Nobody Likes a Master Stylist
At dawn as they headed out to the fields they found him, a bent black shape slumped against a tree. Just as the hops were tied to their posts, he was tied to his. Marko Medved first identified the odd shape as that of a man, and his predator eyes, honed by years drinking his own pelinkovec on the balcony watching for an event to approach his horizon. He covered his wife’s eyes. ‘This is something you must never see,’ he told Ljudmilla with great portent. ‘You mean that dead guy?’ ‘Yes.’ ‘Okay husband, I will return home and prepare a vat of soup for our lunch.’ So she saw him, all right, but she didn’t see the black stain that had run from his seed source to form a delta of death on the fecund earth before him; nor would she ever know that the pipe in his mouth was not a pipe, but his own penis.
The police had no clues, not even to his identity. He had been spotted in Celje, and only one man at the tavern called the Dvojina Dolfe was found who had spoken with him. ‘He said he was a master stylist. I don’t remember anything else.’
He Never Writes, He Never Calls
You remember the one about the nun raped by the gorilla in Central Park?
Yeah, I never knew why it had to be Central Park. Wouldn’t it be better if it started with a gorilla escaping from a zoo?
Sure, probably, but it’s that damn punch line, that stupid fucking punch line that gets to me every time.
Who visits her in the hospital?
Depends who’s telling the joke. I like it being the Mother Superior.
Right. I like it being a psychiatrist called in by the Mother Superior after several months of lingering despondency.
Yeah, that’s good.
So then what?
Well, he simply says I know you’ve been through a hell of a trauma, but a long time has passed, and you refuse to speak, you hardly eat. We want to help you, but you have to begin to open up, at least a little. She lays there silently. Can you put into words what’s bothering you? And she turns to the shrink, tears in her eyes, and says, He never writes, he never calls.
Funny as hell. Gets me every time.
He never writes, he never calls. God, I love it.
Why’d they have us put it here?
Can you indulge in conjecture?
Safety in numbers, though at this point…
That last one was pretty gruesome.
The man over-reached, why fret?
True enough, but it was pretty gruesome.
So is this bit.
Among the worst.
Like Stambulov, only apparently not politically motivated.
Anyway, who keeps a gorilla for a pet?
Dead transvestites, as far as we know.
But in Ljubljana of all places?
And in Ljubljana’s high places.
Talk about quashing an investigation.
So what do we know?
Famous surgeon, worked on the elites, managed to keep a pet gorilla for a few years without but a few in her circle finding out. Hopefully a smaller circle engaged in sexual intercourse with the gorilla while it was drugged, some even—
Not so willing like the one in the joke…
I love that joke.
So the autopsy showed signs of remarkable sadism, not only the enlarged and torn rectum and torn tunnel, but badly healed broken bones. Some really sick shit was going on.
And that old report about the gorilla attacking a young girl—
Who irony of ironies is now a nun.
It says right in the report, his giant thing, something like that. Pink of course. The power of pink when it’s not where things should be pink. I mean, not that the penis itself was in the wrong place…
Right, anyway, now that’s our gorilla from the joke.
Unproven, little speculated on, but yes, it would seem so.
Well, I think we know the gorilla’s.
The doctor. Are we to accept that it’s merely another instance of human perversity? Is that acceptable?
It happened. The only thing is, to start with, the doctor is a woman who thinks she should have been a man. That alone is either fucking nuts—
I like that.
Yeah, me too. Where was I?
Maybe its nuts enough to be a woman and think you should be a man. It stands to reason that someone with such feelings would just become a lesbian. Why, if a sort of alteration of nature, further alter your nature?
But she does, probably because at the time a few famous cases existed. In a little way, so to speak, it was the thing to do. So she gets her cock—
From a factory and a surgeon, not a gorilla.
I am, believe it or not—I know we have to get this done—I am on the verge of fucking pissing myself.
All right, let’s finish quick. But the cock is an early model and…
No, no, fine, get it out of your system…
Look, now you’re spitting up.
Okay, okay, I got it. Control, I got control. But a dollop of piss actually did come out.
That may be for the best. In our circumstance little we do can be considered odd.
Nothing compares. But the prosthesis didn’t work, no better than an elongated limp penis. It was supposed to work, so it didn’t have proper…stiffness. So the theory is she is remarkably frustrated, and the leap from there to what she did is a fucking chasm, a broad and hideous fucking chasm, onto this side of which we must remain far from the edge.
You said it.
Neighbors heard banging. Presumably she was already dead, but the gorilla was definitely going to have his fun. When the cops finally arrived—it wasn’t reported as an emergency—it was quiet, so they knocked. They knew whose house it was. They were about to walk away when they heard something knocked over in the garage, a bicycle I think. The door was unlocked. They walked in, saw blood and limbs everywhere, the bitch was fucking skull flensed, not a typical gorilla maneuver—even some toes and fingers were bit off and spit out. Her tongue was half torn out, leading to the belief that the gorilla showed aggression—he woke up, perhaps having grown too used to the usual dose—she began to scream, he went after her tongue. The gorilla had a very minor bite mark on his right hand. And he was right handed. So the cops see this, and a fucking gorilla—imagine the surprise—
Right, just like the nun in the joke.
Absolutely. They see this contrite giant ancestor having backed into a corner, knocking over a bicycle—he heard them outside and assumed they were coming in after him. He was finished, ready to turn himself in, but the cops were in a state of grievous alarm, shock, and they emptied their revolvers into him so fast he died right there in the corner.
