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Recommendation from a dog
A not so brief review of the history of the letter that has never been read…
Letters suffer. And they have a soul. You don’t believe me? Are you shaking your head in disbelief? In that case, lock up the oak door with your rusty key and settle into a favorite chair in front of the fire. Don’t mind the sweat that will be pouring gently down the sides of your body by the time I reach the end of this story.
One could trust the opinion of Sofronije Sofronijević (also known as S.S.). He became so rich from writing his reviews that he bought a villa between Cannes and Nice, his own beach, a luxury apartment in Andorra with a minibar and a bedroom, and an indoor Olympic-sized pool, which was named the eighth wonder of the world.
Daily expensive massage treatments, with a focus on the deep tissue of his tormented heels, were something that went without saying, as well as his daily steak breakfasts with fresh squeezed juice under the light of a plasma lamp
After breakfast, he would put his slippers on and struggle to tie his robe over his ever-increasing girth (he grew larger with every review he published) before setting off to work. Few people knew that S.S. actually was a fake critic.
The real critic was actually Wolfgang, his rottweiler, who was so close to Sofronijević, he inherently understood his convictions. Unlike most dogs, Wolfgang knew not only how to read, but also how to critique the masterpieces of contemporary authors.
For years, instead of Sofronijević, Wolfgang criticized the timeless classic works from a radical canine perspective– he bites each paragraph of Anna Karenina that old about the harvest, and there were rumors that he ate “The Peace” in delight. He would have left “The War” for later, but he remembered the book could serve him as a chair to observe the world, with disdain in the muzzle, from the bird’s-eye view.
Sofronijević spoke proudly of Wolfgang:
“On the works of the Surrealists he growls, at texts of fiction novel writers, and any novels, generally speaking, he barks. When he remains silent, that is… something … ”
With this admission, Sofronijević would light cigarette, offering one to Wolfgang as well, while winking his eyebrows densely planted on his forehead.
Both dog and man, best of friends, were into all kinds of criticism, writing reviews for nine years together. However, after enjoying great fame and reputation in the Republic, something suddenly unexpected happened.
One morning, just at the moment when the dog and his master (and it was often hard to decide who was who) simultaneously choked on their beefsteaks, a mysterious letter arrived in Sofronijević’s mailbox. Instead of a full sender address, one word was written on the top left corner of the envelope: Hurghada. It is said that Sofronijević and Wolfgang reacted furiously after reading the letter.
Wolfgang, in his style, ripped off the first half of the letter with his teeth, destroying the half of it that was written in Phoenician, while the Egyptian part remained. The letter burnt his hands and screamed at him in Egyptian. Then S.S. dropped the letter on the ground but felt his mind beginning to spin. While he could still hold onto his reason, he called for the help of a well-known expert, Tuthmosis, the most famous interpreter of hieroglyphics in the Republic, to investigate everything about the letter that had arrived at this home address. But Tuthmosis was too slow and the letter wouldn’t stop talking, and it was redolent with the odor of carrion.
That’s how Sofronije Sofronijević finally fell off his rocker and went nuts:
“This letter is a curse!”, he proclaimed.
“Whoever reads it loses his mind. I must kill it! Ba-BUM BUM BUM!, he giggled, revealing teeth blackened from gunpowder residue. When S.S. shot off his gun, he simultaneously riddled the letter with bullets while also blowing a large hole in the window, and he and Wolfgang watch the letter blow out in the wind. When Tuthmosis arrived, he detected a strange odor in the air and Wolfgang barked to him some of the sounds he heard.
When Tuthmosis arrived, S.S. had already gone insane. It is said that Sofronijević’s great-grandmother was a distant ancestor of Cleopatra’s maid who refused to die from the bite of a snake, and like Cleopatra, was also cursed by ancient Gods. So when S.S. communicated with Tuthmosis, he suggested to him that perhaps the letter was a tool of revenge from those ancient Pharaohs. According to Tuthmosis, the letter was also soaked in poisons and all sorts of Egyptian herbs that possibly led Sofronijević’s fall into a state of fascination and infatuation. As such, he could not control his thoughts or resist the strong effect of the curse. Shaking his head, Tuthmosis headed back to his apartment.
