Ice by Anna Kavan

Book: Ice by Anna Kavan Read Free Book Online
Authors: Anna Kavan
round, feeling detached from the situation. A high ceiling, closed windows, no sun, no singing birds, on each side of me men with guns, everywhere staring faces. People whispered or cleared their throats. The jury looked tired, or bored. Somebody read out my name and particulars, all quite correct. I confirmed them and took the oath.
    The case was that a girl had vanished, supposed kidnapped, possibly murdered. A well-known person had been suspected and questioned, and had accused someone else who could not be found. The girl's name was mentioned; I was asked if I knew her. I replied that I had known her for several years. 'You were intimate with her?' 'We were old friends.' There was laughter; somebody asked: 'What was your relationship with her?' 'I've told you; we were old friends.' More laughter, silenced by an official. 'You expect us to believe that you changed your plans all at once, dropped everything you were doing, in order to follow a friend to a foreign country?' They seemed to know all about me. I said: 'That is the truth.'
    I sat on the bed, smoking, watching her face in the mirror as she combed her hair, the smooth sheen of the glittering mass of palely shining hair, its silvery fall on her shoulders. She leaned forward to look at herself, the glass reflected the beginning of her small breasts. I watched them move with her breathing, went and stood behind her, put my arms round her, covered them with my hands. She pulled away from me. Not wanting to see her frightened expression, I blew smoke in her face. She went on resisting, and I had an impulse to do certain things with the lighted cigarette, dropped it on the floor, put my foot on it. Then I pulled her closer to me. She struggled, cried: 'Don't! Leave me alone! I hate you! You're cruel and treacherous . . . you betray people, break promises. . . .' I was impatient, I let her go and went over to lock the door. Before I got there, a sound made me turn round. She was holding a big bottle of eau-de-Cologne over her head, meaning to hit me with it. I told her to put it down; she took no notice, so I went back and twisted it out of her hand. She was not strong enough to put up a fight. There was no more strength in her muscles than in a child's.
    While she was getting dressed I continued to sit on the bed. We did not speak to each other. She was ready, fastening her coat, when the door opened suddenly: in my impatience just now, I had forgotten to go back and lock it. A man came in. I jumped up to throw him out, but he walked past as though I was invisible or not present.
    A tall, athletic, arrogant looking man, with an almost paranoid air of assurance. His very bright and blue eyes flashed a danger signal, seemed not to see me. The girl was petrified, she did nothing at all. I did nothing either, simply stood watching. It was unlike me. But he was a man who had entered with a revolver for a specific purpose, and could not be prevented from carrying it out. I wondered if he would shoot us both, and if so which first, or if only one of us, which one. Such points were of interest to me.
    It was clear that he regarded her as his property. I considered that she belonged to me. Between the two of us she was reduced to nothing; her only function might have been to link us together. His face wore the look of extreme arrogance which always repelled me. Yet I suddenly felt an indescribable affinity with him, a sort of blood-contact, generating confusion, so that I began to wonder if there were two of us...
    I was asked: 'What happened when you met your friend?' 'We did not meet.' Subdued excitement broke out, an official voice had to order silence. The next voice sounded like an actor's, trained in elocution. 'I wish to state that the witness is a psychopath, probably schizoid, and therefore not to be believed.' Someone interjected: 'Produce a psychiatrist's confirmation.' The theatrical voice continued: 'I repeat, with all possible emphasis, that this man is known to be

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