John Connaught was disappointed by the lack of reaction to his death – but on reflection decided he ought not to be surprised, for he had, really, been dead for decades.
The finest philologist of his generation, he had loosed a salvo of seminal works that shattered the fragile academic orthodoxy like grapeshot through a stained glass window, before lapsing into a Sibelian silence that lasted 40 years. Now, as he sat with Margaret in the kitchen, listening to mushrooms squeaking in a dry frying pan, John knew it was time to go.
He stood on Beachey Head, out of range of the suicide patrols – the very spot where they had made love, in their unbridled youth. His skinny arse, exposed to the Channel wind; her skinny frame pinned beneath. Memories.
He released the handbrake and watched the car slide neatly over the cliff and drop, like a coin in a slot, before bursting against the rocks with campanological splendour, six seconds later.
John Connaught had been dead – and now, unfettered, he would live again.