The Assassin

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Authors: Evelyn Anthony
to—and after Mother died I didn’t want to be tied down. What do you want for lunch? Or we could go out, if you liked. You’ve never seen New York! We could have a real tour—Central Park, the Frick, the Metropolitan Museum, the Statue of Liberty! Why don’t we do that?’
    â€˜I can’t go anywhere,’ he said. ‘Someone may telephone. But you don’t have to stay here. You don’t have to be shut in all day.’
    â€˜What a pity,’ Elizabeth said. ‘It would have been fun. I love the city; I would have enjoyed showing it to you.’
    â€˜I would have enjoyed seeing it,’ Keller said. He hadn’t wanted to go out anyway. Parks and museums were not his line. She looked flushed and young, very young, like a child deprived of a treat. Immature—that was the word for her. Rich and sophisticated, with a knowledge of the world which the women he knew could never claim, but compared with any of them this American girl was basically naive, someone who had looked through the window of life but never opened it. He thought of Souha again, of her hungry face and cavernous eyes, already full of the knowledge which this girl lacked; the knowledge of pain and fear and deprivation. He had always thought of Souha as a child, even when they made love. He had treated Elizabeth Cameron like a woman the day before, and she had crumpled. She had nothing behind her but a lover who didn’t want to get married. And not much of a lover either, to have left that innocence behind him.
    â€˜I’m always asking questions,’ she said suddenly. ‘I’d like to ask another one. Are you married? Do you have a girl?’
    â€˜I have a girl,’ Keller said. ‘In Beirut.’ He stubbed out the cigarette and slid back a little from the table. He was not going to talk about Souha to anyone. He was not going to describe her or discuss her. He could imagine what Elizabeth Cameron would think of a refugee from the Arab camps. He stared deliberately at the open neck of her gown. It was made of some soft green stuff, with a long row of velvet buttons. He didn’t want to talk about the Arab girl he lived with in Beirut to this girl, with her breasts showing their shape under the row of little buttons.
    â€˜Maybe you’d better get dressed,’ he said.
    â€˜All right.’ Elizabeth stood up; she saw his eyes on her, and one hand came up defensively. ‘It’s none of my business. I’ll go out and get something for lunch. You make yourself at home.’
    Martino Antonio Regazzi, Cardinal Archbishop of New York, was born in downtown Manhattan, where the Italian immigrants were living in such fecundity that the district was known as Little Italy. His parents were poor even by neighbourhood standards; his father worked in a shoe factory uptown, which closed in the Depression, and for the next three years he drew Assistance, and hung round the streets making a few dollars getting other people cabs, or sweeping, when the weather ran foul. Snow was a godsend because it meant money. There were ten children in the two rooms where the Regazzis lived. All his life until he went to the seminary Martino spent his days and nights in a crowd of bigger and small children, relatives, his mother and father. When his father died it didn’t make any more room. He was never alone, never quiet. Life was a noise that altered in volume but never became silence. Even at night it was noisy. Some snored, the baby cried, his mother woke up to feed and crooned while she suckled; the truckle beds with two and three bodies in them creaked. The tap in the kitchen living room had a maddening drip, and a knock that seemed to come only between four and six in the morning. There were big families up above and Sicilians on the floor below. They fought like jaguars, and the woman used to scream and pray when her husband hit her.
    It was a nightmare in which to grow up; his

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