“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?”
“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…”
“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?”
“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!”
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…”
“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.
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?”
“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…”
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.
Wanted: A Pro
“You were to eat the poster?” Flecki did not believe what she just had heard.
“Yes”, Dodo confirmed. “The Chief said, if I don’t, he’ll get something – and that is me down.”
“Did it taste well after all? Shouldn’t be that bad with ketchup.”
“Nothing is that bad for you with enough ketchup, Goldi!” Flecki snarled.
“Ha, quite a gourmet, our Goldi!”
“Emmy, where do you come from – and where have you been yesterday?”
“Oh, Flecki, you know I have not fancy for mayor speeches. Moreover I had something more important to do.”
“Shopping, is it?”
Emmy nodded. “Just so, Goldi.” She pointed at the market place debris. “Did you have a nice party?”
“Great, so to say first rate”, Taty grinned. “All the VIPs are in hospital and in a minute we’ll have a ‘planning discussion’ with the mayor.”
“To take the rest of Hamsterton population to hospital without anybody noticing – or what?”
Merry cackling sounded down the market place but the fun soon was over.
“Don’t you have anything to do, or what? The mayor certainly is waiting.”
“Take a guess for whom we waited!”
Chief Botchy looked around grimly but everyone looked back quite innocently. He knew well enough that it made no sense to search for the hamster who had said this and so he pointed at the smashed poster.
“Why is this not yet cleaned away?”
“I’d been absolutely filled from my breakfast, Boss, but I’ll certainly try it again later on.”
Instead of answering, the chief only glared at Dodo, shook his head and set moving. The hamster troop followed him to the town hall and even from a distance they could see that something had happened. Several ambulances were waiting there.
“Did we do any repairs in the town hall today?” Botchy wondered.
“Nope”, Finny retorted. They paused to watch how several aid hamsters were obviously busy treating employees of the town hall. The mayor was nearby, talking with the officer in charge. Soon the repair troop had reached the town hall and Botchy walked over to the mayor.
“What’s on here?”
“Erm, I so to say just arrived and this dingus, er, head monster – er – aid hamster told me that my poor employees stripped the flairs – erm – licked the stairs – so to say slipped. More than half of these poor hamsters got madly short – badly hurt.”
“Slipped?” came a chorus.
“Yes, erm, there was something on the dingus, stairs…”
“Is it known what it was and who put it there?” Sasy asked, her eyes big with curiosity.
Suddenly the mayor felt rather hot and tried to let it go unnoticed by grinning sheepishly.
“Oh, someone spit – er – tipped some soap onto the chairs – er – the stairs. No idea who does anything like that, must be some windip, er, dimwit.”
Now the caretaker came limping by, his left paw covered with a light bandage, and he made grimaces of pain.
“Well, my good man”, the mayor shouted, “you’ve been rather lucky, haven’t you? So now you can switch on the dingus, the lift again.”
“Mo-o-o-orning!” the caretaker bawled. “Nope, Mr. Mayor, no way. Better to keep that paw quiet for 3 weeks. Afterwards 6 weeks in rehab and then refreshing cure, will be another 6 weeks. Better be on the safe side. Well, I’m going home now. Have a nice day!”
Whistling merrily, the caretaker toddled off.
“Softy!” Botchy grumbled and the repair hamsters nodded their agreement. “My people can repair that elevator in a trice.”
The mayor missed the fact that at the word ‘trice’ several repair hamsters gave an anxious start. He was relieved that there was a hope to go comfortably with the lift again soon. He smiled gratefully and pointed at the ambulances.
“Erm, well, I’ve got to talk with the polidingus – er – police hamsters because of insurance of these healthy ones – er – so to say, your health – er – health insurance.”
“Perhaps it was an assassination?” Finny gasped, looking terrified at her friend Flecki. “Perhaps someone wanted to murder the mayor?”
“Oh, really”, Tealeafy shouted, toppling over with laughter, “who should want to do that?”
“Just so”, Taty cackled, “no one, of course, except half Hamsterton…”
The mayor grunted angrily. “Certainly some dingus in my office does not only have friends…” Now the hamsters all toppled over, except Botchy who was standing a little aside, following the transport of some injured hamsters with a troubled face. “… so to say also enemies seeking one’s liver – erm – life in bad faith…”
“Sorry, excuse me, I left my sandwich on the stairs!”
The caretaker had returned and with a limp passed the repair hamster. The mayor looked after the troublemaker angrily and continued.
“As I tensioned – er – mentioned, I’ve got to talk to that bumptious bug… - ha ha – with Mr. Senior Chief Hamster Police. After that I have a very, very, very important, so to say, extremely secret project…”
“About which you will tell us in all details?” Goldi asked innocently.
“Well, for the brine tee-ing – er – the time being…”
A loud, shrill scream interrupted his tirade. They all looked to the town hall entrance where the yell originated. Cautiously the group went closer and recognized the caretaker who was lying on the bottom stair, howling. Beside him was his sandwich box, around him a moment later the aid hamsters showed up. It did not take long until the caretaker was taken away with the last ambulance.
“What happened to that one?” Botchy inquired from one of the aid hamsters.
“Well, he stumbled over a stretcher, the fool. Should have gone home instead of lurking around here. First it was a simple strain but now it got him right away. Better to keep that paw quiet for 3 weeks. Afterwards 6 weeks in rehab and then refreshing cure, will be another 6 weeks. Quite silly. With that strain he could have been back to work tomorrow.”
“So do we have the day off, Mr. Mayor?”
The so addressed looked at Tuffy sheepishly, his glance wandered to the chief. He shrugged and said: “Depends on that secret project of… Er, what was it, Mr. Mayor?”
“A cone fall – er – phone call – erm – because of that pro that senior-fuzzy wants…”
The mayor bit his lips.
“Pro? What pro?” Flecki shouted furiously. “Do you mean that dimwit thinks we can’t do it? Do you mean that we are unable, potty dumbheads?” Furiously she turned round to the colleagues when her glance fell on Dodo who was just gnawing at the poster, and with a small sigh she added: “Well, some are – but not all of us!”
“Erm, yes, that is, no – well, whatsoever – erm – I think we’ll meet later, so to say in two hours?”
“Two hours are not worth to start with cleaning works”, Botchy said. “We should take a lunch, what do you think?”
