Apologies to Evelyn Waugh and Everyone Else

Julia used to say, ‘Poor Sebastian. It’s something chemical in him.’

            That was the cant phrase of the time, derived from heaven knows what misconception of popular science. ‘There’s something chemical between them,’ was used to explain the over-mastering hate or love of any two people. It was the old concept of determinism in a new form. I do not believe there was anything chemical in my friend.

            I believe that there was something else entirely in Sebastian, some long-armed skeleton standing behind the curtain and clinging to the wallpaper with his long, bony hands. I did not believe there was anything of the chemical in him, but something of the skeleton, warbling its solemn voice in the background, which itself was something like the atonal beats of a heavy plank on old, hollowed wood.

            I did not believe there was something chemical in the skeleton. The skeleton and Sebastian were completely free of anything chemical.

            I suppose they were both haunted: Sebastian by the skeleton, the skeleton by his inability to leave Sebastian. Or, rather, I assume it was something that haunted the skeleton, for I hardly knew him, and only made his acquaintence those few and scattered times Sebastian permitted me to meet him.

            I am not sure if the plank or the hollowed-out trunks of old wood were haunted, but I remember something said by the skeleton which hinted, quite tenuously, to this fact.

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