TurkoTek Discussion Boards

Subject  :  Summary and next chapter
Author  :  Jerry Silverman mailto:%20rug_books@silvrmn.com
Date  :  12-16-2000 on 03:10 a.m.
I'd like to thank all of you who participated in this unusual Salon. As you will see in the next chapter, some of your ideas were incorporated to what I hope was good effect.

I appreciate your good-natured willingness to flex your creative-writing muscles on this exercise. Although I must admit that some of you have pretty scary imaginations. That said, here's the next chapter.

It’s Almost Too Easy


He moved through the rug conference like a phantom. His name tag said he was “D’Arque Angelli” and raised no eyebrows in this thoroughly international gathering. He had changed into a simple Armani charcoal suit with a black silk mock turtleneck t-shirt which made him the best-dressed person in the room by a factor of a thousand. So out of touch were the conferees that they never noticed the elegant drape of the worsted wool as its cuff crested his unadorned grey suede loafers. In this tiny universe of frayed tweeds, shapeless smocks, and Christmas cardigans the monochromatic greys of his attire rendered him as invisible as the busboys who were refilling the wine and cheese trays.
The voices were there again.
“Did you hear about Quirt?”
“Hogshead missed an appointment to sell an old Baluch fragment. Not like him at all.”
“You’re not going to believe what happened to Krasny.”
Rumors and gossip are the lifeblood of rug collectors, and in this hotel where 850 were assembled the word of the deaths of three well-known personages spread like fire in dry kindling. Gathered around televisions in the hotel bar, little clumps of people listened raptly to the lead story of the evening news: Death Stalks the Rug World. Little was known except that three people who were prominent in the world of oriental rugs were found dead within hours of each other. With an irony typical of television news, photos of each of the three were taken from the Rug Notables archive on the RugWorld.com Web site. One, Quirt, was a clear homicide. Hogshead and Krasny’s deaths were mysteries. One newscaster even quoted James Bond saying, “Once is an accident. Twice is a coincidence. But three times is a conspiracy.”
The volume of the voices increased exponentially.
“Can you imagine what that tentband will sell for at Sotheby’s - considering its provenance?”
“Are the deaths related?”
“I never liked those bastards anyhow.”
True facts were related alongside the errors that accumulate with re-tellings. In some versions Krasny was hung with the tentband. In others Quirt had been kidnapped and held for a ransom to be paid in Salor Turkomen bagfaces. A buzz of gossip filled the hotel.
Rising from the buzz was a stentorian, British-accented voice that silenced the multitude with its commanding presence. Archibald Trip was holding forth from a tall wingback chair in the lounge. Trip was a oldtime rug dealer who had, early on, discovered that he could be vastly more successful selling rugs to people who couldn’t trust their own taste and needed an imperious authority to intimidate them into a purchase. That’s when the Peoria-born Trip acquired his British accent. He was famous for making customers buy three or four mediocre rugs before he’d allow them to spend Big Bucks on his better merchandise. It was a form of sado-masochistic selling that really appealed to customers who’d drop his name in conversation. “Oh, the Bijar in the dining room? It came from Trip’s.” Their decorating status was thus assured.
“I have a theory,” said Tripp. And all within range drew near.
“There is a serial killer moving amongst us. We know him; and I say ‘him’ because all serial killers are male. He may be standing beside you as I speak.”
Uneasy glances were made from side to side. People separated so they were equidistant from each other not unlike the way they behave in an elevator. The whispering of gossip all but ceased.
“We must join together to assist the police in their investigation. This is obviously a madman - ‘mad’ in both senses of the word: insane and angry. We all know one another. This person should stand out like a sore thumb. Look around you. I’m sure we’ll be able to find him before he can carry out any more fiendish killings.”
Trip smiled a tight, little smile, lit a cigarette and let his words settle in on the crowd. But then a curious thing happened. His words had exactly the opposite effect than he had intended. Rather than unite, they divided. Paranoia, it turns out, is a stronger emotion than cooperation. And ruggies are a singularly eccentric group, each one looking more suspicious than the next the longer one thought about it. Old rivalries were remembered. Ancient affronts were recalled. Unforgiven insults were revisited.


It’s almost too easy, he thought as he passed quietly through the milling throng. They were so self-involved in their fear they paid no attention to him. He walked up to Trip who likewise ignored him - so much had his appearance changed.
In a flash he saw Trip as he had first seen him almost twenty years ago, long before he had made his softwear millions. Arrogant and intimidating, Trip had offered to sell him a rug “to evaluate his taste.” It was overpriced and pedestrian, but it was the price he had to pay to gain access to “Trip’s treasures” that were hidden away on the second floor of Trip’s shop. Then a second rug, and a third had to be bought; the better to measure his aesthetic virtue. With nearly $15,000 invested in unexceptional rugs, he was primed and ready to buy pieces that could be proudly displayed in any museum.
But Trip decided that his taste was not suitable for such purchases. What Trip really decided was that he was not wealthy enough to be worth the time. He was too naive to understand this and took the rejection personally. And it gnawed at him like a botworm that lays its eggs under the skin of the unwary and only reveals itself as the wound festers and hundreds of squirming wormlets burst forth in a stream of blood and pus.
And now he was standing next to Trip. From a small plastic bag with the logo of the conference silk-screened on it he took a small rug and quickly pushed it against Trip’s face. Trip gasped with surprise and inhaled the toxin derived from the ubiquitous potted Dieffenbachia plant. Known as “dumbcane” the plant cells contain chemicals which cause itching, burning, and excessive swelling of the tongue. For once in his life Trip spoke not a word as his nasal passages closed and his tongue sealed his throat. He died while all around him nervous people debated his “theory.”
The killer had casually gone to the bar and ordered a Drambuie before Trip was discovered to be dead, holding a cheap, one-foot square, Pakistani Bokhara mat.

Again, my thanks for your help. I hope to finish this chapbook before the snow melts.


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