Carl Dignis (カール・ディグニス Kāru Digunisu) is a reporter who leaves his old company for the Daily Days in order to care for his sick daughter. In August 1932, he investigates the deaths of several people at the hands of a serial killer he nicknames 'Ice Pick Thompson'.
Appearance[edit | edit source]
Carl has short dark hair, a square jaw, and a hint of facial hair on his chin. He has a "surprisingly wizened aura" for his age, but does not stand out of the crowd.
He is middle-aged.
Personality[edit | edit source]
Carl is a calm and collected man, always polite and one who conducts himself with a touch of frugality. He believes that a reporter should be willing to put his life in danger for his job, and has endangered his own life for the sake of his daughter.
He has retained a sense of humor in the years following his daughter's death.
Chronology[edit | edit source]
Pre-1932[edit | edit source]
In the 1920s, Carl was married with a daughter and worked as a reporter for a large, prominent New York newspaper company, where he was idolized by his junior co-worker Lester. He was regarded as highly competent by others in his profession, regularly faced life-or-death situations in his line of work, and was followed on more than one occasion by various persons.
When his daughter Donna fell ill, Carl transferred to the smaller news company Daily Days for the sake of more leeway with work hours. He used his new flexible work schedule to take time caring for his daughter and to take on dangerous jobs for her sake. Donna eventually passed away in 1930, and the only people he telephoned regarding her funeral were his relatives and his new boss, The President of the Daily Days. When his wife died is not known specifically.
August 1932[edit | edit source]
In New York's unusually hot summer of 1932, a serial killer claims the lives of three men with an ice pick, and Carl Dignis' sensationalizing moniker 'Ice Pick Thompson' for the killer is quickly popularized and adopted by other news outlets. Some time after the fourth victim is discovered, Carl calls Graham Specter's gang and arranges a 'news interview' with the gang through Shaft, Graham's right-hand man.
The meeting takes place at the Jane Doe Speakeasy. Carl greets Shaft and the others and—instead of conducting an interview like he'd said he would—informs them that the cops suspect their gang of being Ice Pick Thompson. The fourth and latest victim, he explains, was a member of the Gandor Family, and Graham's gang has reportedly made trouble on Gandor turf more than once. Furthermore, all the victims were at least tangentially connected to the Gandors, and Graham is an associate of Ladd Russo, a homicidal killer himself.
Graham wants to know why Carl is bothering to tell him all this, and Carl answers that he 'knows' that Graham's gang is not responsible for the murders. The Daily Days is an infallible information agency, and he knows better than to accuse Graham of murder. Graham tauntingly touches the tip of Carl's nose with his wrench, but Carl merely compliments the speakeasy's tea and continues that he also does not suspect Graham because he actually already suspects someone else as behind the murders. He concludes the meeting by interviewing the gang about their daily lives and pasts, compensating them for their time before leaving.
The next day, Carl's old newspaper company features an exclusive article written by Lester in its morning edition, in which he writes an evocative eyewitness account of himself witnessing Ice Pick Thompson murder his fifth victim. It catches Carl's attention, and he calls his old company and asks to speak with Lester. The two arrange to meet at Alveare that evening.
Sunset rolls around when Carl arrives at the Alveare speakeasy, where he claims a table and orders honey liquor. He waves at Lester when he enters and pours him a glass; Lester asks how his daughter is faring, and Carl replies that she died "the year before last." He is glad that, if nothing else, she did not suffer for too long—and he quips that with his wife and daughter sent ahead of him, he is free to hang around speakeasies as late as he wants. Lester tries the liquor, and Carl laughs at his reaction to its taste before draining his own glass.
They proceed to business: Carl explains that he saw Lester's article in the newspaper, and calls it 'amazing,' quoting Lester's description of the killer with a snicker. All laughter vanishes from his face, and he leans forward to glare at Lester, accusing him of lying. Lester freezes, recovers, and retorts that Carl is jealous of Lester's newfound fame. He argues that "anyone has the right to pick up a scoop," and Carl agrees, only to add, "If the story is true." Carl clasps his hands before his mouth and reveals that he's looked into how the five victims are connected—no, how the six people are connected, including Lester.
He muses that Lester must have realized by the time the third and fourth victim were killed that none of the victims were targeted at random, and when Lester plays innocent, he reminds his former junior that the Daily Days is an extremely powerful information broker. Carl continues that if the murderer is who he thinks he is, Lester is the one who will be in the most trouble once the murderer is caught. That is not an excuse for Lester to let the killer run loose, he says, but Lester stands and excuses himself on the basis that he has to edit his article for tomorrow.
Carl calls out to him, but Lester runs off, exiting the speakeasy in a hurry.
