Kramberger with Monkey, Ch. 34-37

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Chapter Thirty-Four

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.’

Chapter Thirty-Five

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.

Me too.

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?

Don’t know.

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.

Very funny.

Well.

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.

Yeah.

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.

Motivation?

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?

Nuts.

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?

Good point.

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.

Funny.

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…

Ready?

Think—

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.

In comparison.

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.

Police report?

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.

Chapter Thirty-Six

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.

‘But…’

‘Sheer coincidence.’

‘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.’

Chapter thirty-seven

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.

Look:

Klagenfurt.

Stettin.

Ischl.

Danzig.

Arnhem.

Teplitz.

Prague.

Augsburg.

Aarhus.

Linz.

See it? See the anagram?

Danzig.

Aarhus.

Stettin.

Klagenfurt.

Augsburg.

Prague.

Ischl.

Teplitz.

Arnhem.

Linz.

I would call that Total Serialism! He lived out a code!…”

Enough? Insane, right?

kramberger with monkey, ch. 30-33 (is Nihče really Milan Kučan?)

Slovenes have often asked me whether Niko Nihče of chapters 31-33 is actually Milan Kučan. I have but one photo of each. You be the judge.

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Chapter Thirty

Smaller Coffins

 

This is probably the right time to

I’ve worked on better projects. More accurately, I’ve had better thoughts. Blood! Mother: blood! My mama, too! My mama, too! I used to write in the fetal position. Now I can do so again.

In peace.

Requisciat in pace.

Scrive in pace.

I always wondered why they don’t bury the dead in the fetal position. Especially the ones who died that way. Maybe in some cultures they do.

Smaller coffins.

More room for the dead.

Especially now that people are getting bigger.

They found a Neanderthal in ice up in Switzerland. He would have been four and a half feet tall. But he was in the fetal position.

Nobody knows what he was doing up there.

Get it?

He could have been a writer.

He got cold and fell to sleep in the fetal position.

Never woke up.

Thawed out.

They say the womb is like an oven.

But he did not wake up.

Fakirs wake up. Then they take another breath and get into the fetal position. When they are uncovered after fifty days they straighten out again, just before the lid opens.

Chapter Thirty-One

A Fracas

 

An elderly lady named Špela Horvat was walking past the outdoor tables of a coffee shop across from the Hotel Park in Ljubljana when she had a dizzy spell and fell into the table of a man with a droopy moustache and hostile eyes, spilling hot coffee on his lap. The irritable man reacted spontaneously, shoving the lady to the ground and shouting “Pizda!” (cunt). Some young men, university students, appalled at such treatment of an elderly woman, confronted the man, much swearing ensued, and the largest of the students moved to strike the man, who deftly—especially for a man of his age, roughly fifty—slipped the punch, captured and rapidly broke the arm of the student. The other two students moved in on the aggressive coffee drinker, were thrown off, to the ground, and before the man could kick their ribs, two other men joined the fracas, one of them grabbing the man by the hair, receiving an elbow to the ribs, while the other actually got a punch in that made the moustached man smile before he felled him to unconsciousness with a right cross. By this time the two intact students were up, and joined by two more students who had been inside the coffee shop. Surrounded by four young and fit men, the fifty year old did what anyone capable of doing so in that situation would do: he went berserk—in rapid succession flooring all four of them, one of whom he was kicking in the ribs when the man who had grabbed his hair did so again. Mandrake Pizdamonavić turned around and smiled, surprising the hair grabber, who paused in his assault long enough that Mandrake was able to smash his nose with his upper forehead, leaving himself surrounded again by the same four students he had just floored. He looked at them, shrugged, and floored all four of them again, by which time two police officers had arrived and were each in succession flipped onto tables—wood, splintered—leaving, what?, eight, nine? men writhing on the ground, when a police van pulled up and serious enforcers of law hopped out with clubs, the third of which stunned Mandrake, the fourth of which stopped his individual mayhem, and the fifth of which knocked him unconscious. Oddly, by this time the old woman had disappeared. No one saw her leave. Her testimony that the brawl was initiated by her rough treatment at the hands of Mandrake Pizdamonavić was therefore unavailable, and after a couple of hours at the police station, Pizdamonavić was released without charges. But by that time Todd Fullmer, if there is any connection, had left the Hotel Park and was on his way to meet Niko Nihče.

Of course, being a master stylist I wrote as if in the third person. If anybody noticed I’ll chop my own cock off and stuff it in my mouth.

Chapter Thirty-Two

Green Dragons and Fox Hunts

 

Dear M__________,

Listen M_________, before I forget, there’s something I want you to look into regarding the Kennedy assassination. It involves Israel. See, I was waiting for Nihče to arrive at his watering hole, when I struck up a conversation with this professor who seems to have the idea that the Jews run things over there. But he wasn’t a crackpot, per se.

I was gazing forward to my interview with Nihče, thinking what an impossibly quaint, even tidy, little country this is, with this little capitol: it’s famous for its dragons, for the three bridges over the slime green yet unslimy Ljubljanica stream. I know because, for one thing, hanging about a sort of tiny square by a statue of Prešeren their sad national poet, who I have it on good authority was a drunk like every single great Slovene literary man, when I heard an unmistakeably British voice asking, ‘Could you tell me where the three bridges are?’ And without waiting for a response, explained, ‘You see, I’m told there is a sporting shop near there and I must purchase cartridges, for I am off to hunt foxes.’ The dragons are green, as much gargoyle as dragon, and sit about atop the bridge railings like toys. This was all running through my mind, and as much so the fact that the former independence leader of the new nation could be found simply by asking about and learning where he takes his morning coffee, I was thinking all this, sitting before my own cooling coffee, when I realized this man was looking at me.

‘Mossad’, he said with a trace of wonderment. A light bulb had just flickered enough to subdue the triumph of discovery. He wore an Austrian mustache, not a Hitler, but shaven just too much in from the expanse of the lip as to look absurd and bureaucratic.

‘Mossad?’

He too was in reverie, as it turned out.

‘What? No, I wasn’t speaking to you.’

‘How do you know to speak English to me?’

‘I have no idea.’

‘Well…fine. But what’s this eruption of “Mossad”’

‘Mossad, yes, well you see I was just reading an article in Delo that put it all together. We Slovenes, understand, don’t care all that much for American mysteries, but we are aware of them, and when they bear on world events we perk up our ears. I was just perking up my ears.’

‘Might I be privy?’

‘Funny—might you be privy. I love your language, teach it at university in fact. You go to the privy, to defecate or whatnot—‘

‘Whatnot, for the most part.’

‘Yet so casually ask if you may be privy. But never mind. Yes, you see the fact is that your Kennedy—’

‘Sorry to be a stickler, but I haven’t a Kennedy to my name.’

‘What a language, figures of speech. John F., I mean. On the rare occasion a discussion of American affairs leads to…to…well, such matters as Kennedy’s assassination, I do feel rather the need to respond with an opinion, even if it be rather light of, of aspect, or, or, or—’

‘I do know what you mean. What do you tell them?’

‘I tell them it’s hardly likely that Oswald acted alone, that his Russian connection by itself demands that conspiracy be asserted. But that from the little available evidence from the little reading I have done, most of which assured me that there is little available evidence, I would guess that he was killed by rogue elements within the C.I.A. combined with mobsters and Cuban exiles. But now it appears that the C.I.A. is being more forthright about its assassination programs and so I would amend that to ‘elements within the C.I.A. And that the alternative is quite simple: inasmuch as he invaded Cuba, risked world war over Cuba’s right to behave as Turkey did—and the European media covers a few things you Americans probably never even hear of, but it is beyond question by now that during that famous October crisis, so quaintly put: ‘Missiles of October’. No offense. It is beyond question that we were spared all out nuclear war by sheer luck, for a Russian in a submarine was mistakenly given the order to fire and the attempt failed somehow. And added to that, the numerous attempts to assassinate Castro, and the likelihood of typical C.I.A. economic subversion. Taken together, why couldn’t it simply have been Castro who organized the assassination?’

‘Indeed. Yet we began with Mossad.’

‘Why not Mossad and Castro? You see, Kennedy had it in his power to demand atomic facility inspections in Israel and was going to do it, in fact was hell bent—perhaps that’s not fit here: is one hell bent in protracted diplomatic behaviour? Kennedy, in short—oh, look, here comes Niko Nihče: you know who he is?’

‘In fact, that’s why I’m here, to speak with him about the assassination of Kramberger.’

‘What a bundle of coincidences,’ he remarked and unfolded like an origami stork to a surprising height (probably only 6 2 or 3, but nonetheless surprising in the way big birds always are, and with a terrifying wing span).

‘Yes, but you were saying…’

‘No, that’s about it: Mossad has to factor in. Kennedy was not going to allow them to construct nuclear weapons.’

So, M_______, if you can dig up anything I would appreciate it. It appears I won’t be privy to a good English library in the near future.

Chapter Thirty-Three

Did Kramberger Kramp your Style?

So M_______, Nihče showed up just then, actually took the professor’s seat, and all that was remarkable about the man was that he is even shorter than one is led to believe by the fact that every single description of him refers to his dwarfery. That, and remarkable, brilliant white, tufts of hair muzzling his ears—without affecting his hearing. It was as if he had baby rabbits in there. Otherwise, he had a full head of well groomed white hair on his head and not another hair—oh, of course he did have eyebrows—not a single nose hair and a closely shaven, nearly adolescent face.

‘Dr. Nihče,’ I started right in. ‘I’m Todd Fullmer, American writer. I work assassinations. They tell me you speak excellent English.’

‘That’s very kind of them.’

A bulimic girl, a faint perfume of vomit trailing her, taking a moment of orbital pause before following her back inside, placed a coffee with milk before him.

‘Voda,’ he reminder her, and in seconds she had returned with a glass of water.

‘Can I ask you some questions? I know it’s not generally polite to go about an interview this way, but I didn’t mean to sandbag you, it’s just that I was told you were easy to find, an accessible man, open to conversation.’

‘Quite right. Formalities be damned. Sandbag. Means ambush, right? Bushwhack, drygulch. I watch a lot of American westerns. Best films in the world. My favorite is Ben Johnson. Especially as Bob Emery.’

One-Eyed Jacks.’

‘I’ll talk to any man who knows his westerns.’

‘I’m afraid the topic is unpleasant.’

‘Assassination is unpleasant. If you’re talking to me, you must be interested in Kramberger. Or his monkey.’

‘Well…’

‘Good bet. Nihče does all the fighting for liberty, Kramberger returns a rich man with a chip on one shoulder and a monkey on the other, becomes a friend of the common man, picks up 20 percent of the vote. Maybe Nihče won’t survive politically to enjoy his own accomplishments. And there’s the cover story: drunken hunter. Even I don’t buy that, not for a second. The problem is, Todd if I may call you Todd, that I have absolutely no idea who had him killed, or why. If you intend to look, to keep looking, look to the right. It was the right he was sucking votes from.’

‘That’s all very persuasive, Dr.—‘

‘Niko. I’m just an old fart at a coffee shop…’

‘I do intend to pursue it, I always pursue until I am satisfied.’

