I'm really glad I found this board even though I'm 9 years late XD
Still, reading this board has helped a lot.
I have a suggestion though.
Someone said that the person who says the story ie the one who everyone thinks is Raguel, could in actual fact be Lucifer.
I agree. I think that God in the story, punished Raguel for doubting him by sending him down to earth...conveniently in the City of Angels. But to show an iota of mercy he made him forget. As the angel who first doubted the Lord, Lucifer comes to Raguel to tell him his story...
I d k its thats just my opinion..XD
Ok, so like everyone else on this forum, I'm a bit confused with this story. I had just finished reading the graphic novel version and now I'm gonna look for my copy of Smoke and Mirrors and read the short story to see if it can shed more light on the story...
At first I also believed that Raguel is the old man and that he absolved the narrator of his murder of his girlfriend, kid and friend...but after reading the posts about Lucifer maybe being the old man and Raguel being the narrator, that hypothesis is actually starting to make sense.
Raguel did say that "I didn't fall...." which is something Lucifer would say...and in the elevator, in the graphic novel, there were feathers flying around...is that a clue that the narrator was the angel Raguel and that he simply just forgot his previous existence? Because to think that the narrator forgot the murder, that's not exactly true, because in the beginnning of the graphic novel as the narrator talks about what happened 9 years earlier, he picks up an old t-shirt with blood on it and says that misdeeds have been forgiven, etc...which could mean that he has in fact rememberd the murder he committed?
But the real question to me is...why did he even kill his ex-gf, kid and roomie in the first place?
I think that the homeless man is Raguel, and the narrator has unwittingly witnessed a parallel to the first murder of the universe. That's what attracted Raguel to the scene. Raguel gives him the gift that Zaphkiel offered him- the gift of forgetfulness.
I do not believe that narrator is guilty of triple homicide. I think Tink's flatmate Dorothy killed Tink and Tink's daughter Dorothy. Dorothy may have killed herself (so it was a multiple murder/suicide, not a triple murder), or the narrator may have killed her in self defense.
I'm working off of the graphic novel. I believe the text is the same as the short story, but there are clues in the pictures. I haven't listened to the audio version, except for the very first words. The voice in the audio tape sounds feminine enough that it could be Tink as much as Carasel. None of the clues in the pictures are essential to solving the mystery, but they do make it easier.
The narrator's situation is parallel to Raguel's tale in several ways. The setting: Los Angeles = City of Angels = the Silver City. The narrator doesn't want to leave the light and go into the darkness. He feels sexless, as we learn that angels are. At the end of the story he flies (albeit in an airplane). At the very end he is happy to be in his little cell (the stuck elevator), just as angels are who are waiting to perform their function. In other words, he is resonating strongly with the angelic realm described by Raguel.
After Raguel leaves, the narrator wonders whether love and death go hand in hand; that's a strong hint as to what the motive to the murder was. The angels are technically sexless, but the love affair between Carasel and Saraquael was very homoerotic. Carasel moved on, but Saraquael's unrequited love was passionate enough to lead to murder. The earthly parallel could well be an unrequited love between two women. Notice how much Dorothy looks like Saraquael? I think she had an intense crush on Tink, and it was out of a jealous rage that she committed murder. The narrator might have been the spark that set the fire, but it wasn't his fault.
The narrator would have no motive to perform a triple murder. He doesn't feel passionately about any of the people living in the apartment. Look at the awkward way he says "Thank you" when Tink says she loves him. He isn't sexually frustrated- Tink took care of that.(I think the sexual dream he had on the plane was based on a previous experience, not necrophilia. But there was sex.) People don't just kill a mother, daughter and flat-mate for no reason.
Dorothy, though. She is drawn with short hair. She looks very much like Saraquael. Her name alludes "friend of Dorothy". I think she is the obvious suspect for the murder of Tink. I don't know why she would murder Susan- because it would hurt too much to leave her alive?
I think that the argument from parallelism would indicate that the narrator killed Dorothy, but in a way that makes him non-culpable. (i.e. self-defense) That makes him like Raguel. His doing the work of Raguel attracts Raguel's attention and also puts Raguel in his debt. When Raguel says "I owe you" he is not just referring to the cigarette. And the homeless man *is* Raguel- he is an older looking, human version of his angelic self.
At the end of the story Raguel tells the narrator "That's your story." Which has a double meaning- it's the payment for the cigarette, sure, but more importantly it is the narrator's story; it tells what the narrator has gone through that night. The gift of forgiveness is transmitted through a kiss; the same way Raguel passed judgment on Saraquael. And it was the gift that Zaphkiel offered Raguel. There's no reason Lucifer would know about Zaphkiel's offer or exert power through a kiss. So it is definitely Raguel, even if you don't trust the artist's depiction.
