The Bukowski Agency - Kill the King - Excerpt
Kill the King

a novel by Sandrone Dazieri




Dante is suffocating. The darkness crushes him like cement, grinding him, shattering his bones. It enters his mouth, seeps into his lungs. He can’t scream. He can’t seem to move, much less vomit. He faints again, and his exhausted slumber is a black screen upon which his memories burn. He sees a woman in green who smiles at him, dripping with blood. The sound of an explosion. The screams.

The screams awaken him.

Darkness. Darkness. Darkness. Darkness. Darkness. Darkness. Darkness. Dar…


It’s only for an instant, a fraction of a second too brief to measure. But Dante latches onto it. His eyes drink in the light, he starts to think again. A little bit. He can smell wood and dust. He thinks back to the explosion he heard and felt…did something fall on his head? Is he in a hospital?

The strain is too much for him. He recedes back to the black screen. He goes back to his memories. To the woman covered with blood with the strange name in that strange place that resembles a discotheque. To the five bullets hurtling toward her. Dante manages to see them moving through the air like snails and slamming into her back. The woman’s flesh turns to gelatine, her face becomes liquid, her smile shatters into a thousand pieces. On her left collarbone and on her belly, two small volcanoes of flesh erupt. The volcanoes rip open and the two bullets that have made the complete passage through her body rip out into the open air, spraying blood and bone fragments in all directions. The woman starts to fall forward. Behind her…


Dante is awake but he doesn’t make the mistake of opening his eyes right away. First he tries to feel his own body, to reconstruct it in spite of the waves of pain that wash over him whenever he moves. He realizes that he’s lying on his back and that something is constraining his wrists and ankles. He has leather in his mouth, something soft is wrapped around his hips. Otherwise, he’s naked. Has he been intubated? Is he in serious condition? He remembers the sound of a diesel engine that was vibrating in his skull. It was the sound of a boat engine. Maybe that’s how they transported him to the hospital.

He tries to move his hands and the pain in his wrists only worsens. They’re fastened with something sharp, something that sinks into his flesh with every movement.

Plastic zip ties.

Zip ties are the cheapest form of handcuffs available on the market, but they’re standard issue in hospitals. He’s not in a hospital. He’s somewhere else.

He’s being held prisoner.

The wave of horror takes him back to the screening room of his memory. The movie resumes and the woman in green continues falling, allowing Dante to look behind her. There are glass cubicles, little rooms shattering now, garishly colored plastic furniture, dust, and rubble. And bodies on the ground. Men in tuxedoes, women in evening gowns. All drenched in blood. Even in his hallucinatory state, Dante realizes that he saw that explosion with his own eyes. He was there. He doesn’t know how long ago it happened. But he also knows it was in Venice.

He opens his eyelids, back in the present once again, and he focuses on the tiny dot of light above him, looking at it out of the corner of his eye, more sensitive to light now. As he turns his head, he sees it shift, disappear, and reappear. There’s something between him and that dot of light, he’s not looking directly at the ceiling of a darkened room. Something, he only realizes in that moment, that’s very close. A wooden grill.

Those are airholes.

He’s closed in a wooden crate.




Back to top