In “The Axe” a literature professor arrives at the door of one of his students in the middle of the night. On his way he has stumbled (with a flask of whiskey) through the pouring rain, stopping in a city park to vandalize the statue of an angel, tormented by the image of his life’s work, ninety-seven poems he has left behind in flames in his apartment. The student has turned in an assignment (which the professor has brought along in his briefcase): a carefully wrapped hatchet.
In “Piercing” a teenage runaway, Marie-Hélène, seeks to escape the mediocrity of her small-town family life, only to end up in a very different kind of urban “family,” a cult of dominance and body piercing presided over by Kevin, the maimed and orphaned son of a millionaire. They live in a church converted into luxury condos, with a strange ageless and toothless woman who plays guardian to him and his test-tube son Raphael: a 20 year old computer nerd working on an MA thesis on securitization.
In “Anna on the Letter C” a lonely, virginal typist transcribing the “c” words for a dictionary project lives just blocks away from the church where Rasputin-like Kevin holds court. But her world is not inhabited by the angels and demons of “Piercing.”
Taking pity on a middle-aged stalker (a seedy, sweating chain-smoker, retired from his job as a projectionist in soft-core porn cinemas), she invites him to her apartment for tea. As they sit, awkwardly making conversation, she confesses that she is a virgin. Her feelings for him waver between repulsion and compassion. His desire for her is palpable as heat lightning flashes in the summer night.