Sunday, April 10, 2011

Das Brick Awakens at the Pine Cone

I passed an uneasy night between the bear and the snoring flatulent idiot, who inexorably rolled all the coverings from me, save the bear's arm. When at last the sun began to limn the outlines of the room, I knew I was still asleep.

There was a smoky fire taking shape at one end of the room, and a giant bearded creature holding some kind of bread in the fire. There was spring sun beating through a small diamond-paned window in the opposite corner.

"You're alive! Lazarus lives! I hardly expected the good Lord to draw you away once't he'd raised you, but it's fine to get a good look at you. Ready to put out another fire, or can I get you some kvas?"

I boggled at the realization that the visions of last night were not melting away. "Where is Lancaster?"

"England? You're English?"

"American. Where's my wallet?"

"I imagine Foma already sold all your stuff. Sorry. I'll get him to bring it back after we get him up."

I drank some of the dusty mug he offered.

"This is Russia, isn't it."

"We're outside Tver'. Are you lost?"

"Worse than lost. I seem to have lost my mind."

"How's your sense of humor?"


"Heh heh."

"O glory. Where'd you find me?"

"Some bees brought me to you next to Rostropovich's mud farm. Looked like a tree fell on you, or some such. God has been very kind to you."

"Where can I get something to eat?"

"I'm making a khleb. After that, it's fast day for St. Vyatoryzlebovich."

"I'll have another drink, thanks."

"I'm Afanasy Nikitin. I keep bees. I don't usually sleep in rooms like this, excepting when I find a half-dead fellow traveler. What do people call you?"

"Das. Das Brick. I'm a writer outside of Boston."

"Never heard of you! Or Byaston. That's in England?"


"That's Polish then?" he said, worried.

"Farther west."

The bear began to slide, sleeping, from the bed to the floor in front of the fire. It seemed to ooze like a bag of molasses.

"Bed's nice and warm where the bear was."

"Enjoy it! We're moving out in about four minutes. They rent the room by the hour and we're out of money. Put this on," he said, flinging a ball of clothes to me. I hastily pulled on some bright red leggings and a canvas potato sack of some kind. It was just the right size for the bear.

There were sounds of women's laughter outside the door, and pounding on the wall.

"Coming!" the giant shouted. He tossed the bread to me, wrapped his giant palms around the ankles of the bear and idiot, and flung one over each shoulder. He opened the door latch was the idiot's head and we left the fire burning as the harridans moved in with their moustachioed guests.

"Morning Masha, Greta, Nunka."

"Morning Fana. See you at the kvas wagon!"

"Good day ladies." We shambled down a decrepit hallway and out into a tavern bustling with life. It was dawn.

"Welcome to Tver', Das!"

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