tEam“Half a doctor is a danger to the material life, and half a priest is a danger to the spiritual life,” says the Italian proverb.

In this case, another incompleteness also turned out to be dangerously fatal for a woman of whom we shall learn more about in the following paragraphs.

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The Mortessi family, renowned for their olive groves in the region of Liguria, Italy, possessed countless [1] lands and farms in the once young and thriving country of Argentina; they also possessed two qualities that when happen to operate at the same time, always prove to be dangerous for life and death as well: they were the sole owners responsible for the trade that had begun some centuries ago, not through an inclination towards pleasure, but by a stroke of mere need: a certain Rossella Manfredi had died suddenly, thus forcing her shocked husband to perform all the duties of an undertaker without the necessary skills and safety measures.

That very same burial story which served as the igniting spark in the family business is still being told every Christmas Eve by family friends, shouted as a fervent mantra accompanied by the clarion sounds of laughter and farts (surely caused by the intensity of the laughs inspired by the bizarre tale).

The poor widower and at that time involuntary origin of the myth, Rigoberto Manfredi, had been abandoned by his parents after barely a week of being alive in this cruel world; whereas Rossella had to suffer the same fate: yet she was left alone, estranged, during the scarce hours following her birth.

The newly widowed Rigoberto had never had to face death before like he had to after the sudden and unexpected departure of Rossella; and as a logical result of this, he had no idea whatsoever about what should be done with the still warm corpse of his wife; yet he resorted to doing what ignorant people usually do: he filled the void with the produce of his imagination. Thus he invented a procedure, and because I, the translator and transcriber of this very tale, am aware of my own ignorance, I would gladly and willingly prefigure and imagine Rigoberto’s proceedings; but at the same time, I am not yet ignorant nor am I oblivious of the oath that I have taken in order to serve this magnificent Opus Magnum. I have sworn not to let my ego interfere with that sacred duty of translation. Such is the reason why I will merely fill the void only with true, unimagined information.

The grieving Rigoberto placed his stiffening wife on the kitchen table – which, by the way, was the one and only table in the entire house – and, surely influenced both by the English lessons he was taking at the time with a local native teacher from Uzbekistan, and his own Spanish half with his inherited memory of his Iberian ancestors (his mother, Hortensia, was once an astonishing woman who used to bedazzle the streets of Quintanilla, her hometown in Santander; or so he managed to discover about her after spending his youthful years in search of his vanished madre: because all existing things inevitably seek their origin), he did something that perhaps for the reader today – and yesterday, and tomorrow, and the day after – might seem horrendous, but to the widower and grieving Rigoberto made perfect sense.

All of a sudden, as he was wondering what to do, he remembered something he had recently heard about a cremation: word that had come from the mouth of his beloved stiff wife one day when she shared with him a superfluous dialogue she had heard about the different types of funeral rites with an English lady friend whose name at this point is absolutely irrelevant, at the town baker’s, in Stranetti.

In the name of love, the estranged husband tried to exhaust his memory; somehow he intuited that because that wife’s nameless friend was rich, cremation had to be the way to go in order to honour his beloved Rossella’s memory. Little did his insecurities about the accuracy of the anecdote matter, and it mattered even less that he ignored everything about the correct way of proceeding. Rossella deserved the very best, and that was what she was doomed for.

Full of love and honour, Rigoberto spent all the money he could in order to perform a proper – according to his altered emotional state – crematorial ceremony. The childless man that had dreamt many nights of healing his past through parenthood, covered his now purple and swollen wife with the best panna he could have ever afforded: seventy eight kilos of cream were soon transforming the departed amore into a giant cake made of decomposing flesh, foetid aromas and ulcerated skin; all the possible range of flavours were being macerated over the kitchen-coffin table.

How easy it is to judge and condemn the homaging behaviour of Rigoberto; but bear in mind, dear reader, that it was now when the faulty English lessons and the unresolved issues with his Spanish mother were beginning to take their toll. Drowning in a sea of despair, anger and guilt, the widower had confused the Italian word cremazione, with that combination of letters created to represent the white culinary marvel that was attracting all sorts of wild animals and rodents, which soon feasted on the foetid-fleshy white cake. A mistake that has to be understood under the circumstances in which it was made. An unfortunate event that proved to be not only futile, but mortal for the remains of Rossella, who unwillingly found her resting place within the digestive system of various mice, rats and other disgusting and creepy animals.

