The Baker, The Butcher and The Brewer, Part Three – The Butcher 16
The Butcher could tell from the moment the man entered his massive corner office that he despised him. Because he knew! They both knew. He was in their pocket and he didn’t even know who they were. But their five thousand dollar suits and soft voices made him pale.
‘An abstract contemplation of the continuity of inherited behavior is a bleak substitute for the happiness of shared family life.’ Softly begun Archibald.
The Butcher thought he was quite arrogant, greeting with a condescending dissection of his being. He acted as if the Butcher was the guest. The cornered beast didn’t know who this eloquent man was or why he had cleared all his appointments for the day. But! He rightfully suspected a connection to Harry.
‘Your father in law speaks very highly of you.’ He went on. ‘But I don’t trust drunks.’ His diction was marble steady.
‘I don’t believe we’ve been acquainted. I can tell that you are a very respectable gentleman but I am not sure what your business with me is!’ The Butcher started hoping for the best.
‘You are familiar with the Baker!’
‘Yes. He has grown exceedingly popular in certain circles.’
‘My business is to make him extremely popular in all circles.’ Archibald looked him straight in the eyes. The Butcher hated him for being in control.
‘I see.’ He said thoughtfully.
‘You are about to facilitate one of the most grandiose art shows of our time. Right here in the centerpiece of the art world. It will be truly massive, the media coverage, every soul on earth will hear about it.’ Archibald said evenly. His playful smile never left his face.
The Butcher’s perspective shrank as if his looking cone was suddenly turned around. If he hated something the most in the world it was others telling him what to do. And! At that very moment his capacity for love for the arts was approaching zero. He despised the Baker, the very core of him. He was a great artist, sure. But he came from a capitalist family and never had it hard. The most difficult part of his life was fighting his demons with fifty-year-old wine and prostitutes. Embracing him was equal in weight to the States embracing communism. However! By Archibald’s demeanor he had the feeling he was not asking he was telling.
‘We will do everything we can to accommodate special requests. But! We have rules, ways of doing things here. Anything abnormal I will have to veto in the board room.’ Lectured protocol the Butcher.
‘The board had already agreed, in writing and will be happy to oblige.’ Archibald didn’t like to be lectured.
‘Without a full meeting!’
‘You are the director, the one that matters. That is why I am here in person to pay my respects.’
‘And I thank you for that. I will look over the paperwork and take everything into consideration.’ The Butcher was firm.
Suddenly the room got darker. Only darkened by the deep edges that appeared on Archibald’s face. As a man accustomed to power he could tolerate bureaucratic talk only for so long. His power came from always possessing the tool to drill through the firmest of wills.
‘My directness should not be surprising to you. By now you have suspected that you are where you are because of us.’ Very calmly. He sounded like a first grade teacher helping a child that is behind on his learning.
The Butcher froze in space, his mind racing.
‘You are not a moral person. When you entered our agreement you knew you will be called to for something that you might not agree with. Principles are important for a person!’ Pause. ‘But there are things more important for us as whole. This doesn’t need to be an unpleasant job. It is like putting your shoes on. The more you loosen the laces the easier it is.’
Archibald was in a state of flow. (His rhetoric although cognitively engaging appeared effortless for him.)
The Butcher could see his heart pulsing with beautiful circles in the cup of coffee he was holding. He felt like that girl he once fired. He focused on the circles in order to curb his emotions. But! They were volcanoing out of him.
‘I feel opaque about it.’ He slipped.
‘Feel! You feel! Feelings?’ Archibald rolled his eyes. Several moments of silence passed. ‘If I suspected that you were devaluated to a feeling-being I would just invest in change of regime.’
‘That won’t be necessary.’ The Butcher lifted his stare from the beautifully pulsing coffee.
‘I know you like ice-skating. I mean your lesbian wife likes ice-skating. You like to take her so you appear politically correct. Last winter you took her up north to an actual lake. Many people were sliding joyfully on the surface of that lake. Cheering and all. The lodge in the distance, smoke coming out of the chimney. Roasted meats and good wine. If you have a change of heart about our venture! Life will certainly show its opaque side for you. You will be up to the waist in the ice-cold lake. You will be able to smell those roasted meats but never taste them. And all the vitamins in the world won’t be able to save you.’ Radically calm.
The Butcher could feel the ice water pinching his skin.
‘I am converted to the local realism Mr…’ Said he timorously.
‘Archibald. The most important thing you need to know about the Baker is that he is the kind of fish you have to cook all the way.’ Exhaled Archibald.
previous chapter: The Baker, The Butcher, and the Brewer, Part Three – The Butcher 15
all chapters: The Baker, The Butcher, and The Brewer
more by PETER ODEON
photograph by Christina Bruno
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