Sense & Nonsesibility (III) The Man With The Golden Nose
Episode III: The Man With The Golden Nose
We left the tormented Hungarian fugitive about to confess to expectant Charlotte Wildbush his most unspeakable crime unaware of the fact that the bony claws of the ghosts of his turbulent past were reaching for him from the continent. While he struggled to find adequate words to describe his hideous sin whose nature won’t be revealed until the next episode, a man clad in dark cloak was staring at the English coastline from the deck of the merchant skipper Lady Wetwood licking his lips with in anticipation of the sweet taste of revenge. The Lady Wetwood sailed silently along the black cliffs of the Dover coastline which soon would be bleached by a mob of French vandals disgruntled by Napoleon’s defeat. The man’s face was hidden by a blood-red silk scarf and a fine black felt top hat. In spite of his expensive and elegant cloak the man began to feel the humidity of the salty sea breeze and walked to his private cabin on the boat’s stern, whose windows were the only source of light in the otherwise deserted dark vessel. He entered his quarters and removed his scarf revealing a horribly disfigured face and a missing nose that had been replaced with a gold prosthetic proboscis. The fat and sinister noseless man was no other than Count Janos Malamilk, husband of Countess Vera Malamilk, the voracious aristocrat that had seduced the young Vladimir in Budapest. And he wasn’t alone in his cabin.
‘ We just sighted land father ‘ he said staring at his chubby toes not daring to look straight into his guest’s dark ferocious eyes that certainly looked more threatening than his homely and familiar feet. The man in the cabin looked like a demented saint that performed trepanations instead of miracles. He was a scrawny Orthodox priest with a long scraggy entangled bear that swept the floor in spite of being the tallest man we will find in this story. He was sitting on a black chair reading a thick leather volume titled Necromantia Malevolens in spite of the fact that he couldn’t read Latin and had to amuse himself by watching the illustrations depicting the torments of Hell, his favorite pastime. He was known by the name of Father Vladivicious and had traveled from Hungary with the count in the pursuit of unfortunate Vladimir.
‘ I know.’ he answered and putting his book aside added ‘ I can feel it in my blood. The hour of revenge is near.’
After losing his nose in the duel count Malamilk had chased the squirrel that had stolen it, in the vain hope of having it reattached to his face. But the count was a rather heavy man who weighted over hundred kilos and had fallen when the branch he had climbed in pursuit of his nose cracked under his weight. He fell into an open grave and spent the day there until the funeral procession arrived and discovered him submerged in the mud inside the grave without nose and bleeding profusely. Great panic ensued when he was mistaken by a troll and gravediggers began beatting him with his spades until he was recognized by one member of the party. He was rescued and given medical attention but he knew that the next day he the incident would be the gossip of Budapest’s society and he the laughing stock of the country, maybe of entire Europe. And on top it all his nose was lost.
When he arrived to his palace he was in a fit of rage and went straight to his wife quarters. He stormed into her reading room and his fury knew not limits when she greeted him with a candid smile without even noticing his missing nose. ‘ Whore! ‘ he screamed ‘ you have humiliated me and now I have lost my nose ‘
‘ What did you just said? I won’t tolerate that kind of language in this house! This is a decent christian house and I just had the walls painted. ‘ she screamed and retired very offended to her quarters to sip tea and gossip with her girlfriends leaving the fuming count speaking to an empty chair. The count went to the library and summoned the most vicious of his servants, that turned out to be the cook, who had once bitten of the dog’s hear on a dispute for a bone. He gave her orders to find his wife’s lover and kill him in the most painful manner she could devise. She searched Budapest for information about his whereabouts but in a rare display of good judgement the young man had vanished and fled back to the countryside leaving not trace.
The count spent the following years and significant portion of his wealth sending agents all over Europe searching for the fugitive. He spent a small fortune as well to pay for the services of an eminent German doctor that promised him to replace his nose with a prosthetic one of even better quality than the original. But the doctor turned out to be a charlatan that surgically implanted a pig snout made of gold in his face.
He offered a reward of 10.000 crowns for the head of Vladimir but years passed and he seemed to have vanished form the face of earth until one day he got mysterious phone call from man that refused to identify himself but claimed he knew where to find the man the count was looking for and was disposed to help the count to find and kill him for 20.000 crowns. The count told him that such sensitive matters could not be mentioned on the phone because phones had not been invented yet and they were endangering the historical accuracy of the narration making the author look like an ass. They agreed to behave themselves like good characters and abstain from using anachronistic means of communication from then on. They decided to have a personal meeting that same evening at the very spot where the fatal duel had taken place years ago.
The count was scattering some bread crumbs on the ground hoping to attract the squirrel that stole his nose in the vain hope he could still find the remains to give them a christian burial when he saw the elongated dark shape of the priest coming towards him out of the mist. He felt a chill as soon as he recognized him, everybody in Budapest society knew his name and gossips concerning his recent arrival and quick ascent up the social ladder had topped gossiping about the comical count’s golden nose. Of Father Vladivicious was said he had come from Russia and that was a disciple of Rasputin or that at least he had read his book How To Make Friends And Influence Tzars. He frequented the Budapest salons in company of the cream of society that rewarded him generously for his spiritual advice and were entertained by his necromantic abilities that allowed him to produce rabbits out a top hat. It was said he could speak to the dead although the dead rarely answered him. He had become the most requested medium in the fanciest séance sessions in Budapest that was swept at the time by a supernatural craze, after the archduke of Moravia claimed having contacted and spoken to his dead horse. The somber cleric had rented a mansion on the outskirts of the city where he was said to devote his time to the study of demonology and witchcraft and from where many nights neighbors swore they heard horrible screams and incantations. It certainly was an unusual lifestyle for a man of God but fairly common at the time among the clerical professionals.
‘ Let me introduce myself Count’ said the priest in a resonant voice that seemed to flow out his beard as if it was the beard the one speaking.
‘ I know who you are father. If it wasn’t for your timely arrival and extravagant lifestyle I still would be ranked as the number one gossip of Budapest. I am grateful to you for that. But I wasn’t aware that you had among your many interests and pastimes that of bounty hunter.’
‘ Let’s say for now that I have a personal interest in finding Vladimir Andreassi and the skills to do so. You only will have to pay for the trip and my personal expenses’
‘ How do you know him? Why do you want to see him dead?’ asked the count.
‘ That is nothing of your business you pathetic swine! The only thing you need to know is that only with my help you will obtain your revenge’ thundered the priest.
‘ I am gentleman and I won’t tolerate to be addressed as swine, whatever swine is’ replied the count
‘ Don’t worry, we are all swine in the eyes of the Lord ‘ replied Father Vladivicious in a more conciliatory tone
In the same spot where the tragic lost of his nose had taken place the count made a pact with the Mephistophelean priest who promised to use his power to find Vladimir Andreassi wherever he was.
Six moths later the priest otherworldly powers had led them to the English coasts and they where disembarking hand in hand from the Lady Wetwood anchored in the port of Dover. There they rented horses and rode into the night like ravenous hounds of revenge, although most hounds go on foot. That night Father Vladivicious had dreamt of a bandit’s hideout where a young blonde lady was entertaining Vladimir Andreassi, also known in those lands as Dick Turnip.
To be continued…
Who are these people? What is going to happen next? Who knows? Find the answer if you care in the next chapter of this nonsensical story that will shatter your nerves and wish you were doing something else.