Murder mysteries, p.6
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       Murder Mysteries, p.6

           Neil Gaiman
 
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  /SFX/ MUSIC AND THE SILVER CITY RISE THEN FALL AWAY COMPLETELY...

  /SFX/ LOS ANGELES. IT’S ALMOST MORNING...

  NARRATOR

  The man was silent, then. And he remained silent -- I couldn't even hear him breathing -- for so long that I began to get nervous, thinking that perhaps he had fallen asleep, or died. Then he stood up in the pre-dawn light...

  RAGUEL NOW

  There you go, pal. That's your story. Do you think it was worth a couple of cigarettes and a book of matches?

  NARRATOR -- LIVE

  Yes. It was. But what happened next? How did you... I mean. How did you get here?

  RAGUEL NOW

  What happened? I left home, and I lost my way, and these days home's a long way back. Sometimes you do things you regret, but there's nothing you can do about them. Times change. Doors close behind you. You move on. You know? Eventually I wound up here. They used to say no-one's ever originally from LA. True as Hell in my case... Stand up. Come here.

  NARRATOR -- LIVE

  What?

  RAGUEL NOW

  (hint of the voice treatment)

  Come here.

  NARRATOR -- LIVE

  Yes.

  RAGUEL NOW

  (whispers)

  Here. A gift for you.

  /SFX/ A KISS, SOFTLY.

  NARRATOR -- LIVE

  (whispers )

  You kissed my cheek

  RAGUEL NOW

  Yes.

  NARRATOR -- LIVE

  It burns. Ow, it...

  RAGUEL NOW

  It doesn’t burn for long.

  NARRATOR -- LIVE

  You took something from me. You... took...something....

  RAGUEL NOW

  No. I gave you something. Like the Man said: forgetfulness is freedom of a sort.

  NARRATOR -- LIVE

  What did you do to me?

  RAGUEL NOW

  I never fell. You understand? When the others fell, I didn’t fall. I’m still doing my job, as I see it. Doesn’t matter how long it is. I still want to go home. You’ll go home soon. See ya round, pal.

  NARRATOR

  The man walked away down the darkened street, and I sat on the bench and watched him go. I felt like he had taken something from me, although I could no longer remember what. And I felt like something had been left in its place -- absolution, perhaps, or innocence, although of what, or from what, I could no longer say.

  (beat)

  An image from somewhere: a scribbled drawing, of two angels in flight above a perfect city; and over the image a child's perfect handprint, which stains the white paper blood-red. It came into my head unbidden, and I no longer know what it meant.

  (pause)

  I stood up. It was too dark to see the face of my watch, but I knew I would get no sleep that day.

  /SFX/FOOTSTEPS ON SIDEWALK, UNDER...

  NARRATOR (CONT’D)

  I walked back to the place I was staying, to the house by the stunted palm tree, to wash myself, and to wait. I thought about angels, and about Tink; and I wondered whether love and death always went hand in hand.

  /SFX/ TRANSITIONAL, THE NEXT MORNING, ETC, UNDER...

  NARRATOR (CONT’D)

  The next day the planes to England were flying again. I felt strange -- lack of sleep had forced me into that miserable state in which everything seems flat and of equal importance; when nothing matters, and in which reality seems scraped thin and threadbare.

  /SFX/ A SUDDEN CRASH OF LOUD TRAFFIC NOISE, HONKING HORNS ETC.

  NARRATOR (CONT’D)

  The taxi journey to the airport was a nightmare. I was hot, and tired, and testy. I wore a T-shirt in the LA heat; my coat was packed at the bottom of my luggage, where it had been for the entire stay. The aeroplane was crowded, but I didn't care.

  /SFX/ INTERIOR OF PLANE, ON THE GROUND, UNDER...

  FLIGHT ATTENDANT

  Newspaper sir? We’ve got the International Herald Tribune, USA today and the LA Times.

  NARRATOR -- LIVE

  LA Times, please.

  /SFX/ PLANE TAKES OFF. ENGINES. PASSAGE OF TIME, PLANE NOISE LOUDER, THEN...

  PASSENGER

  Must be pretty interesting. You’ve been reading that same page over and over for an hour, now...

  NARRATOR -- LIVE

  I have? I’m sorry, would you like the paper? Truth to tell, I’m so tired that the words go in one eye and out the other. I can’t remember a single thing I’ve read. Here.

  PASSENGER

  If you’re sure you’ve finished with it.

  NARRATOR -- LIVE

  Completely. For ever.

  NARRATOR

  I had lied: one story I had read stayed with me. Somewhere in the back of the paper was a report of a triple murder: two women, and a small child. No names were given, and I do not know why the report should have registered as it did.

  /SFX/SOUNDS AND MUSIC OF NIGHTMARE, MURDER, AND A TANGLE OF VOICES IN THE DARK, UNDER...

  NARRATOR (CONT’D)

  Soon I fell asleep. I dreamed about making love to Tink, while blood ran sluggishly from her closed eyes and lips. The blood was cold and viscous and clammy, and I awoke chilled by the plane's air-conditioning, with an unpleasant taste in my mouth. My tongue and lips were dry.

  /SFX/ PLANE NOISES AGAIN

  PASSENGER

  Bad dream?

  NARRATOR -- LIVE

  No... just... something I can’t even remember...

  PASSENGER

  You’re white as a ghost. Scared of flying?

  NARRATOR -- LIVE

  No. I love flying.

