The Baker, The Butcher and The Brewer, Part One: The Baker 25
Serial Fiction Novel
It seemed that all he needed was a little smoke to balance his mind and channel its energy. His heart and mind’s eye were guiding him without his social self as an intermediate. Flow. The everyday part of his brain was shut down and the magical one was ruling the kingdom of color and shape. He never lifted his eyes from the canvas until it was so dark outside that he could only see the burning tip of his pipe.
It was the first day of emancipation when he knew he possessed the tools to move the world at least an inch. His consciousness was busy dissecting the flavors of the tobacco leaving his sub-consciousness to rule his being. Flow.
He heard a dulled distant sound of a matchstick igniting and quickly perishing but not without a purpose. The gloomy yellow flicker of the gas lantern illuminated the hallway and finally throttled in. Archibald held it over the canvas and smiled.
‘I hope it looks as good in daylight.’
‘I need more tobacco’ He said.
‘Aha, straight to business! From one addiction jumping on to the next! Don’t worry it’s only natural. You know you have reached rock bottom when you get addicted to love. Then all your old bad habits together are not going to be able to quench your thirst for that stuff.’
What he said was darker and more sinister than his usual tone. With his face half submerged in darkness that picture was priceless. The Baker couldn’t tell but he was a bit drunk digging in dark corners of his past. Regardless of the source of that speech, it gave him a good topic and a picture associated with it to contemplate on, for his tomorrow’s work. He thought Archibald knew intuitively he needed a little push in a direction where he could find fruit to ferment into distillable must.
No more words were spoken. He vaguely remembered slipping a blanket over in the rocking chair. Next he woke up realizing his veranda was facing east for the sun rose seemingly just for him over the mountains and he felt its warmth before he saw its light.
Another day, another empty canvas. The string of fortune has been kind to him and was brewing the daily concept in his head. It was as dark and deep as the mind of a master criminal (Archibald!?).
He found two buckets of water on the grass outside, one warm one cold. He flipped them on his head in that same order. When he went back in, there was a trolley with breakfast by the door. They kept him isolated from everything possible to see if his internal creativity was as potent as anticipated. He was glad to notice a pouch of tobacco among the other delights. The same hospitable routine went on for the remaining eight days of his creativity test. There was zero excitement outside the canvas and his mind. He didn’t see a living soul, he didn’t ask to see anyone. On the eleventh morning the buckets were there but the food wasn’t. He had to rejoin the world of tailored plastic chats. He left the room empty hearted, indeed. Everything he loved, hated, feared or despised was out of him into the good warm world wearing its best clothes.
Archibald was sitting on the breakfast table when he reappeared.
‘Life is the easiest thing in the world.’ He started with the widest topic in the world. ‘One just has to find his center and be happy with one’s choices. If you are not happy one clearly knows that one is making the wrong choices. He is able but often not willing to make the opposite and be happy. Life is easy but people are hardheaded. Are you happy with your new set of choices?’
‘One is hungry.’ The Baker smiled. ‘I have found the center fire of my universe.’
‘Good, you also have passed the test. Now eat and enjoy the last day of rest for tomorrow you are rejoining society where peace is not a given. You have to fight for it.’
‘You already saw all ten of them?’
‘The jury had examined your work before breakfast and had concluded that you are worthy of support as a central figure in the art community. Do not take your position or endorsements for granted. You will receive the backing of a powerful brotherhood. You will be received in the art community as a war hero is when he returns home. Arrangements have been made and your work is on display in museums and several inauguration shows are into making. The people that support you are doing so because they believe you will serve as moral role model for many youngsters are going to look up to you. (He lied.) Make no mistake you will be watched every hour of every day. Assume that every clerk or aid you may hire to assist you is by no accident. They will be appointed by a higher power that you or I can not control. But knowing about it gives you some degree of control and I trust you will use it wisely.’
more by PETER ODEON
Photograph by avirid