The weeping husband, ignorant of the feasty night that was about to occur in his own vigilant kitchen, he left the departed covered with cream, and once his task had been finished, he went to make peace with Morpheus; he got lost in the shadow of his now single chamber, oblivious of what was about to occur during his dream travels.

Void is what awaited him the next morning – a hard and wooden emptiness that was still supporting the weight of a bloated mouse that was enjoying the last textures of Rossella’s abdomen. Had this sole detail not have occurred, Rigoberto would surely have ended in a mental house, convinced that his wife was a living dead zombie terrorizing the whole village of Stranetti. Gluttony had a worthy representative in this story and it also proved to be life saving. A definite proof that probably nothing is a permanent sin, and that it depends on how it is used or experienced.

Far from feeling abated, the widower soon realised that somehow he had made a terrible mistake, and he decided at that very moment that he would expiate his suspected error by transforming the creamy experience into a life-changing event. But before the epiphany could come to existence, something needed to be done: yes, true it was that nothing was left of what used to be his beloved Rossella’s vessel, but at least an uncertain part of her had and deserved to be inside of him. The greedy mouse found its end at the very first bite; Rigoberto’s digestive system now realized that it had another purpose: to be a tomb for his wife. A tomb within a tomb.

It was a dwelling that would have to be carefully controlled: from that moment on, he fasted for two grieving and hungry weeks to make sure that nothing else contaminated his wife’s remains; and all of his excrements during that period of time were to be buried in the secrecy of his private garden – ’till he could not excrete any more. A tomb within a tomb within many tombs.

After the ground was flattened – and his digestion completely finished – he set himself to what was perhaps a heroic task: to become the best undertaker ever [2], but not before first eating a loaf of bread. This was a determination that could and should be considered the big bang, not only of the sombre family business, but of this story as well.

But before climbing aboard the ship that would eventually lead him toward a life of millions of worms, he had to wipe out his creamy shame: vendetta. That rascal ‘teacher’ of something that he thought was English would have reached her end, thus becoming Rigoberto’s very first victim and client – provided, of course, that the Uzbek woman had ever been found. Yet such was not the case, and the widower had to accept that some debts cannot be repaid after all. Instead, he dedicated some masturbatory activities to the memory of the Uzbek woman’s mother.

Some years later, the results of Rigoberto’s efforts and energy materialised in the form of a majestic Funeral Parlour – the entrepreneurial transmutation of the creamy accident; a company known throughout the whole little town of Stranetti as Szaborostroskyiop Burial Homes.

Of course, it is perfectly natural to wonder about the nature of such a name. In the same ways as it is fair and an honour to logic and common sense to ask why we keep calling white chocolate something that clearly has nothing of the essence that gives the name to such a sweet delicacy. Why? What is pesto without basil? What is Basil without Manuel? What is this tale without an ad libitum ad aeternum?

Here comes the Gordian knot of the story that summons us here in this very page, that cannot yet be untied. Some say the name it’s a subtle homage to that swindler disguised as an English teacher whose family name was fairly unknown: hence Rigoberto had to invent something that might impress to be of Uzbek origin. Others say that the best Tagliatelle Alfredo can be enjoyed in a small trattoria somewhere near the Fontana di Trevi. And the rest suggest that the following paragraph might provide a feasible explanation for such a mess. We shall follow, at least for the moment, this latter path.

The Holy Scripture that once belonged to the hairy and yellow-nailed hands of a man who was thought to be an ignored saint, a man with a divine intuition and healing powers, a man named Vincenzo Mortessi, parish priest of Nostra Madonna delle Oglio church, offers us an insider’s view about the possible reasons of such an eccentric name for a thriving business that belonged or perhaps still belongs to a pure famiglia with sangue italiana (yet, we now know for a fact that this is not true).

Here you will be able to read the verbatim copy of what could be interpreted throughout some certain pages of the Holy Bible used for his Sunday masses that usually started some minutes after the ninth hour of the resting day. Getting past his poor handwriting, we share the following:

“… Indeed, those were prosperous times for us; the church was flooding with pilgrims and true believers, and my whole family was happily working for our thriving Burial Home. But present is nothing but a trout that slips through the hungry fingers of the fisher; that is how fast the past becomes an obliviated present – somehow things started to change in that fishy slippery way: my fellow co-religionists, those happy inhabitants of my beloved hamlet of Stranetti, began to die less frequently.

