The Little Translator claws his way back: http://www.proz.com/topic/85405
The Little Translator goes for the Big Lie: http://www.proz.com/topic/86945
The Little Translator meets the Mob: http://www.proz.com/topic/88711
The Little Translator runs into Brookesduddy: http://www.proz.com/topic/90107
The Little Translator runs into Brookesduddy (II): http://www.proz.com/topic/91508
The Little Translator turns Little Detective: http://www.proz.com/topic/91763
The Little Translator in the dying hours of 2007: http://www.proz.com/topic/92996
The Little Translator and the Basque sex kittens: http://www.proz.com/topic/93904
The Little Translator turns Little Detective (I½): http://www.proz.com/topic/94708
The Little Translator and the reluctant Sergeant: http://www.proz.com/topic/96349
I decided to visit the bog on the way out of the cop shop, and was washing my hands when I heard the Sergeant banging at the door.
“Come on Traductorcito, time’s getting on”, he cried.
I finished up and came out.
“What’s the big rush? Five minutes too much to ask?”
“You what?” said he. “And the rest! You’ve been in there a good two months now”.
There was a surreal silence as I wondered about this. Ever heard one of those? Or felt, or tasted, smelt or seen one, even, as it drip drip drips down like Dalí’s melting clock, and then up, backwards and diagonally all at the same time through the fifth dimension of a blind Kalahari bushman’s kanga. In stereo, with a double helping of tapioca and mushrooms.
“I’ve got a fast car waiting outside”, he confided, looking pleased with himself as he did so. You could tell he had been waiting years for the chance to say that one. A rather battered Audi, but an Audi nevertheless. We both got in and he sat at the wheel. He then took a pair of Raybans out of his breast pocket and put them on, leaned across, pulled an identical pair out of the glove compartment along with a packet of Winston, and handed me the sunglasses without a word. I put them on.
Garmendia started up, let off the handbrake, and sat there with his hands on the wheel, but we weren’t moving. I looked at him questioningly.
“Have you ever seen that film The Blues Brothers?” he asked.
“Who hasn’t? Why?”
“Do you remember the bit when they start the big race back to Chicago at the end? One of the brothers says, ‘It’s 106 miles to Chicago, we’ve got a full tank of gasoline, half a pack of cigarettes, it’s dark, and we’re wearing sunglasses’.”
Yes, I remembered. Well, it wasn’t dark, and we were going to Asmatutakoizena, not Chicago. But he was begging me to say it, I could see that.
“Hit it”, I said.
Sergeant Garmendia revved that Audi up to hell and back, let out the clutch, and man we screeched out of the yard, narrowly missing a couple of coppers on the way. We were on our way at last.
Thank God. Now this tale is finally going somewhere. I wonder what you think of the title, by the way. Possibly you think it’s a trifle bland, too tame? Not my original choice, I should say. I was going to call it something with a bit more oomph like The Little Translator Meets the President of the United States just for the hell of it.
Then, of course, I realised, I’d have to come up with the goods. I considered the possibility of telling you how we came across George W hitching a ride to Vitoria, along with Cheesy Condeleeza and that Cheshire Cat grin, and the rather sinister Dick Cheney too (riding shotgun, maybe …), but thought no, better ditch that tale. Or, I thought enthusiastically as my little fingers tippety-tappetyed across my little keyboard, I could tell them about how we walked into some bar in Asmatutakoizena and there they all were, Bush Mark I and Barbara, Bush II and Laura with those naughty naughty twin Bushette Babes, brother Jeb and family, and the whole dang clan, y’all, all sitting in the corner booth next to the corridor leading to the bog, and I could say to Garmendia, “Hang on a minute Sergeant, I’m just going behind these bushes to relieve myself.”
But obviously I couldn’t have told you about that because it would have been a burn-in-hell lie, and as you well know everything up to now has been the God’s honest.
“So how come you can just take time off work like this?” asked the Sergeant as we moved up and out of the Bilbao valley on the open road towards Vitoria.
“I’m freelance”, I told him. “A free spirit. And I’ve engaged an assistant, who is more than capable of taking care of things in my absence.”
Oh yes, I now have an assistant/secretary. Work was becoming too much for little me, so I put an ad in the paper, and among the candidates was Idoia. She arrived for interview at the office one troublesome afternoon. If you’ve heard this one before, by the way, just stop me …
“Good afternoon”, she smiled to me at the door. “My name’s Idoia. The interview for the assistant/secretary?”
