Fall Semester 2002

Epilogue: A Young Man Who Astonished a Watchman, by Daniil Kharms
"Well!" said the watchman, examining the fly. "If one puts carpenter's glue on it, it might be all done for. What a thing! Just simple glue."

"Hey, you," a young man who was wearing yellow gloves shouted at the watchman.

The watchman understood immediately that it was he who was being spoken to, but he went on looking at the fly.

"What do they call you?" the young man shouted again. "You ox, you."

The watchman squashed the fly with his finger and said, without turning his head in the direction of the young man: "What are you yelling for? Aren't you ashamed? I hear you anyway. No need to yell."

The young man brushed off his trousers with his gloves and asked in a delicate voice: "Tell me, old man, which way to heaven?"

The watchman looked at the young man, screwed up one eye, then screwed up the other eye, then rubbed his beard, then looked at the young man once more and said, "Don't loiter around; get a move on."

"Excuse me," said the young man. "I'm on urgent business. They even have a room ready for me there."

"Fine," said the watchman; "show me your ticket."

"I don't have a ticket. They told me they would let me in without one," said the young man, looking straight at the watchman.

"Well!" said the watchman.

"So what do you say?" asked the young man. "Will you let me through?"

"All right, all right," said the watchman. "Go ahead."

"But which way should I go? Where?" the young man asked. "I don't even know the way."

"Where do you have to go?" the watchman asked and made a severe face.

The young man put his hand over his mouth and said in a very low voice, "To heaven."

The watchman leaned forward, moved his right foot so as to stand more firmly, stared at the young man, and asked sternly: "What's the matter? Are you playing the fool?"

The young man smiled, raised one of his yellow-gloved hands, waved it over the head, and suddenly disappeared.

The watchman sniffed the air. The air smelled of burned feathers.

"Oh, my, my," said the watchman; he unbuttoned his jacket, scratched his stomach, spat at the spot where the young man had stood, and slowly went into his hut.

Last updated: Sep 3, 2002 by Adrian German for A348/A548