Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Off Side by Manuel Vázquez Montalbán (Melville International Crime 1989)

'Are you suggesting that we're going to start seeing irrational motiveless killings, like in the United States?'

'Why not? We already have psychiatrists and private detectives, so I don't see why we can't have mad murderers too. And here it could be even worse, because at least in the USA they still put up an appearance of believing in God. They go to church on Sundays, and feel themselves part of a chosen people. But you don't have that in Spain. Religion of any kind, whether political or otherwise, has disappeared. The only thing that we have left, by way of communion of the saints, is nationalism.'

'Is that what makes you a nationalist?'

'It's the most gratifying thing that a person can be, and the least concrete, particularly if you are, as I am, a non-independentist nationalist. Politics is a curious thing in Catalonia. We have a situation where power is shared between socialists who don't believe in socialism, and nationalists who don't believe in national independence. The whole thing's ripe for lone operators to take over, and when you look at the likes of young Camps O'Shea, the prospect becomes even more alarming. That man has no conscience, no epic memory, no life-project other than going out and winning, without even knowing what he wants to win at, or whom he wants to beat.'

'And how are we supposed to deal with these lone killers?'

'Arrest them while they've still got their guns in their holsters, or if they've got them out, shoot them before they get the chance to shoot first.'

'And what if they manage to do their killing?'

'Turn up for the funeral.'

'You're a big man in this city. Big men in big cities get there because they have more information at their fingertips than the rest of the population.'

'I gather you're implying that I haven't told you everything I know. Don't be naive. I know that you have to buy people and I know whom to buy. And that's the extent of it.'

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