- The Suitcase
For Małgorzata Semil with thanks
Jackleen (appearing first as the Answering Machine)
Miserable Tour Guide at the Holocaust Museum
One day, a Frenchman named Michel Leleu left home and went to a museum. There he found his father's suitcase, though his father hadn't left it there. His remarkable story made the papers.
1. The Narrator Favors Homespun Stories, But Begins and Ends with a French One
Sha-ba-da-ba-da, sha-ba-da-ba-da, ta-ba-da, sha-ba-da-ba-da, sha-ba-da-ba-da, ta-ba-da …
Sha-ba-da-ba-da is French, in case you didn't know. I hummed sha-ba-da-ba-da to lend the scene a French air, to give it allure.
Our country is full of interesting stories to tell, homespun and simple—chock full of stories … Such as the story of the mayor of Barcin, who brought a samurai sword to work and used it to threaten her deputy—which goes to show how our country is changing, how it's humming with life at the grassroots level! Or the story of a priest who wanted to shut down the zoo in his town because the asses and lions brayed and roared godlessly during mass … Or the story of a statue whose male parts sparked offense, so the authorities took it far away from Gorzów, but then the people of Gorzów began lighting candles on the plinth because they felt stripped of something. [End Page 93]
There are countless stories, but the one I'm telling will be French. Why not Polish, you ask? Who knows, maybe foreign stories are better?
Sha-ba-da-ba-da, sha-ba-da-ba-da …
The story will be about Franswa Jackoh, and what's more—ha ha—I don't know how I'll manage it. The story contains serious moments, albeit presented in an amusing way, and I'll most likely break into song at the least appropriate moments.
The story begins when Mr. Jackoh leaves home and sets off to the museum.
That will change his life—but perhaps he hasn't left home yet, or isn't planning on going at all, so why don't I call him, just to make sure?
If he answers, I won't say anything, and if he doesn't answer, it means he's already left.
Starts dialing a number, then pauses.
I'd like to add that there's also a story about how the Allies bombed Helgoland. It was this German island. Right after the war, the Allies decided to sink it. They let loose with this awesome arsenal, and … it didn't work!
Dials a number.
That would have been a story of revenge that fortunately failed.
2. Franswa Jackoh has Gone to the Museum; Meanwhile, Strange Things are Afoot in his House
The phone rings.
This is Franswa Jackoh's Answering Machine. Franswa Jackoh is not home right now. Please leave a message after the beep.
Realizing that Franswa Jackoh is not home, the Answering Machine begins to feel more at ease.
He's not home because he's gone to the museum without knowing why and what for, though there's an inner voice telling him it's in search of Truth. Franswa Jackoh has been longing for Truth a long time now, longing like a child. None of you know how precious that Truth is to him … I know you're calling him about something else, but Truth, once you've attained it, is … [End Page 94]
… oh, it's smooth and warm, rounded and silky; it smells of lemon-scented basil, Code by Armani, and roasted chestnuts … For that Truth is like a freshly-bitten peach with juice trickling out of it: the first drop tastes so sweet you think there can be no sweetness left in that peach, but there is—and that's...