Article Index

Chapter 02

More shit happens

It did not take long until the mayor awoke with a start from his well earned nap. The banging of a door had woken him. He squinted a little and recognized chief Botchy who had just entered the office without knocking.

“Why… er – what’s the matter?”

“Nothing”, Botchy retorted. “Where is my repair team?”

“Erm, because of impotent – er – important dates we’ll meet tomorrow at 10.00 h again here in my office to dingus the cursed fraction – er – the course of action…”

“Nice, really nice, thank you”, Botchy grumbled, looking out of the window. “More than unlikely that I get one of them back to work. If they hear something about ‘doing it tomorrow’, they are gone without a trace.”

While the mayor swallowed guiltily, the chief pointed at something in the distance and said: “One at least is still clearing away, I’ll go to control matters.” Expecting this interruption to disappear soon and hoping to continue his rest, the mayor nodded. “In here there’s a smell like a gerbil cage. I’ll open the window, Mr. Mayor!”

Another nod of agreement. The next moment the chief had left; the mayor sighed and took up his office nap once more. Some dream took him back in time, far back to his school days.

“I opened the window, Madam Teacher. May I hold my speech now?”

The philosophy teacher nodded. “Please come forward, Henry-George, so that all pupils can understand you!”

“Underwood – er – understood, dear Madam Teacher!”

The general giggle lasted for a short time only and five minutes later pupils as well as teacher were bored to death while little Harry-George did what he could do best: hold long speeches.

“Madam Teacher, how was it?”

Mrs. Nomuck started. Once more she had fallen asleep, once more she had heard only the beginning of the lecture on ‘Why and what for – on the spirit of philosophy’. Secretly she squinted at her watch and with a shock noticed that half an hour had passed since the beginning of her little model pupil’s speech.

“Hum, very well. Anyone questions on the lecture, or did someone did not understand something?” she turned to the class and at the same time cursed her own foolishness. Of course certain pupils would have questions and exactly those who had not made their homework. As not otherwise expected Fridbert raised his hand.

Philosophy teacher Nomuck nodded to him although she would have preferred to wring Fridbert Botchy’s dirty neck. No doubt, the lesson would be delayed now until the bell rang and there was no chance to control homework.

“Well, you hoot, why would one need that stuff?”

“Fridbert, please address Harry-George with his name!”

“Right”, came a grump. “Well, Harry-George, you hoot, why would one need such bullshit?”

While Mrs. Nomuck fainted at her desk, there was a lengthy explanation, permanently interrupted by hecklings of the same pupil.

“Deadhead, I’ll flatten you – hold it, twerp! You call that clearing up? I’ll show you what clearing up means! I’ll clear up you!”

In the third storey of the town hall the mayor jumped up from the desk. Where was his teacher? Slowly he realised that he had been dreaming, at least he no longer was in the philosophy lesson. But something had not been a dream – there again!

“Stay and face me if I talk to you! I’ll get you and if you run to the end of Hamsterton!”

Slowly, very slowly the mayor got up and dragged his tired self to the window. The heap of debris was still quietly resting on the marketplace. Dodo could be made out, closely followed by the chief. Both were running again and again around the debris heap. Suddenly the mayor’s eyes widened and he forced himself to concentrate his glance on the big poster. Obviously Dodo had mounted it again and under the headline ‘Hamstian Exhibition’ was now written ‘We are the world’s most dim-witted repair troop’ and under this in bright white letters ‘Manager: Chief Botchy’.

With a small sigh the mayor shut the window and could no longer hear Dodo’s cries for help. He returned to his desk, lowered his head to the table top and closed his eyes. It did not take long until the next interruption occurred and there was a knock at the door.

“Ra-a-ah!” the mayor growled and squinted. Another knock. “Wham – er - come in”, the mayor grunted and sat up. His glance fell on the table lamp which still was lying smashed in the corner of the room, then his eyes wandered to the door. It opened cautiously and the face of his secretary appeared.

