Tom returns to San Remo, exhausted, and he begins to cover up the murder. He cleans his bloodstained clothes and packs Dickie’s bag “just as Dickie had always packed it.” He then catches a train south, and, as night falls and the train travels the countryside, he has “an ecstatic moment thinking of all the pleasures that lay before him now with Dickie’s money: other beds, tables, seas, ships, suitcases, shirts, years of freedom, years of pleasure.” Tom feels “happy, content, and utterly, utterly confident, as he has never been before in his life.”
Tom is already practicing Dickie’s habits and mannerisms, “ecstatic” to finally have the opportunity to live in Dickie’s skin. Being close to Dickie as a friend was never going to be enough—possessing Dickie’s identity and material goods is what allows Tom to feel “confident” for the first time in his entire life.
Stepping off the bus in Mongibello, Tom immediately runs into Marge, dressed in her bathing suit. She asks where Dickie is, and Tom replies that Dickie has gone to Rome, and that he is here to collect some of Dickie’s belongings to bring back to him. Tom gives Marge her perfume, and she asks where Dickie is staying and how long he’ll be gone. Tom tells her to write to the American Express in Rome, and assures her that Dickie will be back by the end of the week.
Tom despises Marge, and he hung onto her perfume only so he wouldn’t arouse her suspicions about him any further. He delights in delivering the news that “Dickie” will be moving to Rome and abandoning her, happy that, in her mind, he has finally triumphed over her in securing Dickie’s deepest affections.
Marge leaves to go to the beach, and Tom sets upon Dickie’s things. He dresses himself in Dickie’s clothes, collects Dickie’s recent letters, packs Dickie’s suitcases, and attempts to decide which home furnishings he should keep, which he should sell, and which he should “bequeath” to Marge.
Tom is frenzied and joyful as he luxuriates in Dickie’s things and plans out what he will do with Dickie’s larger possessions. The material wealth is just as important to him as possessing the identity of Dickie Greenleaf.
The following morning, as Tom finishes up the packing, Marge stops by. Tom tells her that he’s received a letter from Dickie stating Dickie’s intent to move to Rome indefinitely, and that Tom should collect “all he can handle” of Dickie’s possessions and bring them straight away. Tom tells Marge that Dickie won’t be going to Cortina, but that he doesn’t want his absence to prevent Marge from going. He tells Marge that she can have the refrigerator. Marge, distraught, asks if Tom is planning to live with Dickie in Rome, and Tom tells her that he is going to “help him get settled.” Tom can see that Marge is “shocked and hurt to silence.” Marge leaves, dazed, and though Tom fears for a moment that she will try to call Dickie in Rome or even travel there to find him, he tells himself that there are “enough hotels in Rome to keep her busy for days.”
In a cruel irony, Tom leaves Marge with the refrigerator. He first perceived the refrigerator as Dickie’s way of tethering himself to Marge and to Mongibello, but now Tom gives her the refrigerator as if to punish her for having thought she could have Dickie to herself. Marge’s fear of being abandoned by Dickie—and being abandoned in favor of Tom—seems to have come true, and she asks Tom of his plans in disbelief. In this passage, Tom begins his new pattern of constantly thinking far ahead in order to cover his tracks; he allows himself to take comfort in the fact that he believes Marge is too dull to figure out his ploy.
Tom searches the Neapolitan newspapers for anything about a bloodstained boat having been found, but there is nothing in the papers. He finds solace in remembering that neither he nor Dickie gave their names to the boatmaster in San Remo. After an espresso at the local café, where he tells all of Dickie’s Mongibello acquaintances the false story about Dickie’s trip to Rome, he takes a taxi to the train station. He’s had Dickie’s linens and paintings packed up and shipped, along with three suitcases. Tom has tied up all of Dickie’s affairs in Mongibello, laying the groundwork for the sale of Dickie’s house and boat.
Once again, looking to cover his tracks if he must, Tom scours the newspaper for news of himself—another of his increasingly narcissistic behaviors. He spreads the story of Dickie’s moving to Rome as widely as he can, in hopes that it will cover his own tracks. Tom is like an animal preparing for winter: he is gathering money, information, and possessions in order to hide away as Dickie in peace.
Once in Rome, Tom writes Marge a letter from “Dickie,” explaining that “he” doesn’t want to see Marge for a while in hopes that he can “discover how he really feels about her.” He also explains that he’ll be studying with a painter called Di Massimo—a fictional person of Tom’s own invention—and that she should not try to contact him.
This is Tom’s final “blow” to Marge—he is so sure of his ability to embody Dickie’s voice that he writes Marge a dismissive letter, twisting the knife of “Dickie’s” abandonment.
Tom realizes that he showed Dickie’s passport at the hotel’s front desk instead of his own—by mistake, but without incident. He heads out to a local drugstore and buys some makeup in order to further disguise himself. After returning to the hotel, Tom spends the night practicing Dickie’s signature—Dickie’s monthly check from Herbert is supposed to arrive in just over a week.
Tom’s realization that he can pass for Dickie with very little alteration to his appearance provides him with a kind of thrill—he nonetheless feels he must do more to fully inhabit “Dickie,” and he views it as an exciting and even fun challenge.