The Case Of The Missing Vodka

Clementine Deliss

Chapter One

Jane sensed something was wrong long before she entered the Pleat Room. As she walked along the corridor of the lower ground floor towards her office, she wondered about the previous day and her chaotic and drunken meeting with the team of eight when, exhilarated by the escapades of the early hours of the morning, the human sardine arrangement on the hotel floor, the dramatics of mood and action, she had felt her attention fail her colleagues. It was as if her character had suddenly played truant, its salacious dampness leaching past her control like a stain on fresh wood. She had never felt frightened in the morgue, had walked brazenly into the cold store, counting the three-pin plugs and the telephone sockets that lined the walls, recalling the Brigadier's words that "a job was a job wherever it took place." Yes she had, she admitted, totted up the hours spent during the endless walks with guests through three miles of rooms painted faecal ochre and infant pink, reeking of unknown freedoms. She worried about her health and the Valencian warts that had begun to spread in the cracks of elbows. Shingles her doctor had called it. She knew it wasn't about dirty sheets but the proximity of the autoclave units to her body as she skirted the solid wood benches in the laboratories. She scratched her arm, ticking herself off. "Habits are to be broken," she whispered, softly tracing the edge of the tannoy speaker with her eyes.

Warts and all. That was the deal, that was the risk, that was the kick. Nothing seemed neutral here, yet nothing was pre-fabricated either. It was an unusual situation, strategically loaded and potentially disruptive, yet held in rein by the Wipers Foundation, only just. She continued walking, past the empty linen cupboards, the stores, the servery and the ante-chamber, until she reached the bar. Small and pokey, it had been introduced in the 1970s when the tab system had fallen prey to greater commercial instinct, the pressure of the nearby brewery, and the parsimonious virtue of the quartermaster. Raymond's Revue Bar hadn't helped either. That night when forty members broke out and marched straight down Whitehall for Berwick Street, the final shot against the Wipers Foundation had been fired. Sperm-splattered and inebriated they had broken a ground rule, the unspoken treaty of decorum between the Foundation and the Corps.

Jane found herself heading towards the pink changing room. She went there to check herself, curious as to why this ladies' toilet had fascinated her from the start of her employment with the Wipers. The powdery pink of the walls, the screen that separated a large reception space from two modest latrines, the neon strips that lined the mirrors, all these features, including the colloquial stench of blocked drains, remained unresolved in Jane's imaginary. She could still sense the indiscretions and rash exchanges of intimacy that the room must have harboured. She checked all four corners and, finding no solution, relegated the place its status of a small-time past. As she was about to leave, a young woman, a guest of the Wipers' regular cocktail parties, walked in. She held a glass of tinted red and seemed surprised to meet another woman in the building. Disinterested by this minor employee with her high-street flooziness, Jane walked past, and with an efficient pace, headed for the Pleat Room. Painted vivid green, yet neither jade nor acid, she liked its kinship to the blush pink of the nearby toilets, a sight fractured only by the corridor in between with its piped shaft of dirty beige. Profit was hard to measure but Jane felt strangely frivolous as if her aesthetic education from the early days of installation theory still provided her with that extra edge on her colleagues. She swung open the doors and with rapid eye movement waited for everything to fall into place.

No one had been there for several days. The air was stale but by no means musty. The green room always smelled peculiar as if its virulent pigment refused to rest. If the Wipers Foundation had provided the necessary furniture for her regular staff meetings, it was one of her colleagues who had generously supplied the ping-pong table. Regal on a red carpet, it couldn't have been more appropriate. For here in the Pleat Room relaxation was afforded alongside stringent reflection. It was about muscle expansion, Jane had been told, from hot to cold in an airtight chamber with nothing but a jock strap and plugs in your ears. This was no scragg-end exercise. Like the efficiency tests introduced to counteract battle shock, social balance was the objective. Sleep-in meetings were common too in the old days, but the Wipers Foundation was reticent to admit they took place. Down in the basement, each secure cubicle nurtured a different condition, with officers dispensing saline treatment in inter-rectal cavities, performing pig-skin tests, all in white overalls over maroon shirts. Style was de rigueur. "When you're hit with a handbag, you stay hit" read the sign above the thermometer counter for sick animals. Jane couldn't help laughing aloud as she recalled the scandal of 1967. It had happened only two floors above in the ochre and grey bedrooms of the Corps. An Irish officer had come to stay for the week-end and brought a lady-friend with him. He had been discovered on Monday morning, when the cleaners refused to go into the room so putrid did it reek. To add to this foul play, an abandoned suitcase had been discovered in the quarters. It took a matter of minutes before the bomb squad arrived in an armoured vehicle, all wired-up and tools in hand. Boom! Boom! Boom! Such efficiency for a load of old knickers and the odd dog-tooth waistcoat. For nothing other had been found, just the relics of forty-eight hours of fornication.

