English version by George Anca
Evenimentul Publishing House 2007
“I am a soldier in the Word’s army”
Stanislas de Guaita, letter Fragment qtd. By Andre Billy in
Stanislas de Guaita, Mercure de France, Paris, 1971
He stank of decaying time.
The night was a corpse of the deceased day.
From the back of window, with wet jacket and shoes oozing of water, Al Struba was looking to the brightness of rain in night. Colossal water chandeliers were collapsing from high, crushing on roofs with a frightful crash. Since last twenty four hours the flood continued to fall exasperatingly, devastating the city.
-Are you making the inventory of tears overflow in the administration of hell? He heard over shoulder Lăstaru.
-He had forgotten him and all others. He answered mechanically continuing to look at the city lights flickering:
-I don’t believe in hell.
-Of course not. Just this is what makes it to exist.
Only now, with stiff and heavy legs, he twisted on heels and found Lastaru grinning along, so closely that he bumped into him. He looked around, lost, trying to remember what were they both looking for there.
Hideous shadows danced on walls, propagated by the game of flash lights, like a Chinese theatre. The room swarmed with technicians and specialists, but no one of them seemed aware of others presence. Everyone was doing one’s job in silence, preoccupied by own routine, listless to bustling around. Now and then, the dark groaned stabbed by flash-guns, followed by an ascendant whiz, announcing recharge of battery.
-Enough by now, for no Raquel Welch is posing! Lastaru got irritated, giving a brutal drive to the photographer. Now enough, make us place to think
The criminologist gathered hardly his caboodle and complied, grumbling however a protest. Back of him, Lastaru rubbed his eyes, with a helter-skelter face. He had photophobia. The others didn’t notice the incident, even the invitation seemed to be for all. Only the man with yellow powders and with brush of squirrel hairs turned the head by the way, showing his profile within lamp with ultraviolet rays. Then he looked further after his work, searching with meticulousness on furniture and on doors jamb for invisible fingerprints.
-Such beautiful weather did the guy chose to die!
The forensic again. Any time he came to collect a corpse, he exclaimed the same. The weather hadn’t actually any connection. He made his appearance in the door of entrance hall, accompanied absolutely useless by the Morgue driver. Both wet through. Struba watched them dissatisfied, how they shaken like rained hounds, sprinkling negligently the furniture around, with fingerprints on it.
-Oh my, but what are you doing on this darkness?
-We make researches to find out who killed the light! Lastaru replied to him with disgust.
-Ah, it’s power failure…
Stopped as by chance just in the ray of a portable lamp hanging by, the new comer undressed his coat, displaying from below an impeccable suit of gray wool, with a mauve carnation at buttonhole matching the tie. Lastaru bitten his lips to blood not to burst in laughing.
-I have finished the examination low, the physician announced them full of ridiculous solemnities
He looked vainly after a peg for his felt cup melted in rain; at last he entrusted it along with topcoat to his companion. But Lastaru, instead of taking out his agenda as usual, he anticipated by surprise:
-I’ll write down the conclusions at dawn. If it will be any need.
Let see if I guess: open cranial-cerebral traumatism, cervical fracture, crush of vital organs and internal hemorrhage, characteristic lesions of precipitated death. Old song, isn’t it?
Blocked for good, the doctor looked as if without his toys. It wasn’t anything left to him than to confirm it, swallowing hard.
-Same as in previous cases. And also without traces of striking other than due to the mechanism of falling from high, and to suspect an aggression, isn’t it?
-It sounded so standardized that seemed just a cheek. But the forensic, height of surprise, didn’t show offended at all
-Traces of strange blows? Absent, at first sight. But I will not be able to say definitively before the post-mortem.
-Didn’t I tell you, Struba? You search phantoms. It is as if excluded the hypothesis of struggle.
-Satisfied, Lastaru searched by pockets after the flacon with sedatives, for who knows what time that night. He was chewing them like some agricultural sweets.
-But not also a push in the gap by surprise – objected Struba impassively, from the window, while backing them.
-Cock-and-bull stories. Fashionable on the carpet.
-One’s stomach crouched in a handful while seeing him how methodically was chewing his pills bitter as gall, without leaving a single grimace. Only at last he rinsed his mouth with a sip from the little bottle drawn out from his bosom. After what he massaged methodically his temples, with the patience of a chiropractor.
The doctor watched curiously the movement like of worms in the room, blowing his nose with noise. The kitchen large open door left for sight a policeman fumbling with a lamp in the refrigerator.
-Didn’t he live here too the fellow who grew a boa on the balcony? Circus trainer.
-But yes. It wasn’t boa but a cobra gained at a bet in Calcutta, within a tour.
-Last year, Lastaru confirmed.
-The uproar of outside waterfalls had intensified. Struba listened further from the window, hypnotized.
-That means this story happens here for the second time.
-Good Heavens! The doctor murmured.
-The driver watched with fear around and made quickly a dwarf cross. Or perhaps only scratched on the chest. Lastaru sketched vaguely an offer before shoving in its place the little bottle in the packet, but the doctor refused.
-Tell the truth: did you ever see something like that?
-The forensic didn’t answer immediately. He was busy with his handkerchief as big as a pillow case.
-Who was the third?
-The first, actually. An obscure writer, some four years ago. The black series has been open by him. Only that he was insane.
-That is dissident?
-He had written a story by pencil on the room’s walls. The equivalent of a book with some hundred pages. Isn’t that insanity?
-The forensic yawned like at dentist toward the dark ceiling. The cheap lamp hanged in the gap, corpse of the light.
-Here, on these walls?
-I have seen it with my eyes. It happened that also then I was in service. From you, I don’t remember who participated.
-Pity that it painted back. It would enter the history of mural literature. But didn’t he leave any explanation? Classical little letter of good bye.
-I just said he was insane
-The doctor reviewed the room, bewildered. Lastaru admired secretly, with no drop of envy, the faultless cut.
-No relevant. Neither the other two after him did leave explanations – Struba objected lifelessly, huddled in his wet jacket.
-Because it happened to quickly and they didn’t have time any more for preparations.
-Justly: suicide without any premeditation?
-They panicked and jumped from balcony out of fright.
-Fright, by whom?
-By room. As one suffers at an earthquake.
-Lastaru had ended his explanation shrugging his shoulders, with the air of someone forced to waste one’s time discussing uselessly things understood by themselves. The doctor grumbled with a preoccupied air:
-O, you want to say an endemic illness. Some psychosis with periodical suicidal tendencies.
-Like in that case of asylum. No less than thirteen invalids had hanged themselves, one after another, by the same gate of an asylum, until the marshal Serurier has ordered its walling up. I ask if the mayoralty should not proceed similarly also here. Aren’t these rooms for rent by state?
-While the doctor removed with a fillip an invisible lint from the sleeve of his coat, Struba studied his shoes sullied by mud with the uneasinness of someone entered at Opera only to shelter from rain. He formulated undecided his question.
-Are they, so, places which really render sick of nerves? With no particular stimulus?
-Such as, say, the offices of chiefs, completed waggishly, Lastaru.
-Nerves or even cancer, the doctor confirmed. As De Pohl has demonstrated. Places overcharged with negative energy whose long absorption can affect seriously the organism of the individual.
-Very strange, Struba murmured almost for self.
-There are settlements in Ireland where, before casting the foundation of a house, a wizard to verify if the chosen place isn’t somehow unadvisable from this point of view. The Chinese also call a geomant, according o the teaching of Feng-Shue. When I was working in the hospital of Xiaoxiang, an officer from city hall has invited me once to assist to such test. They were building there, if I remember well, a hostel for non family men.
-As well as radioactivity is controlled with a meter Geiger?
-Yes, only here you control by wand, by filbert little branch in the fork.
-The doctor made to him demonstratively a V out of index and middle finger.
-The staff of Mozes, by which he detected water in desert?
-The caduceus of god Mercury? Struba controlled.
-It is what today we call radiesthesia.
-A violent shiver shaken Struba. The room was as cold as a cave, and only compared with the outside diluvium it could seem bearable. The cold came directly from walls, aggressively.
-And what namely should suppose a radiesthetic test in present case? He left himself tempted by the new turn of discussion.
-Ah, it is at everybody’s hand. The same story as with the rat-trap. Anybody can control home own Hartmann net only with a cat.
-Hartmann. What’s this, a net of rats?
-Struba had to wait, intrigued, until the exploding fit of doctor’s laughing turned to coughing. He was laughing soundly, with face like a ripening orange.
-No, dear mister cop, it is the radiation net of the Earth!…Vertical walls of subterranean radiations crossed like meridians and parallels, thick of some twenty centimeters. Harmful ones, if one is crossed by them for years. And the geopathogenic knots from intersection of two walls, the most harmful, can be detected simply with a cat. One ha to empty the room of furniture and see where the cat sleeps. A Hartmann knot is there for sure. The dog proceeds exactly inverse.
-The antagonism between dog and cat, isn’t it?…Lastaru got enlightened.
The forensic pointed to disheveled bed in the corner of room, with threadbare mattress of Relaxa type and yellowed bed clothes.
-From where also is recommended to sleep like the needle of the compass. Because thus you risk to cross lee walls of radiations on the direction of poles. For instance here…what’s the direction of north?…
-I don’t know, I didn’t see in face the sun since some weeks. But if theese negative knots unloads you just as battery does, then why the population is not prevented? Similarly like it is warned against infection with HIV, for instance. By television.
-Useless warning. Only 6% of Romanians use the condom.
-Normal, this bubble is against nature, Lastaru commented.
-But what, the voyeurism cultivated by television isn’t against nature? Day by day you don’t see else than sex and again sex, that disgust gets you. And when it is not sex, the you see violence, games and competitions, serials of two pennies, endless advertisements and kitsch made to make dull and waste your time.
-However, there are also some valuable questions, doctor: the package Connex Go and the vibromasseur/VIBROMASOR against celulities /CELULITEI with harnesses for ass.
Struba seemed content by the divagation of the two, which rambled him from own thoughts. He said impaciently/IMPACIENTAT:
-We had started just now to flirt wit the hypothesis of that net…
-You were telling that energetic drain of the lodger can malign.
-But the late one didn’t sleep in this bed even at least for a full year. And the precedent lodger, about three years. Isn’t it too little for reaching such denouement ?
The doctor watched again the empty bed, as if the answer would be hidden under it.
-It depends. At the summary examination, the corpse presents all signs of chronic alcoholism. What means a diminished resistance to rendering sick. I’ve already told you, I will pronounce myself definitively only at post-mortem, now I introduced him into ambulance.
-Struba ignored the allusion. He was to concentrated for the time being, trying to reconstitute step by step the scenario of the suicide. But he didn’t succeed, no matter how many concessions he was disposed to make.
-Just so. Assisting witnesses confirmed already to us that the deceased was an inveterate alcoholic.
Top of it, Lastaru said that while DESURUBAND the lid of little bottle with vodka. The driver from Morgue followed this ritual with so much desire, that one could feel the will to make him alms; but no one would think to notice him just now.
-Then, also phenomenon of imitative suggestion can enter the game, the forensic followed. Did you ever see a sniamen?
-The grave of a self-killed one…
-The tradition required to the peasants to bury him at the borders of the village isn’t so? Just to avoid that idea contaminate also others. More, all of them were throwing stones over him, old irons, thorns and hips of garbage, in order to stop the coming out of ghost, and finally they were burning all for purification.
Struba sparkled the lighter at least for seven times without succeeding to light anyone of remaining last cigarettes. They were all wet, as packets of the jacket. He objected:
-Only that this morbid imitation supposes, of course, a precedent which one has to know it and to get obsessed of it. It should therefore, first, that our drunkard have learnt about macabre past of the room…
-It is impossible not have learn when, since a year by now, all block forebodes evil about this – Lastaru ensured him, shaking in the palm a new pill from the flacon.
-But is not impossible at all. From those declared by the administrator, who had a conflict with him, the deceased was avoided by neighbours, being exceedingly recalcitrant and dubious.
-So, a choleric? the doctor asked.
-And more, a primitive one. The genre of brute which doesn’t know to write clearly but with top of the knife. One like this would turn up anybody’s heels but of himself.
-You’re right. These knifing blokes quite don’t die due to pessimistic philosophy.
Lastaru protested, chewing his words together with the sedative.
-I didn’t say that he would have jumped over the window because had red Schopenhauer. I said he jumped out of fright. As one suffers at an…
He threw the last word in the middle of the room like a grenade rising his voice:
Immediately broke out a jumble as if in a Texan inn. The technicians were properly walking each other, opening way toward the door like through a jungle. Only when to invade outside on the floor, they got it: the doctor’s bursts of laugh were resounding between empty walls in zigzags, like a flock of flown gooses.
-Calm, gentlemen, calm. It’s an exercise only.
Lastaru was noding, watching with crossed arms this spectacle with the attitude of a director satisfied by the performance of his troop. Perplexed, Struba lighted a flash and pushed it in his eyes with ostentation.
-What the hell are you doing?
-A reconstitution. Now you got convinced what panic can make out of people?
-You convinced me that it can make them to go out by window.
-How could they, if the window was blocked by you…
-Ah, you see? Perhaps someone had blocked the door to the dead .
More and more eager, the forensic controlled again his watch in the same curious manner, unveiling exaggeratedly the joint of hand. Seeing him how is pulling his sleeve almost up to the elbow, one should think he was preparing to take his tension. For some seconds, the phosphorus on dial flickered in the darkness, without that Struba can clarify what was really indicating.
-If you don’t need me any more, my fellows, I should go back to the institute to take a hot shower and a little nap – the doctor decided, leveling uselessly the lapels. Shall I wait for you at lunch for the post-mortem?
-He greeted pedantic with high cup without waiting for answer and went joyfully. Lastaru him disappearing full of greatness, with the frail driver keeping on his traces like a home quadruped.
-Listen,shower at the institute!… It’s clear, the guy is off rails. Did you see his handkerchief?
-I beg your pardon? Struba started.
-His extra fine silk handkerchief, with embroidered monogram in the corner. Like the pillow-cases on grandmother’s time. A superannuated snob. I bet against a martini Bombay that he implores forgiveness to his shoes when he sullied them with mud through puddles.
Almost reflex, Struba watched again his dirty shoes, as he did earlier. He tried to mask awkwardly, casting a glance without interest toward the entrance hall.
-Martini Bombay…he said expectantly.
Lastaru confirmed ceremoniously by head. The sobriety full of respect shown brusquely now was an absolute premiere that night:
-Very dry, with a piece of lemon and an olive.
And probably with a sedative, two. Struba laughed in sideration, making no commentary.
Then he reoccupied his sit at window to watch again the city.
Outside, the night seemed to never come to an end. The rain continued to blow with full heaviness the roofs, spreading sparkles.
The tattoo on the back was still burning him. The rough design of hemp carpet on which they made love.
They had quarreled again. She remembered it by little and little. She waited vainly for him the full night, but he didn’t make at least a phone call. She had waited for him like a fool. Two glasses with red wine untouched and a candle burned by three quarters had remained as token on the round little table in the bedroom. It should have been a romantic evening. And what was she left with? With stereotype justifications and professional slogans, with the record of “lack of time”, the hit in fashion. But who has , after all, time. Time you make it, renouncing in exchange to something else for it or not. “He hadn’t time any more as once”…Materialist bla-bla. Always, since the making of the world to day, the day still twenty four ours had counted. The guilt was only of her, that swallowed with such cowardice his selfishness. She made wrong by accustoming him with a tolerance he confounded with weakness, so encouraging him to believe that he will never loose her, that “it works also like that”, with expedients and his affection from a day to another. With his big words, true axioms of the routine. ”We two it wouldn’t be possible not to be together” wasn’t any more since long a declaration of love, but a demagogic proclamation of inertia.
This revolt of her, Struba was recapitulating now in his mind, word by word. Even he had awoken for good, it passed still a good period o f time before he decided at last to unglue the eyelashes. Anyhow he already knew that will not see her along; he had heard the whistling of the shower in the bathroom at end of the corridor.
He hardly got up from the bed like from a grave. He had got less than four hours of rest.
In the kitchen it was as always lukewarm and well. He opened the portative radio just in time to hear the survey of ravages made by floods in some towns, after the unusual rains in the last week. Either prognosis was not any good. The rest of the news didn’t interest him. He poured cold coffee from the kettle in the window and lighted first cigarette. On the table he found opened the yesterday newspaper, with one of titles circled in red pencil. Even he knew already by heart the article, he started to reread it.
THE KILLING ROOM
It is known that the eve of winter holidays brings with it, any year, a maxim growth of suicide rate on the entire glob. The ill-fated gesture of young Aurel Bau, technician in age of only 30 years, who, during previous night, threw himself in the gap from eight stores high, represent only one of the thousands contributions to this undesired statistical fluctuation. And probably for lodgers of the block Y-O-Z from Bariera Vergului the death of unique occupant of room no. 113 would pass almost unobserved, like a daily fact among so many similar in this period, if it would not join a bizarre black tradition of respective accommodation. Indeed, in the five years passed since the inauguration of this block, the room no. 113 changed three tenants, who killed themselves in the same manner, by window blowing, one by one, with no apparent motivation. As expected after such a fatidic repetition, the room has ended by being considered by local people as “cursed”. The strange phenomenon doesn’t seem, however, to be a singularity. An analogous case has been also signaled at Paris, in a modest hotel close to Eastern Station, where, in the same room from the first floor in which the bourse agent Schuller had shut himself three months ago, a new customer put an end, recently, to his days.
The carpet imprinted on his back smarted him. But the tattoo of her words smarted him still worse.
“His affection from one day to another”. The truth is that he was always afraid to attach too much by somebody. With each closeness one prepares actually, inherently, a future separation. Why would one offer by self new occasions of suffering, when you already have enough received from others?
We come on the world alone and so do we leave it. For a short time only, we meet each other here, in the waiting hall of the railway station, where everybody will take own train with unknown destination. We arrive always one by one and go in turn. Any, when the clock rings.
Rut and her suffocating love. Extra time she pretended, as generously as he would dedicated it to her, shouldn’t ever be enough for her. Even moving together. Because the vacant space left by Gelu after their divorce was only the attraction of a vacuum-trap. Rushing to occupy it should mean a fatal mistake. No, Struba would not leave him, for nothing in the world, transformed in a personal possession. Even with the risk to find one day closed the door of woman who loved him. The locked gate of paradise which stops one to enter is infinitely less frustrating than the chained gate of the hell which hinders one to come out.
When Struba risen his eyes from newspaper, rubbing the root of his nose eternally irritated by spectacles, he caught sight of Rut wrapped up in his fauvist towel of beach, with red palm trees.
-Did you read? he asked her.
He gave a fillip to the newspaper, as if he wanted to shake the letters from it.
-Do not ask me any consultation, Al.
She poured hurriedly from teapot an started to nibble a piece of lemon. She had the soles still wet.
-Didn’t we really knew each other just grace to a consultation? Struba played, following her ankles.
-Very much so. While I was taking your tension, you asked me if I am not by the way relative with Iolanda Balas. But the coincidence of name was only a mask, you were actually asking me ciphered if I am not one of those vaulting over the stile.
-But this time, I will ask you a hell seriously. The investigation of this suicide has been distributed just to the undersigned.
-Don’t be pathetic. And especially don’t ask my opinion about dead bodies. It is job of forensic doctor, not of a neuro-psychiatrist, you know it. Dead with dead, living with living.
She pulled a chair from the other side of the table. They sipped each from own decanter, with the avarice of some test makers, without looking to each other.
-Nonsense, now you take revenge, you are jealous on a dead body!…
-On only one!? she exclaimed bantering. Since I know you, the work was always your lover.
-Not just always.
-Yes, sometimes you make investigation even in bed…
-But at least without cuffs.
-Rut put her cigarette in the ashtray, with a sight which, otherwise, would burn his face. Now she was so visibly upset that Struba regretted immediately to have exaggerated with his allusion to Gelu, unburying with no minimum decency a story still not rotted completely. He forced himself to repair the rudeness through a platitude:
-What matters the work? You simply know very well that I never stopped to love you.
And as chance, just now, from the loudspeaker of radio set Aznavour was repeating continuously, eaten by parasites, that only think which matters is the love. Rut broke out in laugh.
-You never stopped, of course, yes. Exactly the same declaration was made to me by Pantazescu yesterday morning…
-A former faculty colleague, from province, one dumpy with allure of a GEAMBAS. He appeared suddenly to CAMERA DE GARDA, terribly brisk, with diplomat bag clanging of bottles. I didn’t recognize him. He jumped filmy on my neck, almost to demolish me: “What are you doing, hey, Balaseasco, the years have gone and you still hell beautiful!” And, TSOC,TSOC! fills me with suckers. I stared at him like to a penguin sent with hospitalizing ticket. “Jean Pantazescu, me, your colleague from Panciu, you forgotten me completely, isn’t it?” It was too much to remember just one like this. The assistant, embarrassed, evacuated from cabinet, leaving me alone with the biped. Immediately he fell uninvited in her chair and pulled it closer to sniff me. Once patted me on shoulder, once touched my knees, with unprecedented pluck. “But I see that you keep fit, Balaseasco, gorgeous you look, you didn’t engrossed at all. Still those thin legs have you? Do rise a little your overall “.Listen to him, some sister to have pop just then and hitting upon me with lap in the waist! It’s worth of it: “Do you know how mad I was after you in faculty, Balaseasco?” “Don’t say, and you needed ten years for making me declarations!?” “You’d not believe me, but all these years I never ceased to love you in contumacy”. “Oh, if you take me with the contumacy, then I believe you”, I told him. And he keeps me to chat more some quarter of hour: that he came with delegation for four days, how he had learnt that I divorced, to give him my actual address, that if I somehow suffer by solitude I could offer him the occasion to safe his money for hotel, that he invites me in exchange to him to Panciu to try some soda wines like in fairy tales etc. etc. And at last he makes to me my sterious :” Listen, I will unveil you a great secret, Balaseasco, I don’t keep it from you. You know how strong am I in preludes?”
-They burst, both at the same time, in a hysterical laugh, with sighs, which didn’t stop before they started to choke.
-The luck was with director of the hospital, who just then entered on the door with an emergency and got me rid of him – Rut added in shape of conclusion.
-She shaken her disheveled locks, exhausted by giggles. She risen suddenly and made for bedroom to dress.
-Come on, tell once what do you want to ask me with that article. An hour from now I have to be at report of guard (RAPORTUL DE GARDA).The chief doctor is with the eyes on me.
-You mean he courts you? Struba joked, forced to cry on her back
-He passed already to the next stage: now he is revenging. Since two weeks, under different pretexts, he keeps me only in guards (GARZI).
Struba heard her searching in the wardrobe. From the angle in which he settled now, standing with the shoulder propped up on the jamb of kitchen door, he saw her through open doors reflected by the mirror over the chest-of-drawers. She was completely naked.
-Perhaps also Pantazescu was his man. He has sent on your head a squeak trying to compromise you. A trap.
-How squeak? her voice resounded from the bedroom.
-One specially sent to sound you. The classic method: it falls out of the clear sky some third grade cousin or some former colleague from province; he asks what have you being done in the ten years you didn’t see each other, and you tell him, making thus, without observing, your autobiography. And, to tickle your memory, the fellow puts also for a poetry, two, with prefabricated intimacies, like this IPOCHIMEN of Pantazescu.
-See for your self? Do recognize that the declarative love doesn’t convince.
-If you make abstraction of that who confess it to you. It is not my case.
She returned already dressed, combing hurriedly. When she passed by him, Struba tried to catch her from waist, but she pushed under his nose the watch-bracelet.
-The question, Mr. investigator.
-The room. Its ambient. Could it indeed exercise such a morbid influence over the psychic of a normal individual?
-It is not about the ambient of the room, but about the memory of place occupied by that room. So called akashic memory. How should I explain to you… There is an universal bank of information where all vibratory signals are deposited, all events, including emotions, even the energy consumed by single thought. Each object, or particular place, has it’s own history, registered somewhere, in a transcendent plan, printed there invisibly as the fingerprint on the coffee cup. Usually, this vibratory memory can be detected only be extremely sensitive persons. It is just the working principle of radiethesists. Do you follow me?
-I would prefer on the hole of key.
-Then, in a good day, to some Burr, a biologist to the Yale University, came the idea that living structures must also have some invisible matrix, an energetic pattern of organization, likewise the walls of houses, bridges, places of any kind have there own memory. And how the genetic program in interior of cell doesn’t explain sufficiently the preplanned fabrication of organisms, it was supposed that the true matrix is somewhere out of the cell, and genetic code only imitates this. Similarly to the builder of a house who conform to the project thought by an architect. And just as the project of the designer exists already befor that the masons start the work and will continue to exist after jerrybuilt house will fall at the next quake, so your bio-energetic matrix, preexisting at birth, will persist also after he will die.
-What means that the resurrection of dead will by simply an anatomic reconstitution…
-… on the basis of individual matrix. Everything is the card index in archives.
-The Book of Life, of which spoke the psalmist? Struba excaimed.
-Don’t ask me, for only psalms I red in school were of Arghezi.
Struba was skimming hastily through his agenda which he brought with him in the kitchen. His index finger stopped over a scribbling out of which only he could understand something.
-“Let them be whipped from the Book of the living”. The damned ones. As you whip from the evidences of hospital the deceased patients. Psalm 68. That is not to be mentioned. Put off the divine memory.
Rut opened the mouth to him, as if she was hearing him asking her to marry him. She had forgotten even about the comb.
-Don’t say, are you sustaining your doctorate in canonical law?
-Since they gave on my hand this file with the curs of the room, I started to abstract from Bible as from treatise of criminology of Paul Kirk.
The news was indeed so amusing that even Struba couldn’t help to smile himself.
-You, from Bible! I don’t recognize you, Al.
-Do you know other bibliography more consistent in the topic of curses?
-You may see what need makes out of a man. And did you find examples?
The same agenda was quickly consulted. It had probably been over required in the last days, because it had the pages made tatter.
-In hips. Cursed places, accursed, punishments. Starting with first archaic forts from the Dead Sea. Especially the Jerichon, cursed by Joshua. The oldest city on the world. Under Assyrians, Niniveh was fortified with walls ten meters thick; it ended in smoke. Or its adversary, the Babylon, considered at ists time the hub of the universe, cursed by psalmist that his kids be crushed by rocks. It is said that the Bedouins avoid even today those deserts by there where only owls make their nests, exactly as previewed by Isaiah 27 centuries ago. But still stranger is what Wolf Schneider writes: that tragic fate of cities during history gives impression of revenge for the fratricide committed by Cain – their first builder, murder without whose memory the hate against nomadic populations against forts (which instead of occupying, they destroyed from fundaments) had not any logic explanation.
-I see you are a walking dictionary – Rut observed, torturing herself with an earring. But why don’t you consult rather that reader, your friend historian, what his name…
-Professor Turbala. I have appealed already to him, but he was just making his luggage to go to Cairo, to a congress…
-He will free you of care and trouble with documentation.
-It’s understood. Only that this will clear only cultural aspect of the file, not also scientific. That is, if the phenomenon in itself is or is not possible. Indifferently what interpretations would be assigned to him, physical, psychological or mystical. For instance, your interpretation with energetic and informational matrix: was it confirmed experimentally, or is a pure speculation?
-You did experienced it already on your skin, destroyed after the burning of two years ago : in spite of it the fingerprints in between remade themselves. By the way, did you ever see Kirlian fingerprints?
-The photographing of the aura, isn’t it? The halo of saints in icons.
-When you photograph through this proceeding a seed before germinating, on film appears something more, already prefigured, the root and the stem of future plant. The reversed phenomenon, persistence of image of already physically disappeared entities, is practiced by Klaus Schreiber. You leave television on a free channel enough time, and you have the chance to receive images of those deceased. It happened the same think, as to recording on magnetic band of the voices of dead, if you search for them on a special frequency, somewhere between radio Vienna and radio Moscow…
-The effect Raudive, I heard. Some houses of records in Europe sell already on market music composed posthumously by classics, verified by experts. Unedited pieces whose authors are absolutely impossible to mix up.
-But as the composers are anyhow dead, these cannot be products od some brains, but of matrix of each from transcendent. About The End of mystery of Edwin Drood I don’t tell you any more, that it is published since over a century…
-Charles Dickens? The unfinished novel?
-The last six chapters, dictated two years after his death to an American apprentice typographer. By so-called automatic writing. Exactly the principle of telex functioning. As about phantoms materialized with ectoplasm, about scholarly experiences of doctor Crookes, what to speak more – they are celebrate already. Even the hallucinations have been recorded on film, since 1974 by a Russian psychiatrist, one Krohalev, at the persons sick being in crises of delirium tremens. The Japanese photograph already the thoughts; the doctor Fukurai baptized this technique “nen graphics”…Do you want also other confirmations?
Confused, Struba rubbed the root of nose, under spectacles.
-I don’t succeed yet to see the connection between my suicides and informational matrix of the room at the eight floor…
-The stay in a particular environment means exchange of energy with respective medium. If the energy of that place is negative, its absorption is long and will affect seriously own matrix of the individual.
-This I understood. Only that here death repeats itself after exactly the same pattern, like a ritual of sacrifice. Coincident are not only deaths, but also the manner. You want to convince me that morbid influence of a ill-fated place can make three individuals to choice, independently one from another, the same manner of suicide?
-So, the room was their only common denominator? Give me a psychological profile of each of them, in few words.
Struba watched fugitively how she was painting her face. Lavender pale and green malachite.
-The first one, an unpublished writer. Bachelor, isolation of monk. Declared insane, but without formal documents. Probably marginalised under the former regime. Bizarre things and lack of communication. He was writing on the walls.
-Like Jakob Suter.
-A Swiss shoemaker. Were they illustrations or ornaments associated with the writing?
-I’ve no idea…Is that important?
-The obsession of explanation, the association with bizarre or infantile drawings, the tendency to cover integrally existing surfaces are indices of schizophrenia. The next one?
-Animal trainer without contract. Temporary employed as genitor in the menagerie of circus. Fired then at a reduction of posts. Recorded for emigration visa in America. He was growing in the balcony a cobra, gained against a bet in Calcutta, in a tour. Left by the wife because of reptile.
-A cobra at home! This also was on a razor’s edge. And the third, the closer of platoon?
-Technician to a factory nearby. Until a year ago, when he shifted to the room he had have a concubine somewhere by railway station quarter. A drunkard and a detracted. Impulsive, frequent conflicts with the administrator of the block. Avoided by neighbours. Nobody new big deal about him.
-In conclusion, three frustrated solitary people. Look, already something common.
-They have in common much more than that. Read the article: “without an apparent motivation”. And with what may I fill in this void of motivations: with local folklore about curses, as unique available explanation?
-But who forces you to invoke the local folklore in order to classify the file? You are by now like the dog in desert which was saying to self: “If in five minutes I don’t find a tree , I pee on me”, and who, finding at last a bush, still stays on thoughts: “May this be a tree?”.
When Rut giggled, Struba searched himself into her like in a mirror, saying to self that he might have make a very comic face. He answered:
-The question is rhetoric. Of course nobody forces me. The lack of any indices of murder is sufficient to classify an affair of this genre. But when you have three affairs of this type, in chain, then the last one becomes suspect.
-Not the chain itself?
-No this. But due to it. Look, the missionaries told that some tribes of Hottentots, having not proper terms for designating the figures bigger than 3, they count “one, two, three, much”. But the same system of counting is practiced also by some Hottentots from us in research on thefts committed by recidivists. When one operated no one-two burglaries, by the way, accidentally, but “many”, then their exact number even doesn’t matter, because can’t aggravate the punishment beyond some limit. Therefore, one can be sure, in exchange to some privileges, one may assume supplementary , with generosity, also some other older burglaries, one hadn’t idea about them, remained from antiquity in the evidence of facts with “unidentified authors”… My first case, as a probationer, was the theft of some silver candlesticks from a locked church, at midnight. Unsolved file in the last three years. They brought me from the penitentiary a little elephant, professional thief , with overfull criminal record. A swollen one and half, hardly could climb the stares. And Jumbo stars to recite his poetry in my office deceiving with serenity, ready to “confess” in writing that he had been the thief. For amusing myself, I have disposed the reconstitution on the spot. He didn’t succeed, poor one, to go in narrow little window of the church otherwise than pushed with all strength by three policemen. Hell, how much he fatten! they said. So are also the things with the three suicides in the room. “Many”. Already too many to count them, isn’t so? And when you see the chain in its whole, you don’t see each link separately any more.
-You mean one risks don’t see a murder mixed eventually among them?…
-You see? If you can think so, that means also a murderer could judge similarly. The superstition with this killing room is notorious among the lodgers in the block still since the story didn’t happen for the second time, one year before it have spread in newspapers. Not counting also the gossip of people, which had amplified uncontrollably the number of experts. And if among them happen to be someone who bear a grudge to this Aurel Bau, then macabre tradition of suicides was ideal occasion out of which to profite.
Rut watched him upset, with the air she had forgotten suddenly what was she searching in her handbag and that she didn’t succeed at all to remember of it.
-So, you don’t believe, in fact, in the negative potential of the room.
-It is not important what do I believe, but if the phenomenon is or is not possible.
-Make me understand. If it was enough to someone to profit by a simple superstition for dissimulation of murder, why the do you uselessly gather evidence about ill-fated places, occult powers and curses?
Judging after her voice, disappointment risked to degenerate soon into revolt. Struba hurried so to justified himself:
-Justly, that to the profiteer a simple superstition wasn’t enough. Local folklore was an ideal occasion, but not a plausible explanation. What investigator would have taken seriously some popular beliefs. If instead of organ The Fugue in Re minor should have been composed for mouth-organ, would the somebody have taken Bach seriously? One doesn’t dishearten the secrets of a suicide with popular superstitions, but with scientific controversies. For not what people believe is important but if the phenomenon is or is not possible.
-But this would presupposes that the assassin himself be a initiate.
-Voila already a first indication about him, Struba confirmed. We have already a track.
Rut left her head backward with a demonstrative exasperation.
-You top up. And I who believed, pitiful one, that I spare you from work…So, you gather evidence now, in fact, not for being able to classify the file without doubts but – on the contrary – to justify the opening of investigation for murder!
-Come on, tell me I am paranoiac.
-More gravely: you are an investigator.
-Do I have, however, some hope, doctor Balas?…Struba joked without effect.
The zip of the handbag screamed of pain, pulled with brutality with a single quick movement.
-You make me lose my time for nothing, Al.
She had become again contracted, like in the beginning. Sipped suddenly, like a conclusion, the rest of tea on the bottom of decanter.
-I a m afraid you didn’t understand, however, the importance of this consulting for me…Struba mimed a reciprocal deception.
-He risen benumbed, trying to synchronize to woman’s preparations for leaving.
-And I am afraid you are not yet enough documented so that you investigation be not taken as an adventure.
-You convinced me already that ill-fated places exist. Isn’t enough that a murderer could speculate this?
-Places. But you don’t know yet if that place is ill-fated.
-And if it were, does it exclude the hypothesis of murder? Do you think that killer would wait that room make job in stead of him?
The discussion shifted gradually from kitchen on the corridor and from there in the entering hall.
-You have a fixation with this theory of murder occasion. You lose from sight, dear Columbo, the second victim, the one with cobra in the balcony. Couldn’t his suicide hide also a murder? You push him from the balcony, then you launch the rumor the room is cursed (for is already second time that happens) and bingo, classification of the affair is granted. That is you create for self the occasion, you don’t profit of a preexisting occasion.
-But then, the accommodation wouldn’t have any guilt. Therefore, how could afterward happen for the third time?
-Just because of that murder (if it was somehow a murder), or because of both suicides, which impregnated it with negative energy. There where a violent death happens – and not necessary a massacre – that topologic segment blends with information of event like a sponge. This is the time one, when the ambient memorizes. After some time it will discharge, diffusing collected energy; it is the time two, when the ambient reproduces. Shortly, a mechanism in two times, analog to a …breath, get you? Infusion, diffusion. Passive, active. Like contagious sick. First you contaminate from one with a virus, then you contaminate others. You transmit them morbid information you received. Most contaminating being the dramatic events, the big consumes of energy. The illness isn’t other thing than the antagonism between information of microbes and information of the cell, isn’t it? Lakhovsky says radiation. A war of information.
