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THE VINCI

CODE
In a country where lying is worse than murder, the truth will
be told. Unvarnished truth will eventually be dredged up like
mud from the dirty Arno River or will explode into clarity when
darkness erupts in the Florentine hills and the Monster of
Florence kills. Brutal murders above the city on new moon
nights like tonight gave sinister hint of occult mysteries that,
although debunked, would not be hushed.

Lost like Dante, I wandering though the gloomy woods with my


American friend in an olive grove above his villa. We walked warily
between the olive trees, peering into the dark shadows and looking at
the magnificent splendor of the city nightscape.

I worked at the National Central Library in Florence and had


helped the American when he decided to write a book on the
Monster of Florence. His true crime bestseller on the subject
created a sensation by debunking the popular cult theory of
the crimes. However, I personally wasn’t convinced there
wasn’t an occult angle and I forced him to debate the infernal
question whenever we got together like tonight.

“A killer poses his female victims and removes body parts and THIS IS
NOT SATANIC?”

“Satanic perhaps in the broadest sense,” offered the American


as a meager compromise. “However Satanist or Satanic are
loaded words in my opinion and should only be used for Satan
worshippers. Of that, we have no evidence. No ritual killing or
black magic arts.”

“Tell me, Doug! What do you think makes a Satanist a Satanist? A star
and a circle. A black robe and a business card?! Remember, this is
Italy, mi’ amico!

“Italy or not, there is no Satanic Conspiracy, Marco!” said


Douglas. “The Monster was one man and we know who he is!
He fits the profile exactly and the trail of the murder weapon
led straight to him. From Melo to Vinci to Vinci. Ruocco, the
convict, even saw the gun in Vinci’s hideaway!”

“You forget he also saw six iron boxes with the gun. Six as in the
number of the Devil. Six as in the number of the women killed and
dismembered.”

“Six as in one more than five and one less than seven. It
doesn’t mean anything.”
“Wouldn’t it be better if you saw the boxes for yourself before you
decide?”

“Do you know where they are?”

“Yes, and I can get you in.”

Doug’s Ford KA negotiated the switchbacks up a mountainside


to the west gate of an ancient villa guarded by a strong tower,
reminding everyone in the valleys below of its past as a mighty
fortress of feudal lords. A convict named Ruocco told our
source that the secret lair of the Monster of Florence was
inside this impregnable Mediaeval castle in Chianti.
Renaissance renovators had remade the exterior to include
arched loggias with stone columns, and converted the castle
into a villa for a powerful family of nobles and magistrates.

“The castle is beautiful,” said the American. “Are you sure the
monster’s lair is in there?”

“Don’t be fooled by the exterior. The castle conceals a dark


history from the Middle Ages when the castle was the
monastery of a feared monastic order that followed the
practices of Savonarola. Hidden chambers hold dark secrets of
Black Masses and sadistic torture.”

“The gates look closed. There’s no way in.”

“The castle is impenetrable. No one has ever infiltrated the


castle to steal its treasures and discover its secrets. So they
say. But nothing is impossible for us crafty Florentines.
Centuries ago, we raided the castle by accessing the tombs
under its chapel by way of an abandoned silver mine. Ruocco
told Ignazio where to find the entrance.”

Instead of trying the iron gates and entering the castle grounds, we
parked the car and took a flashlight with us for our underground
expedition. I led the way on foot through a vineyard lined with cypress
and into a thick wood off the beaten path.

A wire fence stopped us short and told us that, beyond the


fence, there was danger of ground collapse due to the
mineshafts underneath. Undeterred, we crossed the fence and
walked gingerly over the unstable terrain like we were in a
mine field. Any moment, the earth beneath our feet could
collapse and we’d find our way into the mine by having the
ground swallow us up. The ground opened up suddenly. We
were standing at the edge of an unnatural depression in the
earth. It was a previous cave-in pit and the secret entrance to
a mineshaft.

It was pitch dark at the bottom. I flicked on the flashlight and led the
way in, sliding down over the rock fall to the bottom of a wet
mineshaft. The beam of my light played over the rotting brace beams,
the rock walls and dripping ceiling.

A gaseous almond-like smell was strong here. These cobalt


rocks contained arsenic and it was oxidizing which accounted
for the almond smell.

“Order of the Vesica!” I said jokingly, sniffing the air, and I explained
myself by saying, “The almond smell.”

Doug laughed at my joke at the expense of the Italian


conspiracy theorists who thought the crimes of the Monster
were the work of a mysterious Order named after the vesica
Pisces which has a mandorla or an almond-shape as its centre.

“We must be close,” said the American sarcastically.

The man-made tunnel to the prehistoric past held a primordial


stillness with no sound to be heard except for our feet
splashing in the water, sloshing in the mud and tripping over
the rusted mine cart track. There was no other sound.

The old abandoned tunnel surrounded us like an enveloping womb of


flattened sedimentary layers. Clasts of old sediments entombed us is a
past world of a time long before mankind. Soon we would discover the
ancient secrets held in the passageway. We trudged two hundred
meters into the bowels of the earth, inching ever closer to the truth.

The mineshaft opened up suddenly into a large chamber with


red mineral bloom coming out of the walls and down from the
ceiling like stalactites of blood. We were in the treasure room
of a mine, the place where much of the ore was extracted. Now
the treasure room was a underground tomb lined with
sarcophagi and a stone stairway leading up to the chapel in
the castle.
“This must be the crypt beneath the sanctuary,” I said. “The Monster’s
hideaway!”

