A Nostalgic Letter of Boris K. to the Citizens of the Republic Written in Diaspora
The Balkan Viper Snake
What am I doing on this most elegant of wastelands?’ This I wondered the very day I found myself in Denmark. ‘Mere hours ago I was sat at an old oaken table, scribing letters to those in power who owe me favors…
I was recently let off from my job. As if this weren’t enough, the landlady started whining about me ‘neglecting my duties, not paying rent, not keeping the fridge full’. As these things usually go, in a moment of despair and utter feeling of confusion, I happened upon a news ad. ‘Looking for experienced whalers to hunt orcas on the Icelandic coasts.’ No hints, no winding mumbling, a short and sweet ‘Looking for…’’
I decided to reply to this ad. The next day, due to, as I had later realized, a misclick of the mouse, I found myself in Denmark, on a mission not assigned to me. However, not only did I not realize this at first, but I could not even remember how I managed to leave the Phenomenonpublic. I dreaded that the phenomenisations did their thing and that their temper would not get me back to the peace I have long desired for. Hence why I found myself in Denmark, the unplowed overseas sward where I knew not what fate awaited me.
That not so distant day, when it was negative seventy degrees in our warm little Phenomenonpublic, the subjects of the Kingdom of Denmark asked me to go to Aarhus where lived a magical serpent which can only be killed by a man that survived the nineties in the Balkans. Him alone, they say, is resistant to her venom for he himself has tasted venom of similar power. As a stranger, I won sympathies of the Danish National Parliament members and met Philodendrona the Third, the great-granddaughter of the ancient queen Margaret the Second, who lived on Faroe islands and wrote passionate love letters to me, encouraging me.
‘I am in love with you, Boris K. They say you speak mellifluously, that you write letters as if you were painting a poem, and that you do not fear bloody conflict. They also say that you bought Playboy off of Hugh Hefner.’
Upon inquiry of the location of the magical serpent, the noblewoman lay it down on me.
‘One tail-end is in Folketing itself, while the other floats in the Baltic sea. They say that it is so silver-tongued that it comes up with the Christian democrats’ parliamentary speeches and announces the Second coming of Hamlet…’
Philodendrona the noblewoman, who was unusually friendly towards me, placed her servants under my command, in order to make my difficult task somewhat easier to complete. She made the ride to Copenhagen with speedy Danish ferryboats possible.
I lay prostrate on the bed within the luxury cabin, keeping track of the live broadcast of the Parliament meeting via TV, when I heard a knock on the door. IT was the ferry captain who gave me an envelope as soft as black satin with the golden coat of arms of the house of Philodendron. The letter was sealed in red wax where the initials of the infatuated noblewoman lay…
The letter went as follows:
‘‘I’ve used up all of my influence, good Sir, to secure a place for you to live in within the very Tower of Folketing itself and have your peace. Get ready, Boris K. The Snake pays the parliament a visit every night. It crawls up the Royal stairs, at times pausing at the Royal library, studying the terrarium manuals. I’ve instructed the most famous Danish architect to put glass panels on the walls of Your temporary home, for they say that the Snake enjoys looking at its own body on glassy surfaces. Therefore the glass itself will attract her, and You will finally confront her, thus do join me, as a hero crowned by glory, at the Faroe islands, so that we may together live in wealth and happiness.’
Then came the instructions about the movement through the Parliament Palace.
‘At the bottom of the steps are the Reception rooms. They say that the Snake tends to pause there, to gather strength before climbing up the Royal steps.’
‘The post-script stated:
‘’Your mission is of utmost importance for the Danish interests Her Majesty has formal audiences every other Monday. The Snake knows this. Last month she bit her ring finger, and then took over the State Council and issued a few decrees regarding the necessity of undertaking food measures of raising lettuce in Royal Only reception rooms closed off from the public – the amount of light shining through the baroque windows is what the lettuce, in those very rooms mind you, really seems to enjoy.”