Struba helped her to put on her coat. More for smelling her than out of gallantry.
-What do you say, shall I find to you someone to make a radiesthetical test of the room? Unofficially, of course. For me.
Rut kept her busy with spoiled mechanism of the umbrella, eager.
-You just believe that detecting there some sources of a signal will be sufficient that results be conclusive? The town is packed with ill-fated places, but this doesn’t mean that all suicides are their victims. Then, there are various kinds of environments chronically ill. And with only a radiesthetic pendulum you don’t put diagnostic to a endemic illness which had, three times successively, the same end. There may be an absolute unusual configuration.
-You didn’t give me yet an answer, Struba insisted.
-Let say I know an expert in the field.
-Can you arrange a historical meeting in three?
-Only not to be Yalta.
He pulled her toward him and kissed her mouth avidly.
-Leave me, you smell of old files…
Distinction of eye circles, yes. Exactly what made him ill suddenly when he knew her. Watching her, he found himself eyes in eyes with her, just as it happened also then, in cabinet, first time.
-What are you staring to?
-I red somewhere about a French missionary who had changed his physiognomy after what he lived among Moroccan tribes. I may understand, thus, that these personal matrixes can be affected also beneficially? You mentioned until now only negative influences…
-You didn’t read anywhere, this with pastor Perynare I’ve told you as well. Yes, at long living together the love can change the physiognomy like in the Mirror. The partners arrive to look like some twins, when thw harmony of the couple is perfect. But what came to you?
She went out without waiting for answer.
Remained alone in the threshold of door, Struba cried once more by eyes something on her back.
Then he came back to the coffee in the kitchen.
“Long living together”. Until both of them arrive to look like some twins…A full life…Great God, what a bore!
Wouldn’t be it simpler with an aesthetic operation?
“The undersigned Edgar Papazian, resided in Aleea Barsei no. 1-3, block Y-O-Z, grand floor, apart. 45, professor retired, declare the following: In quality of president of lodgers association of block Y-O-Z, I have the occasion to know personally the named Aurel Bau from the apart. 113, moved in our building at the beginning of the year 1992, now deceased. He was a unsociable and recalcitrant bloke, whose relations with neighbors have always been tensed. At two months from his coming, when he was already figuring on the black list of overdue lodgers at pay of rates, the first problems appeared. One evening, two men dressed in civil had visited me at residence, legitimating themselves as officials of Home Ministry. They asked me about Aurel Bau, they had searched at home in repeated times with no one result. I made them known that also myself I was confronted with the same failure, not succeeding to trace him in order to summon him to acquit his locative charges, from where I deduced that either he was gone from the city, or he was coming back from the work at impossible hours, in the power of night. The place of work? Technician somewhere within the works Republica if not somehow I.O.R. – information received were contradictory. The man was taciturn and retired, almost inaccessible, and if you tried to sound him he got up on his ears and became violent especially when he was about getting drunk. His single distraction seemed to be the elevator in which he abandoned by purpose empty bottles of brandy “Two plums”, probably his favored drink, known more popular under the name of “Dobrin’s Eyes”. This custom revolted, it’s understood, all lodgers. At the beginning, some of them retorted, drawing his attention to don’t confuse the elevator with the machine of garbage. But A.B. amused himself, replying them that they were free to use the stares, which are anyhow healthier, being recommended against the cholesterol. And when he wasn’t cynical, then he was aggressive, menacing with a knife and boasting with his years of jail. Hearing this, poor people renounced to make him morals, because that should have been not only in vain, but also dangerous. Some of neighbors, even, instructed their children to avoid him in the future, from where also the nickname invented by kids in the block: Bau-Bau. Finally, after they listened to me with attention, the two visitors interested if Aurel Bau had been somehow searched in the last time by some Arabian citizen, but I didn’t know anything in connection with this aspect. I ensured them that, if some unknown suspect would walking round the block in the last two months of days, I would have learnt from madam Filotti, a hag from the second floor who made her century by spying at windows, because such a thing wouldn’t escape in any case to her eye of kite. They had explained me summarily that A.B. seemed to be involved in dirty works with some foreigners and prevented me that the individual could be much more dangerous than the appearances shown. In the end, before leaving, they left me a phone number to which to call them in case I would find something worth to be signaled. But, only after some days, the sector policeman in the quarter passed in a evening by me – to tell me that the story with Arabians of Aurel Bau had already been clarified in between, that it hadn’t been else than a storm in a glass of water, and that I can look silently after my pension. Curious to learn details, I invited him to serve together a portion of kisghisher, that is hotchpotch of meat and vegetables, at which my wife cooked all night, and to test a brandy of dates brought recently by some relatives from Erevan, occasion with which to sound him a little. He toldme that Bau interfered with a petty official from the embassy of Algeria , known somewhere at a little drink, who promised him a visa for six mounths, through a gluing with a group of workers scheduled to go on a workshop to them. They had have two-three meetings at Carul cu bere restaurant , where the Sahara fellow, who pretended to be no less than an advisor with car at stare (a blue Mercedes with number of diplomatic corps), was leaving for the waiters and musicians fat tips. In his company, Bau was as vain as a peacock like a big boss, with singers around him fishing bank notes with the top of bow. When really, the Sahara guy was only a runner by from the servants of the embassy, a good-for-nothing whose job was to put the flag and take it down, and the blue Mercedes was in fact the car of the ambassador. Learning after some weeks that workers left for good and mercy and he fallen between two stools, Bau went to ask explanations from the official, but Algerians sent him away refusing to parliament with him. Then he made big noise at the gate of the embassy, asking back in big voice the tip he pretended to have given, and throwing over fence menaces (how he will shave the rogue’s moustache “together with the head”) and insults. No result at all. The next day he came again, but changed the tactic, posting in the back of some bushes from nearby and watching from there the outing of diplomatic personnel at the end of program. He repeated such figure for the full week, supervising vigilantly the movements in the courtyard of the embassy, but his moustache man entered apparently in the earth. Until the Algerians, full of this spying of waste ground, complained to authorities, asking them to intervene and free them of terrorist in the bushes. Immediately a brigade seized Bau with a van and brought him to police. But there, after applying him a fine and a mother oh beating, sent him free. His personal conflict with the little Algerian clerk interested nobody. And after finishing to tell this story, the sector policeman advised me friendly to don’t interfere also myself, to don’t expose so somehow uselessly, in case the Algerians – provoked as they were – would search Bau at residence to balance the accounts with him. What didn’t happen, by luck or pity, in the next period. Otherwise, revenging enemies to hunt him, Aurel Bau may have make everywhere by his aggressive and indolent behavior, so the Algerians wouldn’t be his only care. At the question if I myself had conflicts of personal order with the above-named, I answer affirmatively. It is about an incident happened last summer, when A.B. aggressed my nephew, Agopsha Papazian, aged 12 years, being then in holiday at me and my wife, slapping him under the reason that the boy and his friends of playing had insulted him. It had been a confusion. The children were carrying through the dust of ground in the back of block, where the civil building workshop is, a puppet made by my nephew of wood and dressed like a boy in rags, called “Cutsgululu”. A sort of scarecrow destined to bring rain in time of draught. It is an old popular custom to us, like paprudas at Romanians. The monkey is dragged from house to house crying: Cutsgululu next year, only to rain this year”. Coming back to work, Aurel Bau had impression that kids mocked him crying like to a dog: “Cutsu-cutsu” and besmirching a mummy which seemed to represent him. Highly irritated, he applied him a palm that deafened him, and would stuck the ears of the others too if they wouldn’t ran away. Of course I went indignant to ring at his door to take him to task, but he didn’t open to me. I searched then our sector policeman; I asked him to intervene before Agopsha’s father learn and take out some teeth to the guttersnipe without anesthetic, for it is known what kind of fists have the dentists. Next day, Bau arisen in the threshold of my door reeking of alcohol; he drawn my attention to don’t send the police on his head, otherwise he would retouch my nose with the razor. We, Armenians, being a little longer in nose than normal type, but not just like Mozart. I tried to explain him that he made an injustice to my nephew, brutalizing him for nothng, but he was keeping deadly on his point, boasting that he isn’t afraid of police and that he had been in jail also before in his life. At departure, he made me “candy Armenian” and “moth in pension”. My wife got such a fright that I gave her urgently a Rudotel, to don’t suffocate her engine. But since then in summer and until a week ago, when Aurel Bau threw himself from the floor I didn’t have with him other personal conflicts. It is not true that my wife Arax Papazian would have proffered in public insults to the address of the respective. The accurse “let his mother wear blue” isn’t an insult, but a curse threw sometimes by our women at great anger. I don’t know the reasons of the suicide of Aurel Bau. He was living alone and nobody visited him, what is not surprising at all . In the last 2-3 days he wasn’t seen, and his neighbors from the eight floor believed him gone from home. No incident had taken place in block a day before. This much I know, declare and sign along unforced by anybody.”
Bonny, lanky, with thin parts longed monstrously, one of those unclassifiable vertebrates of Dali. As tall as the door, he made him place to enter without much protocol, insensitive to the almost indecent curiosity with which Struba measured him from head up to feet, as if he would contemplate the skeleton of dinosaur from the Museum Antipa.
-Come in please. I recommend myself doctor Al.B.Tsarush. Bioenergotherapy. My friends call me simply “Unicorn”.
Tsarush (“stake”), listen! Struba thought amused. Exactly what fitted this phantom. Judging after the name, belonging to a family of stakes, probably old since the time of Vlad Tsepesh.
-Al.Struba. Criminology. If the notice about friends is somehow a suggestion, then I feel flattered. However, if you have nothing contrary, it will be more at hand for me to address you for the time being with “doctor”, for putting up.
They shaken hands, rather Struba hanged from his hand. He waited that Rut be witness to this acrobatics, but he didn’t see her there. The finding upset him, that it meant for moment he had to manage alone, without intermediary. He pretended to be preoccupied by the sumptuous structure of ceiling and oak lambrequins of the little saloon where the host was inviting him.
-Let’s take place here. Our common friend has just rang me that she will be a little late. Didn’t she tell you? Problems with a patient. I am not surprised, I am accustomed to.
Did he play somehow like intimate? Confused, Struba remembered strange fascination exercised over women by these misshapen individuals. He complied mechanically burying in the armchair offered. A few seconds both of them said nothing sniffing reciprocally like the giant O’Brien and the dwarf Boruwlaski, when they knew each other at London in 1782.
-And why just “Unicorn”? Struba shown himself curious, with false ease.
-If I were a liar, I’d answer you: from the virtues of the unicorn. Impetuous, cast, unbeatable, affectionate, purifier of hunted things, panacea of mythical pharmacy. Out of his horn it was obtained an antidote against strongest poisons, isn’t so? But I’ll be sincere, answering you that explanation is more prosaic as can be thought: from the initial of father, added to the first name and to patronymi. Al.B.Tsarush, or Tarus Alb (“White Stake”), that is just the horn of unicorn. Useless to tell you also about obscene speculations attracted by such a risky nickname. People think only what they like to think.
The unicorn, phallic symbol – Struba thought. Is likely his interlocutor be some porter of the illness of Priapus.
-I, for one, prefer reputation of healer attributed to unicorn, Struba ensured him with good will. In fact, I am convinced that it fits you, judging after recommendation from Mrs. Doctor Balash which as you see I followed.
-I am flattered. Yet it would be a pity to waste time with gallantries until her arrival. I propose you to profit of this small delay for clarifying some serious things, already discussed by me and Mrs. Doctor. You understand, I wouldn’t like to bore her repeating them in front of her…
Struba understood the prick. He pricked with horn, the unicorn.
-I don’t see why shouldn’t I agree.
He saw him pulling a drawer of the desk, from which he took off a pair of scissors exaggeratedly big , as for cutting vine. Perhaps just ordered specially for his measure. He flapped with them shortly for four times, cutting up something from a crumpled newspaper, and Struba guessed immediately what namely.
-Therefore, you want a radiesthetic control…From what appears from this article of newspaper it is about a block still youngster, inaugurated some five years ago. If I mistake, correct me please. A block without history, to say so, in whose bed clothes didn’t consumed yet its existence at least a generation. Until the appearance of the legend with cursed room, a certain block, anonymous among so many copies of it, with tasteless systematization and with stupid reckoning. Here you see, the block Y-O-Z, perhaps an acronym of Yeti, Man of Snows…
-No, it’s not letter O, is figure zero. Blocks with three sides each in form of star called because of this “igreeks” in the argot of lodgers. Y-1-A, Y-2-B, Y-3-C, and so forth, an entire quarter.
-A stupidity, in any case. Thus, an ordinary block, without own personality, a heap of boxes, cables, conducts, pipes, radiators. A nothing, with as many floors and parabolic antennas would boast, in comparison with a traditional house. Because the real structure of resistance of a building is it’s destiny. And no with number of bricks you measure the destiny of a building, but with number of steps which walked it. Such a block has no memories. Bycomparison, the old houses accumulate huge quantities of soul prints remained from their masters, whose fate they share. It is not a metaphor, it’s a law, world’s unity. Con-substantiality man-earth expressed just in the name of Man, because Adhamah is translated just by “red dust”. “All things go together, all have been made out of earth”, as Ecclesiastes sings. It is indifferent what language what language we use when we speak about the ambient of a house, as a deposit of soul echoes. Hewitt, for instance, says “energetic memory”. Doesn’t matter. It is important to don’t judge reductively this transfer of personality, constipated as we are with our Cartesian thinking. Here is not talk about locative vestiges, about potsherds of plates and traces of sauce on the walls left as reminder from some scene of Italian divorce happened sometime, in the past. Not about material manifestations is the talk, but of soul ones. You hear always ancient word of spirit about the man who “saints the place”, but moralist parrots who repeat it don’t understand but figurative meaning, and as proof, they apply it univocally, even the reciprocation is also available. For, as the man saints the place, the man can filth it as well. And so much so! Capacity of individual to destroy own habitat (and self) is practically unlimited.
Listening to him, Struba was asking himself what number was wearing such a giant, by the way, to underpants.
Pavel from Taes says that sin entered all world through a man only. And what is, finally, the sin? Negative information. In what is it expressed? In sudden acceleration of entropy. But this means not only demolition of some segments of space-time, but also biologic disorder: discomfort, anxiety, physical, nervous exhaustion , phobia, crises, death. What else is the illness than a de-information of cell? The same mechanism capsizes also the ambient environment, which becomes ill-fated, or “hunted”, because of feelings of individual extended to it. Prototype was, as you know, the original sin, with its universal consequences. ”Cursed is now the earth because of you”. The entropy has been legalized for entire nature. The second law of thermodynamics. And if then could broke definitively the thermodynamic equilibrium of whole Creation, what big thing may mean today infestation of a little house? To spoil atmosphere is enough a scandal, a discharge of anger. Like taking a candy from a baby.
Here he made an interruption to clear his rattling throat. Struga remembered how Rut was complaining to him that, after quarrels with Gelu in the eve of divorce, all flowers in the flat vanished. He profited of pause to ask:
-So, when you occupy an ill-fate place left by another, it is as if you would inherit a illness from him?
-Don’t occupy you an ill-fated place, but it occupies you. Up to there that you arrive to be evacuated from your own house. But this takes some time. And time presupposes, as I was telling you, an ancestral traditional house. And here I reached what preoccupies me. What kind of dwelling which, old of only five little years, made already three victims. And only a room, that is most elementary locative ensemble. Disproportion between its possibilities and its results is absolutely amazing. It remembers me of that booth in Boulogne burnt from the order of Bonaparte, in which all sentinels had accesses of madness. Her no explanation of topological order stands. The pattern of this place may have been maimed by a pathogen agent extremely virulent, which defies the factor time. Who have been it’s porter? From the beginning I would exclude the first lodger, a mad writer if I understood well from explanations of our friend, who was living there solitary, in absolute isolation. But neither conjugal conflicts of animal trainer of circus who replaced him, crown by divorce, can’t be a convincing explanation. There took place ceremonies of black magic, had the deceased been endowed with great occult powes? Totally improbable. But indifferently what cause would be, it is certain the maxim danger of penetration of other persons in that malefic pattern. And in consequence, as a practitioner of occult pathology (indifferent what you’d believe about such practices unaccepted by officials), is my duty to prevent you to take seriously this danger. I tell it now to you, Mr. Struba, as long as we didn’t yet go there together.
Struba made by mouth a half moon up to ears. Smile of harlequin.
-Doctor, you know Ciceronian answer given to Brutus’ warning: “I am grateful for your good will to make me know about these trifles”.
-From where also the comment of lord Bacon: “Since ever most distinguished persons by their wisdom have perished just due to dangers they disdained most”.
The reply of host had left back an ironic ether, which pricked Struba’s nostrils. The harlequin disappeared in a grimace. He adopted suddenly a voice as official as possible:
-Let’s understand clearly. Do you suggest me not to be present to the testing of room?
-Is worth to risk?
-But what should I suffer after a stay of only few minutes? They aren’t just nuclear offal! For not saying that I already spent a full night there, at the research of last week event.
-Mr. Struba, nuclear offal isn’t the worse think in the world. They can make us sick at most by cancer, but not by diabolic desire to throw alone, from the eight floor, in the street.
-With all respect, I am afraid you exaggerate. And otherwise, even yourself expose to the same danger, I see you don’t hesitate, in what concerns you, to do it.
What came to Rut to recommend to him just this fool? He almost regretted for asking her support.
-Of course I expose myself; but in my case there are the risks of profession…the long one answered superior, unveiling enormous teeth with a grin of horse. Someone has to make also this, as scavenger says. What else than a soul sanitation service are, in fact, occult therapies? Only that energetic garbage is not visible and doesn’t stink. Otherwise, everybody would take it out in courtyard. However it was reported in some cases a strange and persistent smell, whose source was never find. An old house in Sibiu, for instance, with four big rooms and attic, painted several times with no result, with an unaccountable smell of crypt. Whitewashing of walls, painting, repairs, hygiene making didn’t cease since installation of new tenants.A Sisyphiad, something in the kind of repeated crumbles of Palace of Culture in Iassy. There were recorded a child born dead, a mortal electrocution , an accidental abortion by fall on inner stair, a broken engagement, unbelievable personal failures. Exasperated, the survivors have gone definitively, moving to Mediash. Diagnostic? The former proprietress, whose house has been nationalized, confessed that she had cursed years in succession to have no living anyone who will lodge there. An endemic curse, therefore. But case like this, in which infestation of place be confirmed (just by its source) are rare exceptions. Commonly, the cause is unknown, so that investigations, interpretations of appeared symptoms are necessary. And just as a photosensitive film must be developed if one wants to see what particularly has impressed it, so also for discovering a malefic pattern one needs a revelator. Perception of the occultist.
Emphatic and sure on self. That means, his introductory modesty had been a parade. “The initial of father”, unmerited advertising due to unicorn and so on.
-So, you insist that I stay apart. To abstain from penetrating in the room by the time being, until you will diagnose and clean it by zgripsors and iazme . A sort of purgatory…
The unicorn twisted uncontent.
-Let call it, better, quarantine.
-And how do you propose, then, to proceed concretely? Struba pretended to be naiv.
-Letting everything with me. You will have the privilege to wait silently, pure and simple, for results of tests the undersigned will effectuate on the spot. It would be desirable that these start as soon as possible, having in view approaching of holidays. I, for one, am disposed even this evening; my colleague, I hope, will accept to trust her to you until I come back, letting you here in an enviable company.
Pose of guarding angel, with wings of hatching hen – Struba thought. An impotent and a half.
-Mr. Tarus, I appreciate the solicitude. But you lose from sight that the door of room is sealed and the only authorized to open it is me. Permitting you to penetrate there unaccompanied, giving you simply the keys in your hand, that would mean to risk my job.
The length played negligently with his giant scissors, chopping the air at right and at left side.
-Then, you risk your skin. You enter there together with me and that’s it, if this spares your pride to patronize the operation.
-I have sensation that you want by all means frighten me, to keep me on touch line. You are disturbed to be assisted, isn’t so?
-Enter together with me, I tell you.
No, it will be too simple to solve dilemma at once, being rush to chose now one solution or another. It was worth to keep him in chess some time longer, in order to cut from his upsurge. Struba amused himself imagining the game of chess in a new variant, with horses replaced by unicorns. So that he made one move more:
-If it is not disturbance, then perhaps I am antipathetic to you. Come on, show your cards.
-Mr. Struba you didn’t come here to woo. The dilemma is to enter or not together in a room, not in a church. And I believe that small protocol obstacles merit to be sacrificed, when the stake is so important.
-It is not the question only of “small protocol obstacles”. Questionable is just the stake. Because radiesthetic examination isn’t recognized by law as mean of proof, as conclusive as it be. Therefore, being not regular, it has only value of orientation. The same story as at detector of lies.
-You see? When the law itself stops the finding of truth, it must be encroached upon. What the law says to soldier about guards of night? To don’t stay perched in watch tower, to patrol, not keeping his gun non assured, have not bullet on barrel. Where did you serve motherland?
-At Rimnic. But I don’t see what has to do…
-Me, at Marghita. Thirty kilometers to border. In a winter night, the alarm was given. What happened? Going at three o’clock to change sentinels in posts, the patrol found in tower a soldier stabbed in heart, still warm. Immediately they pulled out of beds and sent us to rummage the neighborhoods. There were some quarries of clay for factories of bricks and pottery, to go down in one’s boots out of fright. No any result. Military procurator comes, forensic comes, C.I.-st (counter-information man) comes, morning comes. Sentinels are questioned, corporal of shift, commander of guard. Nobody knew anything. How soldier left him attacked up there without shutting at least a fire? Either he was surprised dozing in post because of cold, or he knew well the killer and left him approach. Like fated, in the next night, just at three, alarm sounded again: another sentinel found with knife stick in heart, in the same post of guard…This time, much ado is done. Tracks with special troops, with technicians, with medical orderlies arrive all in a heap to barrack. Then big bosses from great general staff appear, with red stripe on pants and peaked cap as big as water closet lid. At daybreak the unit swarms with generals, couriers, orderlies, drivers. Such a panic didn’t happen since mobilization from ’68 when Russians had entered with tanks in Prague. Ensembles are sounded. Meetings take place. Raids are sent. Orders are hurled. Maps are drawn. Traps are installed. The guard is doubled. Officers spoke coded at telephone, in an alphanumeric gobbledygook, like the Japanese of Yamamoto before the attack of Pearl Harbor. All sorts of scenarios are fabricated but not solution is found yet. Soldiers refuse to make guard in the tower of death, even menaced with cell and martial court. And so on until evening fall, when, at once, a mountain of conscript with a moustache like shoes brush and volunteers:” No, is me going. Only with machine-gun instead of Tommy, and with bullet on barrel, and to stay up in tower full night, otherwise no”. Conditions whose satisfaction means to encroach flagrant upon rules isn’t so? In the beginning, the officials jumped like burnt, but as they hadn’t choice, did him the favor. So required arsenal was given to the shepherd, as well as a flute with which to announce mioritic (ballad like) any suspect move. And midnight comes. Elder brother enters the post, climbs in the little tower, fastens his bayonet with hilt between two slats with pick toward belly to prick him in case some sleep would steal him, and start waiting. An hour passes. Nothing. Two pass. Again nothing. It had remain only half of an hour before the shift to come, when, at once, a movement in the dark. To freeze the blood in one’s veins, no other thing. Just when elder brother believed he had had passed the jerk! But it was only a dog. The scoundrel turns bellow, urinates at the foot of tower and goes. After some five minutes, the dog appears again. And what to see, comes to sniff the little stair and tries to climb on it. Suddenly it rises a paw and…exactly in that second it seemed to the shepherd that the cur has the head too big…And shoots! Shoots in volley of shots, shoots in a tantrum until he has not with what, that valley resounds and wakes from sleep seven villages. If they would have given a canon he would shoot also with that. Out of fright. Immediately projectors of watch get alighted, the zone is encircled, people gather as for the ours. At the basis of the tower they find the beast made Swiss cheese. A yip is pulled from top head to belly and from the fur of dog is drawn out the corpse of a dwarf. With a dagger prepared in chest packet. A fraction of a second should hesitate the elder brother, and he would thunder him from a throw of knife, similarly like the other two. Some days later, the mystery has been cleared. One year ago, the wife of dwarf had been violated by some soldiers whose identity had remain unknown. Moral of fable? Friend with me is colonel Plato, but more friend is the truth. Such big colonels, look at them beating their heels in front of a conscript and encroaching the rules. For you, Mr. Struba, what is more important: the respect for rules, or respect for truth? You noticed, I hope, the analogy between the history of tower and case of killing room.
-I’ve noticed in any case that you were the conscript.
But how malice didn’t spared him from due answer, he added:
-When murders are a certitude, like in the example you gave me, the encroaching of rules in the name of truth has however a justification. But when the murder is only a simple suspicion, like in case of room, then that can’t serve you as an excuse.
The giant watched him confused, like a beetle of unknown species one doesn’t know where to classify it.
-May I understand that you are searching, in fact, traces of a murderer in flesh and bones?…I believed that you are preoccupied by killing capacity of room itself.
-Actually the potential of room should be an ideal camouflage.
For some moments, the unicorn chewed this new idea, trying to get accustomed with its strange taste
-Interesting. But then, I quiet don’t see what use would have for you the testing of ill-fated influence of room. Energetic residues which I expect to find there can belong equally from previous suicides or to the supposed murder committed after them. How will you distinguish between these two sources without mistake?
-Risks of profession! Struba aped him ironically. As you said early, someone has to do also this, isn’t so?
The coin with which he paid now arrogance had clanged enough strong to be heard. But the wizard had no time any more to digest the dumpling. The bell sounded exactly in that moment, like a horologe of a pendulum. He risen imposing from the armchair, making steps of ostrich for waiting hall.
Jubilant, Struba extracted from waistcoat packet his old fashioned watch, a Paul Garnier of silver with chain and lit with monogram, personal souvenir. He tried to guess if outside was dark. When he felt in nostrils a penetrating smell of pharmacy, he knew that Rut had arrived.
Cairo, 5th December
Look at me arrived in Levant, where you fry the seeds on towers, near the sun, and in the sea-ports you make storms with a single sneeze.
The nature is lazy hereby, wind mixes up flags, sea is wrinkled and hag. In revenge, at suk by bistros , worming as nowhere. Variegated people. Genovese sailors grinding the peeper in eyes of Muslim women. Nubians with face like a sun eclipse. OUNs militaries returned from Sinai, chewing their gum. Tourists with kerchief on head purchasing nougat and pistachio. Bedouins with rosary playing their camel at party of backgammon. For the hazard was born at El Azar, where crusaders invented the die with white face of angel and small black eyes of devil.
I stay in a second hand hotel in Cairo, where I have no sleep under the songs of those in opposite tower of jamya. It seem to be a general problem here, because I heard many of delegates to congress snoring during the works. I’ve visited yesterday in the lunch break Blue Mosque and, of course, Museum of Egyptian Antiquities. Being announced for second day free program, I say to wife: Let’s have a ran up to Valley of Kings, to get rid of some cellulite! And look at us arrived at Luxor , where we have the luck to meet a professor of medieval studies at university Al-Azhar, old acquaintance, who offers to be our guide. Without him we would lose precious time stuttering through archaeological perimeter from Biban-el-Moluk and, probably, we would miss occasion of visiting the grave of Tutankhamon , where is a queue like at finance circa. Because, recently, Egyptian authorities have reduced drastically daily number of tourists admitted, in order to diminish the risk of contamination with bacteria or spores of mushroom. More, other compulsory measures of precaution have been taken. At entrance you put on some slippers of linen and protect your mug with a paper mask, to don’t scare the mummy.
Is it any need to tell you that this celebrate room of young pharaoh, with its tens of victims, remembered me strikingly the case of your killing room? I will try in those bellow a parallel. Take it, please, as a compensation for crisis of time which had forced me to refuse your invitation to a discussion day before yesterday, in the eve of departure.
The rave of Nepkheperu-Re, better known by you under name Tutankhamon, is the unique in the Valley of Kings preserving today its mummy. The lad slept here untroubled near 33 centuries, in spite of several attempts of location and profaning of grave, started already a decade after burying. It is a first mark of question this intangibility, unique in whole Egyptian necropolis, systematically rummaged and plundered during ages. Otherwise, do you think would it remain anything from treasure buried there together with mummy, five thousand pieces of gold? For only sarcophagus, the small one, weights 145 kg of gold! The second mark of question, which shake hands with first, is inscription of warning on the little plaque of clay in mortuary anteroom found by Howard Carter, chief of archaeological workshop in 1922:”The death will tend its wings over that who will enter this sacred grave”. A kind of ancestor of red cartoon of type Do not disturb hanged by hotel door handle. Of course, nobody has taken, in beginning, seriously the menace. Can’t be question of curse here – Steindorff calmed the superstitious ones, with arguments of type “negation of giraffe”(you know the anecdote, one with peasant in visit at zoo) as if inscription in cause would have been only an unsalted joke, dietetic humor. But what pharaohs care for Steindorff views. Fact is that, short tome after opening of grave, a true massacre started. First victim was lord Carnarvon, who had approved the breaking of regal seals and penetration into funerary complex at 26th November 1922. And really could this honor have been granted to other than patron of archaeological workshop? He made, poor one, a gallopping pneumonia from the prick of a mosquito and departed at 5th April 1923 in hotel Continental in Cairo. In the moment of death, an unaccountable power failure left the city in darkness, which British services of technical assistance couldn’t remedy, and the dog of deceased, remained home at castle Highclare, in England, started hurling like a ghost, until he gave his soul. All victims who followed to Sir Carnarvon had been in a manner or another involved (retain, please, the nuance), in Tutankhamon affaire. Sir Archibald Reed had taken radiography of mummy and touched it. Arthur Mace, deputy director of Egyptian antiquities department of Metropolitan Museum in New York, had helped Carnarvon to open the main way of access to grave. Pecky Callender, likewise. Professor Jean Dumichem, who had copied and translated inscriptions, died mentally ill. Lady Carnarvon, lord’s widow, died because“ prick of an unknown insect”. Richard Bethell, secretary of workshop chief, had been found home deceased in bed, after he went to sleep perfectly sound. Lord Wetsbury, father of this Richard Bethell, threw himself from the seventh floor, like your suicides in room. On way to cemetery, his hearse hits mortally an eight years old kid. Emery have been stroke by amnesia, then by paralysis, dying also him. Dies colonel Herbert, step brother of lord Carnarvon. Dies tycoon of railways George Gould, next day after he visited grave. Dies British industrialist Joel Woolf. Dies also Benedite, chief of Egyptian antiquities department from Louvre. Egyptologist Weingall has a mortal attack by “unknown fever”. There came then Frederick Raleigh, a few responsible people in management of Cairo Museum where the treasure of pharaoh is preserved, etc. Director of Egyptian antiquities dreamt that he will die if he will approve getting out from country of pharaoh treasure for exhibition in London, what he had three months later in a car accident. And by measure that black list continues, at Cairo you red on first page of newspapers titles like Pharaoh’s Curse Avenges King Tut or A New Victim of Tutankhamon’s Curse, or Pharaoh Hits Again.
It is understood that positivists didn’t delay to react, starting a energetic campaign against this superstition. The story goes that it was put in circulation by Egyptian journalists for avenge, after what lord Carnarvon had sold exclusivity to Time journal. I’ve procured from here in English some journals of specialty which could interest in your own researches, following to bring them to you at my return to country, as well as two-three excerpts from older issues of World Medicine Magazine. For instance, Dr. Dean declares that decease would be effect of infection provoked by mould from funerary crypt, extremely nocuous. Luis Alvarez also subscribes to the same theory of air fouled by bacteria. Indeed, our companion from the University Al-Azhar, I said you about, confirmed me that a colleague of him, professoe of microbiology, counted more than 100.000 minuscule black spots on interior walls of grave. Consequently, use of a detergent was recommended, to knock mushrooms and bacteria. Only that Mr. Nakhla, restorer at Superior Council of Antiquities, has demonstrated later on that spots are not of organic nature. But better I read to you directly from statement of this expert some two-three lines in my shepherd translation: "They make common corps with grave, so that, if we wipe them, empty places will remain in paintings. And, in any case, it is an irresponsible act to change aspect of a grave. Since we found it together with these spots, that means we have no any right to clean them”. And isn’t he right? What would mean, for instance, that Michelangelo’s David, exposed stark naked in Tribune of Academia, Florence people to cut his little cock for reason that it vitiate young girls tourists? Anyhow, theory of infection with mould doesn’t convince me. What connection has, for instance, jump from seventh floor of lord Wetsbury with infect air in an Egyptian grave? And after he has in hands poor cards, he wants also to cheat us, this Irish, Dr. Dean. He gives the guilt on bacteria, but in fact he clarifies only agent of transportation of a hypothetical curse, but not curse itself. Or, the true question isn’t if mould in graves could attack discoverers, but why just the mould of this grave attacked discoverers. In point of fact, invasion of lungs by spores of a mushroom has been confirmed only in case of American student Sheryl Munson (who touched painting of grave), only that her immunity system was down after Hodgkin illness.
To don’t tell you, too, beyond toxicological objection, some pick holes also to statistics. It is said that, however, some members of archaeological team, starting with its chief Howard Carter, have survived, and this would deny superstition of curse. For example, in interval of a year passed from penetration in grave and up to opening of sarcophagus, 12 out of 15 persons who opened grave had died. Sophism is evident, being based on false premise that all those involved would indispensably have to die. It is as if you’d say that, since shipwreck of Titanic didn’t kill just all passengers, that means clash with iceberg is only a legend. Don’t saying that objection is a boomerang, for one can question as well: Good, they didn’t die cursed, but they died poisoned with mould. But Carte and others from team survived: why then didn’t they die also poisoned? That is data of problem remain absolutely the same.
As matter of fact, what happened in July 1939 dismantles completely these guess findings. At ceremonies of Muslim New Year organized then, Egyptian authorities had loony idea to use war trumpets from funerary requisite of Tutankhamon, whose resound was scheduled to be broadcast by radio allover the country in direct. For this premiere, it was approved be taken out the two silver trumpets from window of Cairo Museum of Antiquities and putting them at disposal of organizers. From initiative of some scatter-brains, it was chosen as place of developing ceremony just pharaoh’s grave, where, consequently, microphones have been installed. They embarked then in two tracks with destination Valley of Kings technicians, journaists, radio commentators, as well as two trumpet players from regal guard. But on the way, soon after departure, small convoy begins to be thick-headed with a vengeance. A peasant on edge of road, who meditated peacefully to greatness of Allah, is mortally accident. Elsewhere, one of tracks upsets in a steep ravine. Driver and one of technicians are killed on spot. Finally, procession arrives in Valley of Kings, just when radio studios in Cairo rang by bells arrival of New Year and prepared to connect the reportage car from the face of place. How glad and proud might have been then the two trumpet players from regal guard, chosen from among the best in order to be at the high of such event! But first of them only managed to adjust his trumpet in front of microphone that, before pulling out some sound, he fallen to earth, dead instantly. You imagine what panic broke out, mon cher, that you could say that barrage from Assuan crumbled. Hurry up, climb on podium second bugler, that blows off on pipe from all his lights, but in vain, only a croak gushes out. Losing any hope, the two technicians let to devil the trumpets and play a record. Getting down from podium, the second trumpet player falls and break a leg. But the worst had to come only then after, because signal of pharaoh’s trumpets of war had been a ill-fated prevision. It was, I remind you, July 1939…
As story goes, don’t believe in superstitions, these mummies of thinking!
But when probabilistic play of “coincidences” satisfies you as expanation, why complicate yourself with other uncomfortable hypotheses? Why put your neck into the noose and to get pains on sarcophagus? And so, we are further content with “naiv idea of hazard”, word of Merleau-Ponty.
