I hoped she did not dislike me, but I was under no illusions that she might remember me in any way fondly; that is, if she remembered me at all. I was but one of a procession; I provided extra food, drink, that day some tobacco, beyond that I did not exist for her. When I thought of the way money & dirt & the frenzy of human desire & the bitter aftertaste of life all come together when you buy a woman in whatever way, I felt dizzy like I was peering into an infinite black hole & losing my balance. I thought: it is not dishonest; it is the most honest expression of the whole infinite sadness of us all. I had willingly passed like quicksilver through too many women’s hands, but there was a reckoning. There was no absolution of love; no redemption in the idea that the world had shrunk down to just two people. For in her that day I knew myself to be absolutely nothing.
Then, perhaps overcome with nostalgia for happier times, he gave me a good kicking. Afterwards I assured him he had all the attributes necessary for a successful artistick career, through unfortunately my mouth was too swollen to list them for Pobjoy’s benefit: mediocrity; a violent capacity with any potential rivals; the desire not only to succeed but to see your fellow artists fail; gross insincerity; & a capacity for betrayal. Fortune favours folly, I tried to say, but merely succeeded in dribbling some blood & teeth.
But Art is a punitive sentence, not a birthright, & there is nothing in my early life that suggests artistick aptitude or even interest, my pastimes & fascinations nearly all being what may – & were – deemed the merely villainous. And though I am, of course, the hero of this, my own tale, if only because I can’t really imagine anyone else wanting to be, my story is no remade myth of Orpheus, but the story of a sewer rat made worse.