“I did not realise then, but slowly, after some sleepless nights flooded with sincere scripture recitals, I was able to connect the loose dots: all the prayers requested at my church were being soon answered (a man is a saint until he knows he is one, a saying that applies perfectly here: the humble Vincenzo thought the miracle was an aseptic work of the Lord, whereas he had a fundamental role in what was then happening. He was a blessed man with healing powers he ignored. Those miraculous recuperations were achieved through his yellowy, unconscious hands), by our Lord who is the most Generous; it is also truth that all those implorations were, as a proof of the quality of my parishioners, only of a benevolent nature – usually asking for an ailment relief or a cure for an impeccable disease.

“The success of human life, on occasion, asks for the failure of material abundance. In this precise case, longevity and boundless life equalled the slow death of the family business. At first it only meant that some luxuries had to be spared – and things were somehow still bearable; yet, quite soon the presence of the continuous miracles began to be noticeable through the shape of all of those who worked at our Burial Home: they all had a wonderful appearance and could have perfectly joined the Bolshoi Ballet, or perhaps could have forged a path within the fashion world.

“But of course, sometimes a gain equals a loss. Becoming lighter meant to spend more in clothing – an expenditure that could not be faced because of our Lord’s benevolence and inscrutable will through his healing miracles. All the famished employees of our family company were forced to either feel embarrassed due to a certain lack of fashion sense – something that would prove to be fatal for any Italian worthy of such a nationality – or to act like rappers, or to wear blankets and sheets and curtains to prevent nudity. Some endured the disapproving look of the others, some painted their faces black in order to look like real rappers, and the rest were rapidly nicknamed the Greeks.

“Soon after this garmental shame, my heart began to feel as if it were between the hammer and the anvil. Because ‘anvil’ sounds more like evil than ‘hammer’, I chose the hammer [3].

“The Mortessis still had the choice of learning a craft, of exercising detachment and recreating a new life, a new horizon filled with endless opportunities; but they chose the path of suffering, the path of carrying centuries of empty inheritance for no real purpose, of the soulless monetary inertia – at least other than that of laziness and material security.

“As a last resort, they were allowed to use my church as their circumstantial home and my humble kitchen as their food source – but pride has an assured way within men. I chose the hammer, despite knowing what the hand of fate was beginning to draw in the canvas of my life. I was put at once under the toughest test I’ve had yet to endure: my family started to attend the Sunday mass, solely to request, to pray, to beg for a daily death and for the annulment of all the wishes of recovery and well-being previously uttered by my flock. Yet, they ignored the sole precondition of true prayer: sincerity of heart; a quality they of course did not possess, because they had other paths to walk, other realms to conquer; besides, they lack the wit and courage that implies following a basic truth of all real religious ways and their common goal: to know oneself – something I’ve been trying to achieve for my entire conscious life, yet a task that is still proving to be the most demanding any human being could tackle; perhaps an impossible one.

“The solitary night was again the bringer of the answer that my heart was anxiously looking for. It came in the form of a story – a tale I’ve once heard, many years ago, during a brief stop at a caravanserai in an uncharted village in Iraq. I’m afraid that my memory, feeble as all, might betray me, but I will try to conserve the essence of the story:

A student of a Sufi master was sitting in an inn in Baghdad one evening when he overheard two people talking. From their conversation, it became clear that one of them was the Angel of Death. I have several calls to make in this city over the next few days, the Angel was saying.

The disciple wondered if the Angel had come for anyone he knew. Then he wondered if Death may even have come to claim him. This possibility terrified him. He was not ready for death yet. He decided he would avoid death by moving out of the city for a while. The Angel would be in his city for a few days – to play it safe, the student decided he would stay away for two weeks. He would visit friends in Samarkand, a good distance from Baghdad, and stay out of the Angel’s way.

The student slunk out of the inn and went straight to the market, where he hired a fine horse to take him to Samarkand, where he would lie low for the next two weeks.

Meanwhile, the Angel of Death decided to pay a courtesy call on the Sufi master, who was an old friend. As they were chatting, the Angel asked the Master about his student. By the way, what is he doing these days?, the Angel asked. He should be somewhere in the city, spending his time in contemplation, the Master replied.

I’m surprised to hear he’s in Baghdad, said the Angel, because I’m due to collect him in a week’s time in Samarkand.

“After such a revelation, I knew that the much begged and prayed and desired corporeal death was not going to occur for monetary reasons; but I also knew that all choices have a cost, though I’m willing to pay mine in whatever currency is requested by Him.

