News from the Locarno Festival

Day 8: The Devil In Disguise

Day 8: The Devil In Disguise


© Chiara Mirelli


The following text is available on Roger Avary’s blog.

In the dream he was back home and for some inexplicable reason there was a shirtless neo-Nazi skinhead there who was refusing to leave.  

The Canadian

tried to politely ask him to get out, but as most people know Nazis don’t tend to take polite hints.  The skinhead, who had tattoos of swastikas and tottenkopfs on his face, had what could be described as anger management issues and the slightest wrong word or sideways glance would send him into a rage.  

The Canadian

had dealt with his fair share of Aryans while incarcerated, and had always maintained a safe distance from their volatility — but this one was pacing around his family room, and going through his refrigerator.  Enough was enough.  When 

the Canadian

insisted that the skinhead leave immediately the situation escalated rapidly and he grabbed a large butcher’s knife and rushed him.  

The Canadian

tried to hold him back, but the knife planted just beneath his solar plexus, about an inch and a half deep.  He pushed him away and pulled the planted knife out.  The skinhead fell backwards against the kitchen table and then grabbed a much smaller carving knife and proceeded to rush 

the Canadian

again, screaming with a fury.

The Canadian had practiced knife throwing for hours years before while bored on a job and instinctively threw the butcher’s knife at the skinhead, planting it solidly and deeply into the chest of the approaching man — stopping him cold.  The skinhead knew he was beyond survival, and suddenly his eyes looked like those of a lost child — he collapsed onto the kitchen floor, the crimson blood draining onto the linoleum far too quickly.

Now, normally in a dream one might be awake by the shock of the events at this point, but the Canadian didn’t wake — and could feel the pain of the vertical gash in his upper belly.  He sat back into a chair and opened his shirt, revealing the open wound.  He tried to hold it closed, and wondered how deep it was and if it had pierced any vital organs.  Despite the sharp pain he didn’t think he was critically wounded — maybe that he was slightly over-weight had worked in his favor?

Still not waking, and feeling increasing pain and worry, he made his way to the bathroom where there was a first aid kit.  On the way he stumbled and bumped into the stereo, turning it on — the radio immediately began to play The Devil In Disguise by Elvis Presley.  Under the bright fluorescents of the bathroom he took from the first aid kit some butterfly stitches and used one hand and his teeth to peel one free from the adhesive as his other hand was busy pinching the open wound shut.  After he had three stitches clumsily holding his wound closed he took the brown bottle of hydrogen peroxide and wet some cotton with it.  When he dabbed the wound it began to sizzle, foaming white along the fringe of the wound, and that’s when he awoke.

He had only slept three hours but was wide awake.  The first thing he did was to feel his stomach where the wound had been in the dream to make sure that it wasn’t real.  He still felt the pain and wondered if perhaps he had been bitten by an insect or something in his sleep, but upon examination he determined that there was nothing wrong with him.  Still, it felt as though the wound was still there, hiding underneath the skin.

During lunch with the Jury the Curator introduced him to an assassin/thief who wasn’t in contention for the Prize, who went by the name Crease.  She was beautiful and brave, with bright red lipstick and ’70′s-style sunglasses.  She had performed her job in a number of major cities, from Rio to Chicago to Los Angeles to Beijing, and had recently been nearly kidnapped and killed in Leme by the Origami Syndicate, an organized crime group.  She told the Canadian that she was being hunted by the Origami Syndicate,

That day they had a particularly full day, assessing the works of an introverted American known as the Texanthe Austrian, and the mentor of the Lady From Paris — the Exterminating Angel.

He was exhausted and on his way back when he retrieved a message on his cellphone — it was the Curator“they’ve poisoner her!  I need your help!”

“Wait — poisoned who?!” said the Canadian, trying to sound calm while surrounded by vacationing Italians eating gelato.

“They’ve poisoned Crease with some kind of unknown plant.  We think it’s a rapid acting Phytoalexin derivative of MRSA.  It’s deadly and she’s dying.”  His English was spoken at a speed that only a German could perform.

“Where are you now?” asked the Canadian as he climbed into a cab, something the Jury Secretary had warned him not to do.

“We’re both at the Doctor-Burgermeister Gilardi!” The Canadian had never imagined that the Curator could become so unraveled.  He handed the driver a hundred Euro note and tapped him on the shoulder, “Veloce!”

The driver had once been an ambulance driver, and he knew the roads well.  He peeled through the streets at speeds that caused the Canadian to put his seatbelt on.  The roads were narrow and single lane, however there was two-way traffic on them that made navigation a continuous game of harrowing chicken every time a vehicle came at them head-on.  Somehow, his driver always won.

The Canadian arrived at the Doctor-Burgermeister’s office which had a brass plaque that read “Maladies della pellet Transmissione Sessuale.”

The Canadian entered and found the corpse of the Doctor laying face down on the floor of his clinic, six bullet holes in his back.  The Canadian was about to search the place when he heard a moan from behind the desk — it was the Curator, slumped onto the floor, his face beaten, “They got her–”

“Who?” asked the Canadian as the Curator slipped a warm Glock into his hand.  He handed it back having no use for weapons.

“The Origami Syndicate.  The Doctor gave her an antidote, but she’s still unconscious in a coma-state.  They’ve taken her and are going to get rid of the body…in the river.  Hurry!”

The Canadian hot-wired the Doctor’s Bentley and drove it fast down the hill, clipping the mirrors of parked cars as he made his way down to the place where the river bend met the bend in the road.  He arrived just as what he figured was the vehicle of the Origami Syndicate drove off, a cloud of dust kicking up from the shoulder of the road.  He hastily parked and ran down the grass-covered hillside.

Down by the bank it was placid and peaceful water, the surface like glass, but the Canadian stopped without jumping in to retrieve her body — he knew this place.

It was too late.

This place in the river where the surface of the water was calm was deceptively dangerous, because this was a part of the river known as the Tott Spiral, where the strong river currents coming down from the water would pull under even the best of swimmers.  Despite the dangerous undertow, the surface of the water was calm.  Her body was gone, and likely impossible to find until it surfaced hundreds of meters down river.  If he jumped in he would be dead to.  She was gone.

It had been a long day, and he hadn’t made it to the island as a result.  He returned to his hotel room to discover that the maid had once again pulled the two single beds apart from each other.  He liked to have at minimum a full queen-size bed, even if it was just the illusion of one.  So he pushed the beds together again.

Roger Avary
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