They placed me in a special chamber, the one they called the Glass Home during my stay at the Parliament, they packed it full with glass houses, so that I, eagerly awaiting the upcoming battle, could devote myself fully to my hobby.
Once I had settled, the Folketing was emptied out in a matter of hours.
’Beware the snake at midnight, Boris K.’ the Prime Minister said and slammed the massive oak door shut, leaving me all by myself.
The clock struck midnight when I felt the ruffling around the table in the center of the room. It was the snake which was studying parliamentary deals. Its back shone bright in the moonlight. I approached it all but soundlessly, but it spotted my shadow on the wall, spooked itself, turning its heart-like, flat head with her eyes erect. It was adorned by intense black patterns along its thick, pale grey body. The snake curled up, bent its neck and tried to bite me.
I was ready. I let out the battery powered rat from the metal box, which I controlled remotely. Spotting it, the snake snatched the rat, attracted to the lights and sound effects the plush toy was emitting, and it spat out the batteries. Spotting this, I remembered to tie the light cable, hued female python yellow, to the electrical outlet. The sweethissing snake male was tricked and hopped onto the cable. Power surged dance-like throughout its body, but the snake, aside from a few burns, survived the high-frequency shock.
I was crushed by despair when I spotted the freezer in the corner of the Glass Home. I threw it open. Before the he-snake a tempting sight of frozen food spontaneously came to be. For the reptile was it to be or not to be, that was the question?!
‘Go for it, snake! The Århus frozen rat. Ice worm a la carte!’ I proclaimed. The snake refused such a meal, claiming that it would rather have lettuce. Then it spotted a large covered bowl from which, akin to a snake’s tongue, stuck out a tiny green leaf. It darted towards the fridge, and I closed the door behind it.
When it noticed, the Snake wept. This touched me a tad, hence I asked:
‘Why do you cry, snake?’
‘I will tell you, if you let me go’
I decided to let the poor reptile loose, and the reptile, happy that someone wants to listen to it, stopped crying snake tears and started its tale after a deep sigh.
‘I wasn’t always like this. I spent my life in the body of a well renowned Balkan politician who, upon phemonenizing, was forced to flee. Fearing recognition, I thought of disguising myself as a snake. Ever since then I’ve been living in foreign lands as the Balkan Viper snake, where I felt somewhat protected, but still living in fear of the citizens of Århus, who have a bone to pick with me.
‘Every year around this time they get Balkan-based hunters, all in order to destroy me. Scared and alone, I spend my time with octopi, fellow sufferers from the deepest of oceans, where we nostalgically recall intriguing lettuce and gorgonzola recipes which I’ve tasted in my fatherland.’
Shaken by this story, I hugged the snake which wept on my shoulder. Instinctively I felt that the snake is in essence a misunderstood, kind being, and the snake said to me:
‘I recognized your noble and pitying character, therefore I will help you.’
The snake offered to take me on its back over the Norwegian sea, to Narvik, where I will be taken back to Phenomenonpublic by the North Atlantic current.
‘That road is the safest and the fastest.’
And to this the snake added:
‘Beware the people of Århus.’
As a token of gratitude, I gave it an enormous bowl filled with lettuce leaves, seasoned with hot, Århus spread, one which I located in the fridge. But the Danish spread, due to phenomenizing, was full of intestinal parasites, which made the snake lose weight drastically, twist its tongue and drop dead.
I buried the critter with the highest of honors, covering with gestures of formality its slender body with juicy lettuce leaves.
I sat at the table. It was packed with political scribbles, pamphlets, contracts, edicts, directives and decrees, secret letters of the highest parliamentary officials and the European commission. None of this mattered. At long last I had found what I had been looking for: an envelope, paper, ink and pen.
I started the letter addressing in an exalted manner Her grace of Philodendron.
‘I came to Folketing as per Your council, and I saw one end of the snake tail. Amid the fiercest of battles, I cast myself upon its tail, but it wiggled out and escaped into the Baltic sea. I grabbed the tongs from Folketing’s terrarium made of stainless steel, boarded a ferry and started snake-hunting.’