Honest, dear Struba, I feel pity for this child! They made out of him a scarecrow, attributing him unjustly paternity of curse. In reality, neither warning from entrance nor inscription on golden lit of sarcophagus (“Be it that who lies here be not touched”) could be his opera but both must be posthumous. Tutankhamon had died prematurely in 1344 b.Chr., therefore unexpectedly, at the age of only 20 years, when the lad only to preparation of his place for eternity didn’t think. He had died after a long agony, losing gradually his consciousness because of a blood clot which pressed progressively his brain: follow up of a closed occipital fracture. Dr. Harrison has discovered it when he treated the mummy with rays X. It proves that young prince had been hit at the basis of head probably when sleeping. The radiography has been afterward reexamined also by Dr. Irvin who confirmed this scenario. Conclusions from your field, Struba: the pharaoh had been basely assassinated after a complot. Poor lad, what an unhappy destiny! Successor of most rejected pharaoh, famous Ekhnaton (declared heretic by proclamation from Karnak), orphan at 11 little years, killed from back seven years later…More, they killed also his little widow, superb Ankhesenamen (big love had been between them) after head of conjuration forced her to remarry him. More, in mortuary room there were found also two small coffins of gold with a five months old fetus, and another, female, 8 months old. Who didn’t let them to get born and inherit the throne?
Official chronicles don’t give any explanation. No complot, no assassinate, nothing, as if you’d read report of Commission Warren. Of course, these findings benefited by advantage of modern medical technique. But even without him, anyhow hieroglyphic inscriptions swarmed already with anomalies. And when you want to discover assassin of a king, method is play of children: you watch to see, pure and simply, who was his successor.
Or, great vizier Ay followed to the young at throne. This hadn’t in veins blue blood, and no red, and no brown. A parvenu who had gain his ranks through a clever servility toward Tutankhamon’s father, gathering from him for years in succession, jewelry and other generous gifts. This servant with spine more flexible than of cheetah had arrived from lay man, gradually, great vizier, minister of army and right hand of young prince remained orphan.
Great miscreant may have been also this Ay! I watched attentively the painting of grave: there are 12 men with white ribbons wrapped up on head(sign of mourning) who are getting down Tutankhamon in the coffin after embalming, but Ay isn’t among them. He is represented somewhere else
separately, dressed in fur of leopard – sign of great priest – and wearying a crown of pharaoh. Isn’t that the top of pluck? And more, his name is written in a regal carton to which he was entitled. But wait to listen amazing letter sent to Hittite king (that is to traditional enemy of Egyptians) by poor widow Ankhesenamen: “My kingly husband died. I remained now alone. I pray you, give my one of your sons as husband. How could I, otherwise, to chose husband from my subjects? I am very much afraid…”etc. The Hittite king remained perplex reading such a thing. To chose a husband of foreign kin , and even from the peoples enemy to your own people, that was an unheard think. That means that something threatened young princess, forcing her to resort to this desperate solution. Well now, the Hittite king accepts the request and sends one of his sons; but on the way, somewhere just at the borders of Egypt, the lad is assassinated… Therefore, someone pretended to window to take as husband a lay man and had hindered the attempt of regal union with Hittite youngster: isn’t it true that it begins to make sense? Solution of enigma had been found by professor Percy Newberry, an Egyptologist. A ring with a pair of regal cartons (and only cartons of regal couple were engraved side by side) carrying the names of young widow and old vizier Ay. Conclusion is like riddle with mushroom. After he had liquidated his master, the old bandit compelled Ankhesenamen to take him as husband and so to become king. Then he had killed also her for making queen of Egypt his own consort, madam Ty. Prove the fresco in the grave of usurper: although queen’s name in carton is erased, anybody can observe that it is a carton too small that name of Ankhesenamen enter it, by comparison with monosyllabic name of Mrs. Ay.
As a man of law, you ask yourself probably how could remain unpunished a rascal of Ay kidney after all these crimes. It is very simple, dear Struba. According to procedures and rules of that epoch, the greatveizir couldn’t be judged by anybody else than pharaoh himself. Consequently, the usurper planned his assassinates for period of pharaoh’s last months of life, when he could profit fully by Tutankhamon’s agony, provoked also by him.
But veiyir Ay couldn’t enjoy fruits of his murders. He died himself after only three years of kingdom, and his grave has been exemplary plundered.
And after so many injustices and sufferings, one to not find his peace even in sarcophagus? Mummy just merits a revenge, no matter who wrote that anonymous curse. In fact, inscription is a false problem, because at entrance of graves you found frequently curses of genre “If anyone who ate lawless meat (pork, fish) or committed adultery enters here, he will be punished in this world or on the other world.”. That is no formula represents real danger, but the dead buried there.
So much by now about this unhappy child-king, who liked so much magic toys and dry wine; rest, after my return in country, when we will discuss your case. Which should be therefore moral of fable? That indifferently what we believe about these occurrences, is wiser however to keep ourselves far away from them for not getting into a nice hobble. See above expression used by me, upon which I was drawing your attention: ”involved in a manner or another one”. So that, guard yourself from cursed room to don’t find also yourself, god-forbid, with some “fever of unknown origin”! Take example from these poltroons, with their jokes on account of pharaoh’s curse: they have taken all mummies from Valley of Kings and housed them in museums, with exception of Tutankhamon’s mummy. Why so?
But strangest thing is that these occurrences had been forebode even before Howard Carter made his life’s discovery. Living alone during excavations in Valley of Kings, the man had purchased a canary. In a good day, the bird was eaten by a cobra, and Egyptian servant of archaeologist has interpreted incident as a bad omen. But Carter laughed of him. ”Don’t be stupid. See only snake be taken out of house.” Cobra being just the sign on the forehead of pharaohs, mon cher...
I wait with impatience to see you again, dear Struba, but for the time being I have still to put into hump some reserves of heat for home winter (started however a little too English). So that I close, telling Allah give you health, appetite for food and, saying of Bedouin, Salam-a-la-Alecu (Salami like to Alecu)
Prof. S. Turbala
P.S. Slanderous tongues say yet Lee Harvey Oswald would have shoot Tutankhamon.
A dwarf coffee house hidden in a passage with high vaults of yellow-saffron glass, with the ambient of a railway station from Belle Epoque, somwhere in the former quarter of traders, today aggressively invaded by buildings of banking societies. Here, in the peace of those only ten square metres on which thronged a few ottomans and little tables, Struba found, especially during winter evenings, intimacy refused by sordid outside world.
Any time was the same. With his savage beard of hermit and spectacles with thick glasses, almost fascinating, the host welcomed him with same friendly shake of hand, as one of home, offering ideal sit near by terracotta stove. Knowing his tastes by heart, he retired then beyond meter of bar to prepare consumption. Red Campari with a black little coffee. Thought never changed too many words, both being content to keep under control a kind of reciprocal and recomforting discretion, however Struba new about him something what a common customer wouldn’t suspect. He wasn’t only a patron among many others; he was a passionate musicologist, working hardly since many years to a jazz dictionary, after only one existing by then on market – Mihai Berindei’s from ’76 – would be a premiere of last two decades.
He only had arranged his back in ottoman with long exercised moves, when Rut entered coffee house. With her usual tired air, spiced with an almost imperceptible irony, with relief of cheek bones reddened by cold, taller now in topcoat with simple cut nut without fault, Struba couldn’t abstain to admire her in secret, as if they were at first meeting. He could swear also the host made exactly same think when greeted her with impeccable discretion.
-It is last time I put my cheek in your favor, Al. What, for god, made you to doctor Tarus last evening?
Struba stood innocently, with tended arms, like two lightning rods greeting storm.
-Me? I swear on my metro permit I never made him anyting. Do you order same thing like me?…
She even didn’t hear him. And fact she sat without undressing her cloak didn’t fore tell anything good.
-You treated him as tribe chief.
-He treated me as a pale-face.
-So you recognize?! Bravo, Al, man offers his services with kindness, and you gratify him in exchange with offenses.
Struba seemed to detect a slight signal of compassion in her voice. Or perhaps his radar over challenged by sleepless last nights went out of order. He snarled with little crocodile teeth:
-Madam, it is something between you…
-Come on , Al, don’t play jealous with me! she irritated. I offered you chance of collaboration with an expert, and you kick aside. I don’t understand you at all. Do or don’t you what you want?
-I want to do it at me.
-If Tarus is somehow antipathetic, this is your business. But don’t put me, as intermediary, in an unpleasant posture because of your blunders. Not to say that our meeting was hosted just by him.
-What a good hosting. He didn’t serve us at least with sink water. More stingy like a Getty. It is seen that he didn’t receive ever, like that one, an ear by post.
Ashtray in which only a cigarette had been put out disappeared as if by magic. Instead of it, on the little table, another one appeared, virgin. Struga thanked vaguely, by sigh, to host.
-Let me tell you what was it. He tried to play with me as elder brother. He wanted to convince me to let him in room by his head, to clean alone there with his aspirator of ghosts. Reason? I should endanger , as it were, my health assisting him to energetic test. I explained him friendly legal procedures hinder me to give my agreement , but he didn’t take me seriously, convinced incorrigible I refuse it only out of pride and bravery.
-But seemingly you took him seriously? I wonder you didn’t arrest him under suspicion of quackery .
Struba risen his shoulders, robbing his orbits under spectacles.
-It’s not my guilt law doesn’t recognize to radiesthesy the value of judicial expertise. That regulates it nowhere. Or, he wants me to speculate just this normative gap. If insufficiency itself of law hinders artificially finding of truth in an investigation, then it is worth to be surpassed: see the theory. But I contradicted him: the only insufficiency in the way of truth is cerebral insufficiency. Of which I (yes, I) will be accused if I will motivate my final conclusions of investigation by quoting, in absence of something else, opinion of an occultist. When I’ve told this, he got annoyed. It is as if an Englishman would get aggrieved when being told he lives on an island.
-Normally he got annoyed. No parapsychologist likes to be taken as juggler in fair. Don’t you know The Magician of Hieronymus Bosch?
-I know that of Fowles…
-You alone said obscurantist superstitions are one and totally other ting are scientific controversies. And I hope you don’t classify somehow doctor Tarus in first category.
-To be sincere, I thing he is unclassifiable…
Rut started counting by fingers.
-Reader at Faculty of cognitive sciences and parapsychology. Graduated in medicine. Bio-energo-therapeutician diplomat. Doctor in psychology. Certified as master practitioner in bio-detection. Member in two-three international associations. Collaborator to a legion of publications. He reads two books every day. And this is an obscurantist?
-Oh, our priest Victorash red 32 books daily! Greatest poker player in village…
Rut watched him supported by little table with crossed arms, in a neuter expectancy. She reminded him:
-I’ve asked you something.
-Let me first remind you how arrived we up to here. I had asked you to recommend me someone for a scientific test. You told me you know an expert in the field and we came to a common agreement to arrange an appointment. Instead, in place of radiesthetic test, your mysticoid starts to speak me about cursed houses and malefic patterns. Total deception. In rest, nothing to say: politeness, skin armchairs, cuckoo clock. And, while I was for you there to come from hospital, he tries to frighten me with killing room, how I’d risk becoming myself possessed by suicide idea. Seemingly it was question some demons possessed me!
After her custom, Rut had fish from glass her piece of lemon reddened and started to crunch separate of drink.
-It is the same thing, she said. So was spoken also about collective hysteria in Morzine. That they weren’t possessed by any demon, but only by “the idea they were possessed by it”. But just idea, autosuggestion you’d be enslaved to demon it is itself that enslavement! You can’t only “autosuggestion” yourself that you are damned, without really be so, unless you don’t suffer somehow by syndrome Cotard.
-Let it drop, Al, coffee house may be closed before I end explaining to you
-Well, but today demonology doesn’t present more than a historical interest, you must recognize it.
-You want to say its caricature vision in fashion during Middle Age, with teeth less dams taking off on besom handle and devils perched on jambs. Yes, of course, today we don’t say devil any more, but “malefic pattern”. We don’t have black spells, but “paranormal”. Philosophers don’t think any more, they “process”. You don’t here now about mass Satanism, but about “imitative suggestion”. And, what? Phenomena remain same: Orleans in 1972, Guyana in 1978, etc. They don’t care a fiddlestick about our moony terminology. Neither cultural explanations nor those clinical succeed yet to elucidate their true nature
-But simulation? As technique of calumny, as it had happened in Salem…
-Don’t say, do you really believe diabolic possession can be simulated by a man normal at head? Such sortileges outrun even resources of most pervert psychopaths.
-Diabolic uses of imagination.
Supported relaxed with his back by stove, Struba thought to extravagant reconstitution experienced by Lastaru with the room
-But even your friend Tarus told me last evening about a worker at gold mines in Johannesburg, who had died unexpectedly receiving a message of threat from part of a wizard voodoo, autopsy couldn’t find to death any other explanation than fear. As proof how deep can fall in autosuggestion’s trap.
-And your tenants in barrier of Vergului of whose fear to kill themselves: voodoo witches in Johannesburg? Kahuna priests in Hawaii?
-Precisely, it is not need to be cursed by someone for jumping balcony out of fear. A small earthquake is enough, a fire, a paranoia. But even a scene of jealousy, as happened in past September or August, when at return from delegation a X-scu surprised his consort in flagrant de-relish. Her bibic-lover, seized by panic jumps window from fourth floor. Horned husband calls by phone the morgue for undertakers. But when hearse arrive, take the corpse from nowhere!…After landing, bibic-lover ran like blazes nimble (he was professor of sport) in suit of nudist. Judge Thomas Troward said fear is a fruit you sow yourself when recognizing existence of a power outside yoy. As peaceful as could it be. From what you fear you don’t escape, just because you fear: this is essence of this victimology.
-False, Rut cut it without carousal. True Solomon saying sound like this: “Of what fears the miscreant, he doesn’t escape”, just because is a miscreant. You boasted you read a lot of Scripture, but I see you didn’t reach yet Proverbs. It is not, therefore, a psychological but ethical question. Otherwise, all honest people, day by day unjustly harassed and threatened would fill in hospitals and morgue , for they fear more than miscreants. Don’t sell me cucumbers, my lover, psycho-analysis guesses. That judge of you better would look after his wig and little hammer…
Amused, Struba remembered factory Hammer from Nadrag(Pants). To be a young woman employed there and “work to hammer in pants”.
-He has other cares now, for in between he also received subpoena for Last Judgment. As about saint Scriptures, learn you that I already reached Facts. And what do you think I find there? Exactly what I was telling you just now. Exposed as liars and greedy in front of all community, Anania and his wife Safira die on spot by fright. Here is example. For Peter only had pulled comradely their ears, he didn’t curse them at all to die. So their own fear itself for God’s curse killed them.
-Rubbish, not exposure in front of God put them in fear, but exposure in front of community – Rut contradicted him. For God didn’t need Peter’s finding to know truth about them. We all know we can lie each other but alone we can’t indulge in illusions. If the couple was so afraid of divine curse, then they wouldn’t deceive. Only honest man is afraid of God’s punishment.
-But fear of demonic energies? Struba didn’t give up. Your Stake made my head swim with so/called malefic pattern of room.
-It is not “my Stake” she snarled. He was only a colleague of faculty, seemingly I’ve already told you.
She never said “Unicorn”- Struba noticed, and this seemed strange to him. Really, how did she address this GUGUSTIUC in four eyes. She, “our common friend”…
-I see we remained the last around.
Struba noticed only now alight lights in window of spectacles shop on passage. It had made already closing hour, but host of coffee house, with perfect good sense, didn’t react yet.
A diffuse jazz was heard from somewhere, meditative.
-Let us draw at once a conclusion, she said exhausted.Need you, or don’t need any more his collaboration?
-I hope you don’t wait somehow from me, in exchange, to apologize on knees to the paranormal…
-You could make, at least, some concessions.
-Concessions mean already love.
It sound strange, as trying to convince self. He pulled on him jacket as quick as a soldier
-Do you hear?…John Coltrane.
They came out on door as two actors after a repetition.
On their back, someone kneaded the saxophone long time, wounding his fingers. A sorrowful and fulsome jazz, sadness of metals.
As two actors for who knows what time.
And any time, at departure, it was absolutely same.
An empty coffee house, abandoned chairs cracking under weight of absences.
Outside, in night, city twinkling like an eye of owl.
Far away, a groan of tramways on death bed in depot.
“The undersigned Iozefin Zeno, resided in Aleea Hanovra no.10, acrobat of Circus Globus in the staff of troop Zeno, in connection with aspects I was asked about I declare on oath the following: I came to know master David Ovidian in 1990, soon after my entrance in the make-up of troop, with occasion of a tour effectuated in Italy, where we were partners in a few performances. In respective period, Ovidian was still titular of snakes training items, practiced without assistants, being appreciated as one circus’s most experienced veterans. After closing of above-reminded tour, in the evening of eve of returning to country, being in Calcutta we have been invited to a banquet. There, master Ovidian betted with some Punjab Hindus that he will exceed them at number of portions of Tandoori with rice saffron in spicy souce; and succeeding indeed, he gain as award a cobra and a small Tibetan Buddha. After returning home, giving me statuette as souvenir, he kept for him reptile. I specify that had already extracted purse of venom. He brought it to residence, where he acclimatized in a balcony closed by glass, in intention to prepare with it an item of training. At short time after, his wife started to intervene at direction of circus and at impressariat , complaining she couldn’t live with him any more and she was terrorized by cohabitation with snake in own household. .Ovidian was called and asked to find urgently a reasonable solution offering to him in alternative a trailer of menagerie with necessary facilities. However, Master couldn’t let him convinced to renounce to snake, of whom he attached uncommonly strong. After two-three weeks, he was notified he could have nuisances due to his stubbornness, because management of circus cannot afford a scandal which would diminish its cash, even so insufficient. But he maintained unchanged his attitude. More, as a rebuff to sanitary-veterinary controls, repeated convocations to police and administrative conflicts harassing him, Ovidian refused to come to one of representations, threatening at same time he will make known in press encroach of his elementary right to respect of private life. His unexpected absence (and of boa serpents) from the said performance turned topsy-turvy all evening program, the tigers training having to be replaced by hens training. Management of circus pretended him, of course, damages. Later on however, they renounce to call him in justice, learning his wife had sued him at law for divorce. In exchange, it was refused to him prolongation of contract, offering him a post of janitor at menagerie. Due to lack of money, he was compelled to accept it temporarily, until emigration to USA for which he had asked already visa, but soon after post was eliminated following reduction of scheme. Personally, I knew master Ovidian sufficiently close to be able to convince myself he was a n individual in completeness of his mental faculties, in spite of extravagances with which shocked. He was recognized as maniac of snakes, from where also mangle of his name in Ofidianu by some slier journalists, but this obsession was pure professional. Frequent gossips and calumnies circulated on his account, especially after divorce, but he didn’t react to them, being preoccupied exclusively by emigation. He hadn’t recognized enmities or big debts. He complained sometimes he had prostituted his talent for little or nothing, that he considers himself a sold one, but I was never witness to some depressive crisis. He didn’t use to drink much, or at least nobody have seen him in state of intoxication. I never visited him personally at home, I only know he was living somewhere about barrier of Vergului, with rent at state. When I learnt from troop colleagues news he had thrown from floor, I thought it was refused emigration visa, what however later on, to my sirprise, didn’t confirm. That much I know, declare and sign hereby.”
You skim throuh a juicy onion thin leaf by thin leaf and read in it as in a calendar. First you string on table twelve leaves, one for each month of year. You crush then in fist a ball of salt and let it snow over them. And thin leaf will absorb first the salt, that month will be the rainiest.
Calendar of onion.
With a fist blow full of fury, Struba broke onion in front of him, sullying the desk.
He snatched file from hands of archive keeper, who remained standing in front of him, undecided. And after he traversed feverishly first pages, he forgotten suddenly unbearable rain outside, for first time since a week.
Suspicion germinated in mind then, listening to Unicorn how he was telling him about dwarf’s revenge for consort violated by soldiers. Next day, he asked verification of criminal record of Aurel Bau, last victim of the room. And see it. Condemned fourteen years ago for participation to a group rape. It couldn’t be a better mobile of crime than vendetta, in scenario of premeditation based on occasionalism.
Now he knew he was on good road. Exalted, he felt need to drink a concentration.
-Be good and chew your gum-ciunga in your office,O.K.?
-You didn’t sign for receipt, archive keeper reminded him.
He almost dropped gum among words. Impertinent, titivated, with ring in little ear. Probably he hardly finished his lyceum, and already pretended to be someone. And you may think that “free” access to justice of lay mortal is throttled , in overfull tribunals, by some little cocks like him.
He put his hieroglyph on expedition register and aired him. Then took the file and buried in reading.
He hardly perceived noise of a door closing somewhere.
Alone again, till late evening, there in mid city.
On roofs, same drums rattling of rain announcing new executions.
-I am late because of a small incident occurred on way, Lastaru excused himself pulling to him an ottoman to sit on.
-Mr. procurator Lastaru from Criminology, Mr. professor Turbala from University – Struba made presentations summarily.
They shaken cordially the hands, with much interest.
-Sever Turbala in person, fright of Balkan archaeologists and ethnographers?
Professor laughed, full of good will.
-You exaggerate. Let say, at most, fright of studenthood.
-But of what incident is question? Struba asked.
-The taxi driver who brought me up here was stopped by a platoon
Sergeant, to control his tax apparatus. Policeman stares at meter, suspicious, shakes it, more he also blows a fist to see if it doesn’t change somehow figures, as at mechanic games when you get irritated for didn’t come out more than two plums out of three. Driver put hand on radio station and asks dispatcher to communicate loudly, to listen also the organs, how much is kilometer at them. From loudspeaker, a tenebrous voice answers plainly:”Do transmit to Mr. policeman at us kilometer is 1000 meters”. Normally I mada on spot a crisis of laughing close to madness. Highly astonished, sergeant turned toward me. For it is just known, who laughs is suspect. He makes solemn: “I don’t know what is so amusing…”. “How, you just don’t know?” No, he just didn’t know, poor he! And start again laughing, that lever pained. Why making it longer, I’ve lost a quarter of hour haggling with him
Lastaru and professor ordered vodka and tomato juice, and Struba dry Campari.
-Actually such an incident deserved the delay! Professor spoke well disposed. Otherwise, Mr. Lastaru . you even didn’t lose big thing till now, except some banal impressions of journey I shared with my friend.
-Mr. professor just returned from Egypt, Struba explained, rising his glass. How it is said in Arabian “noroc” (good luck, cheers), profssor?
They laughed and drunk. The coffe house, unusually agglomerated for that early hour, seemed to have become a refuge at once with intensification of miserable sleet outside. Even shops in passage, rarely visited by passers-by, had been taken now by assault.
-At them everything is fatality also Allah, professor resumed. By ’81, when I had opened archaeological workshop in Sulemania, I ate according to appetite of heart in houses of Iraqi peasants. Traditional menu was composed from rice instead of bread, mutton meat, and at dessert milk of she buffalo made thin with iced water , as a substitute of wine. Without silver plate, only with naked hand. Wondering for such goodies, I asked them from where such a luck on their had. “From Allah”, they goaded ceiling by finger. If ceiling exists. For village schools, for instance, hadn’t roof, but only four wals, and between children learned staying barefooted on sand. This in contrast with sumptuous villas of Assyrians in the North, kin of aristocrats. But as rudimentary as habitat would been, it ate one’s fill. Even in precincts of village were we made excavations, built out of two meters high earth wall, commerce flourished. But also in full desert, between villages at more than fifty kilometers each other, you found always some modernized halt: electricity, refrigerating installation, Pepsi-Cola at ice.
-Honest, I wouldn’t imagine, Struba wondered.
-Me neither. First weeks I had so much fat fish, that we could have open, on the place of archaeological camp, a CHERHANA. War wit Iran had provoked a terrible penury of engine oil. Whereof, for a can of oil they fish you immediately from EufratEUFRAT a huge sheath-fish or a basket with anguillas that door of freezer didn’t close any more. You ate like home at mother. You could ask them anything, only toward their woman don’t stare somehow, that you found yourself full with some bullet, also “from Allah”, it is understood.
-I, for one, better miss their hospitality, instead of letting me pushesd in ribs with gun! Lastaru splashed with eyes ready polished by vodka.
-It is right they threatened us sometimes, professor agreed. Especially young Muslims recruited too early for troops. According to work division at them, men would be “warriors” from Dumezil’s scheme, bellatores…
-And then, laboratores? Lastaru asked, erudite.
-“Workers” are women. When a boy is born to them, is big joy: for male children family receives substantial allowances from state, having all interest to thicken ranks of troops. Therefore, you aren’t surprise, seeing today in hands of kids a Kalashnikov, ideal toy, with which they frightened us just to give themselves importance. Only Russian there, they were afraid to threaten for had from them a beat sister with death. In rest, gun has been introduced even in sacred rituals. After they prayed on banks of river Tipis, kneeled on their mat, they shoot three fires of revolver in water, “to die Shaitan”, that is devil.
-Shaitan, Satan…Struba remarked. Interesting!
-But let us come back to our ships, Struba, that road is long up to sheepfold. I suppose also Mr. colleague is as well preoccupied by your wolf…
-The wolf? Lastaru made.
-Wolf searched by friend Struba, who eats always sheep in room from eighth floor…Is there, indeed, a wolf or not? He asked himself. But I should ask, first, something else: Do we know, indeed, what wolf is, or not? For, to demonstrate logically if curses exist or not, that means to join some definitions end to end. Leibniz’ chain of definitions, “demonstratio est catena definitionum”, a jewel of history of Logics. That is chain of demonstration, if you remember from school…
Lastaru excused himself with simplicity:
-I don’t remember other than golden chain from my mother, lost on the stadium at match UTA-Petrol.
-As jurists, you practice currently argumentation as working method, isn’t so? And arguments “of iron “signify chains with resistant links. Let’s take, therefore, if you agree, first link. What curse is, in fact, Struba?
Taken unprepared by didactic turn of discussion, Struba seemed embarassed.
-Come on, draw a lot.
-A magic attack, I believe.
-Unlucky! Common confusion between curse and black magic. The curse is invocation by words of some supernatural powers and orientation of these against someone. But, independently from man’s intervention, supernatural justice can also manifest from own initiative. Classic example – divine curse fallen over entire Creation due to original sin. Analogy with a judiciary trial, as risky as it be, comes almost from itself. For, formulating his accusations in front of supernatural court and asking it RITOS to give a sentence, the one who curses acts just like a procurator in front of supreme instance. From where also difference: while requisition character is of essence of human curse, sentence character is of essence of divine curse. As meritorious procurators you will easily operate with this analogy.
In sign of gratitude for flattery, Struba and Lastaru toasted theatrically with glass toward dean of table, like some boyars at a regal table.
-Supernatural justice you said…That is, God justice?
-Not necessarily. Sometimes it is called intervention of malefic forces. Babylonians believed that illness would belong to imprecations addressed to devil by malevolent man, who asks his help against fellows And addressees should be more. You will find mentioned in some editions Longman even the spirits among supernatural instances to whom that who curses can address. It seems to legitimate. For example, in Roman antiquity, that set against enemy was the spirit of person prematurely deceased, in whose grave was buried a little plate of lead called defixio, with curses written on it. Only taking seriously Lex Cornelia , which punished “killing” of someone by this procedure, you can understand why have been put under accusation Pisones for death of emperor Germanicus. In fact, true assassin, one Plancinus, had used some poisoned prefumes but as Tacitus was poor at chemistry, he was less impressed by killer’s ingenuousness than bones, mortuary ashes and lead inscription discovered then in precincts of regal palace.
-In conclusion, today are in circulation more lexicographical variants, Struba summed up.
-It is just difficult to conciliate economy of definition with diversity of curse species met in practice. However, definitions concord, generally, at least concerning some key-terms: as nature, curse is an “invocation”, and as means it realizes “by words”. Exactly what differentiate it from magic!
For unlike who curses – who invokes by prayer supernatural help, the magician orders supernatural to manifest it, making from it executor of his own sentence. Medieval magician, already schooled in Kabbala, in scholarly alchemy recipes became a fashion, couldn’t by any more satisfied by pathetic step about supernatural authorities. He doesn’t any more implore to not intervene, but himself intervenes commending to demons like to some subalterns. Trade union of section with continuous fire of Inferno was convened by exorcist either by goetic cries, or by verbal alchemy formulas, palindromes, cryptograms, caimateCAIMATE like Judaic Shabriri, briri, riri,ri.
-Sounds like a refrain of Dolanescu, Struba giggled.
-Or like Latin Amore, more, ore, re – Lastaru added.
-Yes, but with another function. As you see, dear Struba, these exorcists proceeded alternatively, just like militia man at investigation: either pulled out devils from you with cross words, or hurled.
-But how answered with so much docility His Darkness to these calls? For they weren’t appeals on “hot and humid” line.
-It was obliged, for he concluded a preliminary pact signed by exorcist with own blood. Then, magic rituals accompanying usually thee convocations: another element of differentiation. Gestures. In curse, no gesture is essential, nut word.
-If you permit me, Lastaru intervened. There exist however curses which respect some normative, after a fix ritual. At us in Vilcea it cursed in older time by making cross and kissing earth. Or hags: did you see them how accurse keeping a candle with flame downward? Or in some compulsory context, like in the curse of “substituted godfathers”, uttered in church during wedding. That is don’t these practice enter category of curse?
-As an ethnological category, yes!. But as a theological category, these naïve procedure invented by people are pure facultative. With what could help pious kissing of mother-earth to relent of Heaven? It is as if you would believe the judge can’t condemn a guilty if procurator comes to trial with spots of sauce on sleeves.
-Are you, then, convinced efficiency of curse never depends on procedure?
-On procedure, never. Hand works are for requisite of black magic. There charm doesn’t succeed to you if you don’t respect strictly the ritual. Majority of spells are based on homology principle from Table of emerald or on other didactic writings of Hermes Trismegistus. Destruction of objects belonging to enemy or which symbolize him, isn’t so? Old Egyptians wrote names of enemies on pots which then crushed – custom disappeared, more than sure, with today prices.
-If by inattention I would broke somehow pot from Ming period, my aunt would crack on spot even without I write her name on it!
Lastaru stared at them, agitating tomato juice in glass.
-It was a true magic execution, professor completed. Even gods were exposed to this dangerous charm.
-Really then, why why didn’t they use this question with pots also in class battle? Lastaru made waggish.
-Yes, of course. Breasted quotes a complot by which it was tried assassination of Pharaoh Ramses III through black magic.
-Failed complot? Perhaps they didn’t write legibly name on pot.
-There were cases also in later epochs. Death of catholic Carol IXth, at age of only 24 years, had been put as well on account of some spells of Protestants who melted daily masks of wax with king’s shape within some funeral ministries. Protestants, on the contrary, had interpreted agony of king as a sign of divine curse for massacre in the night of St. Bartholomew. Similar rituals, like pricking a puppet with needles or breaking a little statue, are still practiced today by wizards voodoo.
Perspired, Struba took out with pain his Tyrol coat, like a shed snake, because of crowd renounced to take it to back door peg , and kept it on knees. Atmosphere in coffee house became suffocating. Bluish smoke of cigarette, voices, jazz, spoons tinkling, lady perfume, all together composed a stifling mixture in too narrow space. Among overfull little tables, the host slinked with difficulty piloting his little tray. He followed him by sight. Eternally walking, bowed over heads, with beard as long as night. Apostle shepherding his small flock.
Professor arranged on nose his thick spectacles, close relative of theatre binoculars.
-There should be however some retouches to be made to judicial analogy applicable to this transcendent process called curse…Look, this supernatural interventionism. Mistakenly it is believed commonly it should be always a justice act. Because directing intervention forces toward somebody doesn’t mean necessarily application of some sanctions. On the contrary, sometimes, divine intervention is invoked as a therapeutic act, by exorcisms against demon considered responsible for a illness or some “making”, the aim followed being thus obtaining of a protection or a remedy. As you know, up to invention of aspirin, old women healed with exorcisms. Their therapy was based on traditional faith in moral causes of illnesses unleashing, etiology called by Babinski “psychiatism”. Consequently, remedy had to be required from divinity, from where also stereotype formula:”From me the exorcism, from god the heal”. But only roughly speaking God, for otherwise, nominal, maladies were distributed among different saints in calendar, exactly like at my dispensary in the quarter. For example, at dermatology cabinet, St. Toader gave consultations to orthodox Christians, solicited specially by bald-headed men. We have also St. Sisoe, specialist in infectious illnesses (malaria), St. Martsi at neuropsychiatry:
And I came to clean me
And wash me of hate
and Macedonians from Krushova consulted for LINGOARE an anonymous white Fairy, ideal as medical overall suggestion. Catholics had their own polyclinic, much more endowed, but also with doctors more pretentious than those of Orthodox. But even avenging, it is said, that they were capable to fill you with boils if no properly honored. Thus they had at dermatology St. Anton, orthopedics St. Pius, urology St.Damian, epidemiology Sebatian and Rochus (probably in shifts), stomatology St.Apolonia (to this martyr woman teeth had been taken out), venereal diseases St. Denis. Venerated were specially 14 so-called Helpers, compact group of therapeutic saints, competent in treating any kind of internal diseases. They had privatized in such a degree toward end of Middle Age, that their direct invocation arrived to not depend any more by God, danger which determined Church to prohibit at last the cult, became almost idolatry.
Lastaru risen school like two fingers:
-Excuse me, but seemingly you said distinction between magic and curse…I want say, exorcisms are magic remedies, are they not?…
-In their content, yes. But as form, exorcisms can be presented not only as prayer, commend, or threat, but also as curse. But unlike occasional curses, whose form is free, here verbal formulas are free, effect itself of exorcism depending by strictness with which text recipes were respected.
-Then, exorcism is only compulsory conduct for a curse to be dressed in?
-Very plastic said. Indeed. Without it, curse wouldn’t be permitted to enter popular medicine which, in fact, as rudimentary and fanciful should have been, had same rigor of prescription as actual therapy in scientific medicine. So is explain also why popular theurgy, different from daily accurses, wasn’t at anybody’s hand, presupposing from side of practitioner thorough knowledge of traditions, of green pharmacy, a prolonged exercise and a strong memory. Really, take a thought: an exorcism of white eye in Marian’s collection counts, alone, 137 verses. Complexity, but particularly specialization of curses (corresponding to hundred of maladies and infirmities) made out of this empirical old women’s medicine a true iatrogeny .
-What theurgy means? Struba asked.
-White magic. Good fairy in tale, possibly blond.
-Therefore, when packed up in scholarly packing of an exorcism, the curse serves as medicine, this is idea…summarized Struba, compelling himself to keep the step.
-The medicine administrated commonly recuperative (let call it curse-remedy) or, more rear, preventive (apotropaic curse, isn’t it?). If illness with which is fighting is itself consequence of a curse, then exorcism make itseld echo of this, turning it from trajectory against that who threw it, commonly an anonymous. Look, Indian exorcisms in Atharva-veda. They prayed god Indra to conquer “reply” of enemy, to beat him in “battle of words”. Isn’t so that expression has virtues of a true definition? Or Babylon exorcisms used as antidote against mortal spells. Lenormant commented them as a boomerang. A curse in the mirror..
-And our old women?
-At us, curses-remedy have maxim frequency against those who hoodoo. The guilty, almost always anonymous, is accursed to burst his skin, to wipe his children of hunger, etc. Also with curses Arabian women heal those jinxed,only they accurse with the breaking of eyes. Hungarian women accurse men their ass to break. Others wish you to fall your hair or teeth.
-Well at least don’t wish more to fall other thing, these women! Lastaru observed. Or you omitted it out of pudibundity.
-As foul-mouthed they are, it is not excluded. For neither sun nor moon escape. To hoodoo someone, they wish “to fall his rays, to perish his light, the darkness remain”.
-That is for the seek of jinxed, all of us to remain in darkness, just now when kilowatt grew dearer.
But Struba, who reflected apart, seemed rather tangled up than amused.
-And yet, these examples of “therapeutic” curse Have not, really, a justiciary character? Be dead X-scu for living X-it.
