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June 18, 2007

New Excerpt from The Interpreter's Tale

Sagrada_familia_5 This is a second teaser from my long short story "The Interpreter's Tale".  The whole story is for sale as an Amazon Short.  You can buy it from Amazon for reading, printing, or downloading as a PDF for just 49 cents, the price of all Amazon Shorts. Unfortnuately, though, you have to have a US shipping address to buy an Amazon Short.  Still trying to work out something for nonUS readers.

The Blurb

The pickpockets of Barcelona are justly famed for their ability to extract whatever they want from anywhere; why are they suddenly stealing cheap cellphones in preference to laden purses? What does this have to do with Gaudi's fantastic unfinished cathedral, with mega-yachts, with the long-ago Caliphate, and modern-day terrorists? Interpol and their super-hacker consultant Dom Montain would like to know; so would the Romanian-born police interpreter Maria whose tale this is. If you read my novel hackoff.com, you already know Dom. Whether you read hackoff.com or not, I think you'll enjoy meeting Maria.

The Teaser

About five minutes apart, the Americans and the engineer both rent the audioguide in English for the tour of Sagrada Familia, Antoni Gaudi’s great unfinished basilica in Barcelona.  Even had there been a guide available in Arabic, the engineer would not have asked for it. He could be mistaken for an Englishman in his appearance, his language, and his mannerisms.

“I didn’t even know it was still being built,” the American says to his wife. “I hardly even heard of it before.  It’s huge, much bigger than all those Gothic cathedrals you drag me through.  When did he start it?”

“I don’t know,” the American wife says, “probably late 1800s early 1900s.  Parts look like his other building, parts don’t.”

The audioguide tells them that many contemporary architects and sculptors have been enlisted to complete Gaudi’s vision.  He intended the basilica to be “the last great sanctuary of Christendom” according to the tape.  Plans for its crowning cross, which is not yet in place, include a giant beacon which will be visible far out to sea.


The engineer looks up to where massive columns branch into what appear to be delicate stone tendrils.  The tendrils become arches supporting the unfinished roof of the central nave under which he and many others including the Americans are standing.  The concrete decorations are cast on site before fitting.  Workmen then hoist them up to the arches and tendrils. Electrical wires for the connection of lights dangle incongruously from holes in the stone columns.  The engineer plays a section of the recording several times and makes careful notes of numbers and sketches of the supports.

The engineer and the Americans are in the same elevator going up for a high view from the towers but they don’t notice each other.  “You can see carved fruit on some of the spires,” the wife says.

“The guide says Gaudi specified ceramics for these heights because the rain would wash them clean,” the American says.  “Looks like he was an architect who actually understood engineering.”

“I still smile when I think about the roof of the house he designed on the Passeig de Gracia,” says the wife. “He has such a sense of fun.  That tour was wonderful.”

“Too bad it was so crowded.”

Even from the height of the balcony off the tower, the engineer is looking up to see the vaults of the central nave. He makes a few more sketches. He draws part of the scaffolding and the notes carefully the circuitous route through partially-finished spiral stairs and temporary ladders which leads from the floor to the highest platforms.

Both the engineer and the Americans visit the gift shop before leaving.  Both buy books.  While the American couple is visiting an ancillary school room for workers’ children, also designed by Gaudi, the engineer makes a wax cast of the simple hasp lock on one of the gates which separates the workers from the tourists.

The Americans leave by subway.  The engineer leaves on a motorbike.


The rest of the story is here.

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