“I can’t hide a sombreness that clouds my heart – clouds that are starting to obliterate the sun, the life light, and some rain of concern is beginning to fall from them. I only hope that the worrying water that rains from my clouds of concern is not turned into hailstone because my car insurance won’t cover the damage. I shall better stop writing and start looking for a suitable car protection.”

So far, we’ve read the transcriptions of the reflections by Abbot Vincenzo. It is our duty to thus abandon such a memory ship because, after writing the last word, we’ve just appreciated with our own eyes – this last word is not not, and it is not is, nor it is not words, ad libitum ad aeternum – that something happened. The last letter he wrote was n, and the previous six were oitcetorp, or if preferred, protectio. But before finishing this paragraph, I would like to make a tiny correction in order to not abuse the footnote resource; nothing that begins with finite quantities can provide infinite – though vast –variations. Hence, ad libitum shall do.

So, in order to make things extremely clear, protection was the last word that Vincenzo was able to write in his lifetime; various are the probable causes of his sudden disappearance: he slipped as he ran to protect his beloved car; or the rain was so abundant that it drowned him as he was heading towards the automobile; or a giant hailstone could have hit the (soon to be) late Vincenzo in the head, leaving him an obliviant man; or some member of the Abbot´s family could have kidnapped him; or ad libitum non aeternum. Legend has it that he became the first of a vast amount of fresh clients who helped his own family business expand towards heaven and hell.

The above mentioned facts leave us no choice but to resort to and make good – and why not, superb – use of the great and vast memory skills of Giannina Madoninna Mortessi, second cousin of Vincenzo on his Mamma‘s side, hence daughter of her own parents and by a stroke of chance niece of her very uncles, namely, Vincenzo’s own parents, in order to resume our story telling.

She was a lesbian, but she also was fond of oranges. Thus she reminisces:

*Please note that all words written between () are comments by the editor.

“Gianpietro busted into the family dinner carrying a tight briefcase full of diversely sized business cards of our beloved sepulchral Szaborostroskyiop; they modestly but accurately informed of our services. Each card offered a variety of discounts if our Funeral Services were to be hired, providing the chance to the mourning relatives and friends to win different prizes and gifts: such as a typical Sicilian burial with the presence of an Al Pacino stunt, pretending to be Michael Corleone grieving his assassinated fiancée for no extra cost. Those very same business cards also offered incredibly useful data and info that would prove to be advantageous not only for this world, but for those to come as well: the name of a priest soon to be sanctified, some random compromising information about the postural preferences of a renowned clerical figure, or the nasty betting and drinking habits of a certain powerful politician… the kind of things that guarantee a triumphal and imperial entrance into the Garden of Eden.

“After having shared his square paper invention with us, spitting as he praised his marketing manipulations and described every single promotion and discount with unbridled passion, he brought his lips closer and emitted a high pitched whistle as if he were blowing an invisible thread that was tied to the chests of those gigantic Albanians, who soon invaded the whole available space in the room; they were sailors, with more fingers than teeth and a strange fondness of oranges as well; that I could tell at the blink of an eye. They were also willing to fulfil my extravagant cousin’s idea.

“The plan: to make use of any ploy that would help us achieve the business goal of at least one burial service a day. The resources: all those necessary to make the required death happen as long as it was not suspicious. At the beginning, the protocol was hard to handle, and also proved to be a heftier task than expected. The first deaths occurred as a consequence of some nervous bombardments carried out by soviet airplanes whose pilots were hired and trained by Gianpietro and his Fabulous Four from Elbasan. [4]

“Costs soon escalated, and became much higher than those calculated – well above the 30.000 feet of altitude from where the bombings were made – and the aero-tactic was promptly turned into a metallic and deadly crawl. Various and thunderous attempts using German Panzer Tanks proved futile and grotesque; soon the family business could not handle the requested services, as abundance of passings can be a disguised curse (it is easy to infer that, given the names and geography of the family tale, the Mortessi and their Szaborostroskyiop Burial Home had expanded way beyond the borders of Italy. It is murmured even today that there is a Funeral Parlour of the blood stained famiglia in every single city or town of this green round perfection).