The bats lay on the ground, balls scattered on the carpet. Jane picked them up and placed them on the table at each side of the net. She unscrewed the windows using the long turn-keys and noticed the lack of traffic on the adjoining road. It could be noisy down there, sounds of 50 mph or more, a constant drone that bothered Jane who suffered from mild hearing disorder. The weekly general meeting had been scheduled for that afternoon and she was keen to prepare the room. Jane enjoyed the formality of pleasure, the strictures of decorum that made for intensified experience. The origins were in childhood when her parents would take her to smart restaurants and she would sit upright and proud, relishing the fancy game-play of waiters. She still liked waiters, being served upon, and the tension of asking and receiving. Such quirks in her character had been of little value since her employment at the Wipers. There it was more a matter of straight lines, tabs and justification. But she didn't let that upset her wayward tendencies, and her colleagues - some of them at least - were ready to keep the secret.

As they began to arrive for the meeting, more or less late and more or less cheerful, she noticed something unusual. There where the plastic cups had been stacked on the table was nothing but a dirty smudge. Yet still more disconcerting was the disappearance of the vodka, used to revitalise visitors who felt queelish after a tour of the site. It had gone. Nothing. Not even empty and upturned, the bottle was just absent altogether. Jane couldn't make it out. It seemed so irrelevant, so banal to worry about the missing vodka, but somehow she knew it wasn't.

Chapter Two

Jane was on her way to France. Suitcases at her side, she sat patiently in the blue and white ranger bus as it made its way towards Victoria. She had been asked to visit another foundation dedicated to chronic investigations. A counterpart team was apparently researching oxymoronic conflict and information transfer. Jane was nervous. She felt larger than life when all she wanted was to do was blend in, be barely noticeable to her foreign colleagues, like an unknown passenger on a bus who offers you a smile. She held the handle of her wheelie-bag and felt anxious and helpless as they crossed Lupus Street, reeled past Pimlico School and eventually reached the depot. She had wondered about moving to Pimlico. It had become nearly obsessive, searching for enclaves of street life amongst the cheap Regency houses, cake-like and stolid. Jane was nearly thirty-eight now. She could still get away with being called 'Mademoiselle' by waiters, but she knew she lifted too much gear to believe in that freedom again. She was short, rather dumpy even, brown hair firmly under control. Nothing glamorous, nothing easy about her appearance, only a reassuring set of small, quiet eyes that surveyed surroundings with a placid glow. She had recently divorced. Her ex-husband, an accountant, had never understood the clandestine side to her character. She had tried to make him accept the constraints of her job, but it was a case of jealousy that no loving murmurs could dispel. The Wipers were partially sighted to the outside and Jane was not prepared to change that. Her clothes were ill-fitting, dull even, and she knew that too. She enjoyed her anonymity. It wasn't even high-street, it was just too provincial to be recognised by anyone. Sometimes, perhaps during those moments she spent in the pink ladies' changing room, she could sense the repression she'd encouraged in herself, see it all over her body, in between the pleats of her skirt as they twisted to accommodate her thick limbs.

The train was under the British Channel now. Jane found herself a quiet compartment and began reading through her notes. The French side was no easy group: too many operators from too many locations. She pulled the papers from her zipper bag and read them through:

"The repetitive detonations of the body…uncontrollable dissipation…information running riot…a viscosity of thought and deed…instantaneous archives…communicational abstinence…massive parallel architecture…art as the software for banal fatality…" Something was strange. The notes didn't seem to have been encoded. She looked over the sheets of text once more, searching for the way in. The French group were smart, they had sent her decoys she could barely make out. They had written imperceptible concepts into the most visible of words. It was nearly morphological, as if common tools for communication were changing from within. Jane couldn't see the edges, the shading of each letter. Even the font was a perfect fit, so perfect it was unreadable, like the giddy surface of deep waters. Her mind wandered back to the last meeting with her colleagues, that afternoon in the green Pleat Room. She had sensed their reticence and their caution, and she had noticed the missing vodka bottle. Something had escaped designation, something in close range had not been named. The conductor arrived. "Nous arrivons, Mademoiselle." Jane winced. She pulled her coat off the rack and picking up her bags, left the train.