One puzzle I had was how the narrator got back to his hotel. He doesn't know his way around L.A.. But how hard is it to get a cab? Or hitch a ride? Asking how he got there is kinda like his asking the homeless man how he got to LA. The details don't really matter.
Anyway, that's my theory.
This is really fabulous story Cheiromancer. I like it.This message has been edited. Last edited by: Matthew Thomas,
Neil Gaiman has told us that there are four “obvious” murders in “Murder Mysteries,” which suggests to me that the same story has been playing out across time – as Raguel – here, in human form as the narrator – carries out the vengeance of the Lord. Our familiarity with Lucifer’s fall, not Raguel’s, reveals the old man’s identity. The two of them have been engaged in a dance of vengeance and mercy since the universe’s creation.
The story of Tink and Dorothy parallels that of Carasel and Saraquael. Dorothy loved Tink, who cast her aside for the narrator, and for a consuming love of her daughter, whom Tink describes as “all I live for.” Perhaps Dorothy killed the daughter out of jealousy (both of Tink’s love for her daughter and, in the past, Tink’s love for her husband, whom her daughter resembles) and then attacked her former lover when the narrator pulls Tink towards him “for the last time.” Then, the narrator performs his function: Tink has “killed another,” and she “was killed in [her] turn,” like Saraquael. But we know that the narrator/Raguel feels “tarnished,” because performing the Lord’s function can “leave blood on [His] instruments.”
After destroying Saraquael, Raguel chose to remember his actions, as I think the Lord/ Zephkiel knew he would. But as the Lord orchestrated Lucifer’s fall, He ensured Raguel’s forgetfulness: perhaps forgetting gives Raguel the strength to carry out the Lord’s vengeance across the ages. I suspect that the Lord – who created the voices that whispered to Lucifer – shared the story that the old man/Lucifer shared with the narrator/Raguel (and Lucifer, unlike Raguel, is bound by no oath not to share this story with another angel). Through the ages, Lucifer has shown mercy to Raguel after learning of his internal turmoil: here, after sharing with the narrator “your story,” he performed his own function by taking away the painful memory of the Lord’s vengeance on Dorothy, who – like Saraquael – had loved too much.
And this was, of course, all part of the Lord’s plan: part of the “grand role” for Lucifer that will be “the hardest of all my children,” for unlike Raguel, he carries the burden of remembering the injustice of punishing the excesses of love with the finality of death. Raguel returns to his “little silver room.” As the Lord had admonished Raguel after performing his function well, he should “return to [his] cell until [he is] next needed.” And unlike Lucifer, one day he would be going home.
The following analysis was pasted from a table I created in Word, but the format doesn't hold here. So the first term refers to "Who is the narrator," the second is "Who is the old man, the third is "What's the scenario (linked to the number at the beginning), and the fourth is Support and Problematic Aspects based on the text. At the end #6 addresses a few additional points to ponder. Murder Mysteries is a great story because it is very satisfying on its own, and the ambiguity regarding who's who is fun to explore and discuss with others. I'd be curious to receive feedback on what you regard as the most likely scenario.
1. A normal human Raguel The narrator killed both women and the child, presumably because Tink no longer loved him as she once did. He still felt emotional and physical desire for her. Support: Not being an angel he was capable of having an orgasm and also capable of rage and rape. Tink’s blowjob seems like a kiss-off. She tells him she loves her daughter Susan more than anything in the world.
Problematic: He refers to her as “an old sort-of-girlfriend,” not the love of his life. When Tink says she loves him he just says, “Thank you,” a very non-committal response. He doesn’t seem to have the motivation to kill all three and, if he did, how did he get back to his area? And why should he be forgiven by Raguel, when at least two of the killings would not seem to be out of unrequited love.
2. A normal human Raguel The blonde driver killed Tink and her child, presumably out of lesbian jealousy; the narrator killed her to avenge Tink’s death. Support: Same as #1 in terms of erotic rather than angelic desire. The blonde would have a motive to kill Tink and her child, and the narrator would have a reason to avenge their death – he would not be as bad a person as in the scenario above. Raguel would have more reason to forgive him, and to be able to tell him the story, since he is a human, not another angel.
