“What connexion can there be between the place in Lincolnshire, the house in town, the Mercury in powder, and the whereabout of Jo the outlaw with the broom, who had that distant ray of light upon him when he swept the churchyard-step? What connexion can there have been between many people in the innumerable histories of this world who from opposite sides of great gulfs have, nevertheless, been very curiously brought together!”
It is a funny thing, murder. I am definitely romantic enough to be sympathetic to the right murderer. But in truth, I am not in the economic class where something like me being wiped off the face of the earth is going to make much of a stink. I am among the easily murdered rather than the other way around, and I suppose that makes me sensitive. So I have cause for some solidarity with the spilt blood of Raheem Khalif, a man whose image I can’t find on Google. No fame or fortune for him, indeed. And such a small, such a tiny, such a remote soul does not haunt the corridors of the State Department. Or so the State Department thinks.
I think differently. I think that when David conspired to have Uriah the Hittite ambushed so that he could take Uriah’s wife, Bathsheeba, I think God cursed Israel. I think when Lady Deadlock committed no crime but that of deserting her daughter and, on the way to the long discovery of this fact, Tulkinghorn was murdered, that Lady Deadlock would die herself, chased by the Furies of the liberal novelist’s conscience. I think when Sam Spade’s partner, Miles Archer, is murdered by the woman he could actually be in love with, Brigid O'Shaughnessy, that he turns her into the cops:
"Well, if you get a good break, you'll be out of Tehachapi in twenty years and you can come back to me then. I hope they don't hang you, precious, by that sweet neck. Yes, angel, I'm gonna send you over. The chances are you'll get off with life. That means if you're a good girl you'll be out in twenty years. I'll be waiting for you. If they hang you, I'll always remember you."
It is the improbable, liberal hope of the novelist that the circle will be unbroken, by and by lord by and by.
On the other hand, most murders do go unsolved. Who murdered the forty to sixty million in World War II? Who murdered the million and a half in Southeast Asia, circa 1954-1974? Name the murderers, make a list. But the river is deep and the river is wide, and you’ll never cross to the other side. Name the murderers of the 675,000 in Iraq. Or more. One can be resigned that this is the way it is. One can be angry as fuck. But there it is.
But one can’t be resigned to the little murders. No, the liberal novelists idea, his one shining idea, is that there aren’t any little murders. The liberal novelist represents the hope of every potential dumpee. For the defining trait of the republic that the novelist operates in, can operate in, is that it aspires to a minimum level of justice in which there will be no impunity for the Deadlocks – there will be none for the cops – there will be none for the rich heirs – there will be none for the politicians – there will be none for the policymaker, the stock broker, the VIP, the strikebreaker, the mercenary, the bodyguard. Watching night and fog, aka the Justice department, engulf and hide the murder of Khalif, and hide the murderer, and hide his accomplices, is an insult, an assault, on all of us who are eminently murderable. They begin the million murder strings with just such acts of gross impunity.
“But the evil of it is that it is a world wrapped up in too much
jeweller's cotton and fine wool, and cannot hear the rushing of the
larger worlds, and cannot see them as they circle round the sun.
It is a deadened world, and its growth is sometimes unhealthy for
want of air.”