Chapter 01

Shit happens



“You dunderheads, I told you to pull, not to rip!”


Groaning and swearing, chief Botchy scrambled from under the scaffold to which until a few moments ago a big poster had been fastened, announcing in large letters the ‘First Hamstian Exhibition’. Now the poster did not announce anything at all but was lying on the large platform where until a few moments ago the lot of guests of honour had been peacefully sitting, expecting the speech of the mayor. Naturally now no one was sitting there any longer and from beyond the poster sporadic cries of “Pleh!” could be heard and equally sporadic whimpers.


“You told us to pull strongly and if you tell Dodo to pull strongly…”


“Tuffy, shut up! Better help the guests of honour. No need to make flatfish of them.”


The repair team hurried to follow Botchy’s orders. The chief sighed a little. Everything had started well today when Hamsterton wanted to give a flavour of what was to happen within the next weeks. All VIPs of the surrounding hamster counties had come to listen to the opening speech of the mayor. Highlight of the event was to be the jointly appearance of the famous singer Agnelia of Hamsterjelly and the no less famous singer Hamsterjello but that was done with. While in the background the sirens of ambulance and fire brigade could be heard, the chief watched how the unconscious Agnelia, the knocked out Hamsterjello and several noble VIPs were extricated from under the debris. To tell the truth, these VIPs no longer looked very noble. However, the chief lost interest in them when he saw the tattered mayor staggering towards him.


“Sorry, there was some small technical trouble!” the chief called out to him. “And, sorry, but the repair team was too daft to follow my orders!”


The mayor did not answer, at least not at once. With a sheepish face he watched the transport of the guests of honour who were carefully laid down on stretchers by aid hamsters and forcefully pushed into the waiting ambulances.


I even have a CD of that Hamsterjello”, the mayor wailed when the stretcher with the famous singer passed him.


“Maybe some day it’s got some value”, the chief retorted. “He doesn’t look like singing soon again.”


“Boss, shall we set up the poster again?”


“Certainly, Tuffy, certainly”, Botchy purred and bent to the small repair hamster. “But first you should change the text on the poster a little. How about ‘We are the world’s most dim-witted repair troop’?”


“Dim-witted with or without hyphen?”


“Dodo?”


“Yes, Boss?”


“Just shut up!”


“Well, my dear Botchy”, the mayor said, “we – erm – so to say did not leave the best impression on our guests.”


“Impressions we left”, the chief grumbled, “but a successful presentation looks different.”


“Perhaps one or the other in this pretty town should cudgel his brain over this”, Flecki remarked, cleaning her very dirty fur.


“That’s it”, Goldi cried. “To cudgel a brain, take a club!”


“So is that to go on, if it goes on?” Hamstilidamst asked, rubbing his aching paw which he had from trying to rescue Trample. When the scaffold with the poster came down, Trample and he had been standing side by side. Hamstilidamst had with great presence of mind pushed him aside when a scaffold-pole tilted towards Trample. Luckily the pole missed Trample but unfortunately the unfortunate hamster had now been flying into the direction of the heavy poster which followed and that had been more unpleasant by far.


What about goings-on going on?” Flecki asked impatiently.


“Well, preparations for the exhibition”, Hamstilidamst replied, a little uncertainly, and watched the aid hamsters. It was not easy for the aid team to carry the heavy stretchers with the wounded over the debris. Hamstilidamst made rather a face when he saw two aids stumbling with their stretcher and Trample his friend falling from it with a loud squeak, rolling down a debris mound and disappearing. “We have to begin at the beginning again, haven`t we?”


“Perhaps we should wait until everybody is fit again”, Finny panted and with big, sad eyes looked at the spot where the aid hamsters put howling Trample back onto the stretcher. When they marched on and stumbled once more, Finny turned away her eyes and hopefully looked at Flecki.


“What for?” Flecki gnarled. “Some poor pigs would be safer in hospital.”


Fine, fine”, the mayor piped up again while he glanced into the distance where Trample desperately fought against being put on the stretcher again. He almost succeeded but finally a bully of an aid threw himself onto Trample so that he had no means of escape. Triumphantly the two aids put him back onto the stretcher and with a loud “Yarroh!” shoved him into the ambulance. A moment later the van was off with loud hooting and spinning wheels, taking course towards Hamsterton hospital.


