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
The Little Translator goes for a ride in a car: http://www.proz.com/forum/lighter_side_of_trans_interp/101798-the_little_translator_goes_for_a_ride_in_a_car.html
The Little Translator addresses the Queen of England: http://www.proz.com/forum/lighter_side_of_trans_interp/107185-the_little_translator_addresses_the_queen_of_england.html
The Little Translator relates the Barcelona Connection:
The Little Translator makes a right royal faux pas:
The Little Translator throws his hat in the ring with Obama and McCain:
The Little Translator solves the world economic crisis:
The Little Translator slides into the crease at the end of 2008:
Sergeant Garmendia came back to the bar. He’d gone outside to phone his wife, tell her he was on a special mission, and wouldn’t be back for a day or two.
“How did it go?” I inquired.
“Oh, not bad. I could hear the old dragon spitting fire in the background, saying the patatas a la riojana were all gone, I should have called earlier, it was just too bloody inconsiderate of me etc. etc. etc., but Aitziber, that’s my wife, understands. She just told me to be careful, that’s all. And the dragon doesn’t give a hoot. It’s just talk – she really prefers me not to be there, because that means she gets 100% attention from Aitziber. But she’s the nasty type. I wouldn’t put it past her to suggest to Aitziber that I might be up to some hanky-panky, playing away from home with some other woman, just to cause trouble.”
He saw my disbelieving expression.
“No, really. That’s the kind of meddling, interfering, busybodying old misery-guts she is. Now, we have to get a place to spend the night before we get off to Asmatutakoizena in the morning, don’t you think?”
“Bugger and blast your mother-in-law Garmendia, it’s your wife that’s important,” I said. “Does she trust you? Er, can she trust you?"
“Oh yes,” he said hastily, “there’s no problem there. I’m definitely a one-woman man, and so is she. A one-man woman, I mean. I even asked her one day if she would pass me over for Brad Pitt, and she said no. Not attractive at all, according to Aitziber.”
I burst out laughing. I couldn’t help it.
“Believe me, Sergeant, from what you say I feel 100% sure everything's OK in your little ménage in Bilbao, but we have to admit that all women fall for the likes of Brad Pitt. Some say they don’t find him attractive, simply because it makes for a quiet life. In reality, though, they’re thinking about him practically all the time. Imagining his hot, hungry, horny hands sliding up frissoning thighs, impudently ripping off the skimpy flimsy negligee in shards, feeling his breathtaking manliness to the rear, pulsating and throbbing insanely on top of the glowing aching cleft between expectant buttocks, watching it all helplessly in a handy mirror at the head of the bed, perhaps, hypnotised by the stud’s powerful chest muscles and rock-hard rippling six-pack glistening wickedly with a sheen of sweat, oozing out sex from each and every torrid pore, watching him throw back his head and laugh a long, hollow, throaty, devilish laugh, the knuckles whitening and the iron grip tightening on gluteus maximus, gluteus minimus and gluteus inbetweenus, a prize stallion servicing a bucking, rucking, cavorting, contorting, gyrating, palpitating, quivering, shivering, neighing, braying filly from another stable, his ...”
“Steady on, steady on,” said Garmendia, adjusting his position a little on the bar stool. “Wish I hadn’t told you now."
“If it makes you feel any better,” I said, “an old girlfriend of mine said to me once I reminded her of David Beckham. Dead chuffed, I was. “Because I’m sporty, handsome, and a huge social and financial success, I take it?” I suggested. “Well, no,” she said sweetly, “more like because he dribbles before he shoots.”
That brought a smile back to Garmendia's face.
“Look, look, why don’t we have the last drink, the very last Patxaran this evening, and you can tell me some more about Edurne and Barcelona.”
“If you insist,” I agreed obediently …
“Edurne’s boss was a bossette, in fact. Carmen, a tall drop-dead gorgeous sculpture of a woman with wicked curls of red hair falling over her shapely shoulders and …”
“Don’t start,” interrupted the Sergeant. “I was just getting comfortable on my stool again. We’ll be needing a cold shower next.”
He signalled for another two of the same to the bartender. Looking down the bar, I could see both employees and clientele were beginning to wonder what the wrong-aged and wrong-dressed pair in dark glasses were up to ...
“Well," I continued, "that was your reaction, and you hadn't even seen her. But the stunning Carmen was only interested in women, and so the general seediness and booziness of Café Strasbourg meant that she was forever fighting off would-be Romeos. Testosterone being what it is. Plus Juliets various.
Carmen's parents, Aurelio and Mercedes, also worked there, as did her one-time nanny Puri, but more than working they merely helped out to give them something to do, for they were all getting on now, and also they shared certain impediments.
