Vladimir Savich


Mashik

This story happened to a family of Russian immigrants named The Motyls.
***
Vlad Motyl's tomcat got sick.
It's life; everybody can get sick - cats are no exception.
The animal walked around the room, plaintively meowed, and ran often to his litter-box.
Vlad took a look, and was stupefied.
"Tata," he said to his wife. "I think Mashik has the clap."
***
Mashik? What an odd name you say. Well, not ordinary for sure.
But the salespeople in the pet shop asserted that it was a pussycat, female.
The Motyls named the nice and cute little black kitten "Masha", but about month later they found out it was a male.
In order not to traumatize the animal with a new name "Masha" was transformed into "Mashik".
As Masha realized that she wasn't the creature that people had taken her for, she became a black devilish troublemaker, clawing the carpets and rugs, leaping from the attic straight onto the heads of the Motyls' guests, going crazy with fear.
Vlad tried to heal the cat by cutting the amount of his food, but the dull cat only menacingly hissed and pissed into his master's slippers.
But the real horror began when Mashik wished sexual pleasures and started catting around, in simply words he demanded to be given a mate.
He was wailing all the time and even attacked members of the Motyls family.
But when the cat started to masturbate on Vlad's leg, Mr. Motyl shouted: "Me or that horny bastard!"
"Maybe we should call him 'Masha' again?" suggested Mrs. Motyl.
But the dirty cat did not fall for that and continued his lustful hunt for his master's leg.
After long family debates the Motyls sacrificed Vlad's deerskin hat, offering it to the debauched Mashik.
He liked it, and treated the hat as his lovely wife, and even a saber-tooth would not dare take it away.
***
So, Vlad said: "I think Mashik has the clap."
"Are you nuts? How could he catch that disgusting thing? He has only had contact with your deerskin hat!" exclaimed his wife.
"Go and see for yourself!" Vlad told her. "You're almost a doctor."
She looked inside and said: "I think you're right."
"Do you think is it transmittable to humans?" asked Vlad.
"I dunno. We should go to a vet," answered his spouse.
***
They put the cat into a bag and went to a veterinarian.
It was a terrifying sight: a meowing, hissing, wriggling bag. The dogs were barking at Vlad, and every person was dashing aside.
***
The veterinarian doctor, with a beard, like the one that Chehkov had, and with gilded artificial teeth, like Vlad had, was a Pole.
Mister, or rather Pan, so Pan Mroshechek welcomed the Russians as Slavs, without them waiting in the line.
"Well," he said talking with a soft Polish accent. "What does your cat have?"
"The clap, Pan Doctor!" Vlad said in one breath.
"O Matka Boska! It's impossible!"
"I thought so too, but when I looked into the litter-box, I saw it WAS possible. My wife can confirm it, she's a doctor."
"Not a doctor but a nurse," corrected his wife. "But I'm confirming it."
"And what could you see in the box?" asked Pan Mroshechek.
"Blood, Pan Doctor!"
"Oh cholera, sure thing!" exclaimed the vet.
"Cholera?" Vlad got scared.
"No, not cholera. I think it's Nephrolithiasis. How is it in Russian? Rocks-on-kidneys?"
"Kidney Stones," said Mrs. Motyl.
"Yeah, kidney stones," confirmed the vet.
"And what are we going to do?" asked the Motyls.
"I think you should leave your cat here. I shall have to do some tests."
The tests cost two hundred dollars plus tax, and confirmed the veterinarian's hypothesis about "rocks-on-kidneys".
"It's no good," said the vet, pointing at Mashik who was submissively sitting on the table.
"It can be a lethal ending."
"Lethal?" Vlad was horrified. "Nothing can be done?"
The veterinarian tragically lifted his hands and sorrowfully rolled his eyes.
"How can there be no chance?" cut in Mrs. Motyl.
"Well, why not? A chance always exists. I can operate, but do you have enough money for that?"
"And how much do we need?" asked Vlad.
"This I can tell you right now," answered the veterinarian, and started to calculate it.
For a while there was silence, in which sounded heavy sighs of the ill Mashik and clicking of the keyboard.
"Well." The veterinarian had finished his counting. "How much do we have? We have three thousand dollars."
"Pretty expansive." Vlad said, scratching the back of his head.
"Barzo!" doubted the veterinarian. "If you go to Yankees, they will take five thousand dollars!"
