Upon waking up, Kosta Spiridonovich shook from the cold and looked to the left, where Bombur Isakovich was snoring like a pig. He slowly pulled out his hand from under the four blankets and blocked his nostrils…

Bombur Isakovich tried to breathe, tossed and turned a little bit, then started inhaling like a vacuum through his open mouth and letting out puffs of hot breath. So cold, Kosta thought as he looked at the warm breath of Bombur turning into mist…

“Bombur!” he whispered. “Wake up!”

Bombur Isakovich was breathing in and out, in and out…feeling ticklish and cold, he pulled the blankets to his side, leaving Kosta Spiridonovich shuddering from the chill. Kosta slapped his forehead with an open palm so hard that Bombur, looking at him dozily, interrupted from some great dream, was asking for an explanation.

“Mosquitoes,” Kosta Spiridonovich whispered.

“In November?” Bombur mumbled half-awake.

“Must be those new mutant breeds. Come on, get up; we need to take a shower.”
Kosta stood up, hopping on his feet, rubbing his hands. Bombur tried to get up, the bed was creaking under the pressure—only to fall asleep again. Kosta turned back and hit him with an open palm again, telling him: “Flies…”

Now they were sitting in the kitchen, in three layers of sweaters, drinking coffee mixed with cocoa that they got from the Battered Women Association. The sugar was from voting for the Rebirth Party. As they were sharing a cigarette—two puffs each—Kosta Spiridonovich stood up, went to the bathroom and looked all around for the shampoo bottle.

“Bombur, where’s the shampoo?” he asked from the kitchen.

“Mm? Sham…pooh?” Bombur asked, dragging as much of a cigarette as he could.

“Yes, yes, the shampoo. Where’s the bottle?”

“Look around, should be—cough, cough—should be somewhere in there…”

Kosta Spiridonovich went back to the kitchen; Bombur was staring at nothing while the cigarette was burning to the end. Looking for an explanation, Bombur grumbled, “Bosnian cigarettes. You know they put sawdust in there…burns for a second…”

Kosta couldn’t argue, so, thinking, he asked: “Well, what about shampoo?

“What about it? We’ll just shower tomorrow…” droned Bombur groggily, leaning on his palm, beginning to doze off…Kosta hit him again, to which Bombur replied, “That ‘mosquito’ again! Was it really a mosquito, Kosta; did you lie?”

“As if. You reek, Bombur; I wouldn’t dream of it! And”—he smelled his chest pulling his sweaters”—oof! C’mon, we need to go and get some shampoo…”

They went out on the street. Bombur had 320 dinars, Kosta had 410, all together—730. And the cheapest shampoo was 500. Bread was at least 50. Eggs, 10 dinars a piece, while cooking oil was 300…

“Kosta…let’s just wait for our salary…” grumbled Bombur out in the cold.

“We’ve been waiting for it for the past two months, you fat idiot! Shut up! Let me think…” They already went all around the town, but Kosta was puzzled: looking at the plastic bags of the people—he saw shampoo. But he also saw books.

“Ah, I get it! I get it! C’mon, Bombur, hurry up!”

“Where are we going?”

“To a bookstore!”

So off they went. Going inside, Bombur and Kosta looked around—sure was warm…Bombur figured it out: they will wait here for an hour, then go back to search for shampoo! Kosta sure is smart!

“Alright—I will look around. You also look around—try to find the cheapest book you can.”

Bombur nearly had a stroke. Did he come here to actually buy a book?!

“Kosta!” he whispered! “The hell you need a book for!”

“You idiot!” whispered Kosta Spiridonovich. “Keep your voice down!” The seller was looking at them. “Look at the counter. See those bottles? That’s shampoo!”

“What would shampoo be doing in a bookstore, Kosta?!”

“Hell if I know! A promotion or something! So…we find something cheap, and… get a bottle of shampoo!”

“Can I help you with something?” asked the clerk. “No, no—just looking around! Looking around…” said Kosta. Bombur saw a coloring book he liked; Kosta stepped on his shoe. “Alright, the price is in the first blank page, after the hard cover. Search for something under 400, or 300…what are you looking at me for? Go!” whispered Kosta and went around opening books. Bombur smiled at the clerk—she smiled back, sourly—and went looking around the children’s section.

Half an hour has passed, and Kosta was cursing in his chin, all bones rattling while Bombur was half-dozing, reading aloud: “Little Mary and her Granny went to see small Mary’s Nanny! Mary’s Nanny, always fanny…” Hehehe, fanny…he felt someone hit him on the back of his head—it was Kosta.

“What are you doing, you idiot?!” whispered Kosta, tossing a quick smile to the confused clerk. “I said, what are you doing?!

“What, you told me to look books, I am looking at books…” grumbled Bombur.

“I told you to look for the price, not read them, you idiot!”

“Okay, okay, no need to shout at me…what about this?” Kosta grabbed the children’s tale “Little Mary,” looked at the front page—500 dinars—and his eyes rolled back from anger. Looking around he saw a cellar, and said: “You know what? Go down there.”

“What, why do I need to go down there?”