“Oh, but I’m no longer hungry”, Dodo cried disappointedly and wiped a little scrap of poster from his mouth.”
“But I am”, Emmy shouted.
“Not to talk about me!” Goldi shouted.
“Er, yes, see you later”, the mayor said. “And please September – er – remember: This information is so to say strictly secret.”
“All right”, the hamster troop chorused whiled the mayor turned and waddled towards the town hall. After a few minutes he was out of earshot.
“Gee!” Finny excitedly cried. “I can’t wait to tell my parents and Tony and Luca, my brothers…”
“And I absolutely have to tell my sisters Ava and Dary and my classmates and…”
“Strictly secret, is it?” Botchy snarled. “How about writing it on a poster so that everybody knows?”
“Which poster, chief?” Dodo asked. “There is no more poster…”
While the mayor and the senior police hamster discussed today’s events in the mayor’s office, the repair team set out for a restaurant.
“Where shall we go?” Hamstilidamst asked, rubbing his tummy in expectation of some nice meal.
“Something fast”, the chief growled. “I for my part always go to the ‘Chop-Chop’, they’re quick and cheap.”
“I can easily believe that!” Flecki mocked.
“All I say is: potbelly!” Emmy remarked with a shocked glance at the chief’s tummy.
“Are meals good at the ‘Potbelly’?” Dodo innocently asked.
“Cheap fastfood, absolutely unhealthy!” Dasy grumbled.
“Moreover the ‘Chop-Chop’ isn’t what you’d call hip”, Sasy objected.
“O yes?” Chief Botchy had his small paws on his big hips and looked aggressive. “And will you tell me what is ‘hip’ in your opinion?”
“The ‘Carb Bomb’. without question”, Flecki said. “Best personal service, sophisticated meals, nice ambience…”
“And you can eat there as well”, Goldi added, joyfully rubbing his paws.
“Well, I am for the ‘Carb Bomb’”, Finny whispered.
“I am not”, the chief grumbled. “And neither is Tuffy. We have been there before. Well?”
“Voting!” Hamstilidamst proposed.
A few minutes later the vote counting was finished. There had been 12 votes given, in detail
10 votes for the ‘Carb Bomb’
1 vote for the ‘Chop-Chop’
1 vote for ‘Potbelly’
Angrily chief Botchy growled: “Thanks, Tuffy, I’ll be delighted to think of you if the next extra work comes up – and it will come up. Which brainhead by the way voted for ‘Potbelly’?”
Except Dodo and the chief all hamsters were whistling merrily as food was close. Moreover it was early in the day so that they would not have any trouble getting a table in the popular restaurant.
At the same time the mayor found himself in a serious struggle. A struggle with himself because at stake was the responsibility for Hamsterton in general and his fur especially.
“You have to find a pro to organize the Hamstian Exhibition!”
The words of the chief of building authority were still ringing in his ears. Where for the life of him was he to find a professional in Hamsterton? One, furthermore, whom that darned office senior chief was going to accept as a pro? He started to rummage his desk to relax his mind a little. At least he found the sandwich he had been missing a few weeks ago. Cautiously he bit into it but spat it out immediately. Dry like a mummy. His glance fell on the pile of job applications of several interns. He took up the pile and leafed it through, hoping to find a suitable candidate. Yes, I’m a genius, the mayor thought, why keep a bog in dark – hum – dog and bark, if the solution is elf-sevident – er…
He took out one job application at random and his goggle-eyes widened when he saw what some Fibbes of Hamsterjello had written:
‘That’s an application.
I need a separate place of work and hope for my own computer with CD writer to take data home. Please do not forget the fast flat rate for loading down music, MP3s and such.
Now about my salary…’
Disgusted, the mayor put aside the letter and took a look at what a certain Liza of Hamsterhoosen had written:
‘Ladies and Gentlemen!
I wanna be an intern!
My Ma tells me to try at town hall cause later on they’ll take me over so I get lots of dosh for doing nothing…’
This letter followed the first one. Then he looked what Charley of Hamsteriran had to say:
I badly need lolly and could start at once. No matter what if I get lolly for if I don’t get lolly, I start pinching again and have to be back in the nick…’
This did not sound like the sort of pro the mayor urgently needed. He sighed deeply and took up the next letter. Some Miss Buzzer of Hamstermound informed him:
You certainly remember your promise of long standing to look out for a job for me.’ – Dowdy! His fur stood on end. Dowdy his niece! How could he forget that? With trembling paws he read on: ‘My painting, alas! I have given up and dedicated myself to far eastern meditation. I then began to study ‘social-pedagogical communication’. Oh, how I should have loved to become a journalist, but the ‘Hamstian Daily’ did not take me. Then I started studies of ‘project management in the household’ but I broke off because after all the ‘Hamstian Daily’ had a job for me. Unfortunately it was only a cleaning job with a short-termed contract so that now I could start something new any time.’
“Am I some exchange for hopeless cases – or what?” the mayor puffed and put aside the letter. His phone rang and his secretary answered.
“Miss No… - he – Pinky, I’m busy! Not now!”
“I know, Mr. Mayor – but it is Mrs. Buzzer, your sister in law! She said if you will not talk to her she comes here in person to rip up your fur. That’s what she said!”
The mayor froze. O my, Furina wanted something of him and he had a very good idea what it was.
“Erm, yes, I – er… Put her through, please!”
There was a short click in the wire.
“Harry-George, I’ll only ask once and I don’t accept any excuse! Did you read the application of Dowdy?” came a lot of shouting through the line.
“Harrumph!” The mayor cleared his throat. “Dearest Fur-Tina, er, Furina, lurtancy – er – turtlefee – er – certainly! So to say a minute ago I busied myself with the tatter – the matter…”
“Don’t you beat about the bush, Harry-George, I know you!” came further shouting out of the receiver. “Do you have a job for my daughter – or do I have to come along to iron your fur?”
“She’ll get a jinx – er – job”, the mayor howled.
“But not some dogsbody-job, hear me? She’s something special, more of a managing hamster. You realize that clearly, Harry-George, or do I have to explain in more detail?”
“Fully realized”, the mayor gasped, “absolutely fully realized.”