‘It’s all for nothing, Will. It’s all for nothing.’

High Noon.’

‘Excellent.’

‘But it’s not all for nothing. In this case, it’s for money for me, and to be quite frank, to keep me in this country long enough that my editor decides I need not go to Minsk, a place that, again, frankly, scares the shit out of me.’

‘Dead journalists. Are those assassinations?’

‘Of course they are. Why? You have any of those?’

‘Probably, but none that I know of. This has rapidly become a very cynical country. Not much is expected of our journalists.’

‘What if one was able to prove a connection between you and the assassination of Kramberger?’

‘But he couldn’t. I think I have explained why. I gave my word.’

‘That one’s particularly easy—on of my favorites: The Wild Bunch.’

‘Yep. You’re a real straight shooter, son. But so am I. You can dig all you want. If you find something I may or may not be interested—it may or may not matter to me. And besides, chances are, the main perpetrators are dead. The noonday train will bring Frank Miller. If I’m a man I must be brave…’

‘Now there’s something to tell the folks back home. The father of Slovene independence is making fun of me.’

‘Not really. I’m just having a little fun. The retired life does agree with me, but I do admit sometimes missing the gravity of events.’

‘Like on Brijuni?’

‘What archery!’

‘That’s not a western.’

‘No but it could have been, could have been one of the best.’

‘So you were saying about Brijuni: I hit the target.’

‘You mean, of course that I cut a deal with those two swine.’

‘Yes. You had to know Tuđman and Milošević were going to go all out for Bosnia. The deal was Slovenia kicks off the gala brawl, the price is the Yugo army let’s you go.’

‘After a phony war.’

‘Right.’

‘Of course, that’s exactly what happened.’

M, can you believe it. I looked at him at least a minute. He blinked, but only once or twice. No guile visible in the least.

‘You’re not making fun of me are you?’

‘No.’

‘But this is huge—why admit it to me?’

‘Because it’s obvious. If you walk out of a hotel room with a smile on your face and your wife sees you and checks to see who is still in the room and she’s smiling to, and naked on the bed…Well, you get the point, I suppose.’

‘I’m not writing about it, if that’s what you think. I’m not going to be thrown off the scent of the only political assassination in the history of Slovenia just for yet another goddamn Balkan wars story.’

‘The only political assassination in the history of Slovenia? Good god, son, have you done no research?’

I admitted that I had not, the whole business being new to me and all.

‘Go west, young man! Perhaps rather more south: about nine miles from Postojna, above. It’s called Predjamska grad, and there in 1484 you had the most spectacular assassination in our history, one of the finest assassinations in the history of the world.’

‘Tell me about it.’

‘I just did.’

He hadn’t touched his coffee. Now he did. People around here often do it that way. A long slurp and they’re off.

He didn’t even say goodbye. I wanted to call out, But stranger, I didn’t git yer name.

Kramberger with Monkey, Chapters 20 through 29

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Chapter Twenty

Three Minus Three Plus Three Is Three

If you can’t step into the same river twice and you aren’t the same man today that you were yesterday, continuity is a lie, but an accepted one–a suspension of recognition is pervasive–so it hardly matters if yet another car accident in Slovenia killed three people and three other people took over where they left off on whatever it is they were doing. It’s hardly worth a pause; certainly not a passing mention.

Chapter Twenty-One

Anonymous Note: Does This Answer Your Question, Todd?

 

1992  BORN 04.05.1936 – DIED (KILLED 07.06.1992)

-JUROVSKI DOL PRI LENARTU STILL UNSOLVED

ASSESINATION ON IVAN KRAMBERGER

ON ELECTIONS HE WAS COMPITING FOR A

PRESIDENT WITH OTHER THREE KANDIDATES

-NIKO NIHČE

-JOŽE PUČNIK

-MARKO DEMŠAR

HE GOT 18,5 % OF VOTES IN THE COUNTRY

THE MAN WHO WAS RECODNISED ASS AN

ASESIN (PIJAN LOVEC) WAS SENTENSD TO

12 YEARS BUT AFTER 5 YEARS HE WAS OUT.

THE DISTANCE WAS PROKSIMETLY 180m.

THAT WAS NOT THE ONLY ATACK ON HIM.

THE OTHER ONE HAPPENED IN VELENJE ON

  1. BY THE TITOV MEMORIAL.

IN OCTOBER 1990 HIS MONKEY ANČKA

WAS SLAUGHTERD.

A previously stated reluctance to rely on Slovene intelligence, so to speak, applies to solicited information. But when an anonymous note is slipped under the door of a secret office—which is naturally subsequently relocated, we certainly must take notice. Admittedly, the information is scant, and adds little to our previous knowledge. The attempt on Kramberger’s life in Velenje is new, and subsequent checking reveals that it is not necessarily untrue (A Slovene dictionary is insufficient for translation, but we can confirm that something out of the ordinary occurred in Velenje on that day and made news). As for the monkey, we have been unable to verify the information, which is not necessarily untrue simply because our informant got the name wrong. Ančka is a sweet name, but the monkey was called Count Belisarius, after the Byzantine general—and that has been verified. Interestingly, the anonymous note, obviously written by a Slovene with good English and good intentions vis a vis our hunt for the truth, assumes a scarcity of available factual information, which is indeed the case, even for a Slovene. We have been over every single Slovene source, mainly because there are so few. So we must judge the intent of this fellow; he was simply making sure we knew what there was to know. That being the case, along with the lack of embellishment, leads us to assume that Count Belisarius was indeed assassinated, which makes the instincts of Todd Fullmer appear nothing short of astonishing: refer to Chapter One.

At any rate, like a river, sometimes a topic or theme must widen before it narrows again. We know that when the river widens, it is likely to narrow and then proceed into a sea of either truth or obscurity, though some continue on only peter out, to dry up into desert washes, and others, like Slovenia’s and Italy’s Reka Reka, or Reka River, dive underground for 44 kilometers before emerging just in time to dash into the sea unrecognized (for many centuries at least). Our information, as you will soon understand, forces us to drop known cause and effect in order to include odds and ends, flotsam, yes, jetsam, no, you might say, in order to come to grips with the magnitude or minutiaetude of events. For we now have reason to connect Kramberger’s assassination, or to suspect the possibility of his assassination, with recent events in the simian world and similar clashes in the defunct world of the Byzantines, as well as some none too surprising Balkan shenanigans.

Pay very close attention to the following article.

 

Chapter Twenty-Two

Chimp Attack Kills Cabbie and Injures Tourists

 

Chimp attack kills cabbie and injures tourists

Associated Press in Freetown
Tuesday April 25, 2006
The Guardian

Police are hunting 27 chimpanzees that escaped from a Sierra Leone preserve and attacked the occupants of a taxi, killing the driver.

Four other people among the group of local and American sightseers were mauled by the animals and needed hospital treatment, including a Sierra Leonean man whose hand was later amputated.

The US embassy warned Americans against visiting the Tacugama sanctuary, from where the chimps escaped.

A local police official said it was unclear why the chimps attacked; such attacks are unusual but not unprecedented.

If you’ve only read it once and are rushing to understand the implications and the connections with the present work, please take the time to read it again and give it some serious thought. Sorry for the condensation, or the condescension, if either apply. We feel that actually neither does. For it is typical of such a homo sapiens-oriented text to place such a high premium on brevity that what is howled between the lines may be both that much more deniable to the discerning and that much plainer to those receptive as the sleeping nose to the adventurous fly, if you will pardon the overt slanting of our prose. Or are you still in the dark? Another clue is provided from the notes Todd Fullmer’s editor finally provided, rescued from his Baltimore harbor-view rat’s nest, a place he apparently owned but did not frequent. Among Fullmer’s notes was his assassination song—the guy was an assassination expert, an assassination fanatic, an assassination obsessed freak—that begins with the following lines:      Norbert Zongo plays the bongos     Cause Stambulov has no hands The accompanying lines (The Kennedy dead have holes in their head/So they can’t be in the band) are beside the point but we provide them to please you with the final rhyme of the stanza—an orphaned rhyme can feel very much like an unresolved assassination.Sometimes to understand what a dead man would have one must try to think like that dead man. So the apes tried to tear off the hand of one guy, who later had it amputated. Coincidence? Didn’t Stambulov have both his hands torn off by the Macedonian/IMRO mob that assassinated him (his wife famously returning to the scene with the hands in a jar) (How do you shame people who would tear someone’s hands off?). Probably here the reader can’t put his stuttering objections into a single clear sentence. But try this on for size: authorities are hunting 27 chimpanzees that escaped from a preserve. A preserve in this context, of course, means natural habitat, or as we speaking simians might say, a home. When is the last time you escaped from home? Fine, leave it. Let’s go on to the order of the sentence, the tricky use of the word ‘and’. This mob, this bloodthirsty IMRO chimp frenetico, escaped and attacked the cabbie and the tourists. So the assault occurred outside the preserve. But look at the next sentence: local and American sightseers? So the apes escaped and attacked a convoy outside the preserve? Lick our balls! What a load of shit! Now skip ahead: suddenly the chimps escaped from a sanctuary. A sanctuary. Suddenly the preserve is a sanctuary, a safe haven, a strategic hamlet—and the ungrateful apes took off and turned on their benefactors. Eat our caca. Finally, though we don’t know why the attack happened, we can say that it was not without precedent. Read between the fucking lines. A hand amputated, the American embassy gets involved, it’s a sanctuary, and the whole thing is a puzzle, but not without precedent. In other words, sotto voce soporific: don’t be alarmed. We’ll hunt the fuckers down and kill them, but don’t panic. See, if it was without precedent, if we all remembered Stambulov as the chimps would expect, assuming that like they we know our history, we would all get the message. Their warning unheeded, now the attack is on.What warning is that, you wonder.Here’s an excerpt from a missive we received from Skip Obscure on the subject: …but don’t expect anyone to listen to you. I’ve been warning people for the last year, since that episode in California where the Chimpanzee bit off the man’s nose and gouged out his genitals. It’s worse than talking about the ozone layer. I’m an alarmist conspiracy nut. Don’t people realize that monkeys gave us AIDS? Don’t they realize that nature isn’t through with us yet? AIDS was a colossal failure, bird flu is nothing but a red herring with wings. I’ve read more than fifty books about simians and it’s clear they are undergoing a rapid and dangerous change. Who killed Diane Fossey? Don’t make me laugh… Don’t we love the part about the winged herrings? Anyway, the significance of the bitten nose would be lost on anyone who doesn’t know his Byzantine history, the habit of the deposing emperors denosing rather than decapitating the outgoing—ask Heraclonas, the first to undergo this therapy. At the time, such behavior was considered humane, rhinometia being a sure method of preventing a man from even wanting to return to the throne. Any chimp would expect us to remember such a bizarre commonplace of one of our more notorious empires, so commonplace, in fact, that emperors learned to overcome it, the first of these being Justinian the Second, who had himself fitted with a golden nose before he returned to decapitate Leontius, who by now was missing his own nose, and Tiberius the Third, who had ordered the operation performed on Leontius. So don’t try to tell us that California attack wasn’t a warning, and don’t think we’re just going to sit

Chapter Twenty-Three No, Fuck You 

You have no idea what you’re talking about. If you hadn’t been knocked in the head you would have written that he was torn apart by apes. If anyone is the ape around here it’s you and you don’t see you tearing anyone apart. Coming around?

