3 Novels from Rick Harsch now available on Amazon. Read Harsch’s Adriatic and Balkan novels–prices quite low, if I may say so…

94b06baf-1017-433f-b2b5-679a7c03c4ff

SKULLS OF ISTRIA
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Amazon US: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B01HNAXX62
Amazon UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B01HNAXX62

Kramberger-version2

KRAMBERGER WITH MONKEY
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Amazon US: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B01HMZE6OG
Amazon UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B01HMZE6OG

Adriatica

ADRIATICA DESERTA
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Amazon US: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B01HMZ30XE
Amazon UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B01HMZ30XE

About these novels:

 

In his USAmerican books, Rick Harsch examined the miasma of the lost souls adrift in empire. In his Indian books, he explored the nature of the foreigner gone deeper into the philosophical chaos of India than any known predecessors. Now in his Balkan/Adriatic books, he finds universals in the thrumming persistence of the harmonics of history, perpetual conflict, and delirious outbreaks of calm.

In Skulls of Istria, a tavern confession novel, a tale told by a brilliant defrocked historian whose first step into the Balkans finds history an active volcano and relates his story in an Adriatic seaside tavern to a man whose only shared language is that of drink, a story that ranges from the Spanish Civil War to seduction and the recent Yugoslav wars.

His recovery he recounts in Requiem for a Suicide, Volume 1, called Noir Slovenia, in which language itself, the Inert, and absurd action suggest a way out for the lost man of the deserts beyond post-modernity – though the second two volumes of the trilogy – works in progress – will perhaps find otherwise, as they will seek to buttress the most extreme notions of their characters, who long for an end to history while forced to search for its very beginnings.

In Kramberger with Monkey, a comedy of assassination, Harsch proves that innovative, experimental fiction can be more entertaining than detective stories, depending largely on the fate of the narrators perhaps, as he probes the surface of humanity’s darkest of jokes only to find the nexus of simian predecessors and exalted artifice.

Adriatica Deserta, an absurdist fable that brings together a mix of eccentric strangers in Zadar, Croatia, is concerned with the more recent politically lurid, occurring during the early days of US war in Afghanistan, an oddity that is perhaps explained by some simulacrum of an eternal fascism, if indeed that is what we are to take from the mysterious tale of the South American fascist Nestor Falco that intrudes on the simpler narrative of a man who has come to take up a position at an office on a street that doesn’t exist.

If there is a palpable thread connecting Harsch’s Balkan/Adriatic books, it is their unpredictability in regard to his delight in the bizarre, his range of expressions of rage, and the tendency throughout for the narration to find purchases on odd excrescences of universals, all of which leave readers space for much laughter and a choice as to degrees of chagrin.

The books can be read in any order, though it is suggested that Skulls of Istria be followed by Requiem for a Suicide Vol. 1. Volumes 2 and 3 of that trilogy are forthcoming, volume one will be out in the Fall.

 

 

Kramberger, to the end

Chapter Forty

Captive Learners

 

 

This was also found in his hotel room, the last correspondence from his editor.

Todd, this is all I could find, and really the last help you’ll get from me if you don’t explain yourself and all this delay. The promise of a bombshell would be more convincing if you were in Minsk.

I might add that for his last few days at the hotel that he was hogging the internet. The hotel has but one computer for its guests.

 

From the notes of Dr. Zachary Biedermeyer, former head of St. Bonaventure University dept. of zoology:

 

Seven bonobos kept at the Cincinnati zoo in conditions as near as possible to those in the wild; in fact, perhaps somewhat better—this is wild speculation, of course—in that no bombing could be heard from the environments; seven bonobos were studied by our team in the late 1960s without a grant, the studies conducted by myself and a few diligent, passionate graduate students, none of whom, unfortunately, have pursued primatology. Over the course of several years and several HUNDRED interviews with these bonobos, all but one of which survived our experiment (inexplicably, one female we called Anastasia hurled herself against the bars of our interview room until unconscious, lapsed into a coma and finally died. I have only the notes of my student, Flora Manganez, to go on, but nothing in her notes provides an explanation for the outburst, which occurred just after Ms. Manganez had written: ‘I have tried to signal to Ana that today’s session will be without physical contact’.

