The Baker, The Butcher and The Brewer, Part Four – The Brewer 17

complex fiction

Serial Fiction

 

The Brewer was building on a steady progress. He felt like he was inside a cheesecake, soft and creamy all around. He dosed off.

He was sitting in his first grade classroom and among the many things on the enormous black board it stood out, ‘Here we take showers every day’. What was that supposed to mean, he thought, what was here to him! He tried to focus on the math problem but that sentence kept ringing in his head like a church bell. He pushed his chair back and stood up. Suddenly all turned green, his head poked up through the ground and he emerged into the green world.

He was in the middle of a vegetable garden with tomatoes, cucumbers, carrots, cabbage, peppers, lettuce, cilantro, potatoes and others less familiar to him. Endless fields of green vegetation span on all sides. He walked around and he saw his reflection in an enormous eggplant, he was old. As he expected, on the tomatoes and the other shiny vegetables he noticed dried up blue drops. He remembered the blue rocks that the men diluted in water and sprayed them all around against insects. Because of the blue rocks he had to wash the vegetables very carefully. He picked up three tomatoes and started juggling with them. He was pretty good at it. But! It was a low margin trade, he thought. He smiled to himself and heard a voice saying: ‘You are eating too much vegetables they are diluting your mind’.

He did not see anyone around but as a response to these words he picked up a tomato, rubbed it on his sleeve and bit on it. Before he could taste the juicy red vegetable he was teleported to an ice-covered island with a herd of sheep trying to break the ice to reach the green grass beneath. ‘You have to look for the spot where the ice is the thinnest!’ He urged them. They didn’t seem to understand what he meant. It suddenly got windy and he started walking toward what looked like a cottage in the middle of the island. It was a cottage indeed and he entered to find a fireplace and a simple bed crowded with books. On a chair by the fireplace was sitting a princess holding a bottle.

‘What do you want?’ Asked she, with a heavy demeanor implying that her question is not vague but in fact very specific. As in what do you want from life. A question specific in itself but mistaken for too general by most. Hence left unanswered, unaddressed, uncuddled. Left outside the warm cottage to parish and with it, hope. Ignoring that question means settling for less.

‘I want an exceptionally healthy mind and a simple principle that will rule all my choices.’

‘Is that simple enough for you!’ She handed him the bottle with a glass cork.

He nodded.

’You should never drink from that bottle. Can you do that?’ She went on.

He reached for the bottle.

With her freed had she lit a cigarette. ‘You don’t want your principles to be too simple.’ She smiled exhaling smoke.

He looked at the bottle and clearly saw the future. He uncorked it and took a sip. Everything shattered and he was flushed down to a riverbank.

He was standing on the riverbank with a tomato in his hand and he could almost see his reflection in it, he was young. It was extremely crowded, there were a number of fishermen along the bank with several rods each in the water awaiting a good catch. He decided it was too crowded and strolled along the bank in search for a more isolated place. He embarked on tall wild bushes and grasses searching for that right calm turn on the river where the fish was not expecting a fisherman. With a fearless confident stride of a young man he pushed the tall grasses into the unknown. Suddenly he heard a rattle and a snake run between his feet making his blood freeze for a moment. He quickly recovered and kept on fast with fear until he rejoined a beaten path. He followed it to edge of the river and before he reached it he saw a fishing rod moving about. He stepped down to the water and saw an old man. He knew this old man, everybody knew him but nobody was close to him. He was the best fisherman in town.

‘You are getting smarter little one.’ He uttered with a shredded voice. ‘You’ll be a wise old man one day.’

The Brewer looked at him hard and cold in disbelieve.

‘What, you don’t want to get old!’

‘Not today.’ Was all he managed.

The old man produced a genuine smile.

‘Can I fish here with you?’ The Brewer felt welcome.

‘Better not, you will make too much noise and none of us will catch fish. You have to find your own place along the river.’

He did not disagree and after a while of watching the old man not catching a single fish he went on along the bank. His confidence had dropped dramatically. The greatest fisherman of all time looked battered and beaten by life wearing shabby clothes and smoking thick cigars with nothing but sadness in his eyes. He had spent most of his life on the river, he thought, may be that was why, too much fishing. Fishing alone could not make you happy, could it. As he got deeper and deeper in the wilderness the grass became thinker and harder to push, the clouds became darker and he thought of home.

He looked around and fear crept inside him. It was cold, deserted and the wind was playing games with him. The tall grasses were bending and whipping his bare arms. A branch suddenly broke loudly in the distance. And then another one and another one… Until he woke up in the safety of his bed.

He woke up thinking that he never got to use his tomato to catch a fish. His mind did everything but rest all afternoon. The dream kept coming back for reevaluation no matter what he did to keep himself busy. He felt out of place in the cold reality of the world. In the dream everything was possible, he took sudden and surprising turns, that took him to magical palaces, with no effort just with a thought. A single neuron firing made it possible. It was beautiful. He wanted to be a neuron that lived only a second but created a beautiful idea and perished without feeling anything.

 

Stay tuned for next week’s installment of The Baker, The Butcher and The Brewer – Tuesday, May 17th

previous chapter: The Baker, The Butcher and The Brewer – The Brewer 16

all chapters: The Baker, The Butcher and The Brewer

more by PETER ODEON

photograph by Marijana Petrovic

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