Diary of a Dwarf
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Diary of a Dwarf

September the 10th

Well, Iím all settled in at last. What a stroke of luck meeting Christina like that in the street. I wasnít long off the train - feeling a bit lost to tell the truth. What a sweet woman she is. Another time and place and I might just have fallen in love with her. But that can never be of course. Still, she offered me this room. It has a lovely view of the river. Yes, I shall try to be happy here and forget as best I can all my past misadventures. She introduced me to her husband, Gutman. He couldnít get over the fact that I am a dwarf. He is not the friendliest of people, but perhaps he is only shy. He didnít seem particularly fond of having a stranger in the house, let alone a dwarf. But Christina told him quite firmly, ĎThis is Ironmonger, Gutman. Heíll be staying with us for a little while until he finds somewhere permanent.í Iíve never really liked my name but the way she said it, so gently and warmly, I felt quite proud of it and not ashamed in the least.

Gutman is not a well man. He seems to spend much of his time in bed. I told him I was something of a handyman, which isnít strictly true. Anyway, he seemed convinced enough, quite pleased in fact. I only hope he doesnít ask me to do any odd jobs around the house. Still I suppose I could blunder through at a pinch. I should have just told him some vague story about working in a shop and being here on a little holiday. Oh well, itís too late now. No use crying over spilt milk. I also mentioned casually that I was something of a gamesman. Gutmanís eyes lit up at that, so I suggested that we might indulge in the odd boardgame to pass the time. He seemed genuinely grateful. Indeed, life must hold few surprises for poor Gutman.

Spent the best part of the evening unpacking my suitcase. Itís a bit the worse for wear. I must invest in a new one when my luck turns. Perhaps it already has - touch wood. Thereís so little room left in the suitcase for the basic necessities after all the games have been packed. I suppose my old boardgames are a necessity of life too in their own way. At least the games are in some sort of order now. Iíve set them up on the bookshelf near the window - quite a tidy little arrangement. So everything seems to be taken care of. I can breathe easy.

A strange thing happened earlier this evening. I have the room next to theirs. The bathroom adjoins mine. I was unpacking the suitcase. My hands were quite grubby from all the sorting and handling. I wandered into the bathroom to have a wash, and lo and behold, Christina was lying there in the bathtub, undressed naturally, and humming a haunting melody. The music of the spheres, I thought to myself. I blushed and apologized profusely. She laughed and excused me. I came back into my room. I was restless for some time. In desperation I got out one of my favourite games. How good it was to hold the blue and yellow counters in my hand again. The board and one of the dice have long since vanished, but I made my own board and coloured it in. Buttons really do make very effective counters. I played several inconclusive games. It and the desired effect and I felt much calmer. Iím sure Gutman will enjoy it too. It is the ideal game for invalids - sedate and not too demanding. Hopefully we shall advance onto something a little more rewarding soon enough.

Tomorrow I might do some sightseeing around the town if the weatherís fine. But for now itís high time I went to bed. Yes, I feel very comfortable here. One last look at the river and then bed.


September the 11th

Today has been very eventful. I woke early in my new room, as one always does in a new room, and acquainted myself thoroughly with the kitchen. I committed my first faux pas - unthinkingly eating Gutmanís sausages. I walked past their bedroom on tiptoe but soon realized they were wide awake. I could hear Gutmanís voice clearly. Alas, he was talking animatedly about sausages. They are obviously something of a treat for him. I thought Iíd better go and explain to him immediately my little mistake. I knocked and entered and exchanged a warm good morning with them both. I thought it best to make light of the whole business. I told Gutman Iíd been rummaging casually through the refrigerator and had come across some sausages. I commented briefly on their excellent appearance. He agreed enthusiastically and said how much he enjoyed a good sausage for breakfast and how therapeutic they were. I asked him if I might perhaps join him for breakfast tomorrow. Gutman was obviously delighted with the prospect and said, ĎOf course, Ironmonger, of course! But why not join me this morning? Thereís plenty for us both.í I broke the news as jovially as I could, hardly expecting the glum silence that ensued. ĎBut there were six,í he finally said very glumly. A gross exaggeration. I told him politely but firmly that I was never in the habit of counting sausages and had no intention of starting now. At that point Christina got out of bed, her flimsy nightdress falling away from her breasts. I must confess I didnít know where to look. Perhaps her unselfconsdousness is due to the fact that I am a dwarf. But she is so innocent, so sweet to me. She bent down and gave me a quick kiss on the forehead, holding my head between her hands. Iíd never noticed what a beautiful scent she has - like lilacs. I couldnít help once more admiring the exquisite shape of her bosom in the few seconds she bent over me. In my embarrassment I blurted out about the game. ĎWhat about a game of Horsies, Gutman?í I said. ĎHorsies?í said Gutman astonished.

I rushed back to my room and gathered up the said game, completely forgetting my resolve of the previous evening to introduce Gutman to one of the more sedate games first off. The game which goes under the name Horsies is, in fact, the most fast-moving of all my games. I have whiled away many a solitary hour with my gallant steeds. I have names for them all. Upon my return to the room Christina was in the process of getting dressed. I pretended not to notice. ĎHere it is, Gutman,í I said, resting the board on the bed. ĎBut theyíre only matchsticks,í said Gutman, picking up one of the horses. Of course, he hadnít yet been initiated into the finer points of the game. I told him how Iíd thought of the idea for the game, and showed him the board Iíd made. Itís covered in pretty pastel squares. I then told Gutman how Iíd coloured them all in myself with an old set of coloured pencils that Mother had given me years ago. Most of the pencils have been sharpened so many times theyíre little more than stumps. You can barely hold them. Nevertheless, theyíre quite sufficient for my purposes.

