Friday, July 15, 2005


(Part Two of three of "Beware The Cosmic Bricklayer". Part One was here.

This is -- slightly edited for length -- the actual manuscript of Edgar Allan Poe's orginal prophetic vision. As with his other "stories", this was foreseen by him under the influence of serious drugs which led him into clairvoyant predictive trances.

As always, his editors dumbed it down and took out the references to the future, afraid those would hurt sales. In this one, for instance, they replaced the titular arrhythmatic cat with a cask of Spanish dry sherry called "amontillado".

Now that the wall-worshipers are showing their hands, it is time to uncover Poe's real predictions for our time. Perhaps later we can print some of Poe's other genuine manuscripts, such as the one for "The Gold Bug", about Republican Congressman Ron Paul and the Federal Reserve Bank.)

The thousand injuries of Fristunato I had borne as I best could, but when he suggested that I acquiesce in a recess appointment instead of confirmation I vowed revenge. You, who so well know the nature of my soul, will not suppose, however, that gave utterance to a threat. At length I would be avenged; this was a point definitely settled -- but the very definitiveness with which it was resolved precluded the idea of risk. I must not only punish but punish with impunity.

It must be understood that neither by word nor deed had I given Fristunato cause to doubt my good will. I continued, as was my wont to smile in his face, and he did not perceive that my smile now was at the thought of his immolation.

He had a weak point -- this Fristunato -- although in other regards he was a man to be respected and even feared. He prided himself on his vivisection of felines. He of course had professed to do this as physiological exploration in pursuit of his prior occupation. I frankly shared the experimental instinct which had driven our mutual commander to youthful removal of wings from insects.

It was about dusk, one evening during the supreme madness of the convention season, that I encountered my friend. He accosted me with excessive warmth, for he had been drinking much.

I said to him "My dear Fristunato, you are luckily met. I have received a cat with what was purported to be arrhythmia, and I am curious to observe its flailing heart directly."

"How?" said he. "Arrhythmia? A cat? Impossible! And in the middle of the convention!"

"I would like to see this phenomenon in action," I replied; "and I have anesthetized the creature in the basement of my office building in preparation for an operation. You were not to be found, and I was anxious to verify its condition before the animal could expire."

"Arrhythmia!" protested Fristunato.

"I must see for myself."


"As you are engaged, I am on my way to the Surgeon General. If any one has a critical eye it is she. She will tell me --"

"This Surgeon General cannot tell arrhythmia from hyperventilation."

"And yet some fools will have it that her skill is a match for your own."

"Come, let us go."


"To your basement."

"My friend, no; I will not impose upon your good nature. I perceive you have an engagement. The Surgeon General --"

"I have no engagement; -- come."

"My friend, no. It is not the engagement, but the severe cold with which I perceive you are afflicted. The basements are insufferably damp. They are encrusted with nitre."

"Let us go, nevertheless. The cold is merely nothing. Arrhythmia! You have been imposed upon."

Thus speaking, Fristunato possessed himself of my arm; and I suffered him to hurry me to the building where my U.N. mission office was located.

There were no security guards there; they had absconded to make merry at convention parties. I had told them that I should not return until the morning, and had given them explicit orders not to stir from the building. These orders were sufficient, I well knew, to insure their immediate disappearance, one and all, as soon as my back was turned.

I took from the desk two flashlights, and giving one to Fristunato, led him to the elevators that went to the basements. We came at length to the lowest sub-cellar. I requested him to be cautious as he followed, since these obscure chambers were only lit tonight by the dim emergency exit signs.

The gait of my friend was unsteady. "The cat," he said. "How will we see to perform surgery upon it?"

"It is farther on," said I; "and I have a portable generator to provide adequate light. But observe the white web-work of nitre which gleams from these cavern walls."

He turned towards me, and looked into my eves with two filmy orbs that distilled the rheum of intoxication.

"Come, a shot of this good Tennessee whiskey will defend us from the damps. Drink," I said, presenting him the flask.

He raised it to his lips with a leer, and emptied it at a breath. His eyes flashed with a fierce light. He laughed and threw the bottle upwards with a gesticulation I did not understand.

I looked at him in surprise. He repeated the movement -- a grotesque one.

"You do not comprehend?" he said.

"Not I," I replied.

