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On Sunday morning all were punctual except Blackie, even Mike. Mike had a stroke of luck. His mother felt ill, his father was tired after Saturday night, and he was told to go to church alone with many warnings of what would happen if he strayed. Blackie had difficulty in smuggling out the saw, and then in finding the sledge-hammer at the back of No. 15. He approached the house from a lane at the rear of the garden, for fear of the policeman's beat along the main road. The tired evergreens kept off a stormy sun: another wet Bank Holiday was being prepared over the Atlantic, beginning in swirls of dust under the trees. Blackie climbed the wall into Misery's garden.

There was no sign of anybody anywhere. The lav stood like a tomb in a neglected graveyard. The curtains were drawn. The house slept. Blackie lumbered nearer with the saw and the sledge-hammer. Perhaps after all nobody had turned up: the plan had been a wild invention: they had woken wiser. But when he came close to the back door he could hear a confusion of sound hardly louder than a hive in swarm: a clickety-clack, a bang bang, a scraping, a creaking, a sudden painful crack. He thought: it's true; and whistled.

They opened the back door to him and he came in. He had at once the impression of organization, very different from the old happy-go-lucky ways under his leadership. For a while he wandered up and down stairs looking for T. Nobody addressed him: he had a sense of great urgency, and already he could begin to see the plan. The interior of the house was being carefully demolished without touching the walls. Summers with hammer and chisel was ripping out the skirting-boards in the ground floor dining-room: he had already smashed the panels of the door. In the same room Joe was heaving up the parquet blocks, exposing the soft wood floorboards over the cellar. Coils of wire came out of the damaged skirting and Mike sat; happily on the floor clipping the wires.

On the curved stairs two of the gang were working hard with an inadequate child's saw on the banisters - when they saw Blackie's big saw they signalled for it wordlessly. When he next saw them a quarter of the banisters had been dropped into the hall. He found T. at last in the bathroom - he sat moodily in the least cared-for room in the house, listening to the sounds coming up from below.

'You've really done it,' Blackie said with awe. 'What's going to happen?'

'We've only just begun,' T. said. He looked at the sledgehammer and gave his instructions. 'You stay here and break the , bath and the wash-basin. Don't bother about the pipes. They come later.'

Mike appeared at the door. 'I've finished the wires, T.,' he said.

'Good. You've just got to go wandering round now. The kitchen's in the basement. Smash all the china and glass and bottles you can lay hold of. Don't turn on the taps - we don't want a flood - yet. Then go into all the rooms and turn out the drawers. If they are locked get one of the others to break them open. Tear up any papers you find and smash all the ornaments. Better take a carving knife with you from the kitchen. The' bedroom's opposite here. Open the pillows and tear up the sheets. That's enough for the moment. And you, Blackie, when you've finished in here crack the plaster in the passage up with your sledge-hammer.'

'What are you going to do?' Blackie asked. 'I'm looking for something special,' T. said.

It was nearly lunch-time before Blackie had finished and went in search of T. Chaos had advanced. The kitchen was a shambles of broken glass and china. The dining-room was stripped of parquet, the skirting was up, the door had been taken off its hinges, and the destroyers had moved up a floor. Streaks of light came in through the closed shutters where they worked with the seriousness of creators - and destruction after all is a form of creation. A kind of imagination had seen this house as it had now become.

Mike said, 'I've got to go home for dinner.'

'Who else?' T. asked, but all the others on one excuse or another had brought provisions with them.

They squatted in the ruins of the room and swapped unwanted sandwiches. Half an hour for lunch and they were at work again. By the time Mike returned they were on the top floor, and by six the superficial damage was completed. The doors were all off, all the skirtings raised, the furniture pillaged and ripped and smashed - no one could have slept in the house except on a bed of broken plaster. T. gave his orders - eight o'clock next morning, and to escape notice they climbed singly over the garden wall; into the car-park. Only Blackie and T. were left: the light had nearly gone, and when they touched a switch, nothing worked - Mike had done his job thoroughly.

'Did you find anything special?' Blackie asked.

T. nodded. 'Come over here,' he said, 'and look.' Out of both pockets he drew bundles of pound notes. 'Old Misery's savings,' he said. 'Mike ripped out the mattress, but he missed them.'

'What are you going to do? Share them?'

'We aren't thieves,' T. said. 'Nobody's going to steal anything from this house. I kept these for you and me - a celebration.' He knelt down on the floor and counted them out - there were seventy in all. 'We'll burn them,' he said, 'one by one,' and taking it in turns they held a note upwards and lit the top corner, so that the flame burnt slowly towards their fingers. The grey ash floated above them and fell on their heads like age. 'I'd like to see Old Misery's face when we are through,' T. a said.

