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the mystery of the somerton man

The clothes he was wearing had no name labels, his shoes were spit-polished, his feet curled, a smoke stuck under his chin, a torn slip from the back page of the Rubaiyat tucked deep into his fob pocket; the Tamam Shud, the man poisoned, his luggage booked into a station locker, his right hand lacerated, his physique remarkable, his large hands unmarked, his nails clean, his calves overdeveloped.

No wallet found, no identification, no nationality, no background, no hat. A pastie in his stomach, no cloakroom stub in his pocket, cargo masters’ tools in his luggage, no spare socks in his luggage, five ties though, and a woman’s hair clip. A couple of clothing labels that read Keane, or Kean. A blade of barley grass in his sock. A missed train connection to Glenelg. A bus ticket.

Kensitas smokes fitted into his Army Club pack, a man suntanned to his groin.

A code pencilled onto a Rubaiyat and a telephone number. Faint. The number belonging to a local woman living near the beach with her young son. The woman unmarried. The police asked her to view a death mask of the man.

She nearly fainted!

Mystery enough!

Then wider minds took a look at wider times. They looked over at the fields John Le Carre harvested, the Kim Philby fields. Maclean Burgess and Blunt feeding there. Spies have their ways. They exchange with each other fair value yet they hide their intent under layered tenements of clothing.

The lawyer there is possibly a banker or a journalist and he travels widely on commercial business through all the borders of Europe in 1937, Hitler rampant. In France he is John, in Lebanon William, back home in England he is Kim. There are days between his changes of identification where he has none.

Kim had a secret trade kept secret from both sides because he served both sides, Russia and England.

The Somerton Man showed signs of this secrecy of intent. No name labels on his clothing and no identification in his pockets. No hat when all men wore them. A torn slip from the backpage of the Rubaiyat in his fob. The book it came from tossed through an open window of a car parked nearby.

They said.

The poison that killed him. What poison?

They lie about like the bones of a hundred dead mastodons in a desolate field do these unconnected Somerton facts.

People wandering about in there picking up one bone, seeing if it will fit with another then discarding both, finding a third, going back for the first two, losing their way, finding another three.


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