Aurelio had undergone a throat operation years before, so he couldn't speak without rapidly tapping his vocal cords to produce a succession of raspy croaks, which were barely comprehensible at the best of times anyway. He was highly self-conscious about all this, naturally, and also wore a little neckerchief to cover the unsightly scars. His humour was not always the best, either: it’s tough being the father of a well-built feisty girl in any dodgy neighbourhood, but Aurelio’s daughter kicking with the other foot hadn’t helped. A social inadequate, he would stand behind the bar on occasion with a metal drinks tray in both hands, feverishly opening and closing his non-functional mouth like a fish out of water, and bang it on the marble bar for no obvious reason, unless it was to quell an internal angst he could pour out to no-one at all.
Mercedes had no problem with Carmen’s sexuality, but her disability was that she couldn’t see the till very well unless she bent right over it to key in the numbers, couldn’t see labels on bottles, and was always being ripped off in payment by wise guys who knew she couldn't distinguish the coins they offered her at busy times (Edurne was constantly finding foreign coins and buttons in the till). She was also stone deaf.
Puri wasn’t the brightest spark. Couldn’t read, couldn’t write, couldn’t count. There was a lot of it about in that area. Many of the older folks who visited the Strasbourg couldn't read the notices and posters on the walls, and were always asking people to read them out aloud. All Puri knew was her immediate neighbourhood, and so she was delegated to collecting and washing glasses. Although not actually a dwarf, she was incredibly small and customers frequently cannoned into her waist-high, and occasionally even tripped right over her. Her main drawback in terms of the job they gave her to do was that she couldn't reach up to the shelves behind the bar to stack the glasses. Not that they were particularly high, the shelves, but anything over a metre seventy was high for Puri, to give you some idea. Thus vertically challenged, and intellectually challenged in that she tended to solve problems by getting other people to solve them, she would call to the visually and audially challenged Mercedes to help her, to no avail, since Mercedes could hear nothing, and see only blurs, whereas the vocally and psychologically challenged Aurelio, although he could both see and hear, had difficulty communicating between croaks and his meaningless tray-slamming. This meant, of course, that the bar as a business concern was entrepreneurially challenged, and the problem was most apparent to Edurne and Carmen on busy nights when they all had to work at once, particularly Fridays, when a transvestite cabaret was performed on the little stage at the back by two local artistes, friends of Carmen's. There was no entry charge, and so the place was always packed with the worst kind of people, and occasionally some completely normal human beings too.
“It was at these times, Sergeant, that Edurne longed for her ship to come in,” I explained. “Oh,”, she would think, “Oh, to rub shoulders with the aristocracy and the rich, to be waited on hand and foot with lackeys bringing you drinks on solid silver trays and peeling you grapes.”
Garmendia nodded thoughtfully.
“I feel the same way every time I’m with the dragon. She’s rich, and all that could be happening to me, but it never will, she'll see to that. Yes, it'd be nice, wouldn't it? The great and the good. Like one of those novels by P.G. Wodehouse, you mean, right?”
“Christ’s sandals, now you’ve done it,” I said as my eyes started to glaze over with the wavies, “yes, like P.G. Wodehouse. Like Pelham Grenville, indeed …”
Now, I was dashed if I could find that cane. The day had started just like any other, though. I tottered in to the morning room for breakfast at a quarter past eleven, quaffed some excellent Darjeeling and wolfed down a couple of wonderful kippers my man Jeeves had thoughtfully kept nice and warm in a covered receptacle, but as I was adjusting my monocle to have a look at Aunt Agatha's shares in the Daily Telegraph, ironed like the very dickens into a crease sharper than Balfour’s trousers, dammee if that bally cane hadn’t disappeared off the face of the earth.
I called in my man, the aforementioned Jeeves, for to tell you the truth I had an unconfirmed suspicion with regard to the cane. Jeeves appeared within seconds. It’s uncanny, you know. He's not the kind of chap who gets down on his knees to peep through the keyhole at the Wooster residence so as to be constantly on hand for the master, but he seems to have a kind of sixth sense that keeps him hovering close by permanently. It must be the way they train them at the Academy for Gentlemen's Gentlemen he attended down in the wilds of Surrey. A place called Coydon, or Coyldon, or perhaps it was Croydon. Who knows. Who cares, come to that. He shimmered closer, tray in hand, tall and imposing, not quite fully erect as the lower orders can never be, for they have to incline slightly at the shoulders, don’t you know, to indicate a certain amount of deference to their masters and the powers-that-be, but imposing nevertheless. He seems to move as if propelled by a small motor on the soles of those highly-polished shoes, too. Sometimes I cock my ears and listen as he approaches, to see if I can detect any pneumatic thingummajigs or hydraulic what d’ye callums at work, but no, the whole thing seems to be fully corporal. But I digress horridly here, so back to the point.
“That cane of mine seems to have disappeared, Jeeves,” I asked. “Have you seen it anywhere?"
