The 26 eclectic-genre short stories for my #AtoZChallenge are excerpts from travelogue notes by
novel character Gahlen, who first appeared in SHARDS OF MEMORY – Oral History in a Heartbeat.
Each A-to-Z daily post is a complete, stand-alone tale.
Zulu Warrior in Belgium
Genre: Shared Fantasy
Belgium demonstrates its humor in unusual ways. They honor a rather risqué, diminutive bronze sculpture, Manneken Pis, located on an obscure corner near the Grand Place in the heart of old Brussels.
Strangely enough, nobody seems to actually know why the manneken is there. He is believed to be nothing more than a decoration on top of a fountain, where people in the Middle-Ages came to get fresh water. Already in the 15th century, a fountain called 'manneken-pis' existed in the Stoffstraat/Rue de l'etuve. The official origin can be traced back to 13 August 1619 when the city ordered the sculptor Jerome Duquesnoy to make a new bronze statue of manneken-pis to replace an old and withered one.
As one of the stories goes, during the course of centuries, the little manneken has often been hidden to protect him against bombs of invading armies. According to a restaurant waiter most eager to refill my beer stein, the statue has been stolen several times by plundering soldiers and even by the citizens of Geraardsbergen, a city in Flanders that claims to possess the oldest statue of a peeing boy in Belgium.
The Brussels statue of a naked little boy, picturesquely doing just what the name implies, has over 654 costumes – donated from every country in the world. A Costume Committee reviews each new submission to assure that it meets the criteria of authenticity and proper structure. Costumes range from Santa Claus and a Swiss Soldier to a Zulu Warrior.
The waiter leaned close while refilling my stein once again, and said, “The little statue has become a national treasure.”
With no inclination to question the statement, I sipped my beer in silence. Another question I refrained from asking: “Why would any army want to bomb a little boy who is so desperately in need of relief?”
Oh, what a relief to have arrived at the letter Z in the #AtoZChallenge!