Authors: Colin Cotterill
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With thanks to Leila, Eddy, Kyoko, Nok, Michaela, Shona, James, Janet, Dad, Mariska, Lizzie, Rachel, and CG. And with extra-special thanks to Gogo, Sticky, Beer, Psycho, and the Williams sisters for getting me through a particularly nasty patch and asking for nothing in return but food and the odd cuddle.
UNPOSTED BLOG ENTRY 1
(found two weeks too late)
It’s how I earn my living. I used to think there were those who wrote and those who performed, as separate as those who dreamed and those who lived their dreams. But tonight I stepped across that line. I graduated from writer of death to taker of life. I’ve never felt as free as I do now. If they arrest me, not that they’re likely to, I couldn’t pretend it was spontaneous: a spur-of-the-moment red rage or passion. I’d imagined it, you see? I’d pictured it vividly in solid oils rather than washed-out watercolors. It had been a recurring multicolored vision for so many years it was only a matter of time before it took on the grisly form of reality.
To give her credit, she hadn’t deserved all this gore. She was no more annoying than most of the women I’ve known. Perhaps she put a little too much effort into thoughts that didn’t warrant thinking. Perhaps she spoke when silence would have been the better option. But in many respects she served me well. Visitors liked her. She made a superb cup of coffee and performed her designated night-time duties to the best of her ability. Were I given more to diplomacy, I might have even been able to resolve these latest troubles without the use of the axe. But there was the question of betrayal, you see? Hard to forgive. So, it had all been decided by the flip of a twenty-pence piece. Heads she lives. Tails she gets hacked to bits. Odd, you might say—the flipping, not the hacking (although perhaps you wouldn’t see the hacking as particularly normal)—but in Thailand, one did not toss a coin of the realm for fear that the regent might be insulted should it land facedown. The Queen of England, on the other hand, had survived far worse indignities, so it was her tail that had condemned my poor woman to the fate of the blade.
And so she lies, the victim, here and there. A foot hither. An elbow thither. Like a kit—an IKEA human being. It’s fascinating to look around and visualize how these parts had once fitted together so neatly. Now look at her. And look at me, all blood-spattered and sweaty. I wish I had the type of cell phone that took pictures. But what an inspiration this has been. Job done, I simply have to transcribe this recorded message to myself, made while the events are still fresh in my mind. While the blood is still crusted on my hands.
First, the process. Consider this a “how to” for beginners.
The waterproof groundsheet can never be too large. Six liters of blood spreads a long way. Two layers of black plastic garbage bags upright in a bin for those butcher shop parts one might feed to one’s pigs. And then the cutting order:
A. The vertebrae of the neck to bleed her out.
B. Arms and legs. (Sockets put up surprisingly little resistance to a sharp axe. I’m astounded how crime writers make dismemberment seem so labor-intensive).
C. The legs were a little too long for the box, so a couple of swift hacks to the backs of the kneecaps.
D. The trunk was surprisingly broad, so I had a mind to slice it down the middle by chopping through the sternum; then down through the rib cage. I’d imagined I might invert one side and stack them, one inside the other like swimming pool chaise-longues. But, once separated, they were uncooperative. So I ended up forming four parts by hacking across the lower trunk below the rib cage. That was a workout, I tell you.
E. The other slicing and dicing I have to confess was just for the fascination of it.
To be honest it’s a damned fine feeling. There was something sexual about it. Wickedly perverted. There’s no doubt I shall do it again. We’ll see how cleanly I get away with this one. The average policeman down here has the IQ of a sponge, but I made mistakes. The most prominent was the connection between us. I’m an obvious suspect. And there’s motive. They wouldn’t have to dig too deep to find that. But I do have one or two things going for me. There’s the fact that I’m a foreigner. A better class of foreigner than the desperate laborers from the battered countries to the north, but still an outsider. As such, I can be visible and invisible at the same time. I stand out, but the Thais never delve too deeply into my business. They would look for a murderer among their own before accusing me. Then there’s the fact that there is no crime without a body. She’ll fit nicely in the polystyrene ice chest now, and off she goes. They’ll never find her. She had no living relatives. Nobody misses a missing person in this country.
My next will be more carefully thought out. A friendship. An alibi. A glass of red with a fast-dissolving opiate tranquilizer they developed up in the heroin labs across the border. And here she’ll be in this perfect windowless concrete room. No sounds. No escape. The type of room the predictable authors write about where all the serial killers and child abductors take their victims. Where the screams are muffled. And like those predictable authors, I shall let my next victim come around to plead and cry for mercy. Yes, the next one will be better. And the next. And the next.