Problematic: Again, how did he get back to his apartment? If he did not kill Tink why does he dream about “fucking Tink, while blood ran sluggishly from her closed eyes and lips.” If he’s not an angel, why does he wind up stuck in that elevator – “my little silver room,” which echoes what the angels do in the Silver City while awaiting their next assignment?
3. A fallen angel Raguel The narrator killed both women and the child, presumably because Tink no longer loved him as she once did. He still felt emotional and physical desire for her. Support & Problematic: Same as in #1, with the additional complication that an angel is depicted as capable of erotic sex. However, that could be explained by his being fallen, like Adam and Eve. See other aspects in #4 below.
4. A fallen angel Raguel The blonde driver killed Tink and her child, presumably out of lesbian jealousy; the narrator killed her to avenge Tink’s death. Support: Same as in #2. He has a motive for avenging the death of Tink. His love for her parallels that of Saraquael for Carasel. The narrator mentions the repeating patterns in L.A., the City of Angels. This is a repeating pattern (“carousel” – Gaiman has stated that name was a bad pun on his part) in life itself: killing for love. The old man kissed him gently (his cheek burned), similar to what Raguel did to Saraquael. But instead of killing the fallen angel Raguel forgives him, a lesson he took away from the Saraquael incident. He returns to his little silver room to await his next assignment.
Problematic: Again the capability to have sex, but that can be explained by having fallen (they no longer have wings, the old man points out, so their bodies have become more human). The old man states, “I never fell,” which can seem like something Lucifer would say, but any fallen angel can feel that they did not fall so much as reject God’s unjust ways. And he does say, “I’m still doing my job, as I see it.” That job of vengeance and forgiveness is more likely Raguel’s than Lucifer’s. There’s still the problem of how the angel found his way back to the area his apartment is in, and why the angel would dream of fucking Tink. Another problem is that God told Raguel he would never be able to tell the story to another angel, but that too could be explained away by his having fallen and no longer bound to it. This scenario does have two avenging angels, though.
5. Raguel Lucifer The blonde driver killed Tink and her child, presumably out of lesbian jealousy; Raguel, the narrator, killed her to avenge Tink’s death. (For the reasons above the possibility that Raguel killed all three is not being assessed here.) Support: Same as in #4 above, with even more of a parallel in that Raguel is the avenger in both cases, but a forgiving one this time around. As the leader of the angels who rejected God, Lucifer could forgive him of anything, even the (less likely) killing of all three.
Problematic: In many ways the old man behaves much more like Raguel in the original story than like Lucifer.
6. Other difficult aspects to ponder:
A. The narrator feels as if he’s received a gift from another person: “a house, a wife, children, a vocation.” If he’s a human this could be explained by his going on to that state in life after escaping from the elevator, having forgotten most of what he was forgiven for doing. After all, he says that he knew he “would soon be home” and he is telling us this story. However, if he’s an angel that future wouldn’t seem to be the gift he would receive, although he does say “as if.”
B. That car that careened down the road, with the four young men, laughing, cursing and playing loud music. Some speculate that they may have been the killers, but perhaps it’s just an atmospheric detail.
C. No matter who the narrator is, how did he get back to the area if the blonde is dead and he states, “I could never find my way home again.” As one observer has speculated, perhaps he just took a taxi or hitched a ride, having forgotten how he got back in any case.
D. How long was the narrator trapped in that elevator? The events happened ten years ago. Hard to tell. If he’s a human perhaps he went on to a career and marriage before writing the story. If he’s an angel, perhaps it was many years before he received his next assignment.
Having solely followed Neil Gaiman's talks on story structure, it seemed like the right time to dive into some of his storytelling.
"Murder Mysteries" has been all I've thought of for the past thirty-six hours. I've read the graphic novel, and the book.
I think the greatest unsolved mystery has been the involvement of the flatmate, Dorothy, as well as the identity of Susan's father. I will agree with other authors in these threads on the following premises: That Raguel and the homeless man are one and the same and that the narrator is unwittingly a more earth-bound instrument of the Lord/Zephkiel, who does Raguel's work in his place.
However, I will also hazard to guess, that, as Raguel, all "surviving" angels, have something to do with this earthly story, and this is what has sparked Raguel's interest in the situation. The narrator does not end up in Tink's apartment completely of his own free will. He is prohibited from returning to Britain due to a series of natural disasters (acts of God) and is picked up from the airport by Dorothy, his ex-girlfriend's flatmate. Who is she? She is described as "short" in the written text, as is the description for Phanuel i.e. "small, for an angel". Both characters are collaborators to some extent. Dorothy (name meaning: Gift of God) may be hiding/protecting/acting as a warden for Tink, and her secret, in LA. Similarly, Phanuel took credit for the creation of "Love", thus exempting Carasel and Saraquael's in-depth research of Love from scrutiny. And it is pretty clear, by the end of Raguel's story, that he will do pretty much whatever the Lord asks of him.