“But greed knows of no boundaries, just as it happens with Capitalism and with my garlic-induced inner gases: its perfume can be smelled no matter the measures involved in preventing its expansion. The deadly metal Panzer crawling became amphibious, and the atomic submarines made their brief and unprofitable appearance. The result was absolutely distressing, given the nine hundred miles that separated Stranetti, basecamp of the Szaborostroskyiop Burial Home, from the Sea; we became, at least for the required months that took our board of directors to realise that we were feeding the competence, an involuntarily generous company.

“For this reason, and many others, things had to change. Mankind has always been and always will be linked to water: our origin as a life form is found in the ocean, and our own personal life began in our sea-like womb. Inspired by this idea, Gianpietro discarded the metallic subaquatic beasts and led his Fab-Five from Elbasan out of the water, like a godlike CEO.

“Just as if they were re-enacting the evolutionary leap, several men came out of the Adriatic sea, descending not only from the ancestral Ape, but of the SS Aurora, the transatlantic that brought our soon to become personal army from the land of the chile piquín and the Coatzacoalcos.

“A thought had been given arms as my cousin brought an elite militia belonging to the EZLN, the Zapatist Army of National Liberation. It is fair to say that the task was not evolving – though it can be blamed it on our greed – simply because we were not aiming at the centre of the wheel; too much of a display of strength for only killing some grandpas that each afternoon enjoyed a humble ristretto at the village’s only café[5]. How ashamed I am for not having been able to see clearly in those times! Or maybe Gianpietro’s aim was bigger than I was told back then, and he was already working on other, much bigger and overlooked scales.

“Novelty can rapidly become a habit and, as a result, automated responses will begin to show their ugly – and always predictable – faces. The once revolutionary army began to claim for medical insurance, a two hour lunch break como sucede en España, and child support and triple payment for extra hours of work. And predictably, the costs rocketed to hell again; but the witty Gianpietro always found a way to keep our freezers full. How is it possible that a humble funeral Parlour could have handled all these requests? Something else was definitely going on.

“The occasion makes the thief, and the brownish-black colour makes chocolate real; bribery soon made its paper-like star appearance, delivering us from the once revolutionary militia. Quite soon, every worker in the town (a reductio ad absurdum but inverted: it is fair to project the singular word town to the whole planet earth) somehow related to the health industry, began to dance at the beat of the money that was handsomely pouring out from the Szaborostroskyiop Burial Home. Doctors began to hand out the wrong prescriptions, suggesting higher doses than recommended, and the all time favourite: creating ex nihilo, a disease which was certainly to be a mortal one, to then inform the patient about his or her imminent departure – in reality, nothing different to what doctors usually do; yet, with a twist: there would always to be an element, acoustical or visual in nature, that would eventually lead the deluded patient or the occasional relative-escort to one of our branches.

“This – the flagrant and intentional creation of an absent ailment – should have been a useless practice: but such was the density of the white coated and scientific authoritative figures that nine out of ten of these cases ended up in a death without a real cause. Psychologists and psychiatrists alike also took part of the scheme, by suggesting all their border-line and fringe patients, not without an exquisite subtle taste, to simply end all their troubles with an innocent suicide – they were even providing those drugs that would create a slumber-like, hence painless, death.

“The flesh gods of the time, the football players, were also part of that party train dancing at the beat of bribes, drugs and prostitutes. Their predictable task was to miss easy goals and penalty kicks in order to tempt those wobbly hearts anxiously suffering the match in question. Here we cite a handful of famous examples of the deceiving practise financed by the Szaborostroskyiop Burial Home: shame.

“I would like to not be forced to admit that some priests were also aboard that party train. They were commanded by my now crazy and all powerful cousin Gianpietro to subtly demolish the very foundations of the Christian Faith, the Divinity of Christ, the authority of the Pope and the advisability to link Pinocchio to the true Messiah; finally frosting the godless cake with a hint towards a moral-less world, because my cousin used to say ‘what is free will if not the chance to just do whatever we want?’ Could all this late child abuse news that is shaking our Holy Church’s foundations be related somehow to our family’s rampant greed?


“But how did this sick and greedy assassination scheme work? The final and invisible touch was the most important and crucialest moment of all: the concealed introduction of those in-famous business cards inside the pocket of the Gentleman or of the Lady who had been previously murdered or suicided. Predictably, the mourning loved ones of the given victim, due to an understandable lack of reflexes and the presence of a dense soul pain, would resort to that which was at hand, thus seeming to be the simplest – hence convenient – solution: ergo, to us… the now thriving and ever expanding Szaborostroskyiop Burial Homes.

