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Salient: Victoria University Students' Paper. Vol. 28, No. 8. 1965.

Noah Zark

Noah Zark

Noah, standing on a little bit of desert, shouting through his loud-hailer. Come ye, come ye, animals, I want two of everything.

A magnificent stew! said one of Noah's henchmen, loudly and giggled. The few animals who had come up all ran away again. Why did the bastards do that? Noah wondered. He was getting deaf. Come back, he shouted, and waved his bony white finger at them. A hyena laughed at him.

Noah got mad. If you arent all right here at dawn tomorrow Ill abandon you, leave you as bloated corpses on the seabottom. See what I mean? And Ill go by myself, with my pet canary.

The animals went down in a gully and chanted some obscene songs at him. Noah went savagely back to his ark and thought what a crummy job it is, just as well they arent going to send the bill till its too late. He flagellated a few slaves and thought he felt better, and painted some horror pictures to scare the peasants next door. He commandeered a hoarding in the main street and stuck his lurid posters on it Will This Be Your Fate? Animals your last chance to be saved. Write . . .

The next day he found a luxury corkhouse stuck in the desert next to his ark, with a sign saying The Original Noah's Ark, and another, a six colour revolving neon one, Travel 1st Class the Elshishah Way. (Then an exclamation mark: ! Noah hadnt thought of that.) Suspicious Noah went up to it and made sure there was nobody round and poked a few holes in it with his walking stick. Poor-workmanship, he sneered. But he went and poked a few holes in the bottom, just to make sure.

Then a man arrived and went in the El-Shishah corkhouse. ElShisnah! Noah muttered. He turned on the man. Whats the idea fast guy? he snarled. You El-Shishah?

Hell no, said the man. Im only his slave.

(Perhaps he can be bribed by me, thought Noah, and fiendishly twirled his moustoches).

Whats the idea of this here outfit? said Noah.

Its just that Shish doesnt want to get drowned. His horoscope for next month says Beware! of possible trouble with water. It worries him the fool thinks theres going to be a flood . . . He will be taking passengers of course. A thousand shekels. Payable to me. Now . . .

Im not here for that, said Noah (trying as hard as he could to sound dignified). I have . . . my own craft. Some crank sent me an anonymous letter—the sort with words cut out of newspapers so you cant see the writing—saying unto me: To Noah, see here mate Im telling youse theres gonna he a lotta watta round for the next 6 wks so dont say I didnt tellya, so long Mister Noah, yrs afftly Anon.

And, said Noah, I am (after all) renowned as Noah, no mere Seah, That man is verily right. Theres going to be a lot of rain here soon—see how low the wells are—all the water sucked up into heaven to store as rain, and see how suspiciously blue the skies are these days. Its significant. I mean symptomatic.—Why, of the decline of the age, what else? Would you like me to make a little speech about this? Animals, yea and peasants, no longer obey their superiors.

. . . They all refUsed to come on my ark. Serves them right if they get drowned. (But then what can we eat?)

Shish is taking animals too, said the slave. But he isnt going to eat themmm.—He wants to form them in a sort of leg show for when the floods go down, Make money.

Have you a passenger licence? said Noah (acting the stern bureaucrat).

Never eard of it.

You cannot carry animals without one (shutting his mouth fast to keep up the appearance).

The slave scratched his head, Sure?

Positive. (Very quick words.)

This is going to worry Shish. Where can you pinch them.

While I disapprove of your sentiments, said Noah . . . Huhh! As it happens I have the only one.

Lets have a look . . . cant read It.

It is inscribed in that ancient language they keep finding signs of, out there in the desert. Always the inscription aloc-acoc, all the experts baffled. Mystified.

Im not convinced, said the slave after a while (uneasily, Noah fancied).

. . . Shish is a sly type. He can do without.

Noah promptly hobbled off with a sneer on his walking stick. But later he found Shish the slave's Hyde up in a cactus bush with a megaphone, gigaphone, teraphone, and so on, loud enough to wake Noah from his apathy, stuff some cottonwool in his ears, and listen to Shish:

Join our cruise . . . better conditions . . . unencumbered by cranks bureaucrats puritan-hermits and bandits from the mountains . . . hear hear . . . cheapah cheapah cheapah!

Noah wasnt slow, he came out with his loudhailer and his stepsladder and his tribe of henchmen:

Join the smart set . . . the economy minded but oh so! luxurious . . . a lighthearted trip and youre in gay Rio . . . be rid of the three doubleyuze worry work and water . . . be rid of your taxman at last!

Then Shish took up the giant (but so charmingly painted!) Speakophone and blasted Noah out of his own ears: Float away your sex troubles.

Escape worldly floods, said Noah. He saw a few animals nearby. One might be, he hoped, nearer to his ark than Shish's. You down there, said Noah: Take the Marble Ark! He thought this animal might be a rabbit, he thought rabbits eat marble. Come one darling . . .

In the end all the animals went on Shish's corkhouse. Noah was mad. He relieved himself by swearing aloc-acoc, at his henchman. Me repeated to himself. I am not deterred in the slightest I am not deterred in the slightest I am not det. (Though he was visibly upset.) He consoled himself by making some lifelines and two heaps of death certificates and more holes in the bottom of the corkhouse. He even, very scientifically, made a few holes in the top (for the rain to come in).

On the twentieth of the month he climbed into his ark and symbolically put on his rainhat. He took his loudhaller in the middle of the night and shouted Get up you b——'s. Youre done for.

On the twentyfifth he took off his rain hat.

On the thirtieth he was boring some more holes in the corkhouse and there was a bomb test.