I have named myself Miro Kazimirski, but the name I was born with, sadly, is Zomirovan Lavrovrodinski. As you can see, I’ve taken the “Miro” from Zo-miro-van, while from Lavrovrodinski I have used only the suffix “ski,” which I have attached to Kazimir, who is my favorite physicist, because he was the first to discover the power of the vacuum or, in other words, of nothingness. As a child, I used to think of myself as nothingness—as an absolute nobody, that is—but that time is over now. I began discovering my strength while just a teenager, and now, on my thirtieth birthday, I can say openly that I am one hell of a specimen—strong like a Bengal tiger and almost as handsome. My childhood traumas, however, continue their sorry existence in me in a dangerous union, with the tendency for taking risks I’ve inherited from both my father and mother. A pathological tendency for taking risks that are huge and mostly physical.
Actually, I have never seen my father, and the last time I saw my mother, I was a one-month-old baby. I don’t know where they are today or if they are alive, which I strongly doubt, considering the aforementioned reckless tendencies of theirs. My grandfather also doubts that. He’s the man who raised me after his wacky daughter took off for the unknown on her motorcycle.
I must say that my grandfather stands out sharply, with his unkind character and main flaws of groundless short-temperedness, uncontrollable avariciousness, and, first and foremost, uncalled-for, untimely frankness. I’ve suffered from these flaws of his many times, but it was his frankness that was too much for me and far too much than I deserved. I was only six when he told me, “Your mother and father are two idiots,” and drove home the point with the following story.
They met on a minefield in Afghanistan, where they were in their capacity as volunteers. They liked each other at first sight, and while defusing a land mine, they started a casual flirtation that later grew into passionate love or probably passionate hate. It doesn’t matter. What matters is that their relationship became more and more strained, and this process included not only quarreling in the face of death but also fighting in the most inappropriate places—close to the enemy while on a reconnaissance mission, for example, or up in the clouds during parachute jumps.
But the tension between them reached its peak when they were least expecting it or, in other words, when, in the form of an embryo, I came from the void. Actually, whether there was an “I” during those first months is a question no one can answer. Probably we would never know the exact moment an embryo becomes a human. It’s a fact, however, that my parents neither planned me as an embryo nor wanted me as a human. This is what my grandfather told me during one of his bursts of uncalled-for frankness. A burst that unfortunately coincided with my sixth birthday.
Well, is it any wonder then that from that day on I hated my birthdays? It’s not, right? And is it any wonder that my grandfather, a man of such bad temper, is a psychotherapist? Why, yes, it is a wonder, and when you add his professional success to this, the wonder becomes even greater. But that’s how things are. The world is full of mysteries, as people say.
What’s also a mystery, at least to me, is my mother’s behavior thirty years ago. First she told my father that she was going to get rid of the “little bun”—meaning me—and when he agreed with her, she suddenly became stubborn about it and didn’t get rid of it. I was born out of wedlock, of course. After that it was my father’s turn to act stubborn, so he acknowledged me as his son without even seeing me. I’ve been asking myself why did he do it, and the only explanation that comes to mind is that he acknowledged me only to get back at her by forcing on her his ridiculous family name: Lavrovrodinski. While my mother’s revenge for this was to stitch together my name, Zomirovan, using syllables from the names of two or three of her previous lovers.
Alas! I am at a loss for words to express my outrage at this parental disgrace. The only consolation I have is that both he and she have disappeared from my life during my earliest years, so at least now I am not plagued by firsthand memories of them. It’s the secondhand ones that I cannot get rid of, because, besides imposing a bunch of those on me, my grandfather never misses an opportunity to refresh them. I have the feeling that he would somehow manage not to miss it even today, on my thirtieth birthday, even though I’ve turned my phone off and the distance between us is almost three hundred miles.
So, it has always been crystal clear to me that I wasn’t born under a lucky star. Recently, however, my situation has deteriorated drastically, and now I am a broke and fired cop, headed for the bottom not only figuratively but also literally. Yes, literally, because I started a new job today—I’ll be tagging sharks with satellite trackers in their natural environment. I hope the job is interesting. After idling away an entire month feeling depressed, I need some excitement in my life.
