My name is Kalashnikov, it is true. The details of my history are of no consequence. They matter not, I will not dwell on them, it is best for the both of us. Whether I live or die, I no longer care. There was a time I cared, long ago, but let us pass over this. Soon I will be in the ground, or I will be dust on the air, I don’t care which. Whatever it is, I expect it will be final. Yes, I will be dead and gone and there will be no one to speak of it and nothing to say. A void and a nothing—not even an emptiness, in which a nothing. A not nothing not empty nothingness. Who can say for certain? To speak of it is to not speak of it, it is beyond speaking. So I will not speak of it.
Somehow, I have a purpose. A mandate, not of divine origin, but of definite substance all the same. I have no interest in philosophy, in systems and ideologies. I am a materialist, in matters of epistemology. As such, I believe in truth, by which I mean to say facts. It would be odd for a detective to think otherwise. And so I am forever in search of the evidence, the plain fact of things. It is my mandate to discover where the bodies have been buried, to know who is screwing whom, to follow the money. If it is seven dollars, I say it is seven dollars; if a thousand, a thousand. I have no interest in the outcome, caring not whether it happens to be this or that. Whatever it is, it is, and so be it. My only care is to uncover the true amount, or nature, or origin of the thing.
Please don’t ask me why I do this job. It’s a job, my job, and I am perfectly suited to do it. Or perhaps I am not, but I suspect that I am. I have my reasons. To sort this out would require a thorough investigation. I am happy to do it, on another day, mind you. In any case, one must have a job, any job. There are hours and days and months to be filled. There is also the question of money, earning one’s daily bread and so on. People always say “bread,” but it could well be salad, or pastry, which is like a bread. You may well ask me why I do this job and not another job, such as insurance sales or auto mechanics. The answer is that I do not know. If you were to ask me I would go in search of the answer, that is what I do. Please do not ask, but let us assume that you have asked. Well, then. I would begin at the beginning, which is the logical thing to do in such matters, by examining the material circumstances of my birth. I would gather all the facts, no matter how small and seemingly insignificant. Because, in truth, everything is small, and everything is insignificant. Who knows what matters and what does not? Everything matters, and nothing matters. That, in a nutshell, is the detective’s credo. Or so I suspect. Who can say? Not I, not I. However I will make a note of it for further study, here in my notebook that I keep precisely for the compiling of such objects.
It doesn’t matter who hired me. Is it not enough to assert that I have been hired? True, you may doubt the veracity of this assertion, and all I can say in response is that I am on the case, which implies the act of hiring. Perhaps it is self-hiring, and, if so, does it make a difference? Does it matter if I hired myself for this task, or matter if I am self-appointed? Yes, in an economic sense it matters. For if I were to pay myself, that would hardly improve my financial situation, it is true, or most likely true, although I have no certain evidence. (I have written this down, for later inquiry.) And in a theological sense, it may perhaps matter, for if Moses invented that encounter of his, with the burning bush and the I AM THAT I AM, then I will never again stone an adulterer as I did in my youth, enthusiastically, under the impression it was a work of God. Or it may be that I will, but for other reasons, of which there are many, so many. Aesthetics, for example, or the need to fill time. A good stoning is a good stoning, whether the idea came from the Lord God Almighty or a fabled Hebrew bastard found in the bulrush. On this I consider the matter of my hiring settled.
Now you doubtless want to know for what purpose I was hired. Here it is again, this bothersome business of purpose and meaning! It seems I can never get away from it, no not entirely away. Some distance is perhaps achievable. Motion of a kind, the opening of a gap, by which effort meaning recedes and shrinks, apparently, like a lighthouse on the shore as your boat drifts away. Away, into the darkness of the sea. A splendid metaphor! But the lighthouse does not shrink, or it shrinks but only apparently. Which is to say not at all. And the boat does not drift away into the darkness of the sea, or it does so but only metaphorically. Which is to say it does not do so at all. I say boat, but I mean scull. As any coxswain will tell you, it is a sin to call a scull by any other name. Oh, perhaps you may call it a shell, or a skin if you really must. But no, never a boat. And as any coxswain will tell you, when you reach the shore the lighthouse will be there just as it was when you left it, such is the heartless contempt of a lighthouse.
I was hired to investigate the election. There, I have said it. It is out in the open now. There are suspicions that the Russians have hacked the computers that tally the votes. Whose suspicions? I have no idea, they are suspicions. Anyone may have them. Russians, for example. Please don’t ask me about the computers. I have no idea what computers are, not really. Nor do I know what election, exactly, may have been hacked. Hacking, also, I don’t know. I once had a neighbour who hacked, usually in the early morning, but that was many years ago. A heavy smoker, he was, the poor wretch. His name was Gary, not a word of a lie. Would I say Gary if it were otherwise? Alas, poor Gary. I suspect he is dead now, of emphysema, if that’s what it is called. Could it have been COPD, even though I had never heard of such a thing, back then? We didn’t say spirometry, why would we? We had perfectly good words, among them lung and spittle and hack. Why say sputum or phlegm when there is snot? The world changes, unnecessarily in my view, don’t ask me why. The question requires thorough investigation. Where there are suspicions I am prepared to sleuth, if that is a word. First, the computers [what are they? why do we use them?]; second, the hacking [COPD?]; third Russia [a country in the east, if rumour is to be trusted]. I will leave Gary out of this, mind you just for now, on the presumption he has passed into the great Beyond, the fortunate bastard.
How is it that I have omitted all mention of the Electrical Collage! No, that isn’t quite what it’s called. It has a name, of course, as there is a name for everything. I have always found this to be remarkable, that everything has its name. Even when you are unable to say what the name of something is, the name is there. It exists. Sometimes you can feel it on the brain, the edge of the name, a slight touch of the name, like the hem of a skirt as it brushes against your arm. Often as it does so there is also a slight breeze, and along the slight breeze a definite female smell. Please note I’m speaking of the hem of a skirt, not of the name. The slight touch of hem, the breeze, the female smell, the spontaneous boner, the unfortunate wanton fantasy. I wish I could frame it in more musical terms, for this disgusting event does seem to call for the powers of a muse.
The hem of skirt
Upon a shirt
A female smell
Oh bloody hell
I am a horny loner
Now I have a huge boner
The brain has unfathomable powers, does it not. And let us thank our good fortune that we may combat these powers with alcohol, and often successfully, alas but for a time, and then the thing must be done again. It’s at least something to do, a way to fill time. Ah, but how I digress, I digress, for I was reaching after a phrase just there, moments ago, when the business of feminine wile led me astray. Here, I have the hem of it upon my mind: Elec- – Coll-. The initial E and C, most definite. And the two missing syllables of the E, also most definite. Also, one missing syllable of the C. The trick is to go through the alphabet till the missing pieces falls into place: ElecA ElecB ElecC ElecD … no, this will take forever. Elec- – Coll- will have to do for now, until the proper words come along of their own accord, as they always do. What I will do is say Elec-hm-hm Coll-hm until the words self complete. This will do, as a beginning. It doesn’t matter what the thing is called, or that it even has a name. Perhaps it doesn’t. Who can say? I will make a note of it, it will require thorough investigation. It matters, and it doesn’t matter, and who can say? I make a note of that, too. Everything matters, and nothing matters. Yes, a good starting point, perhaps.