The first case that Sub-Inspector Espino worked on when he took over the direction of the Forensic Linguistics Laboratory and in which he had to test his training and the procedures of his department was a matter of alleged revenge porn through the dissemination of a sex video by WhatsApp that violated the privacy and honor of the complainant, a twenty-year-old girl who had a recording circulating performing fellatio on her boyfriend.
The couple had broken up the previous week after a year of relationship and all the signs pointed to the boy having leaked the recording from his own mobile. The defendant acknowledged that he was the author of the video, but that he had not released it. He wouldn’t even admit to a thoughtless act of revenge.
He argued that his phone had been stolen and he had not had time to report the theft.
The video was accompanied by a text:
My ex-girlfriend’s slut, I ate her like this
Espino knew immediately that the ex-boyfriend was not the one who had released the recording. It was impossible that after a stable relationship, and when only a few days had passed since the breakup, the text could be so stark. In addition, the written message reminded him of the titles that objectify women in videos on porn sites.
It was impossible for the boy to describe his ex-girlfriend as a “slut” only a week after having broken up with her after a year as a couple. That degree of distancing and mockery could only come from the closest environment of the suspect and from someone without scruples who wanted to take revenge on one of the two.
And above all it came from someone to whom he was going to expose the use of the criminal coma.
The ungrammatical comma of the sample written after the word ex-girlfriend, the so-called criminal coma either murderess separating the subject from the predicate unnecessarily, was an idiosyncratic feature of writing that did not go unnoticed by Espino.
After seizing the cell phones of the ex-boyfriend’s friends and relatives, the deputy inspector observed that the killer comma it was a specific trait that appeared continuously in the texts of the suspect’s younger brother, who also turned out to be a compulsive consumer of porn.
Through the determination of linguistic profiles, Samuel had unmasked pedophiles who pretended to be adolescents to gain the trust of their victims, solved murders that appeared to be suicides due to a simple misspelling that the judge had valued as incriminating evidence for its reiteration in other writings of the suspect, or collaborated in finding the source of defamation campaigns and discredit political leaders or public figures.
In an inverse process to that followed by Inés Luján, her mind had become extremely analytical and she stored and processed data continuously, looking for similarities and dissonances between the texts or phrases she compared, detecting plagiarism, fraud and even the intention to incriminate to another imitating his way of writing.
But what he was facing now was different.
He had rescued the volume of Claudio Cisneros from the shelves of books that cluttered his apartment and he didn’t need to open it to know that the poem was there.
The sonnet nailed to Laura Laforet’s eye belonged to the greatest living poet in the Spanish language, an eternal contender for the Nobel Prize for Literature, who seemed to have escaped him forever a few months ago when he was involved in a sex scandal that had dynamited his options just fifteen days before the winner is announced.
At the end of September last year, a series of feature articles from the castle published serially over several days, and echoed by Castillo TV delving into the most lurid details, undermined the foundations of the Spanish and international cultural world by revealing the testimonies of several women who accused Claudio Cisneros of having sexually assaulted.
The statements portrayed a predator who used his prestige as a writer to charm his victims and subjugate their will.
The behavior patterns were repeated in the testimonies, which covered various stages of the author’s biography in different countries and environments.
The journalistic work was impeccable and irrefutable, full of identifying data, with specific dates and photographs of the women in the company of the author in private situations.
It was an informative bomb that took away the reputation of Claudio Cisneros, whose silence contributed to increasing the effect of the shock wave, which reached Sweden and killed his candidacy.
The author only spoke through his lawyers, who sued the director of the publication and his television terminal without much faith in the face of the overwhelming testimonies. And although the lawsuit would continue its course in various instances, Laura Laforet assured Óscar Osorio from the beginning that it would not prosper.
Cisneros had always been Samuel’s favorite poet. During his career he had studied it and commented on texts on some of his sonnets, which he found to be of majestic depth.
But now the perspective had changed and the former student and admirer had to start looking for evidence that would incriminate or exonerate the poet of the cruelest crime he had ever seen.
Samuel Espino opened the book and looked for the sonnet. There he was. Equal.
Except verse 6.
—Impure tears, pagan rivers He read in the book.
—Impure tears, black icicles he read from the paper on which he had copied the poem stuck in the lawyer’s eye.
An apparently insubstantial variation for a reader not instructed in the matter.
But a very significant variation for someone who knows the precepts of Castilian metrics. An unnecessary blow to the strophic form of the work, a kind of distortion that did not respect the measure of the hendecasyllable verse and turned it into a dodecasyllable.
The verses of the classical sonnets had to stick to the 11-syllable measure, but the verse of the new version had 12.
However, the metrical rules established that if the last word of the verse was esdrújula, one syllable was subtracted from the general computation. Y icicles it was esdrújula, saving the hendecasyllable in extremis.
But the modification destroyed the metrics of the poem, because the consonant rhyme was lost as vowels and consonants did not coincide from the last stressed vowel.
In the original version the words hands, humans, pagans and tyrants coincided in the ending -anos, thus fulfilling the norm. But icicles introduced an irregularity, because -ámbanos did not respect the rule of consonance.
The perfect sonnet was falling apart.
The variation had sullied Cisneros’ work, destroying its impeccable structure.
What was the point of all this? What had the murderer wanted to convey with that modification in the sonnet?
Samuel ordered the computer technician on duty to compile the entire literary corpus of Claudio Cisneros and analyze it with the programs they had to find out how many times the word icicle or its plural appeared in the great poet’s work.
The result did not surprise him. Zero times.
It was a diabolical game, he knew. All the technology at his disposal was of no use to him, nor was his literary or linguistic knowledge. The advanced procedures for finding out the authorship of a text were of no use to him, because the monster that had murdered Laura Laforet had set up a poker game with new rules.
It was a game with marked cards and a poisoned joker that served both to frame Claudio Cisneros and to make him the victim of a sinister plan.
The sub-inspector leaned his forehead against the window of his office and gazed motionless at the horizon sunk in gloomy cabals.
It would have seemed to Inés Luján that the silhouette of Samuel Espino silhouetted against the sunset resembled precisely a black icicle.
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‘The Poet’, by Amadeus Raven: chapter VII – Diario de Arganda