“Mr. Mayor, in 30 minutes you have a date with the chief of the building authority…”

“Erm, yes, fine, dear Mrs. Nomuck, just inform me. That it, if he is there – er – if he isn’t here…”

“I cannot announce him, Mr. Mayor, understood”, the secretary replied, a little baffled as she could do nothing with the name of Nomuck and had no idea why she was named thus. “So I’ll inform you when he is there.” She looked at the smashed table lamp. “Has the chief been here? Well, at the moment he seems to be playing on the market place with one of his employees.”

30 minutes or better, 25 minutes until that fat loser is to arrive, Mayor Harry-George thought and yawned heartily when his secretary had left the room. Time enough for a short nap which was better than nothing. He looked through the closed window because by now it was unusually quiet on the market place. With a header Botchy had managed to get at wailing Dodo’s fur and keep him down. He was not able to do more for both now were lying on the ground, completely exhausted. The long chase had asked much of both. Satisfied, the mayor marched back to his desk, gave another loud yawn and once more lowered his head to the desk.

However, he had hardly closed his eyes and was drifting back into his dream, when there was another knock at the door, quite a loud one this time.

“Yea?” the mayor crowd, lifting his head.

The door was wrenched open.

“Hello-o-o-o! Enjoying yourself? Well, Mr. Mayor here we go, where is that lamp?”

“Lamp? Lamp – what?”

“A lamp is said to be broken here, Mr. Mayor – one TF22-G probably.”

“Erm, no, just an old table lamp. Who are you and what do you want?”

The caretaker, Mr. Mayor – you know: the good spirit, the busy home pixie, always heady – er – ready, that’s my motto…”

“Fine, fine”, the mayor grunted. “And where was that dingus, er, heady pixie last week when my loo was clogged?”

“Holiday, Mr. Mayor!”

“And the previous week, when the window could not be closed?”

“Free week!”

“And the week before when all day long the tap was dripping so that I couldn’t sleep – er – work?”

“Special holiday, I had to do decorations at home.”

“And last month?” the mayor crowed. “When the heating was gone?”

“I’ve been ill! You know – that cold weather…”

“And the month before? When the elevator broke down and I couldn`t come to work?”

“At a seminar of the Hamstian Advance Training. Three weeks, Mr. Mayor! From dawn to dusk I had lessons in ‘Origami – easy’!”

“Origami?!” the mayor gasped.

“That’s it – Origami! You have to fold paper but I did not really get the idea and so I’ll take additional lessons next month. You never know if this technique will be standard one day and every employee should keep up to date, don’t you think so, Mr. Mayor?”

The mayor did not reply, at least not at once. He had risen and looked down to the market place where a part of the repair team still was on an unusual mission. Dodo had revived sooner than the chief and with his last bit of strength tried to crawl away but with another header Botchy got at him and held his tail. Dodo’s wailing could be heard up here and the mayor at once closed the window which he once more had opened. He turned round. Who was that shaggy little hamster in the blue boiler-suit looking at him inquiringly? O yes, the caretaker – the mayor remembered now.

“Erm, well, do take the dinguslamp and see if you can carry it off!”

“Yes, Mr. Mayor, carry it off is just what I`ll do.” The caretaker took up the broken lamp, put it onto the table and looked it over. “Well, thinking it over again, this is no TF22-G but a TF33-F.”

The mayor glared at the caretaker and had no inkling about the consequences of this fact.

The caretaker turned the lamp this way and that way and knocked at it several. With the last knock the bulb had its last curtain, leaving an ugly clink when it met the floor.

“Did you have your – er – so to say training with – er – chief Botchy?”

“Indeed!” the caretaker beamed. “When I had my retraining, Mr. Botchy was my instructor! Really someone, he is, really a model!”

The mayor sighed in a pained fashion and looked down to the market place, where the really someone, this really a model was crawling through a deep puddle with Dodo and cursed wildly.