In fact, the process of my failure began a little over a month ago when Harry, my closest friend, hit me with the news that his wife was in the hospital. Fulminant lung cancer—such was the diagnosis—and only an emergency and extremely expensive surgery could save her. I knew that there was no way for him to collect such a sum in so little time, so I decided to help him. I transferred all my savings to his account and also gave him the money from the sale of my car, an almost new Audi A8, for which I quickly found a buyer. His eyes filled with tears, Harry thanked me and hurried away to arrange his wife’s deliverance, but on the very next morning, I got a phone call from her—and she sounded perfectly well and mad with anger. Last week, it turned out that she went to her mother’s for a week. She came back to a ransacked apartment and, as she found out later, depleted bank accounts. “I’m starting a new life with a new woman in a new place,” Harry’s angry message said. “I hope you and Miro forgive me. And not follow me!” Well, we didn’t forgive him, and we didn’t follow him. I give him a year or so to come back, to his wife—a lot less than that.
But it seems true that evil never comes alone. On that morning, I went to work an hour later and, of course, in a nasty mood, and my boss, the way he is, instantly jumped on me, this time for being late. I reminded him that for the three years in the Criminal Investigation Department, I’d accumulated hundreds and hundreds of extra—and unpaid—hours. Absolutely unabashed, he started fuming and even called me a slacker. I endured that too. I suggested he shut up, but he didn’t listen, so I shut his mouth with a fist. And although it really wasn’t my goal to break his jaw, that’s what happened.
This is how my boss got his orthopedic braces and I an instant dismissal. He could have pressed charges against me but was wise enough not to do it. Otherwise, the media would’ve made the incident public, thus turning him into a laughing stock: “The Beaten Boss,” “Punch-Bag Boss,” and so on.
As soon as my feet touched the ocean floor, all thoughts of past troubles left my head and shot up to the surface. My intention was to survive, and in order to do this, I had to focus only on the present. I kneeled for better stability, took a salmon from the basket, and waved it at the white shark swimming not far from where I stood. Naturally, the twelve-feet-long creature instantly showed gastronomical interest, but whether it was for the salmon or me, I could not tell. Having taken a comfortable position in his cage, the cameraman was already filming and probably hoping for the second option. It’s nothing personal. That’s his job.
I focused my attention back on the shark. Just as I thought, I didn’t have to wait long. After a few exploratory rounds, it came closer to me, opened a mouth as big as a politician’s during an election campaign, and…swallowed the salmon without even touching my hand! An agile animal, and, at least at this point, friendly. I guess some stories about the ferocity of the white sharks are greatly exaggerated. I took another salmon from the basket, and it was swallowed in the same fashion. I changed the tactics for the next portions—I would not let go of the treat right away so that the shark would have to pull it from my hand. I used the opportunity to take a closer look at its face. I wanted to try a technique applied by some famous divers who, by rubbing the receptors around the nose and the mouth of these dangerous predators, manage to bring them into a trance.
It was not an easy task, especially as I had no past experience whatsoever, but then again if I had, the thrill would not have been so strong. My adrenaline was rushing madly. I felt charged with energy, with emotion, and I no longer regretted refusing to put on the protective suit. I slowly reached my hand—which appeared frighteningly vulnerable in its thin glove—over its toothy snout. Time seemed to stretch indefinitely in this short moment that could have been my last. I love you, life! I thought. I also love myself! I love that shark too…
I began rubbing its nose and gradually moved to around the mouth. I felt its body of a killer relax and continued on. I caressed it like I have never caressed any of my lovers. I watched its eyes, and it was watching me too. We were swaying on the ocean floor in rhythm, trusting each other, and the trance was no longer the beast’s alone; to some degree, it was mine also.
As usual, though, the human partner, in this case me, was about to prove his treacherousness. I overcame my sentimental scruples without any difficulty. I slid my hand down toward the pliers with the satellite tracker, and as soon as I unhooked it from my belt, I abandoned my caresses. I swam by the dazed fish, and reaching for its dorsal fin, I squeezed it with the pliers, turning on the drill.
I don’t know if the shark felt pain or was just startled, but in any case, it came out of the trance. It bolted forward, pulling me with it because the vaunted special pliers locked. I had to either let go of them and leave the shark to carry the pliers on its fin to the end of its days or…keep my grip.
I pressed close to its body; waited for it to slow down; and, still clutching at the pair of pliers, managed to climb on its back. The ride was short but effective. I opened the pliers with a sudden movement that pushed me backward, but the shark reacted to this by taking a turn and heading straight for me. It passed me by! The satellite tracker on its fin flashed before my eyes—it looked firmly attached, although right now that was no cause for joy.
