An hour later, Enderby lay exhausted on his hotel bed. He had posted that letter in the box in the hotel lobby, having found some pesetas in his little treasury of tips and been able to buy stamps from the moustached duenna yawning with dignity at the reception desk. None of the hotel staff, admittedly tired and proudly resentful of the late-arriving guests, seemed even minimally agitated by news of the death of a British pop-singer. So things were all right so far. But soon they would not be. A lot of course depended on the chief guardian of the true identity of Hogg, namely bloody Wapenshaw; much depended on the Hogg-photograph in tomorrow's newspapers; a little depended on Miss Boland's semantic investigations into the word puerco.
Soon, when he was less exhausted, he would go and see Miss Boland. She was on this floor of the hotel, which was called the Hotel Marruecos; she was just a couple of doors down. Soon. Enderby had had sent up a bottle of Fundador and a glass. He knew Fundador from Piggy's Sty: it was a kind of parody of Armagnac. He was drinking it now for his nerves. He lay on the bed, whose coverlet was the colour of boiled liver. The wallpaper was cochineal. There were no pictures on the walls. It was all very bare, and he had done nothing to mitigate that bareness. Nothing in the wardrobe, no suitcase on the luggage-stand at the bed's bottom. The window was open, and a hot wind had started blowing up, one which seemed to match the cochineal walls. This hot wind had scattered the clouds and disclosed what was now a Spanish moon, a Don Juan stage property. Miss Boland, in a sensible dressing-gown, would now be putting curlers in her hair, looking at the moon. Luna. Perhaps she would be checking the word in her handbag dictionary.
Painfully Enderby got up and went to the bathroom. He could hear, through the wall, in the adjoining bathroom, the man with overweight luggage being rebuked bitterly by his wife. Libidinous wretch. Condom-carrier. Thought he'd have a nasty sly go at the se~noritas or bintim did he? Words to that effect, anyway. Best years of her life slaving away for him. Enderby, sighing, micturated briefly, pulled the chain and left his room buttoning, sighing. Leaving his room, he met Miss Boland coming to his room. Quite a coincidence, really.
"I've come," she said, "for my poem." She looked rather like a woman who was coming to collect a poem, not a bit the lecturer in selenography. Her dressing-gown was far from sensible: it was diaphanous black, billowing in the hot wind from the window at the corridor's end, and under it was a peach-coloured nightdress. Her pretty mousy hair had been brushed; it crackled in the hot wind; a peach-coloured fillet was binding it. She had put on cochineal lipstick, matching the hot wind. Enderby gulped. Gulping, he bowed her in. He said:
"I haven't had time yet. To write a poem, that is. I've been unpacking, as you can see."
"You've unpacked everything? Goodness. A bit pointless, isn't it? We're only here for the night. What's left of it, that is. Ah," she said, billowing in the hot wind over to the window, "you have the luna too. My luna and yours."
"We must," Enderby said reasonably, "be on the same side of the corridor. The same view, you see." And then: "Have a drink."
"Well," she said, "I don't usually. Especially at this hour of the morning. But I am on holiday after all, aren't I?"
"You most certainly are," Enderby said gravely. "I'll get a glass from the bathroom." He went to get it. The row was still going on next door. Uncontrollable lust in middle age. Comic if it was not disgusting. Or something like that. He brought back the glass and found Miss Boland sitting on his bed. "Mare Imbrium," she was saying. "Seleucus. Aristarchus." He poured her a very healthy slug. He would make her drunk and have a hangover, and that would distract her tomorrow morning from puerco business. Soon he would go to her room and steal her dictionary. Everything was going to be all right.
"You've been thorough," she said, taking the glass from him. "You've even packed your suitcase away."
"Oh, yes," he said. "It's a sort of mania with me. Tidiness, that is." Then he saw himself in the dressing-table mirror-unshaven since early this morning in London (he had written Londra on the envelope; was that right?) and with shirt very crumpled and trousers proclaiming cheapness and jacket thin at the elbows. He gave himself a grim smile full of teeth. They looked clean enough, anyway. He transferred the smile to Miss Boland. "You poor man," she said. "You're lonely, aren't you? I could see that when you got on the bus in London. Still, you've no need to be lonely now. Not for this holiday, anyhow." She took a sip of the Fundador without grimacing. "Hm. Fiery but nice."
"Mucho fuego," said Enderby. English man no fuego: he remembered that.