There was a resolute click in the line and the unpleasant talk was finished. The mayor tapped the desk with his paw and breathed deeply. He thought with all his brain without getting any idea what to do. Just when he began to think he could see some context, the phone once more rang and once more it was his secretary.
“Mr. Mayor, it is the senior office chief!”
“Erm, does he also need a jinx – a job?”
Miss Pinky breathed deeply and calmly said:
“Rather not, Mr. Mayor. It is about the exhibition project. He wants to know whether you came to a decision.”
A click in the line and there was the senior office chief while on this end the mayor was close to collapsing.
“I’d rather expected you call-back, Mayor!”
“Erm, yes, the – er – ha ha – call-back, where is it now?” the mayor stammered, trying to appear cool. His brain worked desperately and he was aware of the fact that this talk was decisive not only for Hamsterton but also for him and his lamentable job. What a disgrace if the ‘First Hamstian Exhibition’ came to nothing because he, the mayor, was not able to manage the events.
“Well? Did you get a pro?” came a voice out of the receiver.
The mayor stared ahead, his glance fell on a sheet of paper. ‘Project management in the household’ – these letters danced in front of his eyes. Project management. That was it!
“Project management so to say is a conniption – er – condition to be professional”, the mayor gasped.
“Certainly”, the senior office chief retorted, “and a smartness in handling the press…”
Another mayor-glance at the paper. ‘Hamstian Daily’ – ‘journalist’ he read and whispered into the receiver:
“Yes, has worked with the press…”
For a moment the line appeared to be dead, then the senior office chief’s voice was back, this time without any mockery:
“You have got someone? You found a professional to help Hamsterton out of the dilemma? A real pro? You know, Mr. Mayor, he has to be convincing and able to talk smartly!”
Once more the mayor glared at the paper. ‘Study of social-pedagogical communication’ – the letters were dancing there.
“So to say a studied communicator, Mr. Senior Office Thief – er – Chief.”
“Erm, studied communism – er – communication.”
Silence. Then the cheer of the senior office chief:
“Excellent, just great. When will you present that Mr. Wonderful to me?”
“Well, er”, came a drawl, “in near future. In a way it’s a dingus, a lady. A wonderful hamster-lady from Hamstermound.”
At this time none of the repair troop had an inkling under what sort of command they soon were to work. Least of all chief Botchy who together with his group was sitting in the well attended restaurant ‘The Carb Bomb’, waiting to give up his order.
“Are there no waiters here – or what?” he grumbled after a while.
“That’s so swank with this restaurant”, Dasy shouted, “all the world and his wife meet here!”
“It’s really hip!” Flecki confirmed. “And if you want to belong, you don’t mind a little waiting.”
“My stomach doesn’t care! It don’t wanna be hip, it wanna be filled!” the chief barked.
Next moment his eyes widened when he heard the words “My, how vulgar!” He slowly turned round to the next table. Three modish hamster-girls were sitting there, showing their newest mobiles to each other. The obtrusive smell of some perfume met his nose.
“Ladies, any problem so I might assist?”
The answer was nothing but an embarrassed giggle and Botchy turned back to his repair troop.
“That wasn’t nice…”, Tuffy commented.
“Not nice?!” he bawled. “I’ll not be chatted up by some full feathered geese, it’s enough if I don’t get anything to eat…”
“Ladies and gentlemen, did you already make your choice?” a voice came purring.
“I’d like to have Salad Number 3!” Flecki, Finny, and Tuffy chorused.
It took the members of the repair team a few minutes to decide so that the waiter could leave with the orders.
“What if the mayor does not find any pro?” Emmy wanted to know.
“Then the matter of exhibition is done with and we have our peace”, Goldi grinned, impatiently leafing through the menu.
“But that would darned bad for the Hamsterton image”, Tealeafy joked.
“It would be disaster, pals”, chief Botchy grumped, looking furiously at Taty and Tealeafy who toppled over with laughter. “You’ve no idea how much we’d be the mock of all surrounding hamster counties. No, I tell you: No matter how, we need someone. If there’s no way out, I’ll dress up and present myself as professional.”
“Boss, don’t you think that cover will blow quickly?”
“Nuts, Tuffy, I’ll dress up so that nobody knows me.”
“I guess Tuffy thinks you will be recognized by your way of working”, Emmy sniggered and felt the sharp glance of the chief on her who wondered how to take that remark.
“I’ll tell you something, lads…”
“Your meals, ladies and gentlemen”, the waiter interrupted the chief and put down several salads.
“I didn’t order any green fodder!” Botchy hissed.
“Patience, Sir”, was the polite answer, “your Monsterburger is in process.” With these words the waiter disappeared through a side door and returned a short time later, laden with plates. “Who had the grilled pumpkin?”
“I take it! I take it!”
With a nod he put down the grilled pumpkin in front of Dodo whose eyes almost fell out of his head from greed and hunger. The waiter distributed the other plates.
“Hey, where is my…”
“Your Monsterburger is in process.”
Darkly the chief watched his repair team falling on the food. While everyone enjoyed himself, Goldi only picked at his meal.
“Waiter, there are cucumber slices in it!”
The waiter shrugged. “Grilled pumpkin always goes with a salad.”
“Why don’t you like cucumber?” Flecki hissed. “Normally you do away with one whole cucumber per evening!”
“Well there’s nothing wrong with whole cucumbers, I just don’t like them in slices.”
“Ahem, and what are we to do with your food now?”
“I take it! I take it!”
Goldi pushed the plate over to Dodo and looked at the waiter: “Grilled pumpkin please without these cucumber slices!”
The waiter nodded and wanted to go but was stopped by the chief.
“Hey, where is my…”
“Your Monsterburger is in process!”
The waiter was gone but returned after a few minutes.
“Here you are, Sir, grilled pumpkin without cucumber slices.”
He turned to Botchy and politely said “Your Monsterburger is in process” and wanted to go but was stopped by Goldi.
“There’s a slice of tomato in my food. I don’t like tomato slices!”
“Now listen, Goldi”, Flecki nagged again, “you do away with any amount of ketchup every day and that’s made of tomatoes. What’s wrong with this tomato slice?”
“It’s a slice of tomato, and I don’t like slices of tomato!”
“Excuse me, but what are we to do with your food now?”
“I take it! I take it!”
Once more Goldi pushed his plate towards Dodo and looked at the waiter: “Grilled pumpkin please without tomato slice.”