-No, for not death of X-scu is the aim, but healing of X-it. Guilty is only offensive aspect of definition, which gives us illusion that aim of curse should be, invariably, making justice. Totally false. Many times, appeal to heavenly justice is nothing else than a necessary mean to obtain some positive effects. Really, weren’t thrown curses over escape goat with aim of saving community? Was not the oath sanctioned with curse for granting a solemn promise in front of Supreme Judge? Hadn’t Job cursed own birth, in shape of abandon, of renouncing to divine judgment? See then a diversity of scopes proving that claim of supernatural intervention doesn't’ aim always at condemning.
-In other words, varieties of curse devolve just from diversity of scopes which can be followed by who curses? Lastaru concluded, interested by the newness of this notice.
Listening him, Struba felt almost envious. He didn’t succeed to understand, how, hell, was functioning this distillery of him in which you thrust vodka and get out pure thinking
-Justly! professor approved. Definition tells you only what is curse – an appeal to intervention of supernatural powers – but doesn’t say also why the appeal is made. And wouldn’t make sense to do it, because, otherwise, if all species of curse be enumerated there, it would be not any more a definition but a classification.
-And in total, about how many species of curse would be?
The university man stayed a few seconds in balance. A kind of prayer with head in chest.
-It would be easier to see them put on paper, he opted.Have we something of writing?
Lastaru extracted from bag a few white sheets covered in a blue cover of a file. They pushed glasses apart, giving off table as much as they could.
-Therefore, a classification according to criterion of scope followed…
In an attitude of a laboratory worker bowed over microscope, professor hesitated in front of white desert. Writers’ “fright of paper”. But before two-three minutes have passed, page had already bean onquered by a small and nervous writing.
sacrifice (for saving community)
recuse (renouncing to divine justice)
granting (sanction of an oath)
against other beings, objects, places, phenomena
-I reserve however my right to some hesitations, having in view that it is a premiere… professor grumbled, with head shoved in scheme was just finalizing.
They saw him then examining some more time, preoccupied.
-That is, there are not precedents in study of this phenomenon? Struba wondered.
-Taxonomic precedents, no, as far as I know, professor answered twisting about on his chair. So, denominations given here to varieties of curses are pure conventional, you understand.
-A classification of arbor type, Lastaru noticed.
-It shouldn’t be just that little tree full of fruits shaken by your uncle Adam? Struba laughed.
-Well you said! professor confirmed. Can be just “tree of death” in Kabbala, of whose leaves first people had been punished to make attires, instead of paradise light covering initially their nudity. A mortal, thanatognomonic tree.
-Well, but prohibited fruit grew in “knowledge tree” and not in “death tree”…
-Is one and same think, didn’t get it? That you can not make knowledge with old Lady without being definitively overlapped by her. Could you really know biblically Lucrece Borgia without being mortally poisoned by her lipstick? And in order to sell these sticks, you hire as salesman a flippant snake. But not like those in Baneasa zoo, in windows with thermometer in mouth like malaria patients. I don’t know if that ophis primigeniu looked just like Temptation of a Rembrandt or of a Hugo van der Goes, but it is certain at origin it hadn’t today handicap, since punishment thrown by Creator over him has been just a teratogen curse: ”Because you did this, cursed be you among all animals…on belly to drag…”, to turn into handbag and shoes, etc. Otherwise, Islamic legends confirm that, at origin, ophidians were most beautiful animals, feared and respected for their clever intelligence, admired and envied for jewel skin they had been endowed. Therefore devil had all chances to be seducer in his suit of “pretty” serpent, specially in front of a woman, being weaker of…angel.
-What is a teratogen curse? Struba inquired.
-One which cripples you, leaving you infirm on life. Or mimes you like fists of Cassius Clay.
-Anyhow, if something tempted trainer Dan Ovidian to jump from balcony, that wasn’t his Indian cobra. This is something as clear as fact the fable with first serpent and with loose of immortality represent a pure Hebraic allegory.
-Don’t be so sure, dear Struba. Tradition tree-serpent-cheating exists all over the earth, even in consciousness of tribes most isolated from the rest of world. Even in Bismark archipelago, devil knows where, indigenous say today how their ancestors had been warned by Kono-Kono-I-don’t-know-how over danger of losing immortality and how he cursed them then to become mortal for disobeying. Scheme of man cheated by a reptile is repeated everywhere, from Africa to New Guinea, from Indo-chine and to Orinocco basin. Where from this universality? To don’t speak about rests remained from Adamic universal language, spoken by archaic generations. See, prohibited fruit: where from this negative symbolism of apples?…
-Well, since Snow White has been taken with that poisoned apple.
-…In Latin “wrong” is said malum, but first Latin called so the apple. Time after it was said pomum, preserved today by French in pomme and pomme de terre, and by us in terms like pom (tree),poama (fruit),pomina (fame). Poama (vicious) Lucrece Borgia, for instance, isn’t so? Therefore, with pejorative value! And when you plunge into difficulty, don’t you say even today “I am in pom (tree)”? Or the English: up a tree. You tell, now, Struba: what else are all these rests if not traces of adventure de pomina (of repute) of offender Adam? For you are criminology procurator, a specialist in traces left, isn’t so, by offenders. From his guilt, today you are mortal.. Instead of leaving you as heritage a villa in Breaza, he left you the gene of death for his eternal pomenire (mentioning)! You get amused, Struba, but even most fanatic atheist in world reproduces in subconscious manner paradigm of prohibited tree, when he advises his little children in the morning, before leaving for ministry: Little hares, play nicely until I’ll be back and don’t eat petards in Christmas tree that you surely will die!
Struba started to examine more attentively scheme drawn by professor.
-Curses against demon, that is…Scope: either protection or repair. Curse-remedy I saw already what means. Well. But curse…”apotropaic”? spelled Struba in difficulty.
-Protector against bad spirits. Preventive medicine. Because just like medical therapy, exorcism is ambivalent, both recuperative and prophylactic. Contrary to prejudice exorcisms would be exclusively repairing, in practice you find phylacters “at bearer” made out of shortened prayers hanged on neck as general prophylaxis against malefic forces. During Middle Age, amulets Abracadabra were as banal as are today condoms. Now, formula is met only through fairs, at jugglery with rabbits pulled out from huts, used as funny children mumbling, like euphonies of type babble.
-Wasn’t it, in fact, a talisman?
-But yes, a defensive curse, imagined by contraction of Hebraic Abreg ad habra, a kind of “thunder on him”. It was written by repetition in a triangle with top downward, like route indicator for priority “Give up passing”, so that you can read it in thousands kinds. At sight of this sign of circulation, devils were compelled to stop and concede free passing to bearer of this talisman, because its geometry oriented from up down divine benevolent energies. And so you could escape eventually some convulsive coughing, some scab or some influenza. We also had prayers filled with curses. Didn’t they bring you in childhood, when coughing, to village old ladies to make you notes for “the ague”?
-About me, when coughing, father was killing me in beating and searching for cigarettes – Lastaru remembered.
-How filled with curses? Struba didn’t understand.
-Same as you fill in with garlic lamb stew. For example ancient Prayer of taking out devil, attributed to saint Sisoe, of Bogomilic origin; we borrowed it from Bulgarians as recipe against fever, but with time, by successive processing, it arrived to be good at everything. It ends with a curse of archangel Michael. It says: “I swear you have no power of approaching Struba’s house, slave of God and of Fisc, neither his salary, nor his work carnet, and you go into desert mountains, when no one lives, there be your lodge. Amen!”
-If my chief hears you, he moves also me with service “into desert mountains”! Struba laughed.
-The use ante factum of exorcisms sanctioned with curses can make completely inoffensive the horned if one utters his name. You only pass in review, necessarily, all devilish nomenclature. What isn’t easy at all, for look, Avestitsa has a birth certificate with 19 names, and that Greek woman scapegrace Ghilou has 12 names "an“ half"! ”n fact, is nothing more than enumeration of Satanic names. Like Faust's ’mprecations against prejudices and illusions, conceit, greed, laziness and other Mephistopheles’ boons. “Cursed be Mammon, with his treaures…”, et caetera, isn’t so? Or, mammona means in Aramaic “richness”. Constaint of demons by threat with disclosing their occult names, known only ti initiates, is an old story. Cherichebs, Egyptian priests reading papyrus rolls, threatened their malefic gods with onomastic exposures. Especially against dangerous god Seth, assassin of Osiris, curses were daily recited, for protection of other deities more kind and helpless.
-Pharaoh how many names carried, professor?
-Only five. Allah should havealso him 99 names, adding to these the Great unknown Name. If you try and guess correctly the 99 out of hundred, you gain, it is said, the paradise.
-But at lottery, you gain paradise only with 6 out of 49- Lastaru made.
-And if guess the Great Name?…Lastaru asked.
-Then you become Solomon like and make wonders. Only that for guessing it, as story goes, a Koran has to be burnt, out of it remaining untouched only this name. And isn’t really a pity to make ashes a goodness of Koran after you spent on it even allowances for children in order to have it in library?
Lastaru rinsed well his mouth with rest of vodka remained on glass bottom, before speaking again:
-That means from here may come custom of big bosses to hide their real nam. For everybody knows of historical dialog at high level from Horeb to Palestine.
-Between Yasser Arafat and Itzak Shamir? Struba asked.
-Oh, noh! Between God and Moses, dear colleague,on Horeb mountain. When Moses had asked his illustrious interlocutor what his name is, Yahweh recommended himself as: ”I am That Who is”…
Professor nodded, still with rests of laughing at mouth corners. He told them:
-Literally, tautology Ehie asher Ehie is translated in fact “I will become what I will become”. Wurmbrand is right to say God is not but happens. Why peoples totally different like Jews, Russians or Chinese avoid in their languages the word “is”? Because you have no right to use “is” as a predicate. Kant recognized it honestly to satisfaction of Chinese and Russian comrades who have put in discussion Self-criticism of Impure Reason of this bourgeois in decomposition. Because under pseudonym “Is” was hidden true name of Yahweh. But great priest had permission to pronounce it , in day of Yom Kippur, in altar of Jerusalem temple, and only whispered.
-Similarly how brave Russian whispered, closed in closet, Djugashvili instead of Stalin.
-Oh, an Egyptian even in closet wouldn’t dare pronounce secret name of supreme god Ra! Professor exclaimed.
-In conclusion, this onomastic taboo is explained by magic powers of divine names?
-Any proper name meant, at origin, something in connection with divinity.
-For instance, Rutinia or Rut signifies something? Struba asked.
Professor reflected a moment, looking in gap with dilated eyes.. Two blue universes in expansion.
-Some five-six different things. About “friend” and “willow”, I am sure. And it seems to me also means “satisfied”.
Lastaru grinned toward Struba meaningfully.
-“Decided defender against wrongs”. An ideal name for born justiciar like you, Struba, isn’t so? Absolutely any name signified, at origin, something divine. Such is explained why, initially, a name already adjudged wasn’t borrowed by the others, being of unique use. Today, only to indigenous Tiwi you may meet something like that, being prohibited to new-born all names carried ever by deceased. You realize what a crisis of proper names may be there!
-Like government crises to us.
-But also not vice-versa, with today onomastic inflation you don’t get on easily- professor retaken cheerful. I red the other day about a girl in Chesterfield, with 139 names! What poor priest suffered to the baptismal of that isn’t hard to imagine: if he started ministry Sunday morning at first hour, that means he finished it only Monday, that is good-by week-end and matches of stage.
-She may have Freemason parents. 139 is but a 13 with more faces. Doesn’t it mean 39 by 13? Then, 1 plus 3 plus 9 make again 13 – Lastaru explained.
-Anyhow, a clinic case.
Discussion was interrupted by bringing coffees ordered in between. Struba profited to evaluate in a look notices made in personal agenda till then.
-With these curses from empirical pharmacy, prescribed against demons, I am cleared – he declared. But as victims of killing room were men, I propose to pass now to the curse against own fellows. I see in classification from here “kerem”. It has an Ottoman sonority.
-The kerem was warning for keeping an oath or a promise, under sanction of divine curse in case of their encroaching.
-Joshua Navi at siege of Jerihon. He prevent fighters to abstain from plunders after conquering of citadel and deposit in temple gold and silver captured, under sanction of cursing and execution on spot of those guilty. And when city fallen, he interdicted under curse any try of its reconstruction. By kerem has also been granted limitation of proliferation of Veniamin relation in The Chronicle of Judges.
-Something in genre of birth limitation to Chinese, under sanction to not allot from state family necessary rice ratio. A Maoist law, it seems to me.
-Consolidating the vow by curse, professor nodded. Similarly with sanctioning of exorcisms. Only here you accurse you alone. As Peter accursed self when disavowed three times swearing he didn’t know him, by fear of tribunal. Association of oath with curse, today almost out of use, was by then at order of day. Romans called fact of self cursing just jurare in se. But curse and oath affinity doesn’t reduce to a pure linguistic aspect. It’s a mystic grasp, a passionate bent. Think only to the forty fanatics in Facts who combined at dawn to plot assassination of Paul in jail…
-I know it, they tied with curse will not eat and drink anything before conspiracy will succeed, Struba interrupted him. But I wouldn’t say that from fanaticism. They were afraid of betrayal.
-A vow and a curse were made also on peaks of mountain Djebel-el-sheik, in Syria. Semyaza clique of 200. Close to enigmatic terrace Baalbek, “The Gate of Gods”.
-Baalbek, famous plateau of von Daniken extraterrestrial navies landing?!
Lastaru risen in air saucer from under coffee cup and, from over head, made it descend softly on little table, parodying an UFO landing.
-Bzzzz! Bing! Respected passengers, please fasten your belt and pistol Kalashnikov…Spasiva. Isn’t so that pumpkin of some ones is ideal plateau for extraterrestrial navies landing?
-Carl Sagan is indulgent when says about The Book of gods that is an absolute horrible book. The nomenclator of Sumerian kings imprinted on “seals and coins”, instead of clay little tables! Incas in Peru five millenaries ago! Cosmonaut antenna instead of Maya hairdo! Racket fuses instead of bi-cephalous serpent! In comparison with such cheap jokes, circus buffoons get bankrupt.
-And when you think that, in “70s, you found on market Memories about future harder than Marlboro. Everything only due to cover. Daniken says about engraving of that stone that it is image of a racket…
-He can say anything. But guilty isn’t he, but GUGUSTIUCII who listened in ecstasy to a Swiss businessman speaking to them about Amerindian cultures. The bas-relief in question doesn’t date “from immemorial times”, but from 683 AD, and so-called god-pilot Kukulkan is in reality a deceased by name Pascal a dignitary Maya, whom skeleton was found in sarcophagus. Racket? Is throne or couch in which were carried their big bosses. Apparatuses on board? Typical funerary symbolist arsenal of Maya culture, tied with veneration of maize and of god Cinteotl, vegetal representations author is surprised didn’t find them in Mexic. As if you could find something like that when you even have no idea how it looks like. But he doesn’t wonder, in exchange, that pilot is barefoot and his had comes out of racket.
-Perhaps they didn’t have air-conditioned, Lastaru said
-Country burns and old woman combs with racket! Like in socialist-fiction novels of A.N.Tolstoi. Be not mixed up with Lev Nikolaevich. Read Aelita. Reached on Mars, some Soviet cosmonauts address warmly to Martians: “Well find you, comrades Martians! We came to bring the greeting of Soviet Republics…in order to establish relations of good neighborhood”. And they start chatting with those green-creatures, inviting them: ”Let’s smoke, comrades!” One of Martians was wearing, is said, ”a peaked cap in form of egg, heaving a long peak.”…
-He may have been secretary with interplanetary problems.
-…And after offering them to drink “half liter of spirits”, like bush people, they start to smuggling.
-It is clear that they washed type’s brains.
-Let’s come back now to vow under curse. Had it fix formulas, prescriptions, similarly to exorcism under curse?
-No, but they sound very theatrical. David’s oath for black fast in The second Chronicle of Kings has Arabian rigor of a Ramadhan: “That and that let God make to me and even more, if I will taste bread or other thing before sunset!” Form, you notice, was simplest and vulgar. How did Creon answered Oedipus’ accusations?
I call my death and under my curse may die
If I committed anything you charge on me
And the Messenger, bringing the news that dying king of Corinth, Polybos, just had delivered management, swears:
On my life! Let me die if I said an untruth!
However, sealing with oath of external treaties of ancient Rome were wearing more pretentious solemnities. At Jupiter temple, priest was sacrificing a pork with stone axe and cursed: “If my Roman people breaks this contract, let Jupiter strike him as I strike this pork with stone”. And only after this official ceremony, pork could be served grilled treaty signatories.
-Since then it eats so well to peace conferences? Lastaru swallowed hard.
-Not only. Look, for oaths before Olympic games, old Greeks had Horkos (“oath”) as protector, who punished terribly the distortion. Pausanias describes a horrifying statue of this Zeus Horkios, keeping a lightning in each hand, in front of which athletes were obliged to swear on viscera of a boar that they had rehearsed beforehand for ten months uninterruptedly and will respect competition rules.
-Without anti-doping control, no use at all.
-At their turn, the referees swore they will judge rightly, will not let be bribed and will keep secrete the reasons of decisions will adopt. At the feet of statue it was engraved on a bronze plaque an inscription in elegiac verse destined to inspire horror to possible amateurs of perjury. Also above a boar Agamemnon had swore as well how Brisis had remain virgin. From there also custom of medieval knights to swear at table on some living boar. It was likewise swore on pheasant, especially Burgundy people, or on some heron.
-Is oath under curse still practiced today?
-Somewhere in East Africa, it was traced there by Sir Frazer. A goat and a rope are cut ritually in two by only one strike, and in occasion those who will encroach upon oath made are cursed to be cleaved in same way by gods, and above it also to remain without successors.
-Ah, something like “rock cracks goat head in four, let goat head crack in four”…
-But not goat is essential here, Mr.Lastaru, but rock. Why wish to bridegrooms “rock house”?…
-What else to whish, prefab house?!
-…For, as Moses uttered ritually his curse keeping in hand rock tables of Law, so swore Romans later on Jupiter keeping stone in palm. Jove lapidem jurare.
-Well, this concerning ritual, form. What about content, is something surviving today from former affinity between curse and oath, or not?
-A vulgar remain: in-juratura (oath,curse), pocket curse of modern man. Frenchmen, otherwise, married morganatic the young and churlish Injuratura (curse) with the noble and little old Juramint (oath), pairing them in the unique verb jurer. Of course, the ancient knew also them this miniature technology, only they used it much more nuanced. For Latin, for instance, injuria meant not only an insult, but also an injustice, damage, or harm, and injuriosus was something “unjust”, translatable figuratively also by “harmful, bringing misfortune “.
-Exact family name of curse! Shall we take more antifreeze of this?…Lastaru proposed.
He hit from fingers over head, toward counter.
-But how came oath degenerated up to a rudiment of ordinary curse? Struba made.
-Gradually, it desecrated, loosing its taste of prohibited fruit. Fear for self punishment disappeared. Solemn initially, with time the old court oaths caricatured, degenerating in a sort of society game or just parody. And how from frivolity to triviality was only one step, the nobles ended by preferring commode miniature of curse, abandoning pompous and heavy armour of pathetic oaths from other time. In the XIVth century, in West Europe a catastrophic epidemics of curses had broke, especially in France where the Burgund s were recognized as most contagious. Two baalad were composed with entire repertory of this national festival of swearing. Against alarming proliferation of sacrilege, a few regal ordinances were emitted interdicting it under punishment of cutting of tongue. But noble class found immediately the trick for eluding interdiction, replacing in formulas of curses the names of god by different paravans. For instance, codification of Dieu by innocent Bleu, or replacement of denying “I disavow God” with harmless “I disavow boots”.
They stopped talking, making place with satisfaction to host brought them on little tray much coveted vodka. Lastaru seized his glass with both hands and rose it over head, triumphant, like a trophy.
-Something here, however, stinks…he grumbled hoardely. I agree prohibition of curses wanted to prevent offending divinity. Only today swears don’t seem to have anything in common with curses of old time, but are rather some simple blasphemies. When you curse, it is right you take in desert God’s name, but don’t do it with intention to disavow of him. Dou you really make guilty the divinity by saying “your eucharist of lepers” when you don’t support any more, years in succession, decibels, crying and claxons of guttersnipes subscribers to house Carioca which holiday under your windows? For indeed not God is guilty, but policeman who let hooligan moke a full quarter (at New York you come out with 1050 dollars if you put aloud television, and at Germans you may be broken in beating if don’t let them sleep.). So, not with the Old One you have what you have, but with a gang of roughs with no God. That is, cursing, you disavow of Him only with mouth, but with heart you actually convoke him. For only from him you wait justice in a country left to mercy of vagabond, whose only moral code is the BMW and non-worked money. And really you couldn’t, by swearing, to curse God. For you just said before, Mr. professor, curse is a judicial process in front of a transcendent instance: therefore, if God himself would be accused, then who would be the juge?
-Paradoxically. Then, even devil can not curse, but only backbite God – Struba noticed.
And listening to Lastaru’s perorations, he was asking himself for tenth time that evening how can one washes so well a brain with so much vodka. Professor answered:
-You are right to criticize improper use of terms “curse” and “blasphemy”. Confusion of the two concepts may have come from Romans who have taken with both senses blasphemo from Greeks, though Greeks used this verb with only a sense, that of backbiting, for “cursing” they had a distinct verb, katarome. So, absent in original, pretended synonymy between curse and blasphemy is a Latin invention. At second hand, we acquired blasphemare from cultured Latin , and blastimare (blestema/curse) we have already from popular Latin, from where our preference for this last term. Anyhow, I find you right, not injury *as manner of expression) is that which counts, but intention. Some curse specially to drive away bad spirits. Miniature apotropaic curse. To see scriptorial fellows (zapisari) from Viseul de Sus how they curse black cats but not for they would bring bad luck in obtaining German emigration visa. They say only so you can free wandering souls, prisoners in cat.
Visibly exhausted, Struba was busy whipping spectacles with handkerchief, before to conclude:
-From as much as I understand, it has fallen also hypothesis that suicides in the room would have fallen victims to a…kerem. Sorry for it, I liked the word.
-In any case, with curses weren’t assassinated, professor pretended to be serious.
-They would encroach upon solemn vows, for instance engagement to overpass the plan – Lastaru made cleverly.
-Or swore awry, under curse, who knows…professor continued the game.
-Oh, then, three quarters of eternity places may by leased to witnesses in divorce trials!
-But what, your witnesses swear under curse? They swear under threat of a year, two of prison.
-Five, Lastaru corrected.
-Doesn’t matter, yet human justice apply them. And really does it compare with divine justice?
-Penal or divine justice, doesn’t matter. Not of them is afraid the witness, but of revenge of those he may denounce.
-Then, he might receive a guard to residence, may he? Or even name, address, profession, all false. To you, the law doesn’t foresee such questions for protection of witnesses?
-It foresee fine for non presentation of witness.
-The fine!…I have seen once professor Tomulescu fined by a sergeant when he came out of Law Faculty. Militia man whistles after he had crossed by impermissible place and burns him with 50 lei. At which the old man, shrilly: “Dear you, take 100 lei, for I, when come back from lunch, also by here I cross back”.
-That means his health wasn’t well, if didn’t tell him in Latin.
With closed eyes, leaned against stove, Struba heard their laughs as if in sleep, more and more blurred. Worn out, he would want to get asleep there, in coffee house intimacy. Now, when rumor around had soothed.
Listening jazz and nothing else.
Burying in oblivion the wet outside city, dark horizons, deaf noise of history.
The piano drip dropped rarely, delicately. A transplant of fingertips.
“Under signed Genoveva Luminitsa Nae, she resident in Str. Papusa pet no.55-59, block Q-18-A, apart.102, declare the following things: I knew me with the called Aurel Bau at restaurant of station, where I was function like waitress before I remained gravid, living in konkybinage (with no papers) with him to my address actual but telling lie to mummy that we engaged troglodyte but that I lost in sub bus ring London , till back with some year, when he traveled to Barrier of Wergului, after re-velion, telling me at the beginning that he be chief to a cooperative of repairing umbrellas of dams harlot, but he deceived me to give him big tool right that I have believed him on word that he had parrot and manner , but more late learning how he had put out for beverage (shlibovitsa), from where also came home stone consuming in railway station restaurant on duty said he in my account but without I was knowing who I was staying home in pre natal arriving to call me big belly at service and to summon me Mr. book-keeper with engagement of paying 850 lei, for which I had to bag to my mother for borrow old woman to don’t put me out like him, but at last time has put me too for my belly swollen and some clients laughed, of what I quarreled with him wrong that I palmed him that he made me pieces in beating coming Police and attention giving him that will introduce to tsuhaus as recidivist , I at all knowing until then that he had made pirnaie before and when I heard I told him go from house I manage with that small also alone better without him than to have a trouble because of him and didn’t pass two or three days that he taken service at pipes Republic where they and found a flat room I don’t know who from there a big biggest garcon room free alone in block, express to be close to factory and not travel brambura topsy-turvy in town specialy at station where he had made fellows of glass some vagabonds, after what he didn’t search me only once in the day I gave birth to bring present to maternity a pair of shoes in skin of dam believing new but truth was he taken from junk shop wear by another woman because were old, and I didn’t know after nothing about himself, and neither least how he made his kind who I heard onlu now called at interrogator, fact what I can’t explain to me because he didn’t tell me big cheese what he was doing on his head in town, with who he travel or if he wear enemy with some body but perhaps can know more there at pipes where he worked, this being my declaration what I declare and I sign here by free and unforced by nobody.”
The train was running in the night, ran so hardly that Al. Struba’s memories jumped out of rails. He started, at same time with neon lamps shattered under ceiling. He watched through dirty window. Outside, swarms of red and mauve signals rambled in the emptiness.
As a child, getting asleep, was dreaming at trains in Balkans. He left himself carried far away by them, towards southern seas, there where paradise resides. To travel. To stay at window and watch as in an album with old photographs. Always the same, like a fairy tale listened every evening, without which you can not asleep. Telegraph pillars with stork nests on peak. Herds sleeping at silos shadow. Wagons abandoned in marshalling. Station chiefs presenting the honor stiff in their worn-out uniforms. Scavengers of platforms became admirals of melons skin. Melancholy at second hand bought in kiosks. Infirm inscription. Verbs ill of non conjugation.
But now, Struba didn’t see any more in the dark anything from these. Only the night, obscure room in which you develop your memories, one by one.
The night and that pressing on the right shoulder. The unknown woman by. She had lulled with heart propped up by him, with mouth halh-open, inhabited by angel of salt.
He blinked eyes in anemic, almost sorrowful light in interior. The light of Van Gogh’s coffee house. The few passengers around dosed on banquets dizzy by speed, drugged by wheels rumbling. Nothing happened and it seemed never will. Soldier was in his sit, slept doggedly in wagon corner, with brain furrowed by trench, with dreams gone in permission. Struba watched him with compassion how he was making guard near wooden suitcase. Poor anonymous soldier leaving himself brought toward his distant village, home, on cracking counter in back furnace, to make there peace with the cold, to undress distances, from swallowed feet to pull out boots with all with fingers, and his mother to boil brandy in cast-iron kettle breaking words from her like from a bread. Child ran home to his good mother, to warm up. Ran from "“school of life", where they are taught to shoot in polygon over target nicknamed Mother and child…Judging after thick cloth cloak, he came from some mountain hunters unit in Carpathians, where winter didn’t left yet unarmed. Watching him, Struba was shattered again by his old shiver. Since he made army twenty years ago, he never escaped of cold horror.
To feel cold, to sleep huddled in a night train and don’t care for anything. To let you brought far away, somewhere in Balkans, toward Southern seas. There where paradise resides.
Afraid to don’t be stolen by sleep, he started to put end to end events of last weeks, like a domino. First piece, file of 1978. A revelation. Tenebrous past of Aurel Bau confirmed his suspicions. This rascal could have been really ideal target of a revenge. He had been not only one of the guilty but just director of that beastly rape which couldn’t remain without echo. His derisory sentence to only three years and half of prison couldn’t satisfy anybody. But throwing from the eighth floor?…JIGODIA merited indeed to crack. By hand of victim’s father, brothers, or a possible lover. If not just by hand of a hired killer. As about pay of other promissory notes, rest of world should stay in line. Consequently, relatives and entourage had to be verified with priority. As said as done. But, even from first steps, he got stuck. After what five years ago poor young woman put and end to her days with super dose of sedatives, the mourned family left for good the town with an unknown destination. Three quarters of former friends of colleagues in years of lyceum worked now, after revolution, abroad. Smattering of witnesses he hardly managed to gather didn’t remember big deal after fourteen years. Retired and enigmatic nature, victim had never been an open book for someone of them; and lesser so therefore after misfortune stricken her, maiming her psychically irremediably. It had heard vaguely about an ideal and durable tie with an anonymous, subject taboo in vain breaking out speculations. Certain is that he had abandoned career of architect and even drawing and painting. Though talent with which he practiced them opened to him great perspectives, however he limited to collaboration to two-three publishing houses for illustrating and drawing up book covers. Nobody could assist to trial of violators because access in hall was stopped, judging with close doors. About rest, Struba knew already or could deduct from medical legal acts, clinic register of observation and the rest of documentation over hospitalisation of victim, remained at file. Suffered trauma being too strong, all medical remedies tried then, including hypnotherapy, failed. Then, after multiple unsuccessful attempts of suicide, affective anesthesia and robot aspect had gradually installed. At the end of hearings, from all these evidences of third hand Struba didn’t obtain at least an end oh thread. In absence of something better, he tried his luck visiting some publishing houses and disturbing some fussy publishers. His luck smiled to him first at Ion Creanga, where he found an illustration of fairy tales book; it was exactly necessary impulse to convince him to knock at doors in continuation. And indeed, bomb waited for him only at Litera (The Letter), where was lying from about 1985-1986. There, a failed contract of publishing had squandered, together the chance of publishing the book, also occasion of an exceptional cover illustration, realized by Bau’s victim. But not the author of it was surprise, but author of manuscript: name Aba Strul – the first lodger of room – was for Struba a bullet shoot directly in the ear. And details obtained in completion of incredible coincidence were, either them, with nothing less deafening. The book in case, rejected categorically by censorship, had been however generously recommended to a few publishers by writer Titel Popescu. So being, next step came almost by itself: he searched personally for the master. It followed a discussion full of fruits. Subject of book was rendered from memory with such minuteness, that on basis of evocation you could reconstitute the manuscript, otherwise lost. By same exact description benefited also cover illustration, whose project disappeared itself or have been destroyed. But the true attraction point of discussion was evocation of black forecasts made on the edge of book by some Bart Lasu; among others, exact dating of author’s death and of censors who refused to advise publication. Who was the prophet? Rather a phantom. Former condemned to writing salt mine himself, retired, it is said, to a monastery of monks from beyond Danube, from about 1986 his trace was lost.. And how accomplishment of so gloomy oracles couldn’t make you suspicious? Extremely incited, Struba passed immediately to steps and correspondences, requiring an updated confirmation. Which, after two or three weeks of expectancy, he received indeed. From official communication of Patriarchy, signed by an exarch, resulted indeed that named Bartolomeu Lasu “functions as ieromonach in degree of protosinghel”, but the monastery where he serves had been abolished from administrative point o view. Actual hermitage of Martyrs was only a remaining joining a restraint number of monks who ensured management of church resources, being supplied by good offices of Low Danube bishopric. Reading this ambiguous answer, he had given all a rest on desk taking Olympic start tickets agency. Time arrived “occasion” theory , so ridiculed by Lastaru, be at last put to proof. Struba was jubilant. Yes, pieces of domino started to set in. It remained a single hesitation: lack of any experience in interrogation of a church face. How was, thus, to approach a bearer of monkish frock?
Just when meditated to this question, packs of wheels threw out lugubrious howls, throttled by sabots of brakes, foretelling station approaching. Train stopped unexpectedly quickly, crawling now in a lazy, misleading turning
To bring you a night train up here, far away, on sea shore. Nobody to know you coming. Wind to swallow your lungs like mails of ship. Here, where paradise begun. From a jerk, he opened ankylosed door.
Outside, serene. Smell of stars burnt alive.
Somber façade of opposite canton, with its dark windows, was only witness to his arrival. Were people were? He scanned by sight along wagons, but didn’t see anyone. Only jets of warm steam wrapping him in passage, pleasantly. At the end of deserted platform , mouth of an underground passage yawned in front of him like a grave..
Suddenly, hearing his steps, Struba felt loner as ever. Rightly speaking, just strangely alone.
By the way, didn’t he died?
Neither now, at an hour since he arrived to office, his socks hadn’t yet dry. After pouring rains until yesterday, the town looked Venice like. At steering-wheel, on way to job, you cross yourself on each road in order to get somehow wet, God forbid, the lid of DELCOU. Our every day boat, give it to us, our father…
Irritating typewriter rattling with which new typist demonstrated her zeal stopped only after half hour.
-Aba Strul is written with two “b” like group ABBA, or with one single?
After last sip of coffee, Lastaru seemed to search answer in thick lees on cup bottom. Judging after purses under eyes, portion of drug wasn’t sufficient to him.
-Write you with many, to have from where cut.
He skimmed farther through newspaper, absently. More for not seeing her staring at him than out of interest for morning news. Her expression of rouged frog made him allergy.
Rattling didn’t restart yet.
-Don’t yawn your eyes like that at me, can make some conjunctivitis.
-I don’t now how to beat to typewriter…he heard her sighing with affectation.
Monkey full of airs and graces. Last evening he saw her at Majestic with a pithecanthropus pecking each other, dressed rock, full of gewgaws and haircut broom.
-Perhaps at police it “beats” at typewriter, Miss. Here is “writing” at typewriter.
Who the hell hired these rainmakers in the last time? Only because of them it rained in such a bad plight since a week in chain.. It would be also this some grandniece of sister of brother-in-law of some wife of a deputy. Pulled out a lazy RAGAIT. Voice of ulcer.
The typewriter retook at last its monotonous jingling.
-What name would be also this… he heard her nagging for self.
At radio were just broadcast last damages brought by the catastrophic floods. Since the beginning of this year, all news started, invariably, with same alarming meteorological and hydrologic bulletin. Lastaru learned them by heart, as advertisements with detergents. Millimeters column of mercury. Celsius degrees. Liters on square head. The earliest spring since French revolution onwards. The biggest volume of rainfall since revolt of Horea, Closca and Crisan. Biggest level of Neajlov after battle of Calugareni. Grave climatic anomalies. Catastrophic sera effect. New cardiac accidents. New drowning. Decree of emergency state. End of world.. Ring now to 666, incredible discounts to price of hydro bycycles!
-Let it more in mute, please, that my mind enters at water – Lastaru grumbled.
A yawning of a hippopotamus. An aspirin with a sip of soda water. A reflex control of wrist watch. Then he stood from chair cracking from all vertebras and went to collate already first pages of typed material.
“…From discussions had with writer Titel Popescu, director of Alphabet Publishing House resulted that during years 1985-1986, when he was working as editor to review Theatre, it was proposed to him the reading of a manuscript signed by prose writer Abba Strul, by agency of literary secretary of Theatre…”
Door opened suddenly interrupted him from reading. Amanda with her celebrate mini gone. Classic argument in antiquity. Earth is round because from woman appear at horizon, first of all, masts.
Did you make also to me that ordinance and appeal? Amanda asked the new typist.
-I am sorry, I didn’t type more than two-three pages. Mr.Struba left me a material very thick and has to find it ready when he gets back from province.
-Again Struba, of course! From the beginning of year I hear only oh him!…
Exasperation intensified aroma of her soap. Eating her by eyes, Lastaru said to self, collection of report can wait. He offered her gallantly upholstered chair brought from his home living room.
-I have no so much time, jewel. In a quarter of hour, my POTERA arrives with a proposal of arrest.
-A, the smuggler. But why are you wearing red: some one hoodoo you… last night?
Sitting with crossed legs, she measured him with princely pity, but not from head to heels, only on length of SLITS.
-Leave the red, little bull… Is any more coffee in the pot?
