If someone was playing a concertina – which wasn’t much better than ‘Celeste Aida’ – and it smelt of hotdogs, the first letters on the white signs quite conveniently formed the word “Foul…” which meant: “Foul language not permitted and no tipping.” Here brawls cycloned sporadically, people were punched in the face – albeit rarely – while dogs were beaten continually with napkins or boots.
If the windows displayed leathery hanging hams and piles of mandarin oranges, it was a delicatessen. If there were dark bottles with a bad liquid, it was a woof, wow.„w… ine store. The former Yeliseyev Brothers’ store.
The unknown gentleman, who had lured the dog to the door of his luxurious apartment on the second floor, rang and the dog looked up at the big card, black with gold letters, hanging to the side of the wide door with panes of wavy, rosy glass. He combined the first three letters right away: puh-ar-o – “Pro”. But then came a tubby, double-sided bitch of a letter that didn’t stand for anything he knew.
“Could it be proletariat?” wondered Sharik doubtfully. “That can’t be.” He raised his nose and sniffed the fur coat once again, and thought confidently: “No, there’s no smell of the proletariat here. It’s a scholarly word, and God only knows what it means.”
Behind the rosy glass an unexpected and joyful light came on, casting the black card deeper into shadow. The door opened without a sound and a pretty young woman in a white apron and lace cap appeared before dog and man. The former was enveloped in divine warmth, and the woman’s skirt gave off the scent of lily of the valley.
“Now you’re talking, this is it,” thought the dog.
“Please enter, Mr Sharik,” the man invited sarcastically, and Sharik entered reverently, tail wagging.
A great number of objects cluttered the rich entrance. The floor-length mirror that instantly reflected the second bedraggled and scruffy Sharik, the scary antlers up high, the endless fur coats and rubber boots and the opal tulip with electricity on the ceiling – all stuck in his head immediately.
“Where did you pick up this one, Filipp Filippovich?” asked the woman with a smile and helped him remove his heavy coat, lined with dark-brown fox with a bluish tinge. “Lord! What a mangy thing!”
“Nonsense. Where is he mangy?” the gentleman asked severely and gruffly.
Upon removing his fur coat, he appeared in a black suit of English cloth, and a gold chain twinkled happily and subtly across his belly.
“Just wait, stop wriggling, phweet. stop twisting, silly. Hmmm. That’s not mange. will you stand still, damn you!. Hmmm. Ah! It’s a burn. What bastard scalded you? Eh? Stand still, will you!”
“The cook, the criminal. The cook!” The dog spoke with his piteous eyes and whined a bit.
“Zina,” ordered the man, “bring him to the examining room and me my coat!”
The woman whistled and clicked her fingers and the dog, after a brief hesitation, followed her. Together, they entered a narrow, dimly lit corridor, passed a lacquered door and came to the end, and then went left and ended up in a dark cubbyhole, which instantly displeased the dog by its evil smell. The darkness clicked and turned into blinding daylight, and it sparkled, lit up, and turned white from all sides.
“Oh, no,” the dog howled mentally, “sorry, not for me! I get it! Damn them and their sausage! They’ve lured me into a dog hospital. They’ll force me to eat castor oil and they’ll cut up my side with knives, and it hurts too much to touch as it is!”
“Hey, no! Where do you think you’re going!” shouted the one called Zina.
The dog twisted away, coiled up, and then hit the door with its healthy side so hard that the whole apartment shuddered. Then he flew back, spun around in place like a top, and knocked over a white bucket that scattered clumps of cotton wool. As he spun, walls flew by, fitted with cupboards of gleaming instruments, and the white apron and distorted female face jumped up.
“Where are you going, you shaggy devil!” Zina shouted desperately. “Damn you!”
“Where’s the back stairs?” thought the dog. He reversed and smashed himself against the glass, hoping that it was a second door. A cloud of glass shards flew out with thunder and ringing, a tubby jar with reddish crap jumped out, spilling all over the floor and stinking up the room. The real door swung open.
“Stop! B-bastard!” The man shouted, jumping around in his white coat with only one sleeve on, and grabbed the dog by its legs. “Zina, hold him by the scruff of his neck, the scoundrel!”
“Wow! What a dog!”
The door opened even wider and another person of the male gender in a white coat burst in. Crushing broken glass, he rushed not towards the dog but the cupboard, opened it, and the whole room was filled with a sweet and nauseating odour. Then the person fell onto the dog with his belly, and the dog took pleasure in nipping him above the shoelaces. The person gasped but held on. The nauseating liquid filled the dog’s breathing and everything in his head spun, then he couldn’t feel his legs and he slid off somewhere sideways, crookedly.
“Thanks, it’s over,” he thought dreamily, falling right on the sharp pieces of glass, “farewell, Moscow! I’ll never see Chichkin and proletarians and Cracow sausages again! I’m going to Heaven for my canine suffering. Fellows, knackers, why did you do me in?”
And then he fell over on his side completely and croaked.
When he was resurrected, his head spun lightly and he had a bit of nausea in his belly, but it was if he had no side; his side was deliciously silent. The dog half-opened his right eye and out of the corner saw that he was tightly bandaged across his sides and belly. “They had their way after all, the sons-of-bitches,” he thought woozily, “but cleverly, you have to give them that.”
“From Seville to Granada… in the quiet twilight of the nights,” a distracted falsetto voice sang above him.
The dog was surprised; he opened both eyes fully and saw two steps away from him a man’s foot on a white stool. The trouser leg and long underpants were hiked up and the bare yellow shin was smeared with dried blood and iodine.
“Saints alive!” thought the dog. “That must be where I bit him. My work. They’ll whip me now!”
“‘Serenades abound, swords clash all around!’ Why did you bite a doctor, you mutt? Eh? Why did you break the glass? Eh?”
“Ooo-ooo-ooo,” the dog whimpered piteously.
“Well, all right, you’re conscious, so just lie there, you dummy.”
“How did you manage to lure such a nervous dog, Filipp Filippovich?” asked a pleasant male voice, and the knit underpants slid down. Tobacco smoke filled the air, and glass bottles rattled in the cupboard.
“With kindness. It’s the only way possible in dealing with a living creature. Terror won’t work at all with an animal, at whatever level of development it may be. I’ve said it before and I say it again and will continue saying it. They’re wrong to think that terror will help them. No, no, it won’t, whatever its colour: white, red or even brown! Terror paralyses the nervous system completely. Zina! I bought this wastrel a rouble and forty copecks’ worth of Cracow sausage. Be so kind as to feed him when he’s no longer nauseated.”
Broken glass tinkled as it was swept up, and a woman’s voice noted flirtatiously: “Cracow sausage! God, you should have gotten him two copecks’ worth of scraps at the butcher! I’ll eat the Cracow sausage myself.”
“Just try! I’ll eat you! It’s poison for the human stomach. A grown young woman