Miss Boland leaned back. She wore feathery slippers with heels. Leaning back, she kicked them off. Her feet were long and clean and the toes were unpainted. She closed her eyes, frowned, then said: "Let me see if I can remember. A cada puerco something-or-other su San Mart'in. That means: Every dog has his day. But it should be "every hog" really, shouldn't it? The dictionary says hog, not pig."
Enderby sat down heavily on the other side of the bed. Then he looked with heavy apprehension at Miss Boland. She seemed to have lost about two stone and fifteen years since embarking at London. He tried to see himself imposing upon her a complex of subtle but vigorous amation which should have an effect of drowsy enslavement, rendering her, for instance, totally indifferent to tomorrow's news. Then he thought he had perhaps better get out of here and find his own way to North Africa: there must surely be something hopping over there at this hour. But no. Despite everything, he was safer in Mr Mercer's party-a supernumerary, fiddled in with a wink, no name on the manifest, waved through by officials who were waved back at by Mr Guthkelch. Moreover, Mr Mercer had returned everybody's passport, and Enderby's was snug once more in its inside pocket. He was not going to let it go again, unless, in final desperate abandonment of identity, to the fire of some Moorish kebab-vendor. He saw this man quite clearly, crying his kebabs against the sun, brown and lined and toothless, opposing his call to the muezzin's. That was the poetic imagination, that was.
"And," Miss Boland was now saying, having helped herself to more Fundador, "Mother and Dad used to take me and Charles, that was my brother, to see Uncle Herbert when he lived in Wellington-Wellington, Salop, I mean; why do they call it Salop? Oh, the Latin name I suppose-and we went up Bredon Hill several times -"
"The coloured counties," Enderby said, doing an estimate of her for seduction purposes and realising at the same time how purely academic such a notion was, "and hear the larks on high. Young men hanging themselves and ending up in Shrewsbury jail. For love, as they call it."
"How cynical you are. But I suppose I've every right to be cynical too, really. Toby his name was-a silly name for a man, isn't it?-and he said I had to choose between him and my career-I mean, more the name for a dog, isn't it, really?-and of course there was no question of me abandoning my vocation for the sake of anything he said he had to give. And he said something about a brainy wife being a bad wife and he wasn't going to have the moon lying in bed between us."
"A bit of a poet," said Enderby, feeling himself grow drowsy. The hot wind puppeteered the window-curtains and plastered Miss Boland's nightdress against her shin.
"A bit of a liar," Miss Boland said. "He lied about his father. His father wasn't a solicitor, only a solicitor's clerk. He lied about his rank in the Royal Corps of Signals. He lied about his car. It wasn't his, it was one he borrowed from a friend. Not that he had many friends. Men," she said, "tend to be liars. Look at you, for instance."
"Me?" said Enderby.
"Saying you're a poet. Talking about your old Shropshire name."
"Listen," said Enderby. And he began to recite.
"Shrewsbury, Shrewsbury, rounded by river,
The envious Severn like a sleeping dog
That wakes at whiles to snarl and slaver
Or growls in its dream its snores of fog."
"That's yours, is it?"
"Lover-haunted in the casual summer:
A monstrous aphrodisiac,
The sun excites in the noonday shimmer,
When Jack is sweating, Joan on her back."
"I was always taught that you can't make poetry with long words."
"Sick and sinless in the anaemic winter:
The nymphs have danced off the summer rout,
The boats jog on the fraying painter,
The School is hacking its statesmen out."
"Oh, I see what you mean. Shrewsbury School. That's where Darwin went to, isn't it?"
"The pubs dispense their weak solution,
The unfructified waitresses bring their bills,
While Darwin broods upon evolution,
Under the pall of a night that chills -"
"Sorry, I shouldn't have interrupted."
"- But smooths out the acne of adolescence
As the god appears in the fourteenth glass
And the urgent promptings of tumescence
Lead to the tumbled patch of grass."
"A lot of sex in it, isn't there? Sorry, I won't interrupt again."
"This is the last bloody stanza," Enderby said sternly. "Coming up now.
Time and the town go round like the river,
But Darwin thinks in a line that is straight.
A sort of selection goes on for ever,
But no new species originate."
They were silent. Enderby felt a spurt of poet's pride, and then exhaustion. It had been a terrible day. Miss Boland was impressed. She said: Well, you are a poet, after all. If that is yours, that is."
"Of course it's mine. Give me some more from that bottle." And she glugged some out for him gladly, handmaiden to a poet. "That's from my early volume, Fish and Heroes. Which you haven't read. Which nobody's read. But, by God," said Enderby, "I'll show them all. I'm not finished yet, not by a long chalk."
