A man of indefinite age and elegantly dressed whom for reasons of discretion we will call Mr. Northise walks up and down the New Yorker Hotel’s room 3241 where he is staying. From the sofa where they are sitting, Michael and Jacob watch him with curiosity.
-Do you believe in curses, Mr. Shlimazl?
-Why do you ask?
-Because I am cursed, damn it! Don’t you believe me?! Look!
Mr. Northise quickly approaches Michael and, leaning towards him, points to the tip of his own nose.
-What’s the matter with your nose?
-That it’s cursed, damn it! And the curse has spread through the rest of my body!
-What makes you think that? Are you unwell? Do you have a fever?
-Is it necessary to have a fever to be cursed, damn it?!
-So you don’t feel any discomfort?
-None at all!
-Then I don’t understand
-What do you not understand, damn it?!
-The reason why you think you’re cursed.
He shows him again the tip of his nose with wide eyes and expressive gesture. Jacob can not avoid proclaiming: “I’m afraid that what you are is crazy, my dear sir, no offense”. In a fit of anger, Mr. Northise rushes on Jacob and tries to strangle him. Michael prevents it. “Look at it this way: to be mad is preferable than to be cursed” adds Jacob to make matters worse. Mr. Northise disengages himself from Michael and throws himself back to Jacob, whose hood rolls on the ground. The quick reaction of Michael again prevents a misfortune.
-Stop it! Jacob, be quiet! And you, Mr. Northise, do explain yourself! And don’t show me the tip of your nose again because that doesn’t clarify anything.
-And do you qualify yourselves as experts in enigmas? Ha, ha, ha, I laugh at your expertise! Dammit!
-We’d better go, Jacob. Pick up your hood and …
-No. Don’t leave, damn it!
-But you don’t trust us, you just said it …
Mr. Northise points again to his nose: “See this nose? This nose is not mine.” “It’s not? (Jacob can not resist asking) And whose is it then, damn it?” Mr. Northise turns to Michael: “Your friend is a fool, right?” Michael admits it. “But that doesn’t disqualify him”, he adds. Then Jacob goes ahead and presents a case for himself: “See this dunce cap? It was imposed on me when I won the state town fools contest. And I wear it with a lot of pride. In that same contest Michael was fourth, which means he didn’t get a hood. So, no offence, but I’m dumber than you two together.”
Mr. Northise remains petrified, his face contracted. He then runs a handkerchief across his forehead and wobbles as if he were going to faint. Finally he drops into an armchair. Michael comes to his aid: “Are you well? Do you want me to call a doctor?” “It won’t be necessary. It’s just that your friend’s stupidity has baffled me.” Then, unexpectedly, Jacob takes advantage of this moment of carelessness and, rushing over Mr. Northise, pulls his nose trying to rip it off. Mr. Northise emits a scream. Michael pushes Jacob aside while snapping at him: “What the hell are you doing?! Have you gone mad?!”. Jacob turns to his friend: “I just wanted to check whether it was true that that nose wasn’t his.” Swaying forward and backward with his hands on his nose, Mr. Northise doesn’t stop complaining. “You’ve already seen it (adds Jacob): the nose is his, so the man is lying.” Mr Northise looks at him angrily: “You try to rip my nose off and on top of that you call me a liar, damn it!”
-You said this nose wasn’t yours.
-It used to be mine before it was cursed, damn it!
-If that nose wasn’t yours, you wouldn’t have it stuck to your face after the pulls I gave it.
-Because it’s a threaded nose, damn it! If you pull a screw cap you will never get to open the pot!
And Mr. Northise unscrews his nose and deposits it on the floor. Michael and Jacob are stunned.
-Do you believe me now, damn it?!
-How-how did you do that?
-It’s the curse, damn it! It started by the nose, but it has spread throughout the body!
And he proceed to unscrew the head and then, one by one, all the limbs. His dismembered body is scattered throughout the room. Michael and Jacob remain dumbfounded. Each limb, however, retains the ability to move, just like his head retains the ability of speech: “And now go away, damn it! … But before leaving, be kind enough to screw me again. Otherwise I could catch a cold.”