The Baker, The Butcher and The Brewer, Part One: The Baker 28
Serial Fiction Novel
The Baker nodded agreeably and proceeded to capture his companion with his fair wit.
‘The only thing I have ever loved is a metaphor, a graphic image of otherwise unexplainable feeling.’ He opened up triumphal, gazing at him waiting for praise.
‘That is why you and I are not ants or humans. We are lost to society. We live on the far edge of it. Yet, we provide to society.’ The stranger created a link between them.
The Baker always wanted to have a healthy social life so the stranger’s words hurt him. Because they were true. True just enough.
He never stopped working while talking. He tried all rocks in the mold carefully considering the fit. Only two out of the twenty satisfied him. He smiled.
‘We need one more.’ He pointed to the vacant spot in the frame.
The Baker wondered if the two fits were his or the stranger’s choices. But it was impossible to find out without appearing shallow. The stranger had statistically better chance.
He went on surveying the original pile.
‘I know two anecdotes.’ He said without lifting his searching eye from the rocks or waiting for response. ‘My uncle when he was little, his mother send him to buy milk. We lived in a small town so there was only one milk dispensary. In it, there was only one giant barrel that got filled with milk very early in the morning and within the next few hours bought up from all the households. There was always a long line. My uncle was shy so every time he waited at least an hour. It was the same this time. When his turn came the proprietor opened the tap to fill his bottle but the milk wouldn’t come out. The tank was more than half full. They tried everything, it was a mystery. The proprietor had to decant the entire tank into several smaller tanks and my uncle waited there. His family needed milk for breakfast. When the last drop was decanted the proprietor cried out in fury and disgust. There was a dead rat stuck at the bottom of the tank where the tap was. The proprietor offered free milk to all the attendees to keep the rat story to themselves. Hard sell. My uncle went home running empty handed. He never tasted milk again in his life.’
‘Hm.’ Smiled the Baker.
The stair-building stranger was passionately sifting trough the rocks and went on to the second story without providing time for reflection.
‘When I was a child my family used to often eat watermelons in the summer. We grew them. They grew giant resting on the ground feeding only through one tiny stem. That is because they are mostly water. All they need is water and sun. Well, in our garden there was one exceptionally enormous one. The whole family was nurturing it carefully, quietly awaiting the day we were going to put it on the table. Like a celebration to balance a hot summer day with a sweet watery freshness. That day came and we all got a giant slice of solace. As you may know in the core of the fruit there are no seeds. It is pure delight. I separated that part from my wedge and left it for last. The best for last, right! I was eating and spitting seeds thinking of the time that will come in a few minutes. When I would be able to enjoy the seedless sweetness. The blissful seedless future. The future came and became the present but I was so full that I was going to burst like a bubble. I was getting nauseous just looking at it. I ended up giving up my seedless wedge to my cousins. All I had was a pile of seeds.’
‘You were lucky that you made that mistake early in life.’ The Baker tried to patronize.
The stranger smiled.
‘What do you get out of the two stories?’ He asked.
‘From the first one…’ Started the Baker.
‘No! Not from them separately. What do you get from them as a whole.’ He insisted.
‘Family. It sounds like you had a nice family.’
‘Yes I was lucky. But a lot of people are not.’ He didn’t smile for a first time. ‘Family is family.’
‘Family.’ The Baker said to himself.
‘When the rain falls on the tree and makes certain leaves dance to its music while the tree stands unimpressed. Who would you rather be?’ The stranger went on digging.
‘The rain!’ Exclaimed the Baker enthusiastically.
‘No! You don’t have a choice. It has been chosen for you. Chosen, adjusted and formulated with the final touches added in the years just before you started thinking for yourself. We are victims of accident. And you remind me too much of me, a leaf. There is only one thing we can do about it.’
The Baker smiled.
‘Yes, smiling is the only solution.’ Smiled the stranger.
more by PETER ODEON
Photograph by Marcin Czerwinski