This is a work of fiction about a former Stasi Spy who, having espoused first communism and then Catholicism, discovers that all that really matters is love. En passant, the history of the church and its less than candid account of certain historical, financial and recent sexual crimes is considered through her eyes.
Ebooka przeczytasz w aplikacjach Legimi na:
Liczba stron: 207
Odsłuch ebooka (TTS) dostepny w abonamencie „ebooki+audiobooki bez limitu” w aplikacjach Legimi na:
This is a novel about admittedly serious matters.
That said, it should be seen as entertainment for the cognoscenti, even if it references the darker side of human beings. There is comedy in evil as someone once said.
CHAPTER FOUR TEEN
CHAPTER SIX TEEN
CHAPTER SEVEN TEEN
CHAPTER EIGHT EEN
CHAPTER NINE TEEN
CHAPTER TWENTY ONE
CHAPTER TWENTY TWO
CHAPTER TWENTY THREE
CHAPTER TWENTY FOUR
CHAPTER TWENTY FIVE
CHAPTER TWENTY SIX
CHAPTER TWENTY -SEVEN
CHAPTER TWENTY EIGHT
In which the Sister Magdalena, and Eduardo attend the scene of a most unusual suicide in Santa Maria Della Vittoria, Rome and their conversation is recorded
Sister Magdalena: I always said The Cardinal was a prick.
Eduardo: Given the proximity of the still erect private member of the deceased, naked Cardinal to the private parts of Santa Teresa I am inclined to agree. I always think that Bernini’s sculpture depicts Santa Teresa after a shag…
Sister Magdalena: Everybody says that. In death, the Cardinal appeared to want to make a statement.
Eduardo: So apparently did Calvi, when he hanged himself…and so did Sindona, when he swallowed an espresso laced with cyanide...
Sister Magdalena: Those matters are still in dispute. Eduardo, what are you going to do with the prick?
Eduardo: Do you mean the Cardinal’s still erect prick or the Cardinal himself or both?
Sister Magdalena: Both.
Eduardo: Why would anyone commit suicide by impaling himself on a statue-even one as beautiful as Bernini’s Santa Teresa after a shag?
Sister Magdalena: According to the dictionaries what the Cardinal did is called Agalmatophilia from the Greek agalma for statue and philia for love. It is called paraphilia if sexual attraction to a statue, doll, mannequin or other similar figurative object is involved.
Eduardo: I always said the Greeks were perverted …
Sister Magdalena:Agalmatophilia may also encompass a love for an object of one's own creation.
Eduardo: …If I got desperate, I’d prefer a rubber doll…
Sister Magdalena: …perhaps the Cardinal wanted to consummate his relationship with Santa Teresa before his death…that would explain the stain on the sculptural composition…
Eduardo: …trust a woman to notice the gory details
Sister Magdalena: What will happen now?
Eduardo: The wheels have already turned. A statement will be put out that The Cardinal, in his shame, ended his life in a church of his choosing…without too many details.
Sister Magdalena: The prick died as he lived.
Eduardo: Do you mean…Oh, never mind…
In which we meet Sister Magdalena
Source Magdalena had not always been Source Magdalena. She had been plain, ordinary Magdalena when she emerged into this world on a cold morning in February 1955 in what they called East Berlin in the West in those days and what the DDR and the then Soviets called “Berlin, the capital of Germany”. “Berlin”, as the denizens of the DDR were instructed to call it (or face torture and imprisonment if they did not) had been “liberated” by the Soviets at the end of “The Great Patriotic War” and 100,000 women raped by the ill-disciplined Soviet troops from the East deliberately sent into Berlin to terrorize the least Nazi of all German cities. “Berlin”, as with all capital cities anywhere in the world, had the least time for its rulers. “Patriots” and “patriotism” anywhere in the world tend to be for provincial souls. In the days of Frederick the Great, His Majesty roamed the streets of Berlin with a heavy cane administering on the spot beatings to any of his subjects whom he considered to be unpatriotic and disloyal, that is to say, from His Majesty’s point of view, the vast majority of them.
