Slow Wilhelm Exit
The drumming was now a terrific pounding, rising toward the climax of the performance. Ahead of me the mouth of the arch yawned open, and as the last of the crowd thrust and nudged and spat me into the entrance, I got my first real view of Roscoe Rocha.
He was a short and undistinguished man, stripped bare to the chest with blood running in lines down the sides of his arms and knitting needles through his muscles. His face had an ugly intensity. His hair was lank and sweated oil on his forehead. His skin was a patchwork of old wounds, of frantic degradation.
He’d tried to get noticed, I guessed, for months, and would continue to try as long as his health held out.
At the rear, in the billowing red under the arch, a group of musicians in traveler’s costume thrashed at makeshift drums and cymbals, pounded their smoggy battalions into the night. They were leading the performance, I presumed, since when one of the face-painted women started clattering at a cowbell Rocha dutifully picked up the last of the knitting needles from the bucket by his feet.
Nothing more, I realized, would do except that Rocha put this final needle somewhere significant.
Nick Haynes, a struggling provincial artist buried in the scrabble of the London underground scene, falls in with a publicist, Dorothy Garron. She introduces him to the infamous Lutz Kürz, who performs public autopsies live on TV — the more scandalous the better. But the outrage is getting old, and Kürz now has his eyes on bigger things. And Nick just might be desperate enough to agree.
Slow Wilhelm Exit is a disturbing new thriller that follows the ultimate performance to its shocking conclusion.