“Certainly, Sir”, the waiter confirmed, “and without cucumber slices.”
“Damn, where is my…”
“Your Monsterburger is in process”, the waiter groaned. “Won’t take long.”
After a surprising short span of time the panting waiter was back and put plates with salad down in front of Goldi and Botchy.
“With compliments the house!”
“My, how stylish”, Flecki cried. “No other restaurant…”
“I don’t like salad!”
“What am I to do with rabbit food?”
Helplessly the waiter looked first at Goldi, then at chief Botchy and gasped: “But it’s on the house!”
“I don’t want any salad, I want grilled pumpkin without tomato slices and without slices of cucumber!”
“And I want my Monsterburger!”
“And what am I to do with this salad now?” the waited wailed.
“I’ll take it! I’ll take it!” came a background voice.
While there was an embarrassed silence at the table of the repair hamsters, the visibly knocked-out waiter approached once more. With trembling paws he put down one plate in front of Goldi and one plate in front of the chief.
“Here we are”, he groaned. “Once grilled pumpkin without tomato slices and without slices of cucumber and one Monsterburger. Enjoy your meal!” He made off quickly but had not come far when in his back he heard Goldi’s voice:
“Is that stuff on my plate red pepper?”
“I’ll take it! I’ll take it!”
While Dodo stuffed the next portion into his hamster cheeks, the obviously nerved waiter crept away to fetch a fresh portion of grilled pumpkin for Goldi. Except the chief who audibly enjoyed his Monsterburger everyone was finished. Anyway, the embarrassed silence continued when the waiter turned up again with a stony face.
“Sir, your grilled pumpkin without tomato slices and without slices of cucumber and without mini-peppers.”
With bent head and weeping silently he crept away. He did not get far until in his back he heard Goldi’s thoughtful voice:
“If I think about it – I do not care at all for pumpkin…”
A Pro to come
“A bit more salt wouldn’t have been bad for the Monsterburger”, chief Botchy said when the whole troop had left the restaurant again. “Apart from that it was well enough, considering how long I had to wait.”
“It was right mortifying, you especially, Goldi!” Flecki nagged.
“We can’t show our faces there any more”, Finny agreed in a sad voice.
“Blokes!” Finny hissed and Flecki nodded.
“You wouldn’t think that they can dumb down yet, but they succeed every time.”
“And it was absolutely awkward when the chief told that poor waiter to send the bill to the mayor!”
“Hey now, Emmy”, Botchy interrupted, “the mayor told us to come in two hours time and I told him that we are for lunch. So we were for lunch.”
The chief turned around and frowned:
“By the by, where is Dodo?”
“He, well, er, he went to the loo”, Hamstilidamst explained. “He said he’ll come later.”
“All right, people, let’s hear what the mayor has to tell us but be careful on their stairs.!”
“The staircase certainly had been cleaned by now?”
“Oh, Finny, go on dreaming!” Flecki laughed. “By whom? The mayor has ‘important’ calls, the aid hamsters are not involved and the caretaker is knocked out.”
The staircase was indeed in a terrible state still. They walked up cautiously and met the chief accountant.
“Oh, Mr. Botchy and his troop”, he shouted. “Isn’t it a shame that no one feels responsible for cleaning that staircase?”
“Don’t you have cleaning hamsters?” Botchy grumped. “You might easily break all your bones here!”
The chief accountant nodded and suddenly looked very serious.
“Yes, just like that young man. He has been carried away a moment ago. O yes, Miss Pinky mentioned that he was bandaged and asked for you, Mr. Botchy. One of your people?”
“Well”, Botchy grumbled, “that will have been Trample. Should pay him a visit.”
“Poor chap”, Sasy sniffed, “we did not even see him again! But we heard about him and that’s nice after all, isn’t it?”
“He seems to feel quite fine in hospital or why does he go there all the time?”
Flecki gave a look of wrath to Taty who had made this shameless remark, but before she could comment, Finny shouted:
“We’ll bring him some flowers, that will cheer him up!”
“A knight’s armour would be all the better”, Goldi grinned and got kicked by Flecki.
“And biscuits”, Tuffy shouted. “He likes them more than anything else.”
“Hazelnut biscuits!” Emmy knew in detail.
“Later, pals, later. First of all we’ll hear the mayor’s report. Later on we’ll pay Trample a visit.”
After saying so, chief Botchy wanted to walk on but stopped, when a well known voice shouted:
“Wait for me – hello!”
“Take care, Dodo, the stairs!” Tuffy shrieked but the warning came too late. On the middle part of the staircase Dodo executed a perfect pirouette, made a beautiful back somersault and rolled down the stairs.
“Looks like us paying a visit to two dear colleagues”, Tealeafy compassionately said.
“I’ve got to get on”, the chief accountant remarked. “We are buried under work because almost all employees are in hospital. Oh, Mr. Botchy, my offer still stands of course. If you’re looking for a career change…” The next moment he was one floor up and out of sight.
The glances of the repair troop went back to Dodo who really did not cut a good figure when desperately trying to climb the slippery stairs: one forward, two back.
“Well?” Tealeafy sneered. “Not that fit today?”
“Now get you gone, we don’t have all the day!” chief Botchy yelled, waving his short arms.
“Ca-a-a-an’t!” came the wailing answer and the chief replied in a calmer voice.
“You have to take step by step, Dodo. Just try to wriggle along like a seal!”
Sobbing, Dodo followed the advice of his superior and tried, lying on his belly, to take step by step.
“O my, that does look daft. Small wonder that there are so few seals.”
“Seals are just darlings!” Flecki hissed, giving Goldi a dagger look.
“Come on, you’ll make it!” Emmy and Sasy chorused. Now also the other repair hamsters started to cheer the step-to-step-slipping Dodo.
“Wriggle-Dodo, Wriggle-Dodo!” it sounded through the stairwell and really Dodo reached the last step. Then it happened. His chin banged onto the hard edge of the step and he slid down the whole staircase. There he was lying now dizzily.
Alarmed by the noise, the chief accountant and his remaining employees came running.
“I told you it’s perilous. We claim danger pay!” a small hamster with a base cap shouted who carried along several files.
“Something has to be done”, the chief accountant shouted. “Mr. Botchy, you are a resolute man…”
The chief only shrugged.