My hand was tired, but my Graph von Faber Castel pen made of twenty-four karat gold slid effortlessly down the surface of the paper. I decided to adorn the tale with as many Munchausenian descriptions as possible, hoping for, if not the title of a baron or a spokesman in the parliament, at least a solution to my housing problem, a modest stone house, somewhere in Eastern Greenland.
‘My dearest Philodendrona.
The quest for the snake was almost as long and arduous as its killing.’
Not wanting to keep the noblewoman in suspense, wait and worry, I mentioned that the ferry fell to pieces under the rush of the undercurrents.
‘I floated like a shipwrecked sailor on a piece of wood, dry-mouthed, when a supernatural strength penetrated my body. I was overjoyed when a few weeks later, having swum breaststroke over the salty Baltic sea, I located the mealymouthed snake which, upon spotting me, fled across the three seas and two oceans, leaving enormous cuts on the sea’s surface.’
‘Halt, do not fear!’ I shouted to the snake which kept fleeing maniacally, fearing the venom I had inside me. I had long been trying to think of a way to outsmart it. I feared the venom in me going evaporating under all the phenomenizing. As thoughts were rolling onward, I quickly came to a conclusion: the mealymouthed snake can be beaten by – a coalition.’
When I wrote this, I looked at the Contract lying on the table specked in the blue stamps of Folketing. This gave me strength to push onward.
‘I offered the North sea snake a Coalition Contract with the magical seal of the Pacific and a while whale, a great-great-grandson of Moby Dick.’
‘Only when part of the coalition with the sea hound which felt like a land-based housecat did Moby manage to swim to Madagascar. Only in such coalition, oh snake, would you be part of a team capable of relativizing the Loch Ness Monster’s popularity to whom I’ve already been a PR manager.’ I told the snake conspiratorially and handed it the pen to sign the Contract.
The snake, as is true of any other individual political entity, was drunk on the thought of impending glory. It accepted me as its manager.’
Enchanted by my own flights of fancy, for a moment I stopped, gazing at a distance. I shook myself back into reality, pleased. I clenched the pen harder, dipped the tip in ink and continued.
‘I gave the snake the pen – it wanted to grab it with its mouth, but the minute it tried biting into it, the phenomenizations rejected it. The snake bent and twisted its tail around its head, for it spotted the pen below the tail. It tried reaching for it with the fangs, when the pen flew away again. The snake wrapped itself in an untangling hank and suffocated. I saw its winding body away, which, motioning on the surface, slowly sunk until it was completely out of my sight.
I killed the snake after a long and hard-fought battle.’ I ended the letter to the noblewoman Philodendrona.
I folded the letter, took the envelope closer to my lips, sealed it and beaten by all the events and assailed by immense scenes of which some I made up, and some lived through in the Parliament of Denmark itself, I fell asleep.
The royal subjects were enthusiastically congratulating me and organized a reception in my honor which was attended by Her Royal Majesty herself. I’d been decorated with the Medallion of the Snake with golden and silver rays. I became an Honorary member of the Royal library of Denmark and had lunch in a prestigious restaurant Norma.
I was manufacturing various Balkan venoms per order, as well as antidotes for the Liberals who in particular feared snakes. On the streets of Århus by daylight, and on Faroe Islands by night, I paraded around, crowned in glory, my head held up high, decorated by various medals. I was headline news in the press. I was looking forward to returning to Phenomenonpublic and had declared this during a press conference – when I was met by the silence of the citizens of Århus. They all hung their heads, for their consciences were unclean. In what way could they even tell me, they were whispering among themselves, until one of them proclaim:
‘Now that you’ve killed the snake and freed us from this misery, you deserve the truth.’
Then, not lacking the fear of my venomous might, they explained to me that he who kills the snake can return home only under the condition that, should he abandon this accursed place, he crawled back to his fatherland, where they will sue him for grand treason the minute he finally crawls into it.