"That's right. Don't you think you'd be more comfortable with your shoes off? Don't bother-leave it to me." Enderby closed his eyes. "And your jacket too?" Enderby soon lay on one half of the bed in shirt and trousers; she had had his socks off too and also his tie, which was in the hotel colours of red, white, and blue. The hot wind was still there, but he felt cooler. She lay next to him. They had a cigarette apiece.
"Associations," Enderby found himself saying. "Mind you, everybody's done it, from that Spanish priest right up to Albert Camus, with Kierkegaard somewhere in the middle."
"This philosopher who made out it was really like God and the soul. Don Juan using women and God using man. Anyway, this is his town. And I was going to write a poetic drama about a Don Juan who bribed women to pretend that he'd done it to them because really he couldn't do it, not with anybody. And then poetic drama went out of fashion." His toenails, he decided, could really do with cutting. The big toenails, however, would have to be attacked with a chisel or something. Very hard. He had not changed all that much, after all. A bath, after all, was a tank for poetic drafts. He felt a new poem twitching inside him like a sneeze. A poem about a statue. He looked rather warmly on Miss Boland. The final kiss and final-If only he could get that one finished first.
"And who was this barber of Seville?"
"Oh, a Frenchman invented that one, and there's a French newspaper named after him. A sort of general factotum, getting things for people and so on." Enderby nodded off.
"Wake up." She was quite rough with him; that would be the Fundador. "You could have a play in which this barber was really Don Juan, and he did horrible things with his razor. In revenge, you know."
"What do you mean? What revenge?"
"I said nothing about revenge. You dropped off again. Wake up! I don't see why the moon couldn't be a proper scientific subject for a poem instead of what it is for most poets-you know, a sort of lamp, or a what-do-you-call-it aphrodisiac like the sun in your poem. Then you could have as many nice long words as you wanted. Apogee and perigee and the sidereal day and ectocraters and the ejecta hypothesis."
"What did you say about ejectors?"
She hadn't heard him. Or perhaps he'd said nothing. "And the months," she was now saying. "Synodic and nodical and sidereal and anomalistic. And isostasy. And grabens and horsts. And the lunar maria, not seas at all but huge plains of lava covered in dust. Your body is a horst and mine a graben, because horst is the opposite of graben. Come on, let's get out of here and wander the streets of Seville as we are, in our night clothes I mean. But your night clothes are the altogether, aren't they? Still, it's a lovely night though the moon's setting now. Feel that warm wind on your flesh?" That was not true about the moon setting. When they were walking down the calle outside the hotel, Enderby totally bare, his little bags aswing, the moon was full and huge and very near. It was so near that an odour came off it-like the odour of cachous from old evening bags, of yellowing dance-programmes, of fox-fur long laid in mothballs. Miss Boland said: "Mare Tranquillitatis. Fracastorius. Hipparchus. Mare Nectaris." She had brought the moon right down to the Seville housetops so that she could go burrowing into its maria. She disappeared temporarily into one of those, and then her head, its mousy hair become golden Berenice's and flying about, popped through the northern polar membrane. She seemed to be agitating this hollow moon from the inside, impelling it towards Enderby. He ran from her and it down the calle, back into the hotel. The old hall-porter yawned out of his hidalgo lantern jaws at Enderby's twinkling nakedness. Enderby panted up the stairs, once getting his toe caught in a carpet-hole, then cursing as a tack lodged in his calloused left heel. He found his room blindly and fell flat on the bed, desperate for air. There was not much coming from the open window. What was coming in by that window was the moon, much shrunken but evidently of considerable mass, for the window-frame creaked, four unwilling tangents to the straining globe, bits of lunar substance flaking off like plaster at the four points of engagement. Miss Boland's head now protruded at a pole which had become a navel, her hair still flying in fire. Enderby was stuck to that bed. With one lunge she and the moon were on him.
"No," he grunted, waking up. "No, you can't do that, it isn't right." But she and her heavy lunar body held him down. That left heel was fluked by one of her toenails; the staircarpet-hole turned out to be a minute gap between the fabric of her dressing-gown and its lacy border. There was no real nakedness, then: only exposure, things riding up and pulled down. "Show me then, show me what's right. You do it." He rolled her off, so that she lay expectant on her back now, and with desperate agility he trampolined his buttocks away from the punished mattress. This was springier than he had thought, for he found himself on his feet looking sternly down at her. "If," he said, "you want that sort of a holiday there'll be plenty to provide it. Gigolos and whatnot. Little dark-skinned boys and so on. Why pick on me?"
