The Book of Murder
The telephone rang one Sunday morning, tearing me from the sleep of the dead. When I answered, a voice simply said Luciana, in a weak, anxious whisper, as if it were all I’d need to remember her. Disconcerted, I echoed the name, and she added her surname, which roused a distant memory. Then, in an anguished tone, she reminded me who she was: Luciana B, the girl who took dictation. Of course I remembered. Had it really been ten years? Yes, almost ten, she confirmed. She was glad I still lived in the same flat. But she didn’t sound at all glad. She paused. Could she see me? She had to see me, she corrected herself, the desperation in her voice removing any possible delusions on my part.
“Yes, of course,” I said, slightly alarmed. “When?”
“Whenever you can, as soon as possible.” I looked round doubtfully at my untidy flat, testament to the indolent forces of entropy, and glanced at the clock on the bedside table. “If it’s a matter of life and death,” I said, “what about this afternoon, here, say at four?”
There was a hoarse sound at the other end of the line and a faltering breath, as if she were trying to hold back a sob. “I’m sorry,” she mumbled, embarrassed. “Yes, it is a matter of life and death. You really don’t know, do you? Nobody knows. Nobody realises.” I thought she was about to cry again. There was a silence, during which she struggled to regain her composure. Even more quietly, as if she could hardly bring herself to say the name, she whispered: “It’s about Kloster.” And before I could ask any questions, as if afraid I might change my mind, she said: “I’ll be there at four.”
Ten years earlier, I had broken my right wrist in a stupid accident and had gone about with my hand, to the tips of my fingers, held in the rigid grip of a plaster cast.