Which is why he never writes or calls.
That’s funny. Really.
Wow! What a Fucking Assassination!
Get the door.
You get the door.
Sounds like the door’s going to get us.
What a bunch of hyped up, triped up, and unfortunately typed up, nonsense. Yes yes yes yes yes yes yes emphatically fucking yes fucking yes fucking yes, while Todd Fullmer was in Ljubljana a bizarre incident happened. But not to anyone anyone knew, and it wasn’t a fucking gorilla. A mastiff killed its owner. End of fucking story. And to think those two were going to go on about…Well, just to think they were going to go on.
I won’t say whether I followed him or not, as it has already been established that the first person can pass for omniscient and the character nihiliscient. The point is simply that he followed up immediately, by taxi, license plate LJ 77Z4, all the way to Predjamska Grad, where he was surprised at so little ado about—just one kiosk, where three euros were required for entrance, just 150 meters ahead, passing benches on which several visitors rested.
As he walked, reading the brochure about Erazem’s taunting of the Austros and the Austros sending of Ravbar to besiege the castle and Erazem’s secret tunnels that led to the land above, where he hunted, often tossing fresh dead carcasses down to Ravbar’s starving besiegers, and the eventual betrayal of Erazem, someone placing a flag in a window to alert Ravbar to Erazem’s retreat to the toilet room, off to the left of the façade, an easy enough target, a cannonball, the end, about a 37 second read, a paragraph in Valvasor, Fullmer saw a little car, yes—a 65 GTO—scooting in front of him. He stopped, smiled, then went and picked up the car…a child cried out, a father pounced, recovered the car with his left, raising his right in threatfist, a befuddled fullmer apologizing to thin air, a family of three looking over their shoulders at the rude man on their way to the parking lot. The kind of asshole who’d kick your little white dog if it barked at him.
A dejected Fullmer trod on, head down, sardonically flagellating himself, ‘Birdy num num.’
‘Birdy num num,’ responded Z, Beograd rules in force.
‘I suppose we don’t need it here, anyway.’
Z sat on the next to last bench, looking out at the layer of cloud on the hills, watching the rise of mist from the valley far below.
He pulled the 65 GTO from his pocket.
‘Of course we do. Move down a little’, he said, for Fullmer had sat at a natural distance.
Z spoke into the hood.
The car veered and slipped through two bench slats.
Fullmer retrieved it and opened the trunk, which said, ‘What’s this diversion all about?’
Fullmer manipulated the four-wheeled device.
The car told Z, ‘Assassination—long before Kramberger.’
Z told the tiny engine, which trapped the words in the trunk for Fullmer, ‘That was no assassination. It was war. And they cut off the rebel army at the top. Interesting and all that, but no goddamn assassination.’
‘I hate to argue through a car,’ the car told Z, ‘but I beg to differ. It sounds like one of the most magnificent assassinations in history. Better than von Webern’s.’
Z pocketed the car. ‘Well, anyway, here you are at the scene of the crime. Have at it. Maybe you can figure out who betrayed him.’ Z pulled a bottle from his coat. ‘Meanwhile, I brought this for you from Beograd. Home made šlivović, the best. Get a hotel down in Postojna, eat some meat, take the bottle up to your room and try to think of your editor. And b…’ Z pulled the car out again, opening the hood. The trunk told Fullmer, ‘Be careful, I think you’re being followed.’
The Smoking Cigar
As an author I have no interest in belittling any characters, much less the relatively protagonal Fullmer. But I would be less than honest were I to allow such a reference as Fullmer’s to Z, who didn’t bat an eye, regarding the death of von Webern, which is known by history to be an accident, partly because the shooter, an American soldier, is said to have become depressed by the incident and died just ten years later of alcoholism. First off, if you could die from alcoholism at such an early age (the guy was 33) there would never have been a Yugoslavia. Second, the circumstances were clear, there were witnesses—soldiers everywhere. Salzburg, 1945, the allies are trying to prevent a second Vienna in the city of Mozart. A curfew is on—composers not omitted. Old Anton steps outside after dark to smoke a cigar. He lights it, the light attracts attention, a shot rings out. The ‘great’ von Webern is dead, the cigar lies there smoking.
And Fullmer? He posits total serialism, as opposed to the other monikers it has, the sudden addition of total, as in attrition, codes, Webern was anti-fascist all along, and now with the war over the Americans want fascists, not lefties like von.
Drivel? Twaddle? Claptrap? I will subject you to but one published passage by Fullmer on the subject:
“I was naturally quite curious when I came across the fact that his son-in-law had been arrested—for ‘black market’ activities that same day. And I began to wonder, why Salzburg? Why not Vienna? He had gone to school in Vienna, but had never worked there, the place to be for an Austrian artist of any kind. So I thought, let’s see where he did work, see if some reason emerges. Klagenfurt. Fine, normal enough. Stettin. Odd choice, that, but not the outpost that Ischl was. Ischl? A fucking resort, a little known resort. Teaching British travelers or what. Now I knew I was on to something. Danzig—strange, again the Baltic. Arnhem, must like the climate. Teplitz? Another resort, or maybe a Napoleon fetish. Prague—a feint. Augsburg, big deal, could happen to anyone, but then, get this: Aarhus. Three As. Who do you know who has ever even visited three As. Finally, and doesn’t this say it all: Linz.
See it? See the anagram?
I would call that Total Serialism! He lived out a code!…”
Enough? Insane, right?