“Of course, in order for the previous to prove fruitful, an employee of the firm had to be in the vicinity of the place where the accident had occurred; the civil forces of the order have always been willing to inform us of any mortal mishap for the right price. The employee in question would have to carry all the required documents and papers with himself at all times, a suitable excuse (alibi) for his presence at the scene of the crime… sorry, accident, and to be ready to fill in the forms in a helpful, friendly and discreet manner – all this to facilitate the beginning of our mortuary ballet. Taking advantage of the grief and despair of the shocked relatives of the victimized fellow, our hire accuracy was always around an obscene 95%.”

Here ends the lesbian’s account, apparently interrupted by a distant cousin of hers whose name shall be revealed in some successive lines but whose mental capacity must have been seriously diminished, after he supposedly induced his late dyke cousin to commit suicide. This suspicion was later confirmed by the finding of a business card of the very same Szaborostroskyiop Burial Homes inside her mouth, and a pamphlet that promised the best seats in paradise at popular prices, sponsored by the family entrepreneurial adventure and signed by himself as cugino Manfredo. Such a strong evidence could not be contested.

As an epilogue we quote the lines of Giancarlo Manfredo Ruperto Mortessi, second – and killer – cousin (and a bit of an asshole) of the orange lover:

“I had nothing to do with the death of my third cousin [7]. I know that nobody thinks otherwise, but just in case I would like to make this clear: I did not suicide her. She did it by herself … I only encouraged her to do it. If not, I would have done it with my bare hands!”

Tremendous, don’t you think?

After the sinister blood-stained murderous campaign of massive killings and manipulative advertising (is there any publicity whose aim is not to manipulate?) the last death sentence was about to occur within the core of the hellish Mortessi family: greed, a slow but mortally venomous snake began to seize one by one every member belonging to the clan of killers and undertakers. Death became something more than luxuries and lustful desires. Death became a sister, a brother, la mamma. Death was everywhere and everything. The causes might seem different to the eye of the beholder, but the origin, the truth – is one. Some of those demises happened through accidents, others were involuntary suicides, others were not; diversity found its end (and beginning) in one common denominator: imbecility.

The last sole survivor – though some voices can still be found, claiming the perdurable existence of a vast amount of Mortessis around the globe – of the now rotting famiglia was the chaste and pure Bianca Mortessi, whose ashamed presence was repudiated in the whole region of Liguria. Such a dark cloud above her head proved to be too much for her kind spirit, and soon she decided to leave in order to taste the thirst enhancing maritime waters and to swim towards the mythical Isle of Cirs, in a remote location embraced by the not so Pacific Ocean.

Some say it is a legend, others say it is a myth, and less assume that, though possible, it is quite hard for the mind to accept: even today, in the grey and mature and pestilent town of Stranetti (or shall we say what’s left of it after the massive greedy undertaking bombardments), some corpses can still be found in the vicinity of the Piazza Centrale, buried some meters underground, still carrying a yellowish business card from Szaborostroskyiop Burial Home. Every year, as a bizarre commemoration of the birth of Rigoberto the creamer Mortessi, the circumstantial parishioner of the Nostra Madonna delle Oglio is covered up in cream, surrounded by cake batter, and transformed into a sweet human delicacy, whilst the town folks, disguised as rats, mice and other nasty rodents, eat the cream and cake without biting the flesh of the priest. Fair is to say that, on occasions, hunger wins. The several infections suffered by the parishioner corroborate it.

The last of the known Mortessi – and so they would want us to believe – Pietro Alberto, is still being vigiled at the inaugural Szaborostroskyiop Burial Home for the past one hundred and twenty four years. Though some say it is indeed impossible to know for certain how many are left of the heirs of the empire of death.

Meanwhile, an urban legend keeps the myth alive: it relates that wherever more than 1,001 persons inhabit the same hamlet or town, there is a Burial Home whose name’s first letter is an S. Those believers claim that it’s a sign – a sign of the survival of the Italian empire; an affirmation or hint of the persistence of greed. Those believers claim that it would be too obvious if the supposed subsidiaries kept repeating the same blood stained name; a mere letter might suffice to send the message to the sleepy mind of the ordinary human being. Those believers claim that the flying man in a tight blue body suit, red slip, a cape of the same colour and a fixed gelled hair with a sweet curl caressing his forehead is a super invention of the unstoppable company. Superman is just a charade, a façade that allows the letter S to linger on, to percuss and condition the entire human race.

