The Ninth Gate


A sign says "CLOSED." CORSO pushes open the door of an old
fashioned semibasement bookstore -- 'BERNIE'S RARE BOOKS' -- and
enters. He walks up to the counter and deposits his bag on it.

BERNIE (O.S.): Witkin just called me. He's spitting blood.

CORSO looks around. The voice came from ten feet up and three
bookcases along. BERNIE FELDMAN, a man around CORSO's age with
dark, curly hair receding at the temples, is perched at the top of a spiral staircase.

CORSO: What's his problem?

BERNIE (replacing some books): He says you're a double-dealing,
money - grubbing bastard. He says he had that sale tied up, and now
you've queered his pitch.

CORSO (grins to himself): He should be quicker off the mark.

The spiral staircase judders as BERNIE starts to descend.

CORSO goes over to a wall cupboard and opens it. An assortment of
bottles and glasses come to light.


BERNIE: Your valuation was way over the odds. It's brought those
people out In a rash. They're now asking twice what the books are

CORSO, still grinning, pours himself a slug of Scotch. BERNIE
reaches the ground.

BERNIE: He's talking about suing you. Well, let's face
it: you screwed him. That's what it's called.

CORSO: I know what it's called.

BERNIE comes up close.

BERNIE: He also says you snaffled the 'Don Qui ...

He breaks off as CORSO produces the four volumes of the
'Quixote', bends over to examine them, whistles appreciatively.

BERNIE: The Ybarra 'Don Quixote', 1780, four volumes.
Fantastic! (opens one) Sonofabitch, you're the best in the
business. Definitely.

CORSO: And the most expensive. (smiles slyly) That client of
yours, the Swiss, is he still interested in this edition?

BERNIE smiles back, then redirects his attention to the books.

BERNIE: Sure, but Witkin will blow a fuse. I told him I had
nothing to do with this operation.

CORSO knocks back his Scotch in one. Extracting a crumpled
cigarette from the pocket of his overcoat, he sticks it in his
mouth and lights it.

CORSO: Nothing except your ten percent.

BERNIE: : Twenty. The Swiss is my client, remember.

CORSO (shakes his head): No deal.

BERNIE: Fifteen. (cynically) For my children's sake.

CORSO: You don't have any.

BERNIE: I'm still young. Give me time.

CORSO (expels a lungful of smoke, unmoved): Ten.


A taxi pulls up outside an opulent building downtown. CORSO gets
out, dodges a persistent beggar, and enters. The sign above the
entrance reads: 'BALKAN PUBLICATIONS'.


CORSO nods to the SECURITY GUARD at the desk and makes hit way
across the lobby to a door at the back. Beside it stands an
easel-mounted announcement: 'Demons and Medieval Literature, by
Boris Balkan, Ph.D.' It's adorned with a medieval engraving
an Inquisition torture scene.


BORIS BALKAN, standing at a state-of-the-art lecturer's desk, is
a bulky, imposing figure of a man around 50 years old. His thick
gray hair is slicked back to reveal a domed forehead. The eyes
beneath it radiate keen intelligence through a pair of heavy
hornrims. He speaks in a deep, slow, almost monotonous voice, but
with great authority.

BALKAN: Relevant information may be found in Antoine Martin del
Rio's 'Disquisitionum Magicarum', Louvain 1599, and earlier, in
1580, in 'De la d‚monomanle des sorciers' by the Frenchman, Jean

His eyes flicker in the direction of the door as CORSO enters.

CORSO's entrance has also been noted by a GIRL in jeans and white
sneakers: childlike face, short hair and green, feline eyes.

He sits down in the same row, but on the other side of the aisle,
settles himself in his chair and scans the AUDIENCE, most of whom
are middle-aged and female. He gives the GIRL a cursory glance,
then concentrates on BALKAN.

BALKAN : Bodin was probably the first to attempt to
establish a system - if the term system may be applied to the
Middle Ages - for classifying the contemporary perceptions of
evil. In Bodin we find one of the first definitions of the word
'witch'. I quote: (cocks his head for a better look at the text)
'A witch is a person who, though cognizant of the laws of God,
endeavors to act through the medium of a pact with the Devil...'

As BALKAN's lecture proceeds, CORSO's eyelids begin to droop. We
PAN over the faces of the AUDIENCE (THE GIRL is still covertly
observing CORSO). BALKAN's voice drones on, fades away.


CLOSE on CORSO fast asleep.

BALKAN (O.S.): I see you enjoyed my little talk, Mr. Corso.

CORSO gives a start and opens his eyes. He takes a moment or two
to focus on BALKAN, who's standing over him. Peering around
through his steel-rimmed glasses, he sees that the lecture is
over. The last of the AUDIENCE are filing out. We glimpse THE
GIRL making her exit.

CORSO: Did I snore?

BALKAN: Nice of you to ask. No, not that I noticed. Shall we go?

He gestures at the door with a cold and impassive air. CORSO gets
to his feet.


adorned - przyozdobiony
apply to - dotyczyć, odnosić się do
appreciatively - z dużym uznaniem
assortment - asortyment
bulky- wielki
cock - obracac (głowę)
cognizant of - świadom (czegoś)
contemporary - współczesny
crumple - zgnieść
depict - przedstawiać w postaci rysunku
deposit - pozostawiać
dodge - omijać
domed - kopułowaty
double-deal - oszukiwać
drone on- ciągnąć się
droop - opadać
easel-mounted - oparty na sztaludze
endeavor - usiłować
engraving- sztych, grawiura
fade away -wygasac, ściszać
feline - koci
flicker - przebłyskiwać
hornrims - oprawki rogowe
impassive - opanowany, beznamiętny
imposing - wspaniały, imponujący
judder - drżeć, wibrować
money-grubbing - pazerny na pieniądze
opulent - obfity, bogaty
peer - przypatrywać się, próbować dojrzeć
perch - przycupnąć, usadowić się
persistent - uporczywy
queer - zepsuć
radiate - promieniować
recede - zanikać
scan - przebiegać wzrokiem
semibasement - suterena
slick back - zaczesać do tyłu
slug - haust
slyly- chytrze, przebiegle
snaffle - ukraść, podwędzić, zwinąć
spit blood - mówić z wściekłością
state-of-the-art - nowoczesny
steel-rimmed - o stalowych krawędziach
sue - pozwać kogoś
temple - skroń


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