Raping 100,000 women and slicing off a breast or two from their victims was scarcely a “military objective”. Many thousands of them committed suicide. Not only were the Russians guilty of this war crime but so were the Allied governments who connived at, and were complicit in it. A view had been taken by the Allied governments that the Germans should be “taught a lesson”. No sane human being could work out how committing war crimes against a civilian population-and women at that- could be instructive but then the military, and the politicians who had let them loose in this gigantic, barbaric enterprise are not noted for their great brains. Rape and sexual abuse had always been weapons of war.
In the end, Stalin had posted an infamous notice on the streets of Berlin which read that “Nazis come and go but the German people go on forever”. It was no consolation to the thousands of victims. Needless to say none of the thousands of rapists were prosecuted for war crimes. War crimes, after all, are only committed by the defeated, not the victors.
The world Magdalena came into in the “Berlin, capital of Germany”1955 had two religions. The first was communism-not the Marxist-Leninist variety but the Soviet version of it. This was not communism at all. Trotsky, the only adherent of the true faith, had been despatched in Mexico by Stalin whose faith was totalitarian dictatorship and rigid, unquestioning central control. The second religion was said to be Christianity and, mirroring the political situation, was not Christianity at all. It was, in those days, more of a liberation theology for those who could not stand the Soviets and desired above all else that their oppressors and torturers pack up and leave forever.
Magdalena’s mum practiced the latter religion and her dad practiced the former. He was “hundert funfzig”, that is to say one and fifty percent communist. Dad was in the Grepos, short for Grenz Politzei, the Border Police. He was from Magdeburg not Berlin. The rulers of the DDR usually preferred the Border Police to be from outside Berlin on the sensible calculation that only men and women from outside the capital would shoot people trying to escape from the Workers’ Paradise. Berlin Border Guards would not, or could not, be trusted to do so. (It was a bit like the British authorities who allegedly deploy Metropolitan police officers from other regions when they want people beaten up.) The Wall had been put up in 1961 to stop the hemorrhage of DDR citizens to the West.
The John F Kennedy speech “Ich bin ein Berliner” meant to the locals “I am a doughnut” and polite noises about “freedom” and “democracy” did not assist those called upon to endure the division of the city. In actuality, as historians proved, the politicians were secretly delighted that the situation had been “stabilized”. To have many thousands of East Germans flooding into the West was “destabilizing” after all.
Magdalena’s dad had spent his days patrolling The Wall, sometimes examining the death strip between the original Wall and the much more terrifying second wall some metres behind the original edifice for tell tale signs of foot prints. Dad’s job was never boring what with that task and keeping an eye on the scatter machine gun emplacements and the canine psychopaths who roamed the area on chains searching for disaffected citizens of the DDR.
This world, into which Magdalena was born, soon revealed itself to her in its entire monstrosity. It was a world in which you were meant to spy on your neighbours, friends and family. Saint Edward Snowden had not yet been born and nor had mobile phones, laptops nor computers been invented. Mass surveillance, through trawling through emails, texts and monitoring of mobile phones and laptops, did not exist. Spying on people was done the old fashioned way in those days-by informers.
Little wonder, when The Wall came down in 1989 that they discovered Stasi files which could only be accommodated in one hundred and twenty kilometers of corridors.
Encouraged by her hundert funfzig papa, Magdalena did her fair share of snooping from an early age. By the age of twelve she was already a trusted State servant. But that was not what was in her heart. She dreamt of escape. This was well-nigh impossible. One day, at the age of twenty in 1975 she found herself in the ghastly Alexander Platz envying nuns who were scurrying about with appeared to be not a care in the world.
Five years later after this incident Magdalena’s dream of escape came true. By this time she was a graduate in languages (Italian, French and Russian) and a graduate of the Stasi training school. It was 1980 and the Stasi, in common with the Russians, were becoming worried about “religion”, that is to say there was a now a Polish Pope.
You could make yourself useful in Rome, her superior in the Stasi said to her. In flat defiance of all rules of espionage they even boasted that they already had one of their operatives working as a body guard to His Holiness. Some of these Cardinals are randy bastards, her superior continued. If you play your cards right a pretty girl like you could be useful. She winced when this was said to her and whenever she recollected the episode.
And so it was off to Rome in 1980 and an “escape”-of sorts.