Upon Sofronijević’s descent into madness, Wolfgang took over his master’s personal study. He would rise early in the morning, have breakfast, take a nap until the afternoon, and then he would write reviews after tidying up Sofronije’s mail. He would lick the letters and place a stamp imprint on the envelopes with his paws. In moments of leisure, he would stare at the Phoenician alphabet, whining, tilting his head to the side and thinking:
“If I could only get hold of the Egyptian half!” Then he would begin to growl.
Many years after the terrible events attributed to Sofronije’s neurasthenic crisis caused by the crisis in culture, there were speculations about the last place of rest of the cursed, Egyptian letter. Some speculated that the haunted letter traveled North to Hyperborea, to Ultima Thule, the land of eternal brightness in the far north, a sole nomen habens. Wolfgang, on the other hand, believed the letter had followed in the footsteps of Apollo, traveling to Greece, perhaps in the mausoleum of Alexander the Great, where the body of the magnificent deceased lay carved on a stone crypt. In fact, Egyptologists reported sighting the haunted letter in the Valley of the Kings, under the influence of moisture, completely destroyed, but still alive! At night, across from the Luxor, screams echoed.
“It’s Nefertiti’s mummy, she rose from the grave, unwrapped her dirty bandages and read the damn letter after putting it together with the glue”, whispered the tomb guardians, as their voices streamed upward toward the heavy white stars.
On one fact all agreed. The letter was unjustly accused of inflicting emotional distress on S.S. But still, no one could explain why it had been so cruelly punished and still continued to be victimized. The cursed letter bounced from the mummified wings of Neferneferuaten-Nefertiti who pulled it by its blackened ends as an ox is pulled by his tail. Despite the abuse, the letter could not be overcome because it had its own appetites guiding it: KICKBACK/LANDING. BOUNCED! LANDS!
The letter spent three years in the tomb of Hatshepsut, diagonally bouncing off the walls of the massive tomb while reading (some say screaming) itself to the queen aloud. Since these actions aroused a revolt of awakened pharaohs in the Valley of Kings and Queens, the letter briefly hid behind the 132nd pillar in the temple of Luxor. While there, it spent nine years plotting its revenge.
“This is all Sofronijević’s fault!”, moaned the letter to such an extent his sorrow plucked at the heartstrings of the innocent bystanders who were forced to watch the letter in an eternal game of KICKBACK/LANDING. Finally, the letter lands on the Sphinx’s head, who as a diligent guardian of Pharaoh’s dreams, shrugs the letter of his stone mane, bouncing him into the air and thousands of kilometers away.
Boris K’s apartment, an emergency department for crazy (desperate) letters
Letter traveled and bounced around for nine years until it finally found itself lying on the table of expert hieroglyph interpreter, Boris K. He spoke the human language with a strong accent originating from the Lower Nile.
“I am suffering!”, wailed the letter as it folded over in pain. It was pale and exhausted from nine long years of wandering. Boris K. put on some gloves and removed the remaining bullet fragments from its pulp with professional finesse. He bandaged it with cellophane, saying:
“You will stay a few days in my drawer until you recover, and then I’m going to decipher you.”
Three days later, Boris K. gets to work on the long and weakened letter. It contains many pages, some of which appears to be written in Phoenician, while other parts seem to contain Egyptian hieroglyphics. As he studies the letter, he sees that it includes more than 7,000 characters repeating in various combinations of three letters, that when translated to English are: D-O-G. In addition, there are also drawings that mesh with the letters. He notices drawings of the savior with nails on his hands and wrists around the letter ‘D’. Then there are drawings of mesh capturing tropical flies around the letter ‘O.’ And then finally, there are drawings of what he thinks is a famous Literary Critic from the Republic… Sofronije Sofronijević, who is depicted with a dog’s head in the shape of the letter ‘G.’
The letter speaks to Boris K. in an increasingly demonic tone:
“Your task, Boris K, is to unify me with my Phoenician twin and return me to my addressee. If you can accomplish these tasks, I will be connected and completed and all will understand me. If you do this, I promise to stop buzzing in everyone’s heads. I just want to be reunited with my better half. With only my evil half present, I continue to suffer. I was bitterly attacked, bitten by a dog and shot full of bullets. And I haven’t even told you what happened when I was in Egypt. Please HELLLLLLLLLP me! I’m begging you! Decode me or kill me!”
With that, Boris K. starts to think, smiling to himself secretly.
Determined to accomplish this task for Letter, Boris K. sharpens his high-quality Graf von Faber pen that is a knockoff and begins writing his own letter…
an excerpt from the story