Tag Archives: Homage to Borges

Dark Connections : End Game

        Dark Connections -Episode 5


( In which the protagonists find their way out of the rabbit hole only to get themselves lost in a labyrinth.)


Exiting the elevator on the fifth floor of the Hitchcock Building, Inspector Ruyter and Sergeant Brannigan were intending to drop in on Mr.John Smith one last time.That is if there were an office for the both of them to drop into.


“You press the right button back there?” queried Ruyter,his usual insouciance giving way to discernible irritability.
“Sure I did, fifth floor,the numeral five being on the button,boss”.
“In that case would you mind telling me where the Overseas Acquisitions office has gotten to?”


But before Brannigan could utter a response a new dramatis persona, blue overalled and carrying a mop and bucket,interjected.
“Can I help youz twos,you look kinda lost!”

Ruyter and Brannigan exchanged facial expressions of disbelief and simultaneously proferred their bronze badges to the interloper.”And you are..?
“I’m the building Supervisor,Jarvis, so what’s the beef fellas,you lookin for someone?”
“This is the fifth floor right? we’re here calling on Overseas Acquisitions of Continental Development who’ve also got an office up on the seventh”.
The building Super just looked at the pair of them as though they’d just preached the Tridentine Mass in Latin for all he knew.
“Never heard of either of them”.

Ruyter retrieved John Smith’s business card and showed the Super.”Well? ” prompted Brannigan as the man in overalls studied the card.
“Well what,officers?”
“Where have they got to?”
“Whose got where?”
“You read what’s on the card?”
“Sure I can read,but can you?”
This is what it must be like for a dyslexic to fill in a crossword puzzle thought Ruyter..

“Meaning what exactly?”
“I hate to inform youz twos but you’re in the wrong building,this is the Chandler Building,never heard of the Hitchcock before;you even in the right part of the city?”
They weren’t hearing this.Any of this thought Ruyter.

“How long you been the Super in this building?”
“Five years I guess”.

“Five years,really, that long, listen bud we were here on official business just over a week ago with this company in two offices”.
“So,how should I know that you were,I been on vacation two weeks, came back in this morning”. Game,set and match to the guy in the blue overalls carrying a mop and bucket.


After a little persiflage,he gave leave for Ruyter and Brannigan to look round what was now a deserted office on the fifth floor of what was not even now the Hitchcock building.
Hardly a trace of anything that remotely suggested any kind of human activity had taken place these past two weeks in the Marie Celeste of an office.
Hardly, except for the Bankers’ boxes marked “Rehearsal tapes”.The boxes that held those reel to reels the both of them had ended up listening to and making copious notes on throughout the night.


Just two voices.One male,the other female.Was this Ariadne’s thread out of the labyrinth?
“Why should it make a difference?” enquired the female voice.
“Because it does”.
“A courier’s a courier.”
“No,you’re wrong there, this was a courier,this is now Von Raubwitz who happens to be a courier”.
“The courier,the courier up to yesterday was a Johannes Schmidt,how does it being Von Raubwitz change things?”
“Because we tried killing each other back then when our people got to that abandoned railway truck out near Kiel”.
“But you told me that you weren’t even looking for any rail truck”.
“We got intel on Von Raubwitz and his detail trying for Kiel and a U-Boat out of the war.True to character he was also taking care of one last piece of business,tidying up,drawing a line under the profit and loss columns.A handful of children of the last scientists on Hitler’s A-bomb and chemical warfare programs,the very last of the hostage bargaining chips”.


“But you got them out ,you saved them,they ended up transferred safely to the War Orphans Foundation right here in this City for goodness sakes”.
“Yeah,you’re right but what I didn’t know was Raubwitz got out too.”


Ruyter and Brannigan took longer and longer respite breaks between tapes.What were they listening too? Autobiographical confessions or what?


Hours later it was already morning and Brannigan called his own time out :”I’m sorry but I’m done for now maybe get back on this,I don’t know, this afternoon maybe?”
Ruyter barely shrugged and pleaded with his sidekick just to finish on this one tape for now.


