LÖNNROT. December 3rd. Hotel du Nord.
TREVIRANUS. Hotel du Nord – a high prism perched above the mouth of the river, whose waters are the color of the desert. It looks like a sanatorium.
LÖNNROT. It looks like a bawdy house.
MAN AT THE RECEPTION DESK. Dr. Marcello Yarmolinsky has arrived.
LÖNNROT. The delegate from Podolsk to the Third Talmudic Congress.
TREVIRANUS. Whatever that means.
LÖNNROT. And it does mean something.
YARMOLINSKY. The taxis in this city are outrageously expensive.
MAN AT THE RECEPTION DESK. Good evening, sir. And welcome.
YARMOLINSKY. Good evening. I am Dr. Marcello Yarmolinsky.
TREVIRANUS. Gray beard, gray eyes. It’s him.
MAN AT THE RECEPTION DESK. A delegate from Podolsk to the Third Talmudic Congress! Yes! We’ve been expecting you.
YARMOLINSKY. Wonderful. Here are my suitcases.
LÖNNROT. He is carrying two suitcases.
TREVIRANUS. He is hungry.
YARMOLINSKY. I’m hungry. I want to eat.
MAN AT THE RECEPTION DESK. Of course. The restaurant is at your service. But I’m afraid you have an appointment.
YARMOLINSKY. An appointment? What appointment?
TREVIRANUS. What appointment does he have?
LÖNNROT. He is supposed to tour the city. It is his first time here.
MAN AT THE RECEPTION DESK. Our driver is ready to take you on a tour of the city.
YARMOLINSKY. A tour? But I’m starving!
TREVIRANUS. A tour? At this hour?
MAN AT THE RECEPTION DESK. Of course. But still, the driver is waiting...
YARMOLINSKY. But I already saw the city in the dark on my way here. Let’s put it off till tomorrow!
MAN AT THE RECEPTION DESK. As you wish. Leave your suitcases here, we’ll take them up to your room.
TREVIRANUS. He leaves his suitcases here.
YARMOLINSKY. I’m leaving my suitcases here. Please take me to the restaurant.
LÖNNROT. They give him a room on floor R, right across from the Tetrarch of Galilee.
MAN AT THE RECEPTION DESK. Your room is on Floor R, right across from…
YARMOLINSKY. The restaurant! Take me to the restaurant!
TREVIRANUS. He is hungry.
LÖNNROT. They take him to the restaurant. They send away the driver, who is waiting in front of the main entrance to the hotel.
MAN AT THE RECEPTION DESK. I take him to the restaurant. I change the appointment with the driver for tomorrow. Run along, now! And be here again tomorrow!
LÖNNROT. They agree upon tomorrow, without knowing that there will be no tomorrow.
TREVIRANUS. After eating his fill, Yarmolinsky immediately goes up to his room and never comes out again.
LÖNNROT. What does he eat?
TREVIRANUS. We don’t know. Does it matter?
LÖNNROT. Of course it matters. We need to find out.
TREVIRANUS. He turns out his light exactly at midnight – according to the Tetrarch of Galilee’s chauffeur, who is in the room next door and who can’t sleep because of the full moon.
CHAUFFEUR. The moon isn’t to blame, my parents are.
TREVIRANUS. That’s how it usually goes.
CHAUFFEUR. I’ve suffered from insomnia since I was a child. My eyes get bloodshot every night, I read by the nightlight, that’s how I’ve read all the world’s literature – not out of curiosity, but out of fear and boredom. The lights just went out in the room next door and now they’re surely dreaming a dream within a dream.
LÖNNROT. December 4th. Hotel du Nord. Eleven o’clock. The phone rings in Dr. Yarmolinsky’s room on Floor R.
CHAUFFEUR. Mom, I swear I didn’t do it! Huh?! What’s going on? Shit, I had just dozed off.
LÖNNROT. The editor of the Süddeutsche Zeitung is calling.
TREVIRANUS. He’s looking for Yarmolinsky for an interview they had arranged.
EDITOR. It keeps ringing and ringing. I’m the editor of the Süddeutsche Zeitung. I’m looking for Dr. Yarmolinsky for the interview we had arranged. Nobody’s picking up.
LÖNNROT. It keeps ringing and ringing.
TREVIRANUS. Nobody’s picking up.
EDITOR. He must still be sleeping. Well, he’ll wake up!
LÖNNROT. Hotel du Nord. Twelve o’clock. Dr. Yarmolinsky has still not left his room.
MAN AT THE RECEPTION DESK. Where is Dr. Yarmolinsky? Is he still asleep? Have you called his room?
TREVIRANUS. The editor keeps calling.
EDITOR. I won’t give up so easily.
TREVIRANUS. The man at the reception desk thinks to go looking for him, since the driver is waiting in front of the hotel’s main entrance again to go on the tour of the city they had agreed upon.
MAN AT THE RECEPTION DESK. He’s not answering his phone. I’ll go up to his room.
TREVIRANUS. Yarmolinsky is not answering his phone.
LÖNNROT. The man from the reception desk went up to his room and…
MAN AT THE RECEPTION DESK. Oh my God! Dr. Yarmolinsky!