Once Carl leaves Alveare, he heads for Coraggioso and pokes his head into its basement office, where several Gandor men are milling about inside (as well as Mark Wilmens and Tick Jefferson, though he does not see them). One of the Gandor men informs him the three Gandor brothers are currently away, and remarks that it is unusual for Carl to stop by without an appointment. Carl replies that "something came up," and the man deduces he is alluding to Ice Pick Thompson. The man leads him into a room in the back, where Carl imparts his latest findings.
Later on, Carl is making his way back to the Daily Days, noticing early on that someone is following him. It starts to rain, much to his disgruntled lack of surprise. Without umbrella, he muses on his earlier meeting with Lester; he is sure that Lester knows something about the serial killings—in fact, he had initially been firmly convinced that Lester himself was the killer. At any rate, it is clear to him that Lester is terrified...probably afraid that the killer will target him next.
He remembers that someone is tailing him, and when he looks is surprised to see that the rain has not deterred his pursuer. Carl considers and discards the idea that his follower is Ice Pick Thompson, and then considers that it might be Lester coming to silence him. He stops and turns to face the deserted alley, calling for his follower to show himself.
A young boy (Mark) emerges from the shadows, and stops about five metres away from him. The boy asks if he is an information broker, since he would like to buy some information. Specifically, he wants Carl to tell him about the "people who won't die," and where he can find a man called Szilard Quates. Carl takes a moment to collect himself, and replies that while he does not know how the boy came to know Szilard's name, the Daily Days is a business. He cannot tell the boy anything unless the boy pays him or gives him information of equivalent value.
Mark replies that he does have information, and apprehension and alarm bells skitter across Carl's skin. As he asks who Mark is, Mark pulls out a rusted ice pick and asks if the identity of Ice Pick Thompson would not be adequate payment.
It is obvious that Mark means that he is Ice Pick Thompson, and Carl is not too taken aback at this, since he had already thought it likely that the culprit was a child. He has an idea as to whom the boy really is, which is confirmed when the boy introduces himself as 'Mark Wilmens'.
Carl mutters, "I knew it...the son of Paula Wilmens," prompting Mark to ask if Carl knew his mother. Rather than answering, Carl remarks that he gave the killer an 'ostentatious' nickname precisely because he did not want a child to be the killer, that he had hoped against hope an adult had done it instead. He asks if Mark knows what kind of work his mother did in alleyways, and Mark replies that he knows his mother was a prostitute—except that prostitution was only a cover for her real work. All he knows is that she was doing something per Szilard's orders, which is why she was killed.
Mark recounts what his mother's corpse looked like, and that a large newspaper company had described her murder as 'drug-related'. Carl admits he read the pertinent article, which vaguely surprises Mark since that company was really the only news outlet that talked about the incident at the time. Privately, Carl decides against revealing that he used to work for that very company and that he knows the article's author.
Twirling the ice pick in his hand, Mark takes a step toward and reminisces that it was raining the day they found his mother's body. Carl asks if he could put the ice pick away, but Mark apologizes and says that if he does not hold the ice pick he feels like he will lose his determination to talk about himself. Though Carl's experience as a reporter enables him to recognize the look in Mark's eyes as abnormal, he chooses to stay and claims that he can guess why Mark is after Szilard: because he has figured out that all of Ice Pick Thompson's victims were working for Szilard Quates, as were other influential people.
Mark mutters that he already knows all this, and Carl asks him what would he do if he told him where Szilard is. Carl cannot be too specific since all of this is top secret, but he can say that killing Szilard is out of the question. It turns out that this "doesn't matter," since Mark was only curious about who Szilard Quates was. He asks where Szilard is now, and Carl gives him the deliberately vague answer that he will not find Szilard in New York. The answer fails to satisfy, and Mark wonders if his information about his identity was not enough as payment.
With a sharp look, Carl warns him not to underestimate the Daily Days and its employees, for they would be out of business by now if they sold their secrets for something as trivial as a mysterious killer's identity. If that was how they operated, then the fastest way to get information would be to become serial killers themselves. Mark shivers with fear, asking who in the world would kill for something like that, and Carl replies that there are almost as many 'punks' who would kill for information as there are people who commit revenge-murder. People do not need big, righteous reasons to kill each other—people can kill each other for something as simple as a loaf of bread.
He affirms that Mark will never been involved with Szilard in any way again, and when Mark inquires about the "people who don't die," Carl labels that another case of top secret information. Mark hides his ice pick in his sleeve, and thanks Carl for his time. Carl jokingly asks if Mark is not going to silence him, and Mark replies that he is "already done" and that he "couldn't bear" killing someone for something that was not revenge.
Carl notes the shift in Mark's tone, and asks what he plans on doing about the fifth victim. Mark counters that that is none of Carl's business, and he takes off down the alley and out of sight. Now alone, Carl marvels at how he had managed to "[get] away with a bluff like that," and wonders if this conversation was profitable or not for him as an information broker. He supposes he should be grateful for getting information for free, and he sighs that he will probably have to give Mark his 'change' when he sees him again. He figures that he is getting old.
