"Omnia in numero et mensura:"
All things in number and measure. Before I was reminded of this maxim by a very imposing and terrifying German, I could recall this phrase from my readings in a high school textbook, back when the classics were damnably near the primary fulcrum of my desire to learn and the prospect of mastering numerous dead tongues seemed a perfectly wonderful use of my spare time. And what better way to spend Saturday nights reading aging masters in their glorious originals wafting pipe-smoke into puerile lungs?
Extortion. Murder. Espionage. Revenge. My mind could not at the time fathom the sprawling possibilities that would very suddenly become my reality.
Yet dear reader, I find it ironic now that I should reflect upon the Vulgate and more particularly about omnia in numero et mensura, seeing as how every regard and every aspect of this worm-burrowed life has become governed by those two vices of number and measure. Quite literally, too.
The Germans have a sophisticated term for their prison system. They were once very simply dichotomized between the Zuchthausen (penal colonies) and the Gefängnissen (jails) but have now been conglomerated into an appropriate Germanic etymology of justice executing institutions: the Justizvollzugsanstalten. In between the cold stone Wanden of Stammheim I have been dictated two very long, very regulated life sentences.
Oh, but I shan't bore my readers with the details of my imprisonment so soon when there is so much other catharsis to be exasperated: the reason of this memoir 'purging,' namely. To be very einfach, and I do apologize for the repetition of this vernacular, memoirs are the commonplace time filler: all the rage when the only currency one has is time; a regulated measure of a number of minutes of a number of years.
I cannot elude the masters.
And I think that's how I shall come to it. 'It' being the long and intricate story of my imprisonment to be expressed over a period of days over a period of months over a period of eventual years in ink on paper, not the skin, mind you, as these hundreds of mates of the inn might scribe who have never browsed the Vulgate. Also sprache Die König James: "Ye shall not make any cutting in your flesh for the dead, nor print any marks upon you."
For this reason I shall transmit this worthless story to the paper and be assuaged. This fair bit of prelude aside, let me continue.
A very flagrant cliche exists in this text whose existence I shall now make strikingly apparent to you. Although I believe that you, my audience, who no doubt holds profound capacity of mind and of foresight than a Texan-bred inmate serving his sentence in a German Justizvollzugsanstalten might have already guessed as to the reason I make apparent the details concerning my imprisonment, I insist nevertheless on following through with every last detail and comment and dialogue, to be meticulously placed so as to add the most emphasis and aid the reader in his most accurate rendering, as my mind can muster in order to replicate to near exactitude these events that have transpired.
So only recently stated, the cause of this story is a very easily perceivable thus: vengeance. What kind of vengeance? questions the inquirer lacking in mental finesse, and should not the fact that I am serving a tremendous sentence due to an act of utter betrayal not bequeath a readily available answer, I shall take the trouble to spell that answer out for you: vengeance for the life I had and could have kept having should it not have become product of the great state of Deutschland and all the filthy vagabonds who inhabit its rank and dirty prisons.
Now, allow me to expostulate the further details of my confinement.
I am one of two brothers. Well-raised brothers, if I might have the audacity and lack of modesty to admit, and bred in what could be called the best of standards. I received an excellent albeit standard education for the first twelve years of my life, including not the perfunctory prior-to-first-grade years which no longer generate or accelerate the learning process in today's impressionable youth, but rather seeks to gobble up as much income in as little time or energy or work spent as humanly impossible. These details concerning my education I will leave aside for the time being, however, and return rather to the subject of revenge or which this piece is concerned. Let me therefore return to the subject of my singular brother and source for vengeance, a brother whom we shall refer to by the name he was christened with, by my Slavic mother: Andrei. Yes, spelled with even the 'i.' As such that his due has been given, with its high-front vowel as well, I shall relinquish mine to make the pair of us complete: Nikolai.