Even after thirty-five years well did she remember the feelings of release on her arrival: the blinding sunshine (to her); the bustling crowds with a freedom of movement she had only dreamt of and the smell of cooking practically everywhere she went. In those breathless first few days of release from the gigantic prison that was the DDR she did what every newcomer to Rome does. She visited all the sites of antiquity, the churches of the ancient Romans successors in office-those of the Roman Catholic Church and even threw a coin into the Trevi.
Then it was down to work. The Stasi had provided her with the background of a girl from the rural south. Their purpose was to deflect attention from the fact that fluent as Magdalena was in Italian and other languages, her stilted, grammatical constructions were not consistent with a native girl and nor did she have the ease of manner of a local girl. In this way Magdalena was seen as just another socially gauche girl from the south that had yet to learn its ways.
A place had been arranged for her at Rome’s university where she was to study Renaissance literature. Why did it have to be Renaissance literature she had asked the Stasi planners? Because there is fuck all interesting about modern Italy was the terse reply. Modern Italy is all about the Church, the Mafia and corrupt politicians. More importantly, if you are a student of the Renaissance in Italy you will be seen as une femme serieux and not some slapper from the countryside. I thought that you wanted me to be seen as a slapper? Do not be insolent the Stasi planners had retorted.
She was given only one contact in Rome. He was a lecturer in politics. I thought the Italians didn’t have politics, only corruption, she had remarked.
Fraulein Magdalena, you are becoming tiresome.
The lecturer is one of us, she was told. He was in the Red Brigades during his youth although his employers do not know this. He will facilitate your university career and in time introduce you to the middle ranks in Italian politics, The Church and Roman society. After that you must make your own way.
Then it happened. Source Magdalena, as she was later to be known, met Eduardo in a coffee shop near the university. He was a policeman and married. For the first time in her life she encountered someone whom she wanted to give herself to. To admit that she was “in love” was too dizzy a thought and she would only admit that she was much attracted to him. An affair which lacked nothing in passionate abandon followed. Then, as is the way of these things, their affair came to light.
Divorce was out of the question. Both Eduardo and his wife were “devout” Catholics. Eduardo broke with her and her world imploded.
Some months after the breakup, she encountered a young Scottish lawyer on holiday in Rome and began an affair with him. Jonathon was very much second fiddle to Eduardo.
In the months that followed both traumas Magdalena followed the well trodden path of contemplating “the meaning of life”. After prolonged introspection she decided upon Holy Orders as opposed to Stasi orders and took herself off to a convent.
Her only Stasi contact in Rome reported her to Berlin. The reaction was predictable and explosive. What the fuck did she think she was doing? She was meant to be socializing in Rome dressed in a short leather skirt not fucking kneeling in a fucking church saying fucking Hail Marys. Sister Magdalena, as she now was, replied herself rather than through her contact and advised that she was seen as a splendid prospect for the Church. Given her educational accomplishments she was being considered for a career in the Vatican. In her submission to the Stasi in Berlin there was no necessary conflict between Holy Orders and Stasi orders. There was silence from Berlin for two weeks and the reply, when it came, was crude. Very well, Sister Magdalena, pursue your Holy Orders in the Vatican but remember to make yourself available to Cardinals and get them off if it is to our advantage.
The years rolled by and she did indeed encounter Cardinals with increasing frequency but did not fulfill the wishes of her masters in the Stasi as regards physical matters.
Eduardo got in touch with her again, their affair resumed and she learned that he now labored in the same line of work as she did. Sister Magdalena did not intimate this development to her masters in the Stasi.
The Berlin Wall fell in 1989 and Sister Magdalena was at last free. Her former masters in the Stasi were now forced to seek alternative employment as barmen, taxi drivers and pimps. (Germany was becoming a gigantic brothel, as a Minister of the Interior was later to complain.) She and Eduardo celebrated these developments in bed with two bottles of Sekt.
By this time Sister Magdalena had become a respected (albeit unofficial) advisor to one Pontiff, was currently serving a second Pontiff and would, in due course, go on to render the same service to a third. Among her myriad and onerous duties was dealing with a certain Scottish Cardinal. She filtered his reports for the Holy Father and despite the fact that he far outranked her a decree from the Supreme Pontiff left The Cardinal in no doubt as to his position when it came to his dealings Sister Magdalena.
