miércoles, 30 de noviembre de 2011

I found it.

After reading "Faith Healing, Part Two," I started to wonder if the picture mentioned could be anywhere. I looked again in the hole under the floorboard in my brother's room, where I originally found the notebooks. It was tucked away in a corner. I found something else, too, that I had missed the first time. I apologize for the bad quality, but it's been clearly crumpled up and folded over many times and I had to wipe a lot of dust out so it would scan properly.

I have been re-reading some entries after looking at this picture.

Excerpt from Notebook 5: "Dog Killer"

Sensationalist nutjobs are nothing new in the morning news. You probably remember that cab driver who went around picking girls up and stabbing them with a screwdriver. A screwdriver. They called him "The Screwdriver Psycho" because they're not very creative around here. The Dog Killer was something like that. It was in the early nineties. T. probably knows the exact year.

Somewhere around this time, dogs in the city's District 2 started turning up dead. They had usually been strangled; later on the Dog Killer took on more grisly ways like crushing their heads. Some of them were also poisoned, but cruel neighbors poison others' dogs all the time if they're being too loud or obnoxious, so it's unlikely that most of those killings can be attributed to him.

The Dog Killer story initially perked up the media's interest when he started branching out of the neighborhood. Family pets were turning up dead via the same methods all over a certain sector of the city. All breeds and sizes, often multiple victims. The motivation behind these killings was practically non-existent. It's assumed that a lot of stray dogs turning up dead around the time were also his victims, but stray dogs turn up dead all of the time, so it's questionable. What scared people was that a.) Since the killings were seemingly random, he was probably insane (or just really hated dogs), and b.) a lot of these killings involved breaking and entering at least the back yards of homes, which meant that at any point the Dog Killer could move on to people. The fact that he didn't bother to take advantage of the moment to steal something only made everyone more afraid of him, because it wasn't rational. I remember my parents setting up an alarm system at home for the first time back then. They also moved my brother's crib up to their room so he'd sleep with them for the time being. Back then I was still in grade school, so I'm not sure what I was supposed to do if I came face-to-face with a maniac, but with a baby it's different, I suppose. Not that I'm resentful, anyway.

The Dog Killer was at large for something like five months, and never far from the papers, though never quite making the headlines. He was sort of a lurking, puzzling shadow in the back of everyone's minds. A lot of people took their dogs in to sleep inside the house with them. Many more people got rid of their dogs so the Killer would have no reason to enter their house. Walking down the streets meant seeing many stray dogs, some of them with collars, having been let go by their owners, wandering and scavenging for food.

During his spree, many people came forward claiming that they were the Dog Killer. But when the killings continued it became hard to believe. There was a certain young man who appeared in many news reports and talk shows after supposedly providing proof that he was the Killer, but it was then proven false. I'm not sure why so many people wanted  everyone to think that they were this person, but that's fame for you.

I say that T. probably knows the exact year when the killings took place because the whole thing started in her neighborhood. In fact, her neighbors' dog was one of the first victims, if I recall correctly. We actually didn't have a dog, so my parents were just being paranoid with the whole alarm thing, as they usually are.

At this time one of the people who owned a dog that turned up headless the morning after claimed that she saw the Dog Killer as he ran out of her garden. She was a very old lady whose pet had been her only companion. It was a popular sob story in the media. She was also very superstitious. She claimed that the Dog Killer was not a man, but a devil. She said that he was a shadow with red eyes who vanished upon being seen. Most people dismissed it as the ramblings of a senile old lady, but a good part of this country is pretty superstitious as well, so others took it more seriously.

Then the late-night ads started.

I only saw it once for myself. They aired very late at night. I had once stayed up until like 2 A.M. watching X-Men reruns, when all of a sudden the TV faded to harsh static, and then came up a grainy image. The whole thing lasted about thirty seconds. It was slow-motion, low-quality footage of dogs simply laying there, presumably dead. I don't know if it was footage taken from the news or filmed by the broadcaster, but the dogs were obviously victims of the Killer. The "ad" was unnerving by itself, but even stranger was the background music. It was some kind of ritual chanting, or at least that's how I remember it. Kind of like something you would hear people singing at Mass, but in a weird tone. Meanwhile you had these panning shots of dead dogs. Then, finally, at the end, superimposed in big white letters, "PLEASE STOP." Then the ad ended and faded to static, which was almost instantly replaced by usual programming. It was chilling.