“Eh, Trample our friend seems to be in safe hands and after a few pays – er – days will be back with us and start work full of muck – er – pluck.”


“Muck wasn’t that much of a slip”, Taty grinned, nudging Tealeafy.


“Perhaps up to then we get a schedule how to continue”, Flecki proposed, giving Taty and Tealeafy a warning glance.


“Chief, I’ve written it with hyphen now, wanna take a look?”


Botchy glared first at Dodo and then at the poster which was lying half shattered beside the platform after the fire brigade with their crane had lifted it from the guests of honour under it. He sighed heavily when he discovered that indeed Dodo had given the poster a new inscription.


Lovely, Dodo, really excellent and we are all very proud of you. However ‘most dim-witted repair troop’ is spelled with an ‘i’, it`s repair troop and not repay troop.”


Shaking his head, the chief looked after the big hamster who with a very red head busied himself correcting the error. The chief stepped aside to make room for the remaining aid hamsters who pulled the last of the guests of honour out of the debris. They dragged the whimpering victims to the ambulance. A short time later all aids had left.


“Well, there will be consequences”, Tealeafy gloomily predicted.


The mayor made a troubled face: “Why consequences? Erm, on what grounds?”


“Oh, some claims for compensation or the like, Mayor, what do you think?” Taty said with a grin.


“Erm, erm.” The mayor did not at all feel all the thing, suddenly felt hot and his fur seemed to itch all over. “Well then – erm.”


Immediately he was in the centre of interest. “Well then – what?” Flecki challenged him.


“Well, erm, and I stand for it with my word of dingus as mayor, every single one of the injured ones will receive an ample compensation in a way.”


“Free tickets?” Goldi mocked.


The mayor’s face changed from red to pale and he looked pleadingly at the chief who just had taken up a few stones to throw them at the smashed poster. When he felt the inquiring glance of the mayor, he shrugged.


“Free tickets? For what? The new swimming pool is finished but no one goes there. When planning it, nobody had thought of the fact that hamsters are no swimmers.”


“I – eh – erm.” The mayor found no words, fought for breath and with a trembling paw pointed at the heap of debris beside them. “I – well – I thought we might because we wanted – exhibition. Yes, that`s the dingus – er – the thing I mean. What about an exhibition, dear chief?”


“Was I to hold the speech or you, chabby? Why do I always have to act the buffer if something goes wrong? We were to mount the poster and you to tell them what`s going to happen. I’m responsible for the techniques and you for the schedule.”


“Well, yes, dear chief, of course – and I’m backing it up – it was only about talking about planning about the thing – erm, no more.”


“What he means is that he wanted to boast to the VIPs that we’re going to hold an exhibition!”


The mayor turned round angrily to find the origin of these words but all he found were innocently looking repair hamsters. He took seat on a heap of debris and pressed his head with his hands. What had happened today could be explained away as an inevitable accident with an inscrutable background. The victims would of course receive an agreeable compensation, otherwise this would not work out. But after that? What was to come? Slowly the mayor of Hamsterton got up from the debris, patted dust off his fur and gave the crowd a silly, desperate grin. No one grinned back, they all stared. So the whole troop was standing for then minutes, then Dodo lifted his voice:


Anybody like to see my ‘i’?”


About an hour later they are were assembled in the mayor’s office to talk matters over calmly. That is, Dodo was missing, whom the shirted mayor had ordered to clear away the garbage of the opening event.


“We might found a planning committee!” Sasy proposed.


“With sub-committees for planned plannings!” Dasy added.


“And sub-sub-committees with precisely outlined sections of competence for the off-committees”, Taty and Tealeafy bawled, almost toppling over of laughter.


“Not to forget the munching-committees for purposeful nutrition”, Goldi added.


The mayor ogled helplessly, tapped his desk with a paw and looked for assistance at chief Botchy who grumbled with little enthusiasm: “Chaps, it’s business.”


