Martin Amis. MONEY
Martin Amis. MONEY
This is a suicide note. By the time you lay it aside (and you should always read these things slowly, on the lookout for clues or giveaways), John Self will no longer exist. Or at any rate that’s the idea. You never can tell, though, with suicide notes, can you? In the planetary aggregate of all life, there are many more suicide notes than there are suicides. They’re like poems in that respect, suicide notes: nearly everyone tries their hand at them some time, with or without the talent. We all write them in our heads. Usually the note is the thing. You complete it, and then resume your time travel. It is the note and not the life that is cancelled out. Or the other way round. Or death. You never can tell, though, can you, with suicide notes. To whom is the note addressed? To Martina, to Fielding, to Vera, to Alec, to Selina, to Barry — to John Self? No. It is meant for you out there, the dear, the gentle.
m. a. London, September 1981
as my cab pulled off FDR Drive, somewhere in the early Hundreds, a low-slung Tomahawk full of black guys came sharking out of lane and sloped in fast right across our bows. We banked, and hit a deep welt or grapple-ridge in the road: to the sound of a rifle-shot the cab roof ducked down and smacked me on the core of my head. I really didn’t need that, I tell you, with my head and face and back and heart hurting a lot all the time anyway, and still drunk and crazed and ghosted from the plane.
‘Oh man,’ I said.
‘Yeah,’ said the cabbie from behind the shattered plastic of his screen. ‘Fuckin A.’
My cabbie was fortyish, lean, balding. Such hair as remained scurried long and damp down his neck and shoulders. To the passenger, that’s all city cabbies are — mad necks, mad rugs. This mad neck was explosively pocked and mottled, with a flicker of adolescent virulence in the crimson underhang of the ears. He lounged there in his corner, the long hands limp on the wheel.
‘Only need about a hundred guys, a hundred guys like me,’ he said, throwing his voice back, ‘take out all the niggers and PRs in this fuckin town.’
I listened, on my seat there. Owing to this fresh disease I have called tinnitus, my ears have started hearing things recently, things that aren’t strictly auditory. Jet take-offs, breaking glass, ice scratched from the tray. It happens mostly in the morning but at other times too. It happened to me in the plane, for instance, or at least I think it did.
‘What?’ I shouted. ‘A hundred guys? That’s not many guys.’
‘We could do it. With the right gunge, we could do it.’
‘Gunge, yeah. Fifty-sixes. Automatics.’
I sat back and rubbed my head. I’d spent two hours in
Immigration, God damn it. I have this anti-talent for queues. You know the deal. Ho ho ho, I think, as I successfully shoulder and trample my way to the end of the shortest line. But the shortest line is the shortest line for an interesting reason. The people ahead of me are all Venusians, pterodactyls, men and women from an alternative time-stream. They all have to be vivisected and bodybagged by the unsmiling 300-pounder in his lit glass box. ‘Business or pleasure?” this guy eventually asked me. ‘I hope business only,’ I said, and meant it. With business I’m usually okay. It’s pleasure that gets me into all this expensive trouble… Then a half hour in customs, and another half before I firmed up this cab — yeah, and the usual maniac fizzing and crackling at its wheel. I’ve driven in New York. Five blocks, and you’re reduced to tears of barbaric nausea. So what happens to these throwbacks they hire to do it all day for money? You try it. I said, ‘Why would you want to go and do a thing like that?’
‘Kill all the niggers and PRs?’
‘They think, you know, you drive a yellow cab,’ he said, and raised one limp splayed hand from the wheel, ‘you must be some kind of a scumbag.’
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