The Air at the Top of the Bottle

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Houses of Flesh and Bone (2)

June 24th, 2008 · No Comments

(We present here the second part of a short story by Paul Vibert, translated by Doug Skinner. Please read the first part for your greater enjoyment.)

Obviously, there can be no question of a spacious apartment, but simply a small lodging, warm and convenient. It could be relocated at will; and man would thus solve the problem of the portable house, and make himself the equal of the snail and the turtle.

Attend for a moment, and you will soon see that my plan could easily be realized. Be it understood that if I wished to travel overground, I would establish my little residence in an elephant’s stomach, where there is room, and not its belly — which would be absurd, as it is filled with interminable corridors and intestines. And I would move into the stomach of a whale, if I planned to undertake a voyage by sea.

In the latter case, I would then have a little submarine of flesh and bone, just like good old Jonah — see the Bible, page etc. — nothing could be simpler. But here the benevolent reader stops me with a triumphant and peremptory gesture, saying:

— Excuse me, but I don’t see how you would have room to live in those creatures, even snugly, particularly if you had a family, with a wife and mother-in-law, not to mention the kids.

— Don’t be impatient; for I have solved that problem, and this is precisely my point of pride. To begin with, I place my young elephant in a greenhouse-stable, or my young whale into a basin-aquarium, and submit them to the well-known effects of violet rays; and after six months, I have a pachyderm, or whale, five or six times larger than its ordinary congeners; and I therefore have in its stomach a comfortable little apartment for the entire family. But I realize that it would be disagreeable for everyone to live and sleep in the same room; or that you may have a mother-in-law who insists on a salon. I have a solution to that as well — two solutions, in fact, equally elegant.

(Posted by Doug Skinner. To be concluded.)

Tags: Animals · Literature

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