The senior switchman at the Orekhovo station came to collect his salary. The paymaster clicked his abacus and said to him:
"Salary: You get 25 rubles 80 kopecks (click!) Your credit at the clothing store, 12 rubles 50 kopecks. For school, 12 kopeks.
"And so I will hand over to you... (click! click!) T-h-r-e-e k-o-p-e-c-k-s. Here you go."
The switchman tottered, but didn't fall over because a long line had suddenly appeared behind him.
"What do you want?" the switchman asked, turning around.
"I'm the International Organization for Assistance to Revolutionary Fighters", said the first in line.
"I'm the Friend of Children," said the second.
"I'm the Mutual Aid society," said the third.
"I'm the Union."
"I'm the Friends of Chemical Defense and Industry."
"I'm the Volunteer Navy," said the sixth.
"We-l-l," said the switchman. "Here, brothers. Here's three kopecks. Divide it up however you like." And then he saw still someone else.
"What do you want?" the switchman asked curtly.
"For the banner", was the curt response. The switchman took off his clothes and said:
"Sew it yourself. And give the shoes to your wife."
And there was still one more:
"For the bust", said the one more.
The switchman thought for a bit then said:
"Take me, brothers, in place of the bust. Put me up on the ledge."
"Can't do it," the one more said. "You don't look like him."
"Well, then so be it," said the switchman and he turned to leave.
"Hey, naked guy, where you going?" they asked him.
"To get on the express train," the switchman answered.
"Where do you think you can go looking like that?"
"I'm not going anywhere," the switchman responded. "I'm just gonna sit there till next month. Maybe by then people will start to add things up like human beings. Like it says in the law."
Translated by: Eric Konkol
"Remembering Gudok" by Mikhail Bulgakov
A Short Biography of Mikhail Bulgakov