She started to whimper. "I thought we were going to be friends. You're unnatural, that's what you are."
"I'm not unnatural. Just very very tired. It's been a terrible day."
"Yes." She wrapped her dressing-gown round her body and looked up at him, hard but tearfully. "Yes, I'm sure it has. There's something not quite right about you. You've got things on your mind. You've done something you shouldn't have done. You've got away in a hurry from something or other, I can tell that."
This wouldn't do at all. "Darling," creaked Enderby, holding out his arms and advanced, smirking.
"You can't get round me that way."
"Darling." Enderby frowned now, but with his arms still out.
"Oh, take your non-pyjamas out of your non-suitcase and get to bed after your terrible terrible day. There's something very fishy about you," said Miss Boland. And she started to get up from the bed.
Enderby advanced and pushed her back again somewhat roughly, saying: "You're right. I have run away. From her. From that woman. I couldn't stand it any longer. I got out. Just like that. She was horrible to me." A back cinder in Enderby's raked-out brain spurted up an instant to ask what was truth and niggle a bit about situation contexts and so on. Enderby deferred to it and made an emendation: "I ran away."
"What woman? Which woman?" Woman's curiosity had dried her tears.
"It was never really a marriage. Oh, let me get to bed. Make room there. I'm so desperately tired."
"Tell me all about it first. I want to know what happened. Come on, wake up. Have some more of this brandy stuff here."
"No no no no. Tell you in the morning." He was flat on his back again, ready to drop off. Desperately.
"I want to know." She jerked him as roughly as he had pushed her. "Whose fault was it? Why was it never really a marriage? Oh, do come on."
"Hex," said Enderby in extremis. And then he was merrily driving the rear car of the three, a red sports job, and arms waved jollily from the Mercedes in front. It was a long way to this roadhouse type pub they were all going to, but they were all well tanked-up already though the men drove with steely concentration and insolent speed. The girls were awfully pretty and full of fun. Brenda had red hair and Lucy was dark and small and Bunty was pleasantly plump and wore a turquoise-coloured twin-set. Enderby had a college scarf flying from his neck and a pipe clenched in his strong white smiling teeth. "You wait, Bunty old girl," he gritted indistinctly. You'll get what's coming to you." The girls yelled with mirth. Urged on by them hilariously, he fed ever greater speed with his highly-polished toecap to the growling road-eating red job, and he passed with ease the other two. Waves of mock rage and mock contempt, laughter on the spring English wind. And so he got to the pub first. It was a nice little pub with a bald smiling barman presiding in a cocktail bar smelling of furniture polish. He wore a white bum-freezer with claret lapels. Enderby ordered for everybody, telling the barman, called Jack, to put a wiggle on so that the drinks could be all lined up waiting when the laggards arrived. Bitter in tankards, gin and things, an advocaat for Bunty. "That'll make you bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, old girl," winked Enderby. And then the watery signal from within. As Frank and Nigel and Betty and Ethel and the others roared into the bar, Enderby at once had to say: "Sorry, all. Got to see a man about a dog." Bunty giggled: "Wet your boots, you mean." At once the urgency roared in his bladder, drowning the roaring of his pals, but he did not run to the gents: he walked confidently, though he had never been in this pub before. But, seeing it at the end of a corridor, he had to run. Damn, he would only just make it. He would only just make it. He jumped out of bed and made for the toilet, fumbling cursing for the light-switch. Pounding his stream out, he grumbled at the prodigality of dreams, which could go to all this trouble-characters, decor and all, even an advertisement for a beer (Jason's Golden Fleece) which didn't exist-just so that he would get out of bed and micturate in the proper place. He pulled the chain, went back to bed and saw, by the bathroom light he had not bothered to put out, that there was a woman lying in it. He remembered roughly who it was, that lunar woman he'd been flying with (why flying?) and also that this was some foreign town, and then the whole lot came back. He was somewhat frightened that he wasn't as frightened as he should be.
"What, eh, who?" she said. And then: "Oh. I must have dropped off. Come on, get in. It's got a bit chilly now."
"What time is it?" Enderby wondered. His wrist-watch had stopped, he noticed, squinting in the light from the bathroom. Somewhere outside a big bell banged a single stroke. "That's a lot of help," said Enderby. Funny, he hadn't noticed that bell before. They must be near a cathedral or town hall or something. Seville, that was where they were. Don Juan's town. A strange woman in bed.
