"Heart. He let himself get upset about something. Blowing his top. Ranting and raving. Carrying too much weight, of course. That's what comes of building up rugger-muscle in youth."
"Where's he been sent?"
"That place of Otto Langsam's. Out in the wilds. Cut off from the great world. Not even a daily newspaper."
"They say he was going on about some piece of pottery. Abusive. Lines written in a public lavatory. Obviously needed a rest. Good job they got him in time."
"Oh, very good job. Look, emshi emshi or whatever the word is. All right, take this. Now bugger off and buy yourself a shave."
President of the moon's waning, Enderby was not too cold at night. He slept uncertainly, however, in the lee provided by the suntrap arena of El Acantilado Verde, a sandyard for torso-bronzing with a couple of umbrella-topped tables. The seaward-looking gate was easily climbed over. Crouched in an angle, he would see at first light two walls made of bathers' changing-cubicles, a corner of the kitchen, the back door of the bar-restaurant. Mercifully, so far, there had been no night rain. Rawcliffe could bring the rain with him if he wished. Nobody seemed to be sleeping on the premises, and Enderby moved away at dawn. Dawn brought the diamond weather of a fine autumn. Skirring his fast-growing grey face-bristles with a tanned hand, Enderby would gum-suck his way to a small dirty shop off the esplanade, sticking out the other hand for alms (Allah) if any untimely European were about, and then take breakfast of coffee-in-a-glass and a fatty Moorish pastry. He feigned mostly dumb, except for the holy name. A holy man perhaps, above dirt and toothlessness, once granted a vision of the ultimate garden (houris, nectar-sherbet, a crystal stream) and then struck speechless except for the author's signature.
Up the cobbled street tottered the saint-eyed donkeys, most cruelly panniered, driven by bare-legged Moors in clouts, ponchos, and immense straw sombreros. Biblical women with ancient hard eyes and no yashmaks carried hashish-dreaming fowls in upside-down bundles, scaly legs faggoted together. They climbed, in a whirl of wind-blown feathers, up to the dirty small hotels for long haggling on the pavement outside, then the leisurely halal slaughter, blood sluggishly rolling downhill, the chickens dying on a psychedelic vision. And just along there was that treacherous White Doggy Wog place. Were its denizens right? Was it right that art should mirror chaos? What kind of art would it be proper for him to produce in his coming cell?
His brain, aloof from his begging hand, worked away at one poem or another. Was it perhaps a kind of holiness that gathered the disparate arbitrarily together, assuming that God or Allah-at the bottom of the mind's well, a toad with truth's jewel in its brow-could take care of the unifying pattern, that it was blasphemy for the shaping human mind to impose one of its own? Shatter syntax also, and with it time and the relationships of space. That Canadian pundit had said something about the planet itself, earth, becoming, as perceived by a new medium which would be no more than heightened consciousness, a kind of work of art, so that every aspect would be relevant to every other aspect. Fish, spit, toe, antenna, cognac, spider, perspex, keyboard, grass, helmet. Helmeted in grass, the perspex spider spits with toed antenna, a noise like fish, the cognac keyboard. Too elegant that, too much like Mallarm'e or somebody. Old-fashioned too, really. Surrealist.
Up there the white huddled Medina on the hill, once watchful of the sea-invaders. Blood and buggery, the Koranic cry of teeth as the scimitar slashed. And now a pretty cram of stucco for the visiting painter. Donkeys, palms, the odd insolent Cadillac with a sneering wealthy young Moor in dark glasses. This bilious sea. There were not, thank Allah, many police about and, in any case, they did not greatly molest beggars. "Give him something, George, go on. Poor old man." And the plebeian tourist, in open-necked shirt and double-breasted town suit, handed Enderby a tiny clank of centimes. His wife, growing a lobster colour that was vulgarly Blackpool, smiled in pity. Enderby bowed and allahed. It was really surprising what you could pick up on this game-handfuls of small tinkle that often added up to well over a dirham, filthy torn notes that the donors probably thought carried plague, the absurd largesse of holiday drunks. He was eating, if not sleeping, well on it all. Arab bread with melon-and-ginger confiture, yummiyum couscous (better than Easy Walker's), fowl-hunks done with saffron, thin veal-shives in a carraway sauce-all at a quiet fly-buzzing incurious shop near the little Souk or Succo, one that had, moreover, a Western WC instead of a hazardous wog crouch-hole. He was also drinking a fair quantity of mint-tea, good for his stomach.
