Like Mozart with a Gun

Numéro 18

7 mai au 3 juin 2004

Un texte de
Thomas Garman

Publié le 7 mai 2004 dans
Fiction, Nouvelle

p_nouvelle_0504.gifWell then, my wooers, since it seems that I am the prize, hear this. I confront you with the mighty bow of sacred Odysseus. Whoever most easily strings the bow with his hands and shoots an arrow through twelve axes, with him I will go…
The Odyssey, Book XXI

I found a gun and decided to use it in an art project. I got the idea while Sixtoo was on the turntables at the release party of his CD Antagonist Survival Kit when, over my shoulder, I heard Penelope say, “You do the best art when you use what you know.” It was she who taught me to see that killing a man could be a Zen art. Her art was fashion. She always dressed to kill.

This was during the time that the Russians from little Odessa were trying to take over the heroin business in downtown Montreal. For months I had been artfully harassing a gang of drug dealers on the East side. In the end I found the warehouse where they kept their stash of drugs and burned it.

The night I burned their warehouse, three guys from the gang met to talk about what they should do. They met at 11 o’clock at the bar Bily Kun and sat at the back of the bar on the big semi-circle couch just under the DJ booth. I remember it vividly because as they sat down, the bartender with whom I had been talking to kill time, had just said to me, “Can reason do nothing better than supply the eloquence of prejudice?” The bar tenders at Bily Kun are very philosophical.

I excused myself from the epistemological musings of the bartender. Disguised and pretending to be a waiter I went over to the guys and took their drinks orders. Then I left the bar. On my way out I paid a waitress 50 dollars to deliver a gift wrapped package to the three. I doubt they ever got their drinks.

Standing on the Avenue du Mont-Royal, outside the bar, I watched through the window as the waitress delivered the package. As she carried it through the half-lit bar the silver holographic gift wrapping around the package positively throbbed as if alive in the combination of the soft strobe lighting pulsing in time with the music and the flickering light coming from the candles on the tables.

Inside the package, the guys from the gang found four items. 1) A copy of Radiohead’s CD Kid A. The CD was an authenticating element and had special significance to my employer. I can’t say more about it. It was like what you see in the movies when the crime boss says, “Be sure to put a bullet in his head. That’s our signature. A bullet in the head.” 2) The gun I found, with the firing pin removed so that it would not fire. 3) A Polaroid picture taken inside their warehouse before it burned, which only they would recognize. 4) A note addressed to them that read:

Meet me tonight at 1 a.m. at Blizzarts. I will be wearing a black t-shirt with gold lettering that reads “Dead as Tekno.” Bring the gun. Hologram.

I waited at Blizzarts. At that time they had a Japanese print of Mount Fuji above the bar that I liked to contemplate. The calligraphy running along the length of one side of the print was by Zen Master Ikkyu. It read: “For as long as you breathe a mere breath of air, a dead body at the side of the road seems something apart from you.” I sat smoking a Gauloise as DJ Mäus started on the turntables.

As she was spinning, I sat thinking of my life, waiting. I drifted into thought and the sounds of the bar disappeared behind me. I was transfixed, hypnotized, by a smoke trail coming off my cigarette. Of morality. Of the difference between right and wrong. I do not think I am good person. In fact, I know I am not a good person. But I am an artist and there is a different logic for artists. Can you imagine someone who knows what it means to do good but… but for whom that knowledge never plays an explanatory role in an account of his actions. That is to say, the demands of right and wrong are never the reason why he does what he does? I sat thinking that a man must do more than put up the appearance of morality. A man must act on the basis of his knowledge of what ought to be done. But then the question for me has always been: how does my knowledge of what ought to be done relate to my motives for action? My motives are good but my actions are bad. Yet I am always doing what must be done. I have learned to act beyond the notion of right and wrong. To act from necessity. To do what must be done. But…

My thoughts were interrupted by the sudden appearance of Penelope beside me at the bar. Seeing her, I suddenly became conscious again of the music the DJ was spinning. Smiling she said : “I’ll teach you a trick with a knife if you buy me a drink.” Of course, I bought her a drink. I would have gouged out my own eyes for her if she asked. She took her drink without saying another word and skipped to the dance floor, disappearing quickly into the crowd.

The guys from the gang arrived on time but by then the bar was crowded and it took them some time to find me. I watched as they pushed people around looking for someone whose t-shirt read “Dead as Tekno.” The moment they found me one of them pulled out the gun I had given them and they dragged me through the crowd, out into the street. Once on the street, we walked around the corner into the alley behind Blizzarts. They held the gun pressed to my back as we walked. No one spoke a word.

Once in the alley behind the bar, the guy with the gun said they should shoot me on the spot. Of course, he did not know that I had removed the firing pin from the gun. Without the firing pin the gun was useless. It was just a prop. But I could tell that holding it gave him courage. Before they had time to discuss the situation further I knifed the three of them to death. I left their bodies in the alley for the Russians to clean up.

I went back to Blizzarts and washed the blood from my hands in the bathroom. No matter who you are, no matter how strong you are, it always takes a long time to wash the blood from your hands. Afterwards, as I sat back down at the bar, DJ Mäus put on a remix of the Clash. It was track 6 from Combat Rock. Go Straight to Hell. Almost inaudibly under intense beats the lyric Go straight to hell, boy… repeated over and over in a seemingly infinite loop. The whole bar was dancing. I raised my glass to her and, as we made eye contact, she turned up the volume on the song to a deafening level. Go straight to hell, boy… and I was transformed into just another DJ Mäus groupie singing along to an ingenious Clash remix. Go straight to hell, boy…


For Daoxin in little Odessa

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