The man laid his strips of bacon into a skillet, and he did not notice the sound they made. He heard nothing. He was not thinking of breakfast.
As a writer, he should be able to write a story. But he was not a writer himself. Where he worked now, the owner told him such things every morning. As a writer, one must be able to write a story. The story was everything, the owner told him, and he would work until the story was done. Not a writer himself, he could not see how as much might occur.
Having recently come to his new home, the man was learning the work slowly. The work was plentiful, but jobs he had found lasted just two or three weeks. One followed another. This was a custom still strange to him. The others, those who had been there longer, appeared happy for the labor. Their work shirts were clean and buttoned each morning.
They would gather and stand together. The others would turn to him, and the man was aware of what to do: He told tell them what he had done yesterday, what he would do today and what impediments lay in his way. The group then turned to the woman beside him. She recited her answers. He listened, and the others continued to speak in turn.
When they were finished, they would separate and begin their work.
The man did not mind the work, even when he did not understand it. The work he did, and the work the woman did, the work the rest did, would build something. He had come to his new home for this reason. For a writer, the story should be possible. The owner had told him so.
When the man found a problem, he would write a ticket. He would put the ticket into the jira and wait for a response. At times the response would come quickly to him, and he would be surprised. Some days no reply would come. He told himself there were probably many tickets.
Amid his tasks, during some days, the man pictured his father. The old man had taken worse work. Families and sight-hounds traveled to see his father ride the barrel down the river. The barrel would come to the falls, the crowd shouting on the banks under a full sun. Over the falls, into the torment at the bottom, he would see his father go. He did not like the wait. The light would catch the rings of the barrel first, shouts then exploding, and he felt vital on the riverbank between the trees.
The water was good, and he was not a writer. He was a boy and did not understand when the barrel did not bob up. He collected shards.
He dried them away from the water. With the first piece of wood, he had a splinter. With the second, he had a plank. He built the box over which the minister and his mother would pray. He continued to work, never near the river, believing even in jobs he could not fully perceive.
The skillet in his hand began to smoke. The man turned the bacon. He heard oils burn. He remembered a joke he had once heard about a pig and a chicken. He smiled to himself and wiped the sweat from his face.