When the existence of these ads seeped into the cultural consciousness at large, it became clear that they were showing up in all sorts of channels, interrupting cartoons, soap operas and pornography without discrimination, usually between 2 and 5 A.M. And even more interestingly, they were not paid for by the channel companies. They were not official ads; somebody was jamming the signal of these channels late at night to broadcast the ads. Nobody ever found out who it was. The ads stopped after a few weeks.

And then, so did the Dog Killer. At the time people had more or less gotten tired of hearing from him anyway, but eventually the killings seemed to subside. In any big city dogs turn up dead on the streets pretty much every day, but none of it seemed to bear the Killer's mark or align with his modus operandi. So it was assumed that he had gone back to being a regular psycho, or returned to the depths of Hell for those who believed the old lady's account.

The Dog Killer's identity, as well as that of the mysterious broadcaster, are unknown to this day, at least as far as I know. (Some of my friends probably have their pet theories, though.) This guy who used to put up compilations of popular South American ads from the eighties and nineties on YouTube had one of the dog ads up, but according to A. it's been taken down. Just another strange tale from the city.


It's clear that this was written by my brother. The baby mentioned was me. I scarcely remember the Dog Killer. He isn't discussed much these days. I never knew about the videos, though. I asked my parents about it and they didn't remember anything, either, so maybe it was a piece of fiction tossed in by my brother to spice things up. I looked it up on YouTube but got no results. (There are many videos of people abusing dogs, sadly, but nothing like my brother described in this entry.)

lunes, 28 de noviembre de 2011


I got into an accident. My family was understandably mortified.

Barring any more similar experiences, entries will be posted at least every other day from now on until everything has been compiled here.

I have no way of apologizing for this hiatus. I can only hope that someone will continue to read. For now, please enjoy the three new entries below.

Excerpt from Notebook 1: "Origin / To Remember"

A. told me a story the other day. I'm not sure if he was kidding or not.

When A. was twelve or so and his parents would take him to see a psychologist after soccer practice, he recalled seeing a lady every day. The psychologist worked out of his apartment in the third floor of a complex. After the session was over, he would take the elevator back down and wait outside the building for his parents to pick him up. They would ask him how it went and he would reply with a half-hearted "Well."

Next to the apartment building was a small retail store, summer dresses and ladies' shoes and the like. At the time that A. was waiting for his parents to arrive, the owner was returning from her lunch break to re-open the store. She was a lady in her mid-forties, from the looks of it; she wore colorful, loud dresses with odd prints. Before coming back into the store she would stand outside and smoke, looking exasperated. Sometimes she would shoot a furtive glance in A.'s direction. He figured that maybe she knew that he was going to see the psychologist in the third floor. She had probably seen many boys like him waiting in that precise spot for their parents to pick him up.

The store windows exhibited gaudy mannequins sometimes lacking arms or facial features, draped in clothing that couldn't have been fashionable, even back then. A. would stare at them out of having nothing else to do, and also because the lady made him nervous. Sometimes she would stand directly next to him and smoke. But she would always retreat into the store before his parents arrived. She was wrinkled and covered in makeup, always staring off beyond the streets and buildings, expecting trouble to arrive.

This was when A. began to realize, after so many awkward meetings in silence, that the lady's clothes seemed to be the very same ones that were sold at the store. That seemed sensible enough, as a form of self-advertisement, or something. But what made A. curious is that whenever she was wearing one particular dress, that dress was no longer on display at the store. It was like every night she took one of the mannequins' outfits and wore it herself, then moved on to another one. A. came to assume that nobody else worked at the tiny store. He never saw anyone walk in or out. He regarded her with mild confusion and never told his parents anything.

Months after this had begun, A.'s appointment was switched to the late afternoon one day, he took the elevator up and waited outside his door. He grew impatient and knocked, even though he could hear talking, and then presumably sobbing, coming from inside. He recognized the psychologist's voice telling him to please wait a moment. So he sat on the floor, leaning against the wall. Several minutes passed with intervals of silence and sobbing. Then he finally heard steps in his direction and the door swung open. Out came the lady from the store.

She wiped her eyes with an embroidered handkerchief and stared, dumbfounded, for a moment at him, evidently surprised to see him there, as if he had caught her in the middle of doing something bad or sinful. Her face morphed into the same desperate, anxious look she always carried. Then she walked away and the psychologist ushered him into his apartment.

On the last day of these, when A.'s parents figured that he no longer needed the sessions (and had complained sufficiently about how expensive they were), A. was saddened to realize, while he waited outside for his parents to arrive, that the store had closed and was now empty.

