My name is Kish. If you didn’t know, it means small in Hungarian. On days of high barometric pressure, I’m 146.9 centimeters tall. On other days I can get up to 147 cm. You might ask why this matters to me or to anyone else. Well, it matters a lot. When pressed earthward, I’m officially designated a “midget” or a “dwarf,” or to use the currently more common and politically correct term “little person.” On the other hand, at my full height, I effortlessly join the ranks of ordinary people, short, of course, but regular.
Ask yourself honestly what kind of woman would want to go out with a midget, sorry, little person? Not to mention going in for some wanky wanky. Okay, maybe a female midget would, but few of the rest, the regular females. That really limits the possibilities. Moreover, not that I actually do it, but as an honest person, if I were to register on a dating website during periods of pressure, I’d have to reveal my midget status to potential lovelies.
All this might help you understand the subject of “treasure of the dwarfs” and my attitude to it. Or not. You might, though, find some interest in my life story.
Anyway, my Granny, a regular woman, raised me after my normal mother and her anonymous (to me) impregnator, also normal, split up and went in separate directions. This was either because they discovered my handicap or due to mutual loathing, independent of my situation. Granny used to call me her little treasure, but that’s irrelevant. Shortly before she left this world, while busy with dying, she called me to her bedside and revealed the secret of the treasure of the dwarfs. If you haven’t heard about it, the gist of it is that the Blessed Lord, in his Jewish iteration, felt the need to atone for the iniquity he brought upon his little people. He, therefore, hid a “conditional” treasure for each and every one of them. And what was the condition? A midget who throughout his life, was God-fearing and sang the praises of the Creator, notwithstanding the poisoned gift he or she had received at birth, would at some point get a heavenly sign. It would be a roadmap to a pot of gold (probably a lot more than a pot at recent exchange rates). All that without having to travel to the end of a rainbow.
I was someone who was used to suffering the empty half of the cup of life. Also, as a very small, in every sense of the word, fan of the Holy One in his varied theological revelations, I tended not to give much credence to the hallucinations of a nice and well-meaning old lady on her deathbed. At first, I considered challenging her story by saying that his Heavenly Eminence could have avoided the need for atonement and might have saved some coin, had he refrained in the first place from creating midgets and other such mutants. But what was the point of using brutal logic on a sweet old woman of faith, about to return her soul to that mixed up, spendthrift Father and King? I let it go.
Yet, being a born skeptic, I was just as doubtful about my own logic. Something kept hammering away at my brain and led me in the opposite direction. I read somewhere that people about to die tend to lie less. Maybe Granny knew something I didn’t? Maybe there was something to the myth? What could I lose by looking into it, advised the midget devil on my shoulder?
“Dearest Granny,” I whispered in her ear. Actually, it was more of a shout, so that she would focus and concentrate during what might be her last moments. “How will I know when I’ve accumulated the required number of Godly points? And when I have enough, how will I find the Maker’s gift that is meant just for me?
Her breathing was shallow, and the light in her eyes was almost gone as I bent closer to her lips.
“The Archangels…Gabriel and Michael… in a storm of lightning… angry rain and floods… upon earth shall appear. The stars in the sky as an avenue…”
Her voice weakened, and I labored to decipher the coded words that floated upon her final exhalations. I transcribed it word for word. Everything was clear now. I knew what to wait for and how to prepare.
Pouring rain floods the roads, and every few moments, a bolt of lightning bathes the surroundings in metallic brightness. I turn up the volume on the radio to overcome the staccato drumbeat of rain on the roof of the car and the explosions of thunder. The wipers sway rhythmically but surrender to the jets of water hitting the windshield. I can barely see as far as the headlight beams and the car creeps forward carefully, even though the road is empty. Another crack of lightning and a vehicle, a big SUV, passes me and sends a massive wave in my direction. I brake and swear, but as I hurl verbal arrows toward the bully on wheels, his car tilts from side to side and suddenly skates across the road. Gleaming red lights, overturning, rolling down the embankment, crashing sounds above the fury of the storm. Then just the rhythm of the wipers, the drumming on the roof and Carol King singing Tapestry on the radio.
I have to hurry. Maybe I can help. Perhaps I can save somebody. But I move slowly because I’m scared. I slide, slip and slide again down the slope. The car is lying on its roof like a dead roach. Smoke drifts up from the hot chassis. Shattered windows and an empty passenger compartment. I scan the area and my shouts are swallowed by the rain. There’s something that looks like a pile of rags. A closer look reveals a kid. Slight movement.
“Little boy, don’t move. I’ll get help. Who else was with you? Where…”
It’s not a child. It’s an adult, a tiny one lying broken. Blood leaks from his nose and mouth. He makes a croaking sound and goes quiet. He looks with empty eyes at the sky and sees nothing.
A moment later, shivering with cold, I’m back to reality. I dial 911 and, through chattering teeth, report the accident. “Hello, I’m Jerome…” Accident. Ambulance. Help.
“Sir, calm down. Police and an ambulance are on the way. Stay where you are. Do you know the identity of the injured person?”
I go back to him and find a driver’s license in his jacket pocket. His name is Kasper Kish. There’s a small notebook too. While I wait for the emergency crew in my car, I go through the wet notebook. The ink is smeared but the writing is legible. To begin with, it looks like a scary children’s tale.
“The Archangels Gabriel and Michael in a storm of lightning, angry rain and floods upon the earth shall appear. The stars in the sky as an avenue…”
Mr. Elmore Smallwood
National Association of Little People
Dear Mr. Smallwood,
My name is Tony Bannister. You don’t know me, and it was just recently that I became aware of the great work done by your association. I am writing to you, guardian of the cultural heritage and history of the little people in our country (those who used to be called, out of misguided malice, midgets).
I am not a little person, nor are any of the known members of my family. We are all of normal stature. The connection to your beautiful world was created by my father, Jerome Bannister, who recently passed away after a long, fruitful life. You may know of him since he was one of the wealthiest people in our country. My father told me that life had been kind to him and had raised him in a short time from lowly existence to unimaginable riches. And as someone blessed by the good Lord with wealth and happiness, he decided to help the less fortunate. He, therefore, devoted much of his life to philanthropy.
Upon his death, I was named the executor of his will, and I am delighted to inform you that father left the sum of 10 million dollars to your association for the advancement of research into the health of little people and for treatment of needy little people. I must admit that I do not know what brought my father close to the little people. Still, there is no doubt that he held them in high esteem and apparently was especially grateful to a particular person among them, with whom he had become acquainted in the past. Therefore he stipulated that the fund for assistance to little people be named after Kasper Kish.
Finally, he requested that I send you the attached notebook containing one of the myths of the little people. The notebook is meant for the Little People Museum of Culture in our city.
I would be grateful if we could meet soon to coordinate the fulfillment of my father’s last wishes.
Prof. Anthony Bannister