Three Monologues

      I dream I pain, and in dreams and pain I seek the truth. Not that in an age that considerers F.A. von Hayek a great thinker and Irving Kristol a mountebank of courage that I'm going to find it...I take the rope in my hands and pull it taut and my mind turns to my McClaurin's series and differential equations and then turns to my mother, dead with Anglican plastic roses over her coffin where you could still hear her gently muttering my least favourite Grimm's fairy tales...the vestibule is a wretched soulless turquoise and I swing the rope just beyond my left elbow...twist it over...and then take my right hand to tie it into a

      I tie it tighter and the coffin is lowered into the grave with the tombstone already there, conveniently labeled "Mrs.Rudman" right by my father, also conveniently labeled, "Mr.Rudman."  A seventh order equation...two weeks to my next assisted lecture...and a radio jingle:  "Louis Ferdinand Celine Dion's greatest hits:  `Where does my heart beat now,' `The Last to Know,' and `If you Asked Me too, I'd kill all the Jews.'"  Iintroduce myself at my first visit to the synagogue, with patent, tactful embarrasment:  "Constantine Rudman"...Celine is God...he should have joined Norman Vincent Peale:  "Thanks to the Glory of God, the American Way, Anglo-Paxton achievement, and Western Civilization as a whole I've used this horsefaced illiterate to bilk you out of millions...and you deserve it, you scum...Crucify me, you bastards."  But he had too much honour, the filthy Jew-baiter...he'd never beg to write for Encounter...and the hypocrities would never let him...Diem, Salazar, Botha, Pinochet, Somoza, Videla, Thieu, Smith, Lon Nol, Papadopolous, Rhee, they'd keep their mouths shut for these murdering bastards,...but confront them with a real writer, goddamn it, and the firm of Kristol, Kristol, Lasky, Spender and Angleton, specializing inmoral cliches, feigned idignation, and hot wet sopping cants...well, all right not Spender, and not Kermode...but the others, they need a symbol of their `bold, courageous, defiant, unorthodox' opposition to totalitarianism...not that the NDP would let him write him in the party papers and intellectual journals...first because we don't have any party papers...second, we don't have any journals, just nicey-pansy-nanny pulp selling fashionable middlebrow pap...try telling my sister about Dr.Destouches "No, Lucy, I don't mean the mediocre Quebecois singer that neither of us can stand, and no I'm not going to play your silly game and call you Lucian"...and god, Thomas Harding, MP,met him at a party function, and I asked him about Celine and he said "Excuse me, Constantine, but wasn't he an Anti-Semite?" Well of course, he was a fucking anti-semite, and I know about Beethoven's bastards, and that Faulkner was permanently pissed and I can probably give you some dirt on
O'Neill if you asked me too, `if-you-asked-me-too-woobely-woobely-woo"...well, fuck you...where's the fucking knife?

      Chelmnickon...Vivian Chelmnickon...God she's tight...Professor Vivian Chelmnickon, Professor of philosophy and theological studies...formerly of the University of Warsaw...a member of All Souls at Oxford...who came here five years ago with his wife (whom his old Polish crony...what was his name...he said she was a drunken...Copse, wasn't it?...drunken bitch...I've got it, Oliver was Oliver Corpse who told me at a dinner for some deceitful cabinet minister that Mrs. Vivian Chelmnickon was a drunken bitch and that Chelmnickon was a saint for staying with her).  Open the drawer, see what you find...Chelmnickon writes for Encounter, or wrote for it.  Chelmnickon the honoured exile...when Gierek and his gang got Warsaw U to remove his doctorate, was immediately rewarded twelve honorary ones...though he had the grace to refuse the one that Seoul University was going to give him before the police tear-gassed the convocation ceremony.  The best thing, the only thing, that Carleton University, Ottawa, Canada...VISIT the university where Vivian Chelmnickon teaches!...even the
veterinary department hawks him in their brochures...I think it's around here...Chelmnickon is a philospher...I could have been a philospher, but I thought I do so much better at mathematics...why not take it instead and get an easy far, so good, I'm only two and a half years away and there are three professors here so bloody senile they have to be wheeled from class to class by cart...I mean there are big huge vultures, fat as horses, circling around the department of Mathematics, stuffed to the tits with the swarm of the ravens that are also here...aha!

      Yes it's sharp, black spartan handle, no fancy insignia...twist it around, think about using it to attack the sliver I got earlier this morning and couldn't get out...go to the living room and spread out some of the Citizens that I never get around to throwing out...can't make a mess on the carpet...perhaps I should clean up some of those crumbs, over those, under my writing desk...go to the bathroom and get the bandages and the rubbing alchol...alchohol...Chelmnickon...fucking another bloody puff piece review...people like him get it so easy...all this crap about "political correctness"...when was the last time you saw a real harsh, real nasty review of some central European writer...I mean it's
not as if one of them said that the moon was made of green cheese, everyone would consider it a bold new cosmological theory...of course not...they're too fucking moderate...but if one of them plagiarised the Liberal Party Statement of Principles and Grilled Cheese Sandwich Cookbook and retitled it "Irony, Contiguity (really hot word) and Civil Society in Czechoslovakia" and--my bloody Jesus Christ-it's the second coming of Alexis de Toqueville!  Come to throw the deconstructionists out of the temple!  Antipolitics, stinking antipolitics...old cheap tory windbag game...what us being political?  "The free market isn't political, it came down from heaven and it's above debate, and everybody wants it, everybody including the working class, (and if they don't want it, and cause us any trouble, well they're just Stalinist bastards, Nazi cowards as well, but they do want it, so you should be goddam grateful, we don't just let them rip out your bloody Commie balls) so shut your fucking mouth, your fucking little elitist, because if you don't think Milton Friedman and the IMF have got all the answers, you're just a shitty little intellectual, who just couldn't wait to break Babel's neck, and 80 million other necks, and you never complained, and you never talked, you just sat there and let Stalin and Lenin and Mao murder and rape and butcher and torture 80 million people, like all the other intellectual shit.  Besides didn't Edmund Burke, Holy Protestant and Apostolic Burke, with such a "complex" attitude to relatives bilking from the treasury, he said "the laws of economy are the laws of nature and therefore the laws of God."  Bloody Hell.

      What have I got...I've got bloody nothing... I mean I got no sex profession...I working at a course of study, when I think all the professors are cowards...I've got nopolitics...everything's Marxists at piece of crap after another in TLS...Pipes, Conquest, Laqueur, Stone and Chelmnickon all get to review each others books on Russia...everyone of them wrong on Gorbachev, and everyone given a chance to cover their ass...some new revisionist crap on French Revolution, whining about Terror as if they never heard of Hiroshima or Vinegar Hill...can't even count the Vendee right...and on the left, Good God...just talk about fuzziness and bargain basement bhuddist Indians...and in the NDP... MP Thomas Edward Harding slowly stuffing my ears with porridge.