I asked A. to write this story down himself, but he declined.

Excerpt from Notebook 4: "Warning, Goodbye"

1. The killings were misguided. The intention was good. He is out of control. F.'s house stinks of it. That. It stinks of death.

2. The day store is not safe. Don't associate yourself with the girl. If you do, don't go at it alone.

3. NP has your numbers. I thought you gave out fake information. Why didn't you? They've been calling my house all day. Why did you give them my number? What else did you give them?

4. I dreamed of a man locked in a second floor room, with a family living below, locked inside his body, stuck in a bathtub covered in ice. I've been dreaming a lot of N. ever since he left us. I know that it's difficult to hear.

5. E. has been talking to me online. She wants me to listen to some music she made.

6. N.'s funeral is in [____], [____] St., the 21st of this month, 7:00 am sharp. You will be there.

7. I didn't know about D.'s statues at the time. I deduced it because of what happened with F.

I won't be adding entries to the notebooks anymore. Sorry.

- K.


This is one of the few signed entries in the notebooks. There aren't any other signed entries by K., before or after this one.

Excerpt from Notebook 4: "Faith Healing, Part Two"

F.’s  house is a wonderful disaster. His father collects things obsessively. Sensible things, like records, encyclopedias, nostalgic trinkets from decades we weren’t alive in, and also useless things, Halloween masks, kitschy holiday decorations, burnt-out remains of fireworks of New Years past, pop culture detritus. He cannot let go of anything.

Fortunately he is rich (as far as we can tell) and lives in a stately, old house with statues on the garden that look like creatures out of a painting by Hieronymus Bosch, a pool that is never filled, iron bars covering windows overgrown with brittle vines. It’s spacious and empty; it’s located next to that one terrain that used to be a school until the late eighties. The first time I went there I had to ask a nearby watchman for directions. I gave him the address; he said there was no such house. Half an hour of walking later, I found it.

I was two years into my university studies at this point; I was bored and resentful at my parents for having encouraged me to choose this career path, so every week I skipped class more often. It reminded me of high school as so many other things do. There were policemen making lazy morning rounds around the neighborhood and housewives in sweatpants walking their dogs. Everyone else was working, studying or doing something allegedly useful with their time. The weather was grey and crisp.

Pushing the gate open and letting loose some dust in the process, I had to wander around the house and yell out for F. I had figured I might as well stop by and see the much-discussed egg for myself. I walked into the living room to find him, surprisingly, with X.

They were playing an old record that I didn’t recognize and sitting across from each other, cross-legged, staring intently at a cardboard box in between them with a lamp hanging over them. I took a guess at what was inside. When I said hello X didn’t respond; he probably hadn’t noticed my presence yet, which I was accustomed to, while F. was cordial as ever. He said that X had another disagreement with his brother and headed over here for the time being. I wondered what that last part exactly meant.

I crouched and peered into the box, feeling a bit silly between the two. We were alone in the house. His father was gone pretending to work. (He was one of those people who, due to the nature of his position, could easily never stop by the office again and keep getting checks in the mail for the rest of his life.) Only a few strident birds interrupted us. I reached out to hold the egg, but X brusquely stopped me. The hue was a bit off for a chicken, it was a little bigger and leaner, more elliptical. I lightly placed a fingertip on it; it was terribly warm.

After a minute or so of just sitting there, F. explained that the egg had remained the same ever since he received it three days ago at the New Patricians rally. He didn’t really know about incubation, but figured he was doing a good enough job. F. has a high opinion of himself. X interrupted to add, in his charmingly unique way, that the egg was important and crucial to “something,” and he had mostly come over here to check on it and made sure it was developing well. I didn’t know whether to believe him.

“We can prove a connection,” He rambled on. “We can show the rest that they are linked to the group. The group that took E.’s father’s house.”

He had touched upon a subject that not everyone was comfortable with.

“Wasn’t her dad in a sort of charity society?” F. asked. X denied this. He assured us that the Clan is not only a charity association, or a club of rich old men, and much less an inoffensive New Age deal like the Patricians are supposed to be. It was infinitely more than that.

“I think it’s going to be one of the nobles,” He muttered.

There was a silence then. For the first time that day I noticed that he reeked of alcohol.
“Nobles?” F. arched an eyebrow.

X stared at us like we had just asked him what one plus one was. He stared at us long and deep, as if he were going to reveal a particularly difficult secret. Sometimes it was hard to see his eyes underneath the unruly hair. He suddenly sprung up and started asking for a piece of paper.

