Mikhail Bulgakov the heart of a dog and other stories



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WE WORK UP STEAM

There was no room at the desks. We were all writing slogans, with a new fellow, very active and noisy, in gold glasses, who called himself the king of reporters. The king appeared the morning after we got an advance, at 8.45 a. m. with the words:

"Is it true they paid out cash here?"

And joined the staff on the spot.

The episode of the slogans was like this.

A memo arrived from upstairs.

"ASS Lit. urgently requested to produce a set of slogans by 12 noon."

Theoretically this is what was supposed to happen: the old man with my assistance would issue an order or summons to all places where there were supposed to be writers. We would then receive thousands of slogans from all over the country, by telegraph, letter and word of mouth. Then a commission would select the best and present them by 12 noon on a certain date. After that my secretarial staff (i. e., the bandit's sad wife) and I would draw up a claim for payment, receive the monies concerned and pay the most deserving for the best slogans.

But that was in theory.

In practice, however:

1) It was impossible to issue a summons, because there was no one to summon. All the writers within the field of vision were: the above-mentioned, plus the king.

2) Excluded by one: we could not possibly be flooded with slogans.

3) The slogans could not be submitted by 12 noon on such-and-such a date, because the memo arrived at 1.26 p. m. on the date in question.

4) We needn't have written a claim for payment, because there was no "slogan" allocation. But — the old man did have a small, precious amount for travel allowances.

Therefore: a) The slogans shall be written as a matter of urgency by all those present;

b) a commission to consider the slogans shall be set up consisting of all those present to ensure complete impartiality; and

c) the best slogans shall be selected and the sum of fifteen thousand roubles paid for each of them.

We sat down at 1.50 p. m. and the slogans were ready by 3 o'clock. Each of us managed to squeeze out five or six, with the exception of the king who wrote nineteen in verse and prose.

The commission was fair and strict.

I, the writer of slogans, had nothing in common with the other me who accepted and criticised them.

As a result the following were accepted:

three slogans from the old man,

three slogans from the young man,

three slogans from me,

and so on and so forth.

In short, forty-five thousand each.

Brrr. What a wind! And it's starting to drizzle. The meat pie in the Truba (18) is wet from the rain, but delicious enough to drive you crazy. A tube of saccharine and two pounds of white bread.

Caught up Storn. He was chewing something too.







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