Chapter Three

Weeks had passed and Jane had become insomniac. It was regular enough to give it a name. The 'whys?' were behind her sleeplessness, those persistent 'whys?' that made her move home, pack her bags or change bed, all repetitive actions deployed in a lonely yet inquisitive way. She would lie awake between four and six in the morning and stare perceptively through the embroidered lattice of her white curtains to the trojan-horse Trellick Tower far beyond. Every time she would start from scratch and locate the empty flat on the 36th floor that she had once surveyed under false claims. She was not about to buy a flat and her modest income, kept low in order to avoid suspicion, was not something she would wish to spend on property.

The hotel room in this small French town was nearly right. She would be staying for fourteen days. She felt she was moving in. You could move in anywhere really if you accepted changes in duration. A bus stop could become a meeting room, a hotel a life residency, and a lecture as potent as a four-week presentation. It took her three nights to agree to the room and by then she had experienced three bathrooms, three forms of free space circuiting the bed, three variations on the ease or not of the lighting, and, as they said in Wiper-speak, those variable and contaminated odours lingering in the tremors of atmosphere.

The French were troubled. Collectives veering towards feudalist extremism, serf and lord relations, unsustainable taxes (in all forms), and the narrowing of notions of duty and responsibility had generated confusion and anticipation. For Jane it was x-ray material that she'd have to process over the following days. Call it what you like it, x-ray, blue-print, know-how, transparency – whatever – she was precise and she was good at it. She walked into the large room carpeted with grey, felt-furred tarmac. Rows of tables with black monitors and large power stations softly purred in the background. The Chinese-Belgian girl smiled, and came over towards her. She handed her a stack of brown dossiers and a pink cardboard sign. It read: 'Jane M. Fay, United Kingdom'. Jane placed the sign on top of one of the tower-shaped monitors and sat down. Then she looked around her, somewhat furtively at first, and saw her group for that week: men crouched over with unkempt bodies shaped by years of office work, consolidation exercises and bad food; women academics, middle-aged and unsmiling with cheap scarves and knee-length skirts. It was Jane's first time so no one recognised her. No one spoke or introduced themselves. No one had been informed of the profession or competences of the others. An anonymous grouping but for the folded pink paper signs: 'Jiri Jaroslav, Slovakia', 'Sven Bergström, Norway', 'Rasa Bazzina, Lithuania', and so on with Spain, Malta, Austria, Germany, Greece, France and Belgium all represented by the face of an unidentified assessor. She had no time to imagine further; the crunchy clicking of the keyboards filled the air with soporific rhythms. She swooped into the first document, perforating the print with high-speed recognition, demarcating and counter-checking, indicating and crossing out, hour after hour and page after page.

"You're the United Kingdom person", a male voice spoke to her with a francophone Bradford accent. Jane could identify accents, a skill she had trained herself in during her numerous journeys abroad. It came in handy at multi-national gatherings, academic conferences and summits when she could identify descriptors quickly by the intonations of their voice.

"Yes", she laughed, looking round and stubbing out her cigarette. She had packed nicotine sweets this time, bought specially for the French affair, but she didn't have the stamina to play strict with herself. Not here, not where no one knew anything. Smoking was a small and ambiguous sign of character, she thought to herself unconvincingly. Strange Jane, Jane on the move, the Jane that circled easily within locations wherever and whatever they were. She'd practically dissolve from one into the other, through walls you could say, coming and going, imperceptibly and discrete, here in this beat-driven micro-city and in many others. Then, as the blue light hit the world-weary streets once more, Jane would find herself in the nightly bar arrangements of hotel lounges. No one else could swan quite like Jane.

Gary Bland introduced himself. He wrote reports. Had been involved for six years now. His appearance was straight navy blue with a touch too much gel. Jane felt comfortable talking to him, not that they exchanged much. The situation did not encourage that. Everyone knew their species, responded to its morphology, but did not share it. There was nothing reproductive to this line of business, nothing vaguely symbiotic or generative. Gary Bland was empty of potential because nothing he ever said ever linked into anything else. His questions were self-answering, his personality unengaging. Bland Gary Bland. They vaguely arranged to meet if and when and, after exchanging numbers and codes, Jane left the smoking corner of the building and eventually made her way back to the hotel.

