The cut was too big for me to effectively do anything about with only my hands. Even if I had wanted to, there was no chance I could have stopped the bleeding. Oh, I knew how all right -- pressure, the denial of separation, is the end of all wounds.

But I only watched him, there in the red flakes of dust and the crackling corn, sitting stunned amongst the crisp pops and racing embers of scarified napalm trails. And I was disappointed: there was no last rasp of breath and no fatty simmer of eyes whitening and rolling up in the sockets, nor was there any desperation or passionate, broken last polysyllables.

He was at heart a failure, and often a liar. The years had slipped by him too fast, and somewhere along the line I think he must have lost control. I had watched as so many of his dreams were botched, and long summer days were spent cooking in office blocks. He filled his time with sex - often alone, though we have both blocked that out - and with long nights of film. It was all escapism, really, all fiction, and I know it made him weary. He longed for escape more than anything, but from what I don’t know.

Some days I was better able to gauge his character, and some days it was worse. He swung in sullen roundabouts of arrogance and despair, but I couldn’t hold it against him too much. His eyes were heavy and tired all day, and he longed for sleep almost all the time. Too often he took an afternoon of rest when he would wake up, head thumping, and call out to me, his words peppered with slurred gibberish. I’m sure he wanted others to call him a genius, or at least tortured and brilliant, but there was insufficient evidence for either accusation.

Laughter was never a problem, and he wasn’t entirely blind to his own faults, which in fairness is a rare gift. Certainly, there were many thick moments where he should have admitted that he was wrong, and instead elected to redefine the context of what he was saying, but such a thing is probably quite normal. Those who called himself his friends stepped around that part of his intelligence, and focused instead on his dark humour and wanton misanthropy.

Oh, and how he could he cruel. Mostly to himself, fortunately, and even then quite infrequently. Maybe he needed medication of some kind, though I know he wouldn’t have persevered in taking any prescription. He knew his mind and he was comfortable with it.

I’m completely sure it would have been different if he were ever truly loved or (for want of a better word) appreciated. Lonesomeness is hardly an excuse, and in his case the chalky line between symptom and cause was blurred into a crude circle. It should have been sad, except there were no hooks of sympathy on which to hang such a heavy feeling. He was alone of his own volition.

He stole. From his employers, from his friends in small ways, and from me -- not that I cared in the slightest, of course. When he was put out of sorts by social customs or platitudes he often had difficulty maintaining a sense of decorum. Then the hot violence would come, seething down his face and hands, leaving trailed of inflamed and tender red. If it was left to simmer for too long, the stirring of the mood would settle, and the hot blood would cool and scab into something hard and black.

And after all of that I loved him. He could be brilliant, and more often intolerably dull, but even that failed to fatigue my feelings. We would spend months neither talking to nor thinking of one another, and the well of my compassion never dried up. I don’t even think he liked me, but that certainly didn’t matter.

His terrible clothes. There aren’t adjectives vibrant or lurid enough to describe their awfulness. Yet I celebrated each new acquisition with a feverish glee, always unable to predict the next direction of his vision.

The wound he had in the end was mental: a leak more cerebral than haematological, but I saw the horrid arterial tone of it just the same. Either way, the bleeding was from the head, and with it little chips of skull came. Piece by piece he slipped away, flooding gooey memories and unfinished prose onto the thirsty ground. I might have wanted to stop the flow in the first few seconds, but the irony was that until the parts of his mind that controlled the motor functions had bled out I could not, and after that point, I would not for reasons of decency. Or perhaps rather for reasons of honouring the dead.

He always hated cripples and retards and the poor and the desperate. Even more than that he hated the dead and the dying. He often said he despised ancient peoples most of all. I ignored his venom, but I knew he was serious. I loved him even knowing that.

When he was gone, I was alone, and the first thing I felt was the sting of the wound to the head that was now mine. It took me a while to work out what had happened, and even longer to gain the controls of my new vessel. I thought, is this how you (meaning he) always felt? And I hoped it wasn’t: so painfully alienated.

We were not multiple personalities inhabiting the same body. How hackneyed and Hollywoodite would that have been? No. We had the same voice and the same mannerisms, the same knowledge of people and places; our recollections were equally disassociated and poor, and the same faces flicked across the surfaces of our waking minds. He liked to say we never upgraded our memories from video to laser technology. I hated the phraseology, but he was right. They were grainy and poorly edited, and it was often difficult to remember who had done what.

Our work was the difference, the one decisive line that separated us, though we often collaborated. All relationships are a kind of slow war over common ground, and as I am writing this rather than him, I suppose I am the victor, though the celebration will be a lonely one.

Pain is separation.

He will be missed.