By and by the chatter died down and the mayor rose from his seat. In his right paw he had a slip of paper. He coughed several times and then shouted: “Dear hamsters! In my office as most impotent – er – important representative of this beauty – er – ful town, I made up this list in wireless turk – er – tireless work. Brainstorming, as our English hamster friends blend to pray – er – send to play – er tend to… Well, no matter. I’ll read it to you and in a way you answer.”


With some ado he changed the paper from right to left paw, turned it thoughtfully and took it into his right paw again. “Well, erm, first question: Do we have enough people to proceed?”


General silence filled the room, until Flecki asked: “Proceed with what?”


For a moment the mayor’s jaw dropped and he gulped. The matter became complicated, desperately he glared at the paper, then he sighed with relief. “O yes, of course. For the extrusion – er – exhibition in a way!”


Dead silence for a second, then the whole hamster troop yelled: “Yea, yea, yea!”


The mayor smiled triumphantly, looked at the note again and shouted: “Do we have enough material?”


They all looked at Botchy and when he nodded, the whole hamster troop yelled: “Yea, yea, yea!”


For a moment the mayor closed his eyes with relief and continued: “Shall we do it?”


“Yea, yea, yea!” was the answer.


For another moment the mayor closed his eyes again, a wave of bliss flowing through his body, he doubled his left fist, pushing it up into the air, while reading from the paper in his left paw: “Will we succeed? Do we have enough ideas?”


Suddenly the room was quiet. Somewhere on the stairway steps were audible, some hue and cry of birds fighting for food on the market place in front of the town hall – but no other sound. The mayor was close to swooning; he sat down in an armchair, his head spinning. He caught scraps of words from the hamster troop:


“Succeed? Rather not.”


“Nope, that will go sour…”


“I won’t risk my fur for that…”


“Silly idea!”


“Someone any food on him?”


Then there was a knock at the door.


“Yes?” the mayor shouted, drawing hope but falling back into his armchair again when he saw very dirty Dodo entering.


“Do you have a shovel?”


“Tool shed!” chief Botchy grunted.


Dodo nodded his thanks and just wanted to leave when the mayor shouted: “Dodo, what do you think, will Hamsterton manage to exhibit an execution – er – execute an expedition? Do we hamsters have enough Dodos - er – ideas for that?”


Dodo stopped at the door, turned round slowly and pensively lolled to the doorpost. “Sure, that’s kids’ game for us, isn’t it?”


“Bravo, bravo!” the mayor cried, once more pushing up his fist, but as he had not risen, he hit a table lamp which landed in a corner with a rattle.


“Eh, Mr. Mayor?”


“Yes, Dodo?”


“What is an expedition?”


The mayor collapsed while chief Botchy roared with laughter.


“Silly!” Tuffy cried. “That has to do with travel!”


“So why don’t the travel offices busy themselves with it?” Dasy asked, somewhat troubled.


“Exactly! It’s always us who have to travel on expeditions!” Sasy gnarled.


“They are sitting high and dry in their noble travel offices and we have to risk our lives in any sort of wild forests and outer space!” Taty yelled.


“Erm”, the mayor said and helplessly looked at the slip of paper.


“Well, chaps”, luckily the chief intervened, “I think you got something completely wrong there. It’s like this…”


A bang interrupted his explanation. The light went out.


“Goldi”, Botchy continued, “if you have to fumble that break-down lamp, unplug the cable next time! Tuffy, go and check on the fuse box. If the fuse is done, exchange it!”


The little repair hamster hurried past Dodo but was back a few seconds later.


“Er, Chief? Where are the fuses?”


“In the cellar, where fuses are by nature’s law, Tuffy! And now off with you and see that the mayor gets his light back.”


After a few minutes and with a loud “Aha!” of the hamster troop the light in the room was back. A short time later also Tuffy was back.


“Boss, I wanted to tell…”


“Later, Tuffy, later. First of all I want to explain to you sillies what an exhibition is – exhibition, not expedition, get that? An exhibition is a temporary show of a country’s or city’s products. That may be food or technical units – anything. You certainly heard about that, you certainly know some exhibitions, don’t you?”


“Sure”, Tealeafy shouted, “Hamsterhoosen’s next top model!”


“Talking about jokes”, Goldi cackled, “what have goldfish and a laser beam in common? Well, no idea? Easy, pals, they both can’t whistle.”