I searched for the cameraman’s cage and found it not far off. I started swimming toward it. The shark rushed in my direction once again but sped past me a second time. I reached the cage, but the cameraman didn’t seem to remember to open it. He was filming like a madman. I thrust my hand through the bars and pushed the button myself so that despite the delay, I was safe inside during the shark’s next round. The cage closed automatically. I gave a signal to pull us up and shoved my knee into the cameraman’s stomach, but due to the water’s resistance, the result was far from what I had intended.
Back on the yacht, everything swam before my eyes from anger because of the blocked pliers and the insufferable operator. The moment I took off my mask, though, I started seeing red, even though the woman who approached me was all in white.
“A fabulous spectacle!” She applauded. “I was watching in real time, but I’m definitely buying the film…” She turned toward the cameraman but saw only his back while he was reasonably walking away from me, scuttling on the deck.
I glowered at my employer, the ichthyologist-environmentalist.
“I didn’t invite her here!” He hurried to deny. “I, too, had no idea she was on board!”
I nodded at him; got rid of the diving tank; and, kicking my flippers to the side, made for the captain’s cabin. I stormed inside.
“Congratulations!” the captain greeted me, looking embarrassed. “Everything’s fine. The satellite is already sending—”
I cut him off. “Who is she? And why is she here?”
“She’s here because of you, but she’s been hiding until now…from you.”
“You’ve sold me out!” I said, through clenched teeth. “You’ve made a spectacle out of me!”
“Well, yes,” he admitted. “The lady was very insistent…and generous.”
“I’ll be generous toward you too!” She entered with a smile. “Now I have no doubts that you are the man I need.”
I didn’t say anything. I was shocked by this stranger who had sneaked onboard for some unclear reason and who was now talking to me in such an unceremonious tone. I mean, what the hell was that attitude? Did she take me for a gigolo? I pulled down the zipper of the diving suit. I was sweating, almost suffocating, but suddenly realized that she might interpret this for something implying agreement—as if I was saying, There! I’m ready to take everything off, madam—and quickly pulled the zipper back up.
The captain used the moment to sneak out, and she took his seat and smiled again. Her face—a cocreation between Mother Nature and plastic surgery—was cleaned from even the tiniest mimic wrinkles, but I could tell she was getting closer to forty, unless she had already passed fifty…or was only thirty. Due to some strange coincidence, her eyes were big, round, and glass blue, just like the shark’s. But her mouth was small, which unfortunately did not stop her from dealing a serious verbal blow to me: “Your grandpa directed me to you.”
“But he doesn’t know where I am!” I exclaimed. “He’s not supposed to know—”
“You’re wrong,” she objected. “Immediately after you were fired from the police, he sent two private investigators after you, whose daily reports pushed him to ‘the edge of despair,’ as he himself called it. ‘My grandson would’ve made a great detective had he not inherited the idiocy of his mother and father, who—’”
“And so on!” I stopped her rudely. “This is old news, madam.”
“You’re wrong,” she objected again. “The news is that, according to your grandpa, it’s about time you took at least one intellectual risk, not only physical ones. That’s why he directed me to you. And he told me to tell you that I am your birthday present from him.”
“Is that so?”
“Yes. Because the job I will hire you for involves all kinds of risk, plus a hefty sum of money in exchange.”
“I’m not interested,” I said and headed for the door.
“You’re wrong,” she objected a third time. “After I explain, I’m sure you’ll be interested. Also, your grandpa insists—”
I left the cabin. Anger was urging me to find the captain or at least the cameraman immediately, but I managed to contain it. A month ago I got off lightly with discharge only for battery, but a second offense would surely put me behind bars.
I took a shower, not caring how much water I used, and after that poured myself whiskey, not caring how much I used of that either. I put some decent clothes on, because I was almost sure that my grandfather’s “gift” was going to pay me another visit soon, and lay back on the uncomfortable bunk, glass in hand. The cabin I was given was tiny and not cozy, but that was not bothering me. I had just escaped a visit to the shark’s belly, so this place looked great to me.
I sipped the whiskey and waited. My anger had calmed down, giving way to curiosity. Of course, out of pure stubbornness, I declined the job offer, no matter the size of the paycheck and the dangers it promised, but I was nevertheless excited by the fact that my grandfather had personally made an effort to take care of me—and went to such extent as to hire detectives! A true feat, considering his fanatical avariciousness.
Presently someone knocked at the door and opened it immediately, without waiting for an invitation to come in. I turned, put out by such insolence, but the moment I saw the visitor, I was dumb with surprise. An unpleasant surprise, that is, because compared to him, I—with my solid build and height of over six feet—felt like a dwarf.
