Thursday November 26th, 2015

The exercise:

Write about: the butcher.

Found a couple of interesting jobs to apply for today. So fingers crossed one of them works out!

And... more company tonight. I think he's getting a little too used to this routine. I'd been getting to bed earlier the last couple of nights but... not early enough tonight, it would seem.


It is... difficult for me to function... normally these days. Retirement... does not agree with me. I think, perhaps, that I performed one job for too long. As hard as that is for me to accept.

Kids these days, they change jobs every month, it seems. Go back to school once a year, get all trained up to do something completely different... and tire of that, too. On to the next adventure!

Maybe that should have been my path, as well. The only problem with that, of course, is that I loved my work. Could never imagine myself doing anything else, really.

But now... my body has betrayed me. These once steady hands shake too much. These muscles, once like iron, have grown soft and weak. My mind, though... my mind... well.

It would be nice if my mind could let the past stay in the past. But it continues to see where things ought to be chopped, ought to be sliced. Only I no longer have slabs of meat on a cutting board on which to practice my art. No butcher shop in which to perform my work.

Instead I walk the streets. I sit in parks. People are everywhere. But my mind does not see men, women, children. It just sees meat... and it won't stop telling me where to chop, where to slice...


Greg said...

Good luck with the jobhunt! I hope they do work out, and that they're as interesting as you think, too :) I got an approach for a job yesterday that would involve moving to Malta. I'm thinking about it; I've got a call today to talk about it and find out more (salary will probably be important, as will whether I'd be able to take the dogs). There is a slight downside: Malta hasn't appealed to me so far on any of my dozen or so trips out there....
By the way, I really hope that the prompt means you've applied to be either a butcher or a surgeon. Or both!
I feel a little sorry for your butcher though, retirement clearly isn't suiting him all that well. Though it sounds like he's planning on coming out of retirement, albeit not for that long :) The last two paragraphs in particular are rather nicely presented and create a faint, but inevitable sense of horror.

The butcher
They were in orbit around a planet that the star catalogues listed as Leo-9 (EZ110704b). The spaceship – a rather optimistic description in Vilize's opinion – was going to have trouble getting out of orbit again unless the planet below proved to have the right kind of raw materials. They'd fallen into orbit rather gratefully; the engines were running low on fuel and as the fuel mass shifted in the reaction tanks they'd shuddered and the whole ship had creaked, groaned, and screamed with stresses. Jane Hurt, head of the current shift for Engineering, was walking around the ship with a compad full of things that needed fixing and a sour look on her tanned face that she couldn't just wake everyone up and make them work round the clock. She gave them 15 days in orbit before the fuel was exhausted and they started a death-spiral into the planet.
"Vilize!" Captain Rascal, a name he clearly loved, spun round in his chair, lost his grip in the low gravity, and sprawled on the floor. He looked up, an irrepressible grin on his face. "Don't do what I just did! Go and ready the butcher."
Vilize saluted and got up carefully. He left the command chamber and walked to the sign labelled 'Apples' and slowly descended the ladder there to the butcher. He still couldn't quite fathom how Cockney had become the official language of the British Isles, and from time to time he had problems with the names of things. Apples were fine: apples and pears were stairs. But then apple crumble was a rumble, and Captain Rascal was always looking for an apple, which sounded like a euphemism to Vilize. Which, he supposed, it was, just not the kind he was thinking.
The butcher – butcher's hook, look – was the sensorium. Vilize walked between four control panels, turning things on and adjusting the settings, checking the displays and then going round the back of the complicated, room-sized machine and checking the readings and gauges and half-a-dozen other things that said that it was actually working correctly and showing you things that were there. Vilize didn't like to think about the things it showed if you miscalibrated it.
"Rascal?" He spoke into a desk-microphone. "The butcher is ready."
"Butter!" said Rascal. Vilize hadn't been able to figure that out so far, but it seemed to mean something good. "Scan for heavy-metal oxides to an eighty-metre depth."
Vilize started changing the settings, then paused. "Rascal? That level of scan would be injurious to any life caught in it."

Edna Shirley said...
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Greg said...

Hi Edna and welcome to Marc's blog! I agree with you, he did put up a pretty nice post, though I wondered if it got a little dark towards the end? Still, I do appreciate your insight, and I'm sure Marc does too!
I've often wondered how I could improve my writing skill too, and I admire the stand you're taking in ardently refusing to write to the prompt and try to improve by practice. However, are you sure you need to improve? I looked over the link you provided and I found that it and yourself share a Yoda-like syntax that I feel embeds profundity into anything you say. Certainly back when I was writing academic essays (the hours I sweated over trying to analyse The turning of the shrew by Henry Shakespeare... or was it his brother William James?) I feel that being able to write Naughty, Rosalind when she the ghost of the manor to unexorcise sought was would have undoubtedly scored me a higher mark.
Since practice is already ruled out for you, and your grasp of English is exquisitely more refined than any I might dare commit to the page, I wonder what tips we could offer you in our little community? Were you to write to the prompt we could comment on it and perhaps that might help? Though I do remember my English teacher at school and her comments: barbed, apotheotic witticisms that scarred my soul! (Forcing first years to memorise your essay and then recite it to me over dinner at the Café Mozart is not acceptable in this class stands out in my memory palace of shame and humilation; I'm sure you have similar.)
So I guess I must end by appealing to you to help us help you further; what kind of tips do you seek?

Marc said...

Greg - okay, first off: your replies to spam comments are some of my favorite comments from you on this blog. They are amazing.

Malta, hey? That would be a definite change of scenery. I enjoyed my time in Valletta but I'm not sure I could have spent much more than the two weeks I ended (more or less) my European backpacking trip with after I finished university. Let me know how it turns out!

What an intriguing scene. Definitely want to hear more of this tale!