That evening she was back at the bar of the Auberge Rouge, drinking Pastis to scent the air with aniseed. Around her the clients were tired and nauseous from the sickly cool heat of the air-conditioning. Pavement crowds were patterning the streets, pedestrian daily life forcing one to zigzag between cars, parked and mobile from one side of the road to the other. The drink was hitting in. Jane looked around her once more. She drew the folder from her handbag and took her notes, playing out the situation in her mind as she read the sheets of paper:

*"A plan is being forged. Something needs to be done. A group of people sit together. Their generation unifies them. They confirm this, repeating experiences, naming their antecedents. They are faced with relay and their time has come. They want solutions. There is no conceptual intimacy. There is no inclusion of incertitude. Nothing can be left to develop when decisions have to be taken. No space is provided for flexible failure models. No time for introducing that old pleasure of boredom, of waiting, of touching surfaces.

Micro-government. And again, or once more, as before, they meet. The lawyer, the economist, the philosopher, the filmmaker, the curator. Everyday at 4 pm, the majority of this micro-government meets. And, repeating antecedents, emphasising solutions, naming the past, they discuss the breakdown of agriculture, the fate of farmers, the world-bank and its misfired attention and, underneath all of this they seek parallels and wait for rain to fall, as if the parched land could only be rescued through the definition of actions."*

What were people expecting? She thought harder and deeper as if she wanted to press her mind into a wedge, condense all she could, re-dispose, re-shuffle, and make contact. It didn't help; the effects of the Pastis were inescapable. With little interest in change of itinerary or habit, Jane picked up her bag, placed the notes back inside, signalled a payment gesture to the barman and, speaking a number, walked towards the lift. The hotel room was as she had left it. She switched on the lights, looked around, and falling onto the patterned quilt without grace, she dropped her coat and bag to the side of the bed and waited, eyes slowly moving across the wallpaper to the stuccoed ceiling above.

Chapter Four

The Brigadier had spoken out that evening in the conference lounge and his words still resonated within the endless corridors of the micro-government building. "Today we have communication but no contact in a crisis" he said repeatedly, pressing on the consonants and whistling the word contact until it hissed through the room and settled in the mind-cracks of his accomplices. The three engineers sitting close to Jane listened carefully, knowing like her that something had to be done. Visibility had been the optimal answer. No one could have denied it at the time: mass illumination, clarity and communication, an endless potential for an electronically logical and transversal interface of relations. But it wasn't working and they were back at square one, only this time their responses ran risks or so thought the Brigadier. To opt out, he claimed, could transform their named identities into stateless and anonymous callings, generating confusion between the pressures for increased civic responsibility and those more cryptological forms of solidarity they had yet to encode. The engineers guessed there was a language problem. Not so much one of translation per se, but the ability on their part to generate a readiness towards conceptual intimacy, a philosophical eroticism that combined modesty and humility with the chutzpah of desire, oxymoronic yet without that rush of irony. For some colleagues it was a sorry condition to be in. Why run the risk of inherent failure, why bother to search for a non-chronic articulation of language when all around you players and actors alike seemed content to entrench thematics, to reify concerns in substantive forms, and to place their imprimatur on social dialogue? To enter into a condition of statelessness, and the variable geometry of an underground that looked more and more like a series of satellite operations, would be to risk speaking the rhetoric of activist dialects, interchangeable separatisms couched in the language of another mass dictionary of resistance.

Jane listened carefully. She could tell that a plan was being forged at this summit. She knew that something needed to be done. This time, she reflected, it wasn't about consensus. The three engineers sat together at one end of the room and, looking blankly towards the speakers on the podium floor, quietly began jotting down the contents of a letter, an invitation to something they could barely define, yet which they imagined located in the latency of impending solutions, either side of that which was currently visible. They drafted what could be titled perhaps "a call to industry", industry as the work ethic behind an inexistent commodity.

"Dearest", it read, "would you be ready to share in the accumulation of incommensurable experiences? Would you offer us a persona able to act out a supra-positional role, the trope of a troupe-troop..." and here one of them just couldn't stop laughing. He seemed to be cracking up in the limpid silence of the conference lounge, gasping as he held his breath, desperately trying to channel his puns into a polite cul-de-sac to avoid further embarrassment. "Troop, troupe, trope..." It got worse, absurd even. The others looked round, nudging his knees under the table and fixing their eyes cathartically onto the nuts in the wooden surface. This was no joke however, and the reservoir of knowledge that began shaping their letter irritated them even more. How could you stake out new linguistic territories if you weren't even capable of bypassing the existing terrain, Jane thought casually to herself.