Fuck you.

No: Fuck you! You weak link. Would that you were missing. You read that last chapter, if you can read, and you can’t help wondering what kind of tree you were being taken up. You can’t help wondering what was in your bananas. You know there is a fruit monkeys eat in Africa that works like an hallucinogen, but you know, too, that you have been dining separately, if you get your meaning. You read that last chapter and you have no idea what was going through your head—monkey business, madness, uneven prose! Killed like Trotsky, thank god—and you are not going to print the snatches of lunacy legible among the bloodstains, not even: …exterminate the brutes!…Doesn’t it turn your stomach to watch a writer turning into a fictional madman before your very eyes as you’re writing? And aside from the connect the dots bullshit—you just drop your finger a few times and you get:  IMRO, rhinometia, caca, homo sapiens-oriented, frenetico, hands in a jar, denosing, Tiberius the Third, lick our balls [yours, my friend, yours], panic, chimp, tricky use of the word ‘and’, assassination song, ungrateful apes, chimps would expect, gouged out his genitals, Diane Fossey, AIDS, California attack, decapitating the outgoing, red herring with wings, Stumble off and die, escaped from a sanctuary (indeed), stuttering objections, hunt the fuckers down, don’t panic…You get everything but farting fish, you get a psychoanalyst’s wet dream, a surrealist’s Work That Doesn’t Need Editing, and what you don’t get more than anything you don’t get is what you were supposed to be doing: you don’t get Ivan Kramberger, you don’t get Todd Fullmer, you don’t get Mandrake Pizdamonavić following Fullmer out of the Hotel Balkan all the way to Kalemegdan, through the vast grounds inside the fortress walls, past the cannon display, all the way to the outer walls above the confluence of Sava and Donava, you don’t get him creeping up on a thoughtful Fullmer, fargitating, working his jaws, thinking Slovenia’s got one, Slovenia’s got one, am I being paranoid or has that guy been following me and is now creeping up on me; you don’t get Todd Fullmer letting the guy know he’s there by moving crabwise along the wall and looking askance near his direction, but because of mad dogs not directly in his eyes and not exhibiting fear—in fact you don’t get the rather important characteristic that Todd Fullmer, though careful, was practically fearless, though in this case—though how would you know it—he should have been damn scared, for he was no match for Mandrake Pizdamonavić, and was lucky that at that point in time this peripatetic nemesis was a Mandrake without mandate, something you were not, and you know it and you know you blew it, and you know it will not happen again because like whoever found Trotsky you obviously can’t stand the sight of your blood.

Chapter Twenty-Four We’re Going to Go with Bugatti

 Inescapably, anyone who speaks of getting the facts straight finds himself interviewing witnesses. It’s difficult to think of a worse way of getting to the bottom of anything but a morass. Take these snatches of a conversation in Logatec, a town not so very far from the capitol city of Ljubljana, not to mention a place where Kramberger visited several times, driving the car in question that no one seems authoritatively to be able to name: ‘Well, it was one of those old Fiats—what were they called? The ones with no passenger seat.’‘It was a cabriol, no back seat, one of those British jobs, MGB, maybe MGB-GT.’‘They say he assembled it himself, but they were sold that way, that you could put it together yourself. They’d deliver it to your door in boxes. The original design was Serbian, but the Germans bought the patent so it was sold under Opel, but it was really a Zastava, same designers—right, a Zastava…’‘Roadster.’‘Roadster.’‘Everybody called it a roadster, but every fancy dealer had a roadster so what does that tell you? Nothing. He built it himself, his own design, if it was anything it was a Kramberger Roadster. I’ve never seen anything quite like it. It was slow, but never broke down, and once you saw him pull up with that ape hanging off the door—it was something I’ll never forget, I’ll tell you that much.’‘A Bugatti, no doubt about it, the original, first one, what’s his name, Diego, Diego Bugatti, first one Diego Bugatti ever designed. And Kramberger replicated it.’‘I don’t know—English, not Rover, but that other one, Stevens, or Stevenson, or Stevens and sons, Steven’s son, Steven and son, Stevens and son…they were all the same color. Who was that actress—Hedy Lamarr: that’s what she was killed in…’‘Bugatti, the kind you assemble yourself.’‘Bugatti.’‘What most people don’t know is that it was the original Volkswagon. Hitler had the guy who designed it shot because it wasn’t a family car, you couldn’t fit body guards in it. Stalin drove one right up to the Hitler-Stalin Pact, then he bought a regular Volkswagon.’‘I never saw it, but it was a Škoda, Czech made, solid, never break down. Hard on the back, took strong arms to handle, but you never saw one by the side of the road.’‘It wasn’t French, that’s for sure.’‘All I know is it wasn’t French.’‘I remember De Gaulle drove one when he was in Algeria, so ultimately the Katrica, the Renault 4, was based on it—they streamlined it, moved the wheels in, gave it a roof, but essentially it’s the same car.’‘I talked to a guy from Negova. He told me what Kramberger did was take an old Zastava in perfect condition and sliced the upper half right off it…’‘What? Bugatti. Big deal.’ So whatever it was, we’re going to refer to it as a Bugatti, and leave it at that.

Chapter Twenty-Five

Fullmer Files Fluff 

No stalling tactic would work unless Fullmer filed an article, so he wrote one off the top of his head on way from Beograd to Ljubljana. On the train, besides writing, he visited the bar car and struck up a relationship with the barkeep. At the Serbian border with Croatia, the train was stopped for a long time on the Serbian side. ‘Where are we?’ he made the barkeep understand. ‘Shit’, he was told. ‘Shit, huh’. ‘Da, Shit’. Later he looked on his map and found that the town was actually called Šid, and the barkeep was not editorializing after all. Strange, thought Fullmer, how easily I accepted what I thought he said and meant. He had been spending a great deal of his life in a sort of gutter. So he wrote: One specimen on the assassination spectrum I find fascinating is the official version enthusiast. We conspiracy nuts are the ones who are supposed to be lunatics, and I accept that—lunacy has come to be embedded in the very definition of any phrase that includes the word ‘conspiracy’. That’s fine with me. Yet the official version enthusiasts deliver unto us the most rabid specters in the field. Most of my death threats—and I receive plenty, which is in a way odd in that I do in the end come down on the side of life—come from this subspecies, as if they are out to prove the merit of the lone gunman alibi by offering themselves as exemplars. None have made an attempt on my life that I know of, but then I am always on the go, often spending night after night at a different location like a paranoid tyrant.The majority of these letters, interestingly, are provoked by my articles on the Kennedy assassination, which would otherwise appear to be among the least controversial of assassination stories. Many letters cite the Warren Report as proof that I am raving mad, but more are along the lines of this unsigned note postmarked Buffalo:               Hey Asshole,If you‘re so fucking smart why don’t you run for president. You’d never make it out of New Hampshire alive. You have my GUARANTEE. I took that note as a vote of no confidence, but I am nonplussed as to his reasoning. The article was little more than a rehash of the Zapruder film’s implications.In that same stack of letters I found this note from Chattanooga, which made me glad I was visiting my editor in New York at the time and on my way to Africa (Norbert Zongo):                Fuckwad,I know you live in Baltimore. Do you have a will and testimony? Have you ever seen a man with his face blown off? Look in the mirror dead man. Well, I had obviously seen a man getting part of his head blown off, but I suppose that’s a qualitatively different thing. And of course it happens often enough in assassinations. There was Denver Mulgabanda in ‘Rhodesia’, of course, and Carmine ‘Birdsong’ Talentemente in Milano. I happen to believe that the intended message differs little from any mutilation—see Pierre Anga in the Congo.At any rate, what strikes me about the official version enthusiast is that they could listen in on NSA or CIA officials plotting the assassination of, say Jack Chirac, actually witness the killing, the triangulation of gunfire, the guns smoking in three different directions, and still believe the government version that a crazed, embittered Algerian asylum seeker who was about to be shipped home pulled the lone trigger.Let psychologists state the obviouses.Let psychologists deal with letters like this one from an American Zionist after I wrote recently about the ethics of what Israelis would like to call political assassinations:                Dear Todd,I read your piece with care and in good will and sent it on to my uncle, who has friends in Mossad. You know that we Jews have a saying: An eye for an eye. Your article hurt my eyes. You also have two eyes. But not for long. I specifically requested that your torture begin with the removal of your eyes. After that electric shock will be applied to your genitals. Your penis will be surgically removed with great care so that you do not bleed to death and are fully alive when it is stuffed into your mouth. You know we are a peace-loving people and you know why it was necessary for us to migrate to our rightful home and holy land. Still, you work for the enemy. You will be released in Gaza to be among your friends. You will be blind and without a penis, which will still be in your mouth when we dump you in some pile of rubble there. If your friends, our enemies, do not kill you immediately, accusing you of being an undercover Mossad agent, for they are known to be clever enough to arrange just such an infiltration, eventually you will be forced to seek a work permit, a pass so that you can clean toilets for middle class people in Tel Aviv. I have another uncle with friends in the border patrol and visa issuance agencies. Your request will be denied.Call me ‘Steiny’

 Chapter Twenty-Six

When is Fidel Going to Move out and Get an Apartment of his Own?

 

Obviously once in Ljubljana Todd Fullmer had to buy more time. His editor released to us the following misdirection ploy:

Dear M________,

 

I have long been haunted by a piece of the assassination puzzle that just doesn’t fit. Why did the Americans fail to get Castro. We know they tried—from the exploding pen to the tubercular wet suit. It was state policy for some time to assassinate Fidel and we all know it. But they failed. Why? Certainly, it seems obvious that they gave up after a while, taking a sort of when is Fidel going to move out and get an apartment of his own sort of approach. But that hardly explains it, do you think? Anyway, while I’m in Slovenia making preliminary enquiries into the assassination of Kramberger (I think I can get an interview with Nihče, if you know who he is), I think I’ll try to get a decent article out of the failure to assassinate, which can be just as interesting as a successful assassination, don’t you think?

 

TF

 

Okay, since Todd brought it up, why indeed did the U.S. fail to knock off Fidel? Is there a pro-Castro conspiracy in there somewhere? No one would know better than our correspondents Mack Beltsch and Skip Obscure.

Here’s what Mack thinks:

The United States has it seems accomplished a few notable assassinations of “leaders,” directly or indirectly; Lumumba in the Congo by the Eisenhower administration was the most deliberate apparently while there is some question as to Diem’s in south Vietnam on Nov 1, 1963, i. e. did Democratic President Kennedy realize that Republican Ambassador Lodge was running his “own” special CIA op here? According to most close to JFK the answer is no, that Kennedy believed “they” were sending Diem and kin to Paris, not to hehheh “hell.”

