Written and illustrated by Casper Lucius
Published by Casper Lucius at Shakespir
Copyright 2017 Casper Lucius
As I guessed the end is near, I reviewed my life in black light and found that I had nothing to hope in this world since even the death of Sven has been unable to relieve me. In early childhood, our relationships were bad, certainly due to incompatibility of temperament and character. On the other hand, we resemble each other such as a stranger seeing the two of us for the first time would immediately know we are brothers (How ironic to think that such a loathsome physical resemblance was probably the main cause of my success with the only woman I really loved!). But this is not the most horrible case. The most horrible is my brother’s ability to deceive people. And to think Sven is three years younger than me while people always believe he is my elder! He is ambitious and tenacious in his work, friendly and brilliant in society, and rich of course, unfairly rich, thanks to basically ill-gained if not illegal wealth. I would be able to denounce him just for this last trickery. By now, I know so many things about him! For instance, I must be the only one to know that his refined urbanity hides a real fanatic: he is not only convinced that he will remake the world but also a much better world! What a fool, eh?
I concede that such a meteoric rise had enough to go to his head. His school years were not quite completed that they already predicted him something of a Tiselius or even a Granit career. And this is another of our Nobel Prize, old Ohlson, who hired him in his Foundation. This secret private research laboratory is located on a hill northwest of Uppsala (maybe have you heard of Uppsala’s famous school? So let me tell you, my brother is not a goody ecologist). Within three years following his arrival, Sven became the great man’s assistant—the great man thanks to whom you will be allowed to have, if you believe in scientific magazines about his research in mitochondrial nodules, nearly fifty years of extra life—and within six, the Foundation Ohlson’s unofficial boss. When I joined in my turn the Foundation, my brother was almost everything here: he contacted generous sponsors, supervised research teams, checked the quality of the material, was in charge of patents, supervised the health of Guinea pigs, and finally, as an ultimate culmination, was entitled to choose the color of the carpet.
Before returning to the fold, I had spent many years away from our evergreen forests. Years during which I was watching for good fortune to eventually realize that I had only managed to become a dubious vagabond with a matted beard. The age of golden dreams was well over: I had finally understood that. Besides my delusions, I had lost my savings and the best part of my health. Only my complexion and my reputation had taken advantage of the journey. With a pirate’s scar, I had indeed become ‘the adventurer’ amidst the family, and since I was the only one to know what this term covered, I applied myself to materialize its halo into something more bankable. They dug me up several jobs in my so-called line of work: reindeer breeder in Lapland, hunting guide, sailor on a Norwegian whaler, and I spare you some more outlandish jobs. Finally, I managed to make myself understood. And Sven hired me as a head gardener into the Foundation, probably to revel in my humiliation.
It was also the time when I met Loren, my brother’s wife. Oh, they were neither married nor civil-partnered (by the way, it didn’t exist back in time, I think) but I guess that it does not make any difference. In the past, I had some affairs which had used me quite a bit for ‘love’ stories, so I thought I was safe at least on this side. In fact, I had come to think that it was not in my nature.
Sven and Loren had met on a bench school so to speak. When I learned news about their affair, I was more than six thousand miles from them, south-west of Juan de Nova, and so I only heard of it raw facts. Then I had to have the vision of one of those women that you expect to take place among test-tubes: grayish, frumpy, likely myopic, and on top of that absolutely indifferent to sex. I was quite wide of the mark. I would not tell you Loren was the most beautiful woman in the world but the first time I saw her, I was fully wrapped in her charm as a bottle of perfume that she would have thrown on my head. However, she was not the exuberant type. Without being really shy, she looked like calm, reserved, distant—some would have maybe (surely!) called her a cold hearted woman. But with her somewhat awkward grace, her long and thin neck, her long curled eyelashes, her brown eyes and fine brown hair that contrasted with her clear and bright complexion, she reminded me of a Madonna, a Madonna leaned over the cradle of Science. Looking at her, I sometimes thought that when she was virgin, she had to be terrible with her suitors and for a long time, I was wondering how Sven, this great clumsy oaf, had got her. In hindsight and knowing better Loren, I think by now that he was just in the right place at the right time. Sven always benefited from an abnormally good luck.
Loren’s righteousness and great fortitude moved me probably as a seemingly inaccessible thing. But it moved me also as something which I had too often heard talking about, boring and bland, and that suddenly was for real, in its true brilliance. I did not know that such women could exist, I mean in the real world. It is true to say that women I used to meet had not prepared me for that. So, I had to idealize her, for sure.
It is amazing what you can believe it is virtue while in very truth it is just another trick, a new way to hook men. For instance, the absence of make-up in her, both literally and figuratively, her general contempt for the rude female paraphernalia enraptured me for absurd reasons. Her rough hiking shoes, her jeans, her way of rolling cigarettes (I who hate the smell of tobacco) suddenly seemed in my eyes to be the epitome of feminine seduction, and not just by the contrast they formed with her character’s aristocratic intransigence. My main mistake is maybe to have assigned no order of importance to these various qualities.
This teenager devotion (of course, I was much over this foolish age) in addition to the thinking she was in fact my sister-in-law would maybe have kept me at respectful distance if I had not found about her one of these tiny faults so conducive to great impulses. Indeed, I discovered that Loren suffered from uncured phobia of rodents, a most ridiculous disease in my opinion, especially for a biologist. I understood she only was a weak creature of flesh and blood after all, subject to same needs, to same failures, to same appetites, and therefore—but the rest of my thought was still lost in the mist of id, as Dr. Freud would have put it.
I used to keep my feelings secret. Usually, to tell the truth, I do not have many feelings, if any, for my fellow beings. But with Loren, I did never manage to conceal my thoughts. Her antennas had straightaway seen right through me. However, regarding other people, especially Sven and our families, I pretty much managed to mislead them in the beginning. And if it sometimes happened to me laughing too loudly or making allusions full of mystery about my wandering life when I knew she was within earshot, in general I rarely looked at her, I talked to her even less, and always to contradict her, so well that I could spread all around the idea that I did not find her attractive.
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A man with a past shrouded in mystery, fallen in love with the same woman as his younger brother— younger but more famous and richer than him—wants to get rid of his rival. He is going to look for a way to kill him with impunity. But none seems to him secure enough. One day, he notes in the research center where he is working a small bolted door leading to an abandoned wood. There, he finds a "gate" in the form of a crack in the rock, linking to another part of the universe. Of course, it is an extraordinary discovery which the whole mankind should enjoy! But his only idea is to accomplish his sinister plan. Thus, he takes his brother into this gate and once on the other side, he clubs him to death, so that no one will be able to find his body again. The plan goes well, it seems. He has the woman and the money. However, dark clouds loom...