"Pauvre petit bonhomme. Georges, donne-lui quelque chose."
It was a living. For occupation he had the working-out, though not on paper (there would be paper in prison), of a sonnet concerned with the relationship of the Age of Reason and the so-called Romantic Revival:
Augustus on a guinea sat in state-
The sun no proper study but each shaft
Of filtered light a column: classic craft
Abhorred the arc or arch. To circulate
(Blood or ideas) meant pipes, and pipes were straight
As loaves were gifts from Ceres when she laughed -
A difficult form, most exigent. Those drug-takers in the Doggy Wog place didn't have all that to worry about: no octaves and sestets in the free wide-open unconscious. A load of bloody rubbish, of course, but he couldn't quell his new self-doubt. As for reading, he would glance shyly at foreign papers left on outdoor caf'e tables: there seemed to be nothing about Yod Crewsy.
And then, outside the Rif, he had heard these two men, talking loudly about someone who could only be Wapenshaw. The Turkish Delight commercial doorman was whistling a taxi to come over for them from the taxi-stand opposite the Miramar. And one of the two men, his belly pushed out to keep up his unbelted long shorts, had said to the other (both had spatulate scrubbed and shaven-looking fingers): "Heart. He let himself get upset about something." It was as they were climbing into their petit taxi or taxi chico that the other one, oldish but thin and strong like a surgical instrument, had said: "Now bugger off and buy yourself a shave," handing Enderby a fifty-centime piece.
Retribution, justice: that was what it was. Serve Wapenshaw right. He had grinned and then seen his grin reflected in the glass door of the Rif, the back of a fat woman in black rompers making a temporary mirror-back. He had looked pretty horrible-a face without margins peering from the cave of the capuchin hood, toothless. He could not see his grey whiskers, but he felt them: skirr skirr. He grinned in horror.
At this moment another beggar, sturdy and genuine, had come up to remonstrate loudly. He had been crouched in the entrance to the hotel garage, but now, seeing the grin, he had risen, it seemed, in reproach of one not taking the business seriously enough. He was darker than Enderby, more of a Berber, and had plenty of teeth. He gnashed these in execration, starting to push Enderby in the chest. "Take your hands off," Enderby cried, and a visitor in a Palm Beach suit turned in surprise at the British accent. "For cough," Enderby added, preparing to push back. But careful, careful; respectable beggary only: the police might conceivably come. He saw then what the trouble was: pitch-queering. "Iblis," he swore mildly at this colleague or rival. "Shaitan. Afrit." He had learned these words from Ali Fathi. And then, the real beggar calling terms less theological after him, he began to cross the road rather briskly. Perhaps he ought, anyway, to haunt the beach more, specifically that segment near El Acantilado Verde, even though so many people on it had their clothes off and locked away, able with a good conscience to grin (more kindly than Enderby had grinned) and show empty hands and armpits filled only, in the case of the men, with hair. The restaurant part of Rawcliffe's establishment was glassed like an observatory. The rare eaters sweated on to their food, brought to them by an amiable-looking negroid boy in an apron and tarboosh. Windows were open, and Enderby would shyly squint in, but Rawcliffe did not seem to be about yet. He would justify the peering by shoving in a hand for alms, and, on the first day of this new pitch, he had had a squashy egg-and-salad sandwich plopped on to his paw. Palms, alms. Was there a poem there? But he gained also the odd bit of small change when customers-mostly German, needing a substantial bever between meals-paid their bills.
These last two days had yielded a sufficiency, and the fine weather held. Padding the sand, on which the sea, clever green child but never clever at more than a child's level, had sculpted its own waves, he breathed in salt, iodine, the sea's childish gift of an extra oxygen molecule, and thought in quiet sadness of old days-bucket and spade, feet screaming away from jellyfish, Sam Brownes of seaweed and the imperial decoration of a starfish (belly thrust out like that Wapenshaw-talking man, chest sloped to keep it on). And El Acantilado Verde reminded him of later days by the sea, betrayed and ruined by so many. "Baksheesh," he suggested now to a mild German-looking couple who, in heavy walking dress except for bare feet, drank the wind, strolling. They shook their heads regretfully. "German bastards," Enderby said quietly to their well-fed backs. The light was thicker, less heat was coming today from the piecrust cloud. There might be rain soon.
