tagNovels and NovellasNo Future Ch. 49

No Future Ch. 49

bybradley_stoke©

XLIX
Foreign Shores
Diane
2043


"It doesn't matter however much I enjoy making love with you," said Diane, "it still feels wrong."

"Because we're both women?" wondered Lakeisha who was spread out on the sheets beside the vicar.

"Because I'm in love with Doris," Diane replied.

"It's not as if you're living together, is it?" said Lakeisha. "Didn't you enjoy making love it just now? The moistness between your thighs tells me you did."

"Doris and I are lovers," said Diane. "We've even talked about getting married."

"I thought you told me that Doris is also seeing another woman," said Lakeisha. "You told me that you'd discussed it together and came to some kind of agreement."

"Infidelity by consent is still infidelity," said Diane. "How can I, as a woman of the cloth, be party to such behaviour?"

"Doris doesn't mind you making love with me. You've accepted in turn that Doris can make love with this other woman..."

"Lucy."

"...With Lucy. You still make love with each other regularly. So what's the problem? Both of you have at least two lovers. Surely, the one who should feel most aggrieved is me. The only woman I make love with is you."

"I don't think Lucy has any other lovers," said Diane. "She didn't even know she was attracted to women before Doris and she... you know... at the Accenture IBM conference... in the hotel..."

"Don't worry about Lucy," said Lakeisha. "You should worry about me. You should worry about whether I'm satisfied."

"And are you?"

"I think I would appreciate more attention from your tongue," said Lakeisha with a wry smile, pointing at the thicket of curly black hair between her thighs.

"I shouldn't be so selfish," said Diane with a reciprocal smile as she parted Lakeisha's black thighs with her ivory-pale hands and applied her slightly sore tongue to the region in most urgent need.

Diane was acutely conflicted and not just because she now had two lovers. That was problem enough. She was lucky at her age to have a lover who was still in her mid-thirties and so beautiful as well. Although she was sure that Doris was the real love of her life and with whom she would eventually return to a conventional monogamous relationship, there was no denying that she was very fortunate to be blessed with a relationship with Lakeisha.

She was also conflicted because Lakeisha was her employee. Was it right for her to make love with a woman whose wages she was responsible for paying?

A woman like Lakeisha wouldn't normally be employed in the menial role of medical advisor and senior doctor for Diane's new charitable venture, but current legislation had automatically made almost anyone without a British passport an illegal alien. She'd lost her job at a medical centre in the Midlands because of her uncertain immigration status and was just one of several outrageously overqualified candidates for the position the vicar had advertised.

Diane wasn't sure why she'd recruited Lakeisha ahead of the other candidates. Every candidate in the final shortlist was equally well-suited and equally inconvenienced by current legislation. Most organisations that employed doctors or medical staff were mindful of the penalties for harbouring an illegal immigrant and understandably chose to avoid the risk. The employment legislation was so vaguely worded that there was no certainty that even someone like Lakeisha, who'd been in the country for over ten years and had never claimed state benefit, might not be unceremoniously deported and her employer fined and censured.

Could the same thing happen at the Reigate Refugee Centre? There were so many ways that Diane's enterprise was utterly contrary to the modern mean-minded spirit of immigration policy that it was a wonder she'd been allowed to get away with it. The local MP was one of those most opposed to the centre and she'd had to explain her employment policies in great detail to officials from the British Homeland Security Services. It was this newly instituted quango that now took responsibility for the policing of foreign terrorists, illegal immigrants and seasonal foreign labour.

"You are fully aware of your responsibilities and duties in running such a sensitive operation?" wondered Inspector David Lamb. "These apply not only to the people in your care, but also to your staff."

"Yes, of course," said Diane who was dressed all in black apart from the white collar that conferred unquestionable moral and spiritual authority on her. She was flanked by Doris who contributed very little to Diane's project but whose presence bestowed additional gravitas to these kinds of meetings. She was also accompanied by a representative from Oxfam with whom she was coordinating her charitable efforts.

"The unfortunates you're caring for don't have any official immigration status," continued the inspector. "They are here in the same capacity as a foreign individual who might, for instance, be attending a health spa or having cosmetic surgery. In a sense they are in the country as tourists even though, as you've stressed, many if not most of them will most likely die while in your care."