Now, Jeeves doesn’t actually raise his eyebrows, not as such, not anything that could actually be pinned down to a description of raising, no. He rarely shows expression. The blighter kind of wiggles them as only he can, and it was this eye-brow wiggling he availed himself of as he replied on this occasion:
“Your stick, sir? I took the liberty of putting it away, sir. In a wardrobe in the west wing. I’m afraid I did not realise you would be needing it.”
Stick. That word again. My bally suspicions were confirmed. Now, Jeeves has taste and Jeeves has class and Jeeves is the manservant par excellence, as Oofy Prosser is fond of saying down at the Drones Club – old Prosser has tried to pinch him off me more than once behind my back, and I am flattered and most relieved to say Jeeves has always refused, loyal old dog that he is – but when he gets a bee in his bonnet about certain things, he simply refuses to let it lie. It could be my choice of a waistcoat, it could be a natty hat I’ve picked up for a song, and for the last few weeks it had been this cane of mine. A gentleman’s gentleman cannot, of course, say these things outright, but Jeeves has his own little ways of making his displeasure apparent, and he had said that word “stick” a little too often lately for me not to notice. Jeeves did not appreciate my cane and had spirited it away to a place of safe custody, doubtless hoping I would forget about it.
Now, call me a silly and impressionable young upstart, but I had been thrilled with the new cane. So much so, I own I had gone straight home to show it off to Jeeves, and frankly I could sense the man's distaste from the word go.
“Look at that shiny silver top with "BW“ engraved into it, Jeeves. BW. Bertie Wooster. Isn't that something?”
My manservant was a little cool.
“A most interesting … item, sir, I admit. Might I make so bold as to ask where the young master acquired his, ahem … stick?”
“Cane, Jeeves, it’s a cane," I rapped. “And that’s the best thing about it. I didn’t buy it. It’s a present from little Daphne, bless the girl. Absolutely spiffing, don’t you know.”
I was beaming at the cane as I said this, so I couldn’t actually see how he took it, but I did feel a certain stiffening in the atmosphere. A chilliness, one might say. And I knew he knew where I’d got it, too, before I told him. The question had been a blind. As a rule Jeeves never approves of my lady friends, but it was obvious he had observed imminent danger in this one. Do you know, at the very outset the blighter had even gone so far as to say he had an acquaintance who used to work for Pinkerton’s, if I wanted to “ascertain the background of the young lady in question”, as he put it.
As you can imagine, we Woosters don’t hold with that sort of caddish talk concerning the object of our affections, and I told him so in no uncertain terms. He retired hurt, and he had good reason, too. I was so taken with this little darling. We had only known each other a few months since a cocktail party at the Bassington-Ffrench's pad in Shropshire, and, while I hadn't actually folded her in my arms and popped the question yet, decorum prevailing, I knew it was only a matter of time. Bertie Wooster was in love, right in it, wallowing in it, wading in it up to the neck, drowning in it and then some, as I believe they say in certain parts of Brooklyn. And Jeeves knew that, too.
Still, one has to be firm with the great unwashed, I thought. Got to thump them back into line before they start getting ideas above their station.
“It’s a cane, Jeeves,” I repeated sternly. “The word is cane. Not stick. It’s a cane. C-A-N-E, cane. Now go and get said cane, will you, there's a good fellow. I'm due at the Drones in an hour."
He shimmied off dutifully, but left the rebellious atmosphere behind, hanging around like an unpleasant shroud.
A few days later I was happily toying with a whisky and soda in the library when the telephone rang. Had to answer it myself, a dashed nuisance, for that morning Jeeves had suddenly asked me to change his afternoon off for an important sally of his. Very polite about it he was, as was his wont, but I suspected he was still feeling sore about the Cane & Girl histoire, and this was his way of passively showing his discontent.
“Wooster Residence,” I said grandly into the instrument.
I could hardly hear the voice at the other end. Blow me if it wasn’t like the chap was whispering hoarsely into a handkerchief:
“Wooster? That girl of yours, guv’. The one that’s been over a few motor car bonnets. Round a few corners, so to speak.”
“What?” I spluttered. “Who the devil is this? Do you mean Daphne, sir? How dare you, you absolute bounder? What do you mean by it? Of all the dashed …”
“Save it, moosh. Stow it. She’s in trouble, and that’s all you need to know. Better get yourself down to the Fox and Hounds in Belgravia at the double if you want to sort things out.”
“Hello, hello? Who is this?” I demanded to know again. But that was all.
It was all I needed to know, too. My damsel was in distress and I had to save her.
I pulled on my hat and coat. Couldn’t find the cane, though. “That cad Jeeves again,", I thought, but it was hardly important, and so I rushed out to find a cab.