“I had been with administration before but that was too much stress, you know”, the caretaker relentlessly continued. “Firm working hours and all the papers…”

There was a knock at the door. The mayor sighed with relief and just wanted to shout “Come in” when the caretaker took the broken table lamp, marched to the door and shouted: “Might take some time. TF22-F is no TF22-G after all and I’ll have to order spare parts. However, I’ll not manage next week when I have free days and the week after it’s Origami. So next month perhaps – o no, that’s my holiday, but perhaps the month to follow…”

“Come in!” the mayor interrupted the caretaker and waved his hand to make him understand that he was to leave as quickly as possible with his TF22-G – or whatsoever.

The door opened and the head of his secretary appeared: “Mr. Mayor, Mr. Fuzzy, the chief of building authorities is here…”

“May come”, was the grunted reply.

The door was opened wide, the chief of building authorities entered and the caretaker with the table lamp wanted to leave. Between the doorposts they met and the table lamp went down with a clank.

Thoughtfully they all glanced at the TF22-F – or TF22-G – which by now not longer very much resembled a table lamp.

“Did you have a fight?” Fuzzy asked, looking first at the mayor, then at the caretaker, and finally at the table lamp fragments on the floor.

“A dingus – er – tea lamp, I mean a TF-something lamp which has to be repaired. All is well”, the mayor hastened to put things right.

Well, I’m gone”, the caretaker said from the passage. “As already mentioned, it might take some time. Probably week 25, rather later as it’s holiday time and…” There was a short, loud bang – the door which the mayor had closed with a furious kick.

“May I offer the gentlemen something to eat or to drink?” the secretary asked to overcome the unpleasant silence.

“Erm, no, Mrs. Nomuck - er – Miss Pinky, this will not take long”, the mayor replied, secretly looking at the clock which told him that closing time was near. “You may call it a day.”

Pinky, the secretary, left the room silently and relieved.

“I’d liked to have your chief in our discussion”, the boss of building authority purred, “but Mr. Botchy seems to be occupied with mug-wrestling with one of his employees at the moment.”

“Erm, so we should better continue this debate tomorrow”, the mayor remarked, hoping to continue his interrupted office nap at home.

“No need, dear Mr. Mayor, no need at all”, Fuzzy twittered. “What I have to tell you, he as well may learn later on.”

“Hum, yes.” The mayor saw bad news coming and sat down in his armchair after offering Fuzzy a seat.

“Thanks”, the chief of building authority said, sat down and studied the ceiling. After admiring it for quite some time, his glance wandered to the mayor who was just feeling deeply sorry that he had sent his secretary home as he felt his stomach reporting. He war hungry and if he was hungry, he was unable to think. Well, thinking was not his idea of fun but if he was hungry, it was all the less so. Moreover, the missing lunch nap reduced the work of his brains drastically. A secret glance at the clock showed him that five minutes back had been closing time.

“You certainly realize that an exhibition in Hamsterton depends on a time factor.”

The mayor goggled at Fuzzy and heard himself answer:

“Erm, time factor – so to say factor of time.”

“Time factor and organization.”

“Erm, well organized organization so to say.”

“No way without it”, Fuzzy summarized. “And planning. All is in the planning, because if the planning is wrong, all else is wrong as well.”

“Sure, nothing doing without dingus-planning and all the rest and of course, my dear Muzzy – er – Fuzzy, I’m fully behind…”

The mayor interrupted his sentence and glared at his vis à vis in an irritated fashion as he had no interpretation for the inquiring glance of the chief of building authority. So they were sitting for quite some time, looking at one another – the one irritated, the other inquiring. Loud noises from his stomach spurred the mayor to get over with the matter so that he could start the urgently needed intake of nourishment.

“Er – what?”

“Well”, Fuzzy said, “you are fully behind your desk – or what, Mr. Mayor!”

