The Baker, The Butcher and The Brewer, Part Four – The Brewer 10
Laughter exploded around the table. The table-wear clutter dipped again and bounced right back as everyone resumed eating. The workers were too tired for lengthier inquiries into the fabric of sauce preferences.
After dinner a gypsy played the guitar. The old farmer retired in the library. The library was an oval room in the center of the house. No windows, only shelves of books lining all the walls. Comfortable leisurely furniture in the middle. No one was allowed in. The old farmer rested from the world with a glass of late harvest wine and a teleporting read.
The thick layer of books on the library walls served as an isolation. A layer of atlases, history, poetry, timeless fiction gently reflecting the world back to itself, creating an island of tranquility. For the old farmer was clever but he was not fast-clever and he knew it. That was the reason he built the library. He needed a place for reflection and consideration.
Harry was not allowed in the library either. Harry had a mind so he needed books. His father would periodically select books for him and leave them in his room. Harry had attempted to receive a visa for the oval island but the old man was firm. He was very diligent in the sifting the books for his son. He wanted him to take over the farm. He knew certain books induced the notion of running after the wind so he considered them poisonous to the boy’s mind.
Harry would wander about the rural hills. An abandoned textile factory was his favorite. He would devise minor conspiracies to endow his father’s endorphin levels and only then attempt to ask him for the key to the island.
‘If you spend more time with Vinnie you will like a lot of sauce. If you spend a lot of time with Iron you will like no sauce at all.’ The old farmer explained firmly every time.
Harry’s mother had a bakery in town. The family had bought it to further establish itself as a leading mercantile. She also wanted to keep busy. They knew everyone and everyone knew them.
Harry saw nothing but limitations in his world. He had an appetite for the wind. He craved anonymity.
And he received it when they sent him to study in the city. As an education in a prestigious school had become a desired trend. The old farmer was sure that the wall of carefully selected literature he had surrounded Harry with would withstand the breezy world.
When Harry came home for the holidays after a year in the city he was awake and vibrant. The wall was in ruins. He suggested that he was doing well in the city. The city gave him energy and opportunities of colors and size unavailable at the farm.
His parents were silent. The old farmer knew he had lost a son. But! Denied it bitterly and closed himself in the library. The mother proceeded to explain to Harry at length the facts of life. He took it mindfully and argued back. Dry-mouthed and close-minded in a desperate attempt to stir him back she said bitterly that she would rather have him be a taxi driver in-town that let him wonder off.
He never went back.
Stay tune for next week’s installment of The Baker, The Butcher and The Brewer – Tuesday, March 22.
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more by PETER ODEON
photograph by May Mantri