The Lip and Eye Remover
(brand name on bottle of makeup removal cream)
E-MAIL TO CLINT EASTWOOD
It’s Jimm here, your Thai friend down on the Gulf of Siam. Merry Christmas to you and your family. It’s been a while since I wrote. I hope you are well. My sister (aka brother) Sissi and I noticed that you recently fired your personal assistant, Liced. We hope it had nothing to do with us hacking into her e-mail account and accessing private information about Malpaso Productions. Liced was a victim in all this and was virtually blackmailed into helping us. I hope you can forgive her and consider rehiring her. As we now have nobody “on the inside,” I’m sending this package to your private post office box. I promise this is the last confidential information we will take advantage of. The enclosed DVD contains recorded footage of our very exciting pursuit of Burmese slaves on the Gulf of Thailand. As a live Internet feed, we attracted 1.3 million viewers for the event. Sissi and I are certain every one of them would gladly fork out fifteen dollars a ticket and watch it as a cinematic experience, especially if Natalie Portman played me. But I bow to you on casting decisions on this one. I’ve taken the liberty of wrapping the DVD in my screenplay adaptation of the events.
Clint, I’m sure you’ll recall that this is the fourth screenplay I’ve sent you, each one more thrilling than the last. Although I haven’t heard back from you personally (not complaining. Old age is catching up with all of us), we did intercept a message from one of your editorial reviewers that referred to serious doubts about the quality of characterization in our second manuscript. First, it was heartening to know you bothered to have our work assessed internally. But we feel a need to address this issue, especially as the characters in the second screenplay are my family members. We considered the comments to be unfairly cruel and I would like to take your editor to task.
Our mother, Mair, is perhaps starting to feel the teeth of dementia nibbling at her heels, but that doesn’t make her “nutty as a fruitcake” as your reviewer described her. She has long coherent periods which do not involve wearing odd shoes or buying secondhand Cosplay rabbit suits on eBay. (She’s only done that once. She wanted to bond with the dogs.) Between you and me, she was a “flower child” for several years and did spend a good deal of time in the jungle with anti-system elements and there may have been intoxicants ingested at that time. But I’d like to see them as turning her into a more whole and mellow human rather than “a fruit basket.”
The older gentleman who was described as “unlikable and two-dimensional” is, in fact, my Grandad Jah. I have to agree with the “unlikable” part, but Grandad, I have to strongly protest, is not lacking a dimension. At the very most, he may be short a sense or two. But his absence of humor and social etiquette is more than made up for by his innate skill as an investigator. One would imagine that forty years spent in the Thai Police Force, where the focus is on amassing great wealth rather than putting oneself in harm’s way, might erase a man’s policing instincts. But Grandad Jah has uncanny abilities and is as honest as the day is long (which explains why he’s still penniless).
This brings me to my brother, Arnon, known affectionately as Arny, after his hero Arnold Schwarzenegger. Had we not followed our mother to the northernmost southern province in Thailand for reasons that I’ve only recently come to understand, he would undoubtedly have been this year’s Mr. Chiang Mai Body Beautiful. So, the comment, “This character has no personality, no abilities and absolutely no purpose for being in the story,” is a bit like complaining that Moby Dick didn’t have much of a speaking part. Everything revolves around Arny. He’s the sounding board for my stories, and even though he wouldn’t harm a fly, he is my protector. In the last screenplay you’ll notice that he takes on a boatload of pirates all by himself. I may have exaggerated the number of opponents he faced and the injuries he inflicted, but he did make a good account of himself in front of his fiancée.
The “Impossible Hermaphrodite Queen,” is my “sister,” Sissi, who was neither born with conflicting organs nor crowned. If your reviewer had bothered to read the character sheet, he or she would know this. I feel he or she was just being smart in an attempt to impress you. I’m sure you have a lot of people sucking up to you. Sissi is transgender and has a medical certificate to prove it. With reference to her computer skills, the Malpaso threat to “chase you down and run you out of business,” was very dramatic, but I’m sure you realize she’s un-chasable and un-runoutable. Our hacking has, you’ll have to agree, been very friendly, and even though your accounts were wide open to access and abuse, we have not robbed you blind. And I’m sure that when we’re sitting down at the negotiating table discussing the finer details of our first movie deal, we’ll all look back at these days and laugh.