"Copernicus," Miss Boland pointed. "And then a bit to the west there's Eratosthenes. And then further west still you get the Apennines." Her face shone, as if she were (which in a sense she really was) a satellite of a satellite. Enderby looked very coldly at the moon which, for some reason to do with the clouds (Shelley's orb'ed maiden and so on), he had expected to lie beneath them. But it was as high up as it usually was. "And down there, south, is Anaxagoras. Just under the Mare Frigoris."
"Very interesting," said Enderby, not very interested. He had not himself ever made much use of the moon as a poetic property, but he still thought he had more claim on it than she had. She behaved very familiarly with it.
"And Plato, just above."
"Why Plato?" They had had not only tea but also dinner, spilt around (hair fallen over her right eye and her tongue bitten in concentration) by that Miss Kelly. It had not been a very good dinner, but Enderby, to quieten his stomach, had wolfed his portion and part of (smilingly donated; she did not have a very big appetite) Miss Boland's. It had been three tepid fish fingers each, with some insufficiently warmed over crinkle-cut fresh frozen potato chips, also a sort of fish sauce served in a plastic doll's bucket with a lid hard to get off. This sauce had had a taste that, unexpectedly in view of its dolly-mixture pink and the dainty exiguity of even a double portion, was somehow like the clank of metal. And, very strangely or perhaps not strangely at all, the slab of dry g^ateau that followed had a glutinous filling whose cold mutton fat gust clung to the palate as with small claws of rusty iron. Enderby had had to reinsert his top teeth before eating, doing this under cover of the need to cough vigorously and the bright pamphlet on Tangerine delights held to his left cheek. Now after eating, he had to get both plates out, since they tasted very defiled and bits of cold burnt batter lodged beneath or above them, according to jaw. He should really get to the toilet to see about that, but, having first had doubts as to whether this aircraft possessed a toilet and then found these dispelled by the sight of the rubbery comedian called Mr Guthkelch coming back from it with theatrical relief, he felt then superstitiously that, once he left the cabin, even for two minutes, a stowaway newsboy might appear and distribute copies of a late edition with his photograph in it, and then they would, Mr Guthkelch suddenly very serious, truss him against the brutal arrest of the Seville police. So he stayed where he was. He would wait till Miss Boland had a little doze or they got to moonlit Seville. The moon was a very fine full one, and it burnt framed in the window to be tickled all over with classical names by Miss Boland.
"I don't know why Plato. That's what it's called, that's all. There's a lot of famous people commemorated all over the lunar surface. Archimedes, see, just above Plato, and Kepler, and right over there on the edge is Grimaldi."
"The clown Grimaldi?"
"No, silly. The Grimaldi that wrote a book on the diffraction of light. A priest I believe he was. But," she added, "I often thought it might be nice if some newer names could be put up there."
"There are a lot of new Russian ones at the back, aren't there?" said well-informed Enderby.
"Oh, you know what I mean. Who's interested in the Rabbi Levi and Endymion, whoever he was, any more? Names of great modern people. It's a daring idea, I know, and a lot of my colleagues have been, you know, aghast."
"The trouble is," said Enderby, "that nobody knows who's really great till they've been a long time dead. The great ones, I mean. Dead, that is." Mount Enderby. "Like some of these Russian towns. One minute they're one thing and the next another. Stalingrad, I mean. Now it's something else."
"Yes, and that's another. You'd be having pop-stars up there perhaps, and then in ten years time everybody would be wondering who the hell they were." Pop-stars. He shouldn't have mentioned that. He felt very and metallically sick. Then it passed. "Sorry I said 'hell'," he said.
"People who give pleasure to the world," said Miss Boland. And then: "There's Hell on the moon, did you know that? A bit old-fashioned really, but that's true of a lot of lunar nomenclature, as I say." And then: "Of course, you being a poet wouldn't like pop-stars much, would you? I can quite see that. Very inferior art, you'd say. I know."
Enderby wished he could get his teeth out and then back in again. But he said quickly: "No, no, no, I wouldn't say that. Some of them are very good, I'm sure. Please," he begged, "don't consider me an enemy of pop-culture."
"All right, all right," she smiled, "I won't. All these long-haired young singers. It's a matter of age, I suppose. I have a nephew and niece who are mad on that sort of thing. They call me a kvadrat."
"Because I'm not, you see."
"But I was able to say to them, you know, that this special idol of theirs seemed very unkvadrat, if that's the right expression, publishing this book of quite highbrow verse. Now that ought to change your opinion of pop-artists, if not of pop-art. I take it you saw the book? One of our junior English lecturers was quite gone on it."
"I've got to get out," said Enderby. She looked surprised. This was not, after all, a bus. "If you'll excuse me -" It wasn't just a matter of teeth any more; he really had to go. A fat beaming woman was just coming away from it now. "A matter of some urgency," Enderby explained and prepared to go into further, plausible, details. But Miss Boland got up and let him out.