Those believers know that it’s not the system that is to blame, but those who give life to it: greed needs money as a baby needs love. Those believers also claim that too many (perhaps all of them) international leaders are part of the scheme, that all the pharmaceutical companies have shares in the unnameable burial home, that all registered wars during the modern era could be traced back to the disgraceful Mortessi family, and that the creation of the absurd Superman was a blow to the memory, as an oblivious and distracting breeze that would conceal the former abuses – a blow that would push those worrying death clouds away. A breeze that worked as an odourless wind that carries within the toxins of the garlic you are not supposed to ingest. A breeze that brought the parent-less boy from Krypton: a milestone that veiled, probably, each and every one of the most ignored atrocities in our contemporary history.

All this was discovered thanks to the indefatigable work of Herr Doktor Manfred Schuppenfeur, resident professor at the Max Planck Institute in Germany and leading expert in the field of myth constructions, urban legends and odourless emanations from the anus.

But soon after his horrific discovery, Manfred mysteriously appeared shot to death in his Mercedes Benz Compressor V12, equipped with leather seats and details in walnut and bronze. In his pocket, a bizarre card with the following inscription was found:

“Voucher for a 50% discount to bury some dead scientist whose complete name begins with M, and ends with H [8]. Please, if you are that same person or you happen to be a close relative of the deceased, do contact us within the hour. SBM.”


This footnote became unnecessary after the translation of the text.

[1] The figures vary according to the time in which those calculations are made. John Landman, dean of the Department of Applied Sciences of Dartmouth University (and in charge of his sister’s apartment when Sue enjoys her holidays in Saint Lucia) comments that the figure must be 786 if the calculations were to be done during the eight hour of the forth day of the week and if the task did not take more than an hour to be performed. Unfortunately, Dr John Landman did not state in his paper whether for him the week started on Sundays or Mondays.

[2] Some newspaper clippings of the time tell about the arrival of a certain Galen surnamed Ciccioli, from the zone of Ascoli-Piceno, who walked in affirming sotto voce that he was bringing the elixir of eternal life. Some gullible people suggest that his arrival and the (staged) decline of the Mortessi family business was more than a mere trick of chance. On the other hand, some assert that things were already irreparably disturbed before Doctor Ciccioli arrived, while others do not give a shit about all this mess.

[3] The reader will soon find a deep analysis written by the same miracle worker who deconstructed the communist quintessential symbol.

[4] It is not until recently that some historians have started to question the relationship between the totalitarian regimes of the 20th century and the empire built upon death of the Mortessis. Professor Richard Daukiné, head of the Department of the Social Studies Faculty belonging to a branch of a secular sect endorsed by the University of Oxford, suggests that if you eat fish, white wine is a must; but if we go back again to our main concern – this appalling story – he claims that further research must be done in order to definitely prove the existence of what we named the death triangle: Hitler, Stalin and Mortessi. A similar theory is starting to buzz in the main newsrooms of the most influential press agencies: was Harry Lee Oswald involved in any fashion with the Mortessi empire? Virtually the same question could (and should) be applied to every major terrorist attack which took place during the second half of the XX century. Those who are most audacious and bold claim that, probably, there is a link to be discovered between every single flagrant – or subtle – sports error (referees included) or killing, with the Italian’s empire.

[5] The Lithuanian historian Arvidas Sarjulianis feels that the link between Gianpietro’s briberial manoeuvres and the Great War shan’t be discarded at once; he even suggests that the assassination of the Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria was an misfortunate accident because, and perhaps for the first time in history, the coded instructions had been misread: it is believed that whilst revising the details of the concealed mission, the assassin had an unknown score within the reach of his unconscious eyes (many assume he was sitting at the piano and that the score was Beethoven’s Appassionata), whose dynamics could have inadvertently filtered into his sleepy mind – the words that surely caused the assassination of the Archduke and that subsequently unleashed the First World War are thought to have been: ff morendo alla fine.

[6] This deleted paragraph was of such a bad literary quality that it banished itself.

[7] The numeric inaccuracy exposes the character’s imbecility.

[8] Please note the error that bathes the murderous message: where the letter R should have been written, we read H. This is a clear indication that the perpetrator of the crime must have been a non-recognised descendent of the witless Giancarlo Manfredo Ruperto Mortessi. These are the last conclusions of the Interpol squad that is presently trying to solve the mystery, once and for all.