 

But then the Kennedys appear to have put in a lot of overtime on how to pop Fidel–especially Bobby the attorney general and plots moreover seem to have continued even after the “agreement” to never never again attack Cuba a la Bay of Pigs which was a primary point in Khrushchev’s “secret deal” with the Kennedys to remove those ridiculously dangerous missiles; but then Jack and Bobby had said no Cuban-American invasion but they never promised no more CIA machinations did they?

 

But sure the startling aspect of all this is not that the US plotted assassinations(since WWII this in itself is hardly “shocking”) but that the plots failed.  In Oliver Stone’s 1991 JFK the drunken discussion presided over by Joe Pesci as “David Ferrie” has his character describing ways to “whack the beard” but Tommy Lee Jones as “Clay Bertrand-Shaw” notes “Castro has informers on every block” by which he’s referring to the notorious Committees to Defend the Revolution; now these were/are akin to neighborhood “crime watch” in American suburbs except that they’re not so much p. r. as actual Your Neighbor As A Spy (Spying On You — And Making Regular Reports).

 

So Castro very early established close control over the populace; unfamiliar “strangers” must be reported as well as “strange” behavior by the familiar. Probably the only way one could kill the comandante then would be Caligulan, i. e. shoot at close range, have a plan to get Raul as well and simply hope you’d not be slain immediately by the praetorian guard.  The only comandantes to die of course were those out-of-favor with Fidel; even Che hunted down in Bolivia might have been “betrayed” by a Fidel op or at least Fidel was not shall we say “broken up”; Che was certainly more valuable to Castro dead than alive as was Trotsky to Stalin.

 

And maybe the Americans weren’t so enthused too; Cuba was minus missiles an embarrassment but not an “aircraft carrier” launched at the heart of uh Miami; rather attacking Cuba became a past-time for all those exiles less concerned with becoming rich as with taking revenge.  The whole CIA-Bush family “dynasty” for example is bound to Cuban Florida up to that election dispute that returned a Bush to the presidency in 2001 — just in time for you-know-what.  Lots of neo-conservative imperial power concentrated in one very strategic place Florida is and in “our” gulf (not “Mexico’s”); that way Castro’s existence became a great convenience in galvanizing the anti-communist post-Vietnam syndrome because the Sovs had by then become our fellow “detenteists” and the Chinese were supposed to be our new “friends” but Castro’s continuation was ever the avenue into central America and revived paranoia re: Sandinist Nicaragua and death-squad-prone Guatemala and El Salvador.

 

So in the CIA hall of mirrors a James Jesus Angleton type might discern that the appearance of assassination is useful in that it creates a more repressive, touchy Fidel but the “failure” to kill permits a perpetual fervent anti-communist community of recruits in Florida and a “reason” always to intervene south of the border: Allende in Chile was too “close” to Fidel, another Cuba etc. and now Hugo Chavez and”his” oil?  So actually one “won” by “trying” to murder the tyrant — and by not doing it? 

 

It could still be a clear case of not being able to do “everything” — for instance it would be easier to say assassinate Kennedy within the US hmmm? — but there’s the possibility I think of “failure” having become fortuitous from a real Machiavellian view, i. e. we didn’t because we didn’t want to?…

 

 

Not bad, not bad at all. Skip seems less sure of himself below:

Lyndon Johnson knew the mob and anti-Castro Cubans and the CIA worked hand-in-hand to get rid of JFK, but after the deed was done, LBJ made a decision to leave Castro in power. Those three components of the assassination were no doubt pissed at LBJ but what we’re they gonna do about it. Another assassination attempt, this time on LBJ? Hardly. Besides, they all were somewhat appeased that JFK was dead. LBJ knew that Castro was no threat, so why get rid of him? Besides, his brother Raul would just take over in any case. LBJ also had to worry about what the Russians might do, as well as world opinion, if it came out that the CIA had plans to kill Castro. LBJ had more important things on his mind-namely reversing JFK’s Vietnam policy and involving the US in Vietnam.    We trust our readers to detect the flaws in the various arguments, like if Raul would replace Fidel so why bother, why did they bother? And then of course, there is the continuance of the slow beatification of Kennedy, which we trust the reader finds bizarre. He was tricked into the Bay of Pigs, after all that was Eisenhower’s baby, and of course had no idea that a coup in Vietnam would lead to a couple of assassinations. Naturally, if we accept these hypos, we wonder at the intense belief that Kennedy would have reversed the course of the war in Vietnam. Either he’s a dupe or he’s not, don’t we think? Unfortunately, Noam Chomsky won’t answer our e-mails.

 

Chapter Twenty-Seven

Was Constantine a Serb

 

In Ljubljana, Todd Fullmer did his editor a favor and stayed at the least expensive hotel he could find near the center, the Park Hotel. His first task, as we know, was to get an interview with Niko Nihče, the Slovene politico who presided over that part of the earthquake in the nineties that left Slovenia bereft of Beograd administration, or, as some prefer to phrase it, Slovene independence. Nihče was the first Czar of Slovenia as a result, and therefore had the most to lose from a Kramberger election landslide, or victory. Why not simply ask him, Todd thought. Hey Niko, did you do it? Was it you? How’d you find the dupe. Of course that’s not how it would go, but really it wouldn’t be so far different. But Todd had a problem: how to contact and arrange for an interview with the by now retired Niko Nihče?

According to Todd Fullmer’s editor:

So he writes me he’s Ljubljana trying to get an interview with some Hoochie Koochie, and sends this time-killer of an article to get me off his back. You’ll notice it is not the failure to assassinate Castro article, but if you’re interested I can send you the missing piece of the puzzle, so to speak. Anyway, first see if you like this one. Much as I didn’t want to, cause I wanted the son of a bitch in Minsk, I actually did, and I published it to the vast indifference of our readership:

 

Was Constantine a Serb?

 

It seems to me that historical questions are generally treated as abstruse, yet while any event–an assassination, say–has its preponderance of contributing factors, such a thing as motive is often quite simple—to, say, remove a leader, to gain power, to prevent or perpetuate injustice, for good, for evil. So when I considered why the average informed historical mind is presented with the apparent contradiction that Rome ‘fell’ in 476.A.D., while the capitol of the Roman Empire was moved to Constantinople in 330 A.D., and Constantinople didn’t ‘fall’ until 1453, nearly a thousand years later, I became most curious, beginning with the question of why Constantine moved the capitol. Answering the question to my own satisfaction required a little more knowledge about Constantine himself. As soon as I learned that he was born in what is now Niš, where the best Drina cigarettes are produced, I knew I had my answer. Sometimes an historical quiestion of great might is solved by mere empathy.

Once Diocletian established the precedent of ruling, in part, from outside Rome, a move of the seat of empire became conceivable. That’s a factor. Byzantium was much closer to the Christian holy lands—that, too, is a factor, as Constantine’s mother is known to have made a pilgrimage to Jerusalem. Byzantium had a naturally superior defensive position, another factor. But the motive? Constatine was from Niš, geographically, and at that time in many way, culturally, much closer to Byzantium than Rome. Why not accept that Constantine’s motives were very much like our own—in this case, attachment to one’s roots. Certainly we must factor in the grandiosity of a man who re-fashions a city and names it after himself; but Constantine did not choose Amalfi, did he? Nor Dubrovnik, Piraeus, Izmir, Salonika, Milano, Taranto, Messina, or Leghorn. He chose the combination of the best available city closest to home.

Now I have been taunted by those to whom I have revealed my thoughts, who ask me whether, then, Constantine was a Serb. One need only open an historical atlas to answer that question in the negative, which is the condemnatory point my nemeses intend to make. Yet one need only use a little common sense to answer Yes, of course he was a Serb—he was from Niš. Peoples do not rise as one and leave a region that others may replace them; they are displaced gradually, they intermarry, the combine love juices and genes. Those calling themselves Serbs today are Dacians, Illyrians, Vlachs, Croats, Bosnians, Turks, Avars, Bulgars—even Jews. Genetically speaking, those Serbs bombing the cultural stew of Sarajevo were bombing their own kind. So, yes, Constantine was a Serb, and I may go so far as to say that modern Serbs may do well to drop their squalid visions of a Greater Serbia (if any still have them), look back to their Constantine, and call themselves noble Romans.

images (12)

Chapter Twenty-Eight

Sokollu, Sokollee, Sokollahahahahahaaaa

 

As to there actually being a case of a “lone nut”, I think the guy that tried to kill Andrew Jackson was one but I can’t think of any others though I’m sure there are some. But most assassinations of political figures are conspiracies.

–Skip Obscure

Letter from M__________ arrived. Enclosed please find, etc. His own comments were of as much interest as what we were pleased to find, an unpublished article on an obscure assassination in Ottoman times that is actually a brief treatment of the lone gunman theme, and perhaps accidentally an insightful, even groundbreaking historical fragment. At least his editor thought so. His own missive was fairly dripping with guilt. Yet we agree that the topic was too esoteric for his readership. Why the guilt? It’s as if publishing it would somehow have saved Fullmer’s life, which is hardly the case. Anyway, the article itself was actually still in the form of a letter, and by the time Fullmer himself could have written his final draft he was dead.

Dear M__________,

 

Never mind Castro for now [the Castro piece, already published? What the hell–ed]. Searching for Mr. Kučan has led me to a greater examination of the history of this place [the precise cause and effect here eludes me, I wish you better luck—ed], not Slovenia, per se, but the Balkans. As you know, much of our readership is a sort of voyeuristic opposition, generally believers in such oddities as the lone gunman theory. The kinder correspondents write that they would find me more believable if just on occasion I would subscribe to such a theory—solitary madman kills RFK, rather than a Manchurian brainwashee; and certainly I would like to please them, I have no stake in any particular non-conspiratorial assassination, what the hell do I care?, but the context, the facts, the stray pieces, the extra-bullets, the conflicting witness reports, the disappearing witnesses, the sealed files, the missing minutes, the odd recantations, always prevent my throwing them a bone—and of course, Andrew Jackson wasn’t killed.

            Even my more obscure readings here about centuries old assassinations credited to lone swordsmen and such are suspect. A case I find particularly illuminating is that of the great vizier, Sokollu. As you are probably aware [I was not—ed], the position of vizier was often so precarious that a ten year period would see up to 15 different ones employed. Maybe even more. Yet Sokollu, vizier to Suleiman the Great or Magnificent and his successors lasted thirteen years in the position. 13 years. I believe that’s the record. Yet while in his late seventies and still vizier he was killed, assassinated by a pensioner whose pension had been cut off—that is, a disgruntled ex-employee a lone gunman, so to speak.

            So the history books tell us.