      And of course, there's so much wrong...tried to visit a synagogue...doing it rather often actually for services, and one day it really got to me...I mean I could take the greeting card liturgy, and the desexualized divinities, though I don't see why we should mangle the greatest monuments in English and Hebrew...and German as well come to think of it...just to satisfy abunch of illiterate feminists who don't even come to church in the first I was saying, I was getting over it...when suddenly it came...this smell, this nasty little odour, I almost began to get sick, I mean the Jews, my fellow congregants, they were like
Orwell Wigan Pier Proles, they actually stank...I mean I couldn't get rid of the odour, I mean I was walking in the hall on Monday and I bumped into Chelmnickon and we started to talk about something and he said "Excuse me, do you smell something," Excuse me, do you smell something, well of course I did, but I wasn't going to tell him what it was.  And it's not as if my sense of smell was very good, because I spent most of my adolescence picking my nose...and for the scent to last that long...and what was it? was sort of like sweat, but it couldn't be... something liquid, aqueous, leaving dust behind...and the worst thing is that it smells so familiar...this Jew smell I've known before...I've known it, in a weaker form, for years...and for the past few months, it reminds me of someone...but I can't remember who...and the thing is, the smell is still with me.

      Poland.  Glorious, strong, betrayed, assasinated, Catholic intolerant, partitioned, massacred, self-pitying Poland.  Okay on your knees...Poland, most victim of the nations, victim stock higher than Ireland, better than the blacks, not so good as the Jews, but relations seem to be reaching a new state of mutual euphemism...and god knows the Latvians were worse... Protestant Lativia...hunting the Jews down like dogs...God my arms, really feeling faint...can't think...hallucinations,
perhaps?  In your dreams.  Friends...Poland needs friends...Poland partitioned and's not free speech, or secularism or pacifism, or reading Voltaire that makes the Liberals go round and round.  It's Poland.  Support for a free and independent Poland.  That's the perfect litmus test...someone should go out and patent it, and sell it to all your friends...Adrian Verrall, nephew of some Polish Tory MP, Lucy's got her eyes on him, so she dresses up like a five feet and a half dwarf and calls herself Lucian, and Harding, Charles Harding, son of Thomas Edward Blabbermouth. Charles Harding used to be my closest friend, and it's not as if we were enemies or something, I mean I was so close to him when I still thought T.E. Harding would be just what the country needed, back in the day when I thought Trotskyism and the Greens would solve all our problems and Walter Mondale would probably make a pretty good president.  "Chuck" Harding...oh God, the smell...the effortless sexuality of the fifteen year old, hoping it would rub off on my nervous naked fourteen year old bleached white Anglican skin...we were swimming, and he could do it so well, his strong arms weaving up from the water, making an arc and down and again and his black hair glistening in the sun and azure, while my thin lanky nearsighted body did horrible dives, mediocre butterfly strokes and excellent bobbing-up-and-down-like a cork.  He and his girlfriend, Elizabeth Concrete, so full of charm and vivacity, Vanity Fair sense of humour, and always so fashionable.

      Shouldn't have argued with them, though he's gracious enough to talk to me, after what I did, after recommending too many books that he hadn't read, and which I implied that I had.  I hadn't of course...because I'm a filthy liar and a poseur.  It's amazing how much I haven't read.  No Balzac, no Turgenev, no Sentimental Education, couldn't read more than eighty pages of the Rabelais I gave to Lucy for Purim because I was too disgusted, no Gogol (but I'll remedy that)...all the Proust  I've read has gone through me like a sieve, no Melville, no Trollope, no Goethe, only "Death in Venice" from Mann, a petty prejudice against Hesse, and muddled memories of Siddahtra, no Musil or Boll or Broch or Zamyatin or Maghouz (I'll remedy that), no politically correct Carpentier or politically incorrect Vargas Llosa or Infante, no Fuentes, too much Garcia Marquez, too much Rushdie, too high an opinion of The Flounder, too low an opinion of The Scarlet Letter, I couldn't even begin to read Tristram Cervantes, nor Calderon, no Spanish writers to speak of...Holland, Portugal, Greece, Norway, Sweden and Denmark, countries that just glaze off the Tale of the Genji, no Dream of the Red
Chamber, no Dazai, no Mishima, little Kawabata, not enough Tanizaki, no Achebe, Gordimer, Coetzee or even Brink, barely any Chekhov... no Virgil, no Lucian, no Horace or Ovid or Terrance or Seneca, only shards of Aristophanes, no Aeschylus, Euripidies or Sophocles, never even seen any Sappho...and all my reactions to Hardy are cheap and sentimental...God I could go on and on about my mediocrity,and I am in such a state of cheap masochism and inflected feeling I Hasek or Capek or Reymont or Oz or Yeshoua or Pasternak or Taytanya Tolstoy or Sinyavsky...I can't even be bothered to read Hugh Maclennan or James Gould Cozzens to find how much I'd hate them...God, I stink and smell reading off names like a pederast and worm of the world's libraries...only damp squibs of Faulkner, no Fitzgerald, no Naipaul, and as for drama, can't bear to read it...I never got around to reading anything by Pirandello, no Brecht, no O'Neill, Ibsen, Strindberg, Garcia Lorca, Synge, O'Casey...Lucy's got all the drama in the family...and as for poetry, I'm a complete loss...I gave a volume of
Baudelaire that's only gathering dust, and heaven knows I haven't read any...Rimbaud, Mallarme, just fashionable names...must admit that I've read enough Vallejo, and even some Paz, but no Neruda or Mistral, nor come to think of it Machado de Assis as Garcia Lorca again, no Pasternak again, I don't even try to read Akhamatova, Bely and Bunin (who isn't a poet), or Mandelstam, or Pinyak (who also isn't a poet) or Zoschenko (ditto)...God I know more about purged and murdered literatures than Alice Concrete, `Reform' Naipaul, no Bellow, no Vonnegut (well, no great loss), not even any Pynchon in a pinch...though I'm glad to say I never wasted any time with Salinger or Steinbeck (a lie, my high school pushed Steinbeck like cheap amphetamines)...not even bothered to read On Human Bondage so I go and tell everyone it's complete Cavafy, nor Pindar, no Wallace Stevens (why Wallace Stevens? Is he going to come out and bite you?), no W.C. Williams, no Pound, no Ashberry, enough Eliot, a little less Yeats, not at all enough Hardy...thank God no Dickinson, none of the Jews that have contributed two out of Canada's greatest three poets, come to think of it, contributed two out of Canada's only three poets...I can't tell Housman from Villon, Verlaine or Valery...well I did read "Narcissus weeps,"...I say that with some of the cheap half-price discount Central European irony, the kind where
Catholic Europe turns a skeptical, alienated Kafka, into a great European and a model Jew, given the Simon Wiesenthal Award along with General Videla's Irish press secretary...turns Kafka's infinite God of mystery and terror into a squalid manageable little despotism that obligingly goes boo and says I'm a big nasty totalitarian...with enormous tits...of course no
Goethe, no Dryden, not nearly enough Shakesperean plays, only three of the Canterbury Tales...some Montale I am proud to confess, but no Saba or Quasimodo or Ungaretti or Unanonamo...God no Persian or Indian writers to think of...only some Lu Xun, not enough Wen-I-To and his Dirty Water...and obviously no Schiller or Heine.  And no Rilke.  No bloody pagan, tory,
Christian, Czech, German Rilke.  They used to say about Austria that its greatest achievement was to make the world think Beethoven was Vienese and Hitler was a German, one could say about Czechoslovakia that its greatest achievement was to pass off Rilke and Kafka as Czechs...`National Socialists' no doubt while Novotny and Husak were really Russian, and
Jaroslav Hasek was a model liberal...after all, didn't he found "The Party of Moderate Progress within the Bounds of the Law"...demanding tougher regulations for welfare and promising every elector a free pocket aquarium...and no doubt you could say Hasek was a premature anti-Slanskyist...But, oh God, back to Rilke...the way my head is spinning the Virgin Mary is going to drop in shortly...I hope she doesn't retch at the way I smell...Rilke, Rilke, Chelmnickon wrote an article about Rilke, two articles he wrote that he recommended to me...the other where he fairly and accurately described all the other Rilkeans who disagreed with him...such a saint, but he can't stop Rilke running rampant through my head...'s not easy to concentrate when you've got a tourniquet around your right least my blue bouncing ball is out for the night...I mean there's a reason why you're doing this...come to think it's probably wise to tie the tourniquet after you cut your right arm...or it would be if you had the extra hand...roll up the sleeve...christ, it's already going blue...or is it purple?..take the knife in your left've said a lot of bad things Rudman about Poles that you've never met who've never done you a bit of said you got tired about their whining, while women were being raped and tortured and
mutilated in sneered at how Popieleusko's murderers were in jail six months after they done the deed but that it'll be a cold day in hell that they find the murderers of Ruth First, or even Stephen Biko or even Dr.Aggett...stupid putz Worthington, shedding tears for Daniel, dead in prison...and then saying that Botha would make sure that Mandela would
never die in prison...while forgetting Aggett, his body lies a rotting in the grave...and you sneered about the Polish Peasant Party...saying Poland, and certainly Romania wouldn't be any richer if they and not the Communists had taken power...and that the financial argument against totalitarianism was self-pitying crap...and God you haven't read any books about the
Soviets, not even the Gulag Archipelago, but just gloomily accept figures of 50 or 60 or 80 million dead while sneakingly and in bad faith try to ease your sleasy social democratic conscience looking for consoling figures of 10 to 20 million dead...and you haven't read enough books and you wouldn't have the nerve to say what you really thought to any Eastern European because you'd slink off you coward and wouldn't dare to open your lying filthy mouth...because you can't, because you can't say anything with all this blood with all these rivers of blood, flowing down and around, and drowning every one of us, in their size, rivers of blood flowing down the Thames, rivers of blood flowing through everyone of us...