Extensive communication with the remaining six bonobos–Marc, Ellie, Uhuru, Zachary, Toby, and Furry Elise—led us to arrive at a number of conclusions, not least of which is that for the bonobo formal human speech is a soporific. Most graphically, as Churchill dramatically droned ‘We will never surrender…’ all six nodded off, though in the case of both Z and FE the behaviour appeared to have been imitative (if not outright mocking…of whom? Of us? Of Churchill? Of their companions?) Countless further examples are enumerated in the index, most notably the apparent group laughter at a speech by the American president John F. Kennedy in which he asks not what the country can do for you but what you can do for your country. Radical theorists have noted the temporal proximity of that date to the assassination of Lumumba, but we have (really) of course no reason to pursue this line of reasoning. Instead, we conclude again that the bonobo has no time for the aural inanities (their phrase, arrived at through established codes and some independent deduction of my own) of formal speech, no matter the content, the depth of conviction, the hand gestures harkening back to past gestures, all of which are foreign to the bonobo…

…What then does this most linguistic of primates respond favorably to? Let us examine the limerick. We have absolute evidence that though the bonobo is capable of communicating through an intricate array of symbols, he does not understand human speech word for word. Nonetheless there was a significant difference in the response to the ‘dirty’ limerick as opposed to the ‘clean’ limerick. For instance, There once was a man from Nantucket (you know how it goes…whose dick was so long he could suck it…) elicited laugher and much sexual hijinks (for lack of a better term), while, my personal favorite, I had lunch with the duchess of tea…only produced a reaction upon the emphasis of the word ‘fart’, whereupon as if a battle plan had been prepared, the apes gassified the laboratory to such an extent that study was postponed for a full three days, and my staff and myself were then forced to continue our study over a weekend, something of which the  bonobo seems to have no concept. Interestingly, the limerick ‘The ‘Horrible Whore of Lahore’ produced such mayhem of laughter and gross intergenerational sexuality that we were forced to suspend operation indefinitely. This apparent fondness for alliteration was underscored by many further examples that likewise led to such a ‘pleasing event’ despite rather different contexts (Kissinger kicked the kid until the kid was killed in Kilkenny).

Likewise, our subjects responded with intense positive agitation to the famous poem of Lewis Carroll, Jabberwocky, indicating a fondness for, let me say poetically, salubrious word play and invention. In a clear mockery event, the apes feigned horror at beware, and genuine delight at calloo callay, and, further, a rapt silence at Twas brillig, etc., a mood setting classic of nonsense that suggested that to the bonobo sense and sound are linked more than word and mood.

Further, my experiment with pure rhyme, suggested by the response to limerick and the timely rhyming of Jabberwocky led me to test pure rhyme, having invented the following: Ham lamb beef ram dog frog hog, at which the subjects first exhibited intense pleasure through a solid hour of intensive unabating sexual activity including front to front sex, gg rubbing to the point of rubbed raw bleeding genitals, and the inclusion of all ages of ‘minors’ in all sexual acts. This simian orgy was followed by the most remarkable period of frustration in which the subjects clearly attempted to add to the rhyme yet could not but indicate the desired word—hundreds of hours watching the tape led me to determine that they simply wanted to hear agog or even, interestingly, perhaps Magog, yet their frustration leading to anger and the most horrific cacophony I finally shouted Clam!, at which point, though I had yet to realize I had added to the rhyme, they howled with laughter and a second orgy commenced.

The final experiment in this particular regard was a reading of Hamlet by one of my assistants, the aforesaid Ms. Manganez, which alternately held the apes rapt yet again, and led to a sort of choral cacophony that coincided astonishingly with moments in the play that rose above the stream of natural tension, whether positive or negative, so to speak. Two instances will suffice: the running through of Polonius led to a wild virtually scripted chanting (I theorize that they imitate the beat of jungle drums) as happened when Hamlet was first informed of the manner of the death of his father. The only inexplicable outburst occurred during the famous To be or no soliloquy, which, were I to go out on a limb, suggested impatience with Hamlet’s indecision.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter Forty-one

Indaba: Simian Song

 

 

Somewhere deep in the jungle, and only I can hear the encroaching bombs…

 

Chimplifying the discourse:

 

Commence indaba the lubricious innocents are here

Defense of perimeters secure with howliest howlers

Hark! Hear that leopard roar harmlessly?

Stark improvement over rattlerguns

Owooooo! Big cat alarm: thank you Bobo.

How do you doooooo, pretty cat: to the trees.

Baby Bobo can you listen while you fondle

Maybe Hobo Bobo is apropared?

My thought is brained in strange terrain again:

Where did hobo bobo bonobo go?

There: in northern Balkania, southern Germania, central Insania

Dreadnought zeppelin nuee ardente

Juggernaut argonaut ergo naught

Cept violence, murder slaughter and rape is

Kept taboo.

Rape?

