Chaos in Starosel

28/08/2009 by Christopher Buxton

I rob banks for a living, what do you do?

My name’s Ivan Dillingov – yes that’s me – the leader of the best band of robbers you’ll ever see. I’m careful on my recruitment policy – only hire the best.

Let me introduce the team. There’s Babe Nelzov – he’s crazy but he’s got a face as round and smooth as a billiard ball. But don’t rile him. He’s meaner than Balkan bear – only not as hairy. There’s Kalashnikov Kelsky – he’s kind of sweet natured but he can’t exercise no more control on his machine gun than he can on his women. And driving the getaway-mobile is Clyde Barovski – both feet on the gas and both hands around his moll, Miss Bonnie Parkova, possessor of the cutest ass you ever did see perched on a steering wheel.

Well Bulgaria’s been good to me. Police, lawyers and judges all return my calls for a just a little percent of the takings. I feel well looked after wherever I go. There are so many banks! Gee whizz! I can’t remember all their names. Still – it’s pretty dang straight forward. Clyde just drives us up, and I shout “Hey boys, time to make a withdrawal!” We go in, ignoring the signs that say no guns allowed. Everyone’s happy to hit the floor. Babe Nelzov gets to scare the pretty tellers a little. I shout: “These few levs you lose here today are going to buy you stories to tell your children and great-grandchildren. This could be one of the big moments in your life; don’t make it your last! That usually cracks up the public and gets us reported in all the best newspapers. We grab the cash. And hightail it out while the police go off in the opposite direction and crack a few heads in the gypsy part of town.

Everything’s just high and dandy till I get this recommendation. Go rob a joint in Starosel. Boy did that turn out to be a hedgehog in the undershorts!

Clyde picked it out on the map. One road in and one road out – straight through the centre. It looked such a knockover! We didn’t even bother to case the joint. Besides it’s in Plovdiv county and I’ve got good friends in that state. Bonnie Parkova said there’s some old tomb just outside the town. I say it’s probably the resting place of some ancient gangster – but we won’t have no time to pay our respects.

We spent the night before holed up in some wooden dive in old Koprivchitza. Bonnie thought it was kind of pretty – she’s cultural that way. We set out late the next morning, due to Babe finding it difficult to locate anything worth shaving.

I should have known we were in for a rough ride even before we got into Starosel. Boy the bumps and holes were like a drive on the moon without the low gravity. Clyde had his hands full of steering wheel for a change and Bonnie felt neglected.

Coming in to Starosel was like coming into the Oklahoma dustbowl. Clyde nearly went into the diggers, cranes and earth movers. It was like the town knew we were coming and had barred our way. Bonnie had to rip off her skirt to wipe the windshield and Clyde drove us down a side street that looked like an alley in some foreign legion film. I rolled down the back window and hailed a local. “Hey old timer! We’re the Ivan Dillingov gang. Tell us where your bank is at!”

I have to say – he kind of looked confused. He spent so much time scratching his head I had to stop Nelzov from shooting him. In the end he just told us to follow the signs.

Well there were no signs at first – then there were some arrows – but none of them labeled – so we had no idea where we were headed – except everywhere was just dust and sand and holes and raised manhole covers. I reckon we’d have got to the bank faster by drain.

We met lots of foreign folks coming the other way. At first I thought they were from a rival outfit. I almost got Nelzov to shoot them up a little. But it turned out that they were just looking for this old bloke’s tomb. Some of them had been driving round Starosel for hours. Mind you when they got an eyeful of Bonnie in her bloomers they soon found her mounds a whole lot more interesting.

But every five yards of road was a burial mound as far as I was concerned. I just had to grit my teeth to stop them from falling out. One point we were directed off the road and through a children’s playground. At least there weren’t so many bumps past the slides and swings. I could see Babe was hankering after a go but I had to remind him of our mission.

At the end of the park we rolled into the dust again. As Clyde took a track down to a hump bridge, I was feeling pretty gloomy about a quick getaway.

Over the bridge, there was some big swanky restaurant – well it was dust-swanky and there was a whole mess of reversing cars. Well, dang me – if we don’t see some asphalt – the only asphalt in the whole town – but it’s being rolled by a steam roller. This is it boys, the centre!

I wave my gun. “ Yonder’s the bank! Let’s make a withdrawal boys!” But Clyde’s in no mood to argue with a steam roller and the prettiest waitress you ever did see jumps out waving her hands at me to reverse.

“Sorry, Mr. Dillingov, but our little town centre’s closed for traffic – even for important folks like you.” She then burst into tears. “Gee! It’s been like this for a year – all the streets of our town ploughed up. Mr. Dillingov, you know some important people in this country! Please use your influence. We ain’t got a mayor worth a rattlesnake hide and the contractors are so ornery. It’s getting so even local folks don’t know their way around. And all these foreigners bashing up their cars. They don’t stop no more and so there’s no money in the bank.”

If there were any police I’d have got them to guide us out of town. But they’re only interested in good roads where they can fine speeders. I got Clyde to reverse out and don’t ask me how we found our way out of town.

Babe says next time he’ll bring a tank.