            But to comprehend the circumstances, one must know a little of the internal affairs of the Ottoman Empire, particularly about the janissaries and the devširme system, which was the peculiarly Ottoman form of drafting/pressganging chosen Balkan stock, raising them as Turkish infantrymen. Ottoman history is bursting with the obstreperous hijinks of these soldiers who so often ran rampant, deposed both sultans and viziers, though occasionally a draftee of the devširme program rose to a position of great importance to the empire. There was Piale Pasha, who was instrumental in taking Famagusta in 1570. He was a Croat. And not to make too long a list, Sokollu was another, a Bosnian. I’ve written of Constantine’s birthplace, Niš, and the likelihood of its importance. I’ve, incidentally, heard recently at a Serbian bar here in Ljubljana one of the most beautiful songs I’ve ever heard, I inquired and found it was called ‘The Lost Ring of the Tzar Konstantin’—the use of tzar should not throw you off, for Istanbul is called Carigrad (the C pronounced ts) in Slovene. They didn’t think Constantine was Russian. Anyway, what I want to lead up to is the question whether it is really likely that the janissary corpse could so easily and entirely be assimilated even though they were essentially kept apart from other ranks of turks? I mean, they were like a club—their symbol was a big black kettle. In other words, could not their virtually perpetual unruliness be viewed as a sort of rebellion? Have any histories taken this approach? My research combined with my hunch says no. Is it simply that their mayhem could not be noted as subversion simply because it was not cohesive? Two factors: 1) Cohesion requires leaders, yet the best potential leaders were assimilated; 2) In such an empire overt cohesion would meet with absolute repression, implying that perhaps there were leaders, yet they remained underground. If even half of what I’m saying is near the truth, then such a one as Sokollu, in this light, would seem to be little more than a highly talented quisling, the worst kind of enemy to the Bosnian people and the janissary corpse. Now do you really believe a pensioner with a grievance got to him, and got to him without the aid of conspirators? And consider this: could it be that the increasingly rebellious janissaries were finally crushed early in the 19th century—an event often referred to in history books as a necessary revamping of the army in order to compete with the increasingly powerful western armies (if that’s the case, what a grand failure) just as the century of great Balkan revolt began? [all I could say was Gee, I don’t know—I mean he deserved to be read and this deserved to be thought over, and it is, I think you’ll admit mighty convincing, maybe even brilliant, but the truth is I don’t know a  fucking thing about this shit. But it served the purpose of keeping me off his back for a while, and served the magazine well, because his next temporization was a piece on 9/11, which he had hitherto refused to write about though his fans fairly clamored for his opinion. I include that article, in case you find it of interest—ed]

Chapter Twenty-Nine

A Bone for Numerologists

 

Okay conspiracy theorists, tighten your seat belts and I’ll take you for a ride. Many of you fans—and some of you uncouth redneck sharpshooters—have wondered over my silence over what you all call 9/11, and some of you have even accused me and PS of being part of the mainstream media’s conspiracy of silence regarding the attack on New York and the Pentagon and a field in Pennsylvania. Like you I have read thousands of pages that raise interesting questions and most certainly at the very least condemn the official version to the scrap heap vaults where such as the Warren Commission report is kept in efficacious perpetuity. But you should have realized that as an assassination correspondent I have to approach the issue with an assassination angle. And now that my Castro article has opened the floodgates of non-assassination assassination angles, I may do so. The question, of course, is why was Osama bin Laden not assassinated. We know that the Sudanese would have welcomed it when he was troubling their big burg, and we know also that they offered to turn him over and the U.S. declined, and we further know that when he was in Khartoum the U.S. could easily have gotten to him. And, of course, in the early days of the Afghan war U.S. forces could have hemmed in with ease.

            So why didn’t they?

            Recently Osama released a tape, supposedly, that told us all that brother Moussaoui, the so-called 20th hijacker, was innocent in that he was not chosen to participate in the operation because he sucked in the cockpit. Now what does this tell us, this tape? First, that Osama again, though in the early stages more believably denying involvement in the attacks, admits—tacitly, which is as effective as it gets—that he co-ordinated them. Second,  that the feds are on the right track.

            So this latest audio release, which the U.S. immediately announced it had ‘no reason is not authentic’ even though every other communication from bin Laden took weeks to verify, would seem to condemn conspiracy theorists to the maniac fringe. In other words, the tape is a phony—and, as we more than half-suspected all along, Osama is Mossad/CIA/NSA bought and run all along.

            From the beginning of the New York crime, I have said privately that when a crime is committed one first looks around to see who stands to gain from it. The obvious answer here is the revived Reagan cabal. For instance, look at that war criminal Negroponte: never jailed for running arms to Contras, he has now held several high offices for which he is only qualified by having remained a good Reaganite soldier, who did his most difficult and best work while Nancy was running her Alzheimer husband’s White House.

            More generally, and more nefariously, and far more destructively, this cabal has taken the opportunity to wage war on Afghanistan and Iraq (and secretly in Yemen and Iran and who knows where—except we do know where not: Saudi Arabia—where most of the hijackers are said to be from).

            And of course Israel has gained by proxy. They fear no nation so much as Iran—nobody with any sense was afeared of Hussein, Saddam—and now Iran has been placed at the center of a controversy that strangely occludes North Korea, by all reasoning a far more dangerous entity.

            So what happened on September 11, 2001? What story explains all the contradictory and complex elements? It must begin with the non-apprehension and non-assassination of Osama bin Laden and the assumption that he is a Mossad/CIA/NSA operative (a very few in the FBI knew about it). The hijackers had to be dupes: that is, brown non-Christians/non-Jews. The mentioned organizations will kill their own countrymen, but not their own people. No Mossad agent died that day, you can be sure of that.

            Osama organized it, the ops in Israel and the U.S. in on it every step of the way. They helped where necessary (e.g., with bin Laden’s health, with the quashing of the intelligence reports from their own fringes, agents in the field not to be trusted as cynical long view types, specifically agents in Arizona and Minnesota), especially on the day of, when they opened the gates of the fortress to let the invaders in—Air Force stand down orders and well-timed diversionary exercises. (You have all heard that amazing tape in which a rather unauthoritative voice of authority in reference to scrambling planes says ‘We’re going to have to make a decision within ten minutes’, and the other guy says, ‘uh, everybody left the room’. Everybody left the room? So in essence, the plot succeeded because those in charge of defense communications were on coffee break?)

            The rest is Bush regime history. My launch pad being that if Osama were the demon he is said to be, long said to have known to be, and not a creation in charge of creating a second cold war atmosphere essentially for corporate gain overseen by American Empire and domestic upper hand, he would have been shot dead long ago.

            My anti-climax is that I myself was once in Khartoum when Osama was living there, and I can tell you quite assuredly that even I could have gotten to him—I saw him several times. But I report assassinations, I don’t commit them.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So in the CIA hall of mirrors a James Jesus Angleton type might discern that the appearance of assassination is useful in that it creates a more repressive, touchy Fidel but the “failure” to kill permits a perpetual fervent anti-communist community of recruits in Florida and a “reason” always to intervene south of the border: Allende in Chile was too “close” to Fidel, another Cuba etc. and now Hugo Chavez and”his” oil?  So actually one “won” by “trying” to murder the tyrant — and by not doing it? 

 

It could still be a clear case of not being able to do “everything” — for instance it would be easier to say assassinate Kennedy within the US hmmm? — but there’s the possibility I think of “failure” having become fortuitous from a real Machiavellian view, i. e. we didn’t because we didn’t want to?…

 

 

Not bad, not bad at all. Skip seems less sure of himself below:

Lyndon Johnson knew the mob and anti-Castro Cubans and the CIA worked hand-in-hand to get rid of JFK, but after the deed was done, LBJ made a decision to leave Castro in power. Those three components of the assassination were no doubt pissed at LBJ but what we’re they gonna do about it. Another assassination attempt, this time on LBJ? Hardly. Besides, they all were somewhat appeased that JFK was dead. LBJ knew that Castro was no threat, so why get rid of him? Besides, his brother Raul would just take over in any case. LBJ also had to worry about what the Russians might do, as well as world opinion, if it came out that the CIA had plans to kill Castro. LBJ had more important things on his mind-namely reversing JFK’s Vietnam policy and involving the US in Vietnam.    We trust our readers to detect the flaws in the various arguments, like if Raul would replace Fidel so why bother, why did they bother? And then of course, there is the continuance of the slow beatification of Kennedy, which we trust the reader finds bizarre. He was tricked into the Bay of Pigs, after all that was Eisenhower’s baby, and of course had no idea that a coup in Vietnam would lead to a couple of assassinations. Naturally, if we accept these hypos, we wonder at the intense belief that Kennedy would have reversed the course of the war in Vietnam. Either he’s a dupe or he’s not, don’t we think? Unfortunately, Noam Chomsky won’t answer our e-mails.

 

Chapter Twenty-Seven

Was Constantine a Serb

 

In Ljubljana, Todd Fullmer did his editor a favor and stayed at the least expensive hotel he could find near the center, the Park Hotel. His first task, as we know, was to get an interview with Niko Nihče, the Slovene politico who presided over that part of the earthquake in the nineties that left Slovenia bereft of Beograd administration, or, as some prefer to phrase it, Slovene independence. Nihče was the first Czar of Slovenia as a result, and therefore had the most to lose from a Kramberger election landslide, or victory. Why not simply ask him, Todd thought. Hey Niko, did you do it? Was it you? How’d you find the dupe. Of course that’s not how it would go, but really it wouldn’t be so far different. But Todd had a problem: how to contact and arrange for an interview with the by now retired Niko Nihče?

According to Todd Fullmer’s editor:

So he writes me he’s Ljubljana trying to get an interview with some Hoochie Koochie, and sends this time-killer of an article to get me off his back. You’ll notice it is not the failure to assassinate Castro article, but if you’re interested I can send you the missing piece of the puzzle, so to speak. Anyway, first see if you like this one. Much as I didn’t want to, cause I wanted the son of a bitch in Minsk, I actually did, and I published it to the vast indifference of our readership:

 

Was Constantine a Serb?

 

It seems to me that historical questions are generally treated as abstruse, yet while any event–an assassination, say–has its preponderance of contributing factors, such a thing as motive is often quite simple—to, say, remove a leader, to gain power, to prevent or perpetuate injustice, for good, for evil. So when I considered why the average informed historical mind is presented with the apparent contradiction that Rome ‘fell’ in 476.A.D., while the capitol of the Roman Empire was moved to Constantinople in 330 A.D., and Constantinople didn’t ‘fall’ until 1453, nearly a thousand years later, I became most curious, beginning with the question of why Constantine moved the capitol. Answering the question to my own satisfaction required a little more knowledge about Constantine himself. As soon as I learned that he was born in what is now Niš, where the best Drina cigarettes are produced, I knew I had my answer. Sometimes an historical quiestion of great might is solved by mere empathy.

Once Diocletian established the precedent of ruling, in part, from outside Rome, a move of the seat of empire became conceivable. That’s a factor. Byzantium was much closer to the Christian holy lands—that, too, is a factor, as Constantine’s mother is known to have made a pilgrimage to Jerusalem. Byzantium had a naturally superior defensive position, another factor. But the motive? Constatine was from Niš, geographically, and at that time in many way, culturally, much closer to Byzantium than Rome. Why not accept that Constantine’s motives were very much like our own—in this case, attachment to one’s roots. Certainly we must factor in the grandiosity of a man who re-fashions a city and names it after himself; but Constantine did not choose Amalfi, did he? Nor Dubrovnik, Piraeus, Izmir, Salonika, Milano, Taranto, Messina, or Leghorn. He chose the combination of the best available city closest to home.