Aperape. To fuck without consent.

Who would not consent?

You would not consent if you knew their torturee methods.

Torture?

Scorcher torture bongee beaty bungee reaming

Wolf rape, wolf bite dwarf toss skinslice

 

(Chorus)

 

Bonobo Bobo: Bobo Bobo Bobo Bobo

Bobo Bobo Bobo Bobo

Bobo Bobo Bobo Bobo

Bobo Bobo Bobo Bobo

Bobo Bobo Bobo Bobo

BOBO BOBO BOBO BOBO BOBO BOBO BOBO BOBO

BOBO!

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter Forty-two

Fuck the Polish Swimmer

 

 

                And now the final document. Fullmer made much of the fact that a Polish knight swam the Danube in full armor in retreat during the battle of Nicopolis in 1396. It’s the kind of fact that a prestidigitator of historical events comes across and since it is so astonishing, the fact that it is relevant to nothing he writes does not prevent him from including it in his columns; in fact, over his 13 year career with Political Sleeze he mentions the incident no less than 27 times.

In this bizarre document, the whole seems to posit the swimmer as the truth, the end truth, as it were, before his mind zings from the orbit of the document towards another certainty, and a rented car, an Opel, these days the top choice for renters in Europe, and sped toward Jurovski dol, the place of Kramberger’s assassination. I believe his deadly haste to arrive led to his accident, and hard-hearted as it may seem, released him from the captivity of an obsession gone mad, and so he died a relatively unknown, if highly respected in his ‘field’, expert on something.

The bottle, of course, was empty.

Carry on madman:

 

1396, Nicopolis

SWIMMERY, SWAMMERY, SWUMMERY

Lummoxery, flummoxery, or Christian dumb oxery?

 

I watched the best knights’ degeneration, deployed by madmen, stark raving fakers climbing the bubo-free peaks like fawns, while we in dungeons of armor carrying swords outweighing the dead—angry pricksall–leaving behind chickens, damsels, distress of diarrhetic infants, towns infarcted in giant coffins, ash from my ass: Cineraria Europa, anglegrinding lipsters lying for the latest heavenly erection of the babelous chicanery of soul’s night.

Hejnał! Your towns are shattered and fallow—lies! Corpses sit up flaming preternatural expartures of contagion leaping from rat to rat infiltrating jizz.

Hejnał! Bare your balls to god like El Cid slaughtering Mohammedan children floating from Gibraltar to Morocco.

Hejnał! Tatar arrows pass through throats thirsty for therianthropic thertainties and Bakelite telephones.

Hejnał! Expel the foreigner if ye thinks ye can finger him out with yer finger in yer ass with yer Beowulf and Bible.

Hejnał! Unshowered arrayed cross shaven plains in armor burning under campaign season sun, terrified terrorers awaiting Turk terrors: Bashee Bazooks! Gadzooks!

Hejnał! To be busted by ball yataghan and again.

Hejnał! This de Coucey coursy of coursee a valley of death unpurgatorial march of knight as if in dreams spawned by nightmare of dark angelic monks pissing cock after cock to nonpareil translucent nuns shuddering orgasm taroted spasm of vision of dervish leaping toward Poles, Franks, Gauls—gall adamantine, a wall of nebulo god-drunken savagery illuminating Balkan Time,

Scrotal stupidity of Gaul, grabass Magyar decimatory feuds til

dawn, swine sottery on foot on horseback,

riverfront back and hail ye of steelhead rawhide, ne: un-blinking

raptured eyes, stunned anoon anonanonanon, three visitations

in the boring splintered sucks of knightsoul delirium Frankly

chichirevelry for king and kind without mind,

Hejnał! Strappeezed themselves to crosses for the endless ride from Buddha to poxypest on trampolines

until the roil of shpiels like children brought

them schtuddering haltslack and scattered paper shitcannedplan

devoid of goitery, spoilery thus unfearing despite Bazoo

Hejnał! Stanking knights all subcutaneous zeal at riverford

floating rafts they stood lancetly loutish, pale

desolation within tincans sniffing the crack

of ass lusting headbox

Hejnał! Seventy hours from bank to

muck to bluff to backview to reasonlost to the unborn

midge,

lost battalian’s plutonium odors convertorialists humping

peasants who jumped off straw roofs on fire

entire in spate from the blue danoob,

Oh! to be torn twixt love and duty

what of all this leader disputy

what if I lose my eyeballs too…

whose the buffoon?