“It’s soap, is it? Tuffy, what do we know about soap?”
“Soap is a mixture of different, longer-alkali salts of fatty acids and are among the tensides, more precisely to the anionic surfactants. However, if working with potassium hydroxide and potassium salts to form potassium salts of fatty acids, which are in contrast to the sodium salt until soft and greasy hygroscopic. You get soft soap and…”
“Another word and you’ll lick the stairs clean. I don’t want to know what soap is but how to get rid of it!”
“We did not yet learn that at vocational school, Boss.”
“I knew it for certain”, Botchy triumphantly said, “you learn nothing there!”
“And what do we learn from this?” Taty jeered.
“That Botchy is at a loss again!” Goldi trumpeted.
“O yes? Why am I always to know everything?” the chief foamed. “Mr. Clever Goldi might think of something!”
Before Flecki could shout “Better not!” Goldi had run to a corner of the staircase where a fire-extinguisher was hanging. He pulled it from the wall and placed himself at the upper step. There was a loud hissing and under the cheers of Taty and Tealeafy all the lower part of the stairwell was transformed into a snowy landscape while the rest of the troop was crying out in shock. However, a moment later there were delighted cries of “Ah!” and “Oh!” when Goldi put aside the extinguisher casually, pointed at the wintery scene and said:
“Guess that nobody will be seen slipping today.”
“You and your repair team are a blessing, Chief”, the chief accountant delightedly said and walked a few steps until reaching the head of the stairs. Cautiously he held one paw into the foam, bending forward a little. Followed a shriek and he was gone.
“Tuffy, what do we know about fire extinguishing foam?”
“Extinguishing foam is a special foam, consisting of air, water, and foam. Condition for the formation of foam bilayer is a soap, which is separated by a thin layer of water from each other, chief.”
“Thank you, Tuffy, thank you. And what it the meaning of this?”
“No idea, Chief, no one told us.”
“Do you just learn by heart at school?” Botchy grumped, looking into the foam scenery. In the middle section something seemed to be moving.
“As it is, foam is made of soap, and if soap meets soap, it will be slippery, won’t it?”
Tuffy helplessly looked at the chief. “We did not have any lessons about that…”
“Swell, Goldi, really great”, Flecki scolded. “First rate idea of you. Now there’s a better slip-slide than ever before!”
Goldi shrugged. “I only said that we will see nobody slipping today!”
“He’s right”, Tealeafy shouted, “in all that foam you can’t see anyone slipping!”
Emerged a white creature out of the foam.
“Oh, the chief accountant!” Botchy merrily cried. “We did not see you coming. Anything changed in the state of the staircase?”
“I’m afraid no”, the tired chief accountant gasped. “But on my way I’ve found something. Does this seal belong to you?”
Hamstilidamst and Emmy stepped up to the foam packet the chief accountant had dragged up the stairs and freed it of foam as well as possible. There was a delighted “Honk, honk!”
“You okay, Dodo?” Emmy asked in a small voice.
“Honk, honk”, was the prompt answer.
“O well”, Botchy turned to the chief accountant, “that’s no real employee, more of a freelancer for special tasks.”
“I see”, he nodded, “drain pipes and the like.”
“Just so”, the chief agreed. “But we really have to get on now. The mayor surely is waiting for us.” He beckoned his troop to follow and walked ahead. The ascent took some time as the elevator was still out of order. After a while the chief stopped and turned round angrily. “Will Dodo stop that hooting now? He’s getting right on my nerves!”
“Dodo is a free seal with a right of opinion!” Flecki said indignantly.
“To forbid him barking would be a cruelty!” Dasy agreed.
Grumbling, chief Botchy scrambled on and planned for certain to repair that elevator soon. After two more floors they arrived and faced the sign ‘Shut down temporarily due to inspection – Caretaker’
“There not being any damned caretaker, we don’t need that daft sign!” the chief bawled, pulled down the sign and hurtled it down to the next floor.
“By that the lift won’t work any better”, Finny remarked and received a dagger look.
“What a pity”, Goldi said, fumbling the elevator buttons, “we have to walk back all the way down and…”
He broke off as the elevator door opened like by magic.
“Gosh!” Flecki cried. “That lazy caretaker just put up the sign there and in truth the elevator is working without fault!”
“I’ll have a go at that one”, Botchy gnarled. “But first things first. Now we will listen to what the mayor had to tell us.”
Without knocking, he entered the mayor’s office, followed by his repair team and one seal, happily barking “Honk, honk!”
“Ah, my very dear dingus – er – Botchy”, the mayor said good humouredly. “Do come in!”
“I am in, Mr. Mayor!”
“Er, yes, of course. What is this?” The mayor pointed at Dodo who was lying seal-like on his belly and seal-like came wriggling in, accompanied by merry barks of “Honk, honk!”
“This? Oh, that’s Dodo, the seal for special tasks”, the chief grinned.
“Fine, fine, most important for governments.”
“Seals, Mr. Mayor?”
“Certainly, dear thief – er – chief. Only recently I read that all official papers of the government need seals. Once the English government almost failed completely because the Great Seal was missing. So be proud that you have you own steel – er – deal – with the seal…”
It took some time until there was quiet again in the mayor’s office and even the last repair hamster stopped laughing. Rather bewildered, the mayor was sitting at his desk, listening to the explanation of Flecki, Emmy, and Finny as to the difference between a seal and a seal. Botchy grew impatient.
“Now if we could start…”
“Curtainly, dear chief – er – certainly. Never tiring, I mumbled my tribe – er – troubled my mind about how this exhibition out there will knife – er – strive.” He walked up and down the room, his paw pointing to the window and out to the market place. “Out there…”
He did not get further as he had stumbled over Dodo.
“Erm, Greatseal – er – Dodo, would you mind creeping to the door?” he gasped after getting himself up and back to his desk.
With a merry “Honk honk!” Dodo wriggled to the door and was now lying between the door and chief Botchy who only shook his head.
“Thanks, Honk – er – Dodo”, the mayor said, preened his whiskers and let his glance wander from one hamster to the next. “The cask given – er – task given to me of finding a pro has without doubt been pompleted by me with cursing – er – completed in person – by me…”
“Absolutely unnecessary, that senior office ape is a numbnut”, came a bawling voice from the door.