The female tone again.
“So how do we do this,Skip?”
“We let the play run as is but we create a scenario,a narrative,that we fit on to it.And for that we do like we did in Vienna last year.”
“The whole Stanislavsky bit?staying in character even after the show? I really hated that,believe me.”
“I do Toots,I do, but full on Stanislavsky works and we got to stay in character and follow the script 24/7, there will be no letting up,no letting the mask slip; once the Cops get  their teeth into this they must be allowed to follow our screenplay they way we’re going to play it.”
The female laughs, “Any chance of an Oscar nomination this time,do you reckon?”

Neither of them took a break after that.Brannigan checked out the War Orphans Foundation and Ruyter followed up with the City Coroner on the prelim autopsy.

The early evening allowed them to tally up on their endeavours.Brannigan found the Foundation in secluded grounds down by the lake shuttered these past few weeks and the ten or so foreign war orphans relocated somewhere in Canada where the paper trail ran out.Ruyter got a final count on the stab wounds,thirty.

“Still don’t get it boss a ritual killing like that”.

“You read much Brannigan?”

“You mean like on killings?”

“No, no exactly,now take me for instance I love detective fiction.Agatha Christie.She wrote Murder on the Orient Express – I’m surprised none of the Hollywood studios has picked up on it yet anyhow this perp in the book gets his comeuppance on a train,gets knifed pretty bad,by a dozen different people all of whom are connected to this guy’s past deeds”..
Brannigan pondered that for a moment and concluded, “Well just shows you how art imitates life”.

Post Script:


Six months later..


In the art deco labyrinth of Buenos Aires’ main railway station on a languid summer’s afternoon; if anyone had been paying attention to a nattily attired -in a light tan suit -business guy in his 40s as he made his way along the concourse they might’ve noticed him stop abruptly as the station announcement chimed:
 ” Will a passenger Senor Pedro Diaz make their way to the Station Master’s office por favor…”
Entering its odd library like ambience, the Man announced himself, ” Buenos dias, I am Pedro Diaz,you have just put out a call for me?”

Taking the receiver, a voice causes him to have a pang of existential dread, he recognises the voice:

“Hi ya! you the real Pedro Diaz this time?
To which the Man responds ,
“Sorry,wrong number”
 and walks out of the office.

Brief Notes on a Suicide Foretold

When you wave goodbye to the World,

for the last time,

don’t tell them that you’ll never be back;

It only makes the world sad

to hear such things,makes it feel

sadder than it already is;

So when you do wave goodbye,

goodbye, goodbye, forever and anon,

don’t tell them anything except

that you’re looking forward to some

time away and having a great time,

and that you’ll write.

A Mexican Interlude

The town,
its labyrinthine streets
unthreaded,
shrouded in cordite
machine-gunned bodies
drape over the fountain,
their sangre lending
a certain hyperbole
to an otherwise
lacklustre afternoon;
The guns’ kinetic burlesque
unrehearsed and inevitable,
exhausted their lives
of possibility;
leaving them mime artists
now without animation,
residue of others’
ulterior motives,
counters spent in
an inexplicable game
where primeval forces
rigorously determine
the fate of unfortunates
and the market price
of certain produce.

Ciudad desierta ( Deserted City )

Mythic streets evaporate at dawn,

leaving only complacent memory

to recall imperfectly those scraps

and oddities of ephemera that

defy rational explanation;

a pristine franked letter posted

in Huddersfield 1841;several ornate

glass marbles that were a birthday

present to some Rhineland princeling;

the signature of Thomas Alva Edison

on a page awkwardly torn from a

Hotel register omitting its name,

the building itself demolished long ago;

a skeletal frame of a Penny Farthing

half buried amid the inconsequential

detritus of the communal refuse tip;

a yellowing poster of a once well known

brand of cough syrup,the discernible lines

of a now defunct city tram route;

And somewhere,the presence of an

inveterate aesthete and poet of civic

renown struggling to evoke a nostalgia

amongst those who had not read Borges

nor knew of his blindness.

The Statue

The city of Concepcion,

its physical parameters circum-

scribed by conjectural development,

its identity arrived at through

an intricate labyrinth of

historically determined steps;

At its heart the dominant

Plaza of the Conquistadors

abutted by an inspiring

Madre de Dios Cathedral,

lending a certain gravitas to

an otherwise lacklustre civic space;

And in the Plaza’s geometric centre,

a benignly neglected equestrian

statue of Concepcion’s Founder,

the breastplated and intensely proud

The Duke Juan Aguila-Alvarez;

the barely legible inscription

at the base of ” A.D.1543 ”

obscured by an injudicious

accretion of plentiful guano

nourishing for agrarian soil,

but not for civic masonry.