"Then you are not of the brotherhood of the masons."

"Yes, yes," I said.

"A sign," he said, "show me a sign."

"It is this," I answered, producing from beneath the folds of my coat a trowel.

"You jest," he exclaimed, recoiling a few paces. "But let us proceed to the arrhythmatic cat."

"Be it so," I said, replacing the tool beneath the coat and again offering him my arm. He leaned upon it heavily, and we proceeded. We passed through a range of low arches, descended, passed on, and descending again, arrived at a deep crypt. The chamber was filled with tall, combination-locked, fireproof file cabinets, scattered haphazardly. At the most remote end we perceived a still further interior recess, in depth about four feet, in width three, in height six or seven. It seemed to have been constructed for no especial, but formed merely the interval between two of the colossal supports of the roof of the basement.

It was in vain that Fristunato, uplifting his flashlight, endeavoured to pry into the depth of the recess. Its termination the feeble light did not enable us to see.

"Proceed," I said; "herein is the arrhythmatic subject. As for the Surgeon General --"

"She is an ignoramus," interrupted my friend, as he stepped unsteadily forward, while I followed immediately at his heels. In an instant he had reached the extremity of the niche, and finding his progress arrested by the rock, stood drunkenly bewildered. A moment more and I had fettered him to the granite. In its surface were two iron staples, distant from each other about two feet, horizontally. From one of these depended a short chain, from the other a padlock. Throwing the links about his waist, it was but the work of a few seconds to secure it. He was too much astounded to resist. Withdrawing the key I stepped back from the recess.

"Pass your hand," I said, "over the wall; you cannot help feeling the nitre. Indeed, it is very damp. Once more let me implore you to return. No? Then I must positively leave you. But I must first render you all the little attentions in my power."

"The arrhythmia!" ejaculated my friend, not yet recovered from his tipsy astonishment.

"True," I replied; "the arrhythmia."

As I said these words I busied myself among the jumbled file cabinets. I soon uncovered a quantity of building stone and mortar. With these materials and with the aid of my trowel, I began vigorously to apply cement to the floor across the entrance of the niche he was chained within, then shifted heavy cabinets to fasten them in place. As I worked, I spoke enthusiastically to the near-stuporous Senator within.

"You should be honored to share space with these files," I said. "Among them are some of the most guarded secrets of the organization. This one" -- here I tapped on the heavy metal with my trowel -- "has the decoded intercepts of Stalin's instructions to Alger Hiss at the U.N. organizing conference in San Francisco. This next one" -- I said as I slowly shoved it into place, further blocking the victim's air -- "has receipts for payments to mercenaries to assassinate Dag Hammarskjöld. And the last one I'll affix here has all the aerial photographic evidence that the South Koreans actually staged a quick secret provocative raid across the border to lure the North into attacking, providing an excuse for the Korean War."

A drunken slur came came from the diminishing opening. "I thought that was a commie propaganda myth."

"Yes, that's what you were supposed to believe. An excellently done piece of work from the good old days when we still knew how to do proper cover-ups." I paused before pushing in the last cabinet, and sighed. "Nowadays, with cameras and the internet everywhere, it's much tougher to make a good excuse for invasions. Someday we may find it impossible to start any conflicts at all, no matter how necessary, even against monsters."

But now there came from out the niche a low laugh that erected the hairs upon my head. It was succeeded by a sad voice, which I had difficulty in recognizing as that of the noble Fristunato. The voice said "Ha! ha! ha! -- he! he! he! -- a very good joke, indeed -- an excellent jest. We will have many a rich laugh about it at the convention -- he! he! he! -- over our whiskey -- he! he! he! But is it not getting late? Will not they be awaiting us at the convention, my wife and the rest? Let us be gone."

"Yes," I said, "let us be gone."

"For the love of the Wall, Boltonor!"

"Yes," I said, "for the love of the Wall!"

But to these words I hearkened in vain for a reply. I grew impatient. I called aloud -- "Fristunato!"

No answer. I hastened to make an end of my labour. I forced the last cabinet into its position; I plastered it up. For the half of a century no mortal has disturbed them. In pace requiescat!

(Next week, in Part Three: Another take on the dreadful schemes of the evil brick evangelists, as depicted in an unholy literary miscegenation between a Japanese novelist and a writer of American comics.)

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