“Well, er, my dear chief, I do agree with you”, the mayor stammered. “And it’s not that I think you completely incapable, it’s just…”
“Well?” came a hiss from the door.
“Your works so to say speaks for you…”
“That’s just it!” Some voice from the repair troop.
“And the little mishaps…”
“Mishaps?” Botchy interrupted the mayor, reddening fiercely and putting up his chin. “Mishaps?”
“…never were your fault”, the mayor continued hastily.
“My idea exactly”, the chief gnarled and made a step back to lean at the doorpost. There was a bang because he had not seen Dodo lying on the floor.
“Will someone shove that silly seal to some other place? Into the tub for my sake.”
“It’s a feeling creature, chief”, Flecki cried, rather indignant. “You cannot just shove it to some place.”
From the floor came some backing up howl.
“So what kind of pro is that and was is he to do?” now Goldi asked the most important question and the room was dead silent. Just when the question was to be answered, there was a knock at the door.
“Erm, come in!”
The door was opened, something white entered and was lying on the floor the next moment as it had stumbled over Dodo.
There was an “Ouch, my paw” and an “Honk, honk, wail!” and silence again.
Slowly the white creature rose, wiping foam from its face.
“Trample! Are you well again?” his friends chorused and ran to him, careful not to kick Dodo the seal who with a loud whimper tried to jump up to Trample.
“Well”, Trample said, “doctor thinks I should take it slowly…”
“Sure”, Botchy grumped, “you’re right with us. Just take it slowly, no one will hurry you. But tell me, you fool, did you come up the stairs?”
Trample nodded. “The lift is defect after all, isn’t it?”
“Lots of things are defect here but not the lift”, Tealeafy said with a grin. “But you’re just in time. The mayor is going to tell us what kind of loser he found as a pro to manage the ‘First Hamstian Exhibition’.”
With a nod the mayor thanked Tealeafy for the bridge to his speech. He cleared his throat and was about to begin, when there was another knock at the door.
“Erm, come in!”
The door was opened, the chief accountant entered and crashed onto the carpet as Dodo was still lying in front of the door. Angrily he got up and walked over to the mayor.
“My dear Mr. Mayor”, he said excitedly, “the entrance to this building has to be freed from soap immediately. But that is not all. As you know, there are 23 departments in this building with 119 employees. For reasons unknown at the moment 2/3 of the employees are in hospital, that it 89 ¼. The other 29 ¾ have to do all the work and due to complete exhaustion half of them had to be sent home already. So at the moment I only have 14 7/8 employees at my disposal. Of these 14 7/8 there is an amount of 5/8 having a claim on last year’s holiday so that…”
“Erm, yes”, the mayor interrupted, “I do understand. And what am I to do now?”
“See that I get new people, temps or the like!” the chief accountant shouted.
“Well, hum, new people”, the mayor pondered and remembering all the job applications he had in his desk, he plucked up. “I think, my dear chief accountant, I in a way so to say can help you. I still have some thingy people.”
“Fine”, the chief accountant said, turning to the door. “I rely on you.”
Once more he became the victim of Dodo the seal and stumbled out of the door. Then there was a terrified outcry and the falling of a body. Something rumbled like someone rolling down the stairs.
“Well”, Goldi grinned, “that leaves 13 7/8 employees with 5/8 minus X holiday claims.”
“Tuffy, please go and take a look if anything happened to Mr. Conk. Oh, and take care not to stumble over that silly seal.”
The little hamster nodded and walked out, accompanied by calls of “Honk, honk!” Impatiently the mayor drummed his paw on the desk as by now he was quite peeved because up to now he had had no chance of delivering his great announcement. Sooner than expected Tuffy was back to report that chief accountant Conk had limped into his office, swearing.
“Erm, wonderful in a way”, the mayor grumbled and sat up straight. All eyes were on him, he enjoyed this moment of attention on his person.
“The task given to me to find a seal – er – a real pro was a difficult task. Well, I do not pinch – er – flinch from trouble as is seemly for a dispensable parson – harrumph – responsible person so to say…”
“Make it short – or I’ll set the seal on you!” chief Botchy gnarled and the repair hamsters nodded and giggled.
The mayor interrupted his speech and goggled at Botchy. ‘Set the seal’ might have two meanings: one setting the seal and the other – setting the seal. Indeed, time to get to the seal point. He rose and smiled daftly.
“Ladies and gentlemen, dear seals of sorts – Hamsterton has a professional now!”
These weighty words resulted in much excitement with the repair troop. There were snatches of sentences:
“Didn’t I know, can’t make a dent with the chief…”
“Thank God, our disaster will be professional now!”
“Will we have more holidays now?”
“Or we’ll be out of work!”
“We are too young to die!”
“Damn, shut up!” chief Botchy yelled to stop the jabbering of his folks which by now had become loud howling and lamenting. “No one will lose his job and no one will starve to death. That funny pro is to manage the whole. These chaps are only able to organize and can’t hit a nail on the head!”
“Harrumph”, the mayor angrily said. He did not think much of Dowdy his niece, quite on the contrary, she had got on his nerves often enough, but she was his niece after all and no chief had the right not to think much of Dowdy his niece! If someone had the right not to think much of his niece, if was him, the mayor! “We are talking about a processional – erm – what I mean is, she is a profit so to say.”
“It’s not a ‘he’, it’s a ‘she’”, the mayor added after seeing the bewildered faces around him.
“For making coffee, or what?” Goldi bawled and got kicked by Flecki.
“And she knows something about building works?” Chief Botchy was baffled and forgot to close his mouth.
“Er, rather no, she will co-ordinate the thing.”
“Will that be the end of our nice planning commissions?” Tealeafy asked with a grin.
“In a way it will, er, yes.”
“No more phat competence teams?” Taty mocked.
“How will such a dumb Dora manage us if she knows nothing about building works?” Botchy wanted to know.
The mayor opened his mouth and closed it again.
“Because, erm…”, he began but Flecki came to his rescue.
“Goldi knows nothing about cooking and munches away everything anyway!”
“Er, yes, just so”, the mayor gasped, “munches away so to say. That’s the way with the co-dingus – er – operation. In a way she had studied and knows the latest trips – er – tricks.”