"The vast majority of cases we shall assign to Reverend Dawkins' care will be terminal patients," said Paul Mideska, the Oxfam representative. "If you were to meet any one of them then you'd be more than certain of the truth of that. There are millions of Indians and Pakistanis who deserve a few months of dignity before they die."

"I've watched the news stories," said the inspector with a touch of exasperation in his voice. "I'm not here to judge on the value of your work to the many unfortunate victims of the Indo-Pakistan war. The Walking Dead I think they call the survivors. I am here to advise you on the legal issues associated with your project. There are many residents in Reigate who'd think very poorly of us if we didn't perform our duty in that regard."

"I'm aware of that," said Diane.

The local newspaper and the local MP had already voiced their disapproval. If Diane hadn't been a Vicar of Christ, the campaign against her charitable foundation would have been much less even-tempered. As it was, she was receiving many hate letters, mostly to her e-mail account but even on the doormat, which made apparent just how opposed to the Refugee Centre many local residents were.

"The license you've been given to permit non-European citizens into the country doesn't extend to your staff," said the inspector. "We shall take a very dim view indeed if the people you employ do not have the legal rights for employment in the UK."

"Surely that's true of any organisation that operates in any capacity at all in this country, inspector," said Doris. "I don't see how as an employer this charity can be treated any differently."

"Exactly what I was about to say," said the inspector with relief. "Be mindful of that and I am sure we will have a long and fruitful relationship."

In practise, the Reigate Refugee Centre employed somewhat more latitude than the inspector would have liked. This was principally because a charitable organisation that existed to help the terminally ill was unable to offer the lucrative salaries that would attract most qualified doctors. And this was why Diane was relatively unconcerned about Lakeisha's strict legal status. Her black lover was already fully aware of the precariousness of her situation.

"It seems strange, though," said Lakeisha as the couple sat together naked in the kitchen each nursing a mug of freshly brewed coffee. "My status was completely legal when I first started working in this country. If anything, my status should have improved rather than have got worse now that I've lived here for so many years during which time I've paid so much income tax and social security. Instead it's got progressively worse. Instead of having more rights I actually now have rather fewer."

"People are fearful," said Diane. "They see news stories about the troubles in the outside world. They read about the millions of refugees displaced in India and Pakistan. They hear about the famines, plagues and wars in Africa. They see the sea levels rise, the glaciers melt, and summers of drought and flood all in one season. They just want to retreat from the world's problems and escape from those who're suffering."

"So they decide to make the plight of those who suffer just a little bit worse."

"It's only human nature," said Diane. "That's why we should abide by God's guidance. That's why we should be compassionate and kind. The natural response when we see someone who's suffered—like a radiation burns victim or a beggar on the street or someone with a disfigurement—is to look away. We pretend they're not there. We stride off. It's always someone else's problem. We should be more like the Good Samaritan and give to those who are most in need."

"It seems that people are behaving less and less like the Good Samaritan and have become much more selfish," said Lakeisha. "The British are becoming ever more intolerant. When I first lived in England, I suffered from very little racist abuse. I was only aware of racism at all because I read about it in the news. Now hardly a day goes by when someone doesn't say something offensive to me. I blame it on the anti-immigration policies promoted by Fox News UK and in the newspapers."

"It's not as simple as that, Laki," said Diane. "People wouldn't watch Fox News or buy those newspapers if they didn't already agree with them. I'm sure you're right to say that they make a bad situation worse, but there has to be fertile ground for these opinions in the first place."

"Humph," said Lakeisha, who was unconvinced. "Anyway, in the end it's people like me who'll be the losers. I don't think I'll be able to work in the Refugee Centre for much longer. There'll be further restrictions that'll make it even more difficult for me. Although I've been applying for British citizenship for years, the likelihood of success gets increasingly elusive. Ten years of continuous gainful employment is no longer enough. And the obstacles stacked against me if I don't have a British passport get ever greater. It's become so that an immigrant can only stay in this country if they've got a job but that they can't get a job if they're an immigrant. The next stage will be that they'll actually deport anyone who the authorities don't think are British enough. Just like they're already doing in some of the States of America."

"I don't think things will ever get that bad in England," said Diane with a reassuring smile.

"I wouldn't be so sure of that."

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