“Er yes, Miss, how are you”, I said, a little ruffled. “Er, it might be a little difficult to have the interview this afternoon. I’m usually well organised here, but I’ve got a problem with one of my more edgy neurotic busy-busy customers.”
I meant Ander. Ander Uriarte. Ander Uriarte was the helpful kind who rings up every hour to check on how it’s going, reminding you how important the deadline is, and he had given me a text which, as I ploughed through it, turned out to be nightmarishly technical with format problems to boot, and to cut a long story short I wasn’t going to be able to make the deadline. You know that horrible sinking feeling, don’t you?
“Busy-busy?” she said. “I know the type.”
As the phone rang and I saw Ander’s number on screen, I said to Idoia, “Bloody hell. Now I’m about to be made to feel two inches high, it’s 4 o’clock now, and I’ll never make it for 5 pm.”
“Don’t worry”, said Idoia, putting her handbag down on the table and taking off her gloves. “I’ll talk to him. Anders don’t bother me. Call it a hands-on interview test if you like.”
”You? But you don’t know anything about the job, or know him, either, or …”
“I don’t need to know anything”, said Idoia. “Leave it to me. Oh, by the way, is your grandmother still alive?”
“What? My grandmother? What do you mean? No, she’s dead. Both of them are dead. Years ago, in Wordtown. I hardly knew either of them. But what’s that got to do with –“
“That should make it a little easier for you then”, she said mysteriously as she moved across to the phone.
She put the call on loudspeaker and we heard Ander say, “Hello, is Little Translator there, it’s about an urgent job, very urgent in fact, I just wanted to make sure it’ll be OK for 5, but really 4.30 would be better, or even 4.45. It’s urgent, you see, very urgent …”
Idoia smiled at me, mouthed “Urgent” to me, then stopped smiling before she spoke into the mouthpiece. “Oh hello Ander, good afternoon, this is Idoia. I’m afraid he’s not here at the moment. A really difficult day we’re having, and no mistake. … You didn’t know his grandmother died, did you?”
I tried not to gasp, but my jaw dropped an inch or two, and I waved my hands at her, mouthing “No, no, no ….”
But Ander had already gasped himself – “Oh no, I didn’t know, oh that’s dreadful”, we heard him say.
“Yes”, said Idoia, “yes, she died. In Wordtown. Very sad. He’s in a real tizzy today. And he can’t go to the funeral, you know.”
Ander was aghast. “Oh no, oh no, this is terrible, how awful, oh, really, the job can wait, in fact, it’ll be OK tomorrow, or the next day even, it’s not actually that urgent at all, er, tell him I’m really sorry, won’t you, erm, Miss … erm?”
”Idoia”, she said. “Idoia Belaustegigoitia Irigoyen. I’m just helping out on a skeleton basis today, but (she raised her eyebrows as she looked over at me) I may be around more permanently soon.”
She thanked Ander and came off the phone. “Well, you’ve got another day at least. OK?”
I was horrified. “But Miss, er, Idoia, how could you do such a thing, lying to him like that?”
“Pardon me, but I haven’t lied to anyone”, the girl said firmly.
“Yes you did, you told him my grandmother has died”.
“No, I said your grandmother died. Preterite. And she did die, didn’t she? Years ago. In Wordtown. She died. You said so. She’s dead.”
I thought about this. “OK, OK, I can see that, but then you said I can’t go to the funeral in Wordtown. That’s got to be a lie, surely.”
“But it’s true that you can’t go to the funeral because there isn’t going to be a funeral to go to, is there? I told Ander it was a difficult day, too, which is also true, but it was him that made the connection between the two concepts, not me. Come on, you know how people are about their grandparents here. He’s given you a break. He’s forgotten about your job already. And you said yourself he’s neurotic, he worries about jobs for no reason, he wants your job right now, quickly, on his desk, so he can have more time to worry about everything else he doesn’t actually have to worry about in the first place. So, is the job mine or what?”
“ … and so I took her on. See? That’s how I can take some time off, Sergeant.”
“Yes, said Garmendia, as we drove on. “I can see she’s quite an asset.” His brow furrowed into a wistful expression. “I wouldn’t mind an assistant to deal with my mother-in-law”, he sighed.
I leaned back in my seat. I was feeling generous. “I can see you’re going to have to tell me a little more about your mother-in-law problem. Step into my office, Sergeant Garmendia. Perhaps I can help, who knows?”
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