“I don’t need any tricks and such newfangled crap!” chief Botchy bawled and went up to the mayor. “Solid handicraft goes without foul tricks!”
While in the background some hamsters cackled heartily, the mayor pushed back the excited chief and exhaustedly leant back in his chair. Slowly Botchy took a step back.
“Now, see here, my dear chief, it’s like this, my niece is just…”
“Niece!” sounded a chorus.
“Did he say niece, Taty?”
“He did, Tealeafy, that smells right away like cronyism!”
“How not, we hamsters in some way or other are all cronies…”
Revolt – Strike
“I won’t let you do that to me, Mr. Mayor, I’m not your tomfool!”
“Chief is right, that’s naught but a big mess!” Taty and Tealeafy gnarled.
“Not in our backyard! That’s against our honour as hamsters!”
“Honk, honk!” Dodo agreed with Flecki.
“We’ll pick his place to pieces”, Goldi bawled, nudging Trample to encourage him to some rash action.
“Let him get along with the stuff with his bimbo!” Tuffy shrieked, while all the time the mayor seemed to be shrinking behind his desk.
There was a loud and impatient knock at the door but in the general hullabaloo no one except the mayor seemed to notice anything. As he did not have to strength to say “Come in” or words to that effect, the door opened after a time and the head of the chief accountant became visible. The noise in the room died down at once, not so much from respect for the chief accountant but rather of curiosity what kind of new and disasters there were.
“Mr. Mayor”, he started to scold, “this permanent noise is unbearable for my staff! Please see that all this shouting comes to an end. Beside this I urgently need back-ups as my team just dwindles away by the staircase accidents!”
The mayor looked at the chief accountant helplessly and shrugged.
“As you know there once were 23 departments with 119 employees in this building. ¾ of the employees are in hospital, of the remaining quarter half has been sent home due to exhaustion. Half of the remaining quarter ask me to inform you that they will be on strike if the situation does not change at once.”
“Erm, well… and what do I have to do with that?” the mayor asked in a bored voice and looked out of the window.
“See that I get new people, temporaries and the like!” the chief accountant shouted.
“Well, er, new people”, the mayor repeated. “Know what, Mr. Discountant? Stuff the half of the remaining quarter where the sun of Hamsterton will never shine! This is about greater valets – er – values being so to say my…”
With a coarse outcry chief accountant Conk stormed towards the door, stumbled over Dodo the seal and crashed against the doorpost. Groaning, he got up, pointed at the mayor and gasped: “Strike, dear Mr. Mayor, we will go on strike this very minute! However, if matters change”, he added, stepping forward, stumbling once more over Dodo the seal, stumbling up to the mayor’s desk and holding to the edge of the desk, “if matters change, we will finish the strike. It’s up to you, Mr. Mayor!”
Being a polite official, he bowed to the mayor and walked backwards towards the door.
“Dodo, would you mind to leave that spot at the door?” chief Botchy nagged when the chief accountant had stumbled out of the door and his shrieks when rolling down the stairs died away.
“What did he mean by strike?” Finny wondered, and contemptuously looked at the mayor who had collapsed in his chair and tried to bury his head in the wooden desktop.
“That he may handle his stuff himself!” Botchy yelled. “I’m fed up of being up a monkey here, not me – I’ll strike, too!”
“Does that mean we will have a holiday, Boss?” Tuffy hopefully asked. “A few days at the seaside…”
“Just forget it”, Botchy grumped. “Strike does not mean holiday, strike means that you go to work but do not work.”
“Well, that’s nothing new to me, I need not change my way of working that much…”
Flecki turned round to Goldi. “I’ve known that since long. Don’t you have any talents, Goldi?”
“Yea, I can fart ‘Old McDonald’!”
While Flecki got outraged about certain hamsters without decency and behaviour, the mayor desperately tried to change chief Botchy’s mind but without success. After some fruitless shouting, the chief turned, his head deep purple.
“Come along, chaps! We’ve done with this loser-mayor!”
While, cursing, the mayor got up from the floor to which he had tipped with his chair, chief Botchy stumbled and left the room with a frightened outcry. Afterwards the falling of a heavy hamster body could be heard, rolling down the stairs. Spellbound, everyone stared at the door when a few minutes later a slightly battered chief returned.
“And if this f… - darned seal is not gone in a moment and disappears into some ditch, I shall open up a seal fur business!”
“See that you are normal again or you will get some special tasks in the Hamsterton canalization!”
With another “Honk” Dodo the seal wriggled out to the staircase.
“Where might the poor animal – that is poor Dodo go to?” Emmy asked, nudging Goldi. “Shouldn’t we follow him and take a look? Perhaps we can help him?”
“Better not”, Goldi retorted, “animals should be left in their natural surroundings…” – Emmy nodded.
Together the hamster troop now trudged behind their chief and silently they balanced down the town hall stairs. At the entrance they helped chief accountant Conk to his paws. After Tuffy and Flecki had freed him from splinters of the big glass pane of the entrance door, the chief accountant stumbled back towards his office.
“May we go home now, Boss?” Tuffy hopefully asked.
“I’ll write it down for you willingly, Tuffy”, Botchy grunted, “you’ll go home when it’s closing time. Up to then we are on strike. That accountant bloke will do just the same; twirling thumbs until closing time – as his staff will do.”
So it happened and in the town hall a sweating mayor was sitting who after some hours discovered that nothing, really nothing in his town worked. Even HAMPO joined the strike and to the horror of many Hamsterton inhabitants there was no one who cared for law and order. Especially troubling was the news that patrolmen went to patrol pubs and allied with boozers and hooligans when the night fell. Bawling groups of drunken policemen made the town unsafe while some back-street chaps took their chance to go shopping. Nobody took interest in the fact that the shops were closed and whoever needed some pretty clothing or a new, beautiful widescreen TV, just helped himself. By the way, this explains why the Hamsterton policemen have so richly furnished flats.
Only HAMFI were still at work and on the spot each time there was some fire. Out of loyalty for the striking majority of Hamsterton they however did not use water. This was a kind of moral backing up for the strikers. On the personal plead of the mayor the Hamstian power station went back to service after they had been promised a doubling of salary.
“It’s a shame what became of our Hamsterton”, Flecki scolded when the repair team met at the usual site.