In which, two weeks previously, the would-be author, Jonathon, sets off with his paramour, Alina for a week’s holiday in Rome
The Alps soared up from the ground to meet their plane giving the impression that the plane had lost half of its cruising altitude without any sensation of descent.
“I never weary of flying over the Alps,” she said.
“What’s left of them after global warming,” you mean. “We have only known each a few days and I do not think that I have yet asked you how you became a pilot?”
“My father was a keen member of a flying club in Amsterdam and I followed in his footsteps as a teenager. For reasons which escape me nowadays I read medieval Dutch literature at university. Then it was time to make career choices and teaching medieval literature was not one going to be one of them.”
“So you decided to make a career in aviation?”
“Yes but I do not make a good passenger.”
“For the obvious reason that I realize when flight crew are making mistakes or telling passengers less than the full truth. To give an obvious example, most passengers realize that when a captain announces that “there will be a spot of turbulence” it could be a euphemism for a more serious problem.”
“Let’s not talk about work. Are you looking forward to seeing the sights in Rome?”
“Of course I am.”
“I still find it difficult to believe that you have flown in and out the place several times but never yet seen the city.”
“It is a common occurrence among flight crew. I know flight crew who have flown several times to China and never set eyes on the sights of any city.”
“I must confess that I have ambivalent feelings about Rome.”
“What do you mean?”
“I do not see Rome-ancient or modern-as the fountain of civilization.”
“Nor do I. Ancient Rome was a bestial place and seeing modern Rome as the main centre of Christianity can be a stretch for the imagination.
That said, not having seen the city is a gap in my education which I can at last fill.”
“I always feel sad when I see the Coliseum. To think of the brutal and senseless killings that happened there and the prostitutes who waited outside the arena after the day’s proceedings in order to cater for the needs of the depraved spectators when they emerged from the amphitheatre is chilling and sobering. I see the Coliseum as one of the focal points of everything dreadful about human beings.”
“It is a depressing subject. Let’s talk about you.
You said you were a lawyer?”
“Yes. I left the law some years ago, Thank God.”
“You didn’t enjoy your career in law?”
“Why was that?”
“I wasted most of his life as a lawyer and the less said the better. About the age of fifty I began to see the bottom of the barrel. I would die sometime and feel that I had achieved nothing. After all, if you work as a lawyer you have achieved nothing in life.
In my opinion, lawyers are blood sucking parasites who contribute nothing to the human condition.”
“So you decided to write?”
“Yes. It’ something I always wanted to do.”
“And I think you’ve said that you have had a measure of success?”
“That’s one way of putting it. I said certainly have not enjoyed the financial rewards writers of crime fiction do.”
In which we meet the Cardinal and Father Dieter
The Cardinal had not always been a Cardinal.
Once upon a time he had been a small boy. The Jesuits had found him a very attractive small boy.
So attractive in fact, that they had taken it in turns to buggar him. The problem with religious orders is of course their unresolved sexuality. In due course the abused became an abuser and was given to shagging anything. Jimmy Savile was a mere beginner compared to the Cardinal.
Eventually as is the way of these matters, some of his victims came forward decades later. The Cardinal’s sins of the flesh in a gay bar in Edinburgh were brought under intense legal scrutiny. The Cardinal had never forgiven the messianic zeal with which the prosecutor had pursued his peccadilloes. The man must have hated sex, reasoned the Cardinal at the time. Holy Mother Church had whisked the Cardinal back to Rome, declared that he had had a nervous collapse and refused to hand him over. The Vatican lobbied the British government intensely and pointed out forcefully that if they wanted two British candidates for sainthood to proceed then they should jolly well change their tune and stop whining about the extradition of the Cardinal. The British government was appalled that the canonizations might not go ahead. Few Brits had been declared saints in the previous centuries, after all. (British saints are difficult to find).
The Prime Minister, (himself a public school boy and pretty much used to the idea that a small boy entering a boarding educational establishment had a sporting chance of being shagged on the spot), said in his craven letter to the Vatican that he had reviewed the evidence himself and found it unsatisfactory. It had just a spot of high spirits in a gay bar in Edinburgh, after all. Therefore there would be no further legal proceedings against the Cardinal. The Vatican replied about fucking time and that the Prime Minister’s sins were forgiven.
