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Knights of the Vine RUSSIA


Pileloops’ Festival. Part II
Written by Natalie Kurtog
Illustrations by Nika Harrison

Chapter 4 Miraculous transformation

The boy carefully opened one eye, then the other: he saw a grey-haired old man with a short beard which tapered down to a point sitting on the edge of the barrel. A long shirt hung loosely on his thin body. But what was really odd about him was that things could be seen through him.

Peter felt a lightness that he had never experienced before.

“I can’t feel my body,” he said in shaky voice.

“Fly!” the old man commanded.

“I’m flying, I’m flying!”

“Now you are also a Peeleloop, only a young one,” the old man was proud of his work.

“I am Peter,” the boy explained.

“You are Peter-Peeleloop, who can go everywhere, like me. Now, show me what you can do.”

Peter charged about the attic enjoying his new body. He didn’t feel cold or hot. He snorted and turned into a transparent sphere, and then exploded into thousands of bits of dust, joined together again and merged into a long tube and revolved. Apart from feeling light, he didn’t feel anything.

He noticed a trunk on the floor, which was locked, and peered in through the keyhole. He could see well in the dark. He went deeper and deeper into the trunk. He didn’t feel cramped. He looked at the old worn books, magazines and circus posters. He twisted inside a poster. There was a portrait of his grandfather with his hat on, the same hat that he and Peeleloop were trying to find. Across the poster there was a text which read: “Famous circus artist, illusionist…”

The boy looked up: there were those two same eyes which had looked down at him from the flue.

“Time to go!” said Peeleloop. “It’s already getting light.”

Chapter 5 The park

Peter flew out of the window in the attic after his new friend. He could see a red bridge which curved over the river. Peter grabbed hold of a railing and caught sight of his reflection in the water.

Peeleloop flew over.

“I’m transparent,” said Peter, thoughtfully, “you can see the clouds through me.”

The old man flew off. Peter jumped off the bridge and caught up with Peeleloop. Together they flew into a park, frightening two squirrels who ran off, jumping from branch to branch.

Peeleloop grabbed hold of one of the squirrels and shouted mischievously: “Giddeyup!”

Peter hitched onto the other squirrel. Chasing after one another, the squirrels flew from branch to branch in the trees.

Peter still couldn’t believe that he was a cloud of dust. It must be a dream, he thought. But it wasn’t.

“I wish my friends could see me!” shouted Peter.

“Right! And I hope that it doesn’t rain!” Peeleloop said pointing towards a children’s playing area on the edge of the park, where a careless workman had left a bag of cement which had turned into stone after rain had fallen on it.

“What a beautiful park!” Peter said. He let go of his squirrel and sat on the branch of a birch tree. Peeleloop sat down next to him as the squirrels jumped down from the trees. Then the squirrels started scavenging for food amongst the plastic bags and bottles in the grass.

“People are forever doing battle with dust, wiping things down with damp cloths with rubber gloves on.” Peeleloop held his first finger up in a wise way. “They have even invented hoovers! No doubt during academic debates they contemplate on the subject of where dust comes from, and how to get rid of it. And I’d like to know: where does rubbish come from? I’ll tell you: from rubbish heads!”

Suddenly one of squirrels squealed. It had cut its paw on the edge of a tin. It limped off to a tree. Peter flew up to the tree. The squirrel was bleeding.

“Oh no!” Peeleloop shook his head in dismay, turned into dust and looked for something in the grass.

Peter joined him and saw that the old man was trying to break off a plantain. “I’ll help you!” The boy summoned all his strength and tried to pull on the leaf. Eventually the leaf gave way and came off its stem. They flew to the squirrel and the old man pressed the leaf to the squirrel’s paw. Just then they heard the steps of somebody approaching. Peeleloop wrapped the leaf round the squirrel’s paw and hid behind a park bench.

A robust-looking young fellow came striding along the path. He threw his head back, poured the remaining contents of what was in a tin into his throat and chucked it into the bushes.

“Here’s your chance, Peter. Show him what you can do,” whispered Peeleloop.

Chapter 6 The living tin

Something hit the man on the back on his head. He turned round and saw a tin right in front of his eyes. It revolved so that he could see into it. He saw two eyes, then the tin hit him on the nose.

“Aaghh, what the hell was that?”

Frightened, the man swiped the tin with his hand. It flew off, leaving two small bruises on the bridge of his nose, then swivelled round and started to attack again.

The squirrel watched what was going on with great interest as the tin flew here and there, always one swipe ahead of the man.

Finally, intoxicated with rage, he grabbed hold of a stick and tried to swat the tin, but it dodged and then lay motionless on the ground.

Peter came half out of the tin so as to see where the man was. The man raised his foot so as crush the tin once and for all. Peter was in serious trouble. Suddenly, out of the thin air, a cloud of cement dust poured down on the man. Beside himself with rage, his foot came down, but he missed and fell down into a puddle. His stick twisted up into the air and hit him on the ear, then splashed into the puddle next to him, making him even wetter. The tin flew up into the air and jumped quickly around the man, hitting him on the head, and then got into the man’s torn jacket pocket.