-I am not Bull, I am Scorpio.
-Really! I wonder, for needle isn’t quiet visible…
She pronounced “really” (zau) pouting, as Germans would pronounce So. He bowed over her to answer her at ear.
-By the way with seeing. Don’t wear so short, that your gun is seen.
-Sictir you sick
The typist came with a thimble of little cup as bib as Greek coffee. At least protocol she was made as required. Amanda pushed aside Lastaru’s soda which embarrassed her.
-How long I drink it, give also me to read what you had time to write from my materials.
-Only three pages from motivation of appeal, you know…rainmaker excused herself once again, giving the guilt on heap of drafts close by.
Lastaru walked from there to there, then opened the cardboard to take his purse with breakfast. Full shelves full with conserves and juices like a shop-window.
-What do you have there, somehow pickles? Amanda pointed.
-Little cucumbers in vinegar. Against hangover.
-Give one also to me, for you make appetite to me.
Lastaru rummaged in glass jar. He chosen the biggest he could fish.
-What do you say, will this be good for you?
A jet of soda whistled in air over desk. Lastaru stepped aside giggling. Luck with newspaper opened over files, like a coverlet.
Amanda received required papers and started reading. For parallelism he retook also his interrupted reading.
“…labels of pestiferous and fool author, avoided by publishers only because of censorship of those years. His repudiation had been brought by subject of story inspired by a real incident in which had been involved a county cultural activist. The writer had refused with stubbornness to present his character under another name, motivating that such a concession would be tantamount to abolishing of book in its whole. However, in opinion expressed by Mr. Titel Popescu, the true provocation wouldn’t be represented by name of respective party activist (obscure, otherwise), but “oracular and symbolist co-notations of occurrence evoked there, rising work in ensemble to another scale, surpassing both level of diverse fact and of political allusion.” In brief, it was question of a bet made by cultural propagandist St.Balaur with mayor of a commune and a group of local people “having as stake superstition”. Set to put end to aggressive obscurantism of peasants from there frightened by supposed in-ghost turning of deceased by name Gheorghe Militaru, tovul (comrade) had moved to face of place for convoking a meeting of “atheist-scientific” education with responsible factors and didactic staff from commune. In that occasion he learned about supposed haunting of deceased’s house invoked by his relatives (phenomena of type Poltergeist) and traditional practices of that responsible for such manifestations, respectively passing by hoarse over graves, etc. Services of hallowing of house made repeatedly by priest didn’t give results, either because unfaithfulness of beneficiaries, or from other causes. Still worse, priest had adventured to do Prayers of Saint Vasile the Great (most dangerous exorcisms) an got seriously ill. In clerical media is well known that this service of demons pulling out involves assuming of unaccountable risks from side of practicing priests, against whom provoked satanic forces are not late to react violently, offering to witnesses true performances of horror. Such experiences can be seen especially at Cernica, where hierurgy is officiated by team of redoubtable father Argatu, or at monastery Dervent, where abbot Andrei practice it currently. Procedure requires a long preliminary preparation both of ill ones suspect of possession came in pilgrimage (some sent just by psychiatric doctor) and of reading priests or monks, as a measure of prevention of dangers brought by this exorcism extremely strong. But villagers interpreted occurrence of their imprudent priest as a confirmation of in-ghost turning of deceased GR.M. Neither old women’s exorcisms from village didn’t help at all.
Cemetery was situated at end of village, isolated on peak of hill completely uninhabited, in a place nobody would adventured after dark falling even accompanied by own dogs. Pulling hosts’ leg and criticizing the mayor for encouraging retrograde attitudes of “fundamental mysticism,” St. Balaur has bet with them he will go alone at midnight on peak of that hill and will thrust a knife in the grave of called Gheorghe Militaru, in order to demonstrate lack of fundament of any superstition. If he will succeed, then local authorities will take a solemn engagement to put definitively an end to those states of things, under threat of rough political sanctions. As a material proof of action, it will serve, of course, the knife left to “place of crime”. After protocol diner offered to guest by judetseana (county management), at which…”
-It swarms with mistakes!…he heard Amanda reproaching with typist. Here had to be principle non reformatio in peius – cause it is in Latin – not “non reformatsio in pennis”…Then, on page 3 are “monozygotic twins” and not at all “vizigoth” twins. And farther on, in place of “Supreme Court has quashed decision of instance”, you written to me “castrated decision”.
Lastaru laughed hidden. He was right with the new typist. Stupid that stumble over carpet.
“…Seeing that it had made one o’clock after midnight and comrade from county was late to return, the remained to mayor siege begun to make all kinds of suppositions. Either that he was a coward and at the end of village, instead of getting down from car and climbing hill to cemetery, he had changed his mind, keeping strait away. Or that bet was done only as bluff and he return to town pure and simple. Or that he would got lost by there, that torch remain without battery. That merited: devil had put him to play peacock with them? Anyhow it was clear they were by now waiting for nothing. And when clock rang by two, they had worried for good, that mayor and chief of police post advised is better to undertake something instead of overtaking them morning staying there keeping hands in pockets. They gathered with moil and toil a troop from some shepherds and foresters more courageous, took a flock of hounds with them and started by walk toward village end with rope of garlic around neck and little axe on back, making crosses as big as cross Caraiman. They had also taken with them one called Mitica Cutsulachi, who knew two-three psalms and had a knife of silver. Firs they found man’s car near bridge, drawn on right and locked. Then, from village fireplace, people could see them, on peak of hill, groping about with gas and battery lamps. And they found him. Fallen just on grave of Gheorghe Militaru, in which he had stroke indeed the knife fully. He was dead, but hadn’t any bite of beast, neither cuts, nor at least a bump. What had happen? Out of fear, St. Balaur didn’t strike the knife by face but by back; and you can'’ do such thing other than bowing. And as he hadn’t dare then neither to watch over shoulder the grave he couldn’t know he had pierced his coat. And so, when stood to go, blade stroke in hard dust pulled him suddenly downward. To feel the dead pull you back, that’s a good frightening! On spot had broke his heart then of fright, as autopsy had to confirm later on. Though a simple story with this subject almost cries alone its title, however author’s option contradicted this anticipation, preferring to The Bet another title, entirely foreign to substance and signification of opera, the bizarre monochrome Blue (Albastru). From evocation of writer Titel Popescu it appeared also, though he didn’t know personally the author, that he could learn from literary media about reactions of Abba Strul about rejection of proposal of manuscript for publication, in spite of good offices deposited in his favor. Two different versions circulated in this regard. According to one, the above named had recourse to a unusual form of protest by mural transcription of manuscript in space of own accommodation (as well as correspondence destined to Monica Lovinescu on address Free Europe at Munchen – but stopped from expedition – and a few contacts with some foreign journalists). According to another version, mural transcription had been only a precaution author had taken against risk of intellectual theft after “straying” of the original by some censors. In any case, this extravagance – to don’t say differently – opened free way to gradual accreditation of prose writer Abba Strul as an individual with doubtful diplomas of graduating mental faculties. In other order of ideas, from verifications of Romanian Service of Information resulted that archives of former Securitate certifies supervision of Abba Strul in years 1986-1988, but without investigations or coercive measures undertook ever against him. To be seen in this sense communication deposited at…”
A strident bell like a claxon thrummed somewhere so closely, that Lastaru jumped frightened, throwing on carpet the purse with rests from breakfast. He had forgotten totally about existence of telephone.
-Step aside, tram passes! Amanada amused herself copiously.
He profited by gathering garbage from down from spying from new perspective. Bowed over desk to rise receiver, supported by elbows, with little back in wind. Yes, ideal position. To be tried sometime, here, after program hours.
-They already arrived, Amanda explained. I go to me. Merci for coffee.
A red spot disappearing in horizon. The earth curb.
-In the after-noon, if you haven’t boat, I offer myself to row you up to home- Lastaru cried after her, rattling.
Swallowing dryly he returned to Struba’s report. A groan slipped from mouth of wet glass the typist was rubbing brutally with a towel.
“…and like a shield His truth will surround you. You will be not afraid of night fear, of arrow flying like the day, of thing running in darkness, of epidemic haunting at noon…Over serpent-aspida and basilisk you will pass, and over lion and dragon-balaur will walk. Ha-li-luuu-i-aaah…”
Image had appeared suddenly on monitor, without any generic or warning. Amateur movie. In first plan, in entourage of deacons singing shilly-shally at head of dead in the church porch.
-Let’s see what have we here, young operator said from desk.
Young. Swarthy, with a tar of moustache. Black vest of skin beaten with spikes. Unsuccessful reincarnation of a Freddie Mercury.
“…God, do rest soul of Your sleeping slave Vicentsiu in lighted place, in place with greenery, in place of rest, from where all pain gone, sadness and sighing. And any mistake made by him with word, with thing or with thought, as good God and loving people, forgive to him…”.
Those present at service answered in choir: “God forgive him.”
You would expect he will feel disgusted visioning that record which didn’t say him anything. A little film, vapid, from a family archive, with anonymous faces of mourning relatives. But, surprisingly, the rocker from desk seemed to like what he was doing. At most, under appearance of his tense expression, you could guess him listening to monotonous psalmody of priest only with an ear, the other pricking it up toward noise of own thoughts.
“…Where is illusion of those transient? Where gold and silver? All are now dust, all ash, all shadow…”
From the back of Freddie’s ghost, two more guys watched screen with same interest. Masked by montage studio penumbra, they had remained standing without undressing their coats. A third one, with beard Rimski-Korsakov and spectacles fasten with a golden chain, relaxed cross-legged along with operator, leaning with elbow against desk. This indulged in a monologue without address , following image:
-Look, that is me, keeping myself from candle. I was sleepless for three nights.
By the time being, interior shot they assisted to yet didn’t let foresee anything suspect. Only rosary and old women crouched at feet of AXIONITEI crossing themselves quickly. Crosses made also young operator, by eyes. He was watching in all sides, seemingly hunting some trickery or anomaly.
“…And if this slave of You has fallen under the curse of his father, or of his mother, or under his curse, if he embittered some priest and took from him some untied tie, if he fallen in heavy accurse from archbishop and from indifference or laziness he didn’t gain forgivness, forgive this through me the sinner and unworthy servant of You…”
Psalms had passed, Teofan’s canon had passed, also eight verse of Damaschin, then Happiness Verse. Now PROHOD was ending and priest uttered prayers of forgiving.
“…forgive to Your slave Vicentsiu everything he mistaken as a man in this life, and forgive to him as many as sinned with word, or with thing, untie him also by tie put in any shape over him, with which himself out of anger or other cause tied self, or from archbishop or from somebody else suffered a slipping like this, by envy and by work of devil…”.
Priest kissed little icon put on chest of deceased. Then he addressed those present, according to rite of service:
“Come, brothers, to give to dead the last kiss…”
And exactly in that moment, in a perfect synchronization, a first plan of camera profaned wax cheek of deceased. Some petrified and ruby lips, a barrier of corals by which flowing silences stroke. In front of it, tens of kisses of relatives were as many shipwrecks.
“…Seeing the man laying, let all think to last hour, for man passes like smoke on earth…”
Now they gravitated with torches around dead, one by one. A miniature solar system.
When do you say was this? One of men remained standing asked, vaguely impatient.
-1988, mm…in Arminden (first May) day.
-The two guys in coats changed among them a indecipherable look. One turned his head toward Rimski-Korsakov with a doubtful air as if his spectacles of a grandmother hanged on neck would make him hard to be taken seriously.
“When the soul is ravished with strength from body by frightening angels, he forgets of all relatives and acquaintances and takes care of those in future to be over vanity and much tormented body…”
Service was practically over. Gathering started singing rarely “Eternal memory”, while relatives kept at deceased head coliva (boiled wheat).
-Go farther, Tommy – barbed one urged the young operator. For we don’t really stay until they pull out the dead and mount him in hearse.
The other one started to handle apparatuses from around with dexterity of a disk-jockey. Image succeeded accelerated, with few interruptions for testing..
-From here on?…
-Until you see pomp reaching cemetery. So…About here.
Image of a holiday in last years of dictatorship. Day of praise to labour, day of solidarity in beer shops and swimming pools. A military fanfare was just turning street corner. On its steps a full procession buzzed around booths with beer and grilled minced meat balls. Pants with red stripe, supreme triumph over imperialist hoodoo of everywhere. Men issued to defilement carrying boastfully their decorations. Women from house of culture masquerading in peasant skirts and row silk headdress received on inventory. Kids agitating little flags. Stiff colonels in parade uniform. From door of a pub, a cook gives honor dressed in festive smells. Red placards with slogans are bandages imbibed by hemorrhage of a deadly wounded epoch.
By an irony of fate, funerary cortege crossed brass music of fanfare at entance of cemetery.
-Jump before a little more, the barbed indicated again.
Cassette was unrolled quickly other few seconds, then it retook suddenly its normal rhythm.
Red fund of street had disappeared. Now, they saw themselves under high vaults of a cemetery. Procession of burying just arrived toward end. Priest sprinkled in cross the inanimate body with wine mixed with edible oil.
-Now. Attention to distant plan!…Rimski-Korakov said, pulling his chair with a jerk close to monitor.
The two men in shadow approached, too, for watching from near over shoulder of young milksop who was answering at name of Tommy.
-Here. Look backward, behind alley…
All four bowed instinctively their heads ahead. In first plan, ropes were letting down the coffin on hole bottom, accompanied by wailing of some women. In décor, some benumbed pensioners on benches, conspiring autumns and plots for killing of time.
-Did you see him? In the right of fountain, in perspective.
They concentrated over given landmark, searching in green profoundness of vegetation.
Spine of a man sitting in front of a grave.
-Now, attention, he will stand to go…barbed anticipated with spectacles put now on nose.
And indeed, very soon the unknown risen slowly from down, tarrying one moment more with bowed head. Then he turned on heels and started toward alley with chestnut trees, discovering his face. Suddenly, Lastaru’s face appeared clearly in the beating of May sun rays.
Carriers of coats followed him tensed at maximum. Two cheetahs at watch. One murmured:
-Be attentive, Tommy, give here slowly until I tell you – continued little grandmother with spectacles and barb.
Something started immediately to rattle like a metronome and movement of image was decomposed. They followed silhouette of Lastaru filtered by branches, walking slowly in leek like light, as through a sera. At a given moment, he disappeared behind priest from closed plan, while this was taking earth with shovel throwing it crossways over dead saying:
-“Of God is earth and its fruits, world and all living in it”…
And after he versed in grave the ash from censer, father pulled back, making room to gravediggers for starting to fill up.
-Stop! the barbed from close by grasped exactly in that moment.
Instantly, image turned to stone, reduced to a photograph only.
-So, now you focalize place from where he had started and approach up.
The teenager clapped rapidly keyboard in front of him. He watched from so close the images, that you could follow them directly on his face.
The small funerary monument from depth of perspective, at feet of which they had seen Lastaru sitting, begun to grow dizzily.
-Process it a little, Tommy. As clear as you can.
A few other technical procedures followed, executed with a faultless rapidity. Suddenly, on white marble it profiled readable an inscription with black capitals knee- high to a grasshopper. Over it, in an oval medallion, the photograph of a young woman.
Triumphant, the barbed pivoted on chair toward the two spectators in coats and watched them professorially by over his flattened spectacles. Stupefied, they still stared to fresh bouquet of white lilac from that grave.
They have forgotten even to breath.
The envelope didn’t carry stamps and nor tag, proof it was not sent by post, but left in box by professor Turbala personally, or by some errand boy. Probably, this had searched Struba home immediately after his departure to Dobroudja and, not finding him, he left some urgent message. After she unlocked and entered apartment, Rut hesitated long time with envelope in hand. She used since years the key received from Al. But never risen correspondence in his absence. But this time, it was question about an unusual envelope, left open and introduced by under door, which tempted almost irresistible. She decided at last to see the content, solacing with speculation that, after all, non indicating explicitly of addressee made her curiosity almost excusable. More, if it was somehow question about an important communication which didn’t suffered postponement, she could ring Al just now to hotel reception, as they had convened. But immediately after, interior of envelope disappointed her in same measure as had tempted. It was no letter there, only a newspaper article with microscopic letters, cut at sizes of a banknote. Nothing, in rest. It wasn’t accompanied by any explaining note. However, a laconic annotation drawn attention. Below article a hand had written calligraphic with violet ink: “Extremely strange”.
Yesterday evening, Circus Globus hosted a new representation of celebrate company Zeno whose acrobats became in last three years one of most appreciated items by public. Unfortunately, the program of spectacle was interrupted by a tragic accident during execution of traditional hop-step-and-jump, most dangerous proof in repertory of company. A launching mistakenly calculated which should lead to coupling of the three brothers in a human chain suspended under cupola of circus, cost life of young Iozefin Zeno, youngest in troop, putting prematurely an end to a career and a talent of great future. The absence of protecting net made out athlete’s fall in gap his last flight, all efforts deposed by medicines for his rescue proving vain. From unconfirmed sources, it resulted among those close to victim circulates strange speculation according to which his death would coincide surprisingly to destiny of Tibetan little statue which had belonged to him, personal souvenir from a tour at Calcutta. The deceased had preserved it permanently in his cabin as a porte-bonheur until yesterday evening when, in the eve of spectacle, statue had fallen accidentally on flooring and had broken. The unexpected and irreparable loss of Iozefin Zeno gave a heavy stikr to members of troop, as well as to hopes connected by future of this. As it is well known, the brothers Zeno had the merit to have succeeded, by successes obtained in tours abroad, to impose recognition of artistic level of ensemble of Romanian circus, contributing thus to raising of prestige of our national values and to development of cultural exchanges.
Reflex, she remembered discussion she had with Al at coffee house about magic breaking of puppets and statues practiced by wizards voodoo That evening when they quarreled because of doctor Tarus. Indian tour, mentioned in article, told her also something unclear. Something in connection with one of victims of celebrate killing room, a type who grew a cobra in balcony from home… Of course, trainer of snacks at circus. He had gained cobra at a bet just there, at Calcutta. And how both of them. Trainer and acrobat, were employed in circus troop, it means very probably they made that tour together. But what particularly seemed to professor Turbala “extremely strange” in accident happened under circus cupola? Rut didn’t succeed to understand. From game it seemed to lack some pieces, only Al and professor had them.
So she hanged up her ax and entered directly under shower. Anything would have awaken suspicions of professor in that article, certainly respective news could wait for Al’s return, a day or two. One who seemed couldn’t wait any more had been, so, just the sender, judging after procedure used. Probably professor hurried himself to leave for province, at some archaeological workshop, in accordance with custom.
Then she opened mechanically television and, condemned to tiredness, left herself crucified on bed. Soporific effect of a television left going in an undertone was sweetest drug in world. Last intelligible sounds she caught perceive came from a report about popular customs on way of disappearance. A blond mayor, with obsolescent bang a la Titus from about 1800, explained to woman reporter why in their commune police took measure to prohibit ancient custom of crying couplets in the night of Easter fast beginning. “Why, after all, two groups of lads, mounted on two hills face to face, not dialog in big mouth, gossiping marriageable girls in village in virtue of constitutional rights?” “Because they exaggerated too much, madam, with piggy calumnies at shelter of darkness, hurling in hearing of all village how someone is lazy and some other whore, that some had to issue certificate they are virgins, and in vain, that authors couldn’t be anyhow identified…”
The spring rushed in town like a bull.
Rummaged by wind, young noises arise everywhere. Whitewashed trees. Roofs clanging under hammers. Newspapers cried in street. Beatings of carpets. Fresh painted boats drying with belly at sun. From sea port, echo of heavy metals resound: groan of pulleys, bells of cranes, deaf thuds of ships repaired in docs. Weakened, the town creaks from all joints, shaken by breeze.
Early morning, Struba got down from hotel with hesitant steps, as if he was wearing someone else’s shoes. He went first up to dikes, to see the sea licking its wounds after storm of last night. He felt fresh smell of roused leviathan. He looked for long there to blinding sparkling in the offing, getting drunk by light. He thought he and this exhausted sea had something in common. After thirteen weeks of claustration in mystery of killing room, the horizons seemed at last to open in front of him. He started slowly on inclined little roads of old port quarter in search of Turkish coffee. Sailors, dockers, office workers navigated to and fro restlessly. Arms of passer-byes hanged like some anchors to short over a sunk continent.
He found in a little market a deserted pub and established there. He preferred outside terrace in the beating of soft sun of a abnormal early spring. He hadn’t slightest idea how to reach from here to Hermitage of Martyrs. Hotel receptionist wasn’t of any help to him. About a hour of way on road, toward North judging after map. Isn’t strange that there, in a sector of 30 square kilometers, most of monachal establishments were concentrated on this side of Danube, as a flock gathers from instinct before an imminent cataclysm? Cilic, Dere, Cocosh, Saun, names with curious resonance.
Struba thought repeatedly to them and watched absently the coach just stopped in square. Some group of foreign tourists arrived prematurely, perhaps misinformed about data when seacoast season started at us.
But to his surprise, some seconds later he saw a numerous group of monks or priests getting down from couch. Coincidence amused him. Some of them remained in parking discussing or working at luggage, but the rest spread slowly on little roads from neighborhood, seeming to have not a precise target. Judging after red or purple belt some were girded with over surplice, distinctive sign for some prelates of superior order, it may be question rather of some delegation to a local synod, than to a ritual procession.
A small group of canons approached pub terrace. It couldn’t be more adequate occasion to get information about some monasteries. Since clerics came and sat at one of close tables, he had disappointment to hear them speaking in an unknown language. They sent to buffet inside one of them who seemed to be their guide. Struba hesitated. Perhaps was more indicated to sound couch’s driver. He saw him smoking in parking, remained apparently in expectance. Perhaps it was question only of a halt, towards other destination. In any case, they just arrived and nobody gave any sign of hurry, so that he decided to wait for the time being before taking a initiative.
-Let me give you in ghioc-conch, boyar, of luck, of love…
A Gypsy chivutsa with baby-puradel in arms.
-Circulate! Struba sent her away, making him busy with map.
Escape scab. You can’t.
-Oh my, what lot of cares you have at heart, boyar, put only a coin here and the Gypsy unties now of them, of charm, of spell-making shall I eat your cock!
Imprudent , he threw on table a banknote rather to get rid of her mouth.
-Take, for the little one, and now go away.
As she was standing near him with ghioc-conch put at ear, he saw Rut arranging her stethoscope. “I am ill of heart Mrs. Doctor…” “Don’t say, since when?” “Since I met you. Is something heard in funnel?…” “It is heard a lie. Let take now also your tension”. ”Take it, but then give it back to me.
-You have cares like hell. A woman blue at eyes is in tears after you, one you are in house with her, widow or separated. Some men gathered in a place want wrong to you, seemingly they would give you hard charm, know you. You have a journey now but you don’t make you any more.
-Why not make it, what ghioc-conch says? Struba left him caught in game.
-I don’t know, your mouth I shall eat, yes, it sounds so, as way which closes. And avoid falling…
-And you, woman, keep from bottle beyond stove! A voice was heard so close that Struba started.
He pivoted on chair, blinking eyes toward sun rising at dark silhouette in his back, which perspective contre-jour made it almost impossible to watch. Only after shape moved from sun direction, he recognized the monk sent to buffet by his brothers after edibles. Surprised by this apparition, Strub forgotten to enjoy hearing a so maternal language. Big woman disappeared from there like a ghost, as if she saw Saint Peter.
Cordial, Struba made a gesture of ease:
-You dropped on the dot, pious! This Piranda was foretelling me only misfortunes. I am grateful you got me rid of such a croaker…
He could well may be some five years more than him, if beard and deep eye circles didn’t exaggerate disparity. Monk received gratitude with a wag bow, but full of good will.
-If I don’t commit a disrespect concerning your brothers, I should offer my company at this table. Are you by the way fasting?
-The true fast is not knowing another you fast, monk answered abiguously.
He sat however, thanking, on chair offered insistently by Struba. Who asked:
-What did you want to say, in fact, with bottle behind stove? Is it a saying?
-It is a bottle with diesel oil.
Struba seemed with no compass.
For lighting fire wood, canonic added.
-So, you know that chivutsa-Gypsy?
-Until a while before I didn’t know at least she existed.
-And yet you know she has home a bottle with diesel oil behind stove...
-Now, yes. In Lazarus’ Saturday, awaken by overnight cold, woman will put in stove an arm of brushwood which, being wet by rain, will not fire. Then she will take bottle and will throw over them diesel oil in plenty. The flame will light kerchiefs around neck and skirts and her mad running through household will intensify stronger the fire. She will end burnt alive, and house a lighted torch will be only her candle. The diesel oil had been once robbed from reservoir of ambulance service van, cause of which driver couldn’t intervene at an emergency case and a woman had deceased. Shivers crossed Struba’s spine. The monk explained all these with a perfect calm. Was he just a prophet, or only some lunatic? Lazarus’ Saturday. He tried to remember quickly when Easter was falling, but he got entangled in calculation.
-Therefore, she is followed by a god curse.
-Talion, not curse. Divine repair is talion. Curse is sanction
Indeed, Struba thought. Punishment given for an injustice isn’t same with repair of that injustice. You may be sometime forgiven of punishment, but damage has always be paid. Even if judges would condemned Aurel Bau, in head of his gang of rascals, at maximum sentence, would this really compensate victim? At most, would solaced her, likely. It is just argument her potential avengers would invoke.
-Confusion is frequent, his interlocutor continued. People think talion law is a procedure of divine punishment, from where also formulas Greeks designated it by in old tine: “the punishment” of Neoptolemos, other time “the curse” of Buzygos. Some anonymous hand wrote usually on funerary monument of victim of a killing the following epitaph: “The man who killed me buried me here to hide his crime: if he presented me with a grave, then let him receive same present!” That is, cursing his killer, the deceased didn’t pray anyhow to gods for punishing him, but wished to the guilty to receive the talion, the only just equivalent of murder. Otherwise, what punishment would really resurrect a dead?
The unexpected turn their words exchange took awaken thoroughly Struba from sweet slumber of that marine morning.
-This Buzygos you mentioned, who was? he asked.
-The first plough man in Attica. Yoke of bulls, it is said, would have been his invention, from where also name, for in Greek zygos means yoke.. Also to him are due the first norms in regulating agricultural works, whose encroachment was punished by putting at yoke those guilty.
-And the other one? With name as of medicine, Neo…
-He was Achile’s son. Killed just near Delphi altar. What has been interpreted as divine punishment. By symmetry, Neoptolem had killed Priam also near an altar, that from Troy.
-Strange symmetry, indeed…Struba thought loudly.
-Always happened like that. Declension of Corinthian wars itself was considered a “punishment of Neoptolem” applied to Spartans for their trick by which they had destroyed Athenian fleet.
Struba felt acutely handicap of having not close by professor Turbala. It became more and more evidently that, by himself alone, he will not cope for continuation of a dialog in direction it had take now. And however, subject was irresistible. It was worth to be scratched to blood.
-Tell me, is it true Salomea would have pay with her own head for Baptizer’s head? he asked.
-She was beheaded ice edge when ice pack broken at crossing a lack.
-Fantastic, Struba exclaimed.
-Like morals, it would suit here a word of Stefan Tomsha. He had a tragic-comical curse in rhymes he addressed to any sentenced to death, before execution:
“Be not forgiven by God
with that your big head”.
For he was out of way avenging and pitiless. Cruel voievod born in sign of bloody Aquarius.
-As if the others were more domestic? For many of them, anger and quick reflexes were almost hereditary. Draculas, Mushatins…Tsepesh and Stephen the Great were cousin brothers, isn’t so? Most dangerous. Quick at hands as some Texan pistoleers.
With arms crossed on chest, the monk relaxed on chair back. He hesitated a few moments, sign he prepared to bring a small corrective to Struba’s generalization. He answered:
-I don’t think it was something congenital. Radu the Great, for instance: a remarkable exception. To schoolboys hardly it is remembered about him. The, not all executions were barbarian, without preliminary trial. Not even in pathological cases. An aunt from Priboieni of Muscel brought me in one village of them by name Albutele, to show me the place of house in which Draculea judged when passing by there. As story goes, he had in big villages his house of judgment like that, with table, stake and gallows, all plate.
-Of course, he put a barrage question, like Sphinx, and judgement ready! Struba snorted. If didn’t answer something original to tickle his whims, he would skin you alive and up in stake! At least at Russian roulette your chance is decided by fate.
-What I was telling you? Just for that arrived, at last, also his head in peak of a stake, at Istambul. Talion law. In battle from Balteni, he disguised in Turk for diversion (old trick), but just out of confusion, he was killed with spear just by his soldiers. History is a delice, with condition be not learnt from school handbooks, where it is written only what is convenient to us. No crimes, no beastliness, no demented. All is rose-bonbon, like bulls’ tongue. Or, talion repairs were so frequent that they became an obsession for chroniclers. Wherever you open the chronicle, you find some justice comment. You open Costin – you see usurper Razvan paying with same currency for Aron-voda. You open Neculce – meet despot Duca-voda paying with same currency for boyar Ursachi.
-To me, writing of chroniclers gave pains of eyes. You know, that unique color of old language, that unredeemable…
-Blue of chronicle.
-It make them today almost inaccessible, isn’t so?
-Not at all. “Then, learning Duca-voda, bad news cataroia stroke him and died on the spot”.It’s game of children.
-That is apoplexy, isn’t it? Struba translated. Funny, indeed.
-Also a “head for head” may have been also that of Michel, beheaded in his tent by two German captains, just as he proceeded with Andrei Bathory when he had caught him lost in a forest.
-But in painting by Lecca didn’t they thrust him with javelin?…
-It doesn’t correspond to facts. When they rushed over him, Michel in fact didn’t have time even to rise from bedcloth.
A lad with apron by neck came to bring edibles. For all people, a sort of Calabrese salad, only tomato in olive oil and basil. A poverty.
One of monks from close by table, stout, you could mix him up with Demis Roussos, cried after piccolo:
-Kiapoenan kafe, aparetitos!
-Of course, some little coffees, son – the unusual Struba’s invitee translated for waiter.
The character just fascinated him. Still from childhood, monks, disguised under their POTCAPURI and CULIOANE, seemed to him ridiculous. Guilty were probably Rabelaisian parodies. But now, Struba felt dominated: an enthralling which, acme, produced to him a hidden pleasure. He discovered his cup or coffee was already emptied. To pull more from time, he proposed to himself to encore. As about hermitage itinerary he had forgotten totally.
-From as much as I understand now, what we accustomed to call “immanent justice” is just this law of providential repair – he said conclusively, waiting for a confirmation.
The monk was chewing rarely, with dark eyes remained fixed at shining in the large of sea. To black sparkles making guard to gates of light.
-We accustomed badly, he answered. Once it is natural law, it can’t be “justice” any more,, for really creation laws work by themselves, as automatic mechanism, without any intervention. You hear commenting: Ah, see God paid that after his doings!…Mistaken. People don’t read. Avdie had written clearly: “As you did, so will be done to you, your doing will return over you”. Same also Osea. Idem also in Paralipomena. Ultra banal saying “as deed, so pay” reproduces literally Isaiah words. For no cause remains without effects: immanence law. Or, “justice” is just opposed to immanence, for punishments don’t apply single, but they need a judge to intervene.
-But only provisory, as a preparatory coercion before true posthumous judgement. Only then we do see definitive justice! As long as he lives, in earthly body, part of man is the immanence, the natural laws. After what, post mortem, good-bye nature and natural laws, that landscape changes!…
A few seagulls yelled stridently passing over their heads, in search of some eaves. Roofs of shining tin plate cut a sky so strongly colored that Struba couldn’t watch it. A blue pain.
-To me, your piety, something isn’t clear here… Why was it prescribed to archaic man “tooth for tooth”, if talion is an automatism which works anyhow?
-Just because he was “archaic”. In order to learn the world is governed by laws which don’t forgive.
-Then Christ, more recently, why did he preach the turn of other cheek?
-Just because man was “more recent”, more mature. To learn that judge can however forgive him, as pity less as laws can be. That true power is to forgive, not to punish. Otherwise, with cudgel knows striking any good-for-nothing. “And forgive us our mistakes, as well as we forgive those mistaking to us”. It is only possible issue from vicious circle of “tooth for tooth”.
-Struba blinked eyes, seeming to see a light through a half-open door.
-That is, there are not two contradictory rules, but different perspectives on one and same rule? he said on an unsure voice.
-When child is still small and stupid, you punish him when he pies in bed, in order to learn him with little pot. But when he becomes mature man and you see he makes still in pants, then you realize he is sick and feel pity for him, and instead of punishing him you forgive and bring him to a doctor. For any time also our turn to get ill can come. “As you want people to do for you, so do you for people.” And is this hypate law, really, other than just talion?
-Indeed, Struba recognized. Only that it is as a glove turned up-side-down.
-One and same glove, not something else, but somehow else.
-Divine curses would be, so, a sort of… education of “good manners” in wearing these gloves?
-Now you convinced is not so complicated? monk agreed. Unfortunately, lays don’t see in them other thing than revenges. From where also their process-mania. Day by day they knock at door of Judge with accurse and curses, asking him imperiously to make them justice, as if divine justice would need claims for mobilizing it.
Struba profited promptly by return of boy with coffees and asked him to prepare one more for himself. He returned then again to his companion:
-Inutility of human appeal to divine justice, you were saying. This was, so, reason for it was recommended to us to abstain from curses?
-One of reasons was perilousness of proceeding.
-Danger of “judicial errors”?
-Excluded. The judge of world doesn’t make errors.
-Not that accursed is exposed to danger, but just the one who gives accurse. Isn’t just that paradox put by Aeskylus in verse?
“Even when you ask from heavens your help,
The misfortune stays on your tongue!”
Because accurse involves revolt and anger and fury, indifferent of circumstances. Really, is it not an icon also television in front of which you kneel pathetically shouting when referee cancels a perfectly valid goal of your favored team?
-I am not a microbe-fan, Struba shrugged his shoulders. Evaluation of man after legs makes me sick. His interlocutor laughed with tooth of saw:
-But evaluation of woman?… I was saying, thus, that true shape of human curses is interior, be it exteriorized or not. As also psalmist noticed when saying:” with heart they were cursing me”. It’s right that it says “Give God” that train cut someone or I don’t know what else, but expressing in words is but only phenomenological aspect, secondary. Essential is, in fact, the attitude. Fire which crumbles you until finishes you “of bad heart”, or loses your minds like Anton Pann’s aphorism “If you want to make foolishness, do ask advice from anger” And if would be only falling to bad, still would be nothing. But current practicing of accurse equalizes a slow spiritual suicide, as suffered Judah, “who dressed in own curse like in a coat”…
-Psalm 108, Struba hit the target, with heavy armament of recent readings.
He may have looked ridiculous so, puffing himself up like hotel janitor mixed up with a marshal. However, occasion was too rare to not sell his ware, deposited with so much effort in last thirteen weeks.
The canonic stared him with a penetrating sight, reading him as a radiography.
-But I see we have in common more than a simple subject of conversation, if you permit me a remark. Judging after your preoccupation for our soul medicine, I suppose you represent one from two its close relatives: body medicine or social medicine.
-Very perspicacious! Struba risen the sleeve, amazed. But why close relatives?
-Surplice, white overall and black robe: look single fashion saloon nobody will ever visit with pleasure.
-You guessed, we have in common vestimentary black, Struba left himself unarmed.
In front of such man, didn’t make sense to hide. Actually, the monk didn’t seem surprised at all by confession he had provoked. He used with delicacy the napkin and then spoke again:
-If so, then, as man of law, you know probably about that law of emperor Teodosie who had declared as deprived of power and value ”the decisions took at anger” by some judges.
He hadn’t idea. But he was too much overwhelmed now to be able to control anymore his professional vanity or sensation of unpleasant.
-I didn’t know this, Struba recognized his ignorance.
-Proposed by bishop Ambrozie and promulgated by emperor with an exposition of reasons in genre “because you permit anger to judge, in stead that mind to make judicial investigation”
-But how did they ensure of its effective application?