“The Monster’s trophies must be inside one of these tombs,”


said Doug. “Do you know which one?”

“Ignazio told me it was the one with the mandorla--I’m not kidding. I
didn’t want to tell you before because you wouldn’t believe me and
maybe not want to come if I did. But here it is! He was telling the
truth.”

I found a sarcophagus with a Vesica Pisces graffito carved into


the top of the stone lid. Together we shoved against the lid
and it started to move a couple of centimeters at a time. The
hard, grinding sound of a stone slab moving across another
stone permeated the silent crypt.

The sound continued when we stopped. It wasn’t the sarcophagus lid


that was making the sound. It was the stone slab door opening up at
the top of the staircase. Someone was entering the crypt.
Quickly, we heaved the lid aside and I shone my flashlight into
the tomb. Inside were not six but seven metal boxes and one
box of bullets, 22 caliber, Winchester series H, the Monster’s
brand. At least 30 bullets were missing from the box of 50,
enough for his 16 murders.

There was no gun, no Beretta, only the boxes. Six of the seven boxes
were similar, made of iron and padlocked, big enough to hold the body
parts removed from the six female victims. The contents would be
gruesome if this was indeed the horrible trophy cache of the Monster.

The seventh box was a tin uniform box, unlocked. I flipped


opened the tin and inside were seven, white, evening Victorian
dress ties, black with clotted blood!

This was not what we expected but I had a strange idea what the ties
might be—the monstrous bib of a cannibal killer who killed his victims
according to Satanic Ritual and hid the bloody evidence on his clothing
behind a dark overcoat. I grabbed one of the bloody neckties. The
cravat was stiff in my hand with the blood.

Doug took a snapshot of the scene and the flash lit up the dark
crypt. Upstairs, the door slab ground more loudly against the
stone floor. The door was opening faster.
“Forget the trophy boxes for now,” I said. “Push the lid back and let’s
go!”

We closed the sarcophagus just as the stone slab stopped


making noise. Someone had entered the crypt and heavy
footsteps began to descend the stairs.

I led us back into the mineshaft and we hid against the rock walls with
my torch off and listened in the dark. The footsteps got closer and
closer, resonating ominously like the final steps of a grim reaper
stalking the crypt. The steps stopped for a catch-your-breath moment.
The deathly silence was broken by the unmistakable sound of a gun-
slide being racked.

Could it be the Beretta 22 of the Monster? If that was the


Monster behind that gun, we were in danger even with a head
start because everyone knew the fiend had speed to go along
with is stealth. He had once outrun a victim in the night before
shooting him dead even though the victim was an amateur
hundred meter spring champion.

Time to fly. I switched the torch back on and rushed headlong into the
mineshaft, leaving Doug in a lurch but I didn’t have to tell him to run as
fast as he could.

The American ran right past me like I was standing still and he
outran the beam of my flashlight. Behind us, rushing footfalls
headed for the entrance to the shaft. The Monster was on our
heels.

I caught up to Doug as he bumped into the wall. He stayed in the beam


of my light this time and followed the mine cart track. A light appeared
in the distance, light from the cave-in pit. We ran to the opening and
scrambled up out of the mine into the evening gloom.

I wanted to hide in the woods but Doug kept right on running


blindly out into the open. The sky was grey like a corpse. There
was still daylight and the only cover we had were the cypress
trees lining the vineyard and the grapevines. The Monster was
sure to see us. We ducked and ran behind the foliage to hide
from the fiend as we made our way quickly back to the west
gate.

The car was parked facing the wall and Doug jumped in first but I
didn’t get in because I knew the Monster was on us and I didn’t want to
have another Montespertoli. The victims there had hit the gas only to
reverse into a ditch where upon the Monster shot out the headlights
and the two people inside.
Doug stamped on the accelerator and reversed at high speed
to turn around just as the Monster fired at his car from the
edge of the vineyard. Doug stopped the car and put it in
forward drive. The passenger side taillight was shot out as I
ran along side the car, opening the door and jumping in only
when I was sure Doug wouldn’t end up in a ditch. A 22 caliber
Winchester Series H, copper-jacketed, embedded itself in the
backseat, the mark on the rim of the shell caused by a
defective firing pin, proof the gun was a match to the
Monster’s murder weapon. The man behind us was definitely
the Monster.

I turned back to see who the Monster was only to see the white necktie
sail like a magician’s white dove through the air. The tie had slipped
out of my hand and it magically floated back in the direction of the
gunman. I saw him snatch it in mid air and hold it up before his face
like he was smelling perfume or taking a whiff of the blackened blood.
The wide piece of fabric covered his face and I never got a good look at
him in our haste to escape.

I had missed my opportunity to positively identify the Monster


all because of a piece of fabric, all because of a tie I believed
came from a legendary box of neckties that belonged to a
famous Black Magician and ritual murderer who may have
been Jack the Ripper.

He may have been Jack the Ripper, and the Monster of Florence may
have possessed his box of bloody talismans. But don’t tell that to the
Mostrologos or the Ripperologists. Tell it to the Dietrologos like myself,
the people who study what really goes on behind the events.

Maybe there was still some dark magic in the cravat protecting
its owner from harm, or from detection. Doug and I worked
futilely on the Afterword of the new edition to clean up all the
loose ends but the ever-elusive truth that went beyond the
facts remained up in the air like the floating white necktie.

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