Short story parody: The Dragon with the Girl Tattoo

The Dragon with the Girl Tattoo

"Many years ago," the Dragon said. "My niece Harriet disappeared. I believe she was the victim of a brutal rape-murder described in loving and lingering detail."

"Mmm, how nice," Mikvail Kvistkvist replied, distracted by thoughts about whom he was going to hook up with next and where he was going to get his next fix of sandwiches and coffee.

"My poor, poor niece," the Dragon continued, puffing out a sad puff of smoke. "She was so artistic."

"Did you say autistic?" Mikvail perked up. "Autism is really hot right now. Did you know that every single autistic person is high functioning, able to earn a big salary and is a genius with an instinctive knowledge of high technology?"

"Of course I know that. I've watched Rainman. But I said my niece was artistic, not autistic. Look at these pretty pressed flowers she made for me." The Dragon gestured to a wall decorated with framed, pressed lilies, daisies and petunias.

"Oh, nice," Kvistkvist replied. "Those flowers represent your niece's youth, beauty and innocence and will certainly transform her into something other than a cardboard McGuffin."


"It's a plot device. Traditionally, it's something that everyone in the story cares about but that the audience doesn't. So, those are nice flowers that Hermione --"

" Harriet--" the Dragon corrected.

"-- whatever, made, but I'm more interested the framed, pressed corpses along your other three walls."

A score of dissected and plasticized human corpses was displayed in huge picture frames about the mansion's large library. A tear slid down the Dragon's cheek and vaporized into steam. "Ever since Harriet disappeared, one of these has arrived every year on my birthday. I think the murderer does it to torment me. I want to hire you to solve the murder of my niece."

"Well, I'm going to be pretty busy in a little while." Kvistkvist shuffled his feet. "I might not have time."

"I know," the Dragon replied. "I've studied your career with interest. I realize that you have been convicted of publishing information about someone that was so inaccurate and defamatory that you now have to spend three months in a Swedish jail for libel. Thus I have so much confidence in your research ability that I want to pay you a million Swedish units of currency to investigate the murder of the only person in my God-forsaken family that I ever cared about."

"Well, that sounds believable," Kvistkvist replied. "I trust it is equally believable that although my reputation is in ruins and I'm without a job, I'm still going to dick around with you about whether I'm going to take the job or not."

"Understood. This certainly does make things suspenseful. While you're deciding, let me tell you about my relatives. There are eight-hundred-fifty-nine of them, all named Vander. One of them, Vander, was particularly bad. He was a Nazi sympathizer."

The Dragon thought to himself that he was glad he could describe that relative as a Nazi, since this saved him the trouble of having to flesh out the character and show that he was evil. Telling Kvistkvist that he was evil was much less trouble than showing it.

Kvistkvist thought to himself that this could be an important clue. One of the relatives was a Nazi; I bet his descendents were evil too. "What was his name, again?"


Oh good, Kvistkvist thought. That will be easy to remember.

The Dragon continued. "All the suspects in this case live here with me on this isolated island, and on the day of the disappearance, the sole bridge leading to the island was blocked. Therefore, I know that the murderer was one of the people here at that time."

"Wow," Kvistkvist said. "That's just like an old-fashioned locked room mystery. Except it's an island, not a locked room, so it doesn't seemed contrived at all."

"Well, just watch out when you look at the old pictures of that day that you don't mistake my niece for her friend that looked exactly like her."

"I will be careful," Kvistkvist replied. "A case of mistaken identity like that would indeed strain credibility."

"So, are you going to take the case?" the Dragon asked.

"Well, okay," Kvistkvist said with feigned reluctance. "I just hope I don't end up having to rehash a series of old rape-murders with mysterious Biblical overtones. Although I'm a modern European who delights in trashing everything religious and embraces nihilism, it would be just awful if I had to indulge in protracted, voluptuous descriptions of torture, incest and murder." He rubbed his sweaty palms on his pants. "Just awful."

"Shall we have sandwiches and coffee to celebrate?"

Kvistkvist was sorely tempted, but other needs drove him. "No, I must go be promiscuous now. It shows I'm a modern, attractive man, unfettered by outmoded morality. I'll take a sip of coffee though." He washed down a Valtrex with it.

"Okay, son. Be back soon to start investigating. And make sure whoever you have casual sex with doesn’t fall deeply in love with you."

"I can't help it. As you can tell by now, I'm just that lovable."

* * *

Kvistkvist walked down the path to his car. He unlocked the door and entered the car and then closed the door again before starting the engine and driving away.

* * *

Kvistkvist teamed up with a retarded sidekick named Salamander.

* * *

Incredibly, their investigation led them to scores of rape-torture-incest murders across the Swedish countryside. It was a veritable smörgåsbord of sexual perversion. Kvistkvist and Salamander discussed the horrible crimes at length in vivid detail and looked at many gruesome photos. One of the milder photos depicted an eviscerated corpse. Next to the body lay its desiccated entrails, twisted into a strange pattern. It reminded Salamander of a painful incident from her past. Because of her mental affliction, she had a court-appointed conservator to manage her finances. Her good conservator died and was tragically replaced by a bad one. He was evil and sadistic and did not take his duties seriously. One evening, she went to his office to request some of her own money to buy a computer, and he touched her breast. Although she was retarded, she did have human awareness, so she said, "that's bad touching," and he stopped.

Then she tortured him, tattooed him, gutted him and made balloon animals out of his large intestines.

Salamander pointed to the coiled intestines in the photo. "If you blew air into that, it would look like a kangaroo!" she said happily and clapped.

"Wow, you have hit the nail on the head," Kvistkvist said, along with many other clichés.

Meanwhile, time was running out as other meaningless plot threads raced to their conclusion. Kvistkvist and Salamander hurried through the rest of the photos, identifying numerous poisonous snakes and a bear, possibly a koala. Kvistkvist flew to Australia and suddenly found the missing niece. She wasn't dead at all: she had run away! It was so surprising.

* * *

The Dragon was very happy to see his niece again. "I'm so happy to see you. I care about you a lot," he said. "Not enough to have noticed that when you lived near me you were being subjected to mind-bogglingly terrible crimes, but you know, whatever. I'm happy you're back now. Especially since I suddenly need someone to run my huge multinational family-owned business."

"Well, luckily, despite being a traumatized runaway in a foreign country, I was able to build a huge corporation of my own in Australia, so I should be able to step right in as CEO."

The Dragon's eyes strayed to the collection of corpses. "But who has been sending me these all these years?"

"I sent them, to let you know I was okay. Since for some reason it would have been impossible for me to send you a postcard or other clear message, I sent you my artwork with the expectation that you would be psychic and understand its meaning."

"In twenty long years I never figured that out."

"I'm sorry you were tormented by decades of what seemed like morbid stalking. But at least the artwork served as a cheap device to create reader interest."

"Well, it all worked out for the best, then," he said, looking about the library. "And not only a cheap device, a metaphor as well. Note the shock value, the fact that no artistic skill was employed, the lack of respect for the value of human life, the exploitation of violence for entertainment, and the defiance of religious principle." The Dragon looked anew at the ghoulish display of pointless ugliness among his books. "How could I have missed that this was art?"

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