Naked as the day he was born though much hairier, Enderby prepared himself breakfast. One of the things he approved of about New York-a city otherwise dirty, rude, violent, and full of foreigners and mad people-was the wide variety of dyspeptic foods on sale in the supermarkets. In his view, if you did not get dyspepsia while or after eating, you had been cheated of essential nourishment. As for dealing with the dyspepsia, he had never in his life seen so many palliatives for it available-Stums and Windkill and Eupep and (magnificent proleptic onomatopoesis, the work of some high-paid Madison Avenue genius, sincerely admired by Enderby) Aaaarp. And so on. But the best of all he had discovered in a small shop specialising in Oriental medicines (sent thither by a Chinese waiter)-a powerful black viscidity that oozed sinisterly from a tube to bring wind up from Tartarean depths. When he went to buy it, the shopkeeper would, in his earthy Chinese manner, designate it with a remarkable phonic mime of the substance at work. Better than Aaaarp but not easily representable in any conventional alphabet. Enderby would nod kindly, pay, take, bid good day, go.
Enderby had become, so far as use of the culinary resources of the kitchen (at night the cockroaches' playground) were concerned, one hundred per cent Americanised. He would whip up a thick milk shake in the mixer, thaw then burn frozen waffles in the toaster, make soggy leopardine pancakes with Aunt Jemima's buckwheat pancake mixture (Aunt Jemima herself was on the packet, a comely Negress rejoicing in her bandanna'd servitude), fry Oscar Mayer fat little sausages. His nakedness would be fat-splashed, but the fat easily washed off, unlike with clothes. And he would make tea, though not altogether in the American manner-five bags in a pint mug with alabama gilded onto it, boiling water, a long stewing, very sweet condensed milk added. He would eat his breakfast with H.P. steak sauce on one side of the plate, maple syrup on the other. The Americans went in for synchronic sweet and savoury, a sign of their salvation, unlike the timid Latin races. He would end his meal with a healthy slice of Sara Lee orange cream cake, drink another pint of tea, then, after his black Chinese draught, be alertly ready for work. A man-sized breakfast, as they said. There was never need for much lunch-some canned corned-beef hash with a couple of fried eggs, say, and a pint of tea. A slice of banana cake. And then, this being America, a cup of coffee.
Heartburn was slow in coming this morning, which made Enderby, stickler for routine, uneasy. He noted also with rueful pride that, despite the emission of the night, he was bearing before him as he left the kitchen, where he had eaten as well as cooked, a sizeable horizontal ithyphallus lazily swinging towards the vertical. Something to do perhaps with excessive protein intake. He took it to a dirty towel in the bathroom, called those Puerto Rican bitches back from that dream, then gave it them all. The street was littered with them. The pimpled lout, astonished and fearful, ran round the corner. This meant that Enderby would have to drive the car away himself. He at once sold it for a trifling sum to a grey-haired black man who shuffled out of an open doorway, evening newspaper in his hand, and made his getaway, naked, on foot. Then dyspepsia struck, he took his black drops, released a savoury gale from as far down as the very caecum, and was ready for work, his own work, not the pseudo-work he would have to do in the afternoon with pseudo-students. For that he must shave, dress, wash, probably in that order. Take the subway, as they called it. Brave mean streets full of black and brown menace.
Enderby, still naked, sat at his landlady's desk in the bedroom. It was a small apartment, there was no study. He supposed he was lucky to have gotten (very American touch there: gotten) an apartment at all at the rent he was able, the salary not being overlarge, to pay. His landlady, a rabid ideological man-hater, had addressed one letter to him from her digs in Bayswater, confirming that he pay the black woman Priscilla to come and clean for him every Saturday, thus maintaining a continuity of her services useful for when his landlady should return to New York. Enderby was not sure what sex she thought he, Enderby, had, since there was a reference to not trying to flush sanitary pads down the toilet. The title professor, which she rightly addressed him by, was common, as the old grammars would put it. Perhaps she had read his poems and found a rich femininity in them; perhaps some kind man in the English Department had represented Enderby as an ageing but progressive spinster to her when she sought to let her apartment. Anyway, he had answered the letter promptly on his own portable typewriter, signing with a delicate hand, assuring her that sanitary pads would go out with the garbage and that Priscilla was being promptly paid and not overworked (lazy black insolent bitch, thought Enderby, but evidently illiterate and not likely to blow the sex gaff in letter or transatlantic cable). So there it was. On the other hand, his landlady might learn in London from librarians or in communications from members of the Californian religiolesbic sorority that Enderby was really a (sounded suspiciously like the voice of an MCP to me, toothless too, a TMCP, what little game are you playing, dear?). But it was probably too late for her to do anything about it now. Couldn't evict him on grounds of his sex. The United Nations, conveniently here in New York, would, through an appropriate department, have something very sharp to say about that. So there it was, then. Enderby got down to work.
