What is left? I had taken a coffee cup from Aglionby's sink, dried it and threw some bullets in it; the cup sat at my feet and I leaned against the wall, looking out at the slow traffic of the holiday. I thought about Nwargo in Africa, I thought stupidly, "it's warmer there" and let my thoughts wander across the landscape of the last few months and then further back toward thoughts I need hardly describe. Idly I looked at the colors that drifted by under the window, from even just five floors up, people are reduced to the colors they wear and a few identifying features. "What tells me who I must kill?" I thought. Aglionby didn't have an answer for that.
I didn't either.
I started to get hungry from the boredom. I didn't dare leave the window and I could feel an old hunger return. It creeped up from my blood into my thoughts, and then it was in my pores. I was sweating, the corpse was beginning to smell. I knew Aglionby had a few faults, it was an idle thought.
Still people walked by to their relatives, to their friends, for meals together, for opening presents; Aglionby smelled. If there was a clock it would have counted the hours but there were only the shadows falling into the apartment, now longer. I thought about her smiling at that judge, he was a good man. I was happy for her.
Out the window nothing changed. I could feel the urge, I could smell it past the corpse. I knew he had some. I knew it was here, in the apartment where I had killed him. I needed to look out the window, to focus. I had seen it on his arms. The winters are long here, his assignment had undoubtedly bored him and the women, if they don't challenge, don't long interest. From his file, he must have never learned this about women; he must have been going out of his mind. There was nothing about tracks in his file though, it must have been a recent development: something to make the nights go away.
Let me tell you something about the thing that enslaves you, it is always interesting. It's never the same old thing. I thought about her and what had happened after dinner with the judge. I looked away from the window, appraising the room. Aglionby was sprawled out, there was a shelf with a jar, house keys splayed next to it with a keychain from the Space Needle. Fate with its obvious sense of humor, a tracing of our weaknesses like laughing at a man tripping over a rock. I looked in the jar: nothing: some change. A pencil. I settled back against the wall, looking out across the street. Nothing. The weak sun of afternoon was already beginning to fade, in an hour there would be no light, and then what?
I sat there for a few minutes trying to clear my mind. Suddenly I was exhausted. I wished Nwargo was here and looked at the corpse on the bed. His boots were Russian, there was a backpack in a corner near the bed: the eternal student. I looked in the bag, I had been trying not to because I knew what I would find there. Nobody would stop me. I tried to fool myself. I looked out the window, but wouldn't they have come by now? By now they must have had some idea that if I was anywhere, I was here. Aglionby had been dead for some hours now. Would they dare wait for night?
With my talent for escape?
I found the stuff I needed to fix, but not the stuff itself. I knew where to look for that too.
I started with his pants pockets. Nothing. The usual things. Gingerly I rolled him over a little, the bed was streaked and puddled with blood; I found his breast pocket. The baggie hadn't let the blood in but it was greasy, I was shaking and it was hard to open it right. Everything smeared. I felt sick. I looked out the window. Nothing. My hands were shaking. I thought of Greenville, the Sinoe River, my last fix and the corpses there. They had floated like logs, colors of their shattered bodies and torn clothing muted by the river. When a thing is a corpse that is all that it looks like, but you know that. I didn't want the junk, but I had the fever. I was bored and scared, the last month had shattered me. What was this betrayal by Ottawa? What had happened to those villages in the Sahel? Her smile and the judge. The endless watchfulness, the double-crossing and wondering who knew what? I told the Spanish captain that I would come to Tallinn and that was it, he would say I was in Helsinki or that I had told him Helsinki but he guessed Minsk. What kindness there can be in this! But my hands were shaking, I didn't want to be who I was anymore. I didn't want this accumulation of lies and truth so that it hardly mattered anymore if this were Greenville or Tallinn, New York or Tokyo. I wanted it all to mean something, and if it couldn't, then it couldn't matter anymore. Ottawa left me out in the cold? Calrissian, who had recruited me years ago? I wanted a reason. I wanted payback.
The junk was bubbling. I let it bubble. I dropped the spoon and immediately cursed at myself. "Fool!" I said out loud. I leaned back against the wall, without even that to distract me now. My victory over the junk meant nothing to me, a noble but meaningless gesture. I would probably still die before the next sunrise. But I refused to die a slave and I refused to die with my belly up to the French pursuit. I found a stick of gum from God knows when in one of my pockets and stuck it in my mouth, waiting for them to appear.
Undoubtedly they would be shadows. Clouds obscured the slipping sun and the snow began, ever so gently, to fall. The snow caught the light from windows and streetlights that slowly blinked on, awakening to the night. I only felt my tears then, when I thought that I loved this earth more than anything. It is good that we can still feel this way, Cpl.
It is late, I must conclude for now before I bore you completely, but you must indulge me to continue with my narrative when I am next continuing this present journey. There is a morning train, and I will try and continue it then, but I know you wait in Berlin for news of me. You have found some of that news here.
Barking like a dog? Quick thinking Cpl., it has saved me once or twice as well. Indeed, man's best friend!
without further delay,