      Blood again.  It's always blood.  It's always the most obvious and stupid and vile things you think up...atrocity...
murder...massacre...rape..the first resort of the well paid hack horrorist...the fashionable comic book writer...and the most pernicious middlebrow serios who squeeze good reviews from the Hamilton Spectator, or fuck, The Globe and Mail...I mean there's no nuance to blood being ostenatiously spewed around...I mean there should be something more complex, like instead of "Having been viciously attacked and having unspeakable things done to her left elbow, her blood-drenched corpse was
found at the back of Warsaw's best hotel" you could have "Having sprained her left ankle and having to bribe the man who gave her decent meat, her body was covered was a less potent, less disgusting fluid which reflects her anomie and malaise"...what would it be like?...the colour would be blue...real blood isn't blue...and it would have a more neutral smell...not
like my own smell...stinking up good synagogues like I could be like disinfectant...and you sweat or cut it to get at would sort of coalesce from the could call it "perqua" or something...time for the first cut.

      No, not the damn vein you idiot, you could bleed yourself to death...on the side, yes like that...all right, drop it on the have to have a fairly good size puddle...I've got to remember to get that Latin dictionary...this ritual would be so much more impressive if I could say what I was saying in Latin...all right, here goes..."By this blood I shed" ...I, a selfish Anglican bastard who doesn't know anything about suffering..."I ask you to forgive me, and accept this offering as a purge of my guilt"...oh God!  How my blood stinks!..."To those who have suffered murder and genocide and holocaust and dictatorship, that I, as a Canadian, cannot begin to understand." Can't think, got to concentrate...I could bleed to death or get gangrene if I pass out, "please accept this blood and my pain as a sign of my good faith, and if this pain, voluntarily inflicted as it is, is merely a lie and a deception, send a sign for me to end this deceitful life."  The smell, the smell, use your left hand and...reach for the matches on your writing desk...ordinarily you got to use two hands to light a match...okay pulll out the matches...with your hand, it's rather tricky...and strike it against the radiatior...oh good, it lit the first time, I don't know how
I'd do it if it didn't...take the flame up to the tray on your table, covered with flammable quick about it, you don't want to burn your only currently operative fingers...not too quick, because you don't want to accidently blow the light out...okay set it down...touchdown!'s aflame...all right, is the puddle large enough?...yes it is...don't faint now...make the first know there are only five...the first is a straight vertical line...the flames cast quite a shadow...dip your left index finger in your own blood...good, make the line...up...on the newspaper...on the right side of the line, halfway up make two lines going at 45 degress in both directions...the odour...yes...the first letter...K...can't bear the smell...make the second is better to have loved and lost than to have read Alfred, Lord is the second letter...yes...A...the smell is always there, it's always been there...if I could only get rid of it...If I could only get rid of it...come on, only three more letters...not too far to go...dip your's not the odour, it's not the odour at's that the smell's so unclean...defaming...back to the paper...a vertical line and a horizontal line...horizontal lines on the, it's on top...the smell making me tear...and I'm getting a headache...make the letter...yes...T now the next letter is a right angle, on top of a bisecting line...the smell, need something sharper...yes here it is...Y...that was so more to describe it?....parallel lines?...need the smell to be replaced with somemthing odourless...something purer...something sweeter...yes here's the letter...N...KATYN...and not a moment too soon...time for the rubbing alchohol and the bandages...and I can remove the tourniquet in two minutes...but the odour...replaced...purged...with something sharper...something shiny...something near...purer...cleaner... heavier...and lead. 

* * *

     Vivian Chelmnickon was sitting in his office one evening, drinking bad coffee and writing notes for an essay on Karl Jaspers.  As he wrote, as the volumes of Scholastics, Freudians, Wittigensians, Marxists, Voeglinites surrounded him in his office and isolated him from the vulgar world, he remembered.

     He remembered being only slightly more than a boy, hiding in the ruins of Warsaw in the last three months of the war, going out with his three companions only to scavenge for food, and spending the rest of the day (on average, fifteen hours) with nothing to do but hide in a cold cramped underground ruin with nothing but a copy of The City of God.   There, for three months, Chelmnickon would read St. Augustine fourteen times while trying to convince his companions that paper had no nutritional value whatsoever, and that the yellowing pages would make even poorer toilet paper.  He remembered his first meeting with Oliver Corpse, the blubbery boy who had already gotten a certain infamy at having gained thirty pounds after the Warsaw uprising. Corpse was not his dearest friend, for in the deepest experiences of Chelmnickon's life, he was not, could not have been there, but Oliver had been with him the longest and had never betrayed him.  He remembered the first day of his marriage that his wife was unable to go to work because she was completely drunk, he remembered the day in 1947 when the old, small, almost a hut, of his family's home had been replaced by the first building of large concrete the colour of, not death, but the dead, he remembered the cold insults and cheap innuendos that his more cowardly colleagues in the Warsaw Department of Philosophy gave him as the tide turned so very slowly from the days of August when the workers controlled the streets to the rise of the Moczarites; but most of all he remembered the miracle.

