THE TRAGEDY OF THE MANOR HOUSE
At midnight all was over, and we sat in the presence of four corpses.
Sham got up after Bali did, unrolled his cloth, and hung it up on the screen. The pastel clouds were now passing over what looked like a black dumbbell standing on end, over which crawled a horde of ants. It was a black tanka, the most sacred of the Tibetan Lamaist religious flags, which is said to represent time, death, and the progression of the generations. I don’t doubt it a bit.
And I didn’t like it at all. It was turning the pretty, pastel colors into murk.
I got up, with considerable deliberation, and went to the bar for a drink. Bali, I noticed in passing, was now poised on one foot like a statue of gold and bronze. He wasn’t blinking and he didn’t seem to be breathing. As a matter of fact, he was the only thing in the room that wasn’t blinking and breathing, including the furniture. Take a piss? The curving, checkerboard tiled hall led the eye to no conclusion. I went into the only bedroom suite on the left, which was for common use. The room seemed pleased to see me. There was no longer any such thing as reflected light. Every glitter now had a life of its own, every gleam a distinguished place in the scheme of things.
Ripples and swirls of something or other were moving through my body. Gold, marble, glass, silk and running water. Mirrors everywhere. It was the ruling class of two continents out there, plus a couple of funny-boys from the mysterious East and Bill Haines and, when I got back, me.