I stood up immediately. The uninvited guest stepped in, and the cabin darkened, from his enormous size, black clothes, and the dark-brown color of his skin. My trained eye easily guessed that he was born with a face with regular features. Not that it was ugly now, but I wouldn’t call it handsome either, what with its repeatedly broken nose, badly healed eyebrow arch, and the botched stitch job across the cheekbone and all the way to the drooping right ear.
“Valdo,” he said.
“No,” I told him. “I’m Miro.”
“But I am Valdo,” he clarified.
I shrugged. “So?”
“So?” I saw a flash of irritation in the darkness of his eyes. “So what?”
“Hmm. What are you saying?”
We stared at each other with a primal hostility that stopped us from overcoming in a civilized manner the awkward start of our conversation. Neither of us would avert his eyes first, and even though we were silent, the air around us seemed to vibrate from some telepathic snarls.
“What’s happening? Did you start playing cards?” someone called from outside. A moment later another guy, a blond, but also dressed in black and of a size as impressive as Valdo’s, showed up at the frame of the open door. Unlike Valdo, this one didn’t look like a professional wrestler, only like a body builder on steroids.
“Dammit!” I lost it. “How many of you are there? How many of you boars have been hiding from me on this shit boat?”
“Move it!” Valdo said. “We have to take you to the lady.”
“What if I don’t want to?”
“Call me Sirius,” the blond suggested. “But if you don’t want to walk, we can carry you.”
The idea of those two carrying me away was something I did not like at all. I salvaged some of my dignity by slowly finishing the whiskey before their envious eyes and then urged them on with a strict gesture as if the decision to take them to the “lady” was mine, not theirs.
Still dressed in white but with her hat missing, the lady was sitting comfortably in one of the chaise longues sheltered by the upper deck. Beside her was a table covered with sandwiches and all kinds of fancy biscuits—an abundance, in the midst of which stood out a solitary and relatively small pitcher filled with orange juice.
I relaxed in the chaise longue on the other side of the table and grabbed a sandwich right away. Not so much out of hunger, really, but because I felt I had to answer to these threes’ lack of manners with a demonstration of the same. I yawned and did not cover my mouth and then scarfed half the sandwich in a single bite.
“Pour me some of that juice,” I mumbled, chewing.
The lady nodded at Valdo, who took the pitcher in a way that made me think that he was going to pour it over my head. But he just filled a glass and pushed it gently toward me, using only an index finger, which looked like a sausage.
“You can go, boys,” the lady said, and after they disappeared, she turned her shark eyes toward me. “I chose this place so that no one could eavesdrop on us. It’s time I introduced myself to you, don’t you think?”
“No,” I replied. “You’re free not to.”
“You’re right,” she agreed surprisingly. “That won’t be necessary, if I decide not to use your services.”
“I don’t remember offering any service to you,” I remarked with annoyance. “Whatever it is that Grandfather has offered you does not concern me. I no longer live with him, and he is no longer my master!”
“Yes, yes, I know about that.” She smiled. “Honestly, Miro, I know you quite well. I’ve been visiting your grandfather for years, and you’ve been a frequent topic in our conversations.”
“That’s a weird approach,” I said, puzzled.
“Why? What do you mean ‘weird’?”
“Well, talking about me being part of your psychotherapy sessions.”
“Oh no!” She stopped smiling and started laughing. “I personally don’t need therapy. Your grandfather and I, we’re helping each other as colleagues.”
“Don’t tell me you’re a therapist too.”
“Yes. I’m also a psychiatrist. Although I no longer practice. Or more precisely, I practice but only using experimental methods.”
I was losing my patience. “Listen, lady—”
“Graziella,” she said. “Graziella Prond.”
“Fine. Listen, Graziella Prond! Try to make yourself clear; otherwise, I’ll be off.”
“It’s all very messed up,” she sighed. “I mean, it’s not. Not messed up; it’s quite ordered, actually, but it’s complicated. I don’t know…I wonder where to start.”
“Start from the end by saying good-bye,” I advised her, standing up.
She reached out; took my hand; and, pulling me closer to her, raised her perfectly smooth white face. Her hair, the color of lemon, was neatly drawn back. So spurred by curiosity, I searched for the traces of sutures around her temples. I couldn’t find any, but I saw her lips moving, and mixed with the gentle splash of the ocean, an indistinct murmur reached my ears.
“What?” I asked. “I didn’t hear that.”