     It was near the end of 1967, a few months before he would be expelled from his position and a couple more before he would be compelled to emigrate to All Souls.  The noose had been tightening ever since the return of Gomulka, and the signposts could be counted off with ludicrous ease:  the fate of Pasternak, the first Russian "anti-Zionist" campaign, the General Secretary's clumsily veiled attack on none other than Vivian Chelmnickon, Kuron's arrest, the banning of Solzeheinitsyn's second novel, the arrest of Daniel and Sinyavsky, the dismissal of Oliver from his psychiatry post, and his subsequent emigration, the Arab-Israel War.   Looking back Chelmnickon could see the compromises that he had made, conscious or unconscious, and it made him despise the system, the Marxism he had taught, and the teacher who had taught it even more.  So it was in this most unpropitious atmosphere in November 1967, that a leading colonel in the army, Shurg, had decided that would he take graduate seminars at Warsaw.  There were immediate problems, since Shurg had not even finished high school, much less graduated from a university of any sort, that and the fact that he was asking to enter a course which had started several months earlier, made Chelmnickon and his colleagues distinctly nervous. So it was one day in November that Colonel Shrug, dressed in not quite full uniform, entered Chelmnickon's evening class in Marxist philosophies.  The evening did not go well, the Colonel made some boorish comments in not so good humor at Chelmnickon's comments about Stalin, and for the next few weeks he made Chelmnickon the unwanted subject of his attentions.  These meetings, when Shrug would meet Chelmnickon about three times a week on the university campus, were more serious.  Chelmnickon was indeed somewhat surprised that Shrug actually took the neoStalinist propaganda with sincere devotion, something that none of his colleagues ever did.  He explained with patience and tact why nobody in Poland believed the party line that the Nazis had murdered the soldiers at Katyn, that everyone remembered the deportations, that contrary to what Shrug might believe atheism was most certainly not busting out all over Poland, that the party papers were not really deserving of respect for their meticulous accuracy.  Detailing these facts caused a revelation for Shrug, which was a small miracle in itself, and Chelmnickon gave Shrug a few non-Marxist books.  The first ones, about Nietzsche, were not a success since Shrug crudely remarked that if Nietzsche was so smart he would not have ended up in a madhouse with syphilis.  But slowly, over that winter Chelmnickon introduced Shrug to Freud, to Maritain, to Simone Weil, to summaries of Arendt and other totalitarianists, and he spoke of the ironies of revolution, of how terms like liberalism and humanism were being purged of all real content, of the quest for social unity, for the need for universal myth, and for the subtleties and caution that one must go along with that, for the sense of community that had existed before the Enlightenment and for the limits of that community, and after three months of irony, dialectics, and contiguity Colonel Shrug of the Army of the People's Polish Republic stepped into the offices of the Ministry of Defense, announced that he was resigning his military commission, abjured all his positions in the party, declared that he was selling all his possessions and giving them to the poor, or at least some worthy charity, pledged himself to a totally selfless life to the care of other people, and stated that, henceforthwith, he was going to become a Buddhist.

     Having spent the past twenty-five years in the constant company of Russians, Shrug was somewhat isolated from Poland's problems and gave all his money to Chelmnickon under the misconception that he would know best how to dispose of it. Chelmnickon had enough problems already than having a large gift of money from an ex-colonel, so he promptly gave it to one of the more conservative lecturers who gave it to the deputy minister of education with the express proviso that it be given to a fund to help translate great works of literature into Polish.  This the deputy minister did so, taking only a 40% cut to give as a bribe for his mistress.   Meanwhile, Colonel Shrug, quickly finding that he could not set up a Buddhist temple without money and few followers, was kindly directed to the Indian Embassy.  There, he discovered mediation, to the complete consternation of the entire Embassy staff.  In order to carry out their business they had to hide the continually moaning convert first in the guest bedroom, then in the attic, then in the basement, then in the broken watercooler, then in the Embassy safe, then in the kitchen oven, and were now seriously considering turning the oven on when one employee got the bright idea of smuggling him out of the country by diplomatic parcel.

     By the end of the year Chelmnickon and his wife had also "left" Poland, to be greeted at Heathrow airport by delegates of the Polish emigre community, various Marxist historians, representatives of a dozen major intellectual journals, an assortment from the press (including a News of the World reporter who instantly commented what an ugly woman Mrs.  Chelmnickon was), various well-wishers, but not Oliver Corpse, who two months ago had started a charming, chaste love affair with a small Welsh poet, and had to be rushed to hospital because he had since then lost sixty pounds.  His wife, Chelmnickon thought, had adapted to the absence from the mother homeland and the entry into a new and alien world, with too much pleasure and relief.  She would never see her relatives again, or her friends (except for Oliver, who wasn't really a friend of hers), never see the city she had spent almost all her life in (except for the winter of 1944), almost never again read a book in Polish, hear Polish conversation, see Polish movies, listen to Polish songs or imbibe silly Polish sit-coms; yet the first years in London were the happiest in her life, and Chelmnickon could easily understand why this was the case.  To live in a country where only the cabbies, waiters and bellhops demanded bribes, and who never asked for more than 10%, to live in a world where there were no censors, to live in a city of the past and not in a sea of vomit colored concrete, to live where the policeman were all ostentatiously marked and who didn't even carry weapons to boot, to live where the houses were so much larger and where there was so much more money and so much more to buy that at first she didn't know what to do with all their newfound wealth (she soon solved that problem), to live in a place where the condoms were cheap, durable, comfortable and plentiful, to live where there was too much irreverence and blasphemy and obscenity, and not too little, to live, so she said to her husband, in a country where one did not have to go to church as a sign of social protest (her attendance dropped alarmingly), to live where even the Communists complimented her husband and turned shamefully away from his gaze, where everyone considered her husband a genius and paid empty compliments to her, the charming host.

     There was, of course, the greater risk of violent crime, but she was amazed at how easy it was to get lethal weapons, and when she accidentally maced a harmless Indian beggar, she was astonished at how sympathetically the police force treated her.  There was also the rain, something that Chelmnickon could never really stand, and it was one of the factors that dictated his moving to Ottawa, upon Corpse's request years later.  But it was better than the Warsaw pollution, and on one Saturday afternoon in May while in a London downpour they were walking back to their apartment, soon to be replaced by a grand house near Oxford Campus, that his wife was seized by a fit of euphoria.  She dropped her umbrella, took off her raincoat, threw it and her sweater into the nearest large puddle and started jumping and dashing into the sewer drains, under the runoff from the roofs and into the splashes caused by driving taxis.  She took her raincoat and used it to scoop water at a helplessly protesting and increasingly angry Vivian, but then he saw his laughing, drenched wife, and she briefly looked fifteen years younger, as she begged and demanded him to make love to her right there.  And so he did, and his wife claimed that was the happiest moment of her entire life, though all that Chelmnickon got out of it were nightmares about being discovered by Playboy models who were actually ugly fat Polish secret agents in cunning disguise, as well as a bad, mildly life-threatening case of pneumonia.

