On the way home from the bookshop, Martín stops in at a stationery shop and buys a set of nibs, an ivory pen and an ink pot for Isabella. But when he comes home, he finds the corridor dark and Isabella in the room all the way at the end, the room he had locked. He tries to tell her to leave the room, but she calls him in, showing him some letters and photographs she found in the drawers. Apparently the house used to belong to a man Diego Marlasca. Isabella then asks,
‘Don’t you think it’s odd?’
‘That his initials are the same as yours: D.M.’
‘It’s just a coincidence; tens of thousands of people in the town have the same initials.’
Martín may think he’s fooling Isabella, but he is not fooling me here. He does think it’s odd.
It gets even more odd. Among the pictures, Isabella has found a picture of an actress who was famous when Martín was a boy. She is posing in the house, so she must have been at least acquainted with Diego Marlasca. When Isabella puts the pictures away, one falls out. When Martín picks it up, he recognises a face in the crowd of people in the picture – Andreas Corelli. This disturbs him very much, and he roughly tells Isabella to pack everything away and for her to call a charity to pick up all the things the next day.
Following that incident, Martín goes up to his study. There is no mention of him giving his gift to Isabella, so maybe he forgot that in the consternation. As Martín sits at his desk, he realises he better make a start on Corelli’s book.
I asked myself if this was what the boss had seen in me, a mercenary mind with no qualms about hatching a narcotic story fir for sending small children to sleep, or for convincing some poor hopeless devil to murder his neighbour in exchange for the eternal gratitude of some god who subscribed to the rule of the gun.
Martín doesn’t really have any inspiration, but he practises what he preached to Isabella earlier and he sits down and starts cranking out words.
I find it interesting that Martín now refers to Corelli as ‘the boss’. It’s almost as if he wants to distance himself from Corelli, making Corelli less personal.
When Martín meets up with Corelli, Corelli is very much taken with the approach Martín has taken. Martín has started with a warrior messiah. When Corelli asks why, Martín launches into a rambling explanation about how males peak earlier than females.
‘A young man is the perfect soldier. He has great potential for aggression and a limited critical capacity – or none at all – with which to analyse it and judge how to channel it. Throughout history, societies have found ways of using this store of aggression, turning their adolescents into soldiers, cannon fodder with which to conquer their neighbours or defend themselves against their aggressors. Something told me that our protagonist was an envoy from heaven, but an envoy who, in the first flush of youth, took arms and liberated truth with blows of iron.’
Corelli seems impressed and asks a few more questions, for example how women fit into the whole narrative. Martín is quite dismissive about that.
‘The main pillar of every organised religion, with a few exceptions, is the subjugation, repression, even the annulment of women in the group. Woman must accept the role of an ethereal, passive and maternal presence, never of authority or independence, or she will have to take the consequences.’
I really had hoped Martín would do something radical, such as give women a place of power in his made up religion, but who was I kidding?
Corelli approves of the manuscript so far and of the direction Martín wants to take. He tells Martín he will need to be out of town and they then part ways. Martín muses for a bit, hoping that Corelli has taken the bait and swallowed the story Martín had spun for him. Martín has decided he needs time to figure out how deep in trouble he really is.