Eye: buttholes engorging total mace all seven

hundred miles ebullient snake-eyes, meat for the

cathedrals spermed on the Wallachian,

Hejnał! Vanish assended into oblačery heaven leaving a

vapory tracery unambigague fever hardening frantic

pitiless Gaul,

stuffing Balkan fruits, plums and apples into codpieces

for the time-grinding siege ahead across seas of dice,

waves of ejaculate steins on foot on horseback

Hejnał! Wondery in rounds sung at midnight making Magyar merry

wanderwont wearywarts

For broken tents

Hejnał! Sit sotten riders on oxcarts oxcarts oxcarts

aflame game uncle lend me your match

landbound meteoric

O grandees farter night

Hejnał! Giant cat a study

a-mornins plots Pow! Sank John

across a swamp and Slup!

cabal Anglais afound afeared a Frank figgered the fraud

Hejnał! Order! Be discrete in seeking vivisecting angles if set

your sect on angels

Hejnał! and all for one madness ecstatic cannibal Christers

aclustered ex-cloister bareskin in steel

Hejnał! Jump in limp aubergines

Turk figurines in your pestoral dreams

in Spain!

O the pain in Spain!

Hejnał! Lunge hungrily loathsome in rupture slicing jowls

or sacks or saps

you followed brilliantined Israelites bogus miles

convert invert about armhair and refurbishing empty cells

with a  leaky roof at that

and so on to vulgar bulgarlandia

Hejnał! Harry’s tic disappeared when John went drown

leaving behind shadows and hungaree and the sword, the halberd, VOLANT!

piss

breast on a plate with coffee

Hejnał! horsemanely on the plane

Hejnał! rutten wheels groak skidways deeper to slow the

march as knights row boatic synchronshiny sunshunned in

clanketly hilarity for laster morsels of mortals

one sank without a clank: trade-off

Hejnał!

What? Hark! FUCK THE POLISH SWIMMER!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter forty-three

Bidding is, After All, Bidding

 

FUCKING JUDAS!

 

bloodstains on page

 

exeunt, I suppose

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter forty-four

Life Goes On

 

 

I think the worst aspect of the tragedy is that Todd Fullmer never got to see the eviscerated corpse of Mandrake Pizdamonavić on the altar of Kramberger’s last stand. You do, do you? What a clever fucking faux sentiment: he never even knew Pizdamonavić existed, remember? How did you even get this job? What a trite—

Yes, in fact I do, even god loves a good quick garotting…I’ll be damned–look at that little car.

Todd Fullmer often pondered but never explored in print the effects of the assassinations that obsessed him. Of intensemost banality was the thought of how life just goes on, life as a log in a Conrad flood. What matter the manner of Stambulov’s death, what of that marvelous dismemberment? What of what Fullmer called the Latins of little ado? Kennedy’s death did not prevent an additional million Vietnamese deaths. Kramberger’s death did not disturb the placid dragons of Ljubljana, a city quite without the capacity for, let’s conjugate some Slovene here, zloveščitude; Ljubljana may be the least sinister capitol city in the world. And all the reporters of Minsk? Reported on, them that lived.

So perhaps for those who know his story, those who survive him, most poignant is the family in the station wagon, an old paneled American affair, husband driving, mother beside, three freckled red heads with elongated necks gawking at the same goddamn countryside that lingers by every time they have to go to the fucking home in Maribor to see Grandpa, who recognizes none of them and never speaks, though the doctor believes him capable, gawking like meerkats, yet not spotting the accordion car up against the tree as they all looked right on the curve, and yet each spotting just on the fringe of the road a tiny automobile, going their way, apparently under its own power, but far too small to make good time.

‘Look at that car.’

The middle meerkat looked back just in time to make it out: 65 GTO

 

 

 

Epilogue

Warning?

 

Beltch and Obscure are also dead

And no kind bullet to the head

Obscure belched and hemorrhaged

Mack ‘obscured’ for protests pledged

Both, they say, excessively bled

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kramberger with Monkey, Erazemattazzem, ch. 38, 39

We here near the thematic simpanzeree and the veering of the lingo frankly: Our fearless translators merely said there are chapters here we cannot translate properly. So they translated them improperly, but printed the English as an afterword of sorts. The three chapters in question are 39, which for the reason will be plain, 41, which makes use of the rhyming technique of ancient Tamil poetry, and 42 which riffs Ginsberg’s Howl in crusader times. But where is the narration now and who hallucy who? That’s the most quaint of cryptic hints.

