Aside

THE ARTISAN’S MENAGERIE (SHORT STORY)

             THE ARTISAN’S MENAGERIE

 Karim came into the roadside café just around dusk. The journey so far had been hot and dry, and he needed a drink. Stepping up to the dark wooden bar, which was decorated with hemp rope and orange cushioned stools, he spoke to the proprietor. He shortly was mixed a tall cooling drink, a fruity drink that tasted heavily of grapefruit, but had an underlying bite: Probably vodka, Karim thought.

 Looking through the large arch shaped open windows of the café, he espied an artisan’s shop almost next door, but one. The enameled drinking goblets on display there resembled the one from which Karim was drinking. Many metal and clay pots and other containers were displayed in an arc like pattern in front of the shop’s entrance. Above those displayed on the ground were those on shelves to either side of the entrance. Idly looking over the pots, admiring some of the work, his mind wandered. Seeing them, he went into a daze and it seemed that the various pieces were talking to each other.

 The tall clay urn was saying: “So, where did we come from? I was molded from clay and earth, and then turned into shape. My master decided I would contain oils or unguents. What will be my fate? Perhaps used for a while then broken and ground into bits, and inevitably returned to the earth: Then possibly to be re-molded again, into a new shape. What is the point? We serve, we break and then we die, perhaps to return into a new life, or to stay as earth forever and be blown into the wind.”

 Gruffly spoke up an elegant stainless steel mug: “If I had my choice, I would like to be remade into a sharply honed hunting blade, ready for the kill! Mind you, animal or human would make no difference. Perhaps I would go to war, fixed as a bayonet, and tear the flesh, and drink of blood.”

There was an outbreak of voices from the other containers, some vociferous and others mildly protesting the steel’s comment. One of the voices was an elegant but worn ceramic wine glass. “ Just fill me with the good juice, and I will breathe happily, and kiss the lips that drank from my lip. To hold and breathe good ale, to have it flow in your innards and through your nostrils, is life without burden and memories.  For many years my master used me for his drink, now only to throw me out for some elegant glass witch.”

 The tall aluminum canister looked at the steel in horror and said: “What have you got against our makers; we were made to serve and that is our destiny. Were it not for our Masters where would we be? For my own wish I would like to be part of those flying machines that thunder through the sky.” This as an airplane roared overhead. “I would feel the heavens cool against my skin, and see the contours of the Oceans from twenty thousand feet above! So re-forge me into a skin of sheet metal ready to fly.”

 Would you like to be a cable carrying thirty thousand volts of electricity?” Questioned a shiny copper pot. “I’d rather be cooking some saucy stew or curry, and leave the engines of the world to some other foolhardy metal.”

 “We all may be dissatisfied with what we are, but may have the chance to change.” Said a crooked brass vessel; “What about me? I was made crooked and ugly, and left on the shelf for my master to decide what to do. He has forgotten, and done nothing! Whose is the fault? Did my master deliberately twist me to prove some point, or was he simply angry and distracted. Is there a purpose in my deformity? I wish he would re-smelt me into an ornate vase to hold flowers.”

 Then spoke a green stained glass candle holder: “ I wish I could be re-made into a pane of glass and sit in the window of yonder church to hear the hymns of God. Closer to heaven then will I be, rather than placed on a table in danger of being knocked off and shattered to pieces.”

 “Who then should determine the course of life’s experience? We are formed and fashioned for a purpose, and to that we must serve. Whether accepted or rejected we are bound to take our lot as it comes and make the best of it. Did we have a choice when we were fashioned? If anyone remembers, please jog my memory.” This comment made a small silver creamer.

 Karim shook his head suddenly, and the proprietor touched his arm. “Another drink, sir?”

 “Yes, Karim mumbled, “It’s very good. What is it made of?”

 “A secret recipe, sir, said to stir thoughts and soothe memories.” Came the reply, as he replaced another drink on the table; then watching Karim take a sip.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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