Now I have been taunted by those to whom I have revealed my thoughts, who ask me whether, then, Constantine was a Serb. One need only open an historical atlas to answer that question in the negative, which is the condemnatory point my nemeses intend to make. Yet one need only use a little common sense to answer Yes, of course he was a Serb—he was from Niš. Peoples do not rise as one and leave a region that others may replace them; they are displaced gradually, they intermarry, the combine love juices and genes. Those calling themselves Serbs today are Dacians, Illyrians, Vlachs, Croats, Bosnians, Turks, Avars, Bulgars—even Jews. Genetically speaking, those Serbs bombing the cultural stew of Sarajevo were bombing their own kind. So, yes, Constantine was a Serb, and I may go so far as to say that modern Serbs may do well to drop their squalid visions of a Greater Serbia (if any still have them), look back to their Constantine, and call themselves noble Romans.

Chapter Twenty-Eight

Sokollu, Sokollee, Sokollahahahahahaaaa

 

As to there actually being a case of a “lone nut”, I think the guy that tried to kill Andrew Jackson was one but I can’t think of any others though I’m sure there are some. But most assassinations of political figures are conspiracies.

–Skip Obscure

Letter from M__________ arrived. Enclosed please find, etc. His own comments were of as much interest as what we were pleased to find, an unpublished article on an obscure assassination in Ottoman times that is actually a brief treatment of the lone gunman theme, and perhaps accidentally an insightful, even groundbreaking historical fragment. At least his editor thought so. His own missive was fairly dripping with guilt. Yet we agree that the topic was too esoteric for his readership. Why the guilt? It’s as if publishing it would somehow have saved Fullmer’s life, which is hardly the case. Anyway, the article itself was actually still in the form of a letter, and by the time Fullmer himself could have written his final draft he was dead.

Dear M__________,

 

Never mind Castro for now [the Castro piece, already published? What the hell–ed]. Searching for Mr. Kučan has led me to a greater examination of the history of this place [the precise cause and effect here eludes me, I wish you better luck—ed], not Slovenia, per se, but the Balkans. As you know, much of our readership is a sort of voyeuristic opposition, generally believers in such oddities as the lone gunman theory. The kinder correspondents write that they would find me more believable if just on occasion I would subscribe to such a theory—solitary madman kills RFK, rather than a Manchurian brainwashee; and certainly I would like to please them, I have no stake in any particular non-conspiratorial assassination, what the hell do I care?, but the context, the facts, the stray pieces, the extra-bullets, the conflicting witness reports, the disappearing witnesses, the sealed files, the missing minutes, the odd recantations, always prevent my throwing them a bone—and of course, Andrew Jackson wasn’t killed.

            Even my more obscure readings here about centuries old assassinations credited to lone swordsmen and such are suspect. A case I find particularly illuminating is that of the great vizier, Sokollu. As you are probably aware [I was not—ed], the position of vizier was often so precarious that a ten year period would see up to 15 different ones employed. Maybe even more. Yet Sokollu, vizier to Suleiman the Great or Magnificent and his successors lasted thirteen years in the position. 13 years. I believe that’s the record. Yet while in his late seventies and still vizier he was killed, assassinated by a pensioner whose pension had been cut off—that is, a disgruntled ex-employee a lone gunman, so to speak.

            So the history books tell us.

            But to comprehend the circumstances, one must know a little of the internal affairs of the Ottoman Empire, particularly about the janissaries and the devširme system, which was the peculiarly Ottoman form of drafting/pressganging chosen Balkan stock, raising them as Turkish infantrymen. Ottoman history is bursting with the obstreperous hijinks of these soldiers who so often ran rampant, deposed both sultans and viziers, though occasionally a draftee of the devširme program rose to a position of great importance to the empire. There was Piale Pasha, who was instrumental in taking Famagusta in 1570. He was a Croat. And not to make too long a list, Sokollu was another, a Bosnian. I’ve written of Constantine’s birthplace, Niš, and the likelihood of its importance. I’ve, incidentally, heard recently at a Serbian bar here in Ljubljana one of the most beautiful songs I’ve ever heard, I inquired and found it was called ‘The Lost Ring of the Tzar Konstantin’—the use of tzar should not throw you off, for Istanbul is called Carigrad (the C pronounced ts) in Slovene. They didn’t think Constantine was Russian. Anyway, what I want to lead up to is the question whether it is really likely that the janissary corpse could so easily and entirely be assimilated even though they were essentially kept apart from other ranks of turks? I mean, they were like a club—their symbol was a big black kettle. In other words, could not their virtually perpetual unruliness be viewed as a sort of rebellion? Have any histories taken this approach? My research combined with my hunch says no. Is it simply that their mayhem could not be noted as subversion simply because it was not cohesive? Two factors: 1) Cohesion requires leaders, yet the best potential leaders were assimilated; 2) In such an empire overt cohesion would meet with absolute repression, implying that perhaps there were leaders, yet they remained underground. If even half of what I’m saying is near the truth, then such a one as Sokollu, in this light, would seem to be little more than a highly talented quisling, the worst kind of enemy to the Bosnian people and the janissary corpse. Now do you really believe a pensioner with a grievance got to him, and got to him without the aid of conspirators? And consider this: could it be that the increasingly rebellious janissaries were finally crushed early in the 19th century—an event often referred to in history books as a necessary revamping of the army in order to compete with the increasingly powerful western armies (if that’s the case, what a grand failure) just as the century of great Balkan revolt began? [all I could say was Gee, I don’t know—I mean he deserved to be read and this deserved to be thought over, and it is, I think you’ll admit mighty convincing, maybe even brilliant, but the truth is I don’t know a  fucking thing about this shit. But it served the purpose of keeping me off his back for a while, and served the magazine well, because his next temporization was a piece on 9/11, which he had hitherto refused to write about though his fans fairly clamored for his opinion. I include that article, in case you find it of interest—ed]

Chapter Twenty-Nine

A Bone for Numerologists

 

Okay conspiracy theorists, tighten your seat belts and I’ll take you for a ride. Many of you fans—and some of you uncouth redneck sharpshooters—have wondered over my silence over what you all call 9/11, and some of you have even accused me and PS of being part of the mainstream media’s conspiracy of silence regarding the attack on New York and the Pentagon and a field in Pennsylvania. Like you I have read thousands of pages that raise interesting questions and most certainly at the very least condemn the official version to the scrap heap vaults where such as the Warren Commission report is kept in efficacious perpetuity. But you should have realized that as an assassination correspondent I have to approach the issue with an assassination angle. And now that my Castro article has opened the floodgates of non-assassination assassination angles, I may do so. The question, of course, is why was Osama bin Laden not assassinated. We know that the Sudanese would have welcomed it when he was troubling their big burg, and we know also that they offered to turn him over and the U.S. declined, and we further know that when he was in Khartoum the U.S. could easily have gotten to him. And, of course, in the early days of the Afghan war U.S. forces could have hemmed in with ease.

            So why didn’t they?

            Recently Osama released a tape, supposedly, that told us all that brother Moussaoui, the so-called 20th hijacker, was innocent in that he was not chosen to participate in the operation because he sucked in the cockpit. Now what does this tell us, this tape? First, that Osama again, though in the early stages more believably denying involvement in the attacks, admits—tacitly, which is as effective as it gets—that he co-ordinated them. Second,  that the feds are on the right track.

            So this latest audio release, which the U.S. immediately announced it had ‘no reason is not authentic’ even though every other communication from bin Laden took weeks to verify, would seem to condemn conspiracy theorists to the maniac fringe. In other words, the tape is a phony—and, as we more than half-suspected all along, Osama is Mossad/CIA/NSA bought and run all along.

            From the beginning of the New York crime, I have said privately that when a crime is committed one first looks around to see who stands to gain from it. The obvious answer here is the revived Reagan cabal. For instance, look at that war criminal Negroponte: never jailed for running arms to Contras, he has now held several high offices for which he is only qualified by having remained a good Reaganite soldier, who did his most difficult and best work while Nancy was running her Alzheimer husband’s White House.

            More generally, and more nefariously, and far more destructively, this cabal has taken the opportunity to wage war on Afghanistan and Iraq (and secretly in Yemen and Iran and who knows where—except we do know where not: Saudi Arabia—where most of the hijackers are said to be from).

            And of course Israel has gained by proxy. They fear no nation so much as Iran—nobody with any sense was afeared of Hussein, Saddam—and now Iran has been placed at the center of a controversy that strangely occludes North Korea, by all reasoning a far more dangerous entity.

            So what happened on September 11, 2001? What story explains all the contradictory and complex elements? It must begin with the non-apprehension and non-assassination of Osama bin Laden and the assumption that he is a Mossad/CIA/NSA operative (a very few in the FBI knew about it). The hijackers had to be dupes: that is, brown non-Christians/non-Jews. The mentioned organizations will kill their own countrymen, but not their own people. No Mossad agent died that day, you can be sure of that.

            Osama organized it, the ops in Israel and the U.S. in on it every step of the way. They helped where necessary (e.g., with bin Laden’s health, with the quashing of the intelligence reports from their own fringes, agents in the field not to be trusted as cynical long view types, specifically agents in Arizona and Minnesota), especially on the day of, when they opened the gates of the fortress to let the invaders in—Air Force stand down orders and well-timed diversionary exercises. (You have all heard that amazing tape in which a rather unauthoritative voice of authority in reference to scrambling planes says ‘We’re going to have to make a decision within ten minutes’, and the other guy says, ‘uh, everybody left the room’. Everybody left the room? So in essence, the plot succeeded because those in charge of defense communications were on coffee break?)

            The rest is Bush regime history. My launch pad being that if Osama were the demon he is said to be, long said to have known to be, and not a creation in charge of creating a second cold war atmosphere essentially for corporate gain overseen by American Empire and domestic upper hand, he would have been shot dead long ago.

            My anti-climax is that I myself was once in Khartoum when Osama was living there, and I can tell you quite assuredly that even I could have gotten to him—I saw him several times. But I report assassinations, I don’t commit them.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kramberger with Monkey, Chaper Nineteen: Birdy Num Num

images (8)

Chapter Nineteen

Birdy Num Num

 

“Birdy num num.”

“Birdy num num.”

Despite the fact that they had met more than a dozen times, source Z insisted on Beograd rules, as he called it, which meant if it was safe to talk they began with the above exchange. Todd Fullmer never knew when it wasn’t safe.

They met in the coffee shop of the Hotel Balkan, heedless of the proximity—next table, window chair, stirring coffee, maybe the same one as last time herein—of a mustached man with what some might call a stony gaze, a man known as, you got it, Mandrake Pizdamonavić.

Z was a cherub. A full grown man, perhaps, but nonetheless a cherub, gray curly hair, but the gray curly hair of a cherub. He had little fleshy lips and gave off the air of one insatiably attracted to sweets, and for whom the entire world was coated in sugar. He was also an electronic genius and refused to speak with Todd Fullmer before displaying his latest toy or invention.

“See here,” he said, setting a 60s era Ford Sedan the size of a match box on the table.