There was a pause, during which she held my hand, as if mustering the courage to make a life-changing decision. Finally, she shook her head, squinting her eyes at me, and said, “I live under the same roof with six serial killers.”
I stood by the table like a shaken tree until Graziella started treating me like one: With one hand she grabbed my belt and with the other my elbow and slowly stood up.
“My back hurts these days,” she informed me and started pacing back and forth along the deck.
I sat down again and stared at her. She didn’t look like someone in pain—she walked gracefully, in absolute harmony not only with her name but also with her slender body, now showing clearly beneath the sheer dress, which reached her ankles. She looked like a white bird, and the ocean breeze was blowing the wide sleeves covering her arms to the wrist, as if urging her to fly…
I frowned. A short while ago, I had compared this woman to a shark; now I was seeing her as a bird, and I don’t think I was wrong in either case. Yes, nothing about her was unambiguous. She looked equally vulnerable and dangerous, equally young and old, equally attractive and repulsive. But what worried me most was that she did not look crazy, although some of her statements were pointing to the contrary.
“Well, Graziella,” I began gently, after she had returned to her chaise longue, “what makes you think that you’re living with serial killers? And how do you think so many of them have come together? After all, six is an impressive number when it comes to such freaks.”
“There were seven of them,” she told me, “but one fell victim to cold-blooded murder.”
“Oh?” I didn’t know how to react to that, so I just blurted out, “That’s more than deserved! That’s what they deserve for being serial killers.”
“It’s true, but I covered the murder up. I made it look like an accident.”
“Yep. Not a wise move, Graziella. Now, you’ll have to excuse me. I need to go back to my cabin and lie down for a couple of hours after my encounter with that shark.”
She waved a hand as if instead of saying words I had just spewed out a cloud of flies.
“I wanted you to act naturally for the camera,” she said, staring into the distance behind me. “If you had known that your behavior would determine whether I’d hire you or not, then you probably would have demonstrated how brave you are. That’s why I monitored you secretly and realized that I would probably never find someone more suitable than you.”
“Suitable for what, dammit?” I grabbed my glass and drank the insipid juice in a single gulp. Just as I expected, Valdo had soured it with his look. “What do you want from me?”
“I want you to carry out an investigation. It is certain that one of the six is the killer, but the question is who? Who?” Pressing a palm to her brow, she successfully drew a simple logical conclusion: “But you won’t understand me. Not before I’ve told you about the events that led to this…” She waited for me to nod and continued, “About two years ago, I inherited a large sum of money. Large is an understatement, actually. I stopped working as a psychotherapist and last year bought a small, isolated island, the location of which I shall not divulge. I shall also remain silent, for the moment, on the actions I was forced to carry out in order to realize my daring professional idea. Bribery, forgery, evidence destruction, blackmail, protected database hacking, political racketeering, double games with judges, prosecutors, police officers, psychiatrists—”
“Wow! If that’s your way of remaining silent, I can’t imagine what it would be when you start talking! But let’s move straight to the end result. If I understand correctly, by the said criminal actions, you’ve isolated those serial killers from the justice system. And then you gathered the motley crew on the island you’ve bought.”
“Exactly. From the first year at university, I’ve been interested in forensic psychiatry, and I’ve always dreamed of conducting such an experiment. I want to write a book with my direct observations of their psyche. Imagine the discussions this would provoke! A best seller, the echo of which would resonate powerfully!”
I put my hands over my head. “That’s insane! Sneaking out of prison six—I mean, seven—psychos only to write a best seller!”
“No, no. Only Valdo was in prison. The rest, with the exception of Sirius and a girl, I helped get out of the psychiatric ward. They were pronounced mentally irresponsible for their actions, so after some pressure from my side, I was allowed to continue with their treatment on an island that no one can escape from.”
“What about Sirius and the girl?” I asked. “Where did you take them from?”
“Nowhere. Sirius was imprisoned for life, but they released him after fourteen years for good conduct. He’s part of the experiment voluntarily, with a salary; plus, I trust him as my bodyguard. The girl’s case was a more complicated one, because she was saved from a guilty verdict only after the main evidence disappeared.”
“A disappearance arranged by you,” I added, without any claims to quick-wittedness. “So, let’s summarize, Graziella: You’re collecting psychopaths, yet you have no doubts about your mental health!”
“Well, you think of yourself as a psychohealthy, too, don’t you? And you don’t care that for some of your thoughtless and risky actions you should’ve been admitted to the psychiatric ward, do you?”
