Story for the Day: The Biggest Slice
While Bartleby is still going on about the horrors of Daylight Savings Time, we are enjoying our slice of bankucha, the national cake of Lucentia. Happy holidays to all.
|Our holiday bankucha, decorated with yuwa||.|
“Captain,” said Manochei presently, “is it safe to let the old man go on? Won’t he hurt himself from shouting so much? I can see the veins protruding from his forehead from here.”
“He shall quiet presently, nindano, I assure you,” said the captain, taking a slice of cake from Rannig as he passed by. “He goes on sometimes for hours in this way, never being thoroughly stopped by anything. Once he has had it all out, however, he is a pacified little sagalong again.”
Bartleby was still shouting. “—And if they think they can change the internal clock by moving the one without—madness to play around with a biological oscillator! Absolute madness! A man cannot simply recover from an hour lost—they subtract not from the day, but from themselves! Don’t they realize they are inviting depression and disease by toying with their internal timepiece? No, because they don’t understand how regular time works!—Oh…“ said Bartleby, looking up at the plate being handed him. “Is this my slice?”
“Biggest one,” Rannig chimed, “just for ye, Bartleby.”
“Oh, thank you.”
His invective was forgotten at present, lost under all the confectionary prowess of bankucha, and the exultation that cake provides was upon him, he could very well put by his reproaches on Sesterna for a while. He looked down at the cake, marked its tree-ring like appearance and its substantial size, and was prepared to regale himself with mellifluous fervor, when turning the plate a little and titling it on its side, he observed that the cake was only large from having been flattened: from the top, it seemed perfectly well, but from the side the top layer had completely borne down all the others. The cake had been compressed, so much so that when Bartleby turned the plate over, the cake remained stuck to it, and Bartleby’s lower lip began to quiver.
“That is the end…” the old man seethed, his eyes smouldering in violent fury, “…the VERY END! I have done with Sesterna and clocks and shiftabout crewmen and all the rest of it! Bricks!” he cried, his frame tremulous. “Bricks at everybody and everything, especially clocks!”
“Here you see the Bartleby in its natural state, nindano,” said the captain. “You saw him before when he was flumping over your tatti-pratti, but here you see him in his habitat, drawn out of his cave, to have a ramble at the incongruities of man. He is always sulkily behaved when off ship, to be sure, but at home, he is always a bit more miserable.”
“I thought you were doing to say happier,” said Calepei, watching the old man rasp in roaring indignation.
“Bartleby is never happy, nindano, for he never can be, you know. Life in general offends him. Happiness is something that happens to other people, because life happens to Bartleby. It happens to him frequently and unwarrentedly, and everytime he is forced to suffer it, he is always disappointed. A side effect of being lured away from his bench and his books. Here,” said Danaco, moving toward Bartleby and plucking the plate from his hand, “you shall have my slice instead, and let that be an end to your grievances.” He placed his own plate with the inflated slice of cake into Bartleby’s hands, and with what alacrity did the old man’s countenance change. “Now, you shall have nothing to say. Come, now, my old friend, and let us have smiles.”
“Hang your smiles…” said Bartleby weakly, taking the slice of bankucha into his hand.
“It is not damaged, Bartleby. I think you may eat it comfortably. This slice, however,” turning over the plate with the flattened cake, “has had an adventure with a giant, I perceive.”
“Sorry, boss,” said Rannig, in a remorseful tone. “It kept its shape till Moppit knocked my hand up.”
“Eet wassa mistayke, sah!” came a cry from above.
“I’m sure it was,” said Danaco, glancing at the crow’s nest, “for if you did it on purpose, Moppit, I should take that as an act of war on Lucentia.”
There was a pause. “Yew…yew should, sah?”
“As a Lucentian, I must. It is out national cake. Dessert is a Lucentian’s heritage. All our pride is in our pancakes and sweetbreads, and here you have disgraced the very king of their order.”
“Awm…awm sorry, cayke!”
“I’m sure it forgives you. It need only be scraped to be made eatable. Where is Peppone? He could scrape this from the plate from ten miles off without scratching the varnish. Come, my old friend,” said the captain, laughing at Bartleby’s sullen aspect. “You have aet your cake, and how much you liked it!”
An admission of its being very good was offered, though the slice had been too small, but it was followed by a sorrowful, “…and now I am disappointed, because it is over.”
“How you do crank, Bartleby, worse than a broken music box. You ought to have grown accumstomed to disappointment by now. It is nearly a relative of yours, one that visits you twice a day at least.”