Back in Morocco, as previously in England, Enderby was used to working in the toilet, piling up drafts and even fair copies in the never-used bath. Here it would not do, since the bath taps dripped and the toilet seat was (probably by some previous Jewish-mother tenant who wished to discourage solitary pleasures among her menfolk) subtly notched. It was ungrateful to the bottom. Neither was there a writing table low enough. Nor would Priscilla understand. This eccentric country was great on conformity. Enderby now wrote at the desk that had produced so many androphobic mistresspieces. What he was writing was a long poem about St. Augustine and Pelagius, trying to sort out for himself and a couple of score readers the whole worrying business of predestination and free will. He read through what he had so far written, scratching and grunting, naked, a horrible White Owl cigar in his mouth.
He came out of the misty island, Morgan,
Man of the sea, demure in monk's sackcloth,
Taking the long way to Rome, expecting-
Expecting what? Oh, holiness quintessentialised,
Holiness whole, the wholesome wholemeal of,
Holiness as meat and drink and air, in the
Chaste thrusts of marital love holiness, and
Sanctitas sanctitas even snaking up from
Cloacae and sewers, sanctitas the effluvium
From His Holiness's arsehole.
Perhaps that was going a bit too far. Enderby poised a ballpoint, dove, retracted. No, it was the right touch really. Let the arsehole stay. Americans preferred asshole for some reason. This then very British. But why not? Pelagius was British. Keep arsehole in.
On the long road
Trudging, dust, birdsong, dirty villages,
Stops on the way at monasteries (weeviled bread,
Eisel wine), always this thought: Sanctitas.
What dost seek in Rome, brother? The home
Of holiness, to lodge awhile in the
Sanctuary of sanctity, my brothers, for here
Peter died, seeing before he died
The pagan world inverted to sanctitas, and
The very flagged soil is rich with the bonemeal
Of the martyrs. And the brothers would
Look at each other, each thinking, some saying:
Here cometh one that only islands breed.
What can flourish in that Ultima Thule save
Holiness, a bare garment for the wind to
Sing through? And not Favonius either but
Sour Boreas from the pole. Not the grape,
Not garlic not the olive, not the strong sun
Tickling the manhood in a man, be he
Monk or friar or dean or
Burly bishop, big ballocks swinging like twin censers.
Only holiness. God help him, God bless him for
We look upon British innocence.
And the British innocent, hurtful of no man,
Fond of dogs, a cat-stroker,
Trudged on south-vine, olive, garlic,
Brown tits jogging while brown feet
Danced in the grapepress and the
Baaark ballifoll goristafick
That last was inner Enderby demanding the stool. He took his poem with him thither, frowning, sat reading.
Monstrous aphrodisiac danced in the heavens
Till at length he came to the outer suburbs and
Fell on his knees O sancta urbs sancta sancta
Meaning sancta suburbs and
Enderby wiped himself with slow care and marched back, frowning, reading. As he reached the telephone on the bed table the telephone rang, so that he was able to pick it up at once, thus disconcerting the voice on the other end, which had not expected such promptitude.
"Oh. Mr. Enderby?" It was a woman's voice, being higher than a man's. American female voices lacked feminine timbre as known in the south of vine and garlic, were just higher because of accident of larynx being smaller.
"Professor Enderby speaking."
"Oh, hi. This is the Sperr Lansing Show. We wondered if you-"
"What? Who? What is this?"
"The Sperr Lansing Show. A talk show. Television. The talk show. Channel Fif-"
"Ah, I see," Enderby said, with British heartiness. "I've seen it, I think. She left it here, you see. Extra on the rent."
"Oh, I see what you mean. Yes. A television. She's a great one for her rights. Ah yes, I've seen it a few times. A sort of thin man with a fat jackal. Both leer a good deal, but one supposes they have to."
"No, no, you have the wrong show there, professor." The title now seemed pretentious, also absurd, as when someone in a film is addressed as professor. "What you mean is the Cannon Dickson Show. That's mostly show-business personalities. The Sperr Lansing Show is, well, different."
"I didn't really mean to insist, ha ha," Enderby said, "on the title of professor. Fancy dress, you know. A lot of nonsense really. And I really must apologise for-" He was going to say for being naked: it was all this damned visual stuff. "For my innocence. I mean my ignorance."
"I guess I ought to introduce myself, as we've already been talking for such a long time. I'm Midge Tauchnitz."
"Enderby," Enderby said. "Sorry, that was-So, eh? 'The strong spur, live and lancing like the blowpipe flame.' I suppose that's where he got it from."
"Anyway, thank you for calling."
"No, it doesn't go out live. Nothing these days goes out live."
