The Manchester Review
John Saul
Names
Fiction
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Names found in the Atlantic

Raeburn was on the island of Ouessant. There were plenty of people around but he liked to think he was a kind of Crusoe. He ignored them except when he went shopping, or when he received post, or if he needed someone for a practical reason. One day out walking he discovered on the ground a folded paper with a list of names:
       Collins, chairman; Jackson, Dybkjaer, K Jensen, vice-chairmen; Roth-Behrendt, rapporteur; Alber (for Raeburn), Aparacio Sanchez (for Diez de Rivera Icaza), Apolinario, Blokland, Caccavale (for Leopardi), Estevan Bolea (for Grossetête), Florenz, Garosci (for Pollack), Gonzalez Alvarez, Graenitz, Hulthén, Kokkola, Kuhn, Lange (for Waddington), Lannoye, Liese (for Rovsing), Marinucci, McKenna, Olsson, Pimenta, van Putten, Rübig, Ryynänen (for Eisma), Sandbaek, Schnellhardt, Thyssen (for Oomen-Ruijten), Trakatellis, Valverde Lopez, Virgin, White and Whitehead.
      Restraining his excitement at this find, taking time to fully develop his explanations and assemble his arguments, he wrote to the local newspaper saying he had discovered evidence of a civilisation which had once controlled Europe. He appealed for responses from members of the public who might be familiar with any of these names, or who could link any one of them to another. Normally lists bored him. But this list, notwithstanding the fact his own name was included, had such a ring to it he could hardly stop himself from continually taking it out of his jacket and reading it over and over.
      A lady wrote to him directly, saying she had been in touch with the spirit of Kokkola. She knew that Kokkola had taken over from Poggiolini, Roth-Behrendt, and Ryynänen, who herself had already been acting for Eisma. Raeburn read this with incredulity. By his understanding one person could not stand in for three; nor could one committee member stand in for another on the same committee. He thought this over and over; then decided the rules must have changed.


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