“Watch,” he said. Fullmer didn’t see any movement on the part of Z, yet the car rolled up to him, turned around and opened its trunk.

“Okay, lean forward and whisper into the boot.”

Todd leaned forward, and whispered toward the toy car, “Ivan Kramberger.”

Immediately, the trunk slammed—relatively—shut, and the car dashed across the table to Z, again without any discernable movements made by Z. When the car reached the end of the table it stopped, the hood flipped open, and it said “Ivan Kramberger”, barely louder than Todd Fullmer had.

Z leaned down and the car turned around and showed its open trunk while shutting its hood.

“What about him?” Z whispered.

The car whizzed over to Todd Fullmer.

“Anything,” Todd said to the trunk after it burped up Z’s question.

Back at station Z, the car opened its hood, repeated “Anything,” and turned around, closing its hood and opening its trunk.

“I don’t know much, but I’m glad that’s your question because I hadn’t heard of any assassinations in these parts and your contact made me a little suspicious. I even thought it might not be you…”

Todd noticed a man at the table behind theirs, a mustached man with a stony gaze, craning as if to try to hear what Z was telling the car.

“…Anyway, Kramberger was killed because he was too popular for someone who had just returned to the country and was saying a bunch of sensible things, all of them honest, even the hare-brained ones. You see, Kučan and company over-estimated their roles as heroes of the Slovene freedom movement and underestimate their reek of Beograd to the Slovene people. Kramberger either figured this out or knew it intuitively. He got around 20% of the vote representing the Homeland Peasant Party, a brilliant name, both humble and subtly reminiscent of the Home Guard, so it appealed to both reactionaries and little folk…and maybe to the reds who didn’t really mind a free Slovenia but didn’t want it to be reactionary. But back to that percentage, the thing is that the 20% could easily have grown. Kramberger had all the makings of a populist, a demagogue, or both. I believe the Kučani got the idea, or the information, that the number was climbing and climbing fast. So they hired a patsy who was paid to take the rap and a professional marksman to gun him down. Who actually hired him? Someone of Kučani interests, which covers a wide range that includes Kučan and his ilk, the business interests that exploited the new market as rapidly as possible, even the Germans, even a mafia. Who actually did it? Could have been anyone, anyone who could shoot a rifle. Other than that I couldn’t say. Look outside, look at that guy, look at the guy at the table behind me—could have been anybody.”

The car stalled on the way over to Todd, and whether or not this is related, it is related here—Z blinked his right eye rapidly about ten times and the car resumed its tete a tete, releasing Z’s speech to Todd, turning, receiving Todd’s “Thanks,” and returning to the garage—Z’s pocket.

“Por nada, hombre,” Z said rising. “Have a very nice stay in Beograd.”

As they parted, Todd Fullmer detected no communication of any kind between source Z and anyone else inside or outside the Hotel Balkan, not even anyone at a nearby table, not even anyone at the very next table. In fact, Fullmer and source Z did not actually separate until they were outside and they turned their separate ways, Fullmer toward Kalemegdan and source Z toward Nova Beograd.

Geography Answers

Time ran out early.

Here are the geography answers:

1. Puerto Rico even has its own TRENCH!

2. Because so often non-USers apologize for getting US states wrong, I decided maybe some people ought to know what state one of India’s three biggest cities is in. It’s in Maharashtra.

3. I started this quiz the moment I saw how high Cuba rated among the largest islands in the world. It’s really big.  Bigger than Andorra.

4. The clever student of geography guesses the US because of Hawaii, or Canada because of its odd western coastline; and they are right to be suspicious of the question. The answer, though, is India, for its Meghalaya, where the rain drains down to Bangladesh, of course.

5. One longitudinal question per quiz. This one gave me an excuse to disinter Rangoon, one of my favorite capitol city names when it was one.

6. Istanbul is farther north. But I had to check, hoping some place in the north of Africa was farther north.

7. Another disappointment. Neruda was born south of Santiago by some hundreds of miles (370 kms) and Can Themba simply couldn’t. I should have chosen an Australian maybe. No, a Tasmanian, southern.

8. The equator passes through Colombia and Brazil, but not the other two. I found out it didn’t pass through Peru and that’s when I decided it would be a good question.

9. This wasn’t meant to be a trick question; in fact, just a half hour ago I examined the two close enough to realize they overlap. Taiwan is the better answer…or is Hawaii? Depends how you think about it.

10. The US has done dark deeds in each place. The right answer is ‘Are you kidding me?’

Geographicus interruptus

Geography Test #3

Answers will be posted in two days

Geography Quiz #3

  1. The deepest part of the Atlantic Ocean is closest to which island?

-Puerto Rico

-St. Helena

-Candlemas (South Sandwich chain)

-Manhattan

  1. In which Indian state is Mumbai?
  2. Which is largest?

– Cuba

– Iceland

– Mindanao

– Liechtenstein

  1. In which country is there a place that gets more rain than any place in the other three countries?

– India

– U.S.

– Canada

– Papua New Guinea

  1. Lake Baikal is closest in longitude to which of these cities?

– Vishakapattanam

– Rangoon

– Ho Chi Minh City

  1. Which is farther north, Istanbul or Oran?
  2. Which writer was born farther south, the Chilean Pablo Neruda or the South African Can Themba?
  3. Which of these countries does the equator not pass through?

– Brazil

– Peru

– Colombia

– Venezuela

  1. Which is farther north, Hawaii or Taiwan?
  2. The United States has never invaded or been involved in invading:

– Grenada

– Panama

– Africa

– Bangladesh

– Japan

Kramberger, chapters 15-18

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Chapter Fifteen

Some Really Secret Monkey Business

 

The amazing thing about an assassination like the Kennedy business is that secrets are so hard to keep, yet the conspiracy remains un(entirely)resolved. Nobody really knows for sure, not even Skip, though he thinks he does. The only known instance of monkey assassination, revealed right now for the first time, was actually recorded by Jane Goodall, herself a victim of assassination, by human hand we have no reason to doubt, but suppressed for fairly obvious reasons. The only other human witness was an internee who was beside her when a rival chimp speared the head chimp from a tree, with a spear stolen from a nearby human forest tribe. There was no question it was intentional and planned. Goodall swore the student to silence, and the student kept silent. She had written a few lines summarizing the event before Goodall discussed with her the implications of the assassination becoming public knowledge, but she forgot to destroy the notes. Somehow, someone gained access to the notes, and without bad intentions forgot about it until the moment when she found it irresistible to say, Promise you won’t tell anybody this…And word eventually got around to one of our most reliable sources who broke into the student’s (she was by then a professor at Drake University) house and photographed the notes which were by then under lock and key. Eventually this woman had the determination to burn the notes, but we have seen the photo of the entry and have no reason to suspect its validity, veracity, or the virginity of the note.

Chapter Sixteen

Slovenia’s Got One!

 

Assignment Minsk: journalists dropping like flies, Lukashenko berserk.

Todd Fullmer’s flight landed in Beograd, but before he could see much of the city he was at its oddly decrepit and small train station, waiting for a train to Sarajevo. He had always had a vague desire to see where the archduke got shot, see where Gavrilo Princip was standing when he fired the bullets that provided the excuse for World War Two (not a misprint—for would we have two if not for one? Idea taken from the notes of Todd Fullmer). Not for a minute did Todd Fullmer buy the notion that that assassination was the spark that set off the war. The station at Sarajevo was quite different from that at Beograd, not decrepit so much as abandoned, at the edge of town it seemed, whereas in Beograd it was like a little dirty lot in the center of the city. He stopped for coffee at the one coffee shop that seemed opened, a small shop facing the city itself. The proprietor was an old man who moved slowly and had a gentle ease about him, a desire to talk coupled with an awareness that most people were not the least interested in what he had to say. Todd Fullmer was interested in what everybody had to say so it was without much discomfort that they had begun a conversation. Fullmer was surprised that the man, Samo, assumed he, an American reporter, was not there to see about the famous assassination, rather to take the tour of the remaining evidence of the shelling and sniping of the 90s. Yet Samo didn’t seem appalled at the new phenomenon of war-damage tourism. Todd was, at least initially, but when the conversation turned into a monologue and Samo talked about his personal role in the ‘war’, Todd began to understand. When a nightmare happens during the day you want it to end but you don’t want others to forget you had it. “See up on that hill? The Serbs were shelling from there. Every window in the city was gone. What was it…I think the UN had to buy 5 million windows for us. Snipers were everywhere. If we knew where they were it wouldn’t have been so dangerous. In the best of cases we knew where they were likely to target. That’s why everybody has the image of us crouching at a corner and then running across an open space. But some places we couldn’t run. The place where I had to get water every day three or four people were killed—every day.” He told it all with a sort of resignation. The story had its own pathos; Samo didn’t need to add any. Yet Todd Fullmer was struck at his lack of bitterness. He would have been bitter. Samo was diabetic and had to spend much of the ‘war’ without insulin. He nearly died several times. The war added twenty or thirty years to his appearance. He was in his early fifties but Todd would have believed him if Samo had said he was 83. He had fought, too. Every two weeks he went out to the battlefields or returned to the city to take care of his family. Apparently a lot of people did that. While it’s true that the Muslims press ganged a number of people, they were also quite understanding about family members. When Samo had returned to the ‘front’ once, he had their full trust and was allowed to come and go as he pleased as long as it was in two week intervals. They talked about how the station itself seemed abandoned. Before the war, Samo told him, there were thousands of people there at all times of the day and night. He had run a highly profitable clothing store, selling clothes he bought in regular runs to Italy. “I had to pass through Slovenia. Have you been there? It’s a beautiful place, and I always liked the Slovene people…” At that point Samo began rambling along a confusing story about two young Slovenes who had recently broken his most important beer mugs is a row that had started over their obscene comments about a waitress he had who wore a miniskirt to draw customers. Todd couldn’t tell if this was before, during or after the war, for aspects of the story clearly placed it in all three time frames. The story ended sadly with the Slovenes paying for the glasses in tolars, Slovene money—which means during or after the war—something Samo had never seen and mistakenly valued at quite too high a rate, as he subsequently found out on a trip to Budapest: “Not even enough for a coffee”. “We had so many customers then” (before the war?), “but those two were so arrogant—yet they didn’t know the difference between me and a Serb. Vuk Drašković had been shot in Montenegro (long after the war) and they were telling what barbarians we all were south of the Kolpa. I said you wait—see what happens to your great Kramberger (shot during the war). Of course, Kramberger wasn’t great, but I knew he was in for it. I had met him in Ljubljana on one of my last trips through. He gave me a spin in his Bugatti.” And seeing this obscure reference intrigued his listener, Samo dropped the story of the rowdy Slovenes and the tragedy of the glasses—something which, perhaps combined with the business about all the broken glass in Sarajevo, Todd was haunted by, labeling it in his mind as Samo’s personal Kristallnacht–and went on to report what he knew about the assassination, which had happened soon after he predicted it would.

