Mariama, you’ll never read this letter: if I sent it, our civil settlement would be invalidated and the district attorney would reopen the criminal case. I have no reason to send it, because I will never ask for your forgiveness. My offense was too great. I got away with it. I’m pleased to remain at liberty. Plus they say you’re illiterate. Yet we commonly recognize that some moral benefit lies in acknowledging our errors, even privately, in order to do penance and seek correction in our behavior. The more truthfully and fully and exactingly we do our accounting, the greater the value. As usual, then, it transpires that I’m acting on my own behalf.
If I could communicate with you, my principal intention would be to persuade you that I’m not a madman, though even writing this unsendable letter testifies against my sanity. I concede that my mind is not right these days, these days of disgrace. My mind was certainly not right at the time of our encounter. Although I was alert to what I was doing, I was also trapped within some kind of mental tunnel in which I was unable to perceive the outer world, or the constraints that usually apply to human relations. I had been in this tunnel — less metaphorically, a highly excitable and distracted state of mind — for the past several days, my thoughts careering against the passageway’s frictionless walls from one data point related to international finance to the next. Also, from woman to woman. I cannot, however, plead that I was not myself. The more closely I recall those actions and circumstances, the more convinced I am that in those terrible minutes my true character emerged. This is the character that would have been suppressed, or crushed or strangled or decapitated, the moment I declared my candidacy.