      Chelmnickon looked up from his work at Jaspers and seeing the small digital clock that was partially hidden by a statue of the Black Madonna that John Sienkewicz, M.P., had given him as a gift, realized that it was four in the morning.  He would have to get to sleep at no later than nine o'clock this evening, but rather than face the embarrassment of telling his wife how he had systematically avoided her, decided to delay that inevitable confrontation, and take advantage instead of one of the rooms at the Philhellenon club.  As he twisted his chair to retrieve another volume of Jaspers works that was lying in the shelf above him right behind his head, he suddenly knew something.

     "Ooo, what a nasty, horrible, unpleasant, unlovey, unsilly, painey cut!"

     "Don't worry, Ball.  It's not really a problem.  See, I've already got some bandages on.  I'll just have a cheese sandwich and a good night's rest, and I'll be as good as new in the morning."

     "Well, let me sing to you first.  Mary had a little lamb-little lamb-little lamb.  Mary had a little lamb-bounce-bounce-bounce-bounce-bounce!"

     It was a remembrance of something that could only have occurred a few hours earlier.  Chelmnickon could not recognize the participants, though one very clearly looked like a large blue rubber ball.  This was not the first time these sudden flashes of knowledge had occurred to him.  The first flash was at a cocktail party ten years ago when he was being bored by some endlessly vain Don Juan and he suddenly realized that guilt had rendered the man completely impotent.  An innumerable number of these revelations had happened to him since then.  None of them possessed the slightest importance, the most typical being the sudden realization that his newsagent's favorite novelist was Irwin Shaw.  More complex was the realization that a theology student that he had passed in the hall had helped pay for his education by writing pornographic novels that contained extremely complex allegories of Russian Orthodox dogma, which had been edited out by the bored publisher.  Another time Chelmnickon realized that a computer student had created a program that could create up to two and a half million erotic novels with appalling ease.  The first time he felt these thoughts, he thought that his mind was playing impudent and cynical tricks on him, but slowly he came to the revelation that all of the mercury flashes were completely true.  But if true, what purpose did they serve?

     Two separate memories came to mind; the first time he met his wife, while Stalin was still alive, in what could be described, though not really, as the University of Warsaw disco. In these anti-Sex League Discos, regulations set by vindictive non-Jewish Jews, who had won a monopoly on suffering, Chelmnickon listened to cheap propaganda songs that were already beginning to grate, some rather humorous, off-colour anti-imperialist skits, and popular songs bled white of Polish content, when he saw the woman who would become his wife.  Around her neck were two crucifixes; the first, hanging over her bosom was a typical red wooded one with a Byzantian Christ splayed upon it, though with a chain made of rainbow colored rosary beads.  The second crucifix, which she kept under her shirts and which she showed to Chelmnickon when he noticed its presence, was a "Galczynski Cross," named after Comrade Delta.  It was made when the government was trying to make anti-clericalism a fashion, and it consisted of a handsome young man, in whom Chelmnickon detected a resemblance to the beardless Christs that had been swamped by Byzantine iconography, copulating somewhat graphically with a woman who clasped her hand to the beam of the cross and wrapped her legs around the stem for dear life.  While the first cross would be worn for important religious holidays, for confession, and for nothing else, Chelmnickon never knew a time when she did not wear the second one.  She wore it every day of her marriage and everytime they made love, often in such positions that Chelmnickon's chest was gouged by the female figurine.  This was especially so on Good Friday when his wife became either a willing victim of "the curse" or became sexually insatiable, or both, and when she had managed to drag Chelmnickon into the bedroom one Good Friday when they were still in Poland, Chelmnickon tried to argue that since this was the second holiest day of the year, and since, even granting enormous public pressure that had been forced on the state on the past, there might come a time when the government would not look kindly on university professors and party members who attended mass too many times, and since, in good conscience, they really shouldn't be having sex now or in any other time during Holy Week, and since the cross was named in the honor of a man, who, while undeniably possessed of sincere popularity from his fellow countrymen, had been more than a bit of a toady to the worst of the regime, shouldn't he, Vivian Chelmnickon, her nominal lord, and actual loving and very patient husband, be allowed to remove the offending cross from her... Whereupon Mrs. Chelmnickon gave her husband such a powerful blow that when he attended the Easter Monday reception with the Minister of Education who couldn't wait to tell him how poorly the Central Committee thought of latest book, the first thing that Oliver Corpse said to Vivian, right in front of the minister and his various sycophants, was "Oh dear, Vivian, what a large black eye.  However did you get it?"

     The second memory was much later, in London.  In the first days of exile he had always been treated with respect, though as he moved away from Marxism, as his always existing Augustianism became more manifest, as he moved to a notably anti-Marxist view, arguments and points of principle became louder and more defined. But after the publishing of his most famous work The Successes and Limits of Hegelian Analysis, his most mature Marxist opponents kept their views more to themselves, feeling no doubt that it would be improper and petty to criticize a man who had known too much about actually existing socialism, and they showed polite interest as his work began to a move to a "return to religion," as the middlebrow columnists called it.  (A phrase which never failed to irritate Chelmnickon; he was the holder of a degree from a prestigious university from a great civilized Catholic country, and as such he had supped long and hard and well at all the intellectual feasts this century could provide. As such he had read every "agnostic" "atheist" and "secular" viewpoint and after finding much that was rewarding, ultimately judged them wanting.  He was not some half-educated, badly shaven Eastern Orthodox cretin peddling amazingly simple solutions to amazingly simpler right-wing periodicals.) But in the early days everyone treated him with respect and admiration.  He remembered one day in Oxford in March 1972, listening to a student from Derry talking about the coming Black Power revolution, the infamies of Zionism, and how the Catholic Proletariat in Ulster were struggling on Classical Marxist Lines for a United Ireland. And just after the young man had made some dimwitted comment on Angela Davis, he turned to Chelmnickon and said "And of course, I've learned so much from your own books" and presented him was a copy of The Ironies of Socialist Humanism to autograph.  Somewhat taken aback by this unexpected irony Chelmnickon clumsily did so. But later when he and his wife were leaving the campus that afternoon, and another Catholic student from Derry, this time a rather silly young brunette, entangled Chelmnickon in the same stupid conservation, made the same idiotic comment about Angela Davis, and presented the same book for Chelmnickon to autograph, he bluntly refused and said that the young woman was a stupid, thoughtless, fashionable fool and before he autographed anything she should read a lot more before she opened her mouth again.

     A year and a half later Chelmnickon would again meet the young woman.   It was in the worst downpour Oxford has seen for years, Oliver had begun his first visits to Canada that would eventually lead him to emigrate there, and Mrs. Chelmnickon was out of the house, when Vivian heard the buzzer ring and then a sharp scream.  He opened the door and the young Catholic fell onto the rug, then got up and limped over to the chesterfield, and once there gave an abrupt cry.  For the next two minutes it was as if she was in a fit, before she lolled herself on to the couch.