The stewardess, Miss Kelly, was sitting at the back with Mr Mercer. Mr Mercer still had his woolly cap on but he was sleeping with his mouth open. Miss Kelly seemed totally content with an expression and posture of sheer vacancy. Enderby nodded grimly at her and entered the toilet. Why hadn't he known these things-kvadrats and so on and that lout publishing a book of verse, and who blasted Vesta had got married to? He had read the Daily Mirror every day with positively adenoidal attention. Very little had got home, then: his rehabilitation had never had a hope of being perfect. He quietened his stomach via his bowels and, the while, rinsed his clogged teeth under the tap and scrubbed them with the nailbrush. Then he reinserted them and, with hands gently folded on his bared lap, cried bitterly for a minute or two. Then he wiped his eyes and his bottom with the same pink paper and committed both lots of wrapped excreta to the slipstream, as he supposed it was called. He blinked at himself in the little mirror, very recognisable Hogg. If he had still had that beard which, in the intensive phase of personality change, he had been made to grow, he could be shaving it off now, having borrowed a razor from somebody, perhaps even Miss Boland, who must surely have one for leg-hair and so on in her crammed bag. Ha ha, you and the start of a holiday make me feel quite young again: I can't wait to divest myself of this fungus, ha ha. But that beard had had to go when he became a barman. So there was nothing between him and the urgently telegraphed photographs (straight from Holden's bloody secret-police dossier) now being handled by swarthy Interpol Spaniards. Nothing except the name. But damnable and treacherous Wapenshaw would already be talking away, baling out what were properly secrets of the confessional. And tomorrow morning copies of the Daily Mirror, which was notoriously on sale before other newspapers, as if unable to wait to regale egg-crackers with the horrors of the world, would be circulating among British holidaymakers on the Costa Brava or whatever it was called. There would be a stern portrait of Hogg on the front page, under a very insulting headline. On the back page would be great air disasters and bombs in Vietnam and avalanches and things. But on the front page would be the murderer Hogg. He did not, it seemed, read the Daily Mirror closely enough, but he had a sufficient appreciation of its editorial philosophy.
He re-entered the long dozing cabin with its little sprays of ceiling light blessing bald and dyed heads. Miss Boland seemed to be counting moon-craters with a puzzled finger: perhaps something new had got up there since her last going-over with a telescope. Enderby said with sudden fierceness to Miss Kelly:
"This woman in charge of pop-singers and so on. Who was it she married?"
Miss Kelly seemed unsurprised by the question. It seemed that pride in her ability to answer the question overcame such surprise as she ought properly to be showing. "Vesta Wittgenstein? Oh, she married this man called Des Wittgenstein who ran the Fakers and the Lean Two, but now she runs them and a lot more besides. She'd been married before, to the racing-driver Pete Bainbridge, but he got himself killed. Very tragic, it was in all the papers. Then there was something about her marrying a middle-aged man and that did not bring her true happiness and it lasted less than a year, just imagine. But now she's found true happiness with Des Wittgenstein and they've both got pots of money. You ought to see her clothes. I was on an aircraft she flew on once, coming back from Rome. That's when she was very ill with this unhappiness, but she was still terribly smart."
Enderby nodded a casual thank-you, as if for some pedestrian information about time of arrival. Miss Kelly smiled conventionally and went into a vacant relapse. Enderby thought he would now write a letter on some of Miss Boland's stationery, so he went back to his seat purposefully, like a man with something other to do than merely be flown to Seville. She welcomed him as if he had been a long time away and even said: "Feeling all right now?"
"I've got to write," said Enderby at once. "A matter of some urgency." He felt he had perhaps used those words before. "If you could oblige me with the wherewithal."
"A poem? How thrilling. What do you mean by the wherewithal? You want me to pay you for it? I will if you like. This is the first time anybody's ever said they'd write a poem for me."
Enderby looked sternly at her. She seemed to be teasing. It was possible she did not believe that he was a poet. Her eyes were, he noted with gloom, what might be termed merry.
"Paper is what I want," he said. "And an envelope, if you can spare it. Two envelopes," he amended.
"Dear, dear, you do want a lot." She took out her writing materials gaily. Enderby said:
"I'll write you a poem tonight. When we get there."
"I'll hold you to that."
Enderby took out his ballpoint and wrote to John the Spaniard: "You know I didn't do it. Pass this note on to you-know-who. I shall be in you-know-where. Your brother. That fat dog place you mentioned. Keep in touch. Yours-" He didn't know how to sign himself. At last he wrote PUERCO. Then he took another piece of paper and addressed it from In The Air. He wrote: "To Whomsoever It May Concern. It was not me who shot that pop-singer, as he is called. It was -" He was damned if he could remember the name. To Miss Boland he said once more: "I've got to get out. I've forgotten something." She let him out, mock-sighing and smiling. He kept paper and ballpoint in his hands. He went back to Miss Kelly, still in a trance of vacancy. Mr Mercer was lip-smacking, ready to surface. A monitor in his sleep had perhaps warned him that soon they would be starting to drop towards Seville. Enderby said:
"That one that used to be with Mrs Einstein's lot -"
"That's right. The one that got out and became unsuccessful and goes round the clubs now."
"Jed Foot, you mean."
"That's it." He wrote the name in standing. He might forget it again if he waited till he got back to his seat. Might spill it on the way. He nodded thanks and went back now, and Miss Boland, letting him in, said:
"You are a busy little bee."
Enderby wrote: "He handed me the gun and I took it without thinking. I panicked and ran. Pick him up and get him to confess. I am innocent." Then he signed that abandoned pseudonym. He addressed one envelope to The Authorities and the other to Mr John Gomez, Piggy's Bar, Tyburn Towers Hotel, W.I. He licked and folded and arranged. Then he sighed. Finished. He could do no more. He thought he had better shut his eyes and get ready for Seville. That would stop Miss Boland teasing him further. Miss Boland, he noticed, was looking something up in her little Spanish dictionary. She was grinning. He didn't like that. It was too small a dictionary to have anything to grin at in it. He killed her grin with his eyelids.