“Boss, I wanted…”


“Patience, Tuffy, patience, we’re almost finished. Well, let me summarize and when everybody knows what an exhibition is…”


The chief broke off and listened to loud steps on the stairway, getting louder all the time.


“Boss, just let me tell you…”


“Hush, Tuffy, do be quiet. Out there’s something and I want to listen what’s on!”


“Now Boss…”


Chief Botchy impatiently pushed aside Tuffy and walked to the door where Dodo was still supporting himself with a dirty paw at the doorpost. Botchy paused, pointed at Dodo’s paw and grunted: “Take off that paw!”


There was a crash and Dodo was on the floor. Botchy shook his head and pointed at the big smear Dodo’s paw had left. “I told you more often than not: Order and cleanliness at work! Dodo, wipe off that smear at the doorpost und you there, stop laughing!” He meant Taty and Tealeafy who had their own ideas about order and cleanliness on Botchy’s sites. However, they got no chance to word their ideas as Botchy ordered them to help Dodo fetching a cloth for cleaning the door. Afterwards he returned to the original reason for leaving the room: Taking a look what the noise on the stairway meant. He had hardly left the room, when the mayor and the rest of the hamsters could hear furious voices on the stairs:


“You the chief?” – “You behind this?” – “The labour of months destroyed!” – “It’s a scandal, you’ll make up for it!”


“Looks like the employees in this town hall know our estimated chief rather well”, Goldi purred.


“They certainly estimate order and cleanliness at work as much”, Tealeafy mocked and Taty added with a cackle:


“For sure, all the town hall employees had been invited to the opening of the parking deck in those days.”


“Well”, Tuffy said, looking a little troubled, “we did make some repairs here, too, after all.” She turned towards the door were wild shouting and abuse was penetrating from the stairway, and shrugged. “But this matter isn’t the chief’s fault. He told me to change the fuse if it’s gone and so I did. But there were no fuses to replace it so I just took out some other one to replace the damaged fuse.”


Finny patted her shoulder, saying: “You did your best. Mr. Botchy after all told you to see to it that Mr. Mayor gets light in his office.”


“So to say in a way getting enlightened”, Taty jeered.


“If he grumps at you, just tell him to handle matters himself in future because he knows everything better, Tuffy.”


Tuffy looked at Goldi gratefully and nodded.


“That’s it”, Dasy and Sasy cried. “Don’t stomach everything from that grouser, he’s got a screw loose and…”


“Which grouser are you talking about?” Botchy furiously asked, suddenly darting into the room. The two hamster girls looked at him with big eyes, not certain how much of the discussion he had heard.


“He he, that … Topple, Chief, who always is so very unjust to you…”


Botchy grunted in agreement and turned to Tuffy: “Who told you numpty to screw off the fuse of the computer unit, eh? Got any idea how they are to get back all their files? They all got lost by your foolish action!”


“Does that mean also the speeding tickets?” Goldi hopefully asked. “That is, it’s of no interest to me, of course, but I know someone…”


“Forget it”, Flecki sniggered. “Speeding fines are all filed with the police and they have their own computer system. So scratch your farthings, chap.” She patted disappointed Goldi. “Nice try, anyway.”


“Tuffy, I’m waiting for your explanation. You blockhead, why do you lay low the computer unit without getting an order to do so? The chief accountant wants to know whose fault it is that all data are lost.”


“Yours, Chief”, Tuffy squeaked. “You told me to exchange the fuse so that the mayor gets light again and exchange means to bandy, to change, to interchange, to replace, to substitute, to swap, to transpose…”


“I know what exchange means, you plonker!” chief Botchy roared, the colour of his face changing to dark red. “But it did not tell you to…”


“And you may handle your matters yourself in future because you know everything better, Chief.”


Chief Botchy did not believe his ears. “What was that?!” he snapped and stretching his neck slowly moved towards the little repair hamster.


“Goldi said so…”


“What does Goldi know about repairs?” Botchy hissed.


“At least I don’t look like a yelling tomato!” Goldi hissed back.


There was a loud bang and smack. The mayor, to sooth the two parties, had tried to climb onto the table but had slipped and was now lying flat on the table top.