-With a presumption. According to that law, it was compulsory a term of 30 days to pass after pronouncing of sentence, for calming the nerves, after what the file was reexamined “at cold”, as a grant of solidity of pronounced sentence. How do you find it?
-Absolutely sensational. Do continue.
-It is an unquestionable proof of seriousness with which they approaced by then the problem of nerves, as responsible as would be today verification of pilots state before flight. Anger is a quake which dismembers entire being, burying it alive under own ruins. Paul has metaphor that cut your breath: “Open grave is their throat…Their mouth is full of curse and bitterness”.
-Therefore, curses thrown by people are a boomerang?
-As any other sin.
-But the thrown boomerang returns in your nose on its lawful trajectory, exactly to point of departure, only if you didn’t hit upon kangaroo – Struba noticed.
-But you don’t even hit it. Kangaroos don’t die when dogs want it. But everybody dies after how it was written to him.
-Then, how do you explain that characters from among most pious in The Old Testament were heard cursing of all beauty, and their curses just took shape? The venerable Elisei, for instance. When those guttersnipes from Bethel accosted him, at issue from citadel, mocking him and crying at him “Bald one!”, the old man cursed them with name of God, isn’t so? And immediately appeared from forest judicial executioners, two ours which tore them as some vagabond dogs.
-You forget Elisei wasn’t lay man, he was “man Of God”- monk answered. The Chronicle of Kings designates him by this phrase no less than 22 times. Formule with which, actually, contemporaries addressed also Ilie Tesviteanul. They were people full of charisma, by whom mouth divine justice announced its sentences, as it was warning over future by mouth of prophets. Curses of these saints were therefore only apparent: they weren’t accusers, but messengers of Judge himself.
-That is, there were, in fact, some divine curses communicated to lay mortals?
-Similarly to how radio communicates are transmitted by mouth of speakers.
-But when a saint wants to complaint to his chief, how does he address concretely? Struba was surprised.
-They pray for straightening of evil without asking punishment of guilty ones. For vainly are you saint and your complaint just, if you have no right to accuse. Not claim of divine justice will be stimulation, but its doxology.
-Its glorification. Isn’t it logical? Who claims divine justice, pretending with pluck to show it, that in fact doubts about it. Like Thomas.
-Paradoxical…Struba remained embarrassed.
-Because of universality. For accuser may say his individual grief, but providence is not his private justice, it is of all. What would mean to give him satisfaction with prize of ignoring of billions of complaints of other sighing ones? Their prejudicial, what would be unconceivable for a Judge who grants justice with his own Name. For just archive is packed with files! To don’t say any wronged is, at his turn, guilty in front of others. Imagine ultra complicated solutions given to this jungle of individual responsibilities! In this anthill, no wonder act of God justice becomes almost impossible to recognize it. From also doubt of many he wouldn’t exist indeed. For blind believe only what he touches.
-And yet some believers pay ACATISTE at church for punishment of their personal enemies, is it true?
-I don’t deny some pass them in POMELNICE at column “enemies”. But priest, in fact, prays for those, to be brought on good way, for orthodoxy is not anyone’s cudgel. It would contravene to universal plan of rescue of Man.
Struba reflected a few seconds to this new concept. It wasn’t easy at all to accommodate. Until three years ago, you didn’t hear else than of “five-year plans”.
-But… monk curses? he played his last card. Two examples, if you permit me. First, famous Tie of curse of Saint Calinic. For just I saw it with my eyes written under his photograph there, on that iron cross, when I climbed on mountain to monastery Frasinei.. I was in holiday at Olaneshti, once. And if would be only that misogynous inscription, with interdiction for fair sex to enter monastery, let it be. But tragedies happened there as many times as it was encroached upon entered already legend: wagons slipped in precipices, people thundered on way, tore by beasts, etcaetera, stories absolutely sensational.
-That fore women did also arrange a shrine for worship in the valley, separately – monk confirmed.
-The second case I know from hermits in Vorona, about a rogue boyar who with false acts had monopolized the estate of Coshula hermitage. This was somewhere nearby, at half our walking. Chased from there, the monks cursed the Harpagon and in a good day, during some works on the land, family of that has fallen victim to an accident.
-It may be so. Only that in case of these charismatics not their own curse enters in game, but just the divine one. For they, I already told you, were only some ushers of heavenly trials. Otherwise, God doesn’r wait claims from us, but prayers. Doesn’t Epifaniu say in Panarion“… Any blasphemer with his curse, any monk with his prayer?
-And doesn’t priest pray at burials for untying the deceased from likely parents or confessing curses, or somehow “if he has fallen in heavy accurse from archbishop”? Struba insisted.
-But also he untie then him “of tie put in any shape over him…from archbishop, or from someone else he suffered a slip like this, through envy and work of devil…” Read Panihida. For through mouth of man, be he even archbishop, both God and devil can utter, but unbinding of words only God can give him. Cause the other one has no interest: “If devils could be pulled out of man with help of Satan, that means Satan would split within self: and then how would last his power?” Celebrate paradox in Mathew 12.26.
-Conclusion should be our curses are not only injurious, but also useless. A double reason to get rid of them. Like of cigarettes! Struba laughed.
And he lighted a cigarette, sighing smoke with satisfaction.
-Treble. You omitted main reason: inadmissibility of procedure. Think, as man of law, what would happen with penal justice if it would be left in hands of the harmed or of his relatives.
-But, up to Philip the Handsome, penal pursuit had been just like that, private – Struba remarked.
-His interlocutor counted rarely on fingers:
-Numberless are differences between divine judge and accuser with human face. First of all, fundament of punishment: for judge, the fundament is the sin, a deed committed against God, while accuser invokes injustice suffered by him, a deed committed against man. In the second turn –the scope of punishment: providential justice pursuits correcting and recuperating the guilty, while accuser wants his reprimanding. In the third turn – criterion of punishment: judge weights guilt after divine norms, while accuser evaluates it after personal criteria and interests. In the fourth turn – nature of punishment: judge chooses adequately the punishment according to personality and destiny of the guilty, while accuser asks arbitrary punishments. In the fifth turn – granting of punishment: in case of judge punishment is result of a infallible deliberation, while at accuser is result of affective combustion. In the sixth turn – benefit of punishment: judge punishes for the good of guilty, while accuser wants satisfaction for himself. In the seventh turn – pronouncing of sentence: sentence is already decided before being required, so that accusation is anyhow late and, consequently, useless.
-Already decided? Struba didn’t understand.
-Just like that. “That your Father knows what you need before you ask Him”. That for I told you the curse thrown by man is a boomerang.
Siren of a ship resounded baritone like from port, in curious association with last words quoted by monk
Struba joked, with air he enlightened himself at last:
-Hunting season at kangaroos, therefore, finished!…
-But not also for poachers! The other kept accompanying him.
He had remarked superiors from close by table raising one after another, without much hurry. They prepared to go. His interlocutor raised as well for meeting the pot-bellied twin of Demis Roussos, who approached with steps by penguin, addressing to the “prophet”:
-O agatipsihe! Sikonome anghira. Kanis kamia episkepsi stinpoli?
Struba saw his compatriot making by had a negative sign before answering.
-Ohi. Sasperimeno edo.
-Are you going?… Struba asked, visibly disappointed.
-Me, not yet. Only some of brothers want to have a look around neighborhoods, before embarking.
He controlled his watch. Then again toward fattish, who was consulting now with rest of group:
-Prosohi, adelfos! Naghirisete grigora. Mehri tisdeftera parusia.
They all broke out in a peal of laughter. Ill-at-ease, Struba pulled out from chain his prehistoric watch, pretending to be preoccupied. He didn’t see at least what time indicated. He started turning it uselessly, until small procession put in movement, making for diagonal of square.
-You said something about embarking. At what time will you mount on ship?
-Embarking in generic manner, otherwise we travel by coach. That over there, you see it…Time? See just advantage of coach, it waits for those belated. For what I was also joking with ICONOM STAVROFOR, when I just drawn their attention to return quickly, and not be overtaken by Last Judgement.
-Visit of monasteries on Mountain Athos. Majority of group is but composed of brothers from Meteoara and from Pireu who return now home. Here it was made only a halt for collecting on way local bishops.
Struba smiled in mind, remembering he had discovered Greece not by eyes, but by mouth. Chewing-gum in first years of school, sent to Oreste by his grandmother from Athenes, during military dictatorship. In that time, a delicacy and a rarity. Cohliades family had established here at a time with weave of refugees. To initiate with Oreste in Greek mysteries, cramming with that mentholated gum, to be far from campuses in islands and to be young!…What did they care then for student battles at propylaea of Politechnics?
-It seems a real piece of museum. May I have a look? he heard the monk.
He pointed toward his watch of silver, with some interest.
-Please, Struba agreed proudly. It is a Paul Garnier authentical. Personal souvenir.
He saw him touching monogram engraved on lid with sensitivity of reader of a text in Braille. Only the he remembered suddenly. The hermitage. Nearly to miss occasion. He attacked therefore the subject:
-By a happy coincidence, I prepare myself now for visiting a saint house, just like you do…I say happy, because being not from part of place I will profit of this interesting conversation, asking you to recommend me a mean for arriving up to hermitage of Martyrs. Of course, in case the establishment is known to you.
And pulled out again from pocket the map to unfold it. Since he got rid of Gypsy-chivutsa with cowrieshell, he didn’t put hand on it. The monk approved by head examining from distance the watch. He said:
-I know the place, but I am afraid you would tire for nothing up to there.
-Because of abandon?
-A, you are at current. That’s it, former monastery was abandoned as consequence of church reorganization. It remained only crypt of six martyrs and a small museum with Roman coins dug up at archaeological workshops in region. Great pity. Old church became silo of grains and potato, swarming of rats. Arhondaric is a ruin.
-And it is still living in such a dereliction? Struba asked, impressed.
-As on Mountain Athos. Without electricity, only with kerosene lamps, with fish from Danube and red melons.
Struba picked his memory in search of exact text of communication received from Patriarchy.
-Most pious, what means “ieromonah”?
-A monk who fulfill also attributions of priest .
-And “ieromonah in rank of protosinghel”?
-Protosinghel is the smallest among monks hierarchs. Inferior in rank to igumen and arhimandrit, but superior to singhel.
I see, something like major – Struba reflected. Smaller than lieutenant-colonel, but bigger than captain. He felt oblige to formalize:
-You know, by us by justice, especially those we are working in field of penal law, we deal, usually, only with military degrees.
-Learn that also in canonic law is the same. Church administration is based also on hierarchy and discipline, from patriarch up to last deacon of unction. And just like clergy of unction, that is priests, we have also our ranks of monk clergy, in top with archimandritii mitrofori, we have order of chinovie, an exarh of monasteries of monks and so on. I undrstand now, after question you put me, that you don’t go hermitage of Martyrs in villegiatura, but with problems of service…
-I search there “a ieromonah in rank of protosinghel”, Struba said.
-So? Who namely? I know quiet well brothers...
Struba was to laugh. They were both, now, as couple in train, that African student and an old woman from our lands travelling in the same compartment. Prize of two-three stations, godmother stared thoroughly to nigro near she up to Ghergani, when worm of tongue doesn’t bear any more and says: “My eyes tell me you are from our lands…” And curled: “I… Congolese”. “That is how do you gongolezi?” “I am from Brazzaville”.”So, from about Brazzaville, you say! An of whom, oh whom, mother from Brazaville?”
-Here you are, to see how small is world! he exclaimed. This is just my lucky day! Name Bartolomeu Lasu tells you something?
Monk kept silent. Seemingly waiting a fruit to ripe.
-It tells…he confirmed at last.
-Seriously? Struba got enthusiast.
This man was a true celestial manna.. With no any doubt, today meeting of them had been providential.
-Shell I understand that Bartolomeu is only reason of efforts of your honor in order to reach up to that desolating hermitage?…it came monk’s turn to ask.
Struba hesitated a moment. Something sounded a bit strident. But he didn’t succeed to realize what namely.
-A reason too serious, yet, for not being enough – he confirmed sibylline.
The monk fretted between fingers silver chain of his watch like a rosary. He spoke rarely, listening to own words, as if would stay alone at table:
-A reason really serious will give you only the owner of this pocket watch. His days are numbered. A road equipment with Polish name will put an end to them close by a bridge, and you will convince alone when your watch will spoil.
Struba looked at him bewildered. Uncle Petrishor Hagiu!? He didn’t know anything about him since more than a decade… But what connection could have been with him protosinghel Bartolomeu, with investigation and all others?…He forced from all his powers to think logically. But his thinking pained him.
-Seemingly you are column of funerary announcements! he laughed from stomach, yellow at face. What game is this: a chess with only black pieces?...
-That is, bottle with diesel oil behind stove wasn’t a simple fantesy…But how can you see from far everybody’s future?!
-Not distance is hiding future, but horizon. It is a question of perspective.
The monk returned watch. With an idiotic expression, Struba examined it at his turn on all faces, suspiciously, as if he wouldn’t recognize it. What future to hear in dilly-dallying of this silver cowrie, which you put at your ear only to learn if it is not case to bring it to repairing.
Suddenly, he was electrocuted by touch of thought in darkness.
Come what might. He gave up to temptation, releasing his hold of words, as you release on you your necessities when you can’t keep them any more.:
-But this means , isn’t so, you can see also my own denouement.
Prophet denied by head, preventing:
-It’s not worth talking about. You do accustom already with idea you can’t force me to disclose it to you, as much as would insist.
-And however, fate of Gypsy-chivutsa have disclosed…Struba protested without energy.
-Yes, but I disclosed it to you, prophet pressed.
It was evident would have been useless to insist. With such an adversary you couldn’t measure. It didn’t remain anything else than be content with an answer to his initial preoccupation.
-Then, perhaps you will give me a hand of help to my actual plans. I want to reach today that hermitage and still I don’t know how.
The very pious shaken head as for doubting. The answer wrinkled Struba’s forehead:
-It will mean to bring owls to Athens.
-I don’t guess…Is it some joke in ancient meter?
-It would be, tht is, of no use.
-Why, did he leave in between the monastery? Struba rushed.
-Brother Bartolomeu is just now on the way to Athos.
-You wouldn’t really tell me that he is in your group…
-But I tell you.
Suddenly, Struba felt in nostrils a penetrating smell of shells.
The monk pressed him with a sight of lead.
Then, the words, bursting as a screw too tight.
-Here, in front of you.
Baia de Ariesh, 6 martie
You may have been very surprised, finding in post box the envelope with cutting from newspaper. I owe you an explaination.
Receiving news my diggers discovered some potsherds on valley of Ariesh, I said to myself – as dromoman as I am – to come urgently here before some ne’er-do-well cuts with them. On way to station I diverted to you, ony for signaling article, which I red at lunch, by chance, coming out from University. The accident from circus had remembered me a striking detail in your file, giving me a suspicion I have necessarily share with you.
I didn’t arrived yet, and, look, a terrible rain giving respite I needed write present letter, with hope it will reach you before my return at Easter, with help of God and St. Censorship. So that, my diggings being momentarilly interrupted, let’s pass to your diggings, Struba, for about them I had in mind to tell you.
Therefore, young athlete, peace to his ashes, had received it from trainer of snakes, and trainer had it from some Hindus Punjab met in Calcutta, yes? In other words it passed through hands of both, after what one and another fallen from high and died. Was it verified somehow what kind of statuette was that? From things I remember, never in our discussions you didn’t mention anything about its origin. It is known but surely trainer had received it as a trophy at bet gain, with footballer's word, change of place. Defeat a little humiliating for hosts, isn’t it? Wouldn’t be so out of way exaggerated if we would suppose defeated, to dell dear their skin, thought to pay laureate with a little joke. But not something gross like trick practiced by our dodgers when they cavil at you in front of currency exchange houses, but a trick incomparable subtler and more difficult to find out: a miniature Tibetan Buddha.
And if it would be question only about a banal swindle regarding quality of ware, it would mean to waste your time for nothing with letter. That today SHTIFTS and kitsch are wore already on all roads and, otherwise, with an imitation is worth cheating an art collector, not a circus trainer. What cares in fact snake tamer if it was question of a bronze or a plaster? Any how he didn’t pay one rupee in exchange of this souvenir, but hag gained it as trophy. Therefore, not to a false I think here. No, what I imagine is infinitely worse. A little Buddha of fabrication Dung-pa.
For accommodating you rapidly with this new notion, you may know Dung-pa is a sect of Tibetan monks, who fallen into bad habit to “load” statuettes of Buddha with charms, as well as uncle Multsescu from behind Tunari gas station, father of footballer, batteries auto with sulfuric acid. After ritual, statuettes become so harmful, that you can’t become owner of them without saying good-bye to life. They are considered by initiates most dangerous magic objects existent on earth at actual hour. From these don’t rid you neither blue beads hallowed at Epiphany, nor doctor Roshca from “Gh. Marinescu” hospital. When soldiers of Mao invaded Tibet and plundered monasteries, among other objects of cult have been robbed also such statuette, which Chinese sold then on Eastern coast, specially in Shanhai, from where they took way occidental world. Today they are so spread, that their situation came definitively out of control. What experienced their thieves and sellers is not difficult to imagine. See, then an ideal trophy for our happy champion from Calcutta!
Of course, is only a hypothesis. But anyhow, much less hazardous than superstition with breaking of statuette in the eve of fatal representation, about which journalist wrote in article. Of course, that strange coincidence is all salt and peeper of report. But journalist, hurrying to publish it before others, contented with a superficial documenting and, so, didn’t grasp there was one more coincidence, which intrigues at least as much. Statuette had been successively property of two members of circus ensemble and both gave up in violent conditions soon after entering in its possession.
I know my scenario will seem to you a hallucination provoked by vapors of palinca inhaled here, in Valea Arieshului. But if by the way the small Tibetan Buddha was somehow from “series” Dung-pa, then absolutely nothing may surprise you. For in this case it is not any more question of naïve superstitions, but of empirical realities. These aren’t souvenirs, Struba, but weapons conceived for killing one’s masters. A kind of grenade, to say so, with slow down explosion.
Sincerely speaking, I don’t know by what means could, possibly, verify now “trade mark” of statuette gained in Calcutta by deceased charmer of snakes. It would be needed eye of an expert to identify it, if wasn’t thrown to garbage after breaking, what is however quiet unlikely. But in no case, if it can be any more recuperated, don’t let devil push you to deposit its fragments at your home or on the desk!
And if there were only statuettes Dung-pa, mon cher. Do you still know Sadi Carnot, president of French Republic, that assassinated by anarchist Caserio? With eight years before attempt, that is in 1886, he had received gift from Gustav le Bon, the physicist, a statuette brought by this from India. But at once with souvenir, Carnot had received also advise to relieve it after sometime, circulating superstition respective statue brought success to owner but also a violent death. At origin, statuette had been filched from a temple Kadjuros (theft from a cult house, exactly like Maoists in Tibet: you notice how history repeats itself?). Of course, president, taken with works,forgotten statuette and following is known.
Conclusion would be that possession, direct contact with an object malefic loaded can be as pernicious as prolonged stay in a ill-fated, if not much more harmful, because of big concentration in small volume, for instance a jewel, unlike diffuse “contamination” from a room or an entire building. I say jewel, because metals and precious stones have been traditionally suspected most frequently of storing some hidden powers. You never know on what you put hand and what you are left with buying from an antiquity shop some old thing of silver or bronze, which had belonged sometime to who knows who. Exactly as with bank notes, which we like so much to stroke on bottom of own pocket and to count them spitting in our fingers, ignoring completely their circulation on market, which make of them a paradise of microbes.
Tradition of risks brought by jewels is archaic, what would may offer food for thought. Earrings, necklaces and all other tins we disinter today in archaeological workshops hadn’t at origins actual function of ornaments, but magic functions of auto protection. Since not long ago, still persisted also at us custom to attach an earring to one of twins, for not dying somehow both of them. Because metals, generally, even ordinary ones, were credited with banishment of malefic energies. Look, I saw how women from here, from Apuseni Mountains proceed, with babies. They make a cradle in cords from little rods, hanged on mother spine with four threads knitted from red wool, against hoodoo. They smuggle between rods leaves of allheal and wild rose, and on bottom of basket they put flowers of hay, seeds from magic pharmacy, and, necessarily, some objects of metal. And if you can defend with them, it means, as well, you can, by symmetry, damage yourself, for the magic is ambivalent, just like electricity of home use, isn’t so?
As you notice, question of risk connected with origin of statuette from circus even doesn’t depend to my scenario of revenge of Hindus from Calcutta, for risk existed anyhow, indifferent of their intentions. That is, isn’t excluded at all to have given it as award, without having themselves idea that was question of an exemplary Dung-pa. For also to Gustave le Bon statuette Khadjuras had been presented by Indians with best intentions, otherwise they wouldn’t prevent over risks.
Similarly also Andvare had prevent that humbug of Loki in Scandinavian myth. Compelled to compensate some Reidmar to whom he had killed by mistake one of the three boys, Loki had procured from dwarf Andvare a treasure including also a ring, which, out of greed, he put on finger with thought to keep for himself. Manufacturer advised him to renounce at ring, because will bring big misfortunes to those who will own. “Trifles!” Loki gives with fly-tox, and put treasure on dwarf’s back to carry it up to residence of Reidmar and jus with no any commission. But Reidmar, equally greedy, don’t declare himself content with compensation received; he wants over it also the ring in opposite case threatening with application of talion. Loki makes figure of rogue businessman, trying to convince him the ring would be a poor business being cursed. “Then, you take it immediately out of finger before you contaminate from it! "Reidmar makes (other charlatan) and so obtain big ring. Palm is beaten, they drink a brandy and Loki goes back to his works. But soon after, Reidmar is killed by his elder son Fafner, who rans away from home with jewels and hide them in a pit, where he remain to guard them. But his brother, gives as good as he gets. He hires killer one apprentice in his workshop, one Sigurd, and together with him goes to grotto. There, Fafner is plundered by treasure and killed. But brother of dead, normally, has no mind to share treasury with Sigurd. So he try to get rid of him. And he put hand on dagger and wants to fall on his back by surprise. But Sigurd, a better knife player, avoids and shorts him of head with strike type Stephan-voda. Then he deposits his gold in bank, preserving over him only ill-fated ring. Travelling, he arrives in a city where his heels get hot after one Brunhilda, and they engage on spot, after an exchange of pathetic oaths, putting on her finger the ring in cause in sign of fidelity. Afterward, he leaves city toward home, promising to sweetheart he will return soon. I omitted to specify you, dear Struba, this Sigurd was adoptive son of Danish prince Alf, and events take place on time of king Hjlaprek. Now, let resume. So, lad doesn’t reach fully home, that his mother sends him to war, somewhere South of Rhine. There, Sigurd obtains victory and let to fireplace. At return, he make a halt at court of foreign sovereign. At table, he gets drunk with exorcised wine and, forgetting he was freshly engaged, falls at bed with a blond and contagious illness, not other than daughter of king. He falls head over ears in love with her and marry her soon. As about left fiancee – total amnesia. Seemingly his brain was washed with that wine at table. And as proof, when he meets by chance, Brunhilda, he doesn’t recognize her absolutely at all and sleeps with her a night in same room like two Swedish at hotel. And when he awakens, instead of pettings, he steals her ring, not knowing that just he had given to her sometime ago. But he doesn’t preserve long, for he will have to give it up for his young wife, in order to escape of her mouth. Abandoned fiancee will solace marrying brother in law of Sigurd. Not from love, from revenge: sighing one stories him how had she been cheated by Sigurd and pretend him to wash her honor with blood of gay old dog. Brother-in-law, is understood, makes a crisis of jealousy Italian still, but yet hasn’t courage to accomplish crime. In exchange, his brothers will have it, and they stab from back the hero. An well, in place of satisfaction, guess what aunt Brunhilda does? She jumps unexplainable from walls of citadel…SINDROMUL “GARSONIEREI”!
You’ll tell me, probably, it is a funny little Scandinavian mythology. But similarly was said about crown of king Moctezuma, which Austrians continue to preserve illegitimate, in spite of steps made for its restitution. It is right isn’t question of an official claim from side of Mexican government, but of yearly delegations of Amerindian tribes with Aztec descent. Something in genre of treasure asked back from Russians, only not about gold is question her, but of a sheaf of feathers with gewgaws, you know the pattern. As story goes, estrangement of this ornament brings big troubles and catastrophes on globe, exchange of climate, etc. As for instance, diluvium and floods from last three months, isn’t so? But guilt wasn’t of Cortes and his coquistadors, but researchers who brought it a century ago in Europe, from American continent. Well, mon cher, all found their death soon after fulfilling of this operation, and victims multiplied at the same time with exposure of crown at Art Museum in Vienna. For instance, that in charge with arrangement of window, at only three days after completion of his responsibilities, mad liver coma and deceased. The author of first monograph about crown of Aztec king was mortally wounded in an accident on street just in the day of editorial launching, and his sponsor, businessman Viener, drowned some years ago in Salzach. Also kicked the bucket priests co-authors of another monograph published only three years ago, Bild and Kreitz, two known Viennese university professors. Dr, Kreitz for example, although wasn’t cardiac, made an attack immediately after apparition of work.
Conclusions? Details at first sight lacked of importance, as would be a personal object of defunct, can hide gloomy histories. Who would think to statuette-souvenir, if didn’t happen this accident with item of mortal hop, step and jump. Not even you, Struba, as redoubtable detective as you’d be. Until occurrence from circus, case of defunct trainer had had as point de mire, of course, captive cobra in balcony. That only a fool can keep such thing home. It’s right that in Morocco, it was given to me to see indigenous Hassanas hypnotizing cobras and making them house animals, not harmful, by I don’t know what magic formulas; but those were some initiated sectarians. You didn’t see in television that Thailander, cohabiting since little child with hundreds of ultra venomous snakes and scorpions , but even imperial cobras and taipans, most dangerous reptiles in the world? Well, dear Sturba, you may know a statuette Dung-pa is more dangerous even than a imperial cobra!
In rest, by here everything is savagely beautiful. We make periegesis and diggings in parts of Trascau, somewhere near a sawmill on Ariesh, where time before floating logs were gathered from river, beams and “meters of fire” came from upstream, from hearths of rafts. There, up in mountain, they tied rafts from by dozens of trunks, either drui-logs not carved, or carved “cubics” ,put to them a palette called helm with lopisca, and they guided them on valley with laggers, up to here, where they pulled out at road of cart and were taken farther by horses at double carriage-pole. Sorry you are not here as well, dear Struba, you would have what to see. At least you should have seen our last true shepherds-Mohicans from part of place, how they carry still now wooden pail with cocarla-yoke. They brought in our camp provisions as for an expedition to pole. Merindars-for –victuals with cheese of shepherd. Tioc-baskets of birch bark with ruits. Kegs-mineiuri from staves of fir tree hermetically closed, they keep ice-cold water with resin aroma, worked by Romanian-Motsi, and sold in markets. And women in village make for us also a concoction brought in cast-iron kettle. As about palinca-brandy, what shall I tell you, compared with it, occidental whisky is crab wine like smoked maize brandy. Ever to dig by neighborhoods!
At good sight, word of eye doctor!
Prof. S. Turbala
P.S. If you need the undersigned, you can write me on address of fam. Ioan Petra, Ludush, Bd. 1 December 1918 no. 144 bis postal code 4350,jud.-county Muresh, with mention “for prof. S.Turbala”.
With water streaming on wind screen, like a submarine in ocean darkness. Barely city lights distinguished outside.
-You know, March amulet received from you has spoilt already.
Sarcophagus miniature. It was sure mechanism will not last even a week. These vampers don’t know else than taking your money.
-What has it, is lid arc broken?
-No, the other arc. When you open lid, mummy has no erection, you understand?
-What do you want, hardly you’ll find virile pharaohs now a days – Lastaru excused himself. I’ll give everything our Pharaoh’s arc to break tomorrow morning
-Did Sphinx convoked you? Brrr!…Amanda made.
-Personally. He wants to put me a few barrage questions on case “Bachelor Room”. Just now when Struba is gone on field. He would have answer to any question, for he just works to death day and night to this file since beginning of year.
-Day and night…And his girl friend, the doctor, what says about this?
-Anyhow they quiet didn’t see in last time, being always in counter time. Fancy that she enters guard just when he comes out of office. She has there a chief who wants insistently to sleep with her. And because she gave to that with fly-tox, guy avenges planning her at guards with priority, under pretext other doctors (with an exception or two, they have there only female doctors) would be unavailable.
-Pig. And Struba stays so, with folded arms? Amanda wondered.
-What you want him to do!
-Give him a lesson. Some cunning, a trap. A flagrant of bribe or at list abuse in service, he finds something…Amanda fabled.
-But I just told you he isn’t interested in anything else than the file. He is pure and simple obsessed, like great tragic. He has that sickly consequence of heroes of Corneille. He is made for investigation, not like me.
-Jewel, I know people who live without a kidney, without a lung, or without spleen. And you want to convince me Struba can’t live any more without a file?!
-It’s knick-knack. I know people who live even without brain!
-But who cares, after all, for that bachelor room and its suicides?
She was fussing in chair, obviously incommoded.
-Can’t you fold the chair more?…
-Stay a little…Sure, if the room would be a singular case, probably nobody would care and it remained a simply curiosity. But same syndrome has been signaled in the world in different epochs. Some cataclysm, some epidemic or some war which depopulated entire settlements were considered in some cases as exterior manifestations of a curse, making that affected places be avoided – sometimes centuries in succession – because of superstition of contagion danger. As example, ruins of former Babylon, avoided by Bedouins. Look, I knew on holidays Struba’s friend, professor Sever Turbala from University, you heard of him. And one evening, driving him by car up to home, professor was recounting us about archaeological workshops in Iraq. Among others, story goes, ruins of Babylon are called by Bedouins Mudjelibe, that is “The Reversed”, for in those deserts even camels make on them out of fear…
-Mudjelibe. Sounds so…a bit lewd, don’t you think? Amanda commented chuckling.
-Professor said phobia of natives seemed to him as authoritative as Koran’s verse. It says, Arabians hired for diggings in 1913 at ruins of palace of Nabucodonosor had settled their camp at few kilometers distance from valley of former citadel, complaining it is haunted. Tel you, too, isn’t amazing persistence of a superstition across many millennia? But he told us that still more durable seems to him resentment of Egyptians towards an arm of Nile’s delta called “The Cursed”. There might have been, according to tradition, thrown in waves the chest in which had been closed Ossyrys by his assassins.
-From what I see, this places you speak on owe their renown rather to fact deceased were some big bugs – she shown disappointed.
-Not necessarily. Look, superstition that seagulls would be souls of sailors disappeared in wrecks: no matter drown been admiral or cook on ship? The only article I succeeded to publish when I was a student at foreign languages was about folklore of sailors in version Merrien Era…
-You, foreign languages!? Amanda interrupted him.
-Two years, without attendance, but I quarreled with a cretin from there and abandoned faculty. A Jdanovist, he had a name, so…with clanking of balalaika, big tool at A.S.C., one nicknamed “Nihaciu”.
-You beaten, or what?
-Apple of discord was just article I want to tell you about. The cephalopod criticized it to me as lacked of patriotism, reproaching with me that I limited to Occidental folklore, instead of making a comparative study capitalizing also our sailor’s folklore. I replied to him it’s not possible his wanting, only sailor’s folklore I know about us are “Leana’s legs”.
-Songs of sailors?
-Flip-flap! Nickname of bridge from Agigea, dear, that with legs wide apart, you may say it makes SPAGAT over Channel. Consecrated at inauguration.
Amanda was shaken by a violent access of laughs. The car begun balancing like a boat in pitching. Lastaru continued:
-…But let tell you what is about. At the end of last century, Bretons refused offers of hiring for building lighthouses on desert islands in Sleeve Channel. According to explanations of Merrien, guilty were colonies of seagulls inhabiting on islands. Poor superstitious were frightened by their sinister shrills, thinking they warned them over curse they expose to by walking through those haunted places and troubling the rest of sailors buried in grave of waters. They decoded also language of ravens, of cuckoos, etcaetera, in a word they were passionate oneiromancers. But another thing preoccupied me at them in my article. It’s interesting in Breton dialect gwelan (seagull) makes part from same family of words as gwemon, term by which Bretons and Normands designate brown alga pulled out by waves on shore. Or, French correspondent for gwemon is varech with origin detected in old Scandinavian vagrek, meaning “wreck” (“epava”), though for me personal English “epava” wreck seems to me still closer to Breton dialect. Do you follow me?
-Harder and harder…
-Well, etymological avatars “wreck”…”alga pulled out to bank”…..”seagull” seem to indicate just ascending and resuscitating meaning of circuit from death to resurrection. Do you notice symbolism of the three stages? Water, that is drowning…earth, that is issue to shore…..sky, that is flight. From drowned sailor to stage of seagull: exact logical skeleton of Bretons superstition! Isn’t strong the question?
-And how much!…
-What else, my article had monster success. And I had one more on barrel then, but they didn’t accept it any more, because of same mental constipate. I would have make some career, if not arrived to suck fountain pens through these offices from us and to rob files…I liked since small foreign languages and travels. While with these of ours, only a single time had also I occasion to make guide. With that delegation from Scotland Yard, if you still know, by ’85 or ’86. They sent me with them to make tour of monasteries in Northern Moldavia, classic route, paradise of foreign tourists, so frequently well-worn, that our nuns came to repeat, instead of book of hours, from Longman Dictionary and Paris Match. One from that delegation of Englishmen seeing divine all-seeing eye painted on church vault, starts boasting with emblem of Scotland Yard, exactly an eye like that, with device “We always stay watching”. Watch for we can sleep, you see! He explained pathetic to me. This is trifle, baby – I tell him.. At us, watch for not somehow get we awake!…
A prolonged shout interrupted suddenly his memories.
-What’s with you?! Lastaru made alarmed, lack of perspiration.
-How what, stupid?…It is called orgasm.
They were keeping their horse called Bica in dining room, and themselves, a huge family of nine persons, dwelled crowded in a single room. Those coppersmiths from Racari.
About same, as quadruped Bica, was Lastaru now feeling staying alone in comfort of immense working cabinet of Leon Toth, while beyond, in anteroom, chiefs of directions, advisers and other bosses treaded on the toes of each other waiting powerlessly to be invited inside, with bales of files under arm, perspiring impatiently.
But “Lion” was late to make his apparition.
To remove stiffness of his heart, he made a few steps along and across imposing saloon, whose massive oak furniture he imagined was packed with “bugs”. An entire wall was covered by monumental library, with solemnities of Roman temple. In a corner, two armchairs reigned on both sides of a round and thickset table destined to more famous guests. At middle a sumptuous council table lengthened kilometric with upholstered chairs, parody of a Secrete Diner with twelve Judas. At its end Gulliverian desk rose, a white mountain of old papers. On other little table, more secluded, four telephones stayed at watch, looking at him with their numbered eyes. Lamp on desk with shade as an umbrella remained lighted, sign its master wasn’t gone too far. He use to work at lamp light at any hour of day, preferring it to chandeliers hanged from ceiling, what made that room, by contrast, seem still darker than it was. Indeed, windows uselessly large looked toward sunset, where opposite high buildings closed completely the perspective, leaving market at confluence of boulevards in a gray and sordid semi-obscurity. Somber and cold ambient of cabinet was perfectly assorted with its tituary. As if it was made specially for him, as rackets of great tennis champions are ordered specially on size and weight of everybody’s hand.
It was a silence as at Rishca, at monastery.
Squeak oh horologe in the wall signaled pains in articulations of time.
At once, double upholstered doors opened largely and Leon Toth made his entry in all grandeur accompanied by a full procession. All chiefs of directions and advisers came there. A general assembly of dinosaurs before a imminent cosmic cataclysm. With file underarm, Lastaru remained on place, stoned like Indra under curse of Vedic rishiss With exception of big guns he saluted now as deferential and humble as possible anybody in that multi-stored building would give an year of life in exchange of avoiding such meeting.
Absorbed by a discussion which hadn’t yet finished, ”The Lion” didn’t give him attention.