It took him some time to understand this extremely witty remark, but then the mayor rose and said:

“Well, I’m fully behind all matters concerned, unconcerned and by all means.”

“Bravo, Mr. Mayor, I’m sure the first Hamstian Exhibition will be a success. Do you already have any idea which companies are to be represented? Are there mounting schedules for the booths?”

The mayor rubbed his eyes and once more squinted at the clock which told that according to his own schedule he would no longer be here for some time.

“Food”, he gasped and froze for a moment when he saw the shocked Fuzzy-face. “What I mean, ha ha, is that ‘Food and Lifestyle’ had already been proposed by my employees. Flecki and Goldi will share this part. Erm, Flecki will manage the lifestyle part and Goldi…”

“Wonderful!” Fuzzy cheered and clapped his thighs. “Great start! Go on, go on! Tell me all your planning!”

“The press will be beef – er – briefed soon and…”

“Oh, Mr. Mayor”, Fuzzy begged, “one or two things you can tell in advance, can’t you? Who if not you. Will there be specialty-booths of all hamster-world?”

“Eh, yea”, the hungry mayor delightedly bawled and the corners of his mouth became quite wet, “all of it! Toasted – er – roasted turnip seed, pancakes à la Hamsterton, cheese, yes, cheese, lots…”

“Mr. Mayor?”

The so addressed interrupted his loud speed and looked at the chief of building authority in a bewildered fashion.

“Where’s the butter – er – what’s the matter?”

“Mr. Mayor, your desk is rather wet and half flooded!”

“Ha ha, in a way so to say antipastation – er – anticipation”, the mayor replied with fiercely red head and desperately rummaged his desk for something to dry the table top. Wildly he gripped some papers and cleaned it as well as possible. “It’s all right again, Mr. Fizzy – er – Fuzzy, ha ha, all right. Where had we been? O yes, food. We should not overeat – er – overrate food, dear Dingus, it’s not all, even if it’s the most important matter in the world, so to say, you can’t without, but you well can with.”

“Well, Mr. Mayor, I’m not sure if I can follow you…”

“Oh, dear Puzzle, you need not, I’ll find the way to my pantry easily…”

“You do not want to throw me out, do you?” the building authorities chief joked but suddenly was not that certain when the mayor stood behind him and pushed his chair towards the door. Especially frightening were the mayor’s eyes, looking blood-shot and empty. “Well, per-perhaps you are right, time enough tomorrow”, he stammered and rose from the chair. “However, there is one last item…”

There was a strong knock at the door.

“Yea?” the mayor angrily shouted and the door opened slowly. Dodo came in. His fur was muddy all over but aside from this there was no sign that a lengthy conversation with chief Botchy was behind him.

“I just wanted to ask – that is, because I still saw light in your room – if I may clean myself up a little in your bathroom…”

“Two minutes”, the mayor roared, drowning the sounds his stomach made. “Two minutes, and you’re gone again, you bug!”

Perhaps he should have given Dodo a little more time but it was too late now. Instead of carefully picking his way, the big, mud-covered master, raced through the room, wrenched open a door and disappeared. There was the sound of running water, some loud bang and no more water sounds. The door was opened once more and Dodo, now only partly covered with mud, raced through the office to the exit door. Before he left, he turned round and shouted: “Many thanks, Mr. Mayor. However, I’ve no idea why it should be pulled down…” And was gone.

The mayor thoughtfully looked at the floor which had curious black dots.

“What did he mean? Pull down? What?”

The two hamsters went into the neighbouring bathroom. It was a miracle how a single room could be changed within a few seconds, the mayor thought, hoping that the cleaning hamsters could manage this. His glance fell onto the towel dispenser – or what was left of it.

“What did this brainless fool do to my beautiful towel dispenser?” the mayor wailed, burying his face in his paws. Then he absentmindedly reached for a bar of soap and bit into it.

“He pulled it out of the wall”, Fuzzy marvelled, coming closer.