“Erm, if I may say something, so to say as millimetre – er – mediator”, he said, rubbing his chin which had painfully collided with the table top. He tried to smile bravely and moved backwards towards his armchair. This furniture however had been pushed aside when he had tried to mount the table and no longer was at its original place. “Howsoever, my dear hamster friends”, it sounded from the floor a moment later, “we have to dingus the face – er – face the dingus, and we should try to gather the matters – er – the matters together.”


“Are you hurt, Mr. Mayor?” Dodo anxiously asked. “Shall I assist you to get up?”


“No!” came a scream from the floor. “It’s all right, I’ll come…” Another bang, loud and ugly. “Ha ha, stupid table top”, said the mayor’s voice – under the table this time. “All in best order, no problem, so to say in apple-pie order. Just like toffees in the office…”


“Nothing like toffees, Mr. Mayor! All computers broke down, we have a bad loss of data just because this incompetent chief…”


“Talking about me, account-bod? Will any dumbass trudging in here mob me, or what?”


Chief Botchy and the chief accountant faced each other with glittering eyes. There was an almost seizable tension in the room. The mayor had just managed with some trouble to climb back into his armchair, several repair hamsters were lined up at the window and the rest, i.e. Hamstilidamst and Goldi, had made themselves comfortable on the floor in expectation of a nice little brawl. Fascinated, they watched how Botchy and the chief accountant were standing there, forehead pressed against forehead and both hissing threateningly.


“How about putting in the fuse for the computers first of all?” Flecki asked, obviously quite shirted by all that empty show-off.


“That’s, erm, a grand idea, dear dingus, er…”


“Flecki!”


“O yes, thank you. As I did not mention before, perhaps it would be advisable if the dear chief screws in the computers…”


“Let met just be finished with this twerp”, Botchy gnarled and slowly took one step back while his opponent still did not take the eyes from him. Going backwards, he ran into Dodo who was still waiting at the exit. “Eh, dummy”, chief Botchy now snapped, “you wanted to fetch a shovel from the tool shed and clear away the debris.”


“But I am not yet finished with cleaning this door, Boss. We did not find any cloth and Taty and Tealeafy think I should ask the mayor if I may take a dishcloth from the kitchen…”


“Dearest Dodo”, chief Botchy purred – very red-headed, “please be kind enough to clear away the debris. If I’m coming down in about an hour, I do not wish to see anything of it, my good lad, see? Taty and Tealeafy are certainly so very kind to rub off the spot – or do you wish me to do it for you?”


With anxious smiles, Taty and Tealeafy shook their heads. They certainly were not stupid enough to draw the concentrated rage of their boss onto their heads.


But for me you could do it, Boss!”


It took some time until Goldi, Hamstilidamst, Taty, and Tealeafy managed to separate the raging chief from wailing Dodo and calm him down. With unusual haste the big hamster disappeared through the door.


“You have an admirable way to motivate your employees”, the chief accountant said appreciatively.


“You have to be sensitive but not allow them to trample all over you”, Botchy confirmed.


“I could need you, Mr. Botchy, as motivator for my employees. Do you have knowledge about bookkeeping?”


“Well, I always keep a telephone book…”


The chief accounted left hastily and also the chief soon left the room to check the fusss in the cellar.


“Has this accountant been with you since long, Mr. Mayor?” Flecki wanted to know.


Er, no, or perhaps yes. In a way I see him for the first time. For an executive it is not easy after all to remember every single dingus – er – employee.”


“Really not easy”, Tealeafy agreed with a grin. “They must number about 50. Unthinkable, isn’t it, Taty?”


Taty nodded. “Imagine we had to learn so many names by heart. Like the 100 vocabularies Miss Pushdushgave us to learn over the weekend…”


“But that’s quite different”, Tealeafy retorted, winking at her brother, “we are no executives…”


The mayor nervously tapped the floor with his paw, holding to the edge of the table. He was not quite certain if he was ridiculed or honoured in his work. He decided for the second, brushed his paw over the table like wiping away some crumbs and cleared his throat.


“I – er – propose to meet tomorrow at 10.00 h in my office to be late – erm – to debate so to say the matter. I – erm – now have important dates…”


A moment later the office was empty, the mayor sighed with relief and could take his well earned nap.