'You hate him a lot?' Blackie asked.

'Of course I don't hate him,' T. said. 'There'd be no fun if I hated him.' The last burning note illuminated his brooding face. 'All this hate and love,' he said, 'it's soft, it's hooey. There's only things, Blackie,'
and he looked round the room crowded with the unfamiliar shadows of half things, broken things, former things.


Grade: (A)


See also:

Graham Greene (6 books reviewed)
Short Stories
Graham Greene Links:

    -WIKIPEDIA: Graham Greene
-ESSAY: Literary Friends to Enemies: Why Graham Greene Hated Anthony Burgess: Michael Mewshaw on the Animosity Between Two Giants of 20th-Century British Literature (Michael Mewshaw, June 9, 2023, LitHub)
    -ESSAY: WHAT THE QUIET AMERICAN TEACHES US: Getting Involved, Graham Greene Warns Us, is both Hazardous and Inevitable (I. S. BERRY, 5/30/23, Crime Reads)
-(Henry) Graham Greene (1904-1991)(kirjasto)
    -ENCYCLOPAEDIA BRITANNICA: your search: "Graham Greene"
    -ESSAY:   'The Third Man' as a Story and a Film (GRAHAM GREENE, NY Times, March 19, 1950)
    -Graham Greene: THE CHESTERTONS   (NY Review of Books, Jul 21, 1983)
    -Graham Greene: THE FBI AND PEARL HARBOR   (NY Review of Books, Aug 12, 1982)
    -Graham Greene: YOU'RE WELCOME  (NY Review of Books, Nov 8, 1979)
    -Graham Greene: INFORMATION WANTED (NY Review of Books, Sep 27, 1979)
    -Graham Greene: The Great Spectacular    (NY Review of Books, Jan 26, 1978)
    -Graham Greene: The Country with Five Frontiers   (NY Review of Books, Feb 17, 1977 )
    -Graham Greene Birthplace Trust, Home Page GGBT
    -Anne Sherry Graham Greene Page
    -Graham Greene  (Biography, His Works, Other Web Resources)
    -Graham Greene
    -Greeneland: The World of Graham Greene
    -(Henry) Graham Greene (short bio, John D. Hamilton)
    -OBIT: Graham Greene, 86, Dies; Novelist of the Soul
    -Featured Author: Graham Greene With News and Reviews From the Archives of The New York Times (NY Times Book Review)
    -ESSAY: ROCK OF AGES: WHAT GRAHAM GREENE CAN TEACH THE MODERN NOVELIST: In Brighton Rock, all the novelist's formidable tools are on display. (CRAIG NOVA, 9/17/21, CrimeReads)
    -PODCAST: Laura Marsh on the Enduring Appeal of Graham Greene’s The End of the Affair (From the History of Literature Podcast with Jacke Wilson, 8/22/21)
    -ESSAY: Graham Greene's Vietnam (Tom Curry, Literary Traveler)
    -ESSAY: The (Mis)Guided Dream of Graham Greene (Robert Royal, First Things)
    -ESSAY: The paradox of Graham Greene – searching for peace in the world’s warzones: The torrid border country that is Greeneland promised not only escapist thrills but equilibrium for the conflicted writer, says Richard Greene (Nicholas Shakespeare, september 2020, The Spectator)
    -ESSAY: Why Greene fades on film (Quentin Curtis, UK Telegraph)
    -ESSAY: ëHe knew himself as no one else didí Novelist Shirley Hazzard talks about her times with Greene on Capri (Desmond OíGrady, UK Telegraph)
    -ESSAY: An Edwardian on the Concorde: Graham Greene as I Knew Him  (Paul Theroux, NY Times Book Review)
    -EXCERPTS: from May we Borrow Your Husband?
    -REVIEW: The Lives of Graham Greene (David Lodge, NY Review of Books)
     -J.M. Cameron: On Graham Greene  (NY Review of Books)
    -Book club discussion questions: End of the Affair (Warren Pages)
    -REVIEW: of The End of the Affair   Mr. Greene's Intense Art (GEORGE MAYBERRY, NY Times, October 28, 1951)
    -REVIEW: of Heart of the Matter  (July 11, 1948, WILLIAM DU BOIS, NY Times Book Review)
    -REVIEW: of The Quiet American (March 11, 1956, ROBERT GORHAM DAVIS, NY Times Book Review)
    -REVIEW: of The Quiet American by Graham Greene (C. P. Farley, Powell's)
    -REVIEW: John Bayley: God's Greene, NY Review of Books