“Just go down there and keep searching for books. Don’t embarrass me.”

“Why do I need to go?!” whispered Bombur.

“Because I said so! Now go!” Kosta whispered.

“I don’t want to! Kosta!” Kosta already went on the other end of the store, hidden from sight. Bombur whispered: “Kosta! I can’t go down there! Kosta…!” The clerk was staring, and Bombur asked: “Um, can I go down there?” pointing at the cellar. “Of course.” said the clerk. Deflating, Bombur Isakovich went down…

“Kafka, Bukowski, Chekhov…what the? Isaac Babel? They still publish this?” Kosta already forgot shampoo while Bombur was down there, looking around the comics section. There was no one there and he was reading some action comic book—the pictures were very pretty but, smelling something sour, he looked around, and noticing no one was there, smelled the comic…ah, right! Shampoo!

Already an hour or so passed and the clerk was going cross-eyed staring at Kosta leisurely reading a book for the past half an hour, while she was staring at the fat one on the camera looking at books constantly dropping them on the floor, only to pick them up and place them wherever. She looked at the counter at the bottle of shampoo and wanted to fling it across the store. Meanwhile, Bombur somehow roamed around the sections, coming to “Religious Literature.”

A tiny, palm-sized book by some “Father Thadeus” was there and, picking it up, he saw the price and it was only 165 dinars! Ha! Bombur thought, I still got it! Now let’s see who’s the idiot, Kosta Spiridonovich! Rushing up—the stairs were thumping and creaking from his weight—he waved the book in front of the bored clerk’s face, yelling out loud: “Shampoo! I want to buy this shampoo!”

“Do you mean the book, sir?” asked the clerk.

“Right! I want to buy!

“That will be 165, sir. Do you have our membership card?” asked the clerk.

Bombur looked at her baffled.

“Right…that will be 165 dinars.”

Bombur searched his pockets, pulling out a 200 dinar bill…hungrily eyeing the shampoo on the counter, his nostrils flaring while the clerk was slowly, elegantly, casually scanning his book—she asked him does he want a plastic bag—well, of course, what, you want me to put it in my pants?! he thought…finally, he saw a bottle of shampoo in a bag, and, picking up the bag, stormed out, completely forgetting Kosta Spiridonovich…

Feeling annoyed, the clerk was sprinkling perfume around the counter after the door clinked and, going up around the corner, said to the bony man giggling staring into the book: “Uh, sir? Your friend left.”

Kosta Spiridonovich smiled pleasantly, closed the book, (took Bombur’s change), thanked the clerk, and, with a quickened pace, went outside, thinking, Bombur Isakovich, you fat bastard!

Bombur, however, was wheezing, running, then stopping to catch his breath while the plastic bag swayed, hitting him in his belly. Mosquitoes, do you think I am stupid, Kosta Spiridonovich?! I’ll show you…! Right behind him, minutes apart, Kosta was hopping like a stork, cursing the incoming traffic, and stopping on endless red lights…

Nearly dead from exhaustion, Bombur opened the door—luckily they forgot to lock it—and, hastily taking off his clothes, went into the shower, turned on the hot water, and started washing…

Three minutes later, Kosta Spiridonovich charged through the opened door, yelling: “Bombur!” He already heard the shower—and started taking off his clothes.

“Make room!” said the naked, bony Kosta Spiridonovich, to the fat, blubbery Bombur Isakovich.

“What do you mean, make room?! Get out! Get out and wait your turn!” yelled Bombur, steaming.

“You nearly spent all the water, you fat fuck! Now—move!” Kosta Spiridonovich went in under the now tepid stream, yelling at Bombur, “Rub it! Rub it all over my back! Faster!”

Bombur’s hairy, bloated belly was pushing Kosta’s bony back while the fat man was rubbing his shoulders, only for the stork to turn, yelling: “Now my chest! Rub my chest!” Bombur was almost sweating from exhaustion, and Kosta was all foamed up, rubbing his privates the best he could, as Bombur was holding the shower head with one hand, more on him than his friend.

Suddenly, a cold, hard shriek was heard from the shower. The tepid water ran out. Bombur tried to get out when Kosta suddenly grabbed him, yelling: “Where are you going?! Wash me down!”

Bombur Isakovich and Kosta Spiridonovich, finally washing down the foam, nearly broke their necks getting out of the shower into the cold, frosty air of the apartment, hopping about or rubbing their bodies. Kosta ran into the room looking for fresher clothes while Bombur was pulling whatever smelled better from the pile he and Kosta left on the floor in front of the bathroom. Then both of them jumped into the bed, fighting over the blankets while Kosta was slapping Bombur’s forehead and the fat man was trying to strangle the thin one.

Panting heavily, both men, now feeling freshened up but sneezing, looked into the ceiling for no reason. Bombur said he’s sorry, Kosta said he’s sorry, too. Kosta asked what book he bought. “Father Thadeus,” Bombur replied. Well, it will be good for starting a fire in the furnace…

As they were lying, they both thought they forgot something…when Bombur’s belly started rumbling, Kosta hit himself in the forehead so it echoed, yelling out: “Damn! We forgot to buy eggs!”