Inconsequential

Of all the city’s streets
there is one
the name of which
he cannot now recall,
the street where he encountered
that languid mulatta beauty,
her cornflower dress
the emblem of summer;
the taste of her,
the taste of wine
spices and licorice:
hidden amongst his life’s ephemera
is a humid verandah evening
lit by a glimmering radio dial,
its lyrical stream wrapping
the cloying air with
a faded era and style,
of Ella Fitzgerald,Ray Charles and Sinatra
to which he swayed and lost himself
with her in the taste of wine,
spices and licorice,
and in the morning
he was found
on that street
the name of which
he never knew

Maria Alvarez :Scenes from an Undistinguished Life

Maria Alvarez embroidered her
life with meticulous detail,
consistent in her affectations
she accumulated the outward
appearance of savoir-faire;
her aspirations,unfulfilled
and unfulfillable,lent their
careless trajectory to her life;
whenever vicissitudes threatened,
a laconic smile and something
of hubris at the corner of the mouth
would sustain her amid the disillusionment;
such was the order of her life
until the careless trajectory
of a point three-two bullet
bisected her spouse’s slumbering frame,
setting her free from the borrowed melancholy
in which she had sought refuge
from joy,uncertainty and herself.

Maria Alvarez : ( The Spanish version )

(Translated by Marlena Abadcastello of
the Cervantes Institute,Manchester)

Maria Alvarez bordo su vida
con cuidadosas puntadas;
constante en su afectacion
acummulo la aparencia
externa del savoir-faire;
sus aspiraciones nunca cumplidas
y sin poder cumplirse,prestaron
una trayectoria indiferente a su vida;
cuando la amenazaban vicisitudes.
Una sonrise laconica y algo de
orgullo en el recoveco de su boca
la sostenian en medio de toda su desilusion:
asi transcurria su vida
hasta que la trayectoria indiferente
de una punto tres du dos balas
disecciono en dos su cuerpo durmiente de esposa,
liberandola de su melancolia prestada
en la cual habia buscado refugio
de la alegria,inseguridad y de si misma.

 

Encounter with a Stranger

The Stranger with the shabby overcoat
and hangdog expression asked me
if I could spare him a few reminiscences,
I replied that the change in my pockets
changes with the changing tide,
though I could offer him
some reflections instead;

The Stranger sat back in his chair
ordered himself another absinthe
and began whistling some nameless tune
while he waited for his drink to arrive;

” If all our pain and sorrow
only came on the morrow
would we set the alarm late
or not at all?
taking the chance that
vicissitudes had all
somehow passed us by
while we were fast asleep.”

” And were we to store all
our tears shed in our lives,
how big would the bottle have to be?
Could we claim back some pennies
if we returned it empty? ”

The Stranger glanced askance
at his watch where time had
stopped years ago,
he wondered aloud where
the waiter might’ve got to
with his drink?

” If we don’t feel the suffering of others,
how will we know if we have blood in our veins? ”

The Stranger got up,
bid me adieu;
after he’d left
I saw in the mirror that
there was no longer a reflection there
of me.

Notes on a Meditation

On a bench in a park

in a distant corner of a city

a solitary figure sits

lost in a labyrinth of memories;

Thoughts traverse the long distances

between the days each one in turn

a palimpsest of the one before;

Perhaps if he recites the special words

in their correct order three times

quickly with his eyes shut,

then he’ll hear again the sounds of,

a harbour,

the keening and crying of gulls,

children playing in the sand;

Perhaps if he can make any word

mean anything at any given time

to anyone then he’ll see again,

the colour of summer parasols

twirling in rhythm to familiar

melodies from the bandstand;

a solitary figure sits in a park

on a bench in a distant corner of

a city lost in the memories of a labyrinth.

A Nocturne & Several Impossibilites

Of all the rooms in your parents’ house,

there is now one which

you’ll never enter again,

nor see within those

mementoes that once

signified your childhood;

There are now some days hidden from you,

that can no longer be retrieved

by searching for them in your diary;

And in the early hours of morning,

the words to a melody

that haunts your thoughts,

are now lost beyond recall

forever.