Hurrah for the Belted Bonito!
A collection of short stories by Dr. Nanyu Manafov
Blood Pressure Theory
One hot summer afternoon, three retired fishermen were crouched under-neath the old, crooked fig tree by the port, caulking the rickety boat of Rashko the Orphan. They were toiling away, sipping from time to time from a glass oil bottle filled to the brim with strong homemade wine, and casually talking about med-ical matters. Yani the Hook was holding court, as he was the youngest of the three – but the one with the highest blood pressure.
“I have my own theory about my illness”, he concluded with a certain air of importance, wiping away the sweat of his forehead with the back of his hand. “We were discussing this with that young doctor the day before yester-day, and he started telling me how I shouldn’t drink, smoke, eat anything salty as if all of that mattered. ‘But what about women?’ I asked him. ‘Why do we men rarely have high blood pressure until we decide to marry?’ “The doctor chuckled. He is a bachelor, who doesn’t have a care in the world. What does he know about how a woman can send your blood pressure soaring 10 times a day with all her nagging and arguing? And how this can go on for days, even years, until your blood vessels start to get rusty and finally play a trick on you, just like they tricked me a year ago.
“I woke up one morning ready to go catch some shrimps”, he went on, continuing with his story. “And while I was slipping out of bed, my wife woke up as well, and I don’t know what got into her but she started to get all cuddly with me as if we were newlyweds. And I had no choice but to give in to her kisses. In other words, I raised my blood pressure while I was still in bed. “Then I went to the harbour and got into my boat, but all of a sudden something struck me across the forehead and my tongue became tied. I got real-ly scared. I could move my hands and my feet but my tongue was tied. I got out of the boat and went straight to the hospital. I stayed in the hospital for 40 days until they fixed me. Some blood vessel had burst inside my head, they told me. “Anyway, I got away with it. I got early retirement due to my illness. But I could not just stay idle! I got a part-time job at the alehouse where I prepared the fish before they put it on the grill. One day, I was sitting behind the shack in the shadow, cleaning the fish, sipping some wine occasionally, feeling fan-tastic. “But then this Polish woman came over to me, straight from the beach, with nothing but her bathing suit on. I didn’t dare look at her, she was all sassy and attractive from all sides. But this lady shouted to me: “Pane, Pane” (this means ‘sir’ in Polish) and pointed to a towel she was carrying. In other words, she wanted me to hold the beach towel for her so she could change. I folded out the sheet to make a screen for her and turned my head to the other side and the woman started to undress. I was holding the sheet, but my hands were trem-bling and this wretched desire of mine got the better of me, so I took a peek. And at this moment I felt that stroke again and my tongue started to become numb, as if I had swollen an electrical conductor. I thought that was the end of me! I threw away the sheet and started to run as fast as I could. I could hear the woman behind me screaming ‘Pane, Pane!’ But this ‘ Pane’ was running for his life and there was no turning back. I got lucky again; the blood vessels with-stood the attack!”
The fishermen burst into laughter and Barba Nicholas mumbled.
“You’re right, Yani, women are a curse, they’re the cause of all our illnesses…”