"Ouh-ouh," Mashik uttered painful sounds.
"Do it," said Vlad.
"But I need to have a guarantee." The vet quickly rubbed his forefinger against his thumb.
"A Slav's Word is His Bond!" exclaimed Vlad, offended.
"Dobze..." agreed Pan Mroshechek.
***
The cat was to stay in the clinic overnight as the operation was to be the next day and the Motyls had next to no cash, barely enough for a lethal shot.
"Vlad," asked his wife, after they left the clinic. "Where are we going to get this money?"
"I'll take "teeth money"," answered he.
"You're crazy!" wondered his wife. "We spent these years for that "Teeth Race" and now we're gonna waste it for nothing!" she bewailed.
"Maybe we'd strangle or drown him, like Gerasim did in the tale "Mumu"?" Vlad said indignantly.
"Why drown? But perhaps put to sleep."
"How could you say such things! You're a nurse, woman, and a mother as well! He's almost a member of the family. I'm even ashamed to make love with you in front of him, and you can say put him to sleep!"
"But look at your gilded teeth! It's an ancestral stigma of your Soviet past! This is why no respectable company offers you a job!"
"Remember, woman!" Vlad cried out with pathos. "For Vladislav Motyl the life of a living being is more important than all the companies in the world!"
Well, of course it is grieved Vlad, thinking about the money, and he was awfully ashamed of his gilded artificial teeth.
In the past Vlad had wonderful, healthy white incisors and canines, bicuspids and molars.
"Just look at the lad's teeth! What form! What color! I wish I had at least one tooth like that!" dentists always exclaimed. And sure thing, Motyl's teeth were great. He easily cracked hazelnuts with them and opened the vinyl cork of a "alley juice" instead of using a corkscrew.
But later, during his participation in building the Baykal-Amur Mainline Railroad his teeth started to became dark, brittle, and fragile.
"An evil spell," explained Vlad to his coworkers.
"You have to eat more garlic," said the local medical attendant.
But it was impossible to even get an onion.
***
"If we take the "tooth money" it won't be enough," painfully said Vlad's wife.
"Enough, and we'll have five hundred left," Vlad informed her.
"Don't you forget we paid fifteen hundred for the computer course that you have been taking?" his wife reminded him, and Mr. Motyl cursed.
"Right! What are we going to do now?"
"Maybe beg the doctor to take the amount in two payments?" suggested Mrs. Motyl.
"I can't - A Slav's Word is His Bond," answered Vlad.
"Then I have no idea," replied his wife, shrugging her shoulders.
"I know!" said Vlad. "Let's go!"
"Where?" Mrs. Motyl said, surprised.
"To Cherniak - let's try to sell our car."
"Did you lose your mind?" exclaimed his wife. "Just recently you said you won't set foot again at the place of that bastard!"
"Yes, I said so," agreed Vlad. "Now I'll answer for the "bastard" with my own teeth."
***
The enormous parking lot, the size of football field "BlakeG" controlled by a smart man Harry Cherniak, was placed on the edge of the city.
Around the metal-fenced yard the twilight shadows and a huge young dog named Mukhtar were wandering. Seeing the outsiders, the dog burst into loud strong voiced barking.
"Mukhtar come here!" Appearing on the porch Cherniak called the dog.
Cherniak is not a major hero of this story, but I think, I probably ought to say a little about him.
The kind of a character Harry is usually interesting for poets, writers, artist and such authorities as police department or tax inspections.
Because they cannot figure out something important about him, something uncatchable that cannot be captured by law, or crayon, or pen.
Harry Cherniak is really scenic, vivid and uncatchable.
He's stubby, wearing an oil-stained pea jacket, army boots, and a tank helmet. He looks like a tank brigade commander or the manager of a local tractor repair center.
But Harry is the best at talking.
When he wants to sell you something, his voice sounds like a lulling rap of knitting needles. In such minutes Harry not talks, he is tatting, weaving, and netting. He loops and spins. After a few minutes you wouldn't even notice that you have involuntarily got into the smart-made spider-web of words and slang. You can't escape despite all your efforts!
You can not leave Harry without a purchase even if you came only to ask about his mother's health!
But if YOU want to sell something to Cherniak then his speech becomes sharp, dry, hard and pointed, and if you are even born Plevako (a famous Russian lawyer) it's hard to sell your item even for half the starting price. A quarter of the price is what you can count on!
