QOnce again, the scene repeats itself: I feel the gnat landing inside my ear. Its humming noise wakes me up and I desperately attempt to crush it under my finger before it flies away. After a few seconds, however, I hear it flying close to the ceiling, almost roaring with malice, taunting me from the safety of the all-pervading darkness.
“Damn you, you little piece of crap!”, I yell while smashing my fist on the table. “Just come back and you’ll see that I’ll do to you. Why on earth do these little sons of filth even exist?”
Sensing an irritation on my wrist, I pull back my sleeve and notice that my entire forearm is covered with little bites, some of which are already swollen. Unable to control myself, I throw a punch into the empty plastic cup sitting in front of me. Almost instantly, the room brightens up and I hear the sound of the ventilation system being turned on. A few minutes later a noise of heavy footsteps is heard coming from the corridor. A shiver runs down my spine and I immediately regret my foolishness. A key is being turned slowly inside the door lock as I attempt to keep my composure. Suddenly, the door opens and a man of below-average size, wearing a maroon-coloured suite and a flashy yellow tie, enters the room. Slightly puzzled by the oddity of his appearance, I stare at him with curiosity. The man browses through a stack of documents that he is carrying along with him, and, after seemingly having found what he was looking for, takes a seat on the opposite side of the table. As soon as he settles down on the chair, the door of the cell closes with a bang, making us both jump in surprise..
We stare at each other with mistrust….
….with mistrust, after what the man lays down a sheet of paper, covered with dense and barely readable writing, on the table between us. Despite the fact that I am unable to clearly distinguish the printed characters on the page, I instantly recognize the document in question, and start feeling intensely uncomfortable and dizzy. Noticing that something is wrong, the man stares at me with a puzzled look on his face. “Are you alright?”, he asks in a vaguely compassionate voice. I barely manage not to fall off my chair by grabbing the sides of the table. “My throat is terribly dry. Could I please have something to drink?”, I ask in a shivering voice. The man stands up and starts walking towards the back of the room, where a large cupboard is standing, which he opens abruptly. He pulls out a crate with a cast iron lid from the shelf, and carries it back to the table. He then opens the large padlock on top of the crate, flings its lid open, and then makes the whole container slide across the table in my direction. I immediately cry out in surprise. The man stares at me with a malicious look in his eye. “Would you mind some rosé wine, white wine, gin tonic?”, he asks with a smile.
The following hours are endless and exhausting. At Just about the time when the third course is about to be served, I feel my stomach starting to reach its point of saturation. “It’s enough boss. I give up. Do with me what you please. », I say in a defeated tone. The man stares at me with implacable coldness, his rosy cheeks being the only thing betraying his true state. Not daring to look at him in the eye, I try to focus on my beef stew dish, even though its watery sauce is burning the inside of my mouth.
At the start of the fifth course, I firmly decide to give up. My tormenter, whose gaze is now strangely vacant, is sipping on a tall glass of broth, probably as a means to come back to his senses. I start to think of running away, but remember that Pheasant Island Penitentiary is a place from which no one has ever escaped. I sit back on my chair and wait for the time to pass by.
After about half an hour of silence, my interrogator seems to be coming to life again. After an additional thirty minutes, his gaze comes to rest upon the printed page, that has been sitting in the centre of the table for all this time. The man adjusts his tie and stares at me with great intensity. He clears his throat and then starts talking.
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- So, as I said in regards to this case, I will ask you to answer my questions with perfect honesty. Do you concede to being the author of this present document? (He holds it right under my nose).
- I indeed do concede to it.
- Very well. And do you concede that this document is indeed a contract between the House of Nostra Koza and the Office of the Presidency of the Supreme Council of the Nation?
- I do concede to it.
- Good. We seem to be making great progress. (As if to thank me for my cooperation, he fills up my glass with some fine Spanish red wine, and then continues.) Do you hold the opinion that a contract is something that a house of good repute must firmly honour?
- I do indeed believe it.
- In other words, do you believe that the wants and desires of your customers are a matter that you simply can’t ignore?
- Absolutely, I do.
- Do you consider the Office of the Presidency of the Supreme Council of the Nation as an ordinary client of yours?
- At the time, I did believe it was, yes.
- (He seems to take offense.) At the time, you say? And what do you think in retrospect?
- Well, considering the attitude of the representatives of the Supreme Council in regards to our House and to the art that we practice there, I am unfortunately no longer in a position to consider
that institution as a client worthy of trust and consideration. My answer, retrospectively, would
therefore be a clear and absolute no.
- (He takes offense once again). Would that explain why you haven’t delivered the three latest costumes that we ordered, including, most importantly, the one destined for the Supreme Guide of the Nation?
- That’s indeed quite possible.
- I will ask that you provide clear answers.
- Well, then, the answer will have to be yes, absolutely.
- Are you aware that you are violating the constitutional laws of the Nation by opposing the will of the Supreme Council and of its Leader.
- I am perfectly aware of that, yes.
- (He pauses for a minute in order to assess the situation.) Do you know what is the penalty incurred by any person held responsible for that crime?
- I do know it, yes. That’s perhaps the first thing that we learned in school.
- And what exactly are you blaming the representatives of the Supreme Council for, when it comes to their alleged lack of respect for the principles of your House?
My eyes brighten up as I vainly attempt to repress a smile…
- I don’t quite blame them for any action that they might have personally attempted against the rules of our House. These are, after all, perfectly well-educated gentlemen. What they represent and symbolize is, I should say, somewhat unimportant. We, at Nostra Koza, have indeed accepted the fact that one should learn to live with the institutions of their time. What has somehow disturbed us is a trait of character which we have unmistakably observed in all of them, without exception, a kind of arrogant drunkenness springing from their sense of absolute dominance and power, which each and every one of their moves and words betrays at every moment. The abuse of power is not a consequence of one’s position in the scheme of things, but rather the result of a defect in the very fabric of their conscience, which causes them to believe that some men are, by way of their sole privilege, in a better position than others in the face of the great universal constants: desire, destiny, death. We, for our part, intend to oppose this very notion of things.
- I think that I am starting to understand. Should I therefore assume that the Supreme Council will no
longer be included on the list of your clients?
- Your assumption is correct.
- Right, I will take note of this.
- (I once again hear the gnat flying around my head and yell out a cry of exasperation. I beat the air with my two hands in an attempt to push the irritating creature away. In the course of things, I inadvertently spill the plastic cup sitting in front of me, and its content goes splashing all over the shirt and tie of my interrogator. The man suddenly goes wild, stands up, walks up to me and grabs me by the collar of my shirt. I slap him on the cheek and start screaming.) For the love of God, guards, protect me from this animal!
- (A guard comes running into the room, goes up to my opponent and hits him squarely on the side of the head with a large baton. He then lays his hands on my shoulders and pushes me out of the cell with uncompromising force. I don’t even attempt to resist. Much later, after sobering down a bit, I realise that I have been locked up in a tiny cell, most probably located somewhere deep in the underground sections of the penitentiary. I suddenly feel an overwhelming sense of despair filling my heart. About an hour later, the door opens and two hard-looking guards enter the room. They handcuff me without uttering a word, then ask me to follow them outside. The three of us climb up a large concrete staircase, before walking down a long corridor stretching under a line of crackling lights. I hesitantly attempt to question them in regards to our destination. One of them turns to me:
- You will see, comrade, but we have had the word that the Guide of the Nation would like to meet you.