Whenever Mrs. Blatourbotum and I find ourselves in the propinquity of a sector of the city occasionally labeled Little Siberia, without fail we drop into our favorite curio shop, Chotski Chernobyl, to peruse their most recently accumulated whatnots. Chotski Chernobyl is owned by a Mister Ognian Makgivneya and staffed by himself, Vladlena Nonnay the wife, Chapayev the son and Anka the daughter. I feel obliged to make mention there is one peculiarity in evidence at this mom and pop yard sale emporium more curious than the curios, that both Mrs. Blatourbotum and I find difficult to ignore despite the amassment of swag, one more often than not uncovers rummaging through the clutter of salvaged trifles. We strongly suspect Dahling, amongst other disquietudes——–there is only the one Makgivneya!
All the family members are noticeably pint-sized, verging on Lilliputian with rounded out figures much like Russian nesting dolls— each one progressively shorter than the one before. Their somewhat flat facial features are identical as far as one can tell and alarmingly reminiscent of Mister Peter Lorre as Doctor Gogo and whether bald head or with babushka—all have the same neatly groomed, curving upward like lepidopterous antennae, tiniest of mustaches and Dahling, are unconscionably toothless!
We feel vindicated indulging such suspicions being neither of us can recall ever having seen or been attended to by more than one Makgivneya at the same time. As an example Dahling, on our last visit a bell tolled as always as we entered the shop, announcing our arrival, sounding as if we were about to witness the coronation of Boris Godunov, the ensuing near deafening reverberations causing us a brief quaking episode vigorous enough to trigger Mrs. Blatourbotum’s postiche to lean and favor one side. I soon sensed the wife, Vladlena Nonnay, moving as if on wheels across the rear of the store, dusting Dahling, nothing in particular, simply wagging a wad of feathers to and fro, her wary gaze never diverting from the two of us, not for so much as a blink. Then as suddenly as she had materialized she vanished into a garment rack of vintage furs, I must say Dahling, sadly in need of refurbishing.
The stirred up aroma of moth balls had hardly dissipated when I heard a noise to my left where this time it was the daughter, Anka, peering up at us from under the counter top glass whilst clearing a space on one of the crowded shelves for a very collectable Miss Sheryl Flynn Boxing Helena action figure. I had no more than glanced at the welcome mat Mrs. Blatourbotum was pointing out, crafted from the backs of several porcupine which most definitely seemed to be contradicting itself Dahling, one way or another and Miss Anka was disappeared —-nowhere to be seen!
Before I could catch my breath, the father lurched out from behind what I am quite confident was a counterfeit Louis Vuitton steamer trunk, clutching a crock of Amorphophallus in his arms. Having some knowledge of the Amorphophallus’s reputation, Dahling, I turned away so as not to betray my repulsed expression! Mrs. Blatourbotum inquired why I “looked like I’d been sniffin’ goats’ ass?“ She does have a way with words that one. I gestured over my shoulder with an inconspicuous tilt of my head to where by that time neither Mister Ognian Makgivneya nor his potted, putrid smelling shanghaier of insects were —no more.
We had only just completed examining what were purported to be five and a half petrified turds evacuated by no less than Mister Jesus Christ that I momentarily imagined might make divine paperweights Dahling, and had begun picking through a cardboard carton of fragmented white marble private parts amputated in the name of decency of some sort from various statuary centuries ago —I was again thinking paper weights —-when the son, Chapayev entered from the street, once more mobilizing the coronation bells this time jostling Mrs. Blatourbotum so, her hour glass clips came undone and the cotton stockings they supported dropped piling up round her hefty ankles.
The boy nodded to the convulsing pair of us and shuffled towards the family quarters at the back laboriously dragging the one much larger foot behind him. I watched him exit through a curtained doorway pondering what explanation there might be for this rather obvious disability and lo and behold, Dahling, out of the corner of my eye, I noticed an illustration leaned up against a salt lick with a cows tongue and taxidermic head attached that at one time I deduced had been a table lamp.
Never mind that, the subject of the rendering that caught my eye bore a remarkable likeness to my dearest friend Miss Winifred Scruggs and brought to my attention how very much Miss Winifred resembles Mister Richard Milhous Nixon in drag. It was, I discovered one of four prints signed by a T.Howe, gender unspecified, a series of what might be called alternative definitions, Dahling, the content of the art never being quite what its title would lead one to expect. I found them amusing enough that I dared not forego the opportunity. We gathered them up and started toward the cash register where to both our consternations waited the wife, Vladlena Nonnay, her one hand stretched up and poised on the register keys, the other now grasping a fly swatter, flailing at non-existent flies!
I thought I should share them here with all those generous enough with their always so fleeting and most precious time to read my column—a limited gesture to express my boundless gratitude for this experience. Enough said, Dahling, the four illustrations are printed below. Until our paths cross once more one day, I remain your cyberspace collaborator and chum, Miss Biddy B.
Images – all rights reserved, James Bidgood 2012