  NARRATOR (CONT’D)

  I looked out of the scratched oval window, stared down at the clouds, and it occurred to me then (not for the first time) that the clouds were in actuality another land, where everyone knew just what they were looking for and how to get back where they started from.

  (beat)

  Staring down at the clouds is one of the things I have always liked best about flying. That, and the proximity one feels to one's death.

  (beat)

  I wrapped myself in the thin aircraft blanket, and slept some more, but if further dreams came then they made no impression upon me.

  /SFX/ THE PLANE LANDS.

  /SFX/ A BLIZZARD. THE WAIL OF THE WIND AND THE SNOW, WHICH FADE INTO

  /SFX/ AN INTERIOR ELEVATOR. UNDER THE FOLLOWING NARRATION, WE HEAR A BUTTON BEING PUSHED, AND ELEVATOR MOVING, AND THEN A POWER CUT: A HUM, AND NOTHING....

  /SFX/ WE HEAR AN A ALARM RINGING FOR A FEW MOMENTS, THEN IT RUNS DOWN AND STOPS...

  NARRATOR (CONT’D)

  A blizzard blew up shortly after the plane landed in England, knocking out the airport's power supply. I was alone in an airport elevator at the time, and it went dark and jammed between floors. A dim emergency light flickered on. I pressed the crimson alarm button until the batteries ran down and it ceased to sound; then I shivered in my LA T-shirt, in the corner of my little silver room. I watched my breath steam in the air, and I hugged myself for warmth.

  NARRATOR -- LIVE

  (ad libbing, inside the elevator, under the last moments of the following narration, and continuing beyond it:) )

  Hello? Is there anybody there? Hello? Can anyone hear me? Can someone let me out of here, please? Hello? I’m afraid I’m trapped. Hello...

  (etc. ad lib, with increasing desperation)

  NARRATOR

  There wasn't anything in there except me; but even so, I felt safe, and secure. Soon someone would come and force open the doors. Eventually somebody would let me out; and I knew that I would soon be home.

  /SFX/ WE HEAR THE NARRATOR IN HIS BOX SHOUTING, HOPELESSLY FOR HELP. AND THEN THERE IS SILENCE, AND MUSIC. THEN ALL SOUNDS AND MUSIC FADE OUT, AND IT IS OVER.

  END NOTES BY THE ARTIST

  by George Walker

  For the images of this book I wanted to explore the possibilities of the symbol of the Angel. Angels are so intrinsic to our myths as a culture,
that they speak to the viewer as symbols of the eternal and of the Divine. Gaiman presents his Angels as characters with all the flaws of human nature and brings them down to earth so that we can examine them more closely as models of the human condition. The challenge for me was to interpret these descriptions into believable forms that the reader could identify with. The most difficult concept for me was the androgynous aspect of the angels. Gaiman uses the pronoun He in his characters’ dialogue yet Gaiman also suggests that the angels are androgynes without gender specific roles. We cannot leap to a conclusion that the relationship between Carasel and Saraquael was homosexual because that aspect of Eros was (we can believe) not yet created. I thought about the problem for some time before concluding that the best course of action was to allow the characters to evolve themselves and balance the individual roles with ambiguity and a hint of gender specific appearance. It is human nature to understand and identify gender roles so that we can relate these roles to our own experience. That is why the debate about the Mona Lisa continues; is it a portrait of a young man or a woman?

  Like the radio play and the hand crafted book, wood engraving is a rarely practised art in the 21st century. What is wood engraving you might ask? It is the method of carving images on the end grain of hardwood with the tools of the silversmith. That is how all the images were made for this special edition of Murder Mysteries.The technique was developed and made popular by the the British artist Thomas Bewick (1753-1828). If you had a basic introduction to Art in High School you might be familiar with cutting linoleum or wood for relief printing and that will provide you with a basic idea of how the images were printed. However, engraving on end grain wood is an entirely different experience from wood cut or linoleum-cutting although the printing process is the same (roll ink on relief surface and impress paper onto surface!). The primary difference is that the tools are different for wood engraving, in wood and linoleum cutting we use parting tools and gouges whereas with wood engraving the tools are descendants of the silversmith tools and have names like spitsticker, tint tool, lining tool and lozenge shaped graver or burin. Using the tools of the silversmith on the end grain of the wood allows the artist the opportunity to create finer lines and delicate patterns that would splinter or crumble using other methods and materials. If you examine these engravings under a magnifying glass you’ll see how crisp the fine dots and lines print directly from the wood surface.

  The hand printed fine book is becoming more important to our culture as electronic media begins to dominate our method of mass printed communication. Slowly we are moving towards an appreciation of the book as art object balanced with the decline of the book as the primary conveyer of information and knowledge. The book remains the undisputed time capsule of knowledge but the internet has become the undisputed super highway to retrieve it. I do not envision the obsolescence of books; just their reinvention refined towards an archival storage vehicle of our most valued knowledge and we have the technology to do this. It is from this that a new appreciation of fine paper, type and fine binding will evolve. I hope this book will serve as a kind of time capsule to communicate through that great unknown distance of time.

  LIST OF ENGRAVINGS

  1. smoking

  2. death of Carasel

  3. Phanuel ~ senior designer

  4. spinning the thread of being

  5. aspects of assembly

  6. silver city ~ Hall of Being

  7. Zephkiel ~ angel without wings in anquish

  8. soaring

  9. His army

  10. Saraquael ~ Carasel’s partner

  11. Lucifer ~ captian of the host

  12. FEAR

 


 

  Neil Gaiman, Murder Mysteries

  (Series: # )

 

 


 

 
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