     It was venereal disease; she said it was syphilis, but when she pulled up her skirt and he saw the black putrefying patches of flesh that had almost reached her knees he realized it was much worse.  She said it was even worse under her panties, but Chelmnickon had no curiosity to look.   The young woman told him that her lover, a Protestant, was dead, murdered by the UDA, the IRA would kneecap her for being a whore ("and for other reasons"), she couldn't dream of telling her parents, so instead she went to the man who had been the first to call her what she really was, a vulgar slut.

     "That's not what I said," but then she started having her fits of pain again, and he moved to the telephone.  Because of the storm, however, there were intermittent power shortages affecting the lines, and he realized that he would have to spend a couple of hours at least with this hysterical woman.  Thinking that if she was swallowing something she wouldn't be screaming, Chelmnickon asked her if she wanted a drink.  She asked for Cream Soda, which he did not have, so he improvised by taking some cooking sherry and dumping three tablespoons of sugar in it.  He gave it to her and she sipped it peacefully.

     "Do you think," she asked "that the Lord would cure me, if I made a vow of chastity?"

     "God does not accept bribes." said Chelmnickon who returned to trying to get a doctor.  After about twenty minutes of this she spoke to him again:

     "If I made a vow of chastity, and promised that I would enter a monastery and never come out, would you forgive me?"

     Chelmnickon thought about this and replied "If you were that desperate I suppose I'd have to."

     He then went back to the telephone and managed to get someone to come to the Chelmnickon house.  After he put the phone down the young girl started screaming again in palpable agony. In a desperate desire to stop her screams he asked her if there was anything he could do.

     "When I was child, my mother sometimes rubbed baby powder on where I hurt myself."

     The Chelmnickons had no baby powder, of course, so he tried some baking soda instead and, averting his eyes, spilled it generously on her maggot ridden calves.  Shortly thereafter an ambulance arrived, and when the orderly examined her before taking her away Chelmnickon was stunned at how the disease had receded.  In three days an expert on venereal diseases examined her and found her completely cured, and discharged her.  The specialist wanted to examine the case more closely, but the girl had already entered a monastery and Chelmnickon had no interest in telling his wife that he had let a woman into the house in her absence.  Nobody, not even Oliver, would know about this second miracle.

     Chelmnickon blinked and realized where he was.  He reached out for the digital clock, but in his drowsiness he knocked it off his desk.  As he awkwardly tried to lean over his desk to retrieve it, the telephone rang.   As he picked up the receiver he realized, he knew what the message would be that Senator Pierre Veniot, leading representative of Manitoba's francophones, for sixteen years a member of Parliament for Sainte Boniface, for nine years a holder of various petty positions in Liberal cabinets; that Senator Veniot, who, along with fellow member John Seinkewicz, MP, had sponsored Chelmnickon for membership in the Philhellenon club, who had tried to get Chelmnickon awarded the Order of Canada and nearly succeeded and was about to personally announce the imminent honor to the press until some bureaucrat realized that Chelmnickon still held a British passport and had no Canadian citizenship whatsoever, that Senator Veniot had been found, dead, at the bottom of one of the elevator shafts of the Castlereagh Hotel, with a suspicious stain on his spectacles. 

* * *

     In a burst of anger, I throw The Handmaid's Tale across the room where it hits the latest book by Germaine Greer on the top of the bookcase. It has not been an easy day. When I went to get groceries today, there was this strange woman, with this raving French accent who kept following me, and said that the niggers should be all be sent back to Africa, that all the male niggers should be castrated, and all the female ones sterilized, and that all the pimps and whores should be purged in acid, and all the children should have their large radios and their videogames taken away from, no matter how much they cried and cried and cried, and even if they held their breath and turned purple, or muddish, considering their skin colour, no, all the games and all the radios had to go away.  It would have been even more embarrassing had there actually been any black people in the store, but there were some Indians (from India) who thought she was referring to them.  Someone got security and they caught up to her while she was following me down the pickles aisle.  She said she hadn't meant anything against the Indians, that they were a cultured and civilized race and they could go anywhere they wished, that they could turn her house in a Hindu mosque if they so wished, and indeed she promptly broadcasted that offer across the supermarket for all to hear, though if they did so they would have to give lectures on St. Thomas Aquinas.  But about the "niggers," she said they just had to go.  Perhaps they didn't all have to go back to Africa.  Perhaps they could be given a lot of money to go to Brazil, where they could get nice tans.  Or they could go the West Indies, or even the East Indies, or perhaps we could drop them on Saddam Hussein when he wasn't looking, or best of all, because it was such a squalid and corrupt and depressing, and worst of all, Eastern Orthodox country, Romania could be stuffed like sardines with niggers.  Of course the men would be given a copy of The Imitation of Christ and the women Pascal's Pensees before leaving, but their immoral way of life was going to attract a plague of gryphens, so they just had to go.  As she was bundled out of the building by security she waved to me and said "It was nice to talk to you. Goodbye Ms. Wilentz."

      "What did you just say?" I said startled.

      "I said goodbye, Vanessa Wilentz.  That is your name, is it not?"

      "Yes, but how could you know it? I've never met you before in my life." But before I could say anything she had already spotted that annoying prat Adrian Verrall across the parking lot and rushed over to him to share her crackpot views.  It's unnerving, to say the least, to be in the presence of a madwoman, and what made it even more disturbing was that while I was moving my cart to the check-out counter I heard the sound of soft singing somewhere, as well as a regular bouncing sound. Unnerving, as I said, and the letters and Peter's visit made everything more disturbing.

      The first letters were ludicrously short and formal: "To M.Wilentz: I take the opportunity to utilize penmanship to declare myself to yourself as ANONYMOUS." "To V.N. Wilentz: my last letter, while possessing the admirable and always, within reasonable limits, desirable virtues of brevity, tactiturness and directness, was perhaps (though you may have a different opinion and you would not be foolish to have that opinion) a trifle vague.  To this I can only state a perfunctory statement of apologies and declare myself ANONYMOUS." "To V.N. Wilentz: RE: the weather. It's a nice day today.  Sincerely, ANONYMOUS." "To the occupant who isn't Elizabeth Concrete, daughter of Alice Raymond Concrete MP: Hello, sincerely ANONYMOUS (P.S. Elizabeth Concrete, to whom this letter is not being sent to, is also the daughter of Hector Concrete, the distinguished mortician.)

      Naturally, Elizabeth learned about the letters and teased me in a good natured way, saying the letters were obviously a declaration of love by a secret admirer.  She said this to Charles, her boyfriend, and claimed it to be perfectly hilarious, that Vanessa Wilentz, a woman-who-did-not-tolerate-fools-gladly-and-had-kicked-enough-shins-to-prove-it, who had said to her first boyfriend "I didn't really expect an orgasm, but it's a bit much to be regaled with cheap cliches afterwards" should have a secret admirer.  Perfectly priceless.

      I didn't think so.  The thought that someone is paying attention to me from afar, watching me in secret, can only make me nervous.  One doesn't have to be a "Jewish lesbo," as Adrian Verrall said when he didn't know I was listening at a party and then later tried to pick me up and got kicked hard in the shins for his pains.  It's not as if the letters were obviously threatening, it's perfectly understandable that Elizabeth should find their ludicrous convolution, prolix prose, and almost touchingly chaste sentiments a point of amusement, but all the same I had better contact my uncle in the next few days...or why not just this afternoon and ask for his advice.  I mean it's not as if my uncle was a better human being than my parents, or even better than my brother, but I don't want centuries old matchmaking tips, I just want to know.