The man’s face went red, not with anger but with horror. He carefully pulled the tin out of his pocket using two fingers, then slowly moved it over to where there was a rubbish bin and dropped it in. The tin didn’t move. The man looked around frantically and began to gather all the rubbish he could find and put it into the bin, trying to cover up the strange tin so that he couldn’t see it.

Sitting on branch, Peeleloop and Peter giggled as they watched the hooligan pick up bags, bottles and pieces of paper. He picked up all the rubbish in the vicinity. Seeing that the tin wasn’t moving and wasn’t going to hit him, he quietly moved towards the exit. As soon as he was a little way away, he broke into a run, and charged out of the park as quickly as his legs could carry him.

“We really showed him!” Peter said, clenching his fists and punching the air. “Flying that tin was real fun!”

Peeleloop looked serious.

“I often hear people grumbling: ‘I’m fed up with all this dust!’ But what can be worse than nature covered with rubbish?!”

Peeleloop smiled in an unhappy kind of way, and flew out of the park in the direction of the forest. Peter flew to the squirrels, stroked them and rushed off to catch up with his friend.

Chapter 7 Great grandfather’s word

Peeleloop swooped down to the edge of a clearing in the forest filled with flowers. Tall pine trees seemed to reach up to the sky.

“I left the hat here,” said Peeleloop.

The friends carefully searched every branch on every tree but couldn’t find anything.

Peeleloop sat down on the grass at the edge of the clearing. It was already light and the sun was about to appear over the forest trees. Peeleloop was very upset. Peter sat down next to him.

“What will happen, Peeleloop, if we can’t find the hat?”

“There won’t be a festival. Without the hat, Peeleloops can’t get in.”

“When did you lose the hat?”

“A year ago.”

“A year?! Somebody must have taken it, or maybe an animal ran off with it! What are you so upset about, it’s only a hat.”

“You don’t understand, Peter. With the hat’s help all my friends from all over the world get together for the one and only Peeleloop festival, and your great-grandfather helped organise it.”

“You knew my great-grandfather?”

“He was a real magician.”

“How did you get to know him?”

Peeleloop sadly looked at the flowers as he told Peter his story.

“This happened a long time ago. I lived in your great-grandfather’s hat from the time I was born, only he didn’t know. One summer the Circus Grande stopped on the edge of a small town to do a show. It was there that I met a Road Peeleloop, and we became good friends. Together we flew over dusty roads, sat under the roof of the circus tent, and talked about everything under the sky.

“We were separated only during my performances. I helped your great-grandfather from inside the hat and only flew out when he beat it with a stick and pulled rabbits, birds and different coloured flowers out of it.

“Your great grandfather made one day a year into a festival for Peeleloops.”

“Why?” Peter asked.

“You people have radio, television, phones with which you find out about news from all over the world. We Peeleloops are very curious, and we also want to find out what has happened to our brothers over the year. After all, dust is older than dinosaurs! Peeleloops have seen a lot over the years, and we have a lot to tell each other.” Peeleloop sighed, “but we didn’t know how to do that.”

“But one night, when we were all sleeping, a fire broke out. The Road Peeleloop woke me up and we rushed off to where the artists were. We helped to wake people up by getting up their noses and making them sneeze. I woke my great-grandfather, who grabbed hold of his clothes and ran out through the fire.

“The artists saved themselves and the animals, but the circus was burnt down. I lost my friend in the chaos. I cried, and because of the tears became visible. Your great-grandfather saw me. ‘Who are you?’ he asked. ‘I am Peeleloop. I live in your hat.’ He carefully picked me up, put me on his palm and asked, ‘And why were you crying?’ ‘Because I lost my friend,’ I answered and told him everything.

“Then great-grandfather said, ‘So that’s why we sneezed during the fire! Everybody thought it was because of the smoke. You saved us, and I owe you one. What day is it today? From now on, during the night from the 21st to the 22nd, the hat will be yours.

“Great grandfather kept his word. On the eve of our holiday he left the hat in the changing room at the circus, and never had a show on that day.”

“Did Road Peeleloop return?”

“A year after the fire, during the shortest night of the year I flew to this glade and, using the hat, repeated great-grandfather’s trick. Then, during our first holiday, many Peeleloops appeared. Road Peeleloop also turned up, but he was black from the soot he turned into when the fire reached him. From that time I have been looking after—rather looked after—your great grandfather’s hat. I made a real mess of that.” Peeleloop sighed and waved his hand in resignation.

“And if grandmother had given the hat to somebody or thrown it away?” Peter asked after a short pause.

“I would have had to fly after it. Now you should be the owner, but I didn’t manage to look after it for you.”

“So, today is the Peeleloops’ festival! It’s the 22nd of June.”

“There won’t be any festival,” the old man said grumpily and turned away.

To be continued in the January issue translation into Russian by J. Harrison

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