-…and would got since long rid of him, if hadn’t been his wife who she was. Because this little professor of geography, dubious and with extravagances who kept, it is said, indicating stick quiet obscenely, had been not for reason nicknamed “eggs of Columbus”. He had had other denunciations, galore. Only that his wife was a huge inspector in education, with a irreproachable reputation which might by all means be saved, isn’t so, from such a scandal. I accepted thus the request of minister and convoked the professor personally to scare him a little and make to confess truth. A bluff, of course, otherwise couldn’t be question of infraction of seducing, as long as minor wasn’t tempted with promises of marriage. He swore to me in office on head of his three children that not he left gravid lyceum’s nymph. Then I told him plainly: Little rabbit, if you refuse to make paternity test, you’ll teach geography at school of correction from Tichileshti! Out of fear, he made his test. Result categorically negative: Nymph’s progeny couldn’t be of him, for simple reason guy was absolutely sterile. And he learned this, ninny, only now, when already he had with his wife three children…!
Laughs of assistance made windows of library to vibrate gently.
Only now, arrived near his desk, Leon Toth shut Lastaru with a steel sight. Others didn’t need any explicit invitation for knowing what to do; all took than sit along council table. So that indication which came addressed directly Lastaru, single one remained standing.
Sitting down like at an examination, this thought electric chair is more comfortable. With an invisible movement he controlled his tie knot. Leon Toth deposited himself the quintal on throne behind desk, regulating his lamp with articulated arm in such way light cone not disturb him. Deaf words which followed were addressed to chief of direction of criminology:
-Where is Struba?
Lastaru heard his own chief answering from his left:
-In Dobroudja. I sent him on field to investigate a monk at a hermitage there...
-Monk! Leon Toth exclaimed, dumb, as if he heard about investigating a giraffe.
-Procedure of informing metropolitan seat for his temporary availability in interest of researches being not yet released, for the time being Mr. Struba will hear there, on the spot.
But interest of Leon Toth for other supplementary explanations seemed already exhausted. He heard them with half ear, busy with rummaging heap of papers on desk Then he started making some notes on cover of a file. Didn’t finished yet when he approached Lastaru, lightening with a sight in passage:
-You, therefore, collaborate with Struba at case “Bachelor room”. In which stage are you (dumneata) with investigation?
For him, “dumneata” was lesser intimate among all formulas. Exactly vice-versa than at Nichita Stanescu.
-At this hour, we both continue verification of elaborated versions, Lastaru abridged.
-“At this hour” you-dumneata are here, as I see – “Lion” bantered him.
-Lastaru felt his mouth full of glue. He rearranged his answer with help of an explanation:
-As titular of file, of course, Mr. Struba conducts now investigation. Which he took over at the third consecutive suicide. But first two I had investigated, at their time. Auto-propulsion of victims being out of any doubt, I classified then both cases. Although same negative conclusions resulted also third time, however, Mr. Struba proceeded to reexamining of trilogy in its ensemble. His theory is that repetition of phenomenon offers itself doubts.
-He rely on occasionalism. Precedent suicides, which attracted for bachelor room fatal fame, would occasion dissimulation of a likely killing under appearance of “tradition”. A true transfer of aggressor’s guilt over “killing” room, speculating the puzzling already in circulation on its account. Analog to parasite which profit of fame of series criminal yet uncaught, imitating manner of operation in order to be confounded with him. Struba is of opinion that can not be accepted closing of investigation without evaluating first the chances of a hypothetical killing.
“Chances of a killing”. It sounds grotesquely, like “chances of rain” announced by that dull from meteorological bulletin in full season of floods.
-And what is your opinion?
-To me, the theory of occasion seems demagogic. We speak of crimes in series on which can parasite sometime some intruders, when in fact just we parasite on antecedents of file, profiting of them to introduce in scenario an imaginary killing.. Single real “occasion” in this theory is void of motivations left behind victims, ideal for a stopgap of speculations. Or, according to “Ockam’s razor”, number of hypotheses must be limited to no more than is necessary just for such speculations to…some barbers – Leon Toth interrupted him.
One of telephones on little auxiliary table buzzed beside. But “Lion”, instead answering, lifted receiver from fork and threw it back with a lightening movement, making it dumb immediately. He didn’t care being disturbed by anybody. It was wonder how guessed him so quickly which from the four phones was ringing. Lastaru remembered of those outside making anteroom at audiences, receiving from cabinet chief order numbers as at lines for forms for taxes. He was about to laugh.
-In consequence, I told my colleague his hypothesis is redundant, that investigation is dead and after three days dead are buried. He replied me custom is valid only for lay mortals and the an Egyptian from the fourth dynasty had been buried only after 272 days.
-More explicitly, please. This sibylline language produces me cramps in thinking.
Obstructed, Lastaru stumbled a moment before reformulating:
-…He considers it the biggest enigma in judicial annals since Kennedy’s death; and in such cases, factor time doesn’t matter any more.
The chief of criminology made a partisan intervention, addressing Leon Toth.
-It’s right, in case don’t exist either material proves or testimonies putting problem of perishing or disappearance of traces of some infractions. Consequently I gave free hand to Mr. Struba to prolong investigation sine diae, specially that scientific documentation of versions supposed a huge volume of work and consulting of some scholars hard to be founded.
“Lion” raised bushy eyebrows.
-Scholars. But what does Struba with them at place of deed: collects proves of fly feces?!
Director of criminology explained:
-The case “Bachelor room” raises problems of expertise just as in any other case, therefore doesn’t deserve a discriminatory treatment. It hasn’t importance if the real killer is room itself, or someone who knew to profit after it’s fame: whatever aggressor identity would be, enigma is same and must solve it. You start therefore working and begin to document, adapting to circumstances. Did one fallen from scaffolding? Then you learn about cranes and buildings. Did fallen at plant in a bath of acid? You put on study chemistry. Did fallen from a room for the third time in five years? You initiate in para-psychology.
-You draw water to mill of some exalted journalists, who eat sensational with bread through buffets of editorial offices…spoke from opposite end of council table an aged bulldog.
-On the contrary! director of criminology contradicted him. Working in a slapdash way investigation and leaving unsolved enigma of this triple suicide, we establish legend of so-called cursed bachelor room and so we open largely the gates of superstition. With or without folklore put in circulation on its account by press, the victim-saga of bachelor room represents however a real enigma for scientific community. Doesn’t matter what interpretation you give to this epidemic, it matters phenomenon exists. From where also Struba’s reasoning: if experts can’t ignore phenomenon, then justice all the less – and so neither its adversaries. A murderer wouldn’t profit of phenomenon if this wouldn’t camouflage him credibly: for you can’t hide beyond a simple legend. And to differentiate a scientific controversy from a legend and then to imitate the unconfused modus operandi of bachelor room, he needed (excepting ability not to leave traces) a high level of culture and information: here are already first features in psychological portrait of such a initiate.
-In this duration, Leon Toth was noting something. When they saw him holding left arm over desk, they thought he was making signs for directors to stop speaking. Probably he just had remembered something important. But no. His palm stopped with face upward, weighing seemingly the heavy silence in air. Palm of beggar in expectancy.
Lastaru had anticipated this yet since he had been convoked to cabinet. That fore, he had cared to arrange materials from between covers in a particular order, which to illustrate coherently his personal conception over case. After all, also Struba would make the same if he would have been in his place.
But to his disappointment, “Lion” didn’t take file from beginning. He turned over noisily materials, stopping only to some pages, after criteria known only by him.
-Humph!…Listen here to this, official report…”I report we didn’t succeed to evacuate from balcony the trained snake of named Dan Ovidian, neither luring it with balls of bread crumb and neither with jets of soda water. Therefore, we proceeded to use of stick in endowment with which I stunned it, introducing it in a sack of plastic and removing it from zone of research”…Who is, messrs, this sluggard and his mioritic-lamb sack?! Let us see it…Seargent-major Pitsilica, from…” etc., etc. Well, if I were on the spot, I would have arrested this Pitsilica for illegal detaining of brains! But neither deceased was better. Listen, to keep a cobra in balcony (be it even with extracted canines), like that with pig in bath tub: no wonder wife left him. Big is your garden, God, yet some still jump over fence! World filled up with fools. It groans!
Directors chuckled. Accompanied by rumor around council table, “Lion” continued mutely reading by jumps, under eaves of eyes, in a hardly decipherable attitude, expressing rather a salad of sentiments.
-Drrrring! Again phones. This time a different bell. Twisting promptly, “Lion” blocked it nonetheless, with reflexes of a champion of jiu-jitsu.
At one time, he broke again the silence, giving reading loudly to following fragment:
-…”Endemic phenomena. Similar cases. National road no. 5, at kilometer 88,4 between Ponte-sur-Yonne and Paris. Two mortal accidents by hitting the same plan tree. In both cases victims were original from Laurmarin, department Vaucluse, situated at opposite extremity of French territory. There, about 1920, a Gypsy camp settled there among ruins of castle in Laurmarin had been removed for restoring of this. Then the Gypsies had cursed restorers. Following: death in unexplainable circumstances, between 1925 and 1960, of a number of 13 persons, among them also lodgers of castle Among victims – illustrious Albert Camus, crushed by fatidic plane ,day 4 January 1960, hours 14.15 together with no less celebrate Michel Gallimard”…” What’s this?!
Stupor of Leon Toth was so big that, in spite of final exclamation, still didn’t raised head from file. Even more, he continued immediately reading without waiting for any answering:
-…”Another ill-fated place on highway N-7 between Briare and Montargis, with more than 10 victims in a decade, respectively 1939-1949, among them known industrialist Jean-Luc Michelin, whom motorcar was in moment of accident alone on rectilinear and large road. Numerous members or friends of Michelin family had perished anterior also in road accidents, for instance Pierre Michelin in 1937 together with four passengers, or Pierre Boulanger, president of society Michelin in 1947”…
Listening quotations, chief of criminology was asking by eyes explanations to Lastaru, who prepared to intervene. But “Lion” didn’t finish yet.
-…”Similarly also in Germany, on road Breme-Bremexhafen, where kilometer borne 23,9 provoked so many mortal accidents, that it was taken measure of its abolishment. With all these, even ulterior auto vehicles continued to crush in the same place by trees on edge of road”… What’s with these examples? Road bulletin of week?
He only had raised perplex sight toward Lastaru, who answered pressed:
-There are some personal notes annexed to works in the file… A casuistry which can explain sufficiently the void of motivations of the three suicides, pleading in consequence for classifying of affair. Examples of negative influence of some places over human psychic, where are produced periodically reactions of panic, spatial disorientation, claustrophobia, ended with accidents, suicides, acute sicknesses.
Leon Toth looked at him as if he found annexed a pair of dam bloomers.
-Documentation about I informed you a little while ago, director of criminology explained. Only that it, paradoxically, justified as well also continuation of investigation in direction of Struba’s version. An art expert doesn’t falsifies or steal from a museum mediocre paintings, but only great masters; so, if you want to recognize the maker, then take yourself lessons of art history. For you can’t catch a clever and cultivated guy, if you are tapering head and not well-read.
Transparent allusion to old bulldog in opposite extremity of council table, nicknamed “Oblio”. Who reacted with thickly irony:
-And what to read Mr. Struba, please: The Teachings of Teodosie toward his son Neagoe Basarab ?…
-Vice-versa, director of criminology corrected him.
Rumor brought about again among members of council was stopped by a hammering. “Lion” beaten on desk wood with golden head of his fountain pen, preoccupied by reading of a new fragment discovered in the file. Reading was continued now loudly:
-…”Case Horia Marinescu. Short time after this Bucharester bought an auto tourism Audi with papers in order from a Gypsy, the car has suffered five identical accidents in duration of lee than two months. At any time, it was rammed by some auto vehicle of red color in neighborhood of a church in the Capital: first time, near Cashin, second near Elefterie and so on. Consulted by exasperated owner, old woman Ghiocica in Balotesti diagnosed the car as being cursed in church by former holders and charmed it with heavy spells on reddened iron”…
Here he stopped to take in a sight whole council in front of him, exclaiming theatrically:
-Old woman Ghiocica in Balotesti!
Even Lastaru burst out laughing, no matter how much tried to abstain.
-And then, why not regret really golden generation of Maigret? Tell also you! Leon Toth concluded.
One of councilors commented, half in jest and half serious:
-The truth is we have experts accountants, technical, banking, psychiatrists, lawyers, biologists, chemists; but who, bother, to hire for expertise of curses and devils of bachelor room?!…
-I propose old woman Lica from Ploesti, another answered cheerfully.
-Isn’t old woman Bratsara (Bracelet) the best? Leon Toth made. So I heard.
With a sudden movement, he closed the file and restituted it to chief of criminology, addressing him apart, with condescension, like to humble petitioner came in audience:
-I don’t say, there may be still enough mysterious phenomena on this world, but their deciphering isn’t our job, director. You conduct a direction of criminologists not of mystagogues. I don’t admit this institution become subject of razzing for some blockheads, who, in a good day, might read in newspapers some confession of genre: “The undersigned recognize and regret sincerely committed deeds. I killed indeed with curse from endowment (caliber 7,62) the said Aurel Bau in night of 3 December. Please, humbly, arrest me on the spot”.
When his baritone timbre became more energetic, cabinet had acoustics of an opera hall.
-I think it is a misunderstanding, riposted the director. Mr. Struba doesn’t search someone capable to attack magically without raising a finger, only making a fist out of thinking. He searches an aggressor who, in flesh and bones, physically I want to say, would have propelled Aurel Bau over balcony jamb. Something in genre of couple Mc. Ginnis, you know, with that young woman thrown from the cliff, both condemned in September ’89. And enough people would be find, thank God, who to bear spleen against him, because the deceased (with his moral profile) had a true vocation of target of revenges, for instance of an Arabian revenge…
-“Arabian revenge”. “Lion” interrupted him with a grimace. These are lints in thinking, mister.
-…But yes, Algerians! chief of criminology insisted. Having in view that the deceased had threatened a petty clerk from embassy of Algeria, with whom he entangled for a work visa.
He had pinched his sensitive chord. The foreigners. When learned about complications with foreigners, Leon Toth became hypersensitive. It was already a problem “of state”. But this time his reaction was under expectancy of director:
-Maxim mark for artistic impression, but it is rejected. Mister, these are scenarios from epoch De Gaulle. Let me tell you how things stay in reality. While procurator Struba makes the tour of monasteries in Dobroudja playing at bo-peep, I receive flicks in press that encourage superstition and mouth of people with useless dally of this investigation. And with good reason. This “killing” room became today a public scarecrow more like on time of Sirca, Rimaru or Romca! Mayoralty complains it can’t be rented to anyone; even more, it is assaulted now with tens of requests for exchange of accommodation due to happy find of “haunting”! Must stop this circus. And convocation of today will be first step.
Voice was now blunt like rubber stick of sergeant in official report. Lastaru’s ears were whizzing and chief of criminology looked also him enough rumpled. And perhaps discourse would continue crescendo. If telephones didn’t buzz again. Now, two at once. Quick at hand, “Lion” crippled them throwing receivers in fork, one after other, irritated. A technical version of game hot cockles. Pushed then a button and something cheeped sharply. Double doors were set ajar and they behold cabinet chief penetrating agilely inside for receiving orders.
-Don’t make me any connection here, “lion” cried at him from the other end of saloon. I am not here even for Michel Jackson, is it clear? I don’t exist.
Chief of cabinet confirmed from head with obedience and withdrawn discretely. Lowering his voice by an octave, Leon Toth resumed with a fluctuant calm.
-Therefore, from organizing point of view, situation of file no.2718 is the following: Investigation has been distributed three months ago to Mr. Struba, who participated also at research of third of events happened in the last five years in “killing” bachelor room. In what concerns his collaborator Lastaru, he works pro hac vice, effectuating personally some activities in measure they are given up to him by titular. Hierarchic decision in sense of this collaboration was justified by circumstance that Mr. Lastaru ha participated to research of precedent events and, accordingly, he already knew the file. Only that in time, due to divergences of opinion between the two, collaboration became paradoxical, getting to manifest rather as a brake in good going of investigation, what shows it not only as unproductive but just counter-indicated. And as if ideological divergences weren’t enough, they appeared also pyromaniacs to put straw on fire. I convoked you in consequence today to lay the cards on the table and put an end without delay to these states of things.
He made a sign by head somewhere.
At the other end of council table, “Oblio” put tactfully his spectacles and opened a tattered file with rail, and started turning over passionately like a tax gatherer, spiting in his fingers. It was sufficient to follow this bulldog from old school to convince that you may easier put in movement a solar system than a bureaucrat. At last, he was heard clearing his hoarse voice.
-It is question, hem, of a anonymous letter addressed to head of personnel direction, in which a series of imputations are brought to Mr. Lastaru…Among others, consummation of alcohol during program of work…immoral relations with Mrs. Amanda Raicu… mysticoid and obscurant i tendencies in investigation of case “Bachelor room”…personal interests in sabotaging partnership with Mr. Struba…
-Let’s limit to so-called sabotage, Leon Toth stopped him. Concretely in what concerns it? For Mr. Lastaru, present here, to learn also him and profit of occasion to defend from those calumnies.
-First of all, in years of dictatorship he would have been constraint to denounce colleague Struba, being blackmailed with the tin from personal file, respectively his grandfather from mother side, the said Radu Nicolae. Condemned politically in November 1949 at five years forced work for conspiracy against social order. Denouncement which makes him incompatible with his designation as partner of Struba in inves…
Leon Toth interrupted him again, for addressing to Lastaru:
-Do you know something about this history?
-He was condemned for a joke, as far as know. Meeting my grandfather on street dressed in rag of coat eaten by moths, he had asked an acquaintance:”Mr. Nae, when you’ll buy some proper coat, fellow?”. “When Americans will come!” he makes. This had been everything, from what I was told… At that time, I even wasn’t yet born.
Here, “Oblio” hurried to recuperate:
-But constraints would have aim, it is said, also to giving up of some information over evolution of investigation in case of first suicide, in 1988, that of dissident writer Aba Strul, encroaching so confidentiality principle in criminal pursuit. In plus, he would have been asked to accredit within judicial medium idea that deceased had been sick of paranoid schizophrenia.
-It is not true, Lastaru riposted without breath.
-But in the investigation of other two suicides, did you give course to some interventions from outside? Leon Toth asked.
-Are you sure you acted only out of own initiative?
-So, you recognize, just you, that only from own initiative have obstruct investigation of Struba, tergiversating the obtaining of Aurel Bau’s criminal record and drawing out from archives of his file from 1978. Why did you misinformed him pretending the file was not found?
Target of all sights. Lastaru looked as if he would have seen too late a train coming from front.
-The truth is that also it wasn’t found…he exculpated himself.
“The Lion” fixed him with Atlantic eyes. He said coldly:
-Similarly as also Sbat family wasn’t found, isn’t so? Stelian and Stelutsa Sbat, you noticed about through official report deposed in the file, that they can not be heard because would have removed definitively in province at an unknown address. When, in fact, they didn’t go anywhere.
Lastaru’s stammering was an ending siphon.
-It means I was myself misinformed by neighbors…
-Ah. In exchange, the same diversion neighbors informed you perfectly, look alive, over couple Sbat’s daughter death! You told Struba that the said Ralu Sbat had deceased in between: from where did you know, if even searched her?
-But so I was told…
Here, Leon Toth worked himself up, ready irritated.
-They told, that is, exact date of death and eternity place of the respective? Estimated Mr. procurator, don’t confound me with another one. I am Toth, I know tot, I pretend tot!!!
Imposing, with his allure of opera singer, baritone and emphatic. In front of him, you were a nobody. Lastaru guarded himself as from a fist hit.
-With all respect, please, however consider that initiative of searching and hearing family Sbat did belong just to me, not at all to Struba.
-Precisely! “Lion” cut his little wings, ambiguously.
-Perhaps you even haven’t interest to find it, “Oblio”s voice was heard like from another world. Because Sbat family hated to death Aurel Bau. Or, in December 1991, according to anonymous received by us, you would intervene discretely to mayoralty in favor of technician Aurel Bau from factories Republica to be distributed to him with priority from state locative fund remained free after death of former tenant Dan Ovidian. Profiting by advantage you had learnt first “the point”, as one who made personal the research there.
Lastaru, whose complexion got color of furniture in cabinet, hardly could murmur a negation:
-It is a staging…
-Of course, it is a staging, Leon Toth imitated him. And just genial one.
The rumor signaled obscure points among participants. And indeed, one of advisers called upon the bulldog from personnel:
-It is not clear for us what is with enmity between respective family and this Aurel Bau… Not all members of council are acquainted with the case. If you want to explain a little…
-It’s true, they are right –“The Lion” approved, taking from desk the material and passing it to chief of criminology. Read, please, the draft of this abstract of personal use rendered in 1978 on basis of examination of Aurel Bau’s file. You will understand yourselves why wasn’t it given to typist to transcribe it at typewriter. Do you know my writing, don’t you?
Some of council members lighted their cigarettes, in a neutral expectance. From manner in which criminology chief examined the draft, without any doubt he was taking now contact with it for the first time.
From the first words heard, Lastaru became pale as a dead.
-“File number…etc. January 1978, Friday evening…A deserted lyceum. Obscure halls, stares walked by nobody, frozen windows. Silence after departure at home. Only echoes of an electric-technical workshop are still haunting. There, remained without master, the tramps from evening-seral courses vociferate at their large, heating themselves with a little drink. Do not return from way, superstition says. Raluca Sbat returned, because she had forgotten something, telling therefore to her accompanying colleague to go on, that she will reach her from behind. But she never reached her again. On a corridor, four-five seralists a bit on rise in her way, with trivial provocations, jubilating. They have no time for cares. The flapper is alone, a pray without escape. They drag her with brutality in their workshop, where tear out her cloths and footwear. Terror which makes you vomit, despair, tears and pity imploring are in vain. First of all, they hide her cloths, playing, with mocking laughs. Then, locking the door, they divert beating her up amidst work stalls and pulling her hair. The privilege to unbutton first his pants is given to Aurel Bau, as leader of gang. He orders them to crucify her naked on floor, hitting her over face to blood for making her silent. His flunkeys seize her well stopping up her mouth, and he deflowers her. The shouts make workshop windows to shake. Then, one after another, long time, all violate her savagely, until the uterus is torn. When they seem satiated at last, freedom is again begged to them, but the beasts even don’t think to leave their pray from claws. The feast is only at beginning, girl is sweet and participants have liking to play. They transmit brandy bottle from one to another, amused, searching new stimulants. With a penknife, buttocks of victim are notched with sadism, and her hair is cut into pieces in mockery. They pinch her, bite her. As new tortures are invented, the cheerfulness intensifies. There are brought some ties of thread and wrap up straightly her ankles. Supreme occasion of amusement, a LETCON from endowment of workshop is plugged in to heat it. And so, with legs bound fast, they burn her with red iron on bottom and on thighs, after what they sodomy her beastly. Howls, writhing. Horror don’t succeed else than excite them still more. Accompanied by hits, the orgy is restarted again, and again, until the anus is torn up. Tortures will take end only later on, with departure of scoundrels and abandoning of inert body, full of wounds, on the floor soiled by blood and sperm”…
When finished reading, completely exhausted, director breathed with an immense relief, of a woman lately confined. Perspiration flown on white collar of his shirt.
Beside, sallow at face, with head between elbows, Lastaru was crushing his fountain pen with such fury, that this broke with a crack.
It fallen a silence with heavy smell of tobacco.
-Here is an abstract which exempts me from reading you here the horrible file from fifteen years ago, which happened to be resolved just by me…Leon Toth concluded with gravity dominating again the gathering. You know already what you would find there. Surgical operations, narcosis, lifelong sequels, tortures, despair, obsession of suicide. What one can wait from a life already crippled from the age of 17 years? Americans were presenting to me in 1988 the case of the black Timothy Spencer, series criminal sentenced to death, as an Everest of cruelty; he tied his victims with thread by neck and had at back, with a particular knot, imobilizing them with face downward on a table, after what strangled them slowly during rape until they died. Among victims enumerated also known lawyer Carolyn Hamm. But that Spencer of them was a little lamb near beast Aurel Bau! In all my career I never had to do again with another similar thing. Tortures for hours in succession, mutilations, perversions, made post… Sexual bestialities and torments of this torturer are so revolting, that in comparison with them horrors described by marquis De Sade in Justine turn pale. So, any timeit was expected that such a monster to fall victim to a radical riposte, on his measure. But had it been really the bachelor room executor of capital sentence of an immanent justice, or somehow in the back of immanent justice it hides a disguised revenge? Struba is perfectly right to ask this. And just the fact Struba is obsessed of this question proves him ideal for investigation of present case. Only that he, I don’t know for what reason, rambles in country just now, when moment arrive to confirm his version.
-He is verifying suspect anticipation of suicides in bachelor room by a monk with gift of predicting, chief of criminology informed.
-Better the prophet would anticipate the justiciar whom Aurel Bau had to receive in the house! I say “to receive” because absence of any traces of forcing door proves that bandit had receive inside hypothetical justiciar, of course without suspecting his intentions. And who would have access to one like him, except some fellow of glass or some public authority? For you don’t invite home at wine the enemies to shoot them with stoppers of champagne.
-Call him back from pilgrimage! “Lion” put a point to any insistences. Let’s finish with circus and solve the file just now, once for ever. For I come back to what I was saying before: the ideal investigator for this case. Investigator with vocation. Just like him, by symmetry, it exists also a suspect with vocation. One who cumulates all qualities necessary to his role: (1) personal vindicative motivation (2) free access to den of beast, in virtue of professional quality (3) intelligent, hypocritical and clever (4) perfect connoisseur of bachelor room and of its legend (5) expert in wiping of own traces (6) profession chosen only out of revenge (7) became a drunkard and a deranged (8) faithful to past and incapable for present… Now tell, Mr. Lastaru: to whom is fit Cinderella’s shoe?
Seemingly he was the old man with puzzles in Fort Boyard.
Crushed by sights from all sides, Lastaru was silent like a grave.
-I was about to forget: …and (9) hidden and silent like a grave. A grave of young woman, with lilac flowers, like in this photograph from May 1988.
Launched over desk, a photograph big format floated in dense air landed gently on council table.
Knocked down, buried in palms, Lastaru hadn’t the power to raise head to look at it.
-Isn’t the top of irony, gentlemen? To be procurator and participate, in the night of 3 December, at research of place of your own deed!…
Stroke by thunder, Lastaru didn’t react any more.
Leon Toth was fixing him with insistence. In his sight like a bullet, you perceived thought pushed on trigger.
“Struba, for my last words, I will take you as father confessor. That rest, word of Danish prince, “is silence”.
Do you remember the vendor of textiles those Durrenmatt’s old people played tribunal with him? When he had asked innocently what crime will attribute to him for trial simulacrum, the retired procurator answered him: “A, but a crime can be found any time”. The following? Judges condemn him to death in play, but the accused takes his guilt seriously, hanging himself. At Kafka is inversely: the accused takes his guilt in play, but judges sentence him to death seriously, stabbing him. But denouement is same, in both variants, proof that moral justice is more complete and constructive than that penal.
Yes, in moral justice, in a process of consciousness, “ it is pure and simple madness to sustain you are not guilty”. I, door of church? Neither at least a squeak of a door of church I never pretend have been. Looser, alcoholic, falsified, deranged and sycophant: It was thrown in me there, in meeting, with all stones from road and I didn’t say anything. For also their turn will come. Yes, I was blackmailed under dictatorship with my “unsound” origin, with “pro American” grandfather condemned politically and with other tin plates hanged by tail. Yes, they compelled me to denounce in faculty, with my file from species of snake with bells. So I also dinned their ears how I was up with all kind of stupidities: how you are a model-student, that you don’t puff at closet in pauses like others, you don’t go to harlots, combative utecist (member of the Romanian Union of Communist Youth) at harvesting of tomato, etcaetera, when you in fact were fucking Mrs.prof. of scientific socialism and red under benches at seminars from Orwell and from Nietszche.. For if they would learn it, you wouldn’t kiss today “Nietszche (neither) table, Nietszche home, Nietszche splendid lady”. So it is, I was since ever vulnerable and I chosen the Law only out of fear of abuses. Yes, I asked asylum to Bachus, as any infirm to whom the half was pulled out still from youth (tin). All this sins I confess. But were they really enough to them? They put on my shoulders also burden of crime, making from me scapegoat. And on who to fall she-ass if not on lastar (twig) of people’s enemy like me?
These wooden heads will never be capable to understand what happened in reality. Because a thinking fastened with nails is a parody of Crucifying. They will not be able to believe it because they won’t it. But I believed, or better said I hoped. I convinced myself of powers of bachelor room still since 1991, at death of trainer Dan Ovidian. Then, when phenomenon happened for the second time, I suspected that history will repeat also in the future. That place is as bad as palace from Ruginoasa was for family of Cuza. From what reason, probably never will be known. And what other executioner more of trust than a bachelor room for execution of one like Aurel Bau, this Noicapitecus came on world only to destroy our lives? Man of Noica. “A brute, a sex, a curiosity which walks through world”. And neither at least from common species, domestic and silly, of those killing their time by quarter yawning mouth from balconies, with knotty elbows leaned on balustrade, with pot-belly swinging in hammock of undershirt , burning daylight and dying of bore. So that in December 1991 I made an anonymous “good” to the fresh employed of plant Republica putting for him a good word to inspectors from locative space who tergiversated his application for accommodation. Nothing can be worse for an enemy than to make him a good. Otherwise, wrong returned with wrong doesn’t annul it, but you amplify it. If you don’t believe it, take a pencil and add –2 with –2, to convince also you that don’t give zero, Struba. That much, and nothing more, the rest was done by bachelor room alone. But if I would revenge with my own hand, you just think I would wait fifteen years until doing it?! But they, with their heads curved by ax, don’t wont to put questions to self. For them it is enough that they discovered America on film of a burial in 1988, at whose recent vision Leon Toth recognized me by chance there, near the woman who had been destined to me.
Based only on arrangements of indices and presumptions, they didn’t dare yet to arrest me. But harassing of yesterday and humiliation (as if 15 years of frustrations wouldn’t been enough to me) finished me anyhow, definitively.
You can felicitate now that you were right with your occasionalist theory, Struba. Only that you have been in a scrap like fellow Lefter Popescu in Two lots. Not bachelor room offered to me occasion of revenge, but I offered it to that.
I write here only to you for I know, at least, you don’t label me “obscurantist”, as told me these boots for hats when they found casuistic of endemic curses annexed to documents of file. You still know that waste-maidan dog condemned to death on time of Convention, in full “reign of Reason”, under official accusation of plot against French Revolution and executed by shooting by an inspector of police (that is another bloodhound)? There is true obscurantism. And “the rationalists” still had impudence to throw this unjust blame to deceased Middle Age! And if that Soviet hound launched with the satellite, the bitch Laika, fallen somehow in hands of imperialist flayers, wouldn’t they really condemn doggie-dogov at death for spying? “The obscurantism” in my documentation in the field of curses, listen! Obscurantism doesn’t mean to affirm obscurities, but to deny them. As these today deny it was coup d’etat, followed by diversion. Obscurantism means to close eyes instead of watching be window in street to mucks and packs of which you can’t go out of house. I refer to these mucks with eyes, to belching of biped making his century through casinos and night clubs of type Carioca, where taxies gather like flies at manure, waiting hours incessantly. “At night, all animals come out in the street” (Taxi Driver). You do open windows, Struba, and look at these comings and goings of nonentities, to see how they arrive here at midnight one after other with jeeps, walking their atrophied little brain by not using and rivaling minced-meat ball. The feast-bairam until down, shouts on maidan and last type of limousine, according to principle of separation of horse powers in state! To be robbed by your rest and health, to go next day at work after less than four hours of sleep, to swallow mockery authorized by mayoralty and to pretend that you don’t see what happens in this country: this the true obscurantism!
And how else could we be than obscurantists, when “all is poltroonery “!? (guess who said it when they condemn him to death).
I feel sick, Struba, to scratch any more files searching truths for a world which draws profits just from lie and boorishness. With you, of course, is something else. You are predestined to searching in darkness. Leon Toth is right when says that the unique standard of professional evaluation is obsession. But if you want indeed to find what you search, then do respect for bachelor room no.113 the right to enigma.
You don’t believe in hell, you said? Look at a loser-model like me and you will believe. In fact, what is the man? A pain with hands and legs. And it is too much sorrow and injustice on this earth that haven’t any sense. It’s a causal impossibility, Struba, that hell not exist.
You show as big skeptic? Then be skeptical first of all facing yourself.
Now I go to search my half of banknote, like Greek of old days. Pour also to me on carpet a drop of vodka if you uncork some bottle. You find as many you want in refrigerator, be my guest.
If I wouldn’t abandon philology and foreign languages, now I harvested without cares folklore in spring campaign. As shepherd saying brought to bankruptcy by no loyal competition of a wolf:
Green leaf like the grass
Badly my mother cursed me,
Or in joke or by purpose
For the curse caught me badly…
P.S. Don’t let that dude to autopsy me, with his bow tie from species of butterflies head-of-dead. You know he was always antipathetic to me. You do arrange to be done by somebody else. Please.
P.P.S.(I was about to write S.P.P.) For Amanda Raicu, textual: breaking of mummy’s arc had been a prediction.
P.P.P.S. Roman law. Successions. At drawing up of testament, they used the balance, the coin of a decima, touching with rod and seizing by ears. Justice, value, responsiveness and listening. How much decayed Rome’s successors, isn’t so?
Paralysed on chair, Struba folded the letter of good-bye and introduced it softly in bosom packet. Without rising sight any more he continue to see them. His shoes. Hanging in air. Still balancing imperceptibly.
His senses were returning little by little. Silent bustling of a few men through room, like to a vigil. Whiz of a photographic camera. Monotonous fizzle of television left open, with screen worming of lightning and obscure fleas.
Then, supreme profaning, uproar of close by merry makers, with their choir of howls and deaf bangs of boxes given at maximum, penetrating from outside the walls like a dampness. What a sewer! From street, a demented claxon just sounded with insistence after some whore who was late to come out from pub.
He took out from pocket of vest his watch. Three past midnight.
Caught suddenly by fury, he seized the started bottle of Ruskaia, opened with lightning speed the windows and threw it in street with a crack of petard.
-Your Communion of curs!!!
Spited drown by disgust. Cut off, his head fallen heavy in palms.
Later on, when he drew back at last from jamb, he saw his palms wet.
Sweetish buzz of neon tubes had a hypnotic effect. He dozed off on chair, with eyelashes of lead fallen over him as two lids of grave. Undecipherable voices. Hurried steps. Clanking of perambulator for invalids. Clinking of trays with syringes. Weak crack of doors. Echoes wandering through labyrinth of hospital. All mixed tickling pleasantly the ear, luring him slowly like an anesthetic…
When he recovered his senses, a hand was stretching him softly by shoulder. He saw first his agenda, fallen on the floor. He inclined hardly after it to recuperate and, raising his sight, recognized her knees.
-We are going, Rut said. We have nothing to do any more here.
Her eye circles deepened as after a vigil. She hanged her white allover by palm-peg and put in sink her head to wash her face, forgetting her stethoscope hanged from both sides of neck. Struba, though remained dressed in raincoat, was shaken by a shiver
-Is he alive? he asked.
-Is in coma, at intensive therapy – he heard her answer covered by towel. And has a poor score.
-What means poor score?
-Seven on Glasgow scale. Better you would splash a little cold water on face. Do you feel able to drive in this sad plight?
He had forgotten completely about car, as much absurd seemed to him the question. It was lying now in the back of hospital, where had parked an hour ago.
-And minim score is zero?
-Three. Don’t open eyes any more, don’t speak, don’t react at pain, at any stimulus.
-And up to where climb this scale?
-Up to 15. Let’s come out once from here.