           The Captain and the Enemy by Graham Greene
           Graham Greene by Neil McEwan
           A Reader's Guide to Graham Greene by Paul O'Prey
    -Michael Shelden: GREENE & ANTI-SEMITISM (NY Review of Books, Sep 21, 1995)
    -Richard West: Graham Greene and 'The Quiet American' (NY Review of Books, May 16, 1991)
    -J.M. Cameron: On Graham Greene (NY Review of Books, May 30, 1991)
    -REVIEW:  John Bayley: God's Greene  (NY Review of Books)
        The Captain and the Enemy by Graham Greene
        Graham Greene by Neil McEwan
        A Reader's Guide to Graham Greene by Paul O'Prey
    -REVIEW:   Joan Didion: Discovery  (NY Review of Books)
        Finding the Center: Two Narratives by V.S. Naipaul
        Getting to Know the General: The Story of an Involvement by Graham Greene
    -REVIEW:  Jonathan Raban: Innocents Abroad   (NY Review of Books)
        J'Accuse: The Dark Side of Nice by Graham Greene
        Monsignor Quixote by Graham Greene
    -REVIEW:  Robert Towers: Cautionary Tale  (NY Review of Books)
        Doctor Fischer of Geneva or the Bomb Party by Graham Greene
    -REVIEW:  Conor Cruise O'Brien: Greene's Castle  (NY Review of Books)
        The Human Factor by Graham Greene
    -REVIEW:   V.S. Pritchett: Rogue Poet  (NY Review of Books)
        Lord Rochester's Monkey by Graham Greene
    -REVIEW:  Conor Cruise O'Brien: A Funny Sort of God   (NY Review of Books)
        The Honorary Consul by Graham Greene
        Collected Stories by Graham Greene
    -REVIEW: Karl Miller: Father, Son, and Holy Ghost   (NY Review of Books)
        Midnight Oil by V.S. Pritchett
        A Sort of Life by Graham Greene
    -RESPONSE:   Graham Greene: GREENE'S MEANING   (NY Review of Books)
    -REVIEW:  Denis Donoghue: The Uncompleted Dossier   (NY Review of Books)
        Travels with My Aunt by Graham Greene
        Blind Love, and Other Stories by V.S. Pritchett
    -REVIEW:  V.S. Pritchett: A Polished Dissenter  (NY Review of Books)
        Collected Essays including The Lost Childhood by Graham Greene
    -REVIEW: Sybille Bedford: Tragic Comedians   (NY Review of Books)
        The Comedians by Graham Greene
    -REVIEW: David Lodge: The Lives of Graham Greene   (NY Review of Books)
        Graham Greene: The Man Within by Michael Shelden
        Graham Greene: The Enemy Within by Michael Shelden
        The Life of Graham Greene Volume II, 1939-1955 by Norman Sherry
        Graham Greene: Three Lives by Anthony Mockler
        Graham Greene: Friend and Brother by Leopoldo Duran and translated by Euan Cameron
        The Graham Greene Film Reader: Reviews, Essays, Interviews & Film Stories
    -REVIEW: of Green on Capri by Shirley Hazzard (DORIS BETTS, NANDO)
    -REVIEW: of The Life of Graham Greene; Volume III: 1955-1991 by Norman Sherr (FRANKLIN FREEMAN, Touchstone)
    -REVIEW: of Russian Roulette: The Life and Times of Graham Greene by Richard Greene (Nicholas Shakespeare, The Spectator)
    -REVIEW: of Russian Roulette (Blake Morrison, The Guardian)
    -REVIEW: of The Unquiet Englishman: A Life of Graham Greene by Richard Greene (Adam Schwartz, University Bookman)
    -REVIEW: of The Unquiet Englishman: A Life of Graham Greene by Richard Greene (Scott Bradfield, New Republic)
    -REVIEW: of The Unquiet Englishman (Gerald J. Russello, Commonweal)
    -REVIEW: of The Unquiet Englishman (john Banville, The Nation)
    -REVIEW: of The Life Graham Greene: Volume One – 1904–1939 By Norman Sherry (Paul Theroux, Literary Review)

Book-related and General Links:

    -ETEXT: The Destructors (Graham Greene, 1954, Picture Post)
    -ESSAY: Paragraphs: The main part of the essay: structure and linking
    -ESSAY: A changing world and a need for values (Values in Practice)