The second engineer got up. He was ready to adopt the first person plural. "I'll do Us", he said. "Fine", said the third player looking over towards the ubiquitous Brigadier who was still muttering contact under his breath. "I'll do They then, They as in some fictional spy story or cheap novel, if that's okay with you two?" They nodded calmly in affirmation. "We, You, They", three forms of speech-play, three positions to adopt, and three actors within the choreography of an argument. It made sense somehow, and there too lay the challenge. For this invitation, this call to industry could represent no true identity between them, could never replicate a single position or concern. It would necessarily schism itself into 1+1+1 and those plus points in additive sequences could bear no witness to existing or potential polarities. If the call had any mileage at all, Jane reflected, then it had to offer the para-strategic basis for a supra-national and supra-positional community, a transparent indication of contact and multiple interchange within those fictions of human ontology called identifications.

Jane didn't know what to think anymore. She looked over to the engineers who were busy writing on lined note pads. She was tired and physically discharged after one day spent inhaling artificial oxygen, and no longer able to cross the language hurdles that seemed to confront her at every corner. All those words used to articulate unresolved scenarios, self-replicating and pervasive. Plenary after plenary, there could be no change in register, no deviation into another style of conversation. Jane was perplexed and despondent at once, unhappy about the sensation of loss and professional capitulation she felt overcoming her. She wanted to believe in the engineers' strategies, she could see where they were coming from but her training in chronic scepticism and her inherent loyalty to her job made her see failure, made her experience deeply sentient despair. She remembered that last meeting at the Wipers Foundation back in London when her colleagues were restless and the bottle of revitalising vodka had disappeared. She could still see the emerald green walls and smell their pigment. She recalled the moment when she checked into the pink ladies changing room, seeking that assurance of her person in front of the neon mirror, looking down at her impossible figure and resolutely trying to ignore it. Jane was caught, trapped in between the undertaking of her profession and her own independent desire to experiment, to break away and see what lay outside of the descriptors' world. As she searched for synthesis, a reddening toasting sensation filled her temples and she knew she was going to far.

It was Sunday morning and Jane wasn't going to leave her hotel room until the late afternoon. She had overdone it the night before and the red glaze had since converted to the ugly grey of a droned-out night. Jane had expected that. She even enjoyed those moments of semi-slothfulness when she was handicapped by her own physical irreverence. She lay in between the starched French sheets, gazing out of the window and listening to the tart sound of the midday bells. There would be no breakfast today, not unless she dressed and went down to the restaurant quickly. But Jane didn't like dressing for breakfast. She'd been trained in efficient wake-up manners: alarm, rise, wash, coffee, water, cigarette, and then onwards into the day. To break that rhythm would be to confuse the inner system, to delay action. Sundays were different; they offered hidden moments of time, closeted fancies and self-obsession, delay after delay after delay.

Chapter Five

Britanny, Bahrain, Madras, Bangalore, Bombay, Baroda, Ahmedabad, Delhi, Abu Dhabi, Bilbao, Dakar, Glasgow, Vienna, Bombay once more, Dakar too, San Sebastian and, then finally, London. Jane didn't know why difference had left her, didn't know what it meant, how it looked, sounded, or spoke. She wasn't sure what contact meant anymore, and how you could recognise it. She had effectively cut out time to breathe in between, knowing that each journey hinged on the other, articulating the next phase of co-dependence. In all of this Jane had developed a rough and ready field elegance with a practical yet inspired wardrobe that sometimes displayed an eccentric warp. Even if she was not the most sartorial of persons, Jane was smart, tidy, complimentary to others and gently strict, that waitress-like discipline towards clothing and its body language that is rare, something of a restrained hope for an apposite state of dress, well cut and firm whilst harbouring a loose, chiffony and subservient interior.