Truth be told, there isn’t a lot interesting about a street or a street corner where an archduke was shot 80 or 90 years earlier. The event simply doesn’t resonate. Todd wandered into Baščarčija and became a war tourist, marveling at how the copper smiths turned shells into objects of ambivalent beauty, pounding intricate, classical designs onto these weapons that were trying to destroy them not so long before. He didn’t buy one, though. He was just killing time before the train back to Beograd, in a state of insuppressible excitement over the prospect of investigating this obscure Slovene assassination of a self-made millionaire—something with dialysis machines in Austria or Germany, Samo wasn’t sure—who drove about in a Bugatti he had put together himself, selling his own books, speaking with a monkey on his shoulder, head of the Homeland Peasant Party, which had received a significant—20%?, 30%–of the vote, and been killed by a ‘drunken hunter’, before Slovenia’s first elections as a free nation.

As soon as he returned to Beograd he wrote his editor, admitting where he was, and exclaimed, Slovenia’s got one!

Meanwhile, we should point out, guess who was sitting at the coffee shop at the train station in Sarajevo listening in on the conversation Todd Fullmer was having with Samo?

Did you guess Mandrake Pizdamonavić? Wrong. Just some shambling shell-shocked shoe shiner with out any shoes to shine. Mandrake Pizdamonavić was at that very minute stirring an espresso diligently at the Hotel Balkan in Beograd, sitting by himself, minding his own business (let that phraseology carry the weight you choose.)

 

 

Chapter Seventeen

The Consequences of Passing up Minsk

 

Transcript of the exchange between Todd Fullmer and his editor:

Slovenia’s got one!

So?

So?

So I’m paying for a story about dead journalists in Minsk. What’s the matter, are you afraid you’ll become one of them?

Don’t insult me—besides, that’s not such a bad motive for avoiding Minsk, not that there aren’t plenty of others. No, listen M_______, this Slovene thing is perfect for us. Nobody knows about it, the victim was a colorful guy—he went around with a monkey on his shoulder, for christs’ sake—the story, I mean the cover up, is obviously bogus…the whole thing—it’s virgin territory.

Virginity isn’t news. Whores are news. Lukashenko’s a whore, so forget this Slovak thing and get up there now.

Slovene, not Slovak.

Fast, slow, Czech, Moldovan, I don’t give a shit. You’re not yet bigger than this magazine and while I’m still editor you will go where I send you.

I’m not saying I won’t go. I’m saying I’ll stop in Slovenia for a while on the way.

No, you’ll stop in Slovojvodina after you’ve reported from Minsk.

Look, M_________, Lukashenko will be killing journalists for the next ten years. What’s the hurry? Arguably, the longer I wait, the more there will be to report.

I’m not going to argue anymore. Get your ass to Minsk or you’ll find yourself working at the New York Times!

Don’t get nasty with me. How many times have you followed my hunches and it turned out I got a scoop. Like with Yushchenko.

You call that a scoop?

Given that the story was unscoopable, I call it a fucking miracle that sold magazines.

We sold more magazines when you wrote about why you weren’t writing about Lady Die.

That was because of the ingenuity of your typesetter or whatever they’re called these days.

Still, it was brilliant and it sold magazines. Yushchenko didn’t sell magazines, not like we expect your articles to.

You ever eat a goldfish?

What?

What about a fresh eyeball? They say Ante Pavelić popped them like olives.

What are you getting at?

Don’t demean my work. No way, no fucking way you would have touched that face.

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Chapter Eighteen

Yushchenko’s Face

 

Ukraine is one of those restless countries that moves around now and then, hides, moves again, emerges fresh and strong, kills some enemies within, some without, moves around a little more, hides again, emerges fresh and strong and chaotic, kills mostly within but occasionally by rocket without. For some, such a country is a refreshing change. Aren’t you little bored with, say, the borders of the United States? How long has it been since they changed? On the other hand, for the people in a city like, say, L’viv, change can be disorienting. One day it’s Lvov and it’s Polish, next day it’s got an apostrophe and it’s Ukrainian. Even central Ukraine can be fickle. One day it’s a breadbasket, next day a slaughterhouse; or a famine riddled grim place where no one vacations—all that bread and people dying of hunger…it can be very confusing. Then there’s the rain: one day water, next day acid (as they say). One day an historic city of the Pripet Marshes is bustling, next day a ghost town. And of course there are the people. Every country is heterogeneous by nature piled upon nature. So Ukraine had all these Jews and now where are they? In Pinsk, you say? Maybe, but they lost Pinsk to Belarus, which had to have Minsk, and if you’ve got Minsk and a loose Pinsk, the logic of politicals and rhymes says you needs to combines. You may not believe it but there are people on this Earth who are missing their Pinsk.

O sad Ukraine

O sad Ukraine

You lost so much and what did you gain?

And what didn’t you lose? Moskva, Moscow, Muskovy. The smarmy grappler Putin. Putting his nose in where he just can’t get that it doesn’t belong. Can’t he tell a Lukashenko from a Yushchenko? Not at first, but then western media broadcast Yukashchenko’s handsome grass roots face all over the tubes all over the world and next thing you know Ukraine has a fifty fifty itch for ‘freedom’. Stop laughing. Death threats delivered against Yushchenko, Yushchenko meets secret agents, ‘ex’-KGB, has a bowl of soup and his dioxin level multiplies by thousands. What is dioxin? Ask some Vietnamese peasants. The point is, Yushchenko developed a mysterious illness that should have killed him (What the fuck do we have to do, for Val’s sake!). The problem for Todd Fullmer was that the media was crawling all over the Yushchenko story like maggots in a rotting gut before the poisoning. So when he got poisoned, there was no original angle, no uncovered angle, no scoop, for Todd Fullmer and PS. Doctors in Vienna said we don’t know what’s wrong, but there’s hardly an organ in his body that isn’t deformed, swollen, and crawling with something not maggots. Reporters were on the thing day and night for months. Yushchenko put on a brave face, but it was a mask, a distortion of his own face, mislabeled pocked by a baffled press. Pitted, some said. As if burned, said others. It had turned gray, sometimes shading to Pripet green, boils gaping with enlarged pores. It looked like Chernobyl. It looked like the kind of thing that you expect will rub off on you if you touch it.

If you touch it…if you touch it…If you touch it! That’s the scoop. Todd Fullmer would be the only reporter to actually touch it.

As things turned out, Todd had no problem at all. Yushchenko advertised his grotesque face, he wanted all Ukrainians to know what the old guard had done and would continue to do—my face is Ukraine, he said—if he weren’t elected. Ukraine needed new blood, no matter the dioxin level. Nervously, Todd Fullmer visited Kiev. Nervous because it’s hard to believe how close the capitol is to Chernobyl (I’d have let Belarus have Chernobyl and moved the capitol to the Crimea, Todd wrote). He got an appointment with Yushchenko, brought along a photographer, told Yushchenko straight out he just wanted to touch his face, Yushchenko thought it was a good idea, Todd reached, pulled his arm back, gathered courage, reached again and…Yuk! It wasn’t one of those things that looks like it will rub off on you if you touch it—it did rub off. Slime. If you’ve ever picked up a Mediterranean snail, the kind with beautiful racing stripes on it, which you can only see when it’s crossing the street looking for its shell, dropped it off on the other side of the street only to find out that fifty percent of the snails body weight is slime on your hand that does not wash off—it has to be scrubbed and scraped and washed over and over again for at least an hour—well, that was what it was like touching Yushchenko’s face, except the slime had that same ashen color…

Al Zawahiri Doesn’t Eat Here Anymore, Ch. 14 of Kramberger with Monkey

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Chapter Fourteen

Al Zawahiri Doesn’t Eat Here Anymore

 Okay, here’s the Todd Fullmer piece that pegged him as a loose cannon and may have had something to do with his interest in an assassination that has received little attention even in the country where it occurred: I suppose you could say I was a patriot even before the Patriot Missile. I may still be a patriot. But today I’m not proud to be an American. Yesterday the saga of political assassination reached a new nadir when three American predator drones—which I mention blandly as if they were an everyday phenomenon (more to come on those devils)—destroyed with their missiles a compound of three houses in a remote village in Pakistan near the Afghan border, killing 18 people, none of whom was Al Zawahiri, supposed mentor of Osama bin Laden, the presumed, and indeed announced, target of the assault. The word intelligence has been used loosely for some time now, so when American sources say their intelligence had Al Zawahiri dining in one of the three houses obliterated, I am not surprised that he wasn’t there at all. If they stated that their intelligence was up deep in their own colons I might believe them. But even a predator drone would have a difficult time finding it without being noticed. Then again, given the level of said intelligence, maybe it could. Imagine some fat fingered and fatuous American military fuck slapping at his own bunghole muttering questioningly, ‘Sumpen up dar?’ How do you believe in an afterlife when this is the kind of life we have to witness and endure? Yet, I in my idealistic naiveté do imagine an afterlife, if only to have John Fitzgerald Kennedy with me when I report on an assassination. Here’s his commentary on his own: ‘See how they managed it? Several gunmen, all shooting individual bullets at me, me!, intending to kill me, killing only me. Just like with the Archduke—at least they tried just to kill him. Shit, I could have killed Castro if I accepted a dozen or more ancillary casualties, but you just can’t do that. You kill Castro and that’s it. It’s not even a matter of fair play—it’s a matter of humanity. Look at Jacquie, the life she had after they got me. Not bad, eh? Well good on her. She’d been through hell. If they would have shot her, too, if they would have tossed a grenade into the car…well, I wouldn’t be so understanding.’ Christ! Even Stalin killed them one at a time. And he always got his man, woman or child, too. Reports from Pakistan will of course emphasize that among the 18 were some women and children, but in a case like this what is the fucking difference? What if it were nine grown men? Then it would be okay? What if it were nine grown men, and one Al Zawahiri? What if it were nine grown men, one Al Zawahiri, one Osama, one Lukaschenko, and three dwarf rapers? This is what Americans are doing now? Some kid on a ship in the Arabian Sea sitting at a computer like he’s playing some goddamn computer game—well he is, actually—is maneuvering planes without pilots armed with deadly missiles, often even accurate, quite unfortunately so in this case, while peasants sit around a table eating with their hands, praising god in their innocence, living off the little they have and their love for each other, and this kid on the ship, one hand playing with his balls like all kids on computers are wont to do, types in the code, presses the button, and they all get blown to pieces. This is what Americans are doing now? I remember the first predator drone assassination I know of committed by Americans—2002 in Yemen. Targeted terrorist torn to bits along with five others in the car. I let it go. I had a momentary reservation, but I had something else going on and I told myself that the government announced the killing of one particular terrorist because he was on a list or something, but the others in the car were killers, too, and I let it go. But deep inside me was a voice, JFK, asking me Is this what Americans are doing now?As I have noted elsewhere, no less than 25 Roman emperors were assassinated.  It seemed like a lot at the time. Imagine if it were 25 American presidents. Now 18 Pakistani villagers have been assassinated in one attack. 25 Roman emperors doesn’t seem like so many. And 25 American presidents seems like a good idea. What was that? What did Fullmer just write? Yes, you got it, that’s what American reporters are writing now. Anything wrong with that? Gonzo!