"You one of his friends, then?" asked the doctor. "Didn't know he had any British ones." He looked at Enderby with little favour, despite the restored teeth and shaved pinkness (that tan stuff had been hard to get off, the solvents painful), hair scant but washed and brushed, serious spectacles catching the pale after-rain Tangerine light. He was also wearing one of Rawcliffe's neo-Georgian suits, grey and hairy and not too tight in the armpits. The three boys, who were growing pimples and mannerisms as Enderby got to know them better (the tarbooshed waiter had also grown a name-Tetuani, after his hometown Tetuan), had been helpful with the restoration. They had even made up a sort of bed for him with the fireside-type chair and two or three stackable ones. It seemed to them to be a relief to have an Englishman around who was not dying.
"Not in that sense," Enderby said sternly. "A sort of friend, but not in the sense you mean."
"What do you mean, in what sense I mean?" The doctor was an upright tall man in his hale sixties, with a lot of wavy silver hair; he looked like a military medical officer who, on the repatriation of a superior garrison, had elected to stay behind. Liked the place or something. But probably secrets of his own; shadiness. He was a bit too sharp with his "What do you mean?"
"You know what I mean," Enderby said, blushing. "I'm finished with sex, anyway," he blabbed, ill at ease, unhappy with doctors. As if this declaration were a clue to identity, the doctor said:
"Seen you before somewhere, haven't I?"
"My picture in the papers perhaps. Or rather," Enderby emended with haste, "the picture of a man who looks very much like me, or so I'm told. A man called Hogg."
"I wouldn't know. Never read the papers. A lot of lies mostly. As for that sex business, I'm not all that interested in what people do in that line so long as they don't come moaning to me about the consequences. This one," he said, shouldering towards Rawcliffe, who lay feebly snorting under a blanket, "has favoured the dirty and diseased. But you know that, of course, being his friend. Nostalgie de la boue, if you know what that means. But what he's dying of could happen to anybody. To you," he said. "To your maiden aunt in Chichester or wherever it is."
"I haven't got -"
"He's riddled with it, no respecter of persons. All we can do is to ease the end. You can pay me for the hypodermic and the morphine now if you like. And for this and two previous consultations. Call me in again when you think he's gone. I'll have to sign the death certificate."
"The body," said Enderby. There's the question of -"
"He should have done what most of the British do out here. Fifty quid or thereabouts for a patch at St Andrew's. Burial service, resurrection and the life, the lot. Told me once he was a conscientious hedonist, though. Pleasure the end of life, that means. Very unwise, look where it's got him."
"But you said it could happen to -"
"He'll have to be interred at Bubana. I daresay they'll say a few words over the grave. Somebody from the consulate usually turns up. Leave all that to you."
"Look here -"
"I usually get paid in cash. Out of the till." He marched ahead of Enderby into the bar and, nodding at Antonio and Manuel, who were playing Spanish Scrabble, helped himself to what looked like forty-five dirhams.
"He says," Enderby said, "that he wants to be dropped into the sea. It's in writing, signed and witnessed. That he's to be dropped into the sea. Is there any law against that?"
"Damned irregular," the doctor said, helping himself to a snifter of Bell's. "The thing ought to be done properly. What must they think of the white man here, I often ask myself. Pederasty, if you know the term, and drunkenness. Also drugs and writing. You're new here so you wouldn't know half that goes on. Keep away from that stupidly-named Dog place across the road. Americans of the worst type. Still, autres temps autres moeurs. I need not, I hope, translate. I leave everything to you, his friend. Don't neglect to get me on the blower when the time comes."
"Enby." It was Rawcliffe, very feeble.
"You'd better go in and see what he wants. Don't excite him. He's in your hands now."
"Look here -"
"Little poem in itself, that, you could call it I suppose," said the doctor. He smacked off the last of his Bell's. "Still, I leave poetry to you and your kind. I must be off now."