She didn't know where to begin. The 'left-right', 'left-right' of the Bombay school girls still flashed through her mind like a fast-paced passenger train, mechanical and repetitive. Why had the West African President asked for her thesis? It was a pertinent request, yet she never expected it. Why had the architect invited the intellectual property agent to their dinner date? Whose agenda was at stake here? How many were competing for attention? What was horizontal agency? Who was the Brigadier and why bring a military boy into all this? People were talking about security, not moving, transmitting, keeping close to home, signalling and duplicating. Things were piecing themselves together but very slowly, and Jane felt a mixture of dejection and fearful exhilaration, quietly jittering as she sat at her desk and wrote down the following notes. She knew that this time there would be no editing, no paraphrasing, and no false tracking. Her only compromise was professional: no names.

"Death and speech, swimming and sinking
sinking and thinking, swimming and speaking
Impotent gifts, slow and pedestrian, domestic and laborious,
heavy and nourishing, abusive and homely
Writing is a horse."

It ended abruptly but Jane had no further notes to add. She thought back: the horse, perhaps the horse was the vehicle, the transport system that the Brigadier had indicated at an earlier meeting? The horse, always so vulnerable, so reliable, so syncopated, but what was it doing here in the middle of all this excessive mobility and where was it going? What did it have to do with industry? What made it different from another driving force, and who extracted its value? Did it have the retro-vision that the Australian engineer had mentioned that week-end at the Spanish summit? Was the horse the unconscious resource that had yet to be commemorated? Was the Brigadier an alibi for the Brigades, those disarmed pre-Independence writers of the early twentieth century? Jane felt lost, wondering where she might home in to and regain that semi-coincidental, semi-durable locality, that place that could never be instrumentalised as the common language of the polis.

Then she remembered the amateur dramatics she and the Wipers' crew had got up to in the Pleat Room that summer, the human sardine arrangements and top-to-bottom inspection calls. They had been initial indicators that militancy would fail again and again. Jane sensed more than ever before that precarious domesticity was the final outcome. No one had a sense of consistant locality anymore. All that was left was a search deep into the inside of the funnel. There was no time or space left for the newly parasitical functions of the alternative. Today you had the license to legalise whatever you named. Better remain unnamed Jane thought mischievously to herself. Better remain hard to catch, speak several words at once, encrypt rather than encode, and dance the horse's canter. Gary Bland's mantra flashed through her mind. "What I know", he said slowly and tediously, "may be, can be, and could be irrelevant to where you are working and located. Remember Jane", he continued in his inimitable voice, "we're looking at grafting knowledge, cosmetic information, surgical epistemologies, plastic paradigms". Jane's lips felt like twisted wire as she thought secretly to herself, "Bomb him, bomb his obscene position."

Now, back at her London desk she could sense the speeding pulsations of her flash-backs as they multiplied in her memory, and she feared collisions more than ever before. Slowly, slowly, she repeated to herself staring out at the rain-drenched trees of her neighbours' gardens. They survive on oxymorons, hold back she whispered inwardly. The sand was red. You had to dig deep, at least three meters below ground. Mixing it with water would make it into an antibiotic. No incision was necessary now. Jane thought harder: rather than extract resistance perhaps the solution was to accumulate and paralyse, to bring immobility to agency by laying it flat, like the flat world of Copernicus's forefathers. Circulation would be horizontal, greasy and flexible. Stairs would cease to function as leaders to the top or bottom. Thermometers would gauge temperatures without peaks, energies would dissipate before climax spreading out into bodies without head or tail, rendering colours without tone or intensity, and speaking words void of audibility. Jane couldn't believe it. How would the tempestuous survive, she thought rapidly? How could agency, whatever it meant, be restricted to vertical or horizontal images? What happened if it appeared like a tornado, whirling and sucking, mixing and blending particles of knowledge? Circumvention, was the word she had been looking for, and there it was in that meteorological analogy that had been evoked by the more opaque member of her team. Evasion of what, entrapment of whom? No. Circumvention was to be seen as a way of encircling the possibilities of time, and gently directing the dramatics of a sentimental education towards those producers of knowledge whose energetic yet humble politics would lead to solutions despite the impotency of the multitude. Simplifying and kipping complexities into small-scale, micro-registers with decreased accentuation: all these seemed probable outcomes to Jane as she thought through the last year's investigations. It was more about emergent phenomena, practices that hardly new themselves, intuitions that could only hope for generic consensus by repeating themselves again and again and again until ambiguity disclosed itself, unblocking the energy sources within.

Jane looked ahead blankly. Her stomach had been playing up for the last week and she needed to go for a walk. She tied her brogues, took her parka off the coat rail, and headed into the dim light of early evening. No case, nothing missing, and spirits high she concluded, as she walked towards the underground.