So they were trying to go west, Gloucester Road way, despite the opposition (frivolous and treacherous) of contrary traffic and stultified red signals. There, he supposed, his days of misery had really begun, in the flat of that woman. And now the unavoidable happening was rushing him (well, hardly rushing) to the same long street to make his escape from not merely Vesta's world but Wapenshaw's as well. Well, they were the same world, they had to be the same. They were not the poet's world. Did such a world really exist? Where, anyway, did he think he was going to? He had better make up his mind. He could not say, "What planes do you have, please?" Quite calm now, iced by his wrongs, he got his five-pound notes out of their hiding-place. His passport rode in hard protectiveness over his right pap. It was decidedly an ill wind. About passports, he meant. He had nothing in the way of luggage, which was a pity. Airlines, he thought, must be like hotels so far as luggage was concerned. But you had to pay in advance, didn't you? Still, there must be nothing to arouse suspicion. The newspapers would be cried around the streets shortly. Man answering to this description. May be using an alias. Was he being followed? He looked out of the rear window. There were plenty of vehicles behind, but from none of them were hands and heads broadcasting agitation. He would be all right, he was sure he would be all right. He was innocent, wasn't he? But he hadn't behaved innocent. Who would speak up for him? Nobody could. He had pointed a loaded gun at Shem Macnamara. Besides, if that ghastly yob was dead he was glad he was dead. He had desire and motive and opportunity.
The taxi was now going up the ramp that led into the air terminal, a stripped-looking and gaudy place like something from a very big trade exhibition. He paid off the driver, giving a very unmemorable tip. The driver looked at it with only moderate sourness. Would he remember when he saw the evening papers? Yus yus, I picked him ap ahtside the otel. Fought vere was summink a bit fishy. Flyin orf somewhere he was. Hogg entered the terminal. Where the hell was he going to go to? He suddenly caught the voice of John the Spaniard, talking of his brother Billy Gomez. In some bar or other, very exotic, knifing people. Where was that now? Hogg had a confused image of the Moorish Empire: dirty men in robes, kasbahs without modern sanitation, heartening smells of things the sun had got at, muezzins, cockfights, shady men in unshaven hiding, the waves slapping naughty naughty at boats full of contraband goods. Hogg noticed a raincoated man pretending to read an evening paper near an insurance-policy machine. The news would not be in yet, but it wouldn't be long. There was a crowd of people having its luggage weighed. Hogg got in there. One married man was unpacking a suitcase on the floor, almost crying. His wife was angry.
"You should have read it proper. I leave them sort of things to you. Well, it's your stuff that'll have to stay behind, not mine."
"How was I to know you couldn't take as much on a charter flight as on one of them ordinary uns?" He laid a polythene-wrapped suit, like a corpse, on the dirty floor. Hogg saw a yawning official at a desk. Above him stretched a title in neon Egyptian italic: PANMED AIRWAYS. Panmed. That would mean all over the Med or Mediterranean. He went up and said politely:
"A single to Morocco, please." Morocco was, surely, round the Mediterranean or somewhere like that. Hogg saw the raincoated paper-reader looking at him. Lack of luggage, no coat over arm, a man obviously on the run.
"Eh?" The official stopped yawning. He was young and ginger with eyes, like a dog's, set very wide apart. "Single? Oh, one person you mean."
"That's right. Just me. Rather urgent, actually." He shouldn't have said that. The young man said:
"You mean this air cruise? Is that what you mean? A last-minute decision, is that it? Couldn't stand it any longer? Had to get away?" It was as though he were rehearsing a report on the matter; he was also putting words into Hogg's mouth. Hogg said:
"That's right." And then: "I don't have to get away, of course. I just thought it would be a good idea, that's all."
"Charlie!" called the young official. To Hogg he said: "It looks as though you're going to be in luck. Somebody died at the last minute."
Hogg showed shock at the notion of someone dying suddenly. The man called Charlie came over. He was thin and harassed, wore a worn suit, had PANMED in metal on his left lapel. "They won't ever learn," said Charlie. "There's one couple there brought what looks like a cabin-trunk. They just don't seem able to read, some of them."
"The point is," said the young ginger man, "that you've had this cancellation, and there's this gentleman here anxious to fill it. Longing to get to the warmth, he is. Can't wait till the BEA flight this evening. That's about it, isn't it?" he said to Hogg. Hogg nodded very eagerly. Too eagerly, he then reflected.
Charlie surveyed Hogg all over. He didn't seem to care much for the barman's trousers. "Well," he said, "I don't know really. It's a question of him being able to pay in cash."
"I can pay in nothing else," said Hogg with some pride. He pulled out a fistful in earnest. "I just want to be taken to Morocco, that's all I have," he said, improvising rapidly, "to get to my mother out there. She's ill, you see. Something she ate. I received a telegram just after lunch. Very urgent." Very urgent: the typesetters would be setting up the type now; the C.I.D. would be watching the airports.
Charlie had a fair-sized wart on his left cheek. He fiddled with it as though it activated a telegraphic device. He waited. Hogg put his money back in his trouser-pocket. A message seemed to come through. Charlie said: "Well, it all depends where in Morocco, doesn't it? And how fast you want to get there. We'll be in Seville late tonight, see, and not in Marrakesh till tomorrow dinner-time. This is an air cruise, this is. If it's Tangier you want to get to, we shan't be there for another fortnight. We go round the Canaries a bit, you see."
"Marrakesh would do very nicely," said Hogg. "What I mean is, that's where my mother is."
"You won't get anybody else, Charlie," said the young ginger official. "That seat's going begging, all paid for by the bloke who snuffed it. He's got cash." He spoke too openly; he seemed to know that Hogg was making a shady exit. "The bus," he looked at the big clock, "leaves in ten minutes."
"Shall we say fifty?" Charlie licked his lips; the young official picked up the gesture. "In cash, like I said."
"Done," said Hogg. He lick-counted the money out. A good slice of his savings. Savings. The word struck, like a thin tuning-fork (he was glad Yod Crewsy was dead, if he was dead), a pertinent connotation. He put the money on the counter.
"Passport in order, sir?" said the ginger official. Hogg showed him. "Luggage, sir?"
Wait," said Hogg. "I've got it over there." He pierced the waiting crowd. That unpacking man had finished unpacking. In the big suitcase lay only a pair of Bermuda shorts, some shaving gear, and two or three paperbacks of a low sort. The unpacked garments were on his arm. "They said I could leave them in their office here," he puffed. "Collect them on the way back. Still, it's a bloody nuisance. I've practically only got what I stand up in." Hogg said:
"Saw you were in a bit of trouble over weight." He smiled at the couple as if they were going to do him a favour, which they were. "That suitcase could go with mine, if you like. I'm taking practically nothing, you see."
The couple looked at him with proper suspicion. They were decent fattish short people in late middle age, unused to kindness without a catch in it. The man groused: "It means I'll have to shove it all in again."
"That's right," said Hogg. "Shove it all in again." The man, shaking his head, once more got down heavily on his knees.
"It's very kind, Mr er," said the wife, grudgingly.
They never took their eyes off Hogg as he swung the reconstituted bag to the weighing. Charlie and the ginger official had seen nothing: they were busy doing a split on Hogg's money. The raincoated paper-reader, Hogg noticed, had gone. Perhaps to buy a later edition. Hogg was glad to be herded to the bus.