Perhaps in moving this story/collaboration/fake documentary away from my real documentary site to this blog, I will enact a resurrection.
In the Autumn of the year – – – 3 a seemingly otherwise unremarkable friend of mine inherited a sum of money from an aunt at Marienberg am Rhein whose immediate line had died out. The freedom thus conferred upon my friend allowed him to leave our company suddenly and completely. Some years later I received a letter containing the address of a decommissioned secondary schoolhouse in West Seattle written in my friend’s hand. The envelope also contained a small, worn key. I was compelled to wait until the completion of the winter quarter to make the inevitable though vexatious journey. When I arrived, I found the schoolhouse inhabited by a community of artists . The manager of the property led me to a classroom on the third floor of the building. The door that accepted the key bore the name of my friend and a stencil of an eye. The door opened to a well-ordered room. The shelving that covered the walls and windows contained various cameras and equipment. Photographs had been clipped to wires that ran across the ceiling from wall to wall. A broad mahogany desk occupied the center of the room. My friend’s rather imposing high-backed throne sat at the desk while two modest wooden chairs faced it. On the desk was a pile of notebooks containing the following accounts of his cases. The drawers of the desk contained colored pencils, aromatic pieces of dark tobacco, and three rolls of jute twine. I have not edited the notes of my friend and make no comment on their worth other than this introduction and the sponsorship of their private publication.
Edmund Furey, PhD
Ithaca, New York
I am a detective. My name is writ thus on the door. The advert is in the paper. I wait. I am waiting. Three weeks have passed. This feels right. Something is coming– the wind has come up and last night looked like it would hail but did not. Rice has lost its taste completely. The water tastes like radishes. The Brahms concerto is still heroin. Something is coming.
Private Investigator– the term doesn’t fit. The discomfort we feel turned it into Private Eye, a redundancy and a joke, or P.I. or pi, which is better. Pi is the solution to all circles. We ‘solve,’ but the answer goes on forever, unresolvable unwavering and unknown.
This is reflected in our literary history. When Poe, Edgar Allen, invented us, he invented also our existential predicament. The killer was an orangutang. That is to say, an innocent. The crime was solved and at the same time the crime was erased.
Orangutang. A burning cathedral.
Something has happened. The precision of the causal chain is clear. The radiator over-heated. I opened a window. The driving wind caught the strap of a camera and slowly pulled it off the shelf. It fell, but not into pieces, on the pillow where I rest my head. The message was clear.
A gestalt detective doesn’t wait for his case. He walks the street until the sensitive ordering of his perception discovers and creates it. I am out then with my camera on a walk. The hard streets of West Seattle ring like a bell struck by a clapper of autumn light.
I heard the absence of the For Sale sign loud in the wind. Then the immobility of the mobile. The truck stalled, acquiring roots of rust. The camper a rolling stone no longer, now and for a long time now rimmed with moss. Inside I knew and later found true it contained an autonomous country of wasps, asleep in its winter. Mushrooms instead like stalagmites and a child’s toy as well, a green absinthe sauropod.
I entered the home thru the window with the winding sheet. No corpse tho. Only a pile of clothes holding it down and preserving its sepulchral shape. The wind thru the window earlier, thus: the detective thru the window at the scene of the crime, doubled by my presence. Breaking, they say, and entering. The light breaking. Breaks. Light breaks in. Crime in its absence, evidence in its presence.
Why do we take photographs? They are evidence, either official or sentimental, tho in fact we could consider sentiment the evidence of our emotional, rather than criminal, history in the case life makes against us. All the pictures had been taken off the walls. Their absence squares of moonlight in the cigarette smoke yellow. Witness and testimony.
The ‘i’ in those two words are the same. The private eye. I am there in each of those words. In witness and in testimony. This is important work!
In the corner of the largest bedroom a nightstand bore traces of wax and dark stains from candles. An empty shrine to the Virgin. Faintly, still, the caterpillar feeling of incense.
I heard the boots of two bulldozer men quickening the stairs but they were so like the ‘sound of boots’ that I didn’t know that they were real until I felt them. While I was conscious they said nothing. When my six senses returned I could perceive that they had spoken of important subjects while I lay insensible beneath them. A man’s name had fallen onto the carpet. The fleeting nature of time had touched the door frame. Nothing useful. Just the itching of lost events.
Their boots smelled of seawater and engine oil. I remembered this as I attempted to stand. A clue, I thought, falling over.
I should explain the sixth sense. To the five senses of taste, smell, touch, sight, and hearing, is that which moves between them, emphasizing and erasing, composing, posing. Called apprehension, called perception, that sense of destiny, the sense of now.
Now! I left the house thru the front door, retrieved my camera from the empty engine parts box where I had hidden it and caught the bus just as it rattled to the stop.
The pain in my head tasted of raspberry sorbet.