My face was pale and dry and watermarked as banknotes; my thin hands upon the tape tore the hard mouths of companies; I cracked the transatlantic cable like a whip; a dozen Bourses trembled when I talked: I did not want to die: I was twenty years old with a house in Mayfair and a figure like a diving champion and hair like Veronica Lake's but a deep shade of gold and a clean fiancé with a moustache and a heart like a lion and just about enough sense to come in out of the cold: and really, my dear lady, if, when young - as which of us was not? - you were...unwise, perhaps, is kinder...some malicious tongue might bring it to your husband's (ha! ha!) eyes: he might, you know, consider he'd been stung: but no desire of death: grey Gothic arches, like learned eyebrows, were my natural home; the book was ignorant as belief in witches; primly above it in my celibate room, I tortured it to death with needle-touches. After the novelty of being dead - the horror on the mat and in the well, the lovely naked body on the bed - after the shock, and slyly watching all their mouths and gestures: then I knew it good: a knowing corpse, with secrets; more than that, the mockery; and more than that, the pride: safe in the centre, the star-turn - and what machinery at work because I died, the burly fuss that follows death about! So all my servile companies, the flash of my enamel eyes, my proofs of sin, my cold angelic learning, all my wish for power and the reverent voice, seemed thin beside the mastery of my helpless flesh, its knowledge and its glory - but no trouble ever again to take: even now taunting the surgeon with my breasts, and able to quell intruders with cathedral brow or send a shudder down the toughest cable.


For it was you I killed: the weeping itch of being nobody, ignored in love, no latimer, a coward and not rich; of knowing I was really good enough though things went hot and silly at my touch. You stole my lover: now you would know better. My front-page hero (you're there now all right) you laughed at me: I do my laughing later. You kept me, like a dog: but I could bite. You drank champagne: how is it under water? For I was brave and clever, having found nobody's knife and altered all the clocks; shot you in darkness and was hard to find - your body, cuckolded by stairs and locks, left, like insulting excrement, behind. Plans: the defiant presence, the sneering alibi, or the motive in the false moustache: all beautiful, a joy preparing, proof against proof, infallible - or else the final wonder of my disappearing. And it was you I killed, who bred my germ of being less: my lustful father, hated in every herald bed-spring; the white worm that coiled me to my mother; the excited sneer of the schoolmaster who meant me harm with an erotic birch. And it was I: self-murder of self-loathing, the one act I knew I could overbear and justify, at worst escape, or drown, that I had lacked: and when I killed you, both of us would die. But, improvising fugues, and playing chess blindfold on fifty boards, I felt my power - the maze and blinding logic of the chase: gambit enfolding gambit: subject, fear; the inner voices answering, success. And even trapped - one castle weak, one chord left unresolved, the falling fabric certain desired and known - I could be reassured: last, sweetest wrong; but pride before the curtain, having the right, the just and final, word.


Then, swift behind the stage, my third disguise: hard-helmeted, and blind, and indolent, learned on bells and the behaviour of grass, the playboy with the famous instrument, the spinster with an attic of old brass: I entered from the other side. How soon the hidden truth stood bare and burly, snarled spider-web grew straight and lethal twine! Praise Eton, Girton, praise the underworld, Freud, logic, intuition: praise my brain. I used the Encyclopaedia for my lens; I twisted handcuffs from a village scandal; found syllogisms in the rarer wines, and saved the hero's life by liking Handel. Frequent and baffling as a list of trains, (facts in each other's arms, lies like equations) ruins and ore of knowledge were my task. I was the man who memorised the stations, the girl with guineas as her lightest risk, her honour pared like nails by Limehouse passions, who thought with razors and was pure of course. I was the poor policeman with the kicked but highly Hendon intellectual arse, never allowed impatience, never licked: I was the dogged mystery in Morse. I who was puzzled by my children's nature, to whom my wide was Nabatean script and every human word an overreacher (and crime and commerce happened while I slept) - was now the gently-smiling tolerant teacher dandling the dirty world. This world was clear: the echoes answered and the paths led home; facts were a fit, like sexes; lies were swathed and unwieldy as a hammered thumb; and even failures were Neaera's hair. Myself, because I needed to be God, I killed and caught: the child's ambiguous life, the penny spinning, dreams of being dead, the worlds that intersect along the knife, terrible and released. All this I read.