91. Alias

HE IS A BETTER man than I am, I know that. He's a believer, whereas I'm not sure I believe in anything much. It wouldn't be quite true to say I believe in nothing. I have after all been pretending to be him for seven years now. I have come to know him well. Intimately, even. He's driven by a misplaced sense of hope, whereas I'm driven by a misplaced sense of trust. It's no exaggeration to say he's been the making of me, my master and my education. I was no one before I was him and I will go back to being no one when I am no longer him. Even with women - especially with women - we are different. I was married once, but he loves in a way that I cannot. He's more affectionate than I ever was. His sex is slower and less angry. It's strange - the body is the same, after all. A doctor would have a field day with me - with us. Or a shrink. I am him, and at the same time I am not him. Don't ask me how this is possible, I can't even explain it to myself. Of course, at times I loathe him and his vanity and the righteousness he presumes is his by birthright. How could I not? Yet I forgive him more easily than I forgive myself. I am him more hours of the day, more days of the week, than not. I'm very good at being him. In a very real way I prefer it. But I can never be completely him, however much I want to be. Every day, I must report back to head office. I must update the log book. On weekends I type up the weekly report. I have done so close to 350 times note, I guess. I suppose the chance to be him, to keep it going as long as possible, is what keeps me in the game, spying on the group, knowing I am the agent of their failure. Once head office is done with me - and I know the day is coming soon, for they have caught wind of me, of my affection for him and for the rest of them - once the directive is issued, there will be no more him. The operation will be wound up in a fortnight, if they're generous. They won't want to afford me the luxury of sentimentality - it would be dangerous. He will be made to disappear, and I will never be him again. I will revert, reluctantly, to being myself. As for the group, I know I cannot leave them without a word, even if I am ordered to do it. I will have to tell them, and they will never speak to me again, most of them, knowing I have been systematically betraying them for seven years, providing the Special Unit with an endless stream of detailed briefings on every aspect of the group's operations. Operations that were, by and large, destined to be harmless, good-natured, carnivalesque - and, thanks to the paranoia of the Special Unit, utterly futile. Doomed before they began. And yet despite our impending separation I know a part of him will always be with me. He will haunt me forever, along with the memory of the happiness that, for a time, he allowed me to steal in his name and in the name of all that is good.