Chapter thirty-eight

Going Apeshit

 

 

“Sex occurs in virtually all partner combinations and in a unique variety of positions” and among other behaviours bonobos regularly engage in homosexual sex, face-to-face mating, and masturbation. Sex has many uses other than reproduction: for pleasure, for resolving tensions over food, and as an alternative to confrontation. (De Waal theorises that the origins of these traits lie in the importance of avoiding infanticide: while infanticide is a common cause of death for chimpanzee infants, it seems to be non-existent in bonobos.)

 

Danny Yee, reviewing Frances De Waal’s Bonobo: the Forgotten Ape

 

That’s not an epitaph, friends, and if you really want to understand the tragedy that was Todd Fullmer, you have to follow his mind-frenzy right off the fucking canopy into the abyss.

The name of the hotel in Postojna, a town boasting the ugliest micro-climate in Slovenija, a town of barren hill surrounds, and scrub flats, and that ugliest of all mountains Nanos, almost ‘no nose’ yet looking like nothing if not a goddamn nose of Easter Island, only bigger, was MyMoon, just like that, in English. MyMoon.

Fullmer was exhausted by the time he got there, after hours at the castle, where nothing untoward happened, even if Fullmer had to sit and wait out an alien vertigo, and not just after looking down into the stream from Erazem’s dining room window, three times.  He was exhausted. The effortless mental exercise of piecing together puzzling events had acquired a new strain, a grandiose theme that weighed far more than it appeared, a sort of Nanosian plot beyond the edge of reason, obscured by crisp clean thin air…if only it could be lifted.

Poor fucker.

And then the last thing he needed: at the MyMoon shank, the only English reading was an old National Geographic. He must have read that Danny Yee paragraph fifty times while the fižol juha (bean soup) cooled.

On the 75th read, he opened the bottle from Z.

Later, he would recall the second shot, the decision to take the third upstairs, and the difficulty breaking away from the text, seeing himself ‘back then’ like caramel man, some of the eye actually stuck to the print. And then opening the bottle, pouring a healthy

serving into your classic hotel glass—probably near three deci.

The next 10 to 20 hours were lost to dream, hallucination, and a sad, Jamesian certainty of discovery and vital truth. William James was dreaming the same thing every night, waking with a start, as they say, and it would be, I suppose, but for his going back to sleep so that he woke with the hangover of a man who spent the last 9 hours in the library following a false lead. The answer was simple: keep pencil and paper by the bed, write this Truth down as soon as he wakes up. The dream came as expected the first night the pencil and paper awaited. The next morning James saw what he had written:

Higamous hogamous, woman is monogamous

Hogomous, higomaous man is polygamous.

The effect on Fullmer wore off gradually, as he sat on the edge of his bed holding an invisible cantaloupe, turning it in his hands, chanting: ‘Bobo, bobo, bobo…’–for an hour!

Flashes of the dreams/hallucinations worked on him all day next day. Monkeys. Vaginas. Bullets. Mutton. Caves. He milled about the hotel lobby and restaurant and bar, and not until sleepy time did he return to the bottle and his room.

The following day was virtually a mirror of the first. Fullmer knew something important was happening. And he knew about James.

The rest follows in the next chapters, and grieve not should it appear a grotesque bloodwormblob of a mind torn open. I don’t know how much he wrote at which time, but there are distinct sections. And I don’t know if he wrote these sections in long stretches. Hell, you know crazy folks; he might have been wide awake the whole time. Certainly he left no šlivović behind.

Chapter thirty-nine

Somewhere Valvasorry

 

Painfully priapic, the prickly pallbearer of paltry pigballs pranced apelikely impudent to the enemy camp spilling soup of sweinbeutel swishing upsides the cauldron only a canny homunculus could carry yet not calm.

Grab the dwarf! cried Ravbar.

Seventeen steaming stews of stinking stones astirring, leave me be, responded the pinioned puny spooner.

Seventeen? Queried Ravbar. And they make you to carry each?

Who be more worthy than the worthlessmost. Leave me be.

Release the dwarf! Ravbar reconsidered without rancour.

And the dwarf dwarfwaddled off and up up up for the castle was high in the mist opacitating the cavemouth.

O dragsome winter, we spew, we spray, day after day no one to slay. They do not come, they do not go, yet happy they feast whilst we fam in snow.

Zakaj means why and we don’t know.

Down again comethe dwarf from fog to fro, steaming cauldron sizzling path through snow. Pigballs for the enemy, we beseech the besiegers lest your absence make us fonder of heart, so eat hearty and I will return sixteen times more that all may sup soup, announced the dwarf.

Beutel bearded swillagery slap soaked and sweating soup—and sated—Ravbar rapped wood spoons upon heads left and right.

