Sunday, January 27, 2008

Uncomfortably numb

Wjz282 Siw24 is uncomfortable right now. What makes him uncomfortable is that he is in the company of Pmb9cx Ho4q9q. Pmb9cx, interestingly, is a very tolerant man. To elaborate things further, in tune with accepted definitions of his society, he has demonstrated satisfactory levels of tolerance to all of the 419 well-established annoying techniques and the 23 needle tactics that can even be used in haystacks on cloudy days. But what separates him from the rest of his community is that he is very capable of tolerating new and undefined irritations.

They are in each other's company at this moment on account of the not-so-curious incident of the dog in daylight savings time (this incident is sometimes also referred to as the Polygraph Polygraphovich Sharikov case). Pmb9cx built a sophisticated kennel for a stray dog that he picked up in the streets of Moscow. Given his unrecognised capabilities as an inventor and peculiar knowledge of technical Japanese, he was destined to build a machine that no one else would care for. Not even a dog with a double transplant and an unwieldy name like Polygraph Polygraphovich Sharikov. Anyway, Pmb9cx's kennel had only a small opening and operated on the noble principle of automatically letting the dog out at 6 a.m and if necessary, forcibly, bring the dog back in at 4 p.m. This was a mutually agreeable status for all concerned until winter came by and daylight savings time spoilt the canine side of the equation.After expressing its disapproval about the machine to its master by cursing him in unprintable Russian words and barking his lungs out, the dog, finally, had an inspired go at the fleshy calf muscle of his tolerant owner. The dog's immediate inspiration came from gulping down a bottle of vodka at noon.

Pmb9cx let out a wail so sincere and loud, that the neighbours had alerted the police and an ambulance had been called for. Yet, he singularly refused to show any semblance of frustration or anger at the dog, instead only recollecting some convoluted Japanese mnemonic to wonder why the contraption had suddenly failed its intended purpose.

A few weeks after this queer episode, Wjz282 came knocking at the door of Pmb9cx. He was an officer in the department of domestic safety of Western Russia with special authority in all matters concerning mice, dogs, parrots, cockroaches and owls. He took pride in the fact that under his tenure cats had ceased to be a problem worth special attention, and hence the additional responsibility of cockroaches was added to his impressive portfolio. So, it was in this position that he found himself seated in a small room of a perfectly unimpressive house in Ulmner Street, facing a man who was making him quite uncomfortable.

"This Sharikov, the culprit, eh?", he said.

"Depends on what you call the crime, really. No, I take that back. Polygraph Polygraphovich Sharikov is not guilty of any crime, which ever way you look at it".

"But it is against the rule of law for a dog to harm a citizen of this great nation; besides the office of domestic safety does not approve of a name like Polygraph Polygraphovich Sharikov. Dgexza would perhaps be a better name for a stray dog",Wjz282 countered sarcastically.

"The dog wasn't told about it, I am sure."

"But regardless, the dog separated you from some of the flesh on your leg. That being the case, it needs to be taken to the pound, and I need you to cooperate with me."

"It is all part of the training I have been putting him through. I refuse to let him be taken away from me.He is an excellent student."

"Is he really?", Wjz282 enquired, adding a bit restlessly,"well, then, why don't you show me how good he is. I haven't been an officer of the government without taking my level-three certification in proletarian animal etiquette."

"I would be far too insulting if I asked you to judge my Polygraph Polygraphovich Sharikov. Still, I will do as you say, and let you examine him, but not at this time. I have to agree with him on a suitable time."

"What kind of a blighted Russian would request an appointment from his dog? Why, do you also imagine that we have to request mice for their permission for scientific testing? Our aeronautical engineers did not bow in front of the blessed Laika to be the first dog in space, they merely put her in a rocket and off she went".

"I, for one, would. I couldn't care about rodents if I wasn't about to hurt them in the name of science. But canines, yes. Polygraph Polygraphovich Sharikov doesn't like to be disturbed in the afternoons when he is usually immersing himself in Dostoevsky and Bulgakov. And please don't light your cigarette inside the house."

"Blame the devil! Have you entirely lost your bearings? There is nothing sane about this conversation, and that is the truth. I insist you show me the dog, now. I am sure the smell of tobacco doesn't agree with the dog either, does it?"

"On the contrary, he finds it rather agreeable. I would strongly urge you not to smoke it in here, for your own sake, lest you intoxicate him. The last time he was high was when an Englishman came here with a bottle of rum;Polygraph Polygraphovich Sharikov recited from Shakespeare's 'As you like it' and quoted Engels before he chased the man back to his tavern".

"I am quite fond of Engels, as you would imagine. Here's my first puff, call him out, then. Slip out of your hiding, wretched mongrel,", he roared, "a couple of punches at your jaws and you will, perhaps, then recite the Old Testament or the Proverbs, why you will even sing Sindbad's symphony of the seas to my tune".

The stately dog made its appearance. As he stood at the door with an air of nonchalance and calculated indifference, he wasn't much unlike the Rocky from Hollywood. But to the seasoned eye, there were subtle differences.

There is a thing to be said about confidence and overconfidence. There is a moment in all battles when the overconfidence of one party melts upon first contact with genuine confidence in the other. Pmb9cx saw it, then and there. He glanced at the watch casually. Two minutes to three.

Polygraph Polygraphovich Sharikov leaned down on both his forelegs, and stretched for a few seconds. Then fell to his knees and looked at Pmb9cx. Knowingly. He took a deep breath, and the warm nicotine fumes rushed into his nostrils much as a cold sneeze would rush out of them. In a moment, he leapt seven straight feet across the distance that separated the dog and his drug, and snatched it right from between Wjz282's fingers and posed for a minute on the laps of his now quivering adversary. As the clock was about to strike three, he grabbed his enemy's collar and flew toward the kennel, which opened like a flower in bloom and operated a sequence of unbelievably quick, acrobatic pinpoint-precision moves. When quiet returned, Wjz282 was inside the kennel. And very uncomfortably numb.