papetiers de l’ancien temps
Carl and Jeffrey are secret stationers, though anyone who saw them would think that they were just old men. They congregate with friends on the front steps of the general store, taking turns with the chess board. They wear matching sweaters in July and smoke wooden pipes.
In his early years, Carl claims he had been a movie star. His blond hair came across horribly on the black and white screen, so makeup artists had to paint his eyebrows with thick, black ink. He almost rubbed his eyebrows right off, trying to wash away the comical arches. Carl used to play the villain, chewing on the hero's face in a bar fight and running away, usually with his pants falling down around his ankles. His face is shaped like a banana; you almost believe his story because, by now, he's lost his eyebrows for good.
Jeffrey regales his friends with tales of his nautical adventures. He had been captain of a submarine that explored the seaweed green waters of the south. He used to wear a diving bell helmet and fish for sponges on his months off duty; he liked it when girls tried to kiss him through the glass. Jeffrey's stocky build, along with his bright blue eyes, reminds you of a faded hero. His smile is charming when he presses his lips against your hand and calls you his "little pigeon's egg." He never married.
The two old men purchase bagels before heading home. They carry their separate bags, steaming from toasting, and pass under the streetlamps in silence. They sit opposite each other at the dinner table; the seasonal cranberry cream cheese leaks from their bagels. They lick their fingers. Wash the coffee stains off of their cups.
Then, they sit on the screened in patio and create stationary. It's a delicate process, requiring suitcases full of pull-out trays. Carl puts on his spectacles in order to see his handiwork from the night before. His silhouette of the mayor, Mr. Hemshaw, is almost done except for the nose. He dips his pen in ink and carefully presses it to the paper.
Jeffrey slowly stamps out a congratulatory message upon a blank, recycled paper card. The ink he chooses to press the letters in is a deep fuchsia, in honor of the head librarian's daughter. She just won an award for her science project.
"We'll have to make more paper soon," Carl says. He creates a flourish around the the silhouette. "I'm running out of envelopes."
Jeffrey sighs. "The Sheep Festival is coming up soon, right? Maybe we can make some paper then. It's a miracle that so many people can be distracted by sheep shaving contests."
Carl leans back in his chair and looks out at the converse behind their house. The lone light bulb above their heads make everything seem yellow. The trees are merely shadows. Animals cry out in the night. The old men continue their work and reminisce about the old days where they wore monocles with their tops hats and sang with the bards about poetry. Their jobs, for the longest time, have been secret. Create paper. Create stationary. Send words out into the world without your names. Let them fly.
November is almost over already. How shocking, right? I had to make a break from my NaNo adventures to try out a small story - even though you can tell I don't need a break. My awesome little word count bar on the side of this blog shows that I'm very behind. I highly doubt I'll come close to reading the beloved goal of 50k, haha.
Still, though, I'm going to try.There's nothing like a little competition to keep the words pouring!
Photos from We Heart It.