Vexmani, Sordzwiller: what thinks ye if brains be now up arisen aloft of bowels?

Two thugly tholdiers eyesidled as if two shots apiece rattling the volant. Peace alist.

What! Sons of Magyar mutts! Mute! Like as if a pigball be resided in my beard.

And so it is lord, Vexmani vouched unsafe.

So? Then ye (Sordzwiller), cowardly pusillanigist, take a bite of my beard yet let not hair be besnagged in yer teeth if ye want not be tied and tossed in treacherously trickly torrent subterr—rain yet fed–stream legend states the frigidmost fore of the Frigidus.

Uncomely comedy, puerile punishment; onlookers’ levity fear-veiled: stunishment.

Will swallow, Sordz, will?

As if apple of Adam shook free by burry from tree in hurry. Descent assent!

Good, now we proceed forth aheadward. What have we glained of dwarf terrain? Wherefrom the midge?

A rapist, lord, captured in yon woods or where near woods be not. From east travelling west.

(Yes! I fucked a child! She was my size!)

(Hello!)

Captured? Captured so captive. Captivating. Could cap this crap.

We cudgel the cuddly cunt for revenge?

Simpletons! Anglegrinders! Fartnoise of gaseous thinks…It stinks! Crapulous cohorts besmirch me no more. Bastards! We bridge the midge. Here to yon-there. Espy me espionage engenderment? Erase Erazem eagerly dwarf would to escape these woods. Soft now: when in the course of human events Triestine soldiers freeze in tents, intense intents needs be tendered timely toward abfahrt and aimly bamboozlery for to finally finish off the menemy. Or if nought be nary but a one, Erazem and vamoose.

Vamoose?

Viennese. Spoken with contempt for to valorize the vouchfor.

Meaning—

He knoweth not what but beget and begone.

Truth be told. Miracle behold. Fargonetooth, ye understood your Lord. Bote a yoos guys.

Bugeared smiles of teethgapes ate the night’s frosty air.

On abouts the last dish deliver we nab said dwarf and praytell he will tell what is to tell and we then send Erazem to dark darkly hell. Said Sordzwiller.

Meanwhile back in the castle…his tormentual soul all embrassle, Prince Erazem brooded with gloombeglommed glee over goatgut. Behind him on the wall his portrait with two wolves in all, sat erect and stout Otto II and Lazar, oblivious in portrait and life to sarcasm and strife, yet the dour grandeur of the Prince exceedeth the portratoor’s normal tour of subject, for his grim begrizzled exceemal grunge, whirlpooled eyes of vision notwithstanding a man of his standing. All in all, and whatall if that not all, an accurate portrait, for this prince of men above his men in pain had one mellow plaint, for he knew well that men of kith and ken were naught but men and men were naught but beast endenned. His den.

Bruno anglegrinded Baba the Wench into the baldspotting corner as was his want and her wish it won’t, whilst his other loyal grum, Babić sported the dwarf outboundward with buskin in buttskin—as was his want.

(another gherkin in my jerkin)

Mutterith Erazem into his gizzard golaž, the dwarf will betray me. Bruno will deny me. Babić will weep falls of falsity over my fall—slap slobbery syphilism—here in my sylvan crepuscularium. And that is not all. Goat in gut maketh me groan, good god I am engorged yet foreget me meal not, for I am fully filled and the lower of the bowels beltray me. I must evacuate yet I feels eviscerate. A drum for a tum. I needs be oiled. Seven days brez kaka. Tis not natural. I shit you not and I shit not. O groaning guttering gut, sing to me of release and lightening of geese. Ja, twas geese yesterday. O fault be not mine, but I divine the betrayal of surcease of blackmail, and turning of coat I foresee Bruno on boat in yon Adriat Sea with Babiči cock going pee, foregone and forgot, Prince Erazem is not an historical figure to be.

How far is Ravbar? A turd up his nose, a Viennese cure, outfoxed him I have, but his plight is a spur to my generosity and gall, a stone is his pall, I bear him a year, his weakness is mirth for the free man who so near bringeth down dozens of deer. Venison in plenison, I feed my foe, yet ask him to leave and the answer is no…I guess I behaved badly in Veen out of my natural spleen…A turd to the Lord a turd to his men, who wake up enturded to smell it again. Such is the way after drunken fray. Like it or not a turd is your snot. And my best, yest, the best of my men, pardon if mention Bruno and Babić again, yet back then they were with me, no dreams of the sea, a permanent place in Ostro-phallocracy. Dipships, dolts, damn dung dangerees, turning their coats for the promise of sea. Ravbar will roast them in Vipava vallee.