“This incredible greed”, Tuffy hissed. “I’ve seen two hamsters robbing a shop and the police being too drunk to interfere!”
“Really incredible”, Goldi gnarled. “It’s nothing but ‘The winner takes it all!’ A shame! Just because one of these brutal hamsters has been bigger and stronger than me in the computer shop, he nicked the last game of ‘Hamster IV’ right from under my paws…”
“By the by, where is Trample?”
“Yes, where indeed?” the chief confirmed Finny’s inquiry.
“He didn’t walk the stairs with us, so he took the elevator. Ah, there he is!” Flecki cried, pointing at a limping figure, approaching slowly. A few minutes later Trample had reached them – he looked a poor sight.
“Tell me, was the colour of Trample’s eyes always violet?” Taty whispered to his brother Tealeafy.
“Nope, rather not. And normally he hasn’t got such swollen lips.”
”What’s the matter wi’ you?” Botchy put the question each of them would have liked to put. “Had a crash with the lift?”
Trample slowly shook his head, holding a paw to it, his head clearly was aching badly.
“I only wanted to make a little joke”, he sobbed. “When I reached with the lift, you were not yet there, only that chief accountant was lying about there. So I went up again and down again. Just when I wanted to go back up, two sturdy hamsters came along and tried to get in. But they crashed against the door of the lift and when I went up again, I laughed loudly. They were miffed of course and ran up the stairs. In the upper floor I waited until they came up panting. Then I pressed the down-button and shouted ‘Baa, baa, baa!’ when the door was just closing.”
“Well?” Goldi asked. “What did you goof this time?”
Trample sobbed loudly and continued: “When I shouted ‘Baa, baa, baa!’ one last time, they were only a few paces off and then…” Trample sobbed again. “Then I bent forward too much and my head got into the sensor barrier of the lift and the door opened again. So those two stepped in and the way down appeared very long to me…”
“Shall we take you to a doctor?” Emmy tenderly asked.
“Forget it”, Flecki grunted, “they are all at a strike demo on the golf links… How will all that work out in the end?”
That was what also the mayor wondered about. Except himself, no one was working at the town hall any longer. His glance fell on the pile of applications and his face became a little more cheerful. ‘Dynamic but without training’ he read – ‘Need dosh for holiday’ – ‘Manager-type without experience’ – ‘Quite tired of being lazy’. The mayor looked out to the market place and saw Botchy and his repair team in deep discussion, then he sighed, closed his eyes, drew several applications out of the pile and put them down in front of him. He studied them, made several calls, leant back with deep satisfaction and held a little nap.
Loud laughter awakened the big hamster. He shook his wet fur and looked about him. Why was he lying at the banks of the village pond and why were so many people standing around, toppling over with laughter? Dodo tried to climb the bank, slipped and was back in the pond. After several tries he succeeded to get solid, dry ground under his paws and saw that he was off. Laughter and shouts of “Honk, honk!” followed him. He walked to the town hall where he found the mayor sleeping. While descending the stairs, the big hamster met several dubious figures. Under the cheers of his friends the big hamster finally reached the familiar site.
“Erm, well, so you are Numb and Ass, very pretty in a way…”
“Dumb, Mr. Mayor, I’m Dumb and my pal is Ass!”
“Dumb and Ass”, the mayor noted down and then looked at the schedule. “You, erm, will take over the management of the Public Order Office and see that there is public order! And you?”
The so addressed hamster lady only goggled and when the mayor repeated the question, she slowly replied: “Well, I can type, but one thing I’ll tell you right away, I’m keeping my lunch break and no overtime for me. By the way, you don’t hurry me, see?”
This went on for some time, by and by the town hall filled with more or less willing employees. Then there was another knock at the door.
“Umph!” the mayor grumped because after all these interviews he would have loved to take a little nap.
“Da… Dow… Dowdy!” he croaked and glared at the small hamster girl in her flowered dress. The violet bow over her left ear was much too big and somehow her red sandals did not favour the dress. Anyway, the mayor did not notice this as fashion was not his business.
The little hamster lady entered and looked about her. Then she lifted her paws, closed her eyes, opened them again slowly and shook her head – which made the violet bow fall down. She took it up and fastened it, then she said: “You look tired and with reason as all things in universe have a reason. Do you not see it, Uncle? Does it not strike you? Do you not notice what is wrong here?”
“Erm… No food?”
“Uncle! Food it secondary, life is primary, symmetry, sympathetic ambivalence! You have to create your life anew!”
Dowdy started to re-arrange the chairs in the room and asked the mayor to help her moving the desk and the plants. After a while she looked at her work critically and said: “Ready! Now your life will be basically changed!”
With some difficulty the mayor tried to sit down between two houseplants but his beloved armchair unfortunately was now standing at the door so that he had to sit down on the edge of a yucca-pot. It was most uncomfortable but when he tried to push the yucca aside to make room for his armchair, his niece shrieked: “Don’t! If the pureness of your soul means anything to you, leave it as it is!”
Shrugging, the mayor sat down on the pot-edge once more and watched how Dowdy studied the organization schedule. She walked out to take up her work in this house while the mayor exhaustedly closed his eyes, leant back slowly and by and by disappeared between the leaves of a yucca and a hibiscus.
While Dumb and Ass and all other new employees in the town hall now learned that the basic condition for effective work was a congruent relation to the environment, the repair hamsters held council what to do to get Hamsterton back to order. While Botchy desired to increase the strike, Flecki and Emmy asked to finish it.
“We are all brothers and sisters. We have to approach each other and love each other!” Emmy cried. When she turned to sit down again she almost stumbled over Goldi who was lying on the floor, chewing one Munchburger after the other. “Reconsidering the matter, please forget my last sentence, will you?”
“We are no hamster-dummies after all which can be treated to everybody’s liking”, the chief grumped. “That has to be clarified! I’d just love to put their cottage straight and make some fire under their fur.”
“A well founded plan”, Goldi agreed, chewing.
“Yes, just swell – and after that?” Flecki hissed.
“They’re flatted”, Goldi grunted.
“And after that, what then?” Flecki insisted.
“Well, we’ll flatten them even more.”
“Now, that’s nothing but hollow, is there no other way?” Finny objected.
“Lads”, chief Botchy gnarled, “let’s wait and see and be on the alert.”