      What goes through this man's (or is it a woman's) mind? The fifth letter just sort of stutters to a halt: To the person who lives in Chatterdon Passy who isn't the Siamese family on the floor above, or the young handsome physics student on the floor below, or the empty apartment right beside them, or the homosexual couple on the other side, or the strange, big-breasted philosophy student opposite, and who isn't the offspring of Alice Raymond and Hector Concrete: oh-bother-I've botched it-nevermind.  Sincerely ANONYMOUS." The sixth letter is more personal: "To Miss Vanessa: There are rumours, not that I take rumours seriously, or as a matter of course, listen to them, though I am not one of those people who condemn the very concept and concaetanation of rumours out of hand, but am willing to use them in a proper and pragmatic way, but as it is arguably necessary to repeat, though perhaps this clause and the preceding one are arguably redundant and irrelevant, there are rumours, that there are certain aspects, certain phenomena, certain happenstance, certain unique situations, certain idiosyncrasies, that were they were to be measured by certain standards, such as the classical ones, purged of vulgar, petty and fashionable Pelagian and Secular influences, would be revealed, would instead stand revealed as being above average, statistically speaking, in terms of certain things which ancient, medieval and some, though not nearly enough, of the modern civilizations consider to be the worthy parts of this life; and to wit, it would appear, there would be some evidence, perhaps even strong evidence, though it would be rash to conclude without further examination, that these certain aspects, certain phenomena, certain happenstance, certain unique situations, certain idiosyncrasies, are in someway correlated, in a truly ontological fashion, with certain necessarily existing phenomenon, the most important of which, if I may be so bold to make such an assumption without proper evidence and without even the process of a full and complete examination, the most important of which is the current vital existence of the object of this communicative memorandum.  It could even be specified, if one were to do so, that one of these phenomenon, choosing this one above all others for merely the most arbitrary and least important reasons, can be said to be analogous, in a bold, flattering way, even identical, with the process and cumulative product of a certain sense-perception, that is to say the object in the epistle can be claimed to be identical with the most potent sense-production of the reproductive organs of a small plant which, notwithstanding its small size, can be said to have notable, even memorable colours, and that this plant has been noticeably visited by classes, orders, families, genuses, species, subspecies, reproductively isolated regional categories, and dare it be said actual individual members of the wasp and bee platonic type, and that such small plant can even be identified, classified, systematized, and that the object of the letter can be said, without fear or favour, to be strongly resembling, to cause strong connotative reactions, to be absurdly identical to the most attractive parts (based on true Scholastic and Aesthetic standards) of this flower, to wit, the Chrysanthemum." Sincerely, Anonymous.

      Sweet smelling indeed.  Everyone knows about the nasty little smell that's always hanging around me and just in case I forgot Peter happened to come by yesterday on one of his rare visits.  He came to Chatterdon Passy, smelling, as always, of turpentine, creosote, lye, quicklime, lavender, vitriol, bleach and photocopier fluid, and following him was his secretary from the accounting firm, Montserrat, pumping the air full of paraquat.

      "That's your brother? He's old enough to be your father."

      "That's not quite fair.  He's only eighteen years older than me."

      Peter Wilentz had never smiled in my presence, nor, as far as I could know, in our parents' presence.  He took one look at Elizabeth and said nothing, but his unchanging expression conveyed one thought: typical.  Peter Wilentz, a symphony in black and repression, who had wore nothing but a black suit, ostentatiously high collar, black gloves and smart black hat for every year I had known him since I was four, when, one year at Purim he still wore the same clothes, but had managed to seriously hurt himself when setting the tables for me, him, our father Franz Wilentz, our mother, Rebekah Wilentz, and the sixteen other, always empty, never used places settings that our parents had set every morning and every night of their lives from Peter Wilentz's second birthday until my fifteenth.  On that Purim Peter was setting the knives, grumbling as he did so, and had somehow managed to not pay attention to what he was doing, fell, cut himself, and his mother had to roll up his sleeve to examine the wound, and for the first, and last, time Vanessa got to see the dove colored arm of her brother, only briefly stained by that extremely paled red.  He never forgave me for what I saw.

      "I suppose," he said with infinite contempt as Montserrat's pumping filled the air with a slow asthmatic wheeze, "that you are still taking literary criticism?"

      "Yes, I've already received my masters and..."

      "And what does that degraded creature over there do?" referring to Elizabeth, whose head who stuck in the refrigerator looking for something to eat.  "Am I to presume that she too, takes literary studies?"

      "Yes, and psychology as well..."

      "No doubt.  How dreadfully predictable.  Have you not taken a single philosophy course?"

      "Well, there is a sort of dual English-philosophy course that I'm taking right now.  It's being taught by Pr. Vivian Chelm..."

      "I could not care less.  Do you have heard any news about our dear cousin?"

      He was referring to Natasha Wilentz, the daughter of our uncle.  Strictly speaking he could have been referring to the twelve children of our Aunt Sarah in Israel, but he could not care less about them.  "I haven't heard any news since her divorce from that French doctor."

      "Ttth.  Really, my dear sister, I already know it as a fact that she has since remarried Giles Seinkiwicz, but nothing has been heard of her since.  My poor pathetic sibling, you are obviously aware of how much your scent fills me with loathing, such that the presence of poor Montserrat here is absolutely necessary for my composure.  When I look back at the absolute uxoriousness of our dear father, and when I consider the pettiness of the aim that he and our mother made to be their life's work, I can only shudder at the result.  And when it is realized that our parents were patently unsuccessful in achieving their goal, the easiest of achievements, my contempt for them grows exponentially.  Now if neither you, nor our dear parents, nor our wretchedly whining aunt can provide any information about the one member of our family with any charm or grace, I will have to cut my connection with you entirely, especially because it is our parents' anniversary tomorrow. Oh, one more thing.  I present to you, a card from the Alekhine Turpentine Consortium, granting you the opportunity of taking thirteen turpentine baths to remove you of your foul odour.  I would grant the same gift to our parents but they would have to be permanently pickled before it did the slightest bit of good."

      "My friends do not mind my odour, or any other part of my presence (Well, at least when I'm not kicking them in the shins.) They do not go on and on and on about how I smell, because undoubtedly they can't tell the difference."

      "Actually my dear sister they undoubtedly can.  But because they are not Jewish they are too polite to comment.  Also, because they are not accountants, your friends are all very stupid, and they have probably done irreparable damage to their olfactory system by sniffing cocaine.  However, as a Jew, and your brother, I can honestly say that both you and our parents are smelly, stupid people not worth wasting my time. Montserrat?"

      "Yes, sir?"

      "We're leaving.  Squeeze five pumps directly into my sister's face before we go."