“You’re quoting my grandfather’s bullshit,” I pointed out, with insincere contempt. “Anyway. Whatever I might be like, I don’t think it’s appropriate to compare yourself to me.”
“Yes, not appropriate at all! You’re after extreme adventures because otherwise you feel hollow. You risk your life only to add some temporary value to it, while I am a woman of science. People like me pave the roads for progress! By the way, I bet you’re an admirer of Roger Smith and Jacques Ponto, for example. Am I right?”
“You might be,” I mumbled, blushing.
“Ahaaa!” She pointed an accusing finger at me. “You don’t even know who these famous medics are. Here, listen: Roger Smith studied the properties of curare by injecting himself with that powerful poison. He was paralyzed, and his colleagues barely saved him after emergency resuscitation. His risk, however, was not in vain, because thanks to him, now strictly standardized doses of curare are being used in the field of surgery. Jacques Ponto created an antivenom serum, and in order to test it, he let himself be bitten by three vipers! And later, based on his experiments, were manufactured antidotes counteracting poisoning from other species of snake.”
“OK,” I agreed, “these men deserve admiration. But what do they have to do with—”
“Shut up! Don’t you realize what they and I have in common? They poisoned their bodies in the name of science, and I…I am poisoning my soul! I’ve been living for five months with those murderers, listening to their stories, trying to understand them, to analyze them. And on top of that, I have to overcome my indescribable fear day after day! Because I know that I could meet the same horrific fate as their victims at any moment.”
“Hold on! Haven’t you taken any measures to prevent that?”
“No, none. I am alone with them on the island. It’s my home now. Our home, mine and theirs. And mind you, I don’t dull their brains with any sort of medication. I’m not trying to turn them into puppets drenched in sedatives. No! My patients are authentic, and so are my therapeutic methods. I am doing everything I can to reach the healthy core of their psyche.”
“Fine. But what if there is no healthy core?”
“There has to be. No one is born a killer! My experiment will prove this. This, and much more, of course. My goal is much more ambitious, Miro. And the advice coming from your grandfather is priceless. He really is an exceptionally talented psychiatrist! I keep him informed about everything that is happening on the island. I share with him every problem I face. Then we both try to find the best approach to each of the seven—”
“Who are now six,” I reminded her.
“Yes.” She wrinkled her nose. “But at least now you see why I covered the murder, don’t you? The whole experiment would’ve gone to hell!”
“Where it belongs,” I added coldly. “And you can count me out. The job I’m doing now seems more meaningful to me. I am sure that sharks deserve conservation attempts more than serial killers.”
“But children deserve safety and security more than anyone, Miro! Children!” she exclaimed dramatically. Then she took a deep breath and continued in a calmer voice, “Almost every serial killer has suffered childhood abuse. Some from their natural parents; others by adoptive parents, teachers, coaches, classmates, and so on. The question is, why is this allowed to happen? There are child-protection laws. Why do people break them? Very simple: because the state does not have the resources to enforce them effectively. That’s the argument, Miro, we’re going to use in court in an unprecedented lawsuit if the experiment turns out to be successful. It will be a public suit, a megasuit, in which the six serial killers will sue the state for allowing their transformation into serial killers!”
I could feel a dumb expression taking over my features, but I had no idea what to counter its progress with, so I just laughed. Graziella ignored me.
“You heard me!” She seemed to be nodding to herself. “I am going to prove that they wouldn’t have turned into murderers if the state had taken care of them in their childhood years. I am going to turn the media to our side. I’m going to start a campaign that’s both large scale and scandalous. A campaign with the following goal: Make the state the default principle defendant in every trial against a serial killer!”
“I see!” This time it was easier to laugh. “And are you going to send the state to…prison? Or administer the deadly injection right away?”
“Take this more seriously!” she scolded me. “Focus and think about it!”
“I am thinking. And I’m asking, what do you think you’ll achieve with such a campaign?”
“More effective tools for child protection, that’s what. Like setting up a large number of teams with three types of specialists in each: a psychologist, a psychiatrist, and a psychoanalyst. And arranging compulsory sessions with every child every six months. Holding extensive conversations with the child that include a lie detector in case the child decides to hide his abuser out of fear or for other reasons. Since these teams will function as representatives of the state, if at a later stage it is found out that they had not done their job properly, they shall be prosecuted…and so on. The project needs more specificity, but I have hired several distinguished lawyers, as well as a significant number of politicians, of course.”