So I find myself in the company of these two unimaginable clowns, one of whom, Marcel Hubnoth, is a retired classics professor, extremely wealthy, if not filthy rich, and the other, Moshe Cohen, whom even Google does not know. Two giants of ancient literature, while I consider myself a simple man of simple needs who somehow finds himself in a life of continual crime which gives me more aggravation than I bargained for. I felt miserable.
'The world indeed is, as your words convey, utterly empty now of every virtue and heavy with malice,' Moshe Cohen said, as if he had read my thoughts.
'O for crying out load, stop quoting Dante already!' professor Hubnoth cried out in desperation. And turning to me: 'Moshe here these days is into Dante, quotes the bloody poet all day long. He drives me crazy. He thinks of himself as the son of a butcher in Paris when the ancient kings had all disappeared, except one who was turned into a monk.' And turning back to Moshe: 'Am I right?'
'That's one way of looking at it. I prefer to see myself more as an insurance agent,'
'Why don't you shine the keen lights of your intellect upon the plan we need to make, Moshe?'
'You are right, chè il tempo che c' è imposto più utilmente compartir si vuole, his friend quoted with closed eyes.
'Yes! For the time allotted to us should be bestowed more usefully than that, the professor translated agitatedly. 'Enough of that already!'
Moshe smiled like a happy hog in a pool of mud. Then, leaning forward and rubbing his hands vigorously, he turned to his friend.
'If I look around this room,' dear professor, I see a lot of cheap junk and if I understand correctly you do not mind the stuff being taken off your hands. Stolen, sort of...'
I looked around the room and I couldn't say that all I saw was junk. Most of it looked like real antiques. Marcel saw me checking out the furniture.
'I'll explain,' he said. 'Most of what you see here is fake. That little 18th century writing table over there is a perfect copy of the real thing I keep in my other house in France. You know that's where I spend most of my time, that's where I keep my antiques and valuables. I am very attached to them, some of the artefacts have been in my family for generations, so I have had replica's made, cheaply, in China, to have around me during the few months I have to spend here in this house.'
Listening in growing disbelief to the professor's tale, I realized this was also the best news I ever heard.
Moshe Cohen threw his head back, folded his hands behind his neck and quoted dreamily:
'O good Fabricius, if only you desired virtue with poverty, rather than riches with vice.'
Professor Hubnoth thought it best to ignore this little gem of wisdom from his friend. 'Of course, just as Moshe here can tell the difference between a real blonde and a fake, an expert will immediately recognize my things here for what they really are, cheap counterfeits.
'And Schulz is not an expert...' I said, thinking out loud. Our plan was taking shape.