Resuming his walk through the rain, Carl muses that Donna would be around Mark's age now had she lived and ponders whether or not he should call the police. Not only was he in the role of information broker for that conversation, Mark never explicitly said he was Ice Pick Thompson – meaning that he technically never confessed. Considering how his colleagues Henry, Nicholas, and Elean would handle the situation, Carl asks himself what exactly he is trying to do.
Sentimental with thoughts of his daughter, Carl decides to return to the Daily Days to warm himself up. On the way, he laments that his guess as to Ice Pick Thompson's identity was "off the mark;" embarrassed that he bluffed to Graham as brazenly as he did, he expresses relief that he never gave Graham his suspect's name.
Something taps his back, and for a moment Carl wonders if he has been stabbed. He turns to find Graham wagging his wrench at him, flanked by Shaft and Elmer C. Albatross. Graham is nonplussed at Carl's expression—he had only wanted to give Carl a little scare by poking him with his wrench, but the reporter looks as if he has been wounded. He and Shaft confabulate over Carl's reaction for a little while, before he finally apologizes to Carl for having forgotten his name. As Graham engages in a conversational tangent with Elmer and Shaft, Carl (his attitude a 180 from the way he faced down Mark) cannot help but wonder if he perhaps hallucinated 'that kid' out of work fatigue.
Shaking off his doubts, he asks what the three want of him. Graham replies that they were just curious what he was doing sans umbrella in the rain, and Carl counters that he could ask Graham the same thing, since he looks just as much a drowned rat as Carl does—and has no umbrella either. He quips that surely the three are not out in the rain hunting for Ice Pick Thompson, only to be thunderstruck when Graham says that that is exactly what they are doing. The mechanic adds that even though he has made a promise to keep silent on Ice Pick Thompson's identity, he has to ask Carl if he has seen the killer. He describes what the boy looks like, and asks Elmer to remind him on the "brat's" name.
Elmer laughs that it is 'Mark', and Graham remarks to Carl that while Mark does not stand-out, the ice pick he carries is his most distinguishing feature.
The next morning, Carl reports to the President of the Daily Days, with Elean and several employees as witness, of his encounter with Mark in the alleyway the evening before. He and the President proceed to share what they have learned about the entire case's backstory, including how Paula was sought out and killed for the location of Szilard's incomplete elixir.
Once the facts of the case's history are explained to Elean and the other employees, the President asks Carl what happened to Mark and his target Lester. After a moment of silence, Carl replies that Mark was murdered by an assassin-for-hire...and that "pitiful coward of a reporter" Lester is still alive and home free.
That evening, hours after his report to the President, Carl pays a visit to the Jane Doe and speaks with Graham and his gang. Later, he visits the Coraggioso and puts together a nearly complete picture of the events that had taken place there over twelve hours earlier—including how Lester had hired Smith to kill Mark, and how Lester became an incomplete immortal. The news had surprised him, since he had assumed Lester would have skipped town immediately after hiring Smith. He wonders why Lester went to the Gandors despite his cowardly nature. When he had voiced his confusion to the President, the President surmised that the 'bloodlust of the killer' had been influencing Lester's normal actions.
Descending the speakeasy's stairs, Carl feels pity for Lester and thinks back to Mark. He had intended to adopt Mark and offered to do so, only for Mark to state that "Mark Wilmens is already dead" and point out that a dead boy cannot be adopted. Carl wonders if Mark plans on leaving New York or turning himself in—either way, he is sure that it must have been a painful experience for a child to commit murder. Carl is of the opinion that every person is born with the innate potential to become a murderer, and that perhaps retaining one's humanity within a world full of potential killers is a struggle all humans face daily.
Still, he does not want to think of Mark as someone who had lost this battle with his own self. But even if he wanted to ask Mark about it, he doubts he will ever see Mark again. Filled with sympathy for Mark, Carl steps into the speakeasy—only to come across Graham there ranting to Shaft. A tall man in a trench coat (Smith, the assassin-for-hire) sits in a corner of the speakeasy, accompanied by Mark himself.
Carl idly listens to Graham and Shaft conversing about Ice Pick Thompson's identity while he waits for Smith to leave his seat. He claims the seat once Smith vacates it, and Mark informs him that he will be working as Smith's apprentice from now on. Carl listens to Mark's reasons for doing so, and finally says that if Mark is ever sick of his new life he should come find Carl at the Daily Days. Inwardly, he condemns himself for being a hypocrite in seeing his dead daughter in Mark, but outwardly he shows Mark a smile and assures Mark that he will be happy to teach him the basics of being a reporter.