The Baker, The Butcher and The Brewer, Part One: The Baker 27
Serial Fiction Novel
‘It took me a year so far to build these twenty-eight steps. It will take me another twenty years to reach the top.’ He smiled.
‘That is a lifetime work.’ The Baker shrugged.
‘Exactly! When I first saw this peak, this symbol of rugged purity. I saw in it the only possible mean of expressing the essence of my most inner self. It was uninfluenced, unbiased, genuine decision. As much as that is possible in our world. For our tastes are formed from childhood influences. The pure self the way we percept it is nothing more an accumulation of multiple digested interactions with our early environment. Most of these mechanics are subconscious, naturally. And it is best for us not to busy our minds with them but to smile as much as possible. Plus, work on number twenty nine.’ He smiled.
The Baker smiled.
‘Yes, yes, yes, smile.’ He was radiating smiles.
‘Are you not going to miss social life, human interactions, chance, friends, family, random conversation?’ He asked naively.
He looked the finished twenty-eight and sized up the wooden frame serving as a mold for twenty-nine. The Stranger invited him down to search for potential rocks from the pile.
‘Ants are social insects, are they happy! Humans are predatory individuals, are they happy! I am neither!’ He smiled. He was always smiling.
‘And you.’ He went on. ‘You still appear to be a compote of feelings, jarred in sugar water and preservatives for long time storage. To consume in times unknown. Life is not waiting on some other side, beyond the last obstacle. You sip your wine like a sugar ant, always hungry for cheap carbohydrates.’ He scraped the sweat from his forehead.
The Baker forced a smile. Forced because he felt exposed. A shallow book with a thick greasy cover.
‘Yet, nothing is too abstract for you.’ The stranger added. Restoring his good spirits.
They reached the pile of rocks.
‘Just put aside any stone that you think fit for twenty-nine. I will do the same.’ He said plainly and started examining the rocks with intense focus. Flow. He had marked the handle of the hummer on two spots and used it as a measure of length and width.
‘You were at the feast last night?’ The Baker asked casually.
‘No.’ He said promptly without un-gripping his focus, suggesting not to talk more.
An hour or so later, for they had no means of telling time except the sun, the Baker had a pile of five rocks, the stranger had fifteen.
‘The bigger our sample is the more likely it is for us to find the best fit. Thank you for contributing. We have about twenty and we need three. Chances are good.’ He smiled. ‘You look like a good liar.’ He added.
‘I don’t know about that. Are you a good liar?’ The Baker asked, thinking that only good liars can tell good liars.
‘My shoes know how to lie, I don’t. If I knew, I would be a better fit in the ants’ society. Like Oscar Wilde.’ He smiled delightfully.
‘You like Oscar Wilde?’ The Baker inquired.
‘Yes I do.’
‘What do you like about him?’
‘He is very clever and amusingly witty.’ The Baker.
‘Me too! I mean that is the reason I used to like him, because of his clever wittiness. But I soon realized that his remarks are so true that they are not true.’ He puzzled.
The Baker understood what the stranger meant but he rolled his eyes to himself. Condemning Oscar Wilde for being not abstract enough? Too true? Was that possible, he thought. Yes. Take ‘all art is quite useless’. In the most basic sense of human existence it is true. We do not need art to exist and survive, we need food and water. But! No one lives that basic any more. Art had become intertwined part of the lives of the simplest of minds. Even if it is a child’s drawing. So ‘all art is quite useless’ is true in essence but not really true. Too true!
The stranger smiled in anticipation of his reaction.
‘Are you carrying all these up to try them?’ The Baker was getting tired under the rising sun.
‘No, on the contrary.’ The stranger smiled and started up. He brought down the wooden mold for number twenty-nine. ‘We try them here and only bring up the three that will become a part of the mountain.’
The Baker smiled and felt like a fool at the same time. Good humoredly.
‘It is the most natural thing in the world.’ Who?
He gave the stranger a questioning stare.
‘To strive for perfection but to do it with ease. If it is not easy for you, you are on the wrong path.’
more by PETER ODEON
Photograph by Billy Onjea