be doing 'em at forty-five, let alone sixteen. Disgusting! Someone should put a stop to it."
Mr Wilkinson didn't appear to be paying attention. Mrs Wilkinson had been worrying about him lately. Ever since he'd gotten that letter back from the Herald that he hadn't let her see, he'd come over all funny.
"Why don't you write one of your letters, dear?" she suggested.
Mr Wilkinson didn't look up. His cheeks were unusually pink.
"To the council?" she pressed. "Or to the paper?"
Mr Wilkinson stirred his cereal slowly. "No, Mrs Wilkinson," he said at last, "I don't think I will."
"Oh, Mr Wilkinson!" she exclaimed in sympathetic dismay. She squeezed more honey into his bowl, but to no avail. Mr Wilkinson would not be drawn on the subject of acts of foul sex, and finished his Oaties in complete silence.