It was in New York that I accepted my mission. Two Texas couriers walked past the cafe, a fruit stand, a tobacconist and dog people scattered to both sides of the boulevard. Up four floors of a brownstone to my office overlooking a courtyard with old trees where squirrels lived and birds came to visit.
They were an odd pair, one small, a touch overweight and impeccably groomed, the other tall, slim and dishevelled. The tall man placed a briefcase on my desk, I already had the combination.
The document began and ended with please advise as to your earliest departure. I placed a note in the case and scrambled the tumblers. The smaller man picked it up, we’ll see you there, he said … where, I said … that’s classified.
In the morning there was a car at my door. The driver handed me a plane ticket to the Nation’s Capital, executive class. There will be another car when you land, he said.
The Capital was all fancy chocolates, the rustle of girls, skirts through a wheat field. One of them showed me a dictionary and pointed to the words that were missing. Only these are good for planting, she said. I wanted to disagree but she took my head in her hands which were clean as ivory. These are the hours we will teach you to forget, she said, now sleep while I read to you from the book of last things. This is what evenings are like in the Capital, tea and biscuits, the end elsewhere, a rumour from a faraway puddle.
I am a diplomat, a messenger in the mouth of what is already here, of what has already been said. Each morning I cut a deal with my reflection and then I watch as he picks up the razor. When I am not travelling I live in New York. New York is in Texas. I speak many languages, perhaps all of them, and have access to a vast inventory addresses.
In Galilee I turned a carpenter into a king. I was there when the British and the French raided your village. In El Salvador I turned death squads into freedom fighters and farmers into rebels. In Iran I armed the government and the government in waiting. During negotiations I keep the car running with plenty of cash in the trunk. The Air Force will clarify what I can’t explain.