Welcome, welcome, to this first take of the two-and-a-half-minute-fiction prahject. This is where I rip off a NPR project named Three-minute Fiction and send my short fiction pieces out into Internet land. I asked for readers to submit words they would like to see included in the pieces, but nooooooooooooo. Thanks for nothing, oh few followers.
So here goes. Oh, and the title is at the end because it will give it all away. NO PEEKING!
His hands fly with intuition. Like every joint, tendon, and muscle in his arms was programmed for this. Practiced. And yet his hands move independent of each other, conducting to the task below. Without looking up, he steps out of the way of an oncoming parade of people, militarily marched through, directed to their place with precision and exacting predictability. A well-oiled machine.
The room hums and jolts with babies crying and laughing. All around are perfectly timed movements inside the maze. Choreographed around the stationary. Feet strike the linoleum. Sometimes the feet skip. Sometimes trudging. Sometimes hastening. Sometimes standing akimbo. Those moving are costumed for their role.
The sun shines through the windows, another parade of people waiting outside. Waiting for their turn to make their mark. The room is cool, prepared for the heat of movement. A high ceiling for a small room. Wood-paneled walls, electric lanterns come out of the walls. The smell of Sunday morning in the back.
He is very tall and must stoop over a considerable amount to reach his work. His white apron is cinched at his small waist and barely comes to his thighs. Marks of his work streaked on the white cloth. His eyes, covered by thinly-framed glasses, are downcast, barely moving, as if he’s seen every possible scenario before. No surprises here. This is cerebral. A beard crawls from each sideburn of dark brown hair. He is skinny and the veins of his adept arms twist and turn and recoil with each motion. His long skinny fingers reach and wrap around each object, designing and articulating like an artist’s grasp on his paintbrush. Undoing what has been done.
Someone calls his name. He looks up. He nods and smiles and says,
The smile vanishes, but not out of sadness. He is happy to return his attention to the objects under his control. His face is still. Not even his eyebrows hint at his mood. If anything his face is content. Content to finish and move onto the next. Another finished product, waiting to be taken back to its start. Waiting for his patient and willing hands to remove the brushstrokes of previous artists.
Complete, he picks up his loaded tray with ease and finds his next project. Ten seconds later, with that same military precision, a group of people are ushered to his ready canvas.
This is his studio. Enabling the art of others with an art of his own. His hands, the paintbrush. The arrangement of the plates, forks, spoons, coffee mugs, napkins, spills, sticky syrup, dabs of butter, crystals of sugar, bottles of ketchup, his challenge. A clean table, his masterpiece.
“Fine Art of the Busboy”