“Why? Why?” the mayor lamented.

“I think I know the reason”, Fuzzy pensively said. “It’s the note beside the towel dispenser.”

The mayor stepped to the side of the building authority chief. Together they read the notice of use of the former towel dispenser: ‘Please tear sideways and pull down.’

“Good to have that clarified”, the mayor grunted, wiping some foam from his mouth. “In a way it’s elegant – er – relevant to understand one’s employees. Which last item did you mean, dear Hussy – er – Dingus?”

“Fuzzy, Mr. Mayor, Fuzzy!”

“No, no, dear gilding chief, only soap so to say, no reason for cause, if you know what I mean. Oh, that’s your name, ha, little joke. Marginal so to say – the joke of course”, added the mayor hastily.

Fuzzy’s face relaxed slowly and he sat down on his chair, inviting the mayor to take a seat as well. In a low voice he explained the idea of that last item.

“You know of course, dear Mr. Mayor, that there are critical voices against the ‘First Hamstian Exhibition’ project, if you see what I mean.”

The mayor did not see anything as his stomach was still as empty as his head. Instead his gullet was burning like hell after the perfumed soap. Nevertheless he nodded his agreement.

“Exactly”, his vis à vis continued, “we’re both talking about the chief officer. No one of course can talk about his plans – but…” Fuzzy turned to the door to see if they were really alone in the room, “… I can give you a few hints. I have to rely on your discretion, of course.”

The mayor nodded again.

Of course”, Fuzzy continued, “this has to do nothing with the fact that I got my job only because I’m the in-law cousin of your sister, Mr. Mayor. And it has nothing to do with the fact that the position of the building authority’s senior chief will be vacant, no, no, it’s just kindness towards you.”

“Huhum?” the mayor replied whose stomach by now was aching from two sorts of pain, gnawing hunger and a feeling of sickness, caused by the indigestible soap.

“Thank you, I knew I can trust you. Well, the senior chief has sent me here to inquire about the state of affairs. I’m to ask especially who will have the chief management of the project. He thinks that if you give the job to your muddle-brained competence team once more under the direction of Disaster-Botchy, he, well, he’ll never permit the project of ‘First Hamstian Exhibition’.”

Fuzzy paused and looked expectantly at the mayor who only belched. A moment later several colourful soap bubbles drifted through the room. With fascination the chief watched one bubble after the other bursting on the table top, then he continued:

“So he wants the Hamstian Exhibition to be organized in great style and by a really pro, as he called it.”

The mayor gave another burp and wondered if anything but pro-tein came to his mind, but nothing except lots and lots of things with proteins came to his mind. Why had the senior chief to meddle again? All right, in the past not everything had gone as smoothly as it might have. In a way it was a miracle that they had survived the last projects. He wanted to answer but another belch stopped him, and so Fuzzy went on:

“He told me that in the past not everything had gone as smoothly as it might have. In a way it was a miracle that they had survived the last projects.”

“Indeed?” the mayor gurgled and shooed away some soap bubbles blocking his view. “And what now?”

“You have to find a pro to organize the Hamstian Exhibition!”

By this the discussion was finished and the chief of building authority gone. The mayor was sitting in his armchair, struggling with his thoughts and with his sick feeling. Where was he to get a pro? Where in the world was he to find a pro in Hamsterton? He brooded and watched the dancing soap bubbles and banged his fist on the desk. That was it! First thing tomorrow he would take care of the matter but now he urgently had to go home and relax. He waddled to the door, opened it and breathed deeply. Mistake – there was a loud burp sounding up and down the stairway. Sheepishly the mayor crept to the lift and almost yelled with rage. There was a sign with the message ‘Shut down temporarily due to inspection – Caretaker’. Temporarily! It certainly would be months till this four-paws-disaster of a caretaker got finished with that! He could not help it, had to waddle down stair by stair bravely, towards the exit. When he reached the ground-floor staircase, he vomited.