Updated: May 5, 2021
What does caffeine do to us, the boy pondered sipping on his hot morning coffee.
Imagining the insides of his brain he tried to come up with an image, which would represent the way this strange substance excites the body and offers a quick burst of inner energy. He drew a piece of paper from the folder, wrote down the question at the top, and tapping the tip of the pencil against the page closed his eyes. Let’s see what creativity has to say…
The workers shuffled the coal into the huge oven without a stop. The sound of the clanking metal against the black fuel-covered floor echoed throughout the corridors of the brain’s engine room. There were three of them, each monotonously shoveling the coal into the crackling fire. They did not love their job but respected it and themselves, knowing that it is an essential role in the workings of the body and mind of their master. Chatting sporadically about the little and big things that have taken up their life over the night, they were accustomed to the unstoppable mindless effort. Their muscles tensed and relaxed to the rhythm of their movements; their faces and hair covered with the dark dust expressed no more concern than that, which is expected of a professional manual worker. It was yet another day at the job, which started with the beginning of the body was not to be finished any time soon. Sometimes they heard about the rumors of the premature ending of the eternal shift, but as much as they could tell from the quality of their workplace, the person whose body they were assigned to was in good shape and hopefully reasonable enough not to let them go unemployed in the nearest future. The fiery oven sparkled and glimmered brightly offering the familiar sensation of belonging and strength, which accompanied their work.
The boy took another sip, momentary glancing into the cup, which offered a glimpse into the rate at which the coffee was drunk. Should kick in anytime now his thought suggested.
The rhythm of shoveling was interrupted with the barely hearable sound of footsteps, which nearing with each moment, echoed across the hallway of the room. One of the workers looked at another, both understanding what these footsteps meant. ‘He’s drinking that crazy stuff again’ one of them murmured, as if to unload the weight of the words that filled his mind, ‘yet another day with this maniac…’ Footsteps grew in strength and stopped as the older man, dressed in a tuxedo, entered the room. None of the workers turned to look at him; they didn’t want to give him satisfaction. ‘Alright gentlemen’ the man shouted, ‘let’s pick up the pace shall we?!’ His rusty voice echoed against the walls of the room and hanged above the three like an annoying fly, which buzzing against one’s ear, does not allow the mind to find peace. ‘Come on’ he continued, ‘we ain’t got all day!’ ‘Actually, we do’ murmured one of the workers, bringing a smile onto the faces of his two colleagues. They kept their movements in robust synchrony, picking up the pace only slightly; it did not matter just how much would they raise their effort, the guy would be there shouting anyhow. ‘Faster’ the man screamed taking a few steps towards them, ‘are you deaf!’
Leaving the page for a moment, the boy gulped down the remainder of the coffee and burped surprising himself. Pardon, he chuckled.
The screams continued, as the three shoveled. There was nothing they could have done. As much as they didn’t appreciate their so-called ‘boss’, they respected their job and chose to tolerate the annoying addition, like a cow tolerates a mosquito as it sits on its body without a stop. They heard a story of a man who defied his assigned ‘screamer’ and was quickly dismissed, which led him to fall into addiction and waste his potential, and so they decided to simply ignore their own ‘boss’. ‘Everybody’s got to work after all', they thought, ‘especially if the work is worth worthwhile…’ The man continued screaming, his throat slowly but surely weakening with each over-the-top command. He must have felt important, believing that his input to the job is invaluable, which was indicated by his pose – worthy of a great general, who in the hopeless battle comes out victorious. Some time passed and his throat started to give way. His shouts became weaker, less aggressive, less frequent. The three continued with their work, only sporadically glancing at the frustration, which overcame the eternally-annoyed man. ‘Finally’ one of them whispered smiling at his neighbor. The voice officially runs out of steam, offering the unspoken words of disregard to the efforts the three presented. The screaming stopped. The three workers stopped shoveling and turned around leaning on their tools, each with a wide smile of satisfaction spread across his dirty face. ‘Are we done then’ one of them snickered, ‘no more orders my lord?’ The three laughed heartily and sat down on the floor. The man took a few steps forward trying to source even the tiniest sound from within his throat. Fruitlessly. One of the workers took out a pack of cigarettes and offered it out to his friends. They sparked up and enjoying the relaxing break stared at the man, who turned red with anger and waved his arms ferociously. ‘I wonder what’s his problem’ one of them said, ‘you should relax sometimes’ he addressed the boss. The tuxedo man groaned with frustration, turned around, and stormed out the door, leaving behind him the echo of their laugh. The three men waited until the footsteps quietened, picked up their shovels, and got back to work. They respected and liked their job after all…
The boy felt the need to yawn. He looked through the words that appeared on the page, smiled, and got up. There is no greater worker than one, who respects and values their work….
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*art by Katarzyna Druszcz