I looked up in surprise as Martien squirmed past the screen I have in front of the doorway of my little hidey-hole. His nose wrinkled a bit at the commingled scents of poppy and fish, as I was puzzling over the jaws I had acquired for my dear creation.
“Still haven’t finished those damn things?” His face crinkled in disgust as he turned and stormed out before this one could protest.
Leaving my fish behind, I stepped out and up the steps, where he looked into the enclosure of the Bombastophone, where Ms. Flood was presiding. He just darkened the one set of French doors, looking in. I followed – for some reason the lovely warm Bollywood had been replaced by some 1960s hit – and saw Ms Flood dancing alone, awaiting visitors. What a trouper.
All Mr Pontecorvo did was snarl wordlessly and storm some more, out of hearing range, coat flapping. Faintly I heard him start to rant as he turned the corner and disappeared deeper into the harbour.
“What’s with him?” Ms Flood asked behind me. Her garments, while striking and suitable for dancing, were not really suitable for standing around in the snow, and I directed her to my lair. The Bombastophone, after all, tends to rather discourage conversation by dint of volume.
“Methinks we are under some strain,” said I quietly, “and to be honest, we have given up on one weekly event here, have we not?”
“Not for want of trying,” Ms Flood declared irritably. “But every damn time I choose, there’s another more established and popular… argh!” And with that she threw her arms in the air. Above us, the machinery continued to witter psychedelically. She blinked at the ceiling, then blurted something as she raced out the door. The music faded into something Bollywood.
I looked at the ceiling, then at the fish, which would have scowled at me if its lips were working. “I don’t know either,” said I, stepping to the door and looking outside.
The snow would drive away any but the most obsessive fisherman, and it was playing havoc with my sorbet-and-ices business. I knew Martien had something on the boil, something to do with cats, but whatever it was… and then there was his mad scheme for advertisements all over New Babbage… and then his apparel business!
“We are too divided, in direction as well as duty,” I declared thoughtfully to the fish, regarding it through the haze of the dragon’s wing. The fish just glared at me balefully.