Tink's secret must lie with her daughter Susan. Tink does not care too much for the narrator, although Dorothy harps on about her being excited to see him. Tink makes up an excuse for not being able to sleep with the narrator (blood!) and washes her mouth out directly after having pleasured him. Is she in love with someone else, albeit a little lonely and desperate now?
As other interpreters have suggested, Susan, who has long locks of curly hair in the graphic novel, is very beautiful, and takes after her father. Tink seems to speak fondly of the father, indicating that his absence from her family's life is due to some blocking factor. The only character who is described as so beautiful is of course Lucifer. This would explain Tinkerbell's name - in Peter Pan, Tink temporarily crosses over to the darker side i.e. Hook.
There are of course two gaps in the story, which is where the narrator's memory betrays him, as it is later taken away, as "thanks" from Raguel. The first is when Dorothy drops him off, whereas the second is where he is taken home. Dorothy hints at the narrator's potential as a serial killer, and then exits the scene shortly after. We have no idea where Dorothy leaves to, though it is probably to give the "couple" some time alone. The narrator's traits as a serial killer are used here to complete The Lord's bidding (even serial killers have a "function" in the Lord's world!). He kills Tink as Raguel killed Saraquael, shortly after their last kiss, as well as the daughter, probably raping the mother in the process (he has a past as a serial killer after all).
At this point, diligent Dorothy/Phanuel must have re-entered, given the narrator another ride (the same car is seen driving off in the graphic novel), returned to the murder scene and exited her female human body vessel in such a way that it would seem Dorothy was murdered too.
The four murders?
Saraquael murdered Carasel
Raguel murdered Saraquael (vengeance)
The Narrator murdered Tink/young Susan (also in vengeance)
Raguel's take? He owes the narrator, who is doing this unfair job he may not have wished to carry out himself, given his sympathy for Lucifer.
"I never fell. I'm still doing my job, as I see it."
This is congruous with the book's message of Free Will vs Determination - The Narrator seems to wander through his world, equating Love and Death. Tink's perhaps desperate and out-of-place "I Love You" , sparked the Narrator's "Thank You" reaction, as it served as a gateway to Death. Having been absolved, the Narrator inherits a new life from "a dead man" - he has surely "killed" Lucifer to some extent - a life he does not believe belongs to him.
I wonder... what will Lucifer do next?
This story has always fascinated me, and it's pretty cool people are commenting on it once every year or so here. I think I have a pretty good grasp of what's going on and that some of the above theories are a little over-complicated.
It seems clear to me personally that the parallel between the framing and narrated stories is meant to be between the narrator and Saraquael, with Raguel being the same person in each. Pre-"Fall" Raguel kills Saraquael for his murder, post-"Fall" Raguel forgives the narrator for his murders (by removing his memories). Lucifer's reaction to Saraquael's murder: "He should have been forgiven. He should have been helped." Raguel eventually comes to believe as Lucifer did, which is why he's considered "fallen", and thus forgives and helps the narrator. I don't see much in some of the theories about the old man being Lucifer or in the narrator being an instrument of vengeance - it's simplest if Raguel is himself in both stories.
The natural question is of the narrator's motive for the triple murder, and I think the best way to analyze it is through the above parallel (mirror). Saraquael's motive: "Because he would no longer love me...he lost interest. He was no longer mine." This is important - he isn't being actively rejected, the object of his affection is totally indifferent to him.
We know the narrator's memories of his specific encounter with Tink are somewhat fractured and unreliable, but we can probably take their backstory at face value. She's ten years older with a five-year-old daughter. "The first time I met her I thought she was the most beautiful woman in the world." "But a twenty-one-year-old boy has little to say to a thirty-two-year-old woman." Everything about their background context makes it sound like the narrator loved her, and she was largely indifferent. So how do we interpret their behavior and dialogue?
I think everything makes sense if you assume Raguel's memory-wipe-forgiveness did two things:
1. Erased the memory of the murder itself, and
2. Swapped the narrator's love and Tink's indifference.
The narrator is over-the-top, flat indifferent throughout the whole encounter.
"Would I come over? I left a message on her machine. Sure."
" 'We can't fuck. I'm on my period.' 'Fine.' 'I can give you a blow job, if you'd like.' I nodded assent."