"I promise to watch it at the earliest opportunity. Thank you very much for suggesting-"
"No, no, we want you to appear on it. We record at seven, so you'd have to be here about six."
"Why?" Enderby said in honest surprise. "For God's sake why?"
"Oh, make-up and so on. It's on West 46th Street, between Fifth and-"
"No, no, no. Why me?"
"Oh." The voice became teasing and girlish. "Oh, come now, professor, that's playing it too cool. It's the movie. The Deutschland."
"Ah. But I only wrote the-I mean, it was only my idea. That's what it says, anyway. Why don't you ask one of the others, the ones who really made it?"
"Well," she said candidly. "We tried to get hold of Bob Ponte, the script writer, but he's in Honolulu writing a script, and Mr. Schaumwein is in Rome, and Millennium suggested we get on to you. So I phoned the university and they gave us your-"
"Hopkins," Enderby said, in gloomy play. "Did you try Hopkins?"
"No luck there either. Nobody knows where he is."
"In the eschatological sense, I should think it's pretty certain that-"
"But in the other it's no wonder. 1844 to 89," he twinkled.
"Oh, I'll write that down. But it doesn't sound like a New York number-"
"No no no no no. A little joke. He's dead, you see."
"Gee, I'm sorry, I didn't know. But you're okay? I mean, you'll be there?"
"If you really want me. But I still don't see-"
"You don't? You don't read the newspapers?"
"Never. And again never. A load of frivolity and lies. They've been attacking it, have they?"
"No. Some boys have been attacking some nuns. In Manhattanville. I'm shocked you didn't know. I assumed-"
"Nuns are always being attacked. Their purity is an affront to the dirty world."
"Remember that. Remember to say that. But the point is that they said they wouldn't have done it if they hadn't seen the movie. That's why we're-"
"I see. I see. Always blame art, eh? Not original sin but art. I'll have my say, never fear."
"You have the address?"
"Ybu ignore art as so much unnecessary garbage or you blame it for your own crimes. That's the way of it. I'll get the bastards, all of them. I'm not having this sort of nonsense, do you hear?" There was silence at the other end. "You never take art for what it is-beauty, ultimate meaning, form for its own sake, self-subsisting, oh no. It's always got to be either sneered at or attacked as evil. I'll have my bloody say. What's the name of the show again?" But she had rung off, silly bitch.
Enderby went snorting back to his poem. The stupid bastards.
But wherever he went in Rome, it was always the same-
Sin sin sin, no sanctity, the whole unholy
Grammar of sin, syntax, accidence, sin's
Entire lexicon set before him, sin.
Peacocks in the streets, gold dribbled over
In dark rooms, vomiting after
Banquets of ostrich bowels stuffed with saffron,
Minced pikeflesh and pounded larkbrain,
Served with a sauce headily fetid, and pocula
Of wine mixed with adder's blood to promote
Lust lust and again.
Pederasty, podorasty, sodomy, bestiality,
Degrees of family ripped apart like
Bodices in the unholy dance. And he said,
And Morgan said, whom the scholarly called Pelagius:
Why do ye this, my brothers and sisters?
Are ye not saved by Christ, are ye not
Sanctified by his sacrifice, oh why why why?
(Being British and innocent) and
What was the name of that show again? Art blamed as always. Art was neutral, neither teaching nor provoking, a static shimmer, he would tell the bastards. What was it again? And then he thought about this present poem (a draft of course, very much a draft) and wondered: is it perhaps not didactic? But how about The Wreck of the Deutschland? Hopkins was always having a go at the English, and the Welsh too, for not rushing to be converted back (the marvellous milk was Walsingham Way, once) to Catholicism. But somehow Hopkins was of the devil's party without knowing it (better remember not to say that on this Live Lancing Show, that was the name, something like it anyway, people were stupid, picked you up literally on that sort of thing): it was a kind of paganism with him-lush-kept plush-capped sloe, indeed-with God tacked on. The our-King-back-oh-upon-English-souls stuff was merely structural, something to bring the poem to an end. But how about this?
No, he decided. He was not preaching. Who the hell was he to preach? Out of the Church at sixteen, never been to mass in forty years. This was merely an imaginative inquiry into free will and predestination. Somewhat comforted, he read on, scratching, the White Owl, self-doused, relighted, hooting out foul smoke.
They said to him cheerfully, looking up
From picking a peahen bone or kissing the
Nipple or nates of son, daughter, sister,
Brother, aunt, ewe, teg: Why, stranger,
Hast not heard the good news? That Christ
Took away the burden of our sins on his
Back broad to bear, and as we are saved
Through him it matters little what we do?
