Inspector Final Explains - Poetry by Leslie Nutting (Xorys)

Inspector Final Explains to Sergeant Thicke To understand crime you have to understand time and the way the fabric of reality is torn, and mends itself. Time is against the law. The footprints of the guilty fade as the footprints of Christ faded upon the water. There is a turning point. When you first arrive each case will solve itself if you let it. Voices hang in the air long after echoes have died and what happened wants to explain itself -- it's hard to keep it silent. But that changes. Too much is added if you do not learn to know while the paint is wet. Too much imagination and too many versions of the world. The truth is altered, tracked by the many passing feet of need till there is no longer one crime to find, one hand on the fading weapon. Even confession is useless at this point. Nothing can be believed, and there is no solution. We all become guilty. The time for police is past.
Procedures for Investigation Begin by assuming the investigation is pure (though this is never true, all investigators decide what they wish to find on the other side of the coins that they lay down on the table. Nevertheless...) The first method is force -- compel the solution. Search every inch of ground, question whole neighbourhoods, analyse the dust. This is good, because at least we are sure that it can be done -- measurable efforts producing measurable results, the execution of orders. Administration gives the illusion of power. Also it speaks a language that courts can understand, we can condemn by it. Yet truth is not so easily persuaded. Force interprets and so ignores whispers it cannot correlate the stories of silence and absences. Its structures do not speak the cadence of the deed and so its lies are hard to parse. The second method requires humility -- one who can wait, but not too long. And it too may not succeed. It is a question of trying to retrieve the act before it fades, drowns in the ebb and wash of time. The event exists to a greater or lesser degree, but progressively it ceases to exist, becomes unravelled, disappears. You must tease it from the fabric of accidents, the space in which desires happen, before these things alter, are gone, like the cloth that wind seems to weave on water. The closer the warp the longer the impression lasts, the better your chances, if you can become it. And patterns exist even where no patterns appear, each juxtaposition has a half-life. History is a special case. Usually when the act becomes history, the history replaces the act. The act is no longer possible. Then there is nothing to investigate but words.
Inspector Final on Motive And then we say enquire about the motive -- for every crime must have one. It is not enough that the facts arrange themselves like lines upon a page: you must imagine the dark shape that moves beneath the surface, the whale that might have been. What your suspects want is always an illusion, will not bear close inspection. Do not look for it in the evidence room, the witness slumped in the chair under the light smoking a cigarette. The woman that they loved, the city that they planned to live in cannot be measured or taped; the music in their ears does not appear on the recording. Remember you come after, an officer of law. What you drag in at the red end of the night-shift is the bits and pieces of their lives, not what humanity's chiefly concerned with -- what's really there. You must sit back and listen to the song that comes from the broken tea-cups, the small windows, the dishevelled hair. Desire grows like a weed, in all the clutter. You must learn to see it there, the spine, arching into the air, what they called out, what they thought they were. Only then can you condemn them, the crime that they became, label the exhibits, get them to sign their statements, go home. A policeman drinks with other policemen or alone. Knows that what he wants will not bear close inspection, will always come back in bits and pieces at the end of another night-shift. Will not grow better, glued to the greenness of his thumbs, his gardening his despair.
Inspector Final, on Giving Evidence I promise, in court, to tell the truth, the whole truth, nothing but the truth. But that's not how it is -- as though the truth were a pound of sausage you could short with a finger on the scale or stretch with flour, chalk. The truth is always a competition, and the lies we tell teach us what we believe. The crime happens in actual space, when there is only a present which need not be part of any story that can be told -- stars, moving in the void, matter in emptiness, Saturday night at the Shamrock. before anyone reconstructs it. That is the key. Construct. Like little men with telescopes and numbers we reassert an order. Or drop these 're's -- construct, assert. My version of the world against some mouthpiece paid to split infinitives. The Law is words, the crime is not. And innocence precedes guilt, the absence of meaning precedes meaning. We are paid to mend fences at the boundary of dream, to re-control the possible. An oath is a promise and the truth the whole truth, nothing but the truth is not. It is a line we draw through the chaos that we live, a policeman's agony, his cruel and public love.
Further Instructions to Sgt. Thicke Most people's idea of crime comes from stories, and stories always betray the truth. They portray things as adventures -- of one person (or a sequence of persons), the world as an engine driven by the watch-spring of the will. In short, they have heroes -- a radical politics redefining the ground. But there are no heroes. Things happen. You, as the investigating officer, must learn this. And do not be misled by your own curiosity, the spectacle they make of you in court. You are not a hero either. The sequence you impose on things, discovery, recounting, is merely a device. Remember your job. Listen to the lies each witness tells, the way that they endure things. Try to see the crime coming together like shapes in sand shaken in a tray -- possibly with meaning, possibly without (and this depends not on the sand but on the shaker). Politics may re-enter, the prerogative of heroes, necessary answers. But, be clear, this comes last. We, after all, are the servants of the state, and narrative is the central tool of power. But know your craft. Appreciate the noise of ignorance before you make the music of deceit.
Inspector Final in the Suspense Section Suspense is a cheap trick played by story-tellers to hide how little they have to say. It is a calculated falsehood. There is no suspense. Curiosity, yes -- the sentence half overheard, the extra key on the ring, the door you never had time to open -- but these things are an absence of answers, not pieces in a puzzle, fragments not in the language of conclusions: and translation destroys the truth, does not reveal it. And we do not wait for the future to happen. Hope perhaps, fear, certainly, but never guess the plot. There is none. The butler did not do it. There is no long-lost twin. Love does not succeed or fail in the last chapter. We restore order because we demand order, call things complete because we call the present flat, like the earth. But the world turns, the case is endless, the letters spill out of the book like blood upon a rock.

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