Thursday, August 19, 2010

"Dermuche." Marcel Ayme.

Dermuche is a 33-year-old murderer with the mind of a child. He had killed three people in order to steal their gramophone. But no one realizes the degree to which Dermuche has the mind of a child except for the prison chaplain. Dermuche is fixated on the Baby Jesus. Dermuche prays to the Baby Jesus that he could have his favorite gramophone record in the hereafter, after he is executed.

On the 24th of Dec ember, the day that Dermuche is to be executed, the officials of the town approach Dermuche’s cell. Wonder of wonders, Dermuche has been transformed into a baby. The baby’s fingerprints match the grown Dermuche’s exactly. But justice is justice and the transformed Dermuche as a baby is executed.

And then Counsel wonders that if Dermuche’s adult life has been expunged, maybe no crime has been committed. Straight to the town where the crime was committed. No one has heard of it. The three old people who had been murdered were alive. They had heard about no murders. But a gramophone had been stolen the night before.

Fifty Great European Short Stories. Ed. By Edward and Elizabeth Huberman. New York: Bantam Books. 1971.

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