More discriminating, perhaps, were cops,
Investigators trained to spot a fraud,
Who came by in search of a vile prophet
And the networks of trained killers he led.
Two men entered, one with holstered gun
And hand lifted up with open wallet,
Identification card put on view
At face level and next to a slight smile.
His comrade held toolkit and laptop
And was, evidently, a technician.
Since the card upheld for display was blank,
This meant, as any Ninevite knows,
That these would be secret police officers.
My name is Vince, announced the man with card.
I represent your Civic Inquisition
And bear warrants to search this residence,
Motor vehicle, or place of business,
The lands and outbuildings, records and files,
For any information that may pertain
To present whereabouts of that person
Hereinafter given the name Dhul-Nun,
Any of his would-be associates,
And any works published under that name.
Never heard of him, said the pawnbroker.
Do you have on hand a recent photograph?
Excess zeal already destroyed them all.
After an inspirational pep talk
Delivered one morning to office staff
On all the monstrous acts the man performed
Enraged functionaries shredded them up,
Egged on by the secretarial pool.
Administrative details, however,
Need not concern the general public.
He is wild-eyed, bearded, sackcloth-garbed.
At last report he had only one arm.
What? Do reports vary? You disappoint.
Your instruments of inquiry have grown blunt
If inconsistent witness can be allowed.
An arm shortage is seldom overlooked
Unless of course the crook's an octopus.
I myself have seen no one like that.
And what about those seditious writings?
Has anyone recently come in here
With propaganda to sell or pawn
Of a spiritual or prophetic nature,
With writings bound up as pamphlets or books,
Tapes or disks, audio or video,
Or any kind of a recording device?
No, he said. Nothing like that at all.
Is that not a parrot there, said Vince.
The green plastic bird on the upper shelf,
With just one eye, a diode, present?
Would that not be a recording device,
One that reproduces conversation,
The toylike look notwithstanding?
If so, our visit here has met with luck.
I brought along an expert assistant
Adept in semiconductor mysteries
And wise in ways of software forensics,
In case we need to find concealed data
Or access password protected files
Or crack open encrypted blocks of text
Interleaved among the remote sectors
Found on personal computer hard disks.
We use no computers here, as you see,
Personal or impersonal, not one.
But who is this Dhul-Nun? What's his crime?
Liber Jonae Contents