They added that the two candidates for sainthood would be confirmed as such quam celerime, as the lawyers would put it.
In that year Anno Domini Jaime Savili 2015 (years after Jimmy Savile according to the Vatican Calendar), The Cardinal had been informed that the prosecutor who had pursued him with such messianic zeal was here in Rome. The Cardinal did not believe in coincidences. The Cardinal’s spies intimated that the prosecutor was now retired and appeared to be in love with a KLM pilot (female, the report disclosed) whom he was shagging. The aforesaid pilot was 30 years younger than the former prosecutor and the latter had no further interest in His Eminence.
Poppycock! exploded the Cardinal and intending no pun. Do you bastards (he meant his spies) spend your time watching “The Sound of Music”?
Now the Cardinal’s trusted sidekick was a certain Father Dieter who was a German priest from Berlin where he had distinguished himself in musical circles for all the wrong reasons. As with so many Germans he believed that the mere incantation of Beethoven’s Ninth Choral Symphony carried a plenary indulgence absolving him from his many sins of the flesh. In Father Dieter’s case this included shagging every one of the choir boys in his Church in Berlin. The Berlin Hierarchy decided that he was wasted in Berlin and should be sent to the Vatican where his mastery of philosophy and sexual proclivities could be put to good use by Holy Mother Church.
Father Dieter quickly came to the attention of The Cardinal as did the German Padre’s sexual predilections. It was not long before The Cardinal and Father Dieter began exchanging confidences about the Cardinal’s experiences in a gay bar in Edinburgh and the German Padre’s experiences with Berlin choir boys. With almost indecent haste, The Cardinal appointed Father Dieter to head up the gay clergy ring in the Vatican. The pair of them were almost caught when the then Holy Father’s butler exposed the correspondence of the then Holy Father to the press. A spot of 30 days solitary confinement in a Vatican cell measuring ten feet by six feet (all as reported in the press worldwide) soon shut the troublesome butler up. (After such distressing ill-treatment at the hands of Holy Mother Church, the butler was much gratified one day by the appearance of the Holy Father in his cell dispensing a papal pardon for his “sins”.)
Needless to say Father Dieter soon became The Cardinal’s chief spy in Rome. The Cardinal always insisted that meetings with his chief spy in Rome should take place “outside the office” that is to say away from the Vatican. After all, if they had been seen together, an uncharitable observer may have observed that Father Dieter was a sodomite of the Cardinal (or rather catamite as The Cardinal once corrected his junior prelate. The Cardinal was a stickler for the precise use of language.)
So there they were, that afternoon in Anno Domini Jaime Savili 2015, in a back street cafe near Rome’s central railway station. The street was cobbled and before they got down to business The Cardinal drew Father Dieter’s attention to two nuns cycling along the cobbled street.
“I suppose you have heard the joke about the two nuns cycling back to the convent over a cobbled street?” he enquired of his junior prelate.
“No,” replied Father Dieter.
“One said to the other, we have never come this way before.”
Father Dieter grimaced.
“I find heterosexuality utterly disgusting.”
“How do you know the nuns in question were heterosexual?” The Cardinal asked.
There was no reply from Father Dieter.
“Now about this fucking lawyer,” The Cardinal said.
“His visit to Rome with the KLM pilot could mean he has signed his own death warrant. It’ll be his funeral,” remarked Father Dieter.
The Cardinal was silent for some moments.
“I once officiated at a very interesting funeral in Glasgow when I was a young parish priest,” he said.
“Why was it interesting?”
“The deceased was a Grand Master in the Masons.”
“Jesus Christ!” exclaimed Father Dieter.
“His death was tragic comedy.”
“As he lay dying in his hospital bed he received a visit from his wife. They argued even while he lay on his death bed.”
Tysiące ebooków i audiobooków
Ich liczba ciągle rośnie, a Ty masz gwarancję niezmiennej ceny.
Napisali o nas:
Nowy sposób na e-księgarnię
Czytelnicy nie wierzą
Legimi idzie na całość
Projekt Legimi wielkim wydarzeniem
Spotify for ebooks