Aye but the dwarf, from where did he spring?

Good lord! Is such pallor of mien and demeanor in our lord of the manor such as to beglory our well-crafted banner?

Ja! Suck not a thumb what wouldst befit up yer bum.

Even apt question from where springeth dwarf ill-betimed for the dwarf sprungst now forth.

Ravbar to the dwarf said: but two names may have thee, one be slave and t’other be free. Slave to Erazem or free made by me.

Something I’ve thought, said the dwarf to the men, something I’ve thought of again and again. But as I am a dwarf and great lord is thee tis not natural eye to eye for us be. Have these brutes put me aground.

A point there is made. Sordzwiller, Vexmani, gentlemen knights, diselevate the guest, fear not flight til behest.

Truer woo of word hast ne’er been spoke, for I have up my hump for Erazem one joke.

A joke! Meanst thou plan?

A mean plan yet a joke.

Feasible?

And pleasable.

This not be funnery?

Nay, stunnery if accurate gunnery.

High swinery?

Assuming cannonic refinery.

We have the balls!

I’ll let that pass.

He means can—

Speak not lest ye be broken. Dwarfspeak.

Hearty laughter forged a gorge to rising, whereupon the midge made in ape mode a lightning leap to Vex and Sordz, gibbonging their heads like as if gongly gourds. They fell to flat, by nature groped up on all fours, vertiginous and vomitus, weltanschauungs ne’er to be as before.

Dwarf or monkey be ye be?

I be exhausted with midge mirth that strength of swallowing insult gassed in me and blew as a fructivourous fart, a new ardence.  Amends if necessary.

Nay, tis good for the goonery of me gang. Ha! Fructivorous indeed, I shall not insult thee. Sordzwiller, Vexmani, eradicate eructification and be gone. Now, mitey midge, may we proceed forth ahead ravnostly? If I be clarified ye be calamitously, nay, callously, crapped upon by Earitable Erazem. Story. Clap clap.

Aye, most downtroddenly donned a dingbat and shitshat, tossed here, tossed there, wrastling wroom and wolf’s lair, cookpot steamed and buttocks reamed, anglegrinded by hound (wolf) and nightly bound (Babić), slapt round, face forced in shit on ground, ‘Toss me the midge, ha ha, dropped him’ til bones be sore and bruise galore—subtile jokery, nothing more. Ha! I have a plan. Yet only one man needs pay for this midi-evil play.

Might I intrude a word regarding this lord of a turd? Hast he a kennel of cattle, a den of deer, a goatroom of goats? How does he feed us, us besieging unfortunate hapless harriers, bravely bearing the barriestmost of barriers, castle on high above gorge before cave, get him the Veen’s said, make of him a slave or cadaver, take him take him, no what or no matter. Tis done, said I in my ignoble ignorammy, my army is strong and my fire is flammy. Yet a day’s march we make this castle to take and chagrin is our meet when we find wherein is he in. Bombs and bazoodles, brimstones and brass, yet Erazem laughs and says kiss my ass. A fondness developed, I grant, him for me yet not without oppositely. A turdstuffer yes, a violent turk, but what of this besiegement, what the fuck will work?  As a man, is he, is he different from me?

About that we will see.

Nay, Dwarf, you are safe if I can trust thee. Pray answer.

High above, in the forest, a wind starts like a mad fart and blows down to the sea, from alpinic cold through Vipava vallee. Up here we are under unsuspecting are ye, up here we are still under some high forestry. Centuries pass, millenia flee, the Roman the Goth the Venezian armees, til you and your men and all stick to vallee whilst the autochthon and local live as previously, in cave mouth, on hilltop, and if necessary, in alpinic slope in time of hungree.

Riddle me not, for I may not patient be. Riddle me not, I am unlettered, you see.