***
"Harry, I came here for a business deal." Mr. Motyl took off his hat.
"Everybody comes here because of that. Specify."
"Buy my car," said Vlad.
"One grand," Harry quickly answered.
"For God sakes, " Mrs. Motyl cut into the male conversation. "One grand, but we paid you seven just six months ago!"
"Six months ago!" exclaimed Cherniak. "Half a year ago, madam, beef in the shops cost four dollars per pound. And now? For ten bucks you can only buy anthrax ground beef."
"Five," asked Vlad.
"Do I look like a total fool? One grand or you can sell at auction. Maybe you'll get more."
"We need the money right now," said Mrs. Motyl.
"Everybody does."
"But it IS an emergency," confirmed Vlad.
"Why such an emergency?" asked the curious Cherniak. Curiosity killed the cat.
"Our tomcat needs surgery. Can you imagine, he has kidney stones!" exclaimed Vlad.
"A cat has stones?" Cherniak was astonished. "Who could say this?"
"Dr. Mroshechek," answered Mr. Motyl.
"Don't be such a pigeon, Vlad!" Cherniak chuckled. "I'm sure he was just fifing. How can a cat possibly have stones?"
"Dr. Mroshechek is an honest man! And he IS a doctor, a professional!" exclaimed Mrs. Motyl.
"Don't make me laugh, madam. Have you ever seen an honest Polack?" asked Harry. "Polish is not a nationality, it's a state of being."
"It sounds racist." Mrs. Motyl shook her head. "Poland gave the world Kopernik, Chopin, and Marie Curie!"
"Hah-hah-hah! Harry Cherniak is a racist? Do you know madam, that half of my distributors are blacks!"
"Let's close the subject," cut in Mr. Motyl. "Will you give us fifteen hundred?"
"For the car? No. But for the anecdote about cat's stones - yes." And clanging with his keys, he opened his safe and took the money out.
***
Russian immigrants operated gossips much faster than any workers of CNN or BBC.
Soon, almost half of the Russian community was talking about Vlad Motyl.
An episode on "Russian" street.
One:
"You know, Motyl makes magnesium with a vet!"
"Really? Why? For bombing?" asks the perplexed interlocutor.
"Not for bombing! For business!"
"What kind of business can you do with a vet?" wonders the second one. "Dung trade?"
"I don't know for sure, but Cherniak said something about feline organs."
"Huh, who needs feline organs?"
"People of course! People need everything!"
***
It's getting dark. The bird voices fade. The wind tosses in the crowns of the old trees. The moon, like a radish dish goes up above the neon-illuminated cross on the top of a basilica. The sky electrician closed the circuit, and the garlands of the stars started sparkling in the dark sky.
***
The veterinarian set a date for discharge, and the Motyls came to the clinic to take their cat.
The vet led them to a small room, where on a striped mat Mashik was dozing.
"Check out the sutures," whispered Vlad to his wife.
"Shame on you!" she answered. "He is a doctor, a professional! Your silly suspicion offends me as a professional medic as well!"
"Who knows? Even a doctor could be a swindler. People say feline organs are very wanted!"
"Something wrong?" asked the vet.
"No, Pan Doctor. Everything's fine. How is he doing?" inquired the ashamed Vlad.
"I think you can take him home today." The veterinarian smiled.
"Great!" exclaimed Vlad, and took the money from his pocket.
The veterinarian counted it, then took a stone from a box.
"For remembering." he said handing to Vlad a small black stone.
In the soft light of the fluorescent lamps the stone shone like a piece of anthracite just taken out of a coal-face.
"It's beautiful," said Vlad, looking all over the stone.
"Often evil looks beautiful." answered the vet.
***
Vlad carried Mashik in a big traveling cage that he borrowed from the kind and nice Dr. Mroshechek.
"Oh, what a cute kitty!" exclaimed people, trying to get into the cage.
"It's a TOM-cat," specified Vlad, smiling with his old, worn out of their shine gilded artificial teeth.
***
At home Vlad opened the cage, and called the cat. Slowly, with plaintive meowing, Mashik climbed out free. He licked his master's hand with gratitude and wobbled to his beloved deerskin hat...
***
The next day the "Teeth Race" had started all over again.




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