"What do you mean by -"
"Enby." Rawcliffe had pumped up a few extra teaspoonsful of painful air to strengthen his call. No compassion in his march, the doctor let himself out. "Bgr you Enby. Comere." Enderby went back into the sickroom. It was small but cool. Rawcliffe's bed was a double mattress laid on a worn Bokhara; thrown about all over the floor were local goat-skins, of different degrees of off-whiteness; there were cheap ornaments from the bazaar-a hand of Fatma, a cobra which was really an iron spring-it throbbed and jumped and burred on the Moorish coffee table if you touched it, a Rif saddle, a hubble-bubble, scimitars and daggers on the walls. One wall was all books in army cartridge-boxes disposed like shelf-units. Enderby had not yet had time to look through those books: there might conceivably be a copy of-The smell of dying Rawcliffe fought against an incense-burner and an aerosol lavender spray. Rawcliffe, naked under his blanket, said: "Brandy. Vry lrge."
"He said you're to have morphine," Enderby said uneasily. "Alcohol won't help the pain, he said."
"Bgrim. Wanna talk. Bndy." Enderby tried to harden his heart against him, traitor, traducer, diluter, sinner against literature. He went to get a new bottle of Cordon Bleu. Could Rawcliffe cope with a lemonade glass?
There was a china feeding-cup next to the iron cobra. Enderby poured cognac in, sat on Rawcliffe's bed and helped him to drink. Rawcliffe spluttered, coughed, tried to say Christ, but he got down what Enderby estimated to be about a bar quintuple. He had once, in Piggy's Sty, had to serve one of those to a Cabinet Minister: it had come to thirty shillings, taxpayers' money.
"Better, Enderby, much better. Taken that letter to the post, has he? Loiters on the way sometimes, wayward. Good fundamentally, though. A bottom of good sense. Dr Johnson or somebody said that, Enderby."
"It was about a woman."
"Woman, was it? Well, of course, that's more your line, isn't it? God God God God, the bloody pain. The thing to do is to try to see the bloody pain as working in something out there. The body is not me. No transubstan. But Christ Christ, there's a hot line to the brain. Snip the nerve-endings, is there a me still there when all have been snipped? Psychoneural paral paral parallelism ism. Very popular that, before the war. The new immortality."
"There's this morphine here," Enderby said.
"More your line. Two lines there, though, hot and cold. Sun and moon. Moon's no power over you, Enderby. Me, I sinned against the Muse, all woman, and she took her revenge. And now to be sacrificed to her. But she'll be partly cheated, Enderby. New moon coming up about now. But eastward there are tideless waters. Drop this exterior thing in the tideless waters, Enderby. More brandy."
"Do you think you -"
"Yes, I do. Got to tell you. Give instructions." Enderby poured more cognac into the feeding-cup. Obscene, somehow, that festive gold and heady vapour in bland invalid china. Rawcliffe sucked more in avidly. "There's a man called Walker, Enderby. Useful sort of man, British colonial. His precise terry territory uncertain. He's in Casablanca now. Get in touch with him, his phone number's behind the bar. He knows how to get a small aircraft, borrows it from Abdul Krim or somebody, bloody rogue whoever he is. Bloody rogue. What was I saying? Tight, a bit, that's the trouble. Empty stomach, that's the trouble."
"I know this Walker. Easy Walker he calls himself." And then: "Can you eat something? An egg or something?"
It's not your job to keep me alive, is it, Enderby? What's the bloody use of nutriment to me? Listen. The money's in this mattress. For Christ's sake don't let anybody burn it. It's not that I don't trust the banks. It's the buggers in the banks I don't trust, Enderby. Tattle tattle tattle about how much he's got, then coming along for a loan, then beat you up in a back-alley if they can't have it. I know them all too well. You know them all too well. You know Easy Walker. Always said you'd fall on your feet, Enderby. Get that bloody Antonio in here."
"Tell him to bring his guitar. Want to hear. To hear. In all the anthol. He sings it."
Enderby went out to the bar and said: "Antonio. Se~nor Rawcliffe quiere que tu, listed canta, cante, subjunctive there somewhere, whatever it is. Su canci'on, 'el dice." Antonio and Manuel both looked up from a Scrabble board now nearly full of words, their eyes ready to brim. Enderby went back to Rawcliffe. "That letter to Scotland Yard," he said. "It won't do any good. There must be a lot who send in letters like that." And where was he to go, where? He had reconciled himself, hadn't he? But that was when it had seemed possible to be able to murder Rawcliffe. Rawcliffe's eyes were closed. He had started snorting again. His body writhed feebly. And then he started violently awake.