Despite appearances, the game is one of great complexity. I spent the next thirty minutes explaining the ground-rules, the names of the horses, the unique scoring system, the values of all the different colours, and the rest. Gutman pretended to snore. Still, once we got underway the morning passed pleasantly enough. My long experience with the intricacies of the game carried the day however.

The afternoon was wasted unfortunately. Weíd only been playing for a couple of hours when Gutman accidentally upset the board. He then asked me to run an errand for him. I was very happy to oblige. He wrote the address on a piece of paper. I was to deliver a sack of potatoes. His directions unfortunately were rather vague. Anyway, I set out. It was very warm, real spring weather. Iíd never realized how heavy a sack of potatoes could be, especially in spring. I certainly became acquainted with the town. It has many pleasant landmarks and places of interest, apart from the dogs. But by dusk I still hadnít located the required street. Obviously Gutman had confused the names. The street apparently did not exist. Or at least no-one had heard of Pox Lane when I accosted them. It seems people here donít take very kindly to strangers. In fact they were quite suspicious of me, almost curt. Still, I suppose itís the same everywhere these days. To cut a long story short, I dragged the potato sack wearily home. It was well and truly dark by the time I returned. I found the door bolted for the night, much to my chagrin. They probably thought Iíd found alternative lodgings. Happily a side-window had been left open, just enough for me to scramble through. Christina made me a cup of tea and said she was very sorry that Gutman had sent me on the ill-fated errand.

I think I shall retire early tonight. Gutman seems to be in a bad mood for some reason. I can hear him next door, pacing up and down and talking quite loudly. I canít make out what heís saying. Perhaps heís in pain. Something about a nightdress. He keeps telling her to close the window. He must have caught a chill. Oh dear, I almost nodded off. Yes, thatís right. I just remembered what a lovely soft armchair they have in their room. Itís covered in pink flowers and itís tucked right away in the corner. Wouldnít it be wonderful to be able to sleep in the armchair? Just my size. What sweet dreams Iíd have! Speaking of which, I think itís time I retired. Christina said sheíd bring me a cake before bed, but I canít wait up any longer. One last look at the river and then Ďbeddy-byesí as my mother used to say.


September the 12th

Today Iíve decided to break my rule. Itís still quite early in the morning but I thought it best to mention several things before the hectic events of the day drive them from my mind. First and foremost, I found a delicious cake beside my bed when I woke up. How thoughtful and kind of Christina to remember her promise. Iím sure I never mentioned my partiality to cakes, or at least only in passing. Iím afraid cakes have always been my one vice. Still, I suppose there are worse vices in this world than the odd cake. Just the same I shouldnít let it get out of hand.

To pass on to less pedestrian matters. A strange thing happened last night. After only a couple of nights Iíve become very fond of looking at the river from my window, just for a few minutes before I hop into bed. I was very tired last night so I couldnít write it down. I wish I had. It seems quite unreal now, in the light of day. Perhaps I just dreamt it, but Iím sure I didnít. Itís happened before, seeing odd things when Iíve gotten over-tired. And they did warn me about it I suppose. But it was never that real, that definite.

This is what happened. I was looking at the river. It was a full moon (yes, Iíll check that tonight) and the river seemed to glow like liquid gold between the dark trees. An inland river is still a strange thing to me, mysterious. I who was brought up so close to the ocean waves. But I saw - and now it sounds silly -I saw an old sailing ship, a galleon perhaps (what a beautiful word galleon is) lulling up the river, its sails silver in the moonlight. Silent and ghostly. It had a beautiful carved prow - a mermaid with long golden hair. Her face shone radiantly. I peered and strained my eyes, pressing my face against the window to see her better (the river is some distance off). Then I recognized her. This is what I donít understand. It was Christinaís face, and, Iím ashamed to admit it, her breasts as well. But then the great ship glided on around the bend and her view was lost to me. And I suddenly saw all the other creatures, the Ďmariners,í on the ship. It was awful. Monkeys clambered all over the rigging, and I heard their screeching from afar. And on the deck there were goats, and pigs - not ordinary pigs, but horrible ones -and there were all sorts of strange-looking people, as if they were deformed or crippled, but I couldnít see properly. They were scurrying all over the place, and squawking. Some of the people were riding on the pigs and jumping on them. And all the while a solitary figure in the crowís nest was staring out who knows where. He had the face of a simpleton, and he was pissing down onto the deck and staring out with a stupid sort of smile. But it all only lasted for a few seconds. I was too tired even to feel distressed. But today is a new day and I must thank Christina for the cake. Perhaps I should broach the subject of the armchair with her. Perhaps also introduce Gutman to the subtle novelties of Snails - a game for thinkers. Acquaint him with the colourful history of the game. Well, the whole day still awaits me. Itís high time I said good morning to Christina. I havenít been this excited for ages. At long last I feel that old urge to get on with things - so without further ado...

[continued]

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