“Step on the gas,” I told the driver as we weaved through the London traffic, working myself deeper into my Sam Spade role by the minute. “There’s a guinea for you if you can get me there in ten minutes."
Well, the chap drove like a genuine hero, and it wasn’t long before I was striding purposefully into the Fox and Hounds. There weren’t many people in there, but I could just see dear little Daphne’s bobtail at the edge of one of the booths at the back. I was jolly well about to dive into whatever fray there might be, when through the glass screen in the next cubicle to my horror I saw her lean over and drape her arms over some man sitting next to her. I caught my breath as I tiptoed over and sat around the screen where I could hear them. It still makes the Wooster blood boil to think of it again, but this is what I heard:
“Oh, you are a one, you are, Tom Perkins," I heard as she backed out of a lingering bouche-à-bouche. “Stop fretting so. There’s nothing to worry about. The Wooster’s about to fall for it. I have the idiot eating out of my hand, especially since I gave him that rotten old stick you stole from that old fool Bartholomew Woolworth at the garden fête in Peckham. The initials worked a treat.”
“Bartholomew Woolworth,” I breathed, aghast. “BW. The scheming little …”
Her companion seemed a mite grumpy. He wasn’t convinced.
“How long’s it going to be before we can get our hands on some of that money?” he griped.
“Tom, Tom my love, I'm sure he's going to pop the question any day now. Then, just as soon as I have that ring on my finger, I'll walk him up the aisle before you can say diamonds are a girl’s best friend. Then we can do what we like, and if he wants to divorce me it'll cost him, I can tell you. I’ll get at least half his sponduliks, and we can clear out to New York or wherever we want. It’s in the bag, really it is.”
I crept out of the bar, crept into a cab, and crept back home. I was creeping around the lounge when Jeeves came in.
“Hullo Jeeves,” I said miserably. “Had a good afternoon off? Hopefully it was better than mine.”
“Very good, sir, thank you, sir. I had a very agreeable afternoon indeed with an … an acquaintance of mine, sir. I believe I mentioned him to you the other day, sir."
There was something about the way the cove said it that made me look up.
“Is there anything I can get you, sir?"
“No Jeeves." I thought for a minute. “Oh, but there is something you can do for me. Go and find that stick of mine and burn it. Burn it to a cinder and throw the ashes to the four winds afterwards, will you? I never want to see the blasted thing again."
“Your cane, sir?" I couldn't tell whether the blighter's face showed triumph or surprise.
“No, Jeeves. Not the cane. The stick. S-T-I-C-K, stick. Burn that stick.”
It was triumph, I could tell this time.
“Very good, sir. Thank you, sir. Thank you.”
And, as he moved away to the door, I saw a crumpled handkerchief drop to the floor from his pocket.
“While you’re at it, you might step out and send a little wire to Miss Daphne telling her I’ve gone away. To France. Africa. Australia. Somewhere far away. The farther the better. For at least the next ten years, something like that.”
Could the beggar be smiling? It was so hard to tell.
“I hope you will excuse me, sir, but I have already taken the liberty of doing so. I mentioned some urgent business over several years in Tuscany, sir. Thank you, sir.”
And, before the little motor propelled him doorwards, I spoke again:
“And, Jeeves …”
"Thank you, Jeeves. Well done, thou good and faithful servant and all that.”
He had the good grace to pretend not to have a bally clue what I was talking about, and allowed an air of vague perplexity to cross his features.
“My pleasure, I’m sure, sir.”
“Bloody hell, what a marathon."
“Yes,” I agreed. “Although nobody’ll read it. They’re all deep in crisis out there.”
The Sergeant didn’t agree, though.
“If you want to pump up your LT hits on site, I reckon you have to take advantage of the ever-present whining and complaining that would appear to be the trademarks. Just make the title something like “My customer wouldn’t pay me – what a swizz”, or “I was offered a Godawful rate”, and they'll be crowding in quicker than a pack of Taliban patriarchs for a public stoning down Main Street. It’s in a translator’s blood, seems to me. They can’t help it, especially after the Madoff thing. And, while you’re at it, give them a cliffhanger at the end so they come back next time, some suspense, like you said in the last episode.”
“Do you know, I think you’re right there, Garmendia,” I enthused. “But what kind of cliffhanger could I create?”
Garmendia thought for a moment, then suddenly looked up like a dog sensing a juicy bone is in the offing. His gaze roved over the laughing groups all around the bar as he took off his sunglasses. Very slowly.
“Talking of being stoned in a public place,” he mused, “I might just be able to help you out there.”
His gaze caught mine and led it down to his hand, where a rather large police badge had suddenly appeared.
There was a mischievous smile playing around Garmendia’s lips.
“Ever been in on a Drugs Raid?” he inquired casually.
And he said it in caps, too.
“No,” I sighed, “but what the hell, sure there’s a first time for everything.”
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