We couldn’t find anything that hadn’t been written on, so F. ripped a page from one of his father’s documents and let X go to town with it. He madly scribbled with a pencil sharpened and re-sharpened to the point that it was only a few centimeters long, which he produced from his back pocket. He kept erasing parts of the drawing for no reason and it only made things more muddled.

Then he handed us the drawing.
He pointed at each of the drawings and stammered to say something about them.

“Nobles. Reptiles like snakes. Crawlers.”

“Virgins. Pretty birds. Waterfowl.”
“Guardians. Rats. But really, all rodents.”

“Legion. Bugs. Spiders.”

Then he pointed at the last drawing on the bottom.

“Null, bad, dogs, they hate them. The Clan hates them. I don’t know.”
I studied the picture for a moment. Five animals with exotic names.

“So you’re saying this is what the Clan is about?”
“I don’t know what the Clan is about,” he snapped back. This was after he was assaulted at the Park. He said he just knew it had something to do with them. He suggested that perhaps it was all just a joke.

F. arched an eyebrow and asked him where he got that from.

“The fucks at the park,” he replied nonchalantly. Apparently he had pieced it together from that encounter and a number of other incidents, like the hotel, the bath house and the dumpster. Everything in the notebooks. It was his pet theory, I guess. He said he wasn’t sure about the names but he was sure about the pictures.

He them crumpled up the paper and handed it to me, practically pushed it into my hand as if he wanted nothing to do with it. I said nothing, quietly unfolded it and put it in one of my school books. I made a mental note to tell B. about this and maybe store it in the notebooks.

X grew silent after that. We tried to coax him into revealing more, assuming that he knew something else, but he just stared intently at the egg and ignored us. My legs grew numb and I asked F. if I could go out for a cigarette. He accompanied me.

We sat on the lawn chairs by the empty pool, dirty and covered in webs. I stared off into space, something very easy to do when the sky is painfully monochrome, as if it were a screen draped over the neighborhood. F. smoked in silence.
I asked him if X was staying at his house now.

He figured as much, he replied after a few moments of apparently mulling it over. He added that he didn’t want X to go back home at the moment because he needed someone to take care of the egg while he was off carrying out errands or working part-time jobs.

I asked him if that was what he was doing now that he wasn’t in university anymore. He nodded slowly. He said his father had more or less given up on interacting with him beyond the common courtesies of hello, goodbye and please pass the salt. He just sent him off on errands that he was too lazy to do. He was set to deliver a package in District 11 tomorrow. I looked at him with a tinge of sadness. F.’s ambition had deflated. He used to do so many things back in school, and excelled at most of them. But back then we all had a future. The future then arrives and is completely foreign to your expectations, so you retreat into past lives.

I was about to say something like that, but then we heard yelling from inside the house. It was X.

When we got back in we saw him holding the cardboard box above his head as F.’s dog leapt up and tried to swipe it off his hands, barking and growling. It was a beautiful Weimaraner that F. has had since childhood. His name is Drogo, I think. He appears and disappears from the house. Sometimes I never see him at all.

F. grabbed him by the collar and dragged him into the kitchen, then locked the door. It looked remarkably difficult as the dog struggled and yelped to break free, but eventually yielded to him.

We could still hear scratching from the other side of the door. F. asked X if the egg was okay. He nodded profusely.

X said that it was time to move the egg into a safer place. F. motioned to me, inviting me to his bedroom, but I declined. Somehow two hours had passed since I had come to the house and it was time for my next class. I wasn’t really thinking of assisting, but I didn’t want to stay there, either. I felt like I was intruding.

So I said my goodbyes, picked up my bag and walked out the front gate smoking a cigarette. I’ve picked up the habit from B., by the way. I really wish I hadn’t, but it’s comforting when you’re standing in the middle of the street and have absolutely nothing to do. I had to walk down the winding streets and pass by many joggers and dog-walkers, looking at me with mild curiosity and disapproval, until I got to the bus stop. I felt a little numb and strange as if everything had ceased to move for a moment. It might have been the cigarettes, I’m not very used to them yet. It felt like a resigned calm, not necessarily good. Like a kind of fatalism in the face of death.

I sat waiting for the bus and strangely felt like crying. I didn’t go to class that day.


I've been looking for the drawing referenced in this entry. It doesn't seem to be in the notebooks, at least not anymore.