The Baker, The Butcher and The Brewer, Part One: The Baker 37
Serial Fiction Novel
By the time he passed these thoughts between his ears he was on the station platform waiting for the train. Waiting is something he was not used to. He had lived his enter life with a butler around the clock. The people around him look like they have been waiting all their lives. Not only for the train. But! For something good to happen to them.
A kid, about fifteen, strolled by him openly drinking from a miniature bottle of rum. He stared at him a little too hard and the kid approached and offered it to him. He did take it and dashed an enjoyable gulp. They never exchanged words or looked at one another again, just shared pain. That interaction immediately made him feel closer to the kid than to most of his friends whom he had known for years. He had a big smile on his face when he was walking in the train both from the rum and from the singular chemical reaction in his head.
His joyful air was met with scrutiny by the rest of the train riders. He could hear their thoughts whispering in his ear ‘look around you, what you are smiling at’. He composed himself and judged that smiles make you look vulnerable in this land of hardship. He quickly blended in with his best elevator face complimented by a good measure of a bitter smirk. The train felt safe, it was neutral ground, no man’s land. The air here bred moderation, self-expression and aggression was buried underneath strict code. It was part of the system and had rules and regulation and if you didn’t abide by these there were consequences. It was highly likely police were patrolling or never too far from the train or a station. The public transportation was part of that same system that puts restrictions and limitation on the people using it. The very reason some people get their little revenge by scratching, littering, graffiti, pissing on it, cursing it and acting like they don’t need it. The fact is that they do need it, they depend so hopelessly on it that they would probably perish without it and they know it. They know it and that makes them angry. They take their anger out on the smaller subsystem because they know they can’t change the big system. Actually they can, as a group, change the system but that system had done its best to tame them and discourage them. Hence, graffiti is all they have and all they understand.
His steady flow of thoughtfulness fueled by this exciting place was intervalled by the train stops at which people boarded and got off through the sliding doors. Doors did what they do best, opened and closed. The weary evening passengers went in and out through the silent barriers. That is what they did best. Doors wouldn’t open or opened in vain. The world of doors intersected the world of men. The two worlds changed each other’s fates without being aware of each other.
Three schoolboys joined the random mix of thinkers in the train. The rum kid was shifting his stare from them to Anton like he was trying to tell him something. The newcomers held their corner with silence and bitter short glances. Not too far from them an elderly gentleman unwisely had his wallet sticking out of his back pocket. Anton wouldn’t have noticed unless the rum kid didn’t direct his attention to it. He couldn’t stare at them too hard for their stare back was a menacing soul obtrusion. He scanned the entire car for more potential victims thinking that he was the most observant person present.
Nothing out of the ordinary, it was almost empty and half of the people were snoozing. The rest looked harmless and indifferent. A girl sitting by the door was playing on her phone and grinning from time to time at her successes. The rum kid had his bottle wrapped in paper and was still sipping on it. The chubby guy was eating a sandwich. A sharply dressed middle-aged man was combing his hair with great care and detail. All men were periodically throwing glances at the only beautiful women in the car. She undoubtedly noticed it and felt good about it. The car felt like a mini world. His observations and deductions softly drifted into artistic philosophy and narratives about how society works.
When the doors opened at the next stop, the rum kid started to leave and paused in the intersection of the two worlds. Nobody paid notice to him but Anton. His face had changed from lightly indifferent to dark and sinister. Anton could barely hold his stare without blinking. The kid stared back persistently, with one sharp nod in the opposite direction he pointed to the three schoolboys. Pickpockets! It flashed in Anton’s head and he turned around. Only to see nobody was getting excited but him. The next instant just before the doors closed, a short dull scream bounced off all surfaces. He turned around to see the rum kid pulling out the cell phone out of the girl’s hands and stepping out of the train walking as normal as the next person. The doors closed, the train started moving. The people were instantly sobered up from the blissful idleness of existence. An instant too late.
The rum kid walked on the platform with a grin on his face sipping on his bottle.The girl looked around with a silent appeal for help. Nobody said anything. Society’s silence said a lot.
Anton didn’t feel bad about her. He felt bad about himself. He was played more that she was. He was like a special treat for the rum kid. He had him.
The accidents and realities of the world outside of his hotel room called home evoked youth. His childhood, unreal, magical and infinitely useful to him appeared to be his goal. He was constantly trying to turn the world around and ride a bicycle back to it. The world made so much more sense when every day at least one childish deed materialized out of his heart.
Next stop, home.
NEXT: The Baker 38
PREVIOUS: The Baker 36
Photograph by Radoslav Nedelchev