      So its fairly obvious that no-one has ever compared me to a chrysanthemum.  But that wasn't the only mistake that my secret admirer made.  For a start I do not have a handsome physics student in the apartment below mine.  There is a female student who for some reason has cut her hair absurdly short, wears only grey-purple Alekhine suits, has padded her chest with the complete monographs of Werner Heisenberg, and her britches with a mousetrap, and has had her name changed by deep poll to Lucian Rudman.  She drinks charcoal and milk of magnesia to lower her voice, uses rouge and lipstick to make her hands look rougher, stuffs the boxes up her sleeves to make her look more muscular, and spends all her time hanging around with Adrian Verrall.  She's actually very good at it, apparently she's convinced four of her teachers that she's really a man, though come to think of it Professor Chelmnickon wasn't fooled for an instant.

      There are two woman in the floor above me.  One of them could be Asiatic enough to be Thai, though I think she's the maid.  But the other one's a white woman, slightly older than me, with a loud Ottawa accent.  I hear enough of their muttering upstairs to guess that the mistress can't speak a word of Thai, and I strongly suspect she's never been in the country.  Yet she has a genuine bonafide Thai passport, just as a few months earlier she had a real Syrian passport, and a few months before that a real Rumanian one as well.  And before that she had one from Sierra Leone, one from Peru, one from Finland, one from the principality of Andorra, and even one from the Palestine Republic, but I think she threw that away when she learned that Canada didn't recognize the PLO.  She is also a Canadian citizen, and as far as I know can only speak English.  I can only think of one possible reason why she should go around with a Thai passport.  Apparently she likes the apartment moist, full of dirt, and sprinkled with fertilizer so she can grow marigolds in the carpet.  I know that, because her gardening causes so many holes in the roof that one night the fertilizer dripped on Elizabeth and Charles while they were making love in the bedroom. Every month when the landlord comes for the rent and complains about what she's doing to the floor Roda Ellen van P---- gives him a batch of marigolds to ward him off, and when that doesn't work she immediately calls up the Thai embassy, squawks at some poor fool over the phone that if he doesn't come immediately and protect her rights as a Thai citizen she will scream blue murder to the opposition and to the former communists about the bribes, the insider trading on the Hong Kong stock exchange, and about the suspiciously large number of brothels near the house of the minister of Civilian and Democratic development, who is a well fed and well-fated colonel who has never fought anything more dangerous than a protest demonstration of eight year old Catholic girls whose lunch money was cut for reasons of financial restraint and monetarist principle, and then directly deposited into the Minister of Justice's swiss bank account, with a gratuity for three great Von Hayekian economists.  Naturally the assistant from the Thai embassy came around, got promptly swatted on the head by van P--- for calling it to "the Thai embassy" when Siam is the real and more inclusive name for the country, tried to have sex with the Siamese maid with whom he wants to marry, was swatted on the head with the complete works of Walter Gropius and then firmly directed to the landlord.  There a schedule of rent, marigolds, assorted other flowers, bribes and gratuities and Thai whores are agreed upon by landlord and civil servant. The landlord demanded for his personal pleasure six whores a month.  The embassy official offered precisely none a year.  They worked out a compromise, where the landlord would get no whores for the next seven months, and I can tell from what's going on overhead the embassy official is about to make the grand concession of no whores for only the next ten months.

      Occasionally I get the suspicion that the reason that R.E.van P---- is planting marigolds in the carpet and placing them in special saline solutions in her bathtub (which is not the smell that Peter complains about) is that she can listen to me and Elizabeth through the holes.  Certainly that's the suspicion of Aquilla Rogers, the aforementioned big breasted philosophy student in the apartment across, who regales the two of us with her opinions, looks rather moonily at Charles whenever he comes by, and circulates a petition for getting rid of van P---- and in particular her Siamese maid.  "She's a good sort," said Elizabeth a few days ago, "what she really needs is a good man to cheer her up." "Fortunately," said van P----, who with the maid was planting a few obligatory tulips seeds above us, "a good man is hard to find." And drops of dirty chlorine fell through the holes in the ceiling, staining Elizabeth's books.

      The seventh letter came yesterday: "To the person who lives under R.D. van P---- who isn't etc: Doesn't the office of the Deputy Minister of the department of Transport, an intriguing, mysterious, unusual, and arguably even, (though this may be a bold and unsupported assertion), romantic? Sincerely, extremely sorry for the trouble: ANONYMOUS." I showed it to Elizabeth and to Charles who had just stopped over here.  Elizabeth had to go to the bathroom while Charles moved over to comfort me.  I noticed a blue-green button on his coat, not the same colour as the other buttons, but somehow more in common with them because of that.  It had a strange series of lines and patterns on them, as Charles said Other people don't really understand you and Perhaps you could come to this party we're having around the School Paper, and an image appeared to my mind, an image of children, hundreds of them, ragged, laughing, singing hymns, holding crosses, wearing medieval clothing going out on a children's crusade, and they saw some Jewish boys, very small ones, only four or six, swimming in a pond by the road, and they could tell they were Jewish because, of course, they were circumcised, so the crusaders said Jews, and the little boys said Jews, and the five and four and three year old girls, the girls who were so small all they could do were carry the pansies and crocuses, because they had left in late March and couldn't find any better flowers, because presenting flowers before the walls of Jerusalem would do more than arrows and pitch, said Jews, and the leader of the Crusade stopped the march, and all the boys, even the smallest ones, gathered stones while the girls just sat and watched and then began to sing hymns, and when they had gathered enough they threw them at the Jewish boys, the girls kept singing hymns, and they kept throwing them, until the boys were dead, and they kept throwing them until they all got the chance to throw rocks into the bloody corpses, and Charles was saying This doesn't have to happen again, and Things can be better and I saw a world, a world of gardens, of large white and black houses, of nice adults named Gilbert, of large happy Labradors and watercress sandwiches, and this world is So Much Nicer said Charles, and I saw Croquet games like Tenniel illustrations, the nice clean lettuce of Prince Edward Island Protestants, the clear sharp reds of turn of the century building blocks, the happy dances and ballets of little girls awash in white lilac and calico, of red ribbons and streaming blonde hair, almost as pure as Elizabeth's, kites flying above in pleasantly clouded skies, a world of innocence, of children who have not already spilled blood upon them and on their children, of bicycle races and three-legged races, and county footraces and good clean sexuality, and Charles said Can you See them? can you see The Doves, flying from branch to branch, like dancing snowballs, and I see the doves and they fly in arcs above the children and I know what hateful, vicious beasts doves are, because my mother once criticized a poem I wrote about them, saying I should use more Jewish animals, and Charles says Aren't they lovely, and he looks right at me and I get so extremely angry that I brace myself and kick him as hard in the shins as I've ever done.  At this point Elizabeth got out of the bathroom and saw Charles limping around.  "Vanessa, what have you done? What just came over you?"

      That was more than twelve hours ago.  After Charles regained his balance he and Elizabeth left for the evening, and they have not come back yet.  At about three o'clock this morning I decided I couldn't sleep and decided to read one of Elizabeth's books, but after four hours of reading it, I got so annoyed that I tossed it against the wall.  I showered, got dressed, collected my books, my notes for Professor Chelmnickon, and the secret notes that keep getting sent to me, and I put them all in my oh-so-feminine briefcase, and I walked out into the gloomy November morning, in a special state of spiteful cynicism that followed me all the way to the philosophy department, as if I was under the shadow of leaden wings.

Next: The Philhellenon Club
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