“Trees,” said Encyclopedia, “grow from the top up; what is carved low on a young tree will remain low on an ancient one.”
Bugs nodded to himself. Yes, he thought, that was my mistake. Ah, well, so it goes; they have circled around each other for so long, it is hard to conceive of a world where things could be different. Both the criminal and the detective produce crime, the criminal by the performance of marvelous things, and the detective by the delineation of crime. Who have I hurt by this lie? he asked himself. No one. And who has Encyclopedia hurt by revealing my lie? Also no one.
He was not bored; how could he be? Before this—in the long untime of their personal prehistory—he was merely violent, a beast in the shape of a boy, with no thought beyond the satisfaction of the desires of a moment and no craft beyond an extra six inches of height and another forty pounds of muscle. Can I have been said to exist? Can a creature that lives solely by reflex be said to live? Was I not then some biological robot, a Talos of mere flesh?
And what were you, my nemesis, my soul, without me? He conjured the kitchen table, the police chief fat and foolish asking his ten year old child for advice, the unbreakable boredom of a sane mind in a secure body, a motive will with no fears, no worries, no great work to wreak craft upon. They are complete in themselves, now, form given soul, soul given presence, and all for the soft labor of an afternoon of tree carving.
“We are our own victims,” Bugs muttered into his collar, but Encyclopedia, if he heard, gave no sign.