He didn’t ever see her so scattered even in those morning she came out from guard. But, over tiredness, she was pray of a smouldering agitation. And as proof that he wasn’t wrong, Rut came out the first, buttoning up in walk her coat, with so fast steps that Struba, still drowsy, hardly could follow her. At the end of corridor, suddenly, sliding doors of lift opened straight in front of them, with crash of a mammoth jaws, showing them an empty cabin which seemed to have waited until then specially for them. But both, instinctively, passed farther preferring to get down the three floors be stares. At grand floor, they clashed with a stretcher bearer, staying with crossed legs in a forecarriage, joked letting him pushed with big speed by a colleague. Struba however hardly noticed them. He resumed in mind the events of last three days, since he came back from the sea. He endeavored with torment to order them logically, putting them end to end in a syntax so long, that articulations of thoughts pained him.
-You were afraid of lift – he heard Rut.
When her former husband, interned urgently this evening, had been mounted with stretcher, the lift had blocked between floors in an unexplainable manner and light extinguished, provoking an indescribable flurry among sanitary attendants who, seized by hysteria, made blue their fists by knocking in the walls of cabin and calling for help. Their evacuation had been a true stunt, and incident was without precedent.
The doorman dozed in his lukewarm lodge, baking his booths on some electric range remained from last winter, invulnerable to cold rain from outside. In the street, Struba felt the cold hooking him up with all claws, passing through cloths. Thin water sheets waved in air. At last, door of car, with handler attacked by rust.
-Don’t you come out to put screen wipers? Rut asked, shrinking in her too thin coat.
-Let motor get more heated, he growled. Do you more rememberif this February has been somehow of 29 days?
-What? Rut didn’t understood.
First, Lastaru’s hanging. Next day, quarrel from office with that hyena of reporter. In the after-noon, fright with car which smelt Rut on way home. Now, Gelu’s heart attack.
And Glasgow scale. From 3 to 15.
You can’t separate completely by someone. Divorce is similar to a coma.
Flooded roads hidden everywhere traps. Channels without lid, sinks, broken bottles, masked borders. His tumbledown car winded in a deceptive dance of boat.
-Look, about from here he has taken after me, Rut has shown to him with half mouth.
-Are you sure you weren’t hallucinated? he asked her skeptical.
-Black, with sea blue border.
-May have been your colleague of faculty, how you said is called…With allure of chief of wine cellar, who invited you to Panciu.
-Pantazescu, the libidinous.
-Didn’t you say he wanted to waylay you?…
-Be serious, that has eyes in top of fingers, I just narrated you what happened with him in emergency room. One like him doesn’t make espionage, but massage.
Struba searched the button of radio. Greenish sparkling of board watches reminded him that night fallen since long.
At St. Louis, it rains from January without interruption. Pluviometers indicate 950 mm after only ten weeks. Inhabitants of little agrarian town Quincy from Illinois rise in despair barrages of sacks. It is waited a high flood of 9 meters on river Mississippi. National Guard has been mobilized too late. Paradox of dams: as you rise more, as much pressure of collected water and risk of barrages breaking are bigger. It is anticipated continuation of rains on a duration which could reach even 9 months.
“It is a weather, you wouldn’t let even militia man outside!” Lastaru had said to a major then, at research of bachelor room.
He had found in his house the letters he had received in army. He planned in secret to engage after a year…
To be in forced march with armament in endowment on back in full blizzard, at an end of country, heating your heart at thought to that who will be your woman. And just in that time, somewhere far away, others to dishonor and mutilate her.
In a winter evening , darkness to fall over all your life. To hate from then on the coming of each night, with the worse it could bring. ”In the night, all animals come out on street…In a good day, it will come at last a true rain which will clean all this garbage”. Lastaru repeated it frequently. Taxi Driver was his favored movie.
A true rain.
Wipers were heard scratching the screen with torment.
-…Or perhaps chief-suitor from your section changed his tactics. At beginning, he made advances to you, then he keeps you in night emergency guards, then he follows you to catch you with something with which to blackmail you.
Struba wanted to add something, but stumbled his words over ruts on road. Otherwise, after reexamining own scenario, he had to admit that version of blackmail was, however, a little far-fetched. A blackmail on theme of love with Struba only now, after her divorce from Gelu, would have been of course anachronistic.
-If you are afraid, indeed, I will come these days to take you from hospital by car.
Why did he overbid stupidly? He had promised so many times same thing and as many he defied his word. Tomorrow, for instance. After lunch, it followed to go from office, an entire group, directly to burial of Lastaru.
Black car with sea blue border. Some hallucination, fruit of her somnambulism in the last time.
-But just you can move to me.
And abused among teeth a hollow which had made him to bite his tongue.
She didn’t answer anything also this time. She was watching mutely the town prepared to pass the night. He turned toward her to see better.
Her eyes shined of tears.
From 3 to 15.
Notes. 5.03.1993, Constanta. Meeting with protosinghel Bartolomeu.
Subject: suspect of connections with case “Bachelor room”. He anticipated exactly the death of writer Abu Strul and of his censors. “Many will die because of it” (of book of A.S.). Did he know personally?
Bartolomeu: name taken at turning monk. Civil name: Bart Lasu.
In the way to Athos. Discussion circa two hours. Reporto-phone out of order (why?).
Bart. It sounds nice. Jean Bart.
St. Bartolomeu, one of the 12 apostles. Crucified. In orthodox calendar appears at 11 June. And then after, at 25 August “bringing of relics of St. Ap. Vartolomeu”. Brought, where?
(To be searched in synaxarion. They have it at Kretzulescu.)
Turned monk, why? Before 1986 he was writer. “Was”: that is, he is, isn’t he? How that to be not any more writer! You are born and die writer. You are and that’s all. No retirement, no dismissal, not fired from writing. The protosinghel expressed however somehow different. “I wrote once”.
(Did he published? omission)
Problem: can be writer without writing anything?
Not to write poetry. To be poetry. Was not Nichita Stanescu poetry?
Then, to that meeting. “How would you sum up Eminescu in only seven words, Mr. Nichita Stanescu?” The answer: “Not believing he will ever learn dying” (“Nu credeam sa invetse a muri vreodata”}.(!!!!!!!)
Seven words. The first verse in Ode in ancient metre. To change subjunctive form I person to III person, and nothing more. Eminescu auto identifying by your mouth. First verse of Ode…, and yet not of it. But a new one, created by you.
N.S. could not write ever anything and still would have been poet, isn’t so?
“Et quod tentabam dicere, versus erat”.
Acquaintance Titel Popescu: confirms. They discussed once about manuscript of Aba Strul. The story entitled Blue (Albastru)
About the bet with the ghost.
If the title is not however strange:”On the contrary, it was only possible. The baby cried alone own name”.(???)
What namely had in view writer Titel Popescu telling me then, at meeting from Alphabet P.H.: “Oracular connotations and symbolism of occurrence evoked there raised opera to other scale, passing beyond both descriptive level of news item and political allusion”etc.
Explanation of B.L.: “The story is a parable. The confrontation of communist activist St.Balaur with deceased Gheorghe Militaru is just the battle of Satanic dragon (balaur) with Saint George. That from the icons. Because St. George had been military. And while comrade Balaur was an atheist propagandist, the dead had been a good Christian”.
The military side of St.George’s career was refuted since then by specialists of Vatican (Bart called it “St. Chair with forecarriage”). But according to tradition, he had been official. It is certain that he died in Palestine during prosecutions from IV century with little time before the reign of emperor Constantine. Refusing apostasy , he was tortured for seven years before cutting his head. He was buried at the place of martyrdom, former citadel Lidda (today, airport Lod near by Tel Aviv). The grave is still visible.
Two-three little bones from his relics were brought in France in XIV cent.
Equestrian posture of knight? medieval adaptation.
Legends on his account: During his long martyrdom, he would have died and resurrected three times. (coincidence with the three deaths in bachelor room…). He would have freed a virgin from slavery of a dragon (balaur) which terrorised Lydian citadel Silena. Psycho analytical interpretation at J.P. Clebert: The Dragon being associated usually with a cave or cavern, it means that he guards treasure of little girl; so, the spear of hero is nothing else than a pennis, and woman-cavern should be the vagina. From where, the defeat of dragon = seducing of virgin. See the popular French expression dragon de vertue. But then, the horse? What can mean? That Georgica is mounted on situation?…
Same obsession also to Jung and Moraze, who see everywhere only erections and allegories. Anyhow, the apocryphal literature about gallant deeds of knight Gh .has been prohibited by popes. John XXIII just wiped him from calendar of saints.
More important: the dragon as guardian of occult sciences at esoteric schools.
The fall of activist St. Balaur in the dust of cemetery = “…the big balaur-dragon, the snake from old called devil and Satan, that who cheats everybody, has been thrown on earth” in confrontation with Archangel Michael (The Apocalypse 12.7).
“That who cheats everybody”. The communist propagandist.
“The lie is saint, and cheating will be our main arm”.(Lenin).
Satanocracy versus Democracy (demos = people). Official ideology of Power against popular traditions. The bet against villagers.
Dragon, drac, from Sanskrit root drk “sight”. Also my monk: One Leisegang, a German, had noticed rightly that Greek ophis (“snake”) precedes ophtalmos (“eye”). Hypnotic sight of snake. Persuasion = key of cleverness.
Heart attack suffered by St. Balaur in that night at cemetery had been the following of careless use of own arm (the knife). Therefore, tovul (comrade) is not killed, but dies by own hand. It corresponds with piercing of demonic dragon with spear by the saint.
The climbing on top of hill, at cemetery with knife in hand = provoking of Heaven. Icarus syndrome. The haughtiness, cause of Man’s fall. As you climb higher, so your fall will be more destroying
Iconography of dragon: red-green, in opposition with blue-white at St. Gicu. Red, political colour of tov (comrade) from county management. The apocalyptic dragon is also red. The blood of martyrs. Flesh in blood of animals for sacrifice. Fast of meat, etc.
What meant, in fact, the ambition of the activist to demonstrate to natives that the deceased couldn’t resurrect (by turning into ghost)? It meant negation of Resurrection. But just when he believed to have succeeded, the dead manifests himself.
Not the dead had troubled the rest of superstitious villagers.
“Oracular connotations”(Titel Popescu)? The fall of communism. Nota bene: the novelette written in 1985, prophetic.
This Bart is abysmal. He seems arrived from other world. Has answer to all questions.
Two coffees Espresso and a Campari small: 18.000 lei. Ticket of refounding.
Hotel Palace, room 317. Bulletin to be taken back from receptionist. She resembles Gabrielle Anwar.
(She looks a bit languid. “You look and gain”.)
Form. Column “Scope of visit”??!! Good joke. Perhaps microphones are out of fashion.
Filthy onanists: to hear in cask how tourists fuck in rooms.
Bart predicts the near end of uncle Petrisor Hagiu. The gunner. Road accident close to a bridge. To pursuit my pocket watch. As if then it will get spoilt. Made present at Capsa, August 1977 (?)
Psycho-metry. Memory of objects about their former owners. Like at Franz Bardon.
We have a Romanian taxi driver to New York who collaborates with N.Y.P.D. at finding disappeared persons. He found by hyper-lucidity I don’t know how many hidden corpses including cut heads placed in dumping carts. Brrrr!
Taken holograph declaration. After return of B.L from Athos, re-hearing.
Aghiu orous “saint mountain”(Greek).
Serene and 20 degrees here, comp. With 14 degrees in capital. Storm on sea last night.
“Better with 5 degrees in the house than one degree at door” (Lastaru).
Bart: Ghiorghios in Greek means “agriculturist”. Indeed, Gh. Militaru had been at his life worker of land. Any name on earth has an etymological connection with foundation of world and its Creator. Etymology = history.
This receptionist just wants.
The war of beneficial angelic forces with infernal powers in Apocalypse 12.7 will be ran “in heaven”. It corresponds with the peaks of hill where village cemetery was (under sky) and to absolute isolation of that place in relation with village fireplace.
Bart also says: The stake of bet hadn’t been of material order (money, brandy of plums, cheese, etc.) but spiritual. If villagers would have lose, they obliged to renounce to their convictions, to liberty of consciousness, adopting the official ideology of Power. That is to worship the Balaur (dragon). Exactly the aim of the Beast in Apocalypse of St.John. Discouragement and abandon of waiting for Life of the Last (from beyond grave). Leaving that who promised this.
Rapid 684. Dep. 14 hour – arr. 16.47 (tickets for accountancy).
Or with Rapid 582 Tomis. Dep. 15.30 – arr.17.58 (?)
The deceased Dan Ovidian trained a cobra, that is a small dragon-balaur, isn’t so? As well as the deceased Gh. Militaru who dominates tov.(comr.) St.Balaur. Interesting!
The bet and occurrence described by writer Aba Strul in novelette have been real, but Bart doesn’t remember in which county in the country. Anyhow, not important.
Question: Transcribing of manuscript on the walls of own bachelor room was an act of protest against censorship?” Answer: “It was strike of hunger of paper”.
Salad Waldorff, a Turkish coffee and 50 grams Black & White (Lastaru called it “Harap-Alb”) 53.100 lei.
Hieromonach Bartolomeu says that the story of Aba Strul is a kabbala, and the text is thanatogenous, from where also unexpected deaths which followed. “Not the writing had been the product of a mad author, but inversely, the madness of author was produced by the writing”.
A complete author exceeded by his own opera.
Aba Strul – an obscure writer. Paradoxical.
But without a Maiorescu, it would have heard ever of Eminescu? The authority of Alecsandri was by then absolute (see his photograph in the picture of Junimea (Youth), in central medallion, bigger than of the others). Without Jebeleanu, would it have been heard of Stelaru?
“Poet, today you are the martyr
Of a world of idiots”
D. Karnabatt, The Poems of Dream (Macedonski’s cenacle).
The daily allowance and accommodation, rest 81.000 lei. Net monthly 383.000 lei, plus the merit. Total 431.000 lei.
To be drawn up a list with all applications of the “blue” (albastru).
The manuscript (that on paper, the original) was lost at censors then, in 1985-86. Or destroyed? Mural manuscript: destroyed at painting of bachelor room in Oct.1988.
(Verify to Lastaru)
Monogram of uncle Petrisor Hagiu on lid of watch. A “H” and a “P” glued on it. Exactly how Henry Kissinger signed, with capital “H” and “K” forming common corp.
Will it stop soon?…It never spoilt in 16 years.
It doesn’t bring year what brings the watch.
Description made by monk Bartolomeu to the project of cover realised by Ralu (Raluca?) Sbat for publishing house Litera: illustration “divinely inspired, in perfect concordance with subject of book”. The icon of St .George in battle with Balaur-Dragon but inverted! This time, mounted is the Balaur-Dragon, who thrust military saint with a spear. The horse isn’t white any more, Uranian, but is black horse, infernal. In fact, a monstrous, polymorph equideic creature, with balaur-dragon grown just from its spine, with claws instead of hoofs and reptile tail, having at top a small head of beast, ferocious, ready to bite. Uah!
So, Ralu Sbat had read the manuscript? Bart says the text was dangerous. Problem: why the text of Aba Strul has affected only some of his readers. Suspect deaths: censors, author, painter R.S. (all until 1989).
The coach leaves at noon. Mark Ikarus. Exceptional weather here.
Hygienic paper absent – see the housekeeper.
How to “lose” a manuscript!? Amanda in Lastaru’s office: “I’ve lost, dear, when they removed our desks, the libido. Didn’t you find it somehow?”
A silence, that you heard microbes multiplying.
They had to be many there, billions, in that space not aired by full months, purloined from sun light.
Then, at once, deaf rattle of the winch.
A stifled crack. The lift doors.
Struba stood stone-still in vestibule, only ears. Some steps were approaching on stair head. He extinguished lantern with a weak noise, which he deadened in hollow of his fist. The steps stopped exactly against the door, as he had intuited from the beginning. He touched carefully the darkness, avoiding to strike hard surfaces until he succeeded to localise the visor. The hall of the eighth floor was totally obscure. Beyond door, he perceived a rustle, at only few centimetres from him. Suddenly, staying with eye glued on lentil, he had awful sensation that someone watches him from outside by visor. Without breath, with straining of a savage cat, he remained so until the steps stirred at last from place, moving off. A bunch of keys jingled somewhere, unlocking the door of one of neighbouring apartments, which then he heard it closing back. Nocturnal silence invaded again on block stairs, deafening.
Some late lodger, or returned from work in night shift. Spying by passing, pushed by curiosity, abandoned bachelor room. They might have been many simpletons in block who gave rounds yet, specially the children. What other better entertainment in a sordid quarter, than a terrifying place like this which feeds your imagination and nightmares?
-The only terrifying place is the man, my dear – Struba heard from his back.
The fright was so terrible, that suddenly his legs benumbed. Disjointed, he exerted to bring back his equilibrium under control, on the point of falling on floor.
Someone was in the balcony.
Attracted as by a magnet, Struba approached by half-open door of balcony, shaking as drunk man.
The balcony. But it is impossible!…
-So had said also Simon Newcomb. That flight of an apparatus heavier than air is impossible. Dogmas imposed by your new god, Science, valide from today up tomorrow!
The voice laughed relieved. He was reading his thoughts, it’s clear. Answered them like an echo.
From the glass door, Struba looked at right. At the end of balcony, propped up with elbows on jamb, a man watched in night the city lights galaxy.
-How did you enter the bachelor room?… Struba mumbled, lightening the lantern in direction of the intruder.
The unknown laughed again lightly. When recognised him in the beat of lantern, Struba felt a wave of hotness and his knees softened. He moulded slowly like a piton on the lounge chair in the corner.
The man in uniform of cadet of military school wasn’t anybody else than…him!!!
-Your uniform of sixteen years ago, yes. You did well putting it down from you then. Didn’t suit you at all. The uniform de-personalise.
Struba was incapable to articulate a word. He filled all cavity of lounge chair, liquefied by horror.
-Look, what I was telling you? The only place of horror is the man. A dwelling of dark. Man is like this bachelor room offered by rent. Two interested clients come to him: one wants to pay cash, in advance; the other only promises that will give him sometime a luxurious villa. Who is chosen by owner? Of course that with money down. Really isn’t fool to believe the other one, with his villa of tale still not given in use. And so, he receives in house the paying tenant, concluding a contract with him. He receives the price, spends joyfully the money, time passes and, look, the contract reaching the term. In point of fact, tenant won’t go from house. The owner tells him that duration of contract exhausted and he must evacuate him. But the lodger opposes: I renovated in the meantime your house, I furnished it first class, I put to you television by cable, I installed central heating, closet with pedal, etc., all on my expenses, for your personal comfort, and you agreed. Consequently, I leave if you restore expenses up to last coin invested. Correct? Did I compel you to prefer the luxury? And, hoe the owner has no from where reimburse the investments, he found himself obliged to recognise himself in-solvable and give up definitively own house to the stranger who deceived him. That is the devil. Useless to precise, now, who was the other, the offerer rejected by man. In conclusion, the only one who chooses who to live in man is man himself. In vain he complains afterwards and give the guilt on others. It is as if you would cast the blame on a whore because she infected you with HIV. You told just here, three months ago, to Lastaru that you don’t believe in hell. A hell, of course, somewhere outside you, topologic speaking. Only that something like that doesn’t exist anywhere. The hell isn’t a place somewhere, but a state of things. The state of in-solvability of own soul. Any soul with its hell, as any owner with his house. Each builds with his hand a labyrinth more and more complicated from which he risks to be not able coming out. Didn’t you dream so many times winding and sombre houses, by which you lose yourself without issue? Didn’t you see how lively your sadness and terror are there? You shout in sleep, weep, toss, until you can’t any more, and, suddenly, you awake, with an infinite ease. Then you wash, drink calmly your coffee, read newspapers and forget. Awakening from sleep is your saving issue. But if wouldn’t have where to awake? If it wouldn’t exist issue from nightmares? Remember that occurrence with that crane which was ever rising a block all around : only after finish of construction, the imbecile craner found himself closed there, that had to come a brigade of bulldozers and heavy equipment for taking out idiot’s crane… Man has a dedalian appeal. You say commode “I don’t believe”only because you don’t care for me. If you would care indeed, you would believe. For you know well that, without me, your fantastic brain doesn’t mean more than three pounds of gelatine.
-Who are you?… Struba heard own stammering.
Now, the other looked again to city lights, stooping little over balcony jamb, leaving to sight only pale, cyanosed profile.
-You no me very well to ask me like for a stranger. All life we two have been together, everywhere. But it will be not so ever, you just know. In a good day, my time will arrive to go in a journey in which I will be not able to take you with me, any much I would like to. Of course yes, my dear, is just me, your Soul.
His Soul!!! Only now, touching the arms of lounge chair and convincing he was lying in it in flesh and bones, Struba conscientized halving. He felt the disquiet as noose a around neck.
-This lounge chair, yes, there is your empirical criterion –the other laughed toward Struba with a sight-blitz. You are much easier convinced by what you feel under your ass than by what stays over your head. You have total trust in your deceptive senses, but in us, who are over senses you have not… This foolishness will cost you dear sometime. You were told since two millenaries ago that Another one paid entrance ticket for you obstinate stupidly to believe that you don’t need ticket, that you will go without paying. Let me explain to you how it is with your forgiving to pay this ticket. At the end of centuries, it will be just as you red recently, you know where; “a new heaven and a new earth”. And entrance in this new house of Life is like entrance to the premiere of the best spectacle in the world. You find in a good day in your mail box an invitation from the director of theatre, with the good news that he has paid instead of you the exorbitant price of tickets (only he knows hour, poor he!), knowing you are in-solvable since world and earth. Outside however it is a blizzard of all beauty, the wife mumbles: I am not just crazy to come out on this hurricane, to spoil my loop and to die of cold up to theatre! But if we don’t come out, how do you want to see the spectacle? you cry from bathroom, while shaving. And it is not a pity to don’t go gratis? But madam: Leave it, dear, that was said will transmit also to television. And indeed, a liar speaker with a face of snake with spectacles had announced at “Actualities” how that spectacle will be anyhow transmit in live by Romanian free television. So you let yourself convinced, abandon all preparations and wait the program. When in fact, instead of much promised transmission, look that is broadcast again, ”at request of tele-spectators” the tele-novelette Poor Maria!…Easters and gods, crises of nerves, punches, slammed doors etc., but all in vain, now is too late. What for, next day, early morning, full of bitterness, you start again: go out shrinking in the hell from outside and die anyhow of cold on endless long way up to the cursed job…Now, you got it, my dear? Remember how happy have you been last week there, on the sea shore, of drunkenness of light you guzzled, and seagulls flight over roofs, and breeze smelling of fish…It didn’t passed then through your mind, at least for a second, how that marine paradise is in fact the remembering of a world wide drowning in which perished sometime billion like you. The coal you heat with are the forests buried in earth then. Oil you transport with are animals rotten then. Vestiges of cataclysm from a curse thrown over entire planet. Well, after restoring of Creation you spoilt, when “not a curse will be anymore”, all these awful memories will be whipped from the face of world. Don’t get you drunk, thus, with marine illusions, my dear, but better read once again invitation to the premiere I told about: “That sky ahead and earth ahead have passed; and the sea isn’t any more”…Good bye, Romanian littoral, dream of winter nights! And really isn’t better so? No you mosquito, no you cholera, no you tickets through syndicate, no you sero-positive nudists, no you derails at Dragos-voda…
The same laugh extremely retained, as if out of respect for the presence of a dead. Or, perhaps, for the sleep of concrete and conducts of the block. After what, Struba saw him arising his elbows from the jamb and straightening his spine.
-Now is but the time to undo my wings, my dear Dedal, leaving you to continue untroubled the research through the labyrinth of bachelor room. By the way, did you know that Dedal has ended bitten by a snake?…
Laughing, he open suddenly his arms and scampered away, launching in void over jamb.
A lightning passed then through Struba’s mind. He saw at its light, for a millionth of a second, all. He was dreaming. He dreams how the soul leaves him!… Great God, he was sleeping, and now he dies in sleep!!!
Invaded by panic, he pushed downward with might and main the arms of lounge chair, searching to raise from it. His body was heavy as the lead.
He was dying! Will not awake from sleep ever!
He suffocate. Lungs hardened as a cement..
He felt all block shaking with him. Reversed, the city slipped at valley on inclined streets.
He struggled with despair, to pull out of lounge chair. Or of a coffin?…
They had buried him!!! was his last thought.
An animal fright jumped at his throat.
Howled dreadfully, with cut tendons of crying.
He awaken from sleep shouting from mouth of snake. Fallen from bed, writhing with legs tangled in bed cloths. Something from night stand reversed with noise.
-What’s with you?! Rut frightened.
She lighted the lamp. Struba panted at feet of bad, lack of perspiration.
-My Gog, how you frightened me,Al!…she made dumb. What are you searching by down?
But Struba wasn’t yet capable to answer. He heard his heart pumping in him accelerated at maximum, with cracks. A short circuit in the blood net.
-You had a nightmare, hadn’t you?
Overwhelmed, he caught the edge of mattress, searching to recover his breath. A deaf pain pressed him in the basket of chest, like after a fist blow.
-I think I had a pre infarct …mumbled , holding his chest.
Rut searched prostrated the watch. Then she got down to bring her bag. The milky fog beyond windows shown that soon the day will break.
-Stay on bottom so. Little mother, you’re fountain!…
Rubber switch of tension-meter fizzled a few times.
-You tickle me with that stethoscope, and at least not where it must… Struba burst out , exhausted.
-You have nothing, I’m blessed, you drew a fear and that’s all. I give you a drug.
He saw her relieving of tools and rummaging through her bag as big as a knapsack.
-You make excess of coffee, that’s. Since with that cursed bachelor room of you. If you’ll keep always so, you’ll give in hallucinations, Al.
-How good is a doctor at man’s house.
-Take off hand…
-Why, are you at periods?
She pulled from him and went at window to see if it was raining. She found then her watch, with a sullen expression.
-Oh, isn’t at least six! We catch one more hour of sleep.
He heard her soles scrapping on corridor toward bathroom.
He risen himself, now distended at last. He had still only a painful shadow at nape of the neck. He lighted with greed a cigarette. He was asking what can mean such a dream. In the first year of studentship, when they had sent them to state farm from Nazarcea to collect the harvest with patriotic ardour, in a night the hut of boys resounded by shouts of one of them. He had had a nightmare: a group of unknown have haunted him on stair up to a blind alley, where they caught him from a leg. Some weeks later, the same type, at the wheel of his father’s car engaged himself in an exceeding on a county road and clashed in mist a vehicle appeared from opposite sense. The impact crushed him exactly the leg in question… Happily however for N.P., the accident left him entire and had soon been forgotten; now he professes well-merci as lawyer and dean of bar, healthy as gun.
Hearing the shower at bathroom, Struba remembered of rains. Then he remembered something more. He went to window to throw a sight from beyond curtains, with eyelashes still not well unglued.
It was there. Exactly as he supposed.
At the street corner. Though light of daybreak was still much too pale, he guessed however its colours. The same of yeasterday. Black, with sea blue border.
This question was starting to annoy him. It wasn’t any more only about Rut, about a male trailing. Now it was an established watch just at his residence. The joke gets hot.
He started to scheme a plan of measures when, unexpectedly, heard the ring of phone. Some morning mistake, no doubt. Again Mediafax, Bancorex or other stupidity like this with “x” in tail. How much amused poor Lastaru on their account! Once, one rang him confounding him with own chief: ”Hallo, long live, Mr. director, I’m Mizga, the driver. Now you that train has a delay of half hour. May I wait here in station for inspectors, or return to minister?” To which Lastaru, in banter: “Let them to hell, go to garage!” Other time, a conspiring voice hits him: “Fane, it’s me, Giani. Tell me, did your wife went out, may I come with pussies?” “Come, man!”
He brought the receiver at ear, incapable to pull out more than a guttural sound. On the fond of the rattle of industrial machines, an alert male voice. From the first words heard, Struba fired up.
-Hello, dear Ducu, listen to me with attention and don’t ask anything. You are in big danger. Come at eleven sharp at the statue of soldier, you know it, that of old times, see the album photo. It’s to your good. In problem of bachelor room. Its key is with me.
A releasing gear put suddenly an end to message. Receiver wasn’t now more than a piece of plastic.
Conversation lasted maximum fifteen seconds.
Bewildered, Struba found himself assaulted by tens of questions. His mind had been filled with bruises.
In the last moments, exhausted, he felt how his thought falls in gap, without brake.
Here, just at this table drawn last autumn with Lastaru. Shabby and discoloured by sun, umbrella may have been also the same. He remembered him how, on measure of miserable services of the local, he had blown pure and simple his nose in ice bucket from beside.
He felt his absence in the quarter of hour passed until he was at last observed. The terrace was rushed, and so was the park. The alleys were walked softly by wanderers , in a sort of solar procession dedicated to vernal resurrection. Children. Dogs of race. Pensioners. Vendors of sugar wadding on stick and ice-cream. Officials. Passengers changed among them through green labyrinth of mulberry-trees and chestnut-trees, botany confused greetings.
-What you desire to order?
A waiter out of spirits, with apron, and pencil on ear.
-Me, a platoon of execution!… Struba grinned unveiling his eye teeth.
The music of fanfare in kiosk fermented in him like an enzyme. He hadn’t with whom knock this time. Solitary, the beer-mug left herself kissed on mouth.
Then after, he started surveying quietly the monument of soldier, toward which an ideal perspective was opened. Time for a beer and a coffee had in plenty; he had come with nearly half hour earlier for being able to chose a suitable place of observation.
“Ducu, dear…” He had know to make himself recognised from first words. After more than a decade. In childhood, they called him in many kinds, now “Sanducu”, then “Alexutsa”, and even the unpleasant “Alecu” But with “Ducu”, nobody else than him had petted, as well as nobody loved him in his manner. In the years of gymnasium, the first lived by Struba in city, uncle Petrisor Hagiu had been mother and father to him. He had given him a roof, nourished , clothed, schooled him. Having not children, he wanted to adopt him, but old Struba hadn’t agree. He tired a full year, with iron patience , to prepare him for cadets school, in order to make him a respectable and sure future. He had ambition to make him an artillery officer, likewise himself. He had been professor of mathematics, but because came to die of hunger he dressed military uniform. He rubbed him at trigonometry any evening. The ritual was the same. First of all, he went down to buy from debit in street corner a dozen of packs of Nationale. He smoked like Turk, otherwise couldn’t work. Then, he threw his jacket of captain on back of chair, rolled up his sleeves like a laundress and put his watch with silver chain on table, at sight, to time his apprentice at calculations. He had the speed of a Ramanujan, and in childhood his only toys had been algebraic equations. A genius. By 1950-51, he had create a furore at Caransebesh, when he received the command of a division of howitzer, in full war with Tito. The gunners were shooting over mountain in invisible targets, calculated trigonometric with such a precision, that they introduced the shell, after a trajectory of thirty kilometres, exactly on the window of casemate. Art, not ballistics. Due to cannonades, he was about to remain without tympanums there. At last, after a year of torture, the young Struba gave him satisfaction to see him cadet a military school. In the great day, he brought him at Capsha, in uniform of parade to rinse his heart with beer at mug. So proud was him then of his young recruit, that he had presented him with his silver watch with lid and monogram, mark Paul Garnier, with which he had terrorised him so long time. The watch and a family album full of dead, in which he glued also the photograph made together with Al.Struba in that memorable day.
“…at the statue of soldier, you know, that of old time, see the album photo”. It just couldn’t be a better landmark for an appointment after ages. On the terrace, Struba controlled visually his objective once again, lighting his cigarette. The fanfare in kiosk just had attacked peace of park with a new noisy march.
In his young eyes of then, Petrisor Hagiu was not only a mentor, but also the embodiment of victory itself. Parental refusal by which the captain came against in his repeated attempts of adoption was, probably, the only military defeat in his career. But not so much power of example had convinced Struba to accept military career, as temptation of decorations, which in those grey years fascinated him. He remembered conu (Mr.) Petrisor in his uniform of artillerist, with black epaulets and braids, garnished with medals. Seemingly he saw them also now. Soldierly Virtue, with red, simple strap. On Guard to Motherland, with its star hanging from a bleu linen furrowed by leek-coloured stripes. The Military Merit, with azure fond flanked by sea blue stripes. Tudor Vladimirescu, with portrait of pandour in a silvery medallion hanged by a blue band with white girdle and metal laurels. Surrounded by fal-lals and of perspective of a pretty good pay, the young Struba believed he will escape, at last, of material cares, and he will be able to stay on his own feet. But euphoria of triumph he begun already to prevision was to pass quickly. He didn’t yet get out from photograph, grinning artistically by under moustache with peaked cap on a ear, that his uncle Petrisor had been convoked urgently at garrison He had been transferred unexpectedly to a special military unit in province. He had to pack up his traps, and to move over night, in double-time pace, giving all a rest. Even the fresh cadet. Struba was despaired. Remained without protector, he didn’t resist morally to instruction in school, with its Prussian hardness. It is right, before going out of city, the captain found him a host, leaving also a pretty nice sum; he wandered with money at him day and night, sewed in cloth lining, as the gunner taught him, to be not pillaged. But the dies had been thrown. Struba renounced immediately to arms career, to which, otherwise, didn’t seem to be predestined. The tens of note books of trigonometry blotted evening by evening, ballistic calculations, school of cadets, uniforms of parade, all had gone thus on the water of Saturday. However, the strike of grace will be given to you not by his unexpected abandon, but by interdiction to visit his mentor there where this shifted. From shortened explanations left then by Petrisor Hagiu resulted that it was not permitted to this to disclose to anybody his new address, for reasons which remained obscure to Struba. Could he been taken over by services of counter-information? Struba never succeeded to decipher the obscure significance of that compelled breaking off. And he would tell he more? The four brothers of the officer had deceased between time, leaving him as unique survivor of an extinguished kin, sometime ago numerous, well known to Struba in childhood. Today, the monumental watch in pocket and the family album were the single rests of that common biography prematurely interrupted.
Methodical, Struba took out from the waistcoat pocket his silver watch and opened the lid. Five to eleven. He stared again by sight the monument of soldier near by. His emotion was growing as moment of meeting approached.
Over the precipice of so many years yawning in between, an unexpected bridge had been built only in a few seconds. The surprise of phone call from early morning had been so big, that almost eclipsed the alarming message. But the warning had to be taken seriously. Struba had remembered it tens of times, word by word, to convince himself that in spite of shock he registered it with accuracy of a magnetic band. “You are in big danger…It is toward your good”. Was his life, therefore, threatened? By whom? The answers he should know soon. In any case, the threatening must have been imminent. Otherwise, why the hurry of Petrisor Hagiu to meet him in the course of same morning? And if so serious a danger was announced only now, when it knocked at the door, it means it had appeared only recently. Or may by the gunner had learnt tardy about its existence? It was, probably, question of a long story, as long as he didn’t disclose it then, on the spot, at phone. It necessitate a meeting. Or somehow the phone was heard? Then the disclosure of danger was itself a danger. And, indeed, all went toward this Rome. First way: the anonymity. You don’t present yourself, but use in-confounding marks for your interlocutor. (“Dear Ducu…see the album photo”, etc.), only by him known. The second way: the monologue. You impose your monologue to your interlocutor as grant (“listen to me with attention and don’t ask anything”), eliminating thus any risk of de-conspiring to thirds. The three way: rapidity. A message-blitz, after so many years of silence, couldn’t be anything else than a measure of precaution against location of post from where the appeal was made. The fourth way: un-locating. Only Struba could know where was it the statue of soldier chosen as place of appointment (you know, that of old times”). The fifth way: the ambiguity. “In problem of bachelor room. The key is with me”. The key of bachelor room, or the key of problem? Anybody other than Struba would have remain in doubt. Or, here was just the heart of message: decoding of a danger tied directly with enigma of bachelor room, decoding reserved exclusively to his former protected of yore. It is clear that Petrisor Peiu was acquainted with the file and even with his titular. But what connection could have an artillery officer with case of bachelor room and investigations to which Struba obstinate to not renounce? In fact, this question wasn’t else than origin of real chain reaction. From where learnt uncle Petrisor his actual address? But his phone not-to-be-informed? Would he really rang him until then in absence? Why didn’t visit him better home in intimacy? And how found out one like him, from exterior of judicial system, nominal di