034 - get away
The man sat at his work bench, hunched over. In his hands he worked with small, delicate tools resembling a hammer and chisel. He chipped away at a hunk of plaster on his desk, roughly the size of a small dinner plate. Another piece of plaster lay off to the side, and occasionally he would switch from one piece to the other.
Sweat dripped from him as he moved his hands with the precision of a surgeon. Occasionally, he had to put his tools down, and wipe his hands on his tan work apron. He was afraid of slipping, losing his grip, and ruining everything. One false move could destroy hours of work. He wasn't having any of that.
This was his masterpiece, he was convinced.
Day slipped into darkness, but the man continued to work. His thick mustache quivered ever so slightly with each alteration he made to his piece. An ordinary lightbulb hung quite simply from a single cord in the ceiling. Its yellow hum was the only companionship the man had or needed.
The man did not stop his work. Calls from his stomach, his mind, or nature were ignored, or simply did not exist.
A rooster heralded the arrival of morning when he finally let his tools fall out of his hands. They clanged against his workbench as he stood up and stepped back. He marveled at the two pieces sitting on his desk. He went outside and smelled the morning air.
He thought it was safe to get a few hours' rest, as it was early yet. The deadline was not for days, anyway, and most of his staff would not be in for the day until afternoon. In some ways, he was so excited to see his masterpiece in its final form that he didn't even want to sleep. He wanted to get on to the next step. But knowing that the hard part was over, a wave of relaxation passed over him, and he slept well in his bed.
When the man awoke, it was nearly four in the afternoon. He took a shower, got dressed, and headed back down to his workshop. He saw that his small staff had arrived, and he hoped that they had already set the proper gears in motion.
Opening the door, he was greeted by his primary assistant, Michael.
"Michael, didn't you see my note? That it was finished?" The man asked.
"Yes, sir, I did see it," Michael said with a minute hint of apprehension in his voice.
"So then why aren't you working the lathe? Don't tell me you have that intern working on the reduction, that's almost as important as creating it in the first place, Michael! I need you on that!" the man said, frustrated.
"No, no," Michael said. "He's not working on it. No one's working on it."
"What? Why not?! Come on, let's go, get this show on the road! I finished my work this morning!"
"Sir, it's just," Michael paused. "Have you, actually taken another look at the engravings you've made?"
"Of course I have," the man said confidently.
"And these are your submissions to the mint for the new coin, you're certain?" his assistant asked, treading carefully. "These?"
He pointed at the two plaster casts. "Yes, those, what's the issue?!"
"So this, the obverse, is it? Am I to understand the obverse of the coin is to be a," Michael swallowed, "somewhat childish depiction of a man's genitalia?"
"Is there something wrong with that?" the man asked indignantly.
Without answering, Michael carried on. "And the reverse, you intended it to be, I mean, it appears to be," he trailed off for a moment, looking for the right words, "an ostrich fornicating with a man?"
The man nodded, his anger subsiding somewhat upon once again viewing his masterpieces. "Oh, yes."
"Well, I suppose it is the national bird sir, but still," Michael began.