It seems I only write you during these periods of quiet inactivity. I detest these moments, when I am left to nothing but my own crowded head, my unhappy thoughts. We have grown to understand a certain pattern from these murders, such that we are able to predict the next date of attack; but lately, the crime has dried up. Our assailants have gone suddenly and mysteriously silent, and we are left with nothing to do but to wait. Doctorow has likened it to waiting in the trenches, knowing something is out there, growing taut and anxious with the lengthening drag of the hours.
This idleness is more than I can bear. I suppose it says something about me, about the type of man I’ve become, or made myself into, that a lack of death is cause for anxiety. The public is safe, for now; but I know it will not last. And in any case, they did not know the danger they were in. Instead they worry about the terrible economic crash that now threatens their livelihoods in subtler ways. I cannot protect them from the plight of the country; I am meant to protect them from enemies such as these. But how can I? How can I, when we still know so little?
And I have already failed them so much. I have let my guard down and let myself fall to the wayside. It nearly resulted in the death of a colleague. I was afraid. I may try to blame him, the stranger who continues to haunt me, but to do so would be petty and pointless. It was my fault that Klaus got hurt. I was a coward, I failed to do my duty, and he nearly died for it. A few days ago I assisted him in his transition from hospital to home. He and his fiancée were gracious and kind as usual. They ought to hate me for this. I wish they would blame me. I wish they would say something to wake me up, bring me back out of this cycle of inactivity, fear, carelessness. I’ve become so withdrawn. These days I barely recognize myself. I gave up, it doesn’t matter how briefly; I did give up. My recalcitrance forced Doctorow to call in someone with considerably less experience, someone who should never have been out there, who nearly died. I almost got a young man killed. How could I, I of all people, allow such a thing to happen?
I suppose there’s nothing more to be said about it. Klaus and Judith have forgiven me, for what reason I cannot fathom. They are good people. I want only the best for them, and for all the innocents of this vast and deadly city. That is why I must be strong, must continue to do my work in spite of myself. I remember trying to explain this to you once, when you asked me why I am so terribly hard on myself. It is because I am a protector, Peter. It is my responsibility to guard the people of this city. I have made it my life’s purpose. Whether or not I deserve the same care and protection is utterly beside the point. You never understood that, and now you are no longer alone; it seems there must always be someone in my life who hovers over my shoulder and tries to tell me my life is more important than someone else’s. You whispered it with kindness and later with desperation; my watchful stranger, with condescension and impatience. I know you did it because you cared for me; I do not know why this mysterious man cares, why he continues to hound me. I wish he would leave me to my fate, whatever it may be. I have enough on my mind without his intrusions.
I have delayed from my work long enough. I do not know what will happen tomorrow night, Peter. But I do not believe it will be quiet. The quiet never lasts.