The Bobiners

excerptONE-EYE-SHORTOnce upon a time there was a blond pirate who had one blue eye, while the other was covered with black cloth on purpose. Because the first ship had been taken over by sparrows, the second was on the point of sharing its fate.The ship One-Eye-Short worked on was a cupboard fitted with traps designed for catching. He had come from the sea with a suitcase where Boomnes, his best friend, lived."How come," One-Eye-Short asked Boomnes, "your hammer goes boom instead of bang?""That's because my name is Boomnes, not Bangnes."That was their first friendly conversation, followed by another:"Who got you into that suitcase if I may ask?""It was the Saw Fish who was pestered by the gold fish, no matter what, I was to be transported to the Bobinery in a suitcase, lest I escape.""Is the Saw Fish working for the dry land?""He carves long-stemmed pipes out of wood," Boomnes retorted, then said no more.One-Eye-Short desired with all his heart to take Boomnes out of his suitcase once and for all to the end of making him his co-pirate. Yet Boomnes couldn't leave his suitcase since the suitcase in question had the exact shape of his body, the only additions being a handle by which he was carried around and four ferrules to prevent damage."What about getting to your feet?" he told Boomnes."As walking suitcase…" Boomnes jumped up and the suitcase stood erect. He started walking around with a rhythmical rattle caused by two of the ferrules."At this point we'll sail the sea in a basin to check what's there for us to plunder," One-Eye-Short added.The suitcase containing Boomnes was the first to board the basin. One-Eye-Short followed suit and started oaring with two wooden spoons. When they got to the centre of the sea they had a look, and Boomnes almost fell into the deep."I can see shells with water gnomes in them.""Water gnomes?" Boomnes replied in disbelief. "What can they do?""They serve to replace plumbing. They're, to cut a long story short, water faucets."With utmost secrecy, the two dipped one hand each into the water to fish for the faucets.For hours on end they cajoled the gnomes to come until, indeed, the beard of one of the gnomes caught in Boomnes' hand, while another's cap caught in One-Eye-Short's little nail."Who's stolen us, Pit?" one of the faucets asked."We're done for, Pit, they're going to squeeze the waters out of us."The two faucets were carried with utmost secrecy to the shore, whereupon the frightened-to-death gnomes were shoved into the drawers of the cupboard ship. Whenever Boomnes opened the drawer just a fraction, a powerful column of water was sent up which meant the faucet was in good working order."Thus begins the water-gnome smuggling operation," pirate One-Eye-Short gravely announced and placed Boomnes in a horizontal position, which is to say he made him a suitcase once again."You stay here," the pirate said, "to start a faucet hatchery based upon two gnomes under the age of consent, while I go to sea for smuggling purposes.""I would have rather been a pirate myself and have you in charge of the hatchery," the suitcase ventured impudently.But One-Eye-Short ignored Boomnes and ordered him to the hatcheries he had opened in the very bowels of the cupboard ship.He sailed away on his own in a smaller basin to conduct his gnome-smuggling operation.Left to his own devices, Boobnes let his hair down, his suitcase, that is, simply destroying its handle and ferrules, subsequent to having taken one of the faucet-gnomes and adding it to the tip of a whip by way of lead bit.The remaining faucet-gnome had run out of water and was consequently considered to be out of order, which brought Boomnes to the idea of obtaining further faucets availing himself of the hatchery. He got himself some eggs with faucets in them and asked the gnome to hatch them. The faucet-gnome went on hatching for many hours but to no avail."Nothing comes out," he informed Boomnes."That doesn't matter, you just seat there and say your prayers."And the gnome would say seventy times a day the prayer entitled: Water pierce the iron fierceBe no saucer, be a faucer! Yet no faucet gnomes would come out of the eggs. Then Boomnes whipped the gnome with the other gnome and asked him to say the prayer in his hearing and asked why nothing came out of the eggs."You've got one letter wrong, nitwit, is it faucer or faucet?""Faucet!"The gnome started once again praying over the eggs:Water pierce the iron fierceAnd ever so slow into a faucet grow. Yet neither did the hatched eggs yield any faucets this time and Boomnes spotted another mistake in praying the word at variance with their haste: slow."What's slow doing in your prayer," he enquired of the gnome, "when we're in a hurry?"Accumulated bitterness precipitated the gnome down the slope of faucet drinking. He would suck water from all the faucets in town and came before Boomnes after the following fashion:"I am an able faucet."Boomnes would turn him on and he would run with a mighty flow saying:"Right you are."However, as time went by and One-Eye-Short tarried at sea, Boomnes took to swallowing pigs to the end of swelling as much as he could, so that his outer skin, the suitcase, would burst open. To this effect he discreetly replaced the sign saying Faucet Hatcheries with a sign saying Pig Hatcheries, the said pigs being hatched from the sow's womb. He had long acoustic conversations with the piglets, by means of a sound tube he introduced into the sow's ear."I'm teaching them suitcase lessons," he'd say, "to raise them from a very early age in the hatred of the leechlike suitcase I cannot get rid of." And sure enough, as soon as they were born, the pigs would go strait for Boobnes, which had swollen to zeppelin proportions, destroying piece by piece the suitcase he had on.After the pigs grew they were swallowed by Boomnes without further ado in the hope of causing the suitcase to burst open.One fair day One-Eye-Short returned both rich and happy, yet he was unable to recognize Boomnes. He mistook him for one of his pigs who, left to his own devices, had grown fat beyond measure and on top of it all had vaguely come to resemble a human.Whereupon Boomnes confessed not without a great deal of embarrassment:"The faucet hatchery business failed and out of sheer frustration I took to the pigs.""What about the suitcase?""I had it destroyed," Boomnes blubbered."I'll have to have you fitted with a handle, else I won't be able to take you to the Bobinery." And he made him out of iron a sturdy handle and four ferrules. Thus Boomnes was once again put into a suitcase."I'll have to send you by mail – how would you rather go, by express or by regular mail?""Regular, one way, if I have a choice," Boomnes whispered.And One-Eye-Short, who had come from the sea with numberless water faucets, took Boomnes like a piece of luggage, intent on carrying him to the Bobinery and thus getting rid of him. On the way, nonetheless, he changed his mind and, giving the handle a shake, asked Boomnes:"How about having a pipe instead of a suitcase?""A gold pipe?" Boomnes asked in disgust."Water pipe," One-Eye-Short cut him short. Whereupon Boomnes agreed to being fitted into a pipe in order to impress a slow or fast impulse upon the water to flow through the faucets.From time to time, the pirate would take him out of there and would rub him with butter, saying:"You might otherwise rust, old man, and wouldn't it be a pity to start looking for another faucet regulator?"And during those heavy moments of nostalgia, Boomnes would remember the times he was living in his comfortable suitcase constantly on his way to the Bobinery. Tineretului, 1969

by Gabriela Melinescu (b. 1942)