For the first nineteen years of his life, Andrei shared the same educational opportunities as myself. His knowledge however, was doubled over mine own. Whereas I possessed a clarity of what has been vernacularized as 'book lore' intelligence (literally I might add), he possessed the much more useful practicality, which I mean in the sense of natural direction, clarity in sudden (although, not always insightful) decision-making, and a remarkable ability of seemingly preternatural foresight. One could almost contrast the dichotomy between us brothers as the ability to arrive at studiously approached, insightful, and potentially long-term-affecting investment choices and the common sense-derived, short-term-benefitting choices that very often govern whole lives. In clearer speech (for the reader's consideration, I shall note here that such a speech is not the forte of this writer/prisoner. My apologies and extended apologies for what is assured to be a most imprecise reading, should you wish to continue further), the gifts that I have been blessed with are primed for the future, whereas my counterpart was blessed with the gifts that would ensure him well-being throughout all years of his living. It is for a reason such as this that we were often referred to as a 'pair;' the long-term visionary and the short-term gainer whose gifts would usher in life-long well-being for the immediacy and future spawn of the whole Slavic-sounding dynasty. And to all the prophets who have predicted such, indeed it has, however this is a matter not to be discussed, or rather, written about for quite some time.
As I have provided a somewhat limited perspective and portrait of the most outstandingly crucial details concerning the childhoods of both myself and of Andrei, I feel it positively necessary to highlight the involvement in this plot of revenge of another individual before I begin with the perfunctory biographical nonsense. I shall state that it was this man's influence alone that has had power enough to throw me spinning into this German hell-hole. Do not discount what has been previously written: it is my brother who has was the primary culprit of my current situation, yet like the voice of Cassius, this man was the phantom driving my dear Andrei's every stab.
This man was named Otto. Nothing more than Otto. I do not believe that anyone ever knew anything more of Otto other than his name: parents, places of education, place or even date of birth, etc. What was known of Otto was what was readily and immediately available based on the conversation he would allow himself to partake in with you and based on what you could perceive from the man's face and clothes and speech alone. However these are, at best, outstanding details which shall be deprived from the dear reader until they find appropriate placement. Being quite the hypocrite I feel it necessary to run at will in narration as it will excuse nothing from the events which will transpire before your reading eyes, however these extraneous details can be halted until the time in the story of my first rendezvous with Mr Otto. Yet I do feel it in fact necessary to account for several poignant details of this man Otto which will aid the reader in his reading and which cannot be excused so readily as they are pertinent to the story and its beginning; namely, why Andrei and myself were so awestruck during our first meeting with Otto, because of his very wild and preconceived reputation, of which we knew only vague details, as did everybody in our surrounding neighborhood. These details I shall now relate to you:
Otto was born with the statistic one in a very many thousand who are affected by a rare condition known as situs inversus totalis. For the readers of mine who are not anatomically or Ian Fleming minded, this condition is one that mirrors the major internal organs such as the heart and stomach to the right side of the body and the liver and lungs to the left. In addition to the condition, a byproduct exists that increases the likelihood of lung defects through some means or another. I hardly ever paid attention to this additional condition, however, as Otto smoked a great deal throughout his life with minimal adverse affects on his already adversely affected body.