" 'She's all I live for. Would you like to see her?' 'I don't mind.'"
" 'I love you.' 'Thank you.' "
On the other hand, the few references of the regard Tink has for the narrator are suddenly over-the-top effusive.
" 'Tink's real excited. When she heard you were in town. She was so excited.' "
" 'I love you.' "
So Raguel's gift was not just to erase the act of murder, but its provocation. If you reread their encounter with that in mind, it makes a lot more sense. Tink's friend picks up the narrator, who is excited to have heard from her; her friend says she is "looking forward" to seeing him. They kiss, she won't have sex but gives him a blow job and runs to the kitchen to rinse her mouth. She shows the narrator her daughter and says Susan is her whole world. When they go downstairs, the narrator is the one who blurts out "I love you" as he feels the encounter ending.. and Tink's response is to offer a ride back to get rid of him, which is probably the only reason she'd leave Susan alone. And the narrator pulls her to him for the last time..-
I must admit I'm not sure how the narrator gets home. It feels like it should be significant since there's so much made of his confusion with the LA streets and the need to drive everywhere. Interested if the above sparks any theories on that front.This message has been edited. Last edited by: Pryftan,
Just finished reading the story, and then some analyses on this thread. Thanks for all your insights! Helped me a lot.
I do agree that some takes are a little over-complicated, but not the fact that the old man is Lucifer. After all, Lucifer is the angel that is famously 'fallen', and walking in the dark. The man takes 2 cigarettes and a match (also known as a 'lucifer' in other languages), and smokes them, absorbing the sin of the narrator, who I do consider to be Raquel. Therefor, he absolves his sin with fire, and gives a burning kiss. As the cigarettes are finished, the story is finished, and the man says "that's your story", i.e., the story from your perspective.
The elevator is not the narrator's death. The story starts with "about 10 years ago", ergo - he did not die. He went into a silver cell, waiting to be called again as the Angel of Vengeance. The narrator, I think, is Raquel.
Something I noticed no one remarking on: 'blood on your instruments', as mentioned by Raquel, might be a reference to the sex with Tink. She is on her period, so they can't fuck, and get blood on his 'instrument'.
What I do not get: why 4 murders? I count 5: Carousel, Saraquael, Tink, Dorothy and Susan.
Correction to what several people mention above: Los Angeles does not directly translate to City of Angels. It translates to simply 'The Angels'.This message has been edited. Last edited by: Sjors,
1. The narrator is human. The bit with the elevator is only to identify with the angels places of waiting after serving there higher function. He had committed his “higher function” of murdering/raping and now waits. I believe it also symbolizes a cell, or place of repentance and contemplation over his actions, although Raguels vengeance has freed him of his memories.
2. The homeless man is Raguel, but he is now acting more in accordance with Lucifer’s views on gods injustice. His kiss of forgetfulness is a reversal of his first kiss; a way of helping those who have done wrong by absolving then and granting a second chance. Whereas gods justice demands siraquel be destroyed, Lucifer (who has a gods greatest “well made” angel) believes repentance and forgiveness are the greater path and truer forms of justice. Raguel now sees that Lucifer’s role is to critique god, and since gods will cannot be violated, he is therefore a rightful tool meant to correct gods unfairness. Since Lucifer is an extension of god, raguel cannot truly “fall” despite acting on the part of Lucifer, forgiving wrongdoing.
3. I struggled to put this into words and feel it’s not as gracefully out as it could have been. Essentially I think Raguel agrees with and acts on Lucifer’s behalf after learning only god knows what everyone’s truest higher functions are. If the narrator murders three people, well, that God’s doing, why should he suffer any consequence? Nothing is as it seems and everything is orchestrated, so it’s all just and it’s what I was made to do. Something like that.
4. As a (very humbled and incomplete) side note, I believe there is more to Tinks relationship with the narrator. She had a kidhusband five years prior to the there meeting in LA. The narrator is 21(22?) and says Tink is 10 years older. Tinker bell is a clear reference to Peter Pan, and possibly a reference to childhood in general. Furthermore, tinker bell is a reference to “fairy dust” which lets you “fly” using “happy thoughts”
What if “sort of ex girlfriend” really means Tink was sleeping with the narrator when he was younger and still a child, and that provoked his nurdering her and company? And he is set free of his guilt/anguish by having his memory overwritten with “happy thoughts” or gaps and edits in his memory? I’m not quite convinced of this myself but there has to be a meaning behind the age difference and the name. Any input would be appreciated!
(First time poster, sorry if anything’s janky!)
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