A cave is a hole and a hole is a cave, but a hole in its whole is not a cave if you brave the ascent to top where wild animal roam free—until they meet arrows of Erazem whilst trying to flee (and full of fleas they be). You see? A vast panoply of game, a wild menagerie. Where? Up there? (I forgot bear.) Don’t look you won’t see, but the forest is vast, believe you in me. Yet Erazem is clever, the most clever of men, eventually Ravbar will kindle his ken, so here we have the dwarf: a purpose for me! A narrower crevasse, further in, further in, and here’s his story: ‘When I was a child I chased after a viper what wouldst flee until lodged deep in a cleft, hissing and pissing and hoping I’d left, but a stick I grabbed and poked that vipee, poked him stoked him to bring him to me, but he hissed and he pissed and I skewered him straight, when I figured his brain defect for him it was late. So you see dwarfly dicker, what I need of thee, to explore every crevasse to find one enough agape to allow an escape from this perpetual fartaround with Ravbar and his Triestineree.’ Otto II, wolf one, nibbled me foot to foot eating cheese, Lazar, wolf two, sniffed and gnawed my well stuffed, overpawed codpiece, nearing that flare of flesh that is reason to be, if crawling with fleas. Yet, lord, it is true escape is possiblee, escape thirteen kilometers to Vipava vallee, the river it runs, it runs I suspect from Erazem’s folly, it runs thirteen kilos underground, don’t you see, but midge is my size, and dwarf is my fate, and cleft after cleft Erazem would send me up viperlyate, til lodged under Nanos, til crevassed and harassed as his childhood viper, to  poked by stick after stick as if neither human nor beast, no more of a man that burnt pig at a feast—and that is not tossed in to engrabulate the tale, for many a night I slept or did not suspended over a pail—cookpot, really, a holy for my family, cookpot, the symbol of janissary—but that’s another tale. The time is nigh for Erazem shall send me up high, up high methinks to die. Do you see?

O Frigidus Midgidus, I feel for thee, but nought make it nought, for I have but one enduree: to reduce Erazem to obediencey.

Nay, he will die, he will die, don’t you see, capture his host, his spectre, his ghost, is but insane fantasy, but capture his corpse, now that I can see. Nay, that I promise thee. Yet the time to act is nigh, for his diet and contumely have combined to block his intestinery. The lord can’t shit, yet shit he much must, and so does he sit for hours on yon pottery.

Yon?

Yon levo, left, separate so no stinkery, I am surprised you surmised not this cave anatomy.

That? That there? That there is…That there is a…That there is a toity? That there is a toity trap?

Trap indeed. Godspeed bungstuffed tough. Ye shall be buried heavier than yer size merits, fodder for cannons, cannons that ferret yer throne as you sit there alone, pushing and grunting, cursing gravity, groaning and moaning bemoaning your gravidy. The great man hath not shat for a week. Next vacation Erazem will be away for hours, suffering a buffeting from the meat he devours at speed in such haste as if afraid it will waste and yet tis his waist where roast like rest most. Ah, shot on the pot, his kingdom for a turd will be his last word, oh the curses that byzantine cavemaze to the ears of his befeared. Laugh not lest ye be flushed or gorgethrown. Now I leave you, Erazem begrieve you not, just be sure a straight shot. When he goeth to pot a room on same level—there with windows beveled, a flag I will post and the shitter bedeviled, the toity engrevelled and this siege be not, your liege.

Meanwhile, back in the castle…Erazem with intestines did wrassle still with bowels encrusted with last week’s swill, his temper thwarted by philosophy, looking inward he did not see dreck but betrayeree.

Poor bastard.

Human nature being a thing fickle, a leader who can crap naught, not even a trickle, balls gigantic, his inwardly frantic gastritial pain to subordinates overly plain so that each sought what each could gain if this battle and game was destined to turn out the same as previous imperial hijinkery, they whispered gaseous high stinkery treasonous ass-savings while Babić anglegrinded Baba in the corner.

The dwarf will betray me.

Bruno will deny me.

Anglegrinder Babić will anglegrind to Ravbar and himself be anglegrinded til death does its part.

My kingdom for a turd, he said, and with that word he wandered toward his toiletour fate, his bowels overriding his dwarf-fear. Alas, too late to prevent the shenanigans of that midgety gent who burned a candle in the room of the wolves and place a flag in the window to show Ravbar it was time to let go the cannons.

Meanwhile on the pot, the shit was there but would not descend to ravine as if mere to vex the spleen of the lord of the secret riverrine, Erazem instinctualizing gravity undiscovered yet function not yet a theory debunktual plugs metaphorical dog turds into the nose of a devilish god: My kingdom for a turd! is heard through byzantine passages where linger underlings quiet, afraid even to sing, perhaps the midge wouldst crawl up rectum with trowel to dislodge the blockage in byzantine bowel: O I wouldst rather be blasted from this paradise double-crossed by treacherous nature, stomach betraying, all is lost, for eventual logic leads to giant bag of shit if not soon dislogic…Die, die, I would rather die…Hark, they are at it again, a cannon blasts—when will these men I offer live it up give it up, pain again, breath now shitty, a lord a genius on the pot of self pity—Hark!

And the toity was no more.

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

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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.