As previously mentioned, this detail for the purpose of Otto's reputation which is now being preserved much the same as it was when my brother and I first heard Otto's name. We knew nothing about the man at this point in our impressionable lives yet the report came in The Dallas Morning News which our mother stumbled across and shared with us. The somewhat lengthy headline was on the bottom of page four and ran as follows: Residents Alongside Caddo Lake Discover Deceased Body Of Lawyer Involved In Recent Stabbing. The stabbing had occurred just three days before when the disgruntled lawyer, inebriated, (the later reports would state) had taken a midsize Gerber to his opponent's client more than nine times in the 'heart.' What he, or Otto, had been accused of I can't hardly remember however it ended poorly for his opponent and, in retrospect, the whole state of Texas. The lawyer was simply the only man who had taken action and product of extremely foul luck, and had designated his crippling blows to the wrong side of Otto's chest, which meant a blood transfusion and a stay in the hospital. I remember this because it not only was our first mention of Otto, but also our first realization of the business he was involved in. Of course, Otto being in the hospital under care and having no acquaintances in the region, had been grudgingly dismissed of accusation yet I had known the truth, as had everyone else. That very deliberate murder had been orchestrated by the hospitalized victim with a traditionally stone solid alibis. Perhaps we made the comparison a bit readily, yet the Ian Fleming's Dr No reference was simply too perfect to be dismissed: villain survives assassination attempt because of rare heart-misplacement and later exacts revenge. This was a comparison of exceptional rarity and we were only too eager to jump on its clarity, despite the claims that the victim had been seen with an individual identified as the victim's sexual acquaintance the suspected day of his killing and despite the testimonials that the victim had been known to consume large portions of the types of alcohol that were found in the victim's bloodstream during autopsy and despite the sexual acquaintance's statement that she had noticed behavioral changes in her beloved that rang very acutely of prospective suicide. None of this mattered: Otto was, from thenceforth in my and in Andrei's minds, a criminal mastermind and a gifted orchestrator of complexities.
The other detail that I shall divulge now is the fact that Otto was German, however not a soul could ever divine what province or region or city he hailed from in either Germany or Switzerland or Austria because he held mastery over every accent in the countries in addition to over a dozen European languages alone with the inclusion of Russian. I bring this fact to light solely for the reaffirmation at the fact that Otto possessed another mastery, alongside criminal genius, in the art of hiding. I will not the mistake of saying 'running' because he was a stout German man of noble bearing who characterized himself by his samurai-Caesar's code of honor and respect. An apt term for an outsider's regard of the man would be the 'noble fiend' yet us who dwelled for so long on the inside, my brother and I and Otto's countless others who kept the clock of criminality always in perpetual tick knew him too well to put him into words.
It was my hope that this introduction would necessitate only two details important details of Otto, however because of its vast importance I see the need for one more, should this addendum not already be known to you, my reader. Despite this prowess for a capacity of facts and knowledge, Otto was never a man whom one would immediately attribute as being much more than intelligently adequate. I have said noble which means above all else, dignified, yet by no means is the world's populous respectable enough to see the congruency between a truly noble personage and intelligence. Very often Otto was mistaken for shallow and even-simple minded. Several of his jobs were hailed in the papers as the works of anonymous tactless and petty criminals and scoundrels. Otto was never tactless nor was he ever ruthless. He was precise in every meaning of the word and exacted punishment and justice as skillfully as Dante. His works, be they stabbings or crushings or God knows what else, could never be considered mundane because of their sheer perfection; Flaubert's le mot juste; the right word (for the perfect scenario), as significant and alarmingly simple as a line break. Those who did not understand Otto were the ones who criticized him and indirectly targeted themselves for standard approbation: bounds hands and feet, a burlap sandbag to tear them down to unfathomable depths by chains thick as a man's forearm. Simple and classic yet with a twist; a portable yet inequitable Rebreather (to ensure that the victim was kept air-supplied), a burlap bag weighted only five to ten, and in rare instances, twenty pounds (to insure that the victim sustained long-term buoyancy before sinking), and depths as sprawling as the Pacific Ocean or as minimal as a creak (to insure that the victim died, respectfully, of accumulated pressure and nitrogen narcosis, and of infection brought about by small and slimy things that crept into orifices to cause unimaginable things). This was an art of patience and calculation combined with an art of poetic, exactly allotting justice. One could say that it was this commingling of traits that made Otto's works so attractive to us.
However I do not wish to exceed prison writing hours for fear of the firm wrath I will incur, so I shall call this introduction to an end with this cliche: And thus it began.
Bis morgen, and fond readings, my dear reader.