Tuesday, December 27, 2011

THE LITTLE MATCH BOY ~~~~ a re-telling of H.C. Andersen's poignant tale partIV

The little boy just waited there while the grown-ups were talking. Frau Hochmann wanted a new waistcoat for her husband. The old one was too tight. And Mr. Pavelchek, the tailor, looked through his records, searching for  Herr Hochmann's measurements. When he found the card, he showed it to Frau Hochmann and said - Is this correct? How much bigger, please?........ She scrunched up her little owl eyes and thought. Then she said - Humph, better give him four more inches. One for the strudel. One for the schnitzel. And two for the kirschen mit schlag...... That was her big joke. She loved bragging about all the fine, rich food they had. Yet she did not have to say a word. You could tell just by looking at her heroic buttocks. The fabric of her long, full skirt could not hide that.

Twelve minutes later they were finished. The Battleship Frau Hochmann sailed through the door. Mr. Pavelchek watched her go. When he was sure it was safe, he said - Fet beetch. But the little boy's arms were getting tired. He held up the parcel as if on a tray. Now Mr. Pavelchek had to know he was standing there. He must have. Still, he went back to his stitching (on a fine, black, shiny Singer sewing machine), tucked into a corner behind the canvas remnant bins. Clickety, clickety, clickety, clickety, click went the needle. He bent close to check his work. Clickety, clickety, clickety, clickety, click it went again. Now Mrs. Pavelchek was not in the tailor shop today. Her roley-poley red cheeked Jan, had a toothache, so she had to drag him to the dentist and it was difficult dragging a boy weighing fiftyfour kilos, particularly one who was not ashamed to plop himself down on the cobbles and kick. So Mr. Pavelchek had no coffee. And Mr. Pavelchek had no cake What did he care for a scared, little boy when his stomach was rumbling? Yet curiosity reached out to stroke him under the chin and he said - What is it, boy!? Why are you here!? Speak up!..............The frightened little orphan, tucked his chin down on his chest, took a step forward and said - I have a coat, sir. It is brand new. My mama never wore it.............And you want me to purchase it from you. I know. I know. I know. People come in here with offers like that all the time. Don't they know I MAKE coats!? Go back and tell your mother, no, I don't need it...........But the boy just stood there. He did not know what  to do. He did not know what to say. This was not supposed to happen............Well? Go tell her - said the tailor....... I can't - said the little boy. I can't.....She is dead..........And he almost cried........... A merciful angel must have flown by at that moment and brushed Mr. Pavelchek with her wings, for he pushed himself away from the sewing machine,  slumped his shoulders and said - Come, let's lay it out on the big cutting table and see what we have. The little boy offered up the tissue paper bag and waited, as the craftsman carefully slid the fine garment out onto the smooth, wood expanse to examine it. He softly felt the quality fabric, a French, wool challis and eyed the careful stitches. The cut was first rate too. Coats like this graced shop windows over the Charles Bridge, where gentry lived. A baron's wife could hope  for none better. And the silver buttons were superb. The tailor knew he could steam it, dress it up with a bit of silken braid and sell it for perhaps ten crowns, maybe twelve. So he gave the urchin three crowns and ten pfennig, plus a thick, warm scarf, practically a shawl and felt quite pleased with himself, as he pushed the boy out the door..

And the temporarily happy orphan ran all the way back to his narrow, little home, clutching the money inside his mitten, next to his skin, only stopping once, for no more than a minute to buy two fat sausages, one for himself and one for Max....... Oh, yes. I forgot...and a little picture book too.

This day, compared to all the others, was a good day...


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