"So," she said. "Her name was Bunty, was it? And she let you down. Never mind, everybody gets let down sometime or other. I got let down by Toby. And that was a silly name, too."
"We were in this car, you see. I was driving."
"Come back to bed. I won't let you down. Come and cuddle up a bit. It's chilly. There aren't many clothes on the bed."
It was quite pleasant cuddling up. I've been so cold at night. Who was it who had said that? That blasted Vesta, bloody evil woman. "Bloody evil woman," muttered Enderby.
"Yes, yes, but it's all over now. You're a bit wet."
"Sorry," Enderby said. "Careless of me." He wiped himself with the sheet. "I wonder what the time is."
"Why? Why are you so eager to know what the time is? Do you want to be up and about so soon? A night in Seville. We both ought to have something to remember about a night in Seville."
"They lit the sun," said Enderby, "and then their day began."
"What do you mean? Why did you say that?"
"It just came to me. Out of the blue." It seemed as though rhymes were going to start lining up. Began, plan, man, scan, ban. But this other thing had to be done now. She was not a bit like that blasted Vesta, spare-fleshed in bed so that she could be elegant out of it. There was plenty to get hold of here. He saw one of his bar-customers leering, saying that. Very vulgar. Enderby started to summon up old memories of what to do (it had been a long time). The Don himself seemed to hover above the bed, picking his teeth for some reason, nodding, pointing. Moderately satisfied, he flew off on an insubstantial hell-horse and, not far from the hotel, waved a greeting with a doffed insolent feathered sombrero at a statue of a man.
"They hoisted up a statue of a man," mumbled Enderby.
"Yes, yes, darling, I love you too."
Enderby now gently, shyly, and with some blushing, began to insinuate, that is to say squashily attempt to insert, that is to say. A long time. And now. Quite pleasant, really. He paused after five. And again. And again. Pentameters. And now came an ejaculation of words.
What prodigies that eye of light revealed!
What dusty parchment statutes they repealed,
Pulling up blinds and lifting every
A sonnet, a sonnet, one for a new set of Revolutionary Sonnets, the first of which was the one that bloody Wapenshaw had raged at. The words began to flood. He drew the thing out, excited.
"Sorry," he said. "I've got to get this thing down. I've got to get some paper. A sonnet, that's what it is." There was, he thought, a hanging bulby switch-thing over the bed-head. He felt for it, trembling. Seville's velvet dark was jeered out by a sudden coming of light. She was incredulous. She lay there with her mouth open, shocked and staring. "I'll just get it down on paper," promised Enderby, "and then back on the job again. What I mean is -" He was out of bed, searching. Barman's pencil in his jacket-pocket. Paper? Damn. He dragged open drawers, looking for that white lining-stuff. It was all old Spanish newspaper, bullfighters or something. Damn.
She wailed from the bed. Enderby dashed into the bathroom, inspired, and came out swathed in toilet-paper. "This will do fine," he smiled. "Shan't be long. Darling," he added. Then he sat at the dressing-table, horridly undressed, and began to write.
Pulling up blinds and lifting every ban.
The galaxies revolving to their plan,
They made the coin, the conch, the cortex yield
"You're hateful, you're disgusting. I've never in my whole life been so insulted. No wonder she -"
"Look," said Enderby, without turning round, "this is important. The gift's definitely come back, thank God. I knew it would. Just give me a couple of minutes. Then I'll be in there again." In the bed, he meant, raising his eyes to the dressing-table mirror as to make them tell her, if she was in that mirror, precisely that. He saw her all right. He ought, he knew, to be shocked by what he saw, but there was no time for that now. Hell has no fury. Better not let other poems get in the way. Besides, that quotation was wrong, everybody always got it wrong.
And in a garden, once a field,
They hoisted up a statue of a man.
"Finished the octave," he sang out. "Shan't be long now."
"You filthy thing. You sexless rotter."
"Really. Such language." Mirror, terror, error. Pity there was no true rhyme for mirror, except that bloody Sir Launcelot thing Tennyson pinched from the pincher Autolycus. "And you a seleno-whatever-it-is."
"You won't get away with this. You wait." And, dressing-gown decently about her, she was out through that door, to Enderby's mild surprise, and was gone, slamming it.
"Look here," Enderby said feebly. And then the mirror, holding out its English name, told him to get on with the sestet.