Wednesday, September 20, 2006

In Cold Blood (Re-Screened)

Some 47 years ago, on November 15th (which is, in fact, my birthday although I hadn't yet been born), an entire family in Holcomb, Kansas was executed by 2 paroled petty criminals searching for a (non-existent) safe of cash. The horrific slaying of the 4 members of the Clutter family gripped the nation, galvanized a community with fear, and inspired reporters and journalists - among whom was Truman Capote - to descend on the quiet farmlands of America's midwest to seek their story. In Cold Blood, the product of Capote's (and friend Harper Lee's) meticulous research, instant recall (self-tested at 94%), fruitful imagination and/or personal prejudices (you choose), was an instant success (he earned some $2 million in the first year alone); in fact, it was a runaway hit before it was even published. It is not an exaggeration to say that Capote was the most famous man in the world after the publication of his "nonfiction novel".

I am mindful of the murders for several reasons:

1) Anything that happens on one's birthday is noteworthy. November 15th - write it down. In conjunction with the Clutter murders, this auspicious day oversaw the election of Canada's first separatist government, and the dissolution of my brother's marriage - the latter event should by rights be fêted with champagne;
2) Although I haven't seen the film In Cold Blood in years, I just watched the film Capote for the second time;
3) I finished reading In Cold Blood a week or so ago, and more importantly;
4) The flags at the Italian Embassy (my backyard neighbour) are flying at half-mast.

Why are the flags at half-mast? Because two nights ago in Rabat, an individual (a suspect is now in custody) entered the middle-class neighbourhood home of Italian national A. Alessandro Messir Dulisianio and his wife La Gasse Delos Ariena, and killed them, sparing - fortunately - their four children. Little information has been disclosed about the double-murder, save that Mr. Dulisianio and Ms. Ariena worked at the Delegation of the European Union in Rabat. The victims' car and other personal effects are missing.

If you took the time to check the above link, you will have seen that it was a major waste of time: there is scant information given. Nor is there any information about the suspect or his arrest. But it's remarkable that the murder was given any press at all, given the tendency to keep this sort of thing hush-hush. To compensate for the lack of hard facts, there has been much chin-wagging about the brutal killings around Rabat's nonexistent watercoolers, with many a theory posited. Some suggest that it was inside job, or the result of chatty concierges. The family only moved to Rabat a fortnight before Pope Benedict started pontificating about Islam so, it has been conjectured, the presence of an Italian national and his family may have been a thorn in someone's side. Perhaps, like the Clutter murders, it was a robbery gone wrong, a desperate attempt to leave no witnesses. Was the theft of the car a red herring. Who knows?

The only thing that is certain is that, like the Holcomb murders in 1959, another victim of both crimes was trust. Trust in your neighbours, trust in your community, trust in the goodness of others.

But afterward the townspeople, theretofore sufficiently unfearful of each other to seldom trouble to lock their doors, found fantasy re-creating them [the gunshot blasts] over and over again - those sombre explosions that stimulated fires of mistrust in the glare of which many old neighbours viewed each other strangely, and as strangers.
(In Cold Blood)

5 Comments:

Blogger knarf said...

It's easy to become discouraged WRT the basic goodness of humanity (in which I firmly believe) when one hears a story like that.

And yes, on November 15, I shall raise a glass to toast the day of Knarf's Liberation - won't you join me?

;-)

6:33 PM  
Blogger Cat in Rabat ( كات في الرباط) said...

I always do ... of course, I'll be toasting myself.

9:01 PM  
Blogger knarf said...

And, of course, I'll be toasting your birthday, and when I piss it out, I'll think of Rene Levesque.

;-)

9:22 PM  
Blogger Cat in Rabat ( كات في الرباط) said...

Piss out?

9:24 PM  
Blogger knarf said...

Well, yeah.

You know, you drink beer or wine or champers or whatever, and sometime thereafter it comes out as piss. Much like the miracle of Jesus turning wine into urine.

So, when I make the toast with the champagne, I'll toast your birthday. When I piss it out later, I'll think of Rene...

12:14 PM  

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