"You've no bloody idea," he said with slow seriousness, "of the bloody agony. You wouldn't think it possible. Don't leave it too long, Enderby."
"Brandy. Insult to the brain. Poor Dylan. Kill me with bloody kindness." Enderby sighed, then recharged the feeding-cup. Antonio came in, trying his strings, crying. "Sing, blast you," said Rawcliffe, spluttering out cognac. The smell of it was fast overcoming his own. Antonio sat on the Rif saddle and twanged his thumb from E to e, sniffing his tears back. It was a well-worn guitar; Enderby could see the abrasions of fingers that, in Andalusian style, had drummed its body. Antonio gave out a thrummed major chord that, with the smell of cognac, seemed to affirm life (sun, zapateados, death in the afternoon). He wailed:
"Per ap sa yamna tuonti diri seyed,
Per ap sayid beter go,
Ji seyed. Mocionles jer ayis, jer jeyed,
Seyin not yes, not no."
"In all the anthologies," Rawcliffe cried, then coughed and coughed. Antonio did not go on. "Put that, death, in your bloody pipe," said Rawcliffe more weakly when the racking had subsided. "Exegi monumentum. And what of yours, Enderby?" He was so faint that Enderby had to drop his ear towards him. "Better to be the one-poem man. But she left me then. Opened up heaven of creativity and then closed it. All right, Antonio. Later, later. Muchas gracias." Antonio blew his nose on his cook's apron. "Read me something of yours, Enderby. They're there, your slender volumes, somewhere. I bought your books at least. Least I could do. I am not all badness."
"Well, really, this is hardly-What I mean is -"
"Something appropriate. Something to one about to die or one dead."
Enderby felt grimly in his left jacket pocket. He had transferred that stolen horror thither. "I can," he said, "without going to your shelves." But there was here at last, and his heart began to climb as with muscular pseudopodia, the chance of checking. Auntie Vesta. He strode over Rawcliffe's hidden feet towards the wall of books. A lot of cheap nasty stuff there: Bumboy, Mr Wigg's Fancy, Lashmaster. He thought, from the shape and size, he saw a copy of his own Fish and Heroes, but it turned out to be a small collection of glossy photographs: men and boys complicatedly on the job, with idiot eyes. But here it was, that other volume, the one the critics had trounced: The Circular Pavane. He flicked and flicked through the pages. There weren't many. And then. "Right," he said. Rawcliffe's eyes were closed again but he could tell Enderby was smiling. He said:
"Glee, eh? The creator's glee? You've found something that recalls the actual ecstasy of its making. Don't exass exacerbate my agony. Read it."
"Listen." Enderby tried to be gruff, but his reading made the poem sound sneering, as though the emotions of the mature were being mocked by some clever green child:
"They thought they'd see it as parenthesis -
Only the naked statement to remember,
Cleaving no logic in their sentences,
Putting no feelers out to the waking dreamer -
So they might reassume untaken seats,
Finish their coffee and their arguments,
From the familiar hooks redeem their hats
And leave, with the complacency of friends.
But strand is locked with strand, like the weave of bread,
And this is part of them and part of time -"
"Oh God God," Rawcliffe suddenly cried. "Ugly hell gape not come not Lucifer." He began to babble. "And if die eternal finds its figures in the temporal then they can find their inferno here." He screamed and then collapsed, his head lolling, his tongue out, blood coming from his left nostril. Antonio's guitar clanged gently superposed fourths and my-dog-has-fleas as he put it down. He made the sign of the cross and prayed weeping. "A shot, Enderby, for Christ's sake." Enderby stared: a test; see if he could really kill? "A lot of shots." He saw then and went over to the coffee-table and the syringe and the morphine ampoules in their box. He hoped he could cope. Those Doggy Wog people would be able to cope all right.