Since we are saved once for all, our being
Saved will not be impaired or cancelled by
Our present pleasures (which we propose to
Renew tomorrow after a suitable and well-needed
Rest). Alleluia alleluia to the Lord for he has
Led us to two paradises, one to come and the other
Here and now. Alleluia. And they fell to again,
To nipple or nates or fish baked with datemince,
Alleluia. And Morgan cried to the sky:
How long O Lord wilt thou permit these
Transgressions against thy holiness?
Strike them strike them as thou once didst
The salty cities of the plain, as through
Phinehas the son of Eleazar the son of Aaron
Thou didst strike down the traitor Zimri
And his foul whore of the Moabite temples Cozbi.
Strike strike. But the Lord did nothing.
Here came the difficulties. This whole business of free will and predestination and original sin had to be done very dramatically. And yet there had to be a bit of sermonising. How the hell? Enderby, who was not at present wearing his spectacles (ridiculous when one was otherwise naked, anyway he only needed them for distance really), gazing vaguely about the bedroom for an answer found none forthcoming. The bookshelves of his landlady sternly turned the backs, spines rather, of their contents towards him: not our business, we are concerned with the real issues of life, meaning women downtrodden by men, the economic oppression of the blacks, counter-culture, coming revolt, Reich, Fanon, third world. Then Enderby, squinting, could hardly believe what he saw. At the bedroom door a woman, girl, female anyway. Covering his genitals with his poem he said:
"What the devil? Who let you? Get out."
"But I have an appointment with you at ten. It's ten after now. It was arranged. I'll, wait in the-Unless-I mean, I didn't expect-"
She had not yet gone. Enderby, pumping strongly at the White Owl as if it would thus make him an enveloping cloud, turned his back to her, covered his bottom with his poem, then found his dressing gown (Rawcliffe's really, bequeathed to him with his other effects) on a chair behind a rattan settee and near to the air conditioner. He clothed himself in it. She was still there and talking.
"I mean, I don't mind if you don't-"
"I do mind," Enderby said. And he flapped towards her on bare feet but in his gown. "What is all this anyway?"
"For who, for Christ's sake?" He was close to her now and saw that she was a nice little thing he supposed she could be called, with nicely sculpted little tits under a black sweater stained with, as he supposed, Coke and Pepsi and hamburger fat (good food was what these poor kids needed), long American legs in patched worker's pants. Strange how one never bothered to take in the face here in America, the face didn't matter except on films, one never remembered the face, and all the voices were the same. And then: "They shouldn't have let you in, you know, just like that. You're supposed to be screened or something, and then they ring me up and ask if it's all right."
"But he knows me, the man downstairs. He knows I'm one of your students."
"Oh, are you?" said Enderby. "I didn't quite-Yes," peering at her, "I suppose you could be. We'd better go into the sitting room or whatever they call it." And he pushed past her into the corridor to lead the way.
The room where he was supposed to live (e.g., watch television, play protest songs on his landlady's record player, look out of the window down on the street at acts of violence) was furnished mostly with barbaric nonsense-drums and shields and spears and very ill-woven garish rugs-and you were supposed to sit on pouffes. Enderby waved this girl to a pouffe with one hand and with the other indicated the television set, saying, puffing out White Owl smoke, "I'm to be on that thing there."
"The Blowpipe Show or something. Can't think of the name offhand. What did you say your name was?"
"Oh, you know. Lydia Tietjens." And, as he sat on a neighbouring pouffe, she gave him a playful push, as at his rather nice eccentric foreign silliness.
"Ah yes, of course. Ford Madox Ford. Met him once. He had terrible halitosis, you know. Stood in his way. The Establishment rejected him. And it was because he'd had the guts to fight and get gassed, while the rest of the bastards stayed at home. I say, you're not recording that, are you?" For, he now saw, she had a small Japanese cassette machine and was holding it towards him, rather like a sideswoman with offertory box.
"Just getting a level." And then, after some whirring and clicking, Enderby heard an unfamiliar voice say: rest of the bastards stayed at home i say youre not rec.
"What did you say it was for?"
"For Jesus. Our magazine. Women for Jesus. You know."
"Why just women for Jesus? I thought anyone could join." And Enderby looked with fascination at the Xeroxed thing she brought out of what looked like a British respirator haversack-their magazine, typewritten, as he could see from the last page, with no margin justifying, and the front page just showing the name jesus and a crude portrait of a beardless though plentifully haired messiah.
"But that's not him."
"Right. Not him. What proof is there that it was a him?"
Enderby breathed hard a few times and said: "Would you like what we English call elevenses? Cakes and tea and things? I could cook you a steak if you liked. Or, wait, I have some stew left over from yesterday. It wouldn't take a minute to heat it up." That was the trouble with all of them, poor kids. Half-starved, seeing visions, poisoned with Cokes and hamburgers.