Blesok no. 34, September-October, 2003
Prose


Judge Resoundson’s understanding

Srđan Papić


    You must understand me, your honour. You must. You, at least. Everybody tells me that I had no reason to kill him; that I am insane; if their mouth doesn’t say it, their eyes do. Everyone’s, the warders’, and my lawyer’s, and… and everyone’s. But I had to. It was him, it was him who always placed himself between me and her. I do understand, your honour, that she belongs to everyone, that she, so virginally white (oh, so virginally white, your honour!) could be touched, could be felt by everyone, that she could be theirs day and night; that they could take her to bed whenever they wanted. Anyone could do it. Anyone at all!
    I had to, your honour. I had to reach her by all means. And she was mine once. Just like that, in passing; I got to know her only cursorily, superficially; at first I found her interesting and nothing more; I didn’t try to penetrate deeper, to scratch under the surface. Our encounter was very brief. Afterwards… afterwards everyone went his own way.
    But, she started to visit my dreams, first from time to time, then more and more often and in the end always (I dreamt of her this very night, your honour, the wind was playing joyfully with her, she was twisting, she was rustling, oh, your honour, it was so sweet a rustle!), I dreamt of her night after night. Repeatedly. Incessantly.
    I made up my mind to seek her out anew. And then he interposed himself. Bearded (oh, it’s not such an amicable beard as is yours, your honour), conceited, he placed himself between me and her. For days, for days did he repeat that she was absent, that she was here or there, at this or that man’s place, everywhere she was, everywhere.
    I feared, your honour, I feared what would remain of her after so many touches, after so many looks. I do understand, I understand very well that she is… everyone’s in a way, that we all lay claim on her. But, your honour, I had no claim on her. The bearded man was excusing himself, and finding pretexts for me day in day out; and I would be standing in front of his office like a beggar, listening to his idle phone conversations, he promised to everyone that he would find what they needed, what they missed. And it was her I missed, oh, I missed her so terribly, I regretted, in front of that wooden door (oh, I regretted it so terribly, your honour) that I hadn’t kept her by my side, that we weren’t some place… together…
    I looked for her everywhere, your honour, well and truly everywhere; in other people’s arms, on tables in public houses, in bookshop windows, I looked long in glasses, waiting for her to emerge by some miracle, to gleam.
    And she was everywhere, your honour, really everywhere around me. They wrote about her in the press, whole TV shows were focused on her only, her name would bloom like a rose in conversations at bus stops; she was mentioned everywhere, which only inflamed my desire. And fury.
    And then I made up my mind. To kill, him, since she was elusive.
    Yes, the prosecutor is right, I killed him with premeditation. Since, I knew he was lying to me, it was visible in his eyes that he was lying to me, that he knew where she was, that he knew where she would be that day and the following one. And that he knew that she would never be at my place.
    I am a pacifist, your honour, I have no arms in my house. The only thing I could commit the act with (I HAD to commit the act, your honour) was the trophy yataghan of an ancestor of mine (I don’t know if it is a kin from the spear or the distaff side, I don’t want to accept the fact that there have been the blood-thirsty in my family). I bought sheep tallow and greased the cutting-edge for a long time, I rubbed and rubbed, it shone like silver, but I went on, coating the blade until I heard the ghostly sound while drawing it out of the scabbard.
    Yes, your honor, the prosecutor is right – a premeditated murder. I planned it all. To the least detail. I put on an old coat, long enough to hide a weapon underneath, I waited until it was fifteen minutes till the end of the working-hours (the cleaning-woman comes at 19:00, I had checked it too), I entered that door without knocking for the first time, smiled ominously at that conceited beard and flung my arm toward my waist.
    While the refracted light coming from the edge was flashing on his face, it was visible in his eyes (oh, it was so obviously visible, your honour!) that he regretted that he had lied to me, that he hadn’t made it possible for me to meet her, he offered her to me for the following day, as soon as in the afternoon, but I didn’t trust him, your honour, I didn’t trust him anymore.
    Do you understand me, your honour? You must understand me. No one else wants to. They called me a lunatic in the newspapers, they put me only on the crime page (oh, your honour, there was not a single line on the front page), they made idiotic titles: psychopath murdered a librarian; slaughtered because of a book; they called me a scribomaniac in the worst possible meaning of the word; and now no one else understands me anymore. Only you, your honour. You, please, understand. That I had to. I had to read her. Once again. At least once again. Only that. Nothing more.
    You do understand me now, your honour!
    You do, don’t you?




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