Here was a family that looked British. The wife was thin as from a long illness, the husband wore stern glasses, a boy and girl undressed for water-play chased and tried to hit each other.
"Daft old Jennifer!"
"Silly stupid Godfrey! You've got all sand in your tummy-button!"
Enderby addressed the father, saying, with begging hand: "Allah allah. Baksheesh, effendi."
"Here," said the man to his wife, "is an example of what I mean. You have a good look at him and what do you see? You see a wog layabout in the prime of life. He ought to be able to do a decent day's work like I do."
"Allah," with less confidence.
"They should be made to work. If I had the running of this tinpot little dictatorship I'd make sure that they did." He had a cheap-looking plastic-bodied camera dangling from a cord. His stare was bold and without humour.
"He's only a poor old man," said his wife. She was, Enderby could tell, a woman much put upon; the children too would be insolent to her, asking why all the time.
"Old? He's not much older than what I am. Are you? Eh? Speak English do you? Old."
"No mash Ingrish," Enderby said.
"Well, you should learn it, shouldn't you? Improve yourself. Go to night-classes and that. Learn something, anyway. This is the modern world, no room for people that won't work, unless, that is, they've been thrown out of it through no fault of their own. Don't understand a blind bit of what I'm saying, do you? Trade, eh? Learn a trade. If you want money, do something for it."
"Come on, Jack," said the wife. "There's a man there keeps looking at our Godfrey."
Enderby had not previously met a response to mendicancy as hard-hearted and utilitarian as this. He looked grimly at this man of the modern world: a trade-union man, without doubt; perhaps a shop steward. He wore a dark suit with, concession to holiday, wings of open-necked shirt apparently ironed on to lapels. "Trade," Enderby said. "I got trade." The sky seemed to be getting darker.
"Oh, understand more than you let on you're able to, eh? Well, what trade have you got, then?
"Bulbul," Enderby said. But that might not be the right word. "Je suis," he said, "po`ete."
"Poet? You said poet?" The man's mouth had opened into a square of small derision. He took from a side-pocket a ten-centime piece. "You say some poetry, then. Listen to this, Alice."
"Oh, let him alone, Jack."
It might have been the word bulbul that did it. Suddenly Enderby, in a kind of scorn, found himself reciting a mock ruba'iy. Would those debauchees of the Doggy Wog laugh less at this than at his Horatian Ode?
"Kazwana ghishri fana kholamabu
Bolloka wombon vurkelrada slabu,
Ga jarthouse wopwop yairgang offalftow
Untera merb --"
A voice behind him said: "Better, Enderby. Much better. Not quite so obsessed with meaning as you used to be." It was an eroded dyspneal voice. Enderby turned in shock to see Rawcliffe being helped, by two Moorish youths in new black trousers and white shirts, up the three steps that led to the door of his bar-restaurant. Rawcliffe paused at the top, waiting for the door to be opened. He panted down ghastlily at Enderby, his palsied grey head ashake. "Thou art translated," he wavered, "but not so much." The door opened, and its glass panels mirrored momentarily the thickening sea-clouds. "Gracias," Rawcliffe said to the two Moors and trembled from his trouser-pocket a ten-dirham note for them. They hand-waved and grinned off. Then, to Enderby: "Come and drink with one about to die."
"All right," said the trade-union man. "You win. Take your ackers." But Enderby ignored him and followed, with his own shaking, the broken frame of Rawcliffe from which an Edwardian suit bagged and hung. About to die, death, dying. That man Easy Walker had said something about his being crookidy dook. But was it rather that Rawcliffe, out of the vatic residuum of a failed poet's career, knew that he was going to be killed? Enderby then realised that he'd done nothing, despite this long wait, about getting hold of a weapon. God knew the shops had offered him enough. Not cut out for murder perhaps really. Not really his trade.