Algazy & Grummer

* Algazy is a nice old man with a toothless smile, his beard shaven and silky, neatly laid out on a grill that is screwed under his chin and surrounded by barbed wire… Algazy does not speak any European languages… but if you wait for him first thing in the morning and you say to him: "Good morning, Algazy!" and you stress the sound z, Algazy smiles and, to show his gratitude, sticks his hand in his pocket and pulls the end of a string that makes his beard shake joyously for fifteen minutes… The grill, its screws loosened, is there to help him with the solution of the more difficult problems in the cleaning up and the quieting down of the house…Algazy will not be bribed… He just lent himself to a similar act once, and that was at the church cash register; but that time he did not take money, just a few pot shards with which he wished to endow some of his sisters who were getting married the following day…Besides his usual store duties, Algazy experiences the greatest delight whenever he harnesses himself to a barrow and, trailed by his fellow associate at a distance of two yards, runs at a barrow and, trailed by his fellow associate at a distance of two yards, runt at a strong clip in the dust and the heat of the sun through rural communities to collect old rags, oil cans with holes in them, and, especially, ankle bones which he eats, all at the same time, past midnight, in the most lurid silence… Grummer has a beak of aromatic wood also…He has a retiring character and a bilious temperament; he lies all day stretched under the counter, with his beak reaching through a hole under the floor…As you enter their store a delicious scent tickles your nostrils… You are met on the staircase by an honest boy on whose head there is dyed cordage instead of hair; you are then amiably greeted by Algazy and invited to sit down on a low stool…Grummer lies in ambush… casting sidelong, cunning glances; he first sticks out his beak which he sharpens ostentatiously on a gutter especially mounted on the counter edge and it is only then that he reveals himself full length… He performs all kinds of manual operations on Algazy to get him to leave the store, then by hints and insinuations he draws you, without your becoming aware of it, into all sorts of discussions – particularly on sports and literature – until he gets you in the right position to strike your belly twice with his beak and to send you screaming with pain into the street. Algazy who has endless problems and arguments with the customers because of Grummer's unconscionable conduct comes out after you, invites you back so you can claim the satisfaction you deserve, he gives you the right – if you bought anything costing more than 15 cents – to … sniff Grummer's beak for a while, and, if you'd like, squeeze the grey rubber bladder screwed on his back just above his butt, which makes him jump up and down through the store, without bending his knees, giving out inarticulate sounds… On a fine day Grummer took the barrow and set out alone to collect rags and ankle bones without telling Algazy. On the way back he chanced on to the left-overs of some poems which he stealthily ate all by himself under the covers pretending that he was sick… Algazy having caught on to this followed him inside sincerely intending to lecture him mildly, but he discovered to his horror that inside Grummer's stomach all that was good in literature that had been left over, had been eaten and digested. His future thus deprived of all choice food, Algazy, in retaliation, ate Grummer's entire bladder while he was asleep…Next day, Grummer – without a bladder, and alone in the world – in desperation plucked the old man with his beak and furiously carried him, after sunset, to the peak of a tall mountain… A gigantic battle was joined there between them which lasted all night until a defeated Grummer offered to restitute all the literature that had been swallowed. He threw it up into Algazy's hands… But the old man, in whose insides the fumes of the fermenting bladder began to stir up the coming thrills of the literature of the future, decided that what he was offered was stale and scanty…Famished and unable to find, in the dark, the ideal food they both needed, they took up fighting again with redoubled energies and, under the pretext of merely tasting each other to complete themselves, and to get to know each other, they began biting and devouring each other with ever-increasing fury until both got to the last bone… Algazy finishing first… EPILOGUE Next day, passers-by could see a grill with some barbed wire on it as well as an aromatic wooden beak that the rain had washed into a ditch on the slopes of the mountain… The authorities were advised but they couldn't get there before one of Algazy's wives, the one in the shape of a broom, showed up unexpectedly and… with two or three flicks to the right and to the left swept everything she found away with the garbage… English version by Stavros DELIGIORGIS
* This is the former trade name of a well known leather goods store in our capital which used to sell luggage, wallets, etc. and which is now known by only one name. in any case, we simply can not bring ourselves to believe that the names Algazy or Grummer, by the specific musical images they arouse – clearly the result of their sound impressions on the ear – correspond to the appearance, energy, or content of these two likeable and distinguished citizens, as we know them in reality… We are attempting here to show our readers what an Algazy or a Grummer would have been like "in abstracto," had they not been created by a fluke, or a fate that is almost never concerned with the correspondence – or lack of it – between the shape and movement of the objects it created and the names bestowed upon them. Our apologies to Messrs. Algazy & Grummer for the remarks made above; they were made in the desire to serve them by alerting them to the proper measures of redress in this respect.It would appear that there could be but one remedy to this: they either find themselves different names, that are true to their personal realities, or they modify themselves, while there is time, in their appearances and roles to match the unique aesthetic implications of the names they bear, if they still want to bear them…

by Urmuz (Dem. Dumitrescu-Buzău) (1883-1923)