TREVIRANUS. He is lying near the door, his face is deathly white.
LÖNNROT. Because he’s dead. A deep stab wound has split open his breast. He is naked beneath a large, old-fashioned cape.
MAN AT THE RECEPTION DESK. Dr. Yarmolinsky is dead!
YARMOLINSKY. I’m dead.
TREVIRANUS. Would you like a cigar?
LÖNNROT. Why would I? I don’t smoke. Treviranus, sir, you’d be better off telling me what your hypothesis is, rather than tempting me and goading me towards self-destruction!
TREVIRANUS. I think someone wanted to steal the Tetrarch of Galilee’s sapphires, but accidentally went into Yarmolinsky’s room. I’m going to light up. He woke up and the thief had to kill him, most likely because he’d been recognized. What do you think? You can smoke here, right?
LÖNNROT. No! The Tetrarch of Galilee has the most beautiful sapphires in the world, every one of us in this room knows that. But a professional thief wouldn’t have mixed up the room and would have been wearing a mask. I said no! You can’t smoke here!
TREVIRANUS. Oh well, it’s a little late now. Everything in the sanatorium is reversed, even the room numbers on the doors are like those on jail cells, so it’s easy for a person to get confused at night, especially when there’s a full moon.
LÖNN ROT. Are you talking about the smoking or the murder? Never mind, in both cases your theory is superficial – I hope I’m not offending you, my dear sir. This murder doesn’t look like the result of some random accident, as you suggest.
TREVIRANUS. Actually, not just the hotel but the city itself resembles a prison. I’m a free man and I made this choice. A cigar, not a cigarette. Here, not outside. Now, not later. It’s all perfectly clear. We have to find the person who killed the doctor and not go to a goat for wool. Here you can’t smoke cigarettes, but nobody said anything about cigars, isn’t that right?
LÖNNROT. To me, everything reminds me of one big brothel. Actually, you know very well that I don’t believe in chance at all. Everything in the universe has a divine order, a structure, a system and requires an eye and аn insight to truly see them. There’s signs for everything else and it goes without saying – since you can’t smoke cigarettes here, you can’t smoke cigars, either. Unless you’re in some kind of brothel, in which case, anything goes.
TREVIRANUS. What’s your hypothesis then, Lönnrot? This one tastes like cherry. Are you sure you don’t want to try it?
LÖNNROT. With or without cherries, a rabbi lies slain before us. That must be our starting point when constructing our theory of what happened in this room last night. I don’t smoke cigars, or cigarettes, not now, not ever.
TREVIRANUS. I don’t understand what you mean, what are you constructing and why on earth you are acting as if you’re my boss, rather than the other way around? Have you really never smoked? Truly?
LÖNNROT. What I mean is that your fabricated and improvised exploits of some imaginary thief sound naïve, given that the victim is one of the most authoritative scholars of the secret teachings of Kabala. This strangeness is striking and I can sense that there is something deeper going on here. Never.
TREVIRANUS. What are you trying to say with this ‘deeper’? The world is a flat picture and that’s that. So you think the crime is religiously based and connected to his work? That’s strange. You are a man of extremes, Lönnrot.
LÖNNROT. One of his suitcases was full of clothes, the other was full of books. I will take all these tomes and look through them. The world is not a flat picture, but a text written upon another text and sometimes the layering of both meanings give rise to a third. If you get my drift… Once I took a drag and almost choked to death, I had almost forgotten, I was very young then.
TREVIRANUS. You’re still young. Be that as it may. My apologies, but I’m not going to bother with all that. I am a policeman and a simple Christian, I believe in Jesus and try to live righteously. I’m far removed from such superstitions. It’s wonderful.
LÖNNROT. You are no fool and you know very well that if we change our point of view, Christianity itself is simply a superstition, an ordinary sect and nothing more. And I’m mature, I’ve left my youth behind.
TREVIRANUS. Yes, but I don’t change my point of view. You aren’t hinting that I’m old, now are you?
LÖNNROT. Perhaps you are, since you believe that there is only one truth and you of all people know it? You are exactly as old as you need to be.
TREVIRANUS. I choked on the smoke. Now there’s how chance, which you don’t believe in, is lurking, waiting for the right moment to pounce, to pull our life out from under us like a rug.
LÖNNROT. I told you several times that smoking is not allowed here. Fine, now the struggle for us is not to fall asleep, to remain wakeful, to become an eye which is constantly observes our very selves, so as to catch the invisible threads of this terrible crime. Goodbye, Treviranus.
TREVIRANUS. Goodbye, Lönnrot. And happy reading. Let me know if you stumble across anything.
POLICE OFFICER. I’m letting you know! We’ve stumbled across something!
LÖNNROT. What’s that?
POLICE OFFICER. We found it next to the typewriter.
TREVIRANUS. A piece of paper!
POLICE OFFICER. Some phrase.
LÖNNROT. A message.
TREVIRANUS. Who wrote it?
LÖNNROT. What does it say?
POLICE OFFICER. The first letter of the name has been written.
TREVIRANUS. What’s that supposed to mean?
LÖNNROT. I knew it! Officer, pack up all these books for me and send them to my room. I’m not going to sleep this coming night.