ELFISHKI AND THE UNWELCOME GUEST
a bedtime story
by Elvira Baryakina
Vince was an ice cream salesman. Every morning he would head to his riding dragon called Brungildo, give it a shower with a watering pot, and feed it a whole basket of fruits. Then Vince would brush its teeth with a mop, put a saddle on Brungildo, and fix freezer boxes to the dragon’s back.
In the yard of the bakery Gingerbread Nook, plump and pretty Maggie would be waiting for them. She made the yummiest ice cream in the whole world and would fill up Vince and Brungildo’s freezer boxes with her delicious flavors. Then the dragon would stroll around the city singing silly songs at the top of its voice. Children instantly knew what this meant and ran outside to get ice cream.
One day Vince and Brungildo went to their garage for their saddle and freezer boxes, but they couldn’t get inside. Vince kept putting his key into the keyhole, but it would just fall out—as if somebody pushed it back.
“How strange,” said Vince and tried to open the door again.
This time an unpleasant squeak came from the lock and only the head of the key was left in Vince’s hands. It was followed by a spray of metal shavings out of the keyhole.
Vince peeked into the keyhole and was dumbfounded—inside the lock was a tiny blue person with a tail. He was busy unpacking a backpack. On his head he had a pair of twisted golden horns, and between the horns a magic wand shone brightly. The blue person turned around and noticed Vince’s eye.
“Just arrived, and not even settled in, and I’m already pushed around with a key,” he grumbled, pulled the magic wand out of his horns, and started to shake it vigorously. A tiny shutter fell closed over the keyhole.
“Hey, you!” Vince shouted, loudly. “Get out of there! I need to go to work!”
But it didn’t matter how angry he became and how hard he kicked the door with his boot—nothing helped. The security kept becoming stronger: First, a little iron safe door appeared over the keyhole and then bars followed by barb wire.
Brungildo began to tap anxiously with his claws and let out little streams of smoke from his nostrils. It meant his temper was starting to boil over.
“What’s going on here?” Maggie asked, striding into the yard. “I’ve been waiting for you to pick up my ice cream.” Vince explained the problem.
“With yelling and kicking the door, you can’t get this little guy out,” Maggie shook her head. “Let me talk to him.”
The little blue person was called Jeanso. He used to live in the padlock of a chest owned by a witch. When the witch came to the Rainbow Island for a vacation, she immediately went to the beach, making Jeanso watch her broom, magic caldron, and scary set of false teeth—she used them for work, but not on holidays.
This hurt Jeanso’s feelings so much! He hadn’t had a vacation for more than a hundred years!
As the witch went to the hotel from the Witch Broom Airport, he peeked out the keyhole at the Elfishki Town and thought he would love to stay there.
That night Jeanso packed up and snuck away. Not far from the hotel, he found Vince’s garage and decided that its padlock suited him perfectly.
“I’m sorry, but do you like ice cream?” Jeanso suddenly heard.
“I’m not home!” he grumbled angrily, as he had already made up his mind that Elfishkis were evil, rough creatures and were not to be trusted.
“What about some pastries?” The pleasant voice wasn’t giving up.
The next moment Jeanso smelt such a delicious aroma that he couldn’t resist and with just one sweep of his magic wand, he removed the bars and barb wire from the keyhole. He peeked outside and saw a pretty Elfishki lady presenting to him a little plate with a fresh pastry on it.
“Is it for me?” Jeanso exclaimed in amazement. His previous landlady was a meanie and never shared yummy food with him.
“Of course, it’s for you,” the Elfishki lady replied. “My name is Maggie. And what’s your name?”
No one had ever treated Jeanso so nicely before. Maggie asked him about his life with the witch and his relatives who lived in clocks and cash registers. She found everything he told her fascinating.
“But how does your magic wand work?” Vince said, humbly.
“It’s charged from my horns,” Jeanso replied. “If I tweak them up a bit, I can make a whole light show.” He turned the ends of the horns and the magic wand started to shine like a bright, colorful lantern.
Vince and Brungildo exchanged glances.
“Would you like to work with us?” Vince asked. “We deliver ice cream after sunset, and I’m sure the children would love to see your show.”
Since then, the three of them worked happily together: Vince selling ice cream, Brungildo singing songs and Jeanso making colorful rays of light go in all directions.
Maggie asked him to live in the crystal candy bowl on the shelf of her cupboard, and Jeanso wrote to all his relatives how he now lived in a crystal palace.
Translated from Russian by Anna Muzychka and Benjamin Kuttner