Evil blared through the telephone today, and it didn’t have a lot to say: “a body has been found in the Wallraf-Richartz – third floor, the Early Rennaisance collection. Get there.”
There, in front of the Altarpiece of St. Sebastian, the – it must be said – rather effeminate patron saint of soldiers, plagues, arrows and athletes, a non-denominational death ritual was observed: sword in hand, guaranteeing entrance into Valhalla; a penny in each eye for Charon; and an origami elephant, sacred in the East; all which point to Ακόμα δεν απέθανα κι ανάψαν τα κεριά μου.
This was the death ritual to which Ahmad ibn Fadlan did testify – and I mean in the Negro sense, in the African Methodist Episcopalian sense. "Ακόμα δεν απέθανα κι ανάψαν τα κεριά μου"? Origami elephants? What to make of this puzzle? Easy. Gaff was here, deranged and rearranging.
Residues, echoes of the great crime, are left behind, most notably in the sick spike in the read-out of the vibration-measuring device, which corresponded roughly with thud of the body hitting the ground.
ibn Fadlan knew that to be called upon to detect was to be called upon to commit alchemy, to transmute ordinary materials into something of true merit. Clues, ordinary materials, therefore, are scolded and tortured into giving up their secrets.
The crime, when stripped of the pain it caused, is merely a ganache, a glaze, on an otherwise unremarkable decade.
a second chance at love
Written on Friday, 11 June 2010