Trades and the Arts
France was always of interest to his brother, whether the political climate or the cooking, there was always a lot of things going on at any given time; his brother had taught him, years before, the art of observation:
“Pick one thing, one focus, one person and see how it works in the society as a whole, a restaurant for instance; how is the restaurant tended to? How is it integrated into the community? How does it foster communication? The workers a family; each carefully selected; each item selected with the same care and consideration. Each food or decoration adding that certain ‘je ne sais quoi’, the synergistic appeal which grows and thrives, attracts and develops with time and tending.
The musician on the corner who plays their instrument, accessing the emotions of the audience and soothing the heart, soul and mind though song, lyrics, melody and harmony. Or, the bakers wife who is ever mindful and selects the best ingredients from her memory of where the best ingredients came from, which techniques had worked the best with those ingredients to make their product the choicest of all others.
The late 1700’s indeed had their benefit and burden structures which, despite the respective religio-political structures of the day, served no more of a focus and distraction than a purpose or remedy. Shade has been here many times through the years, it was better than simply giving up. Someday, somewhere, someone would be able to recollect and free his brothers soul from nothingness.
He checked on Jade’s mask once a year, this past year would be the 1789th. Had it not been the fact that the mask was thousands of years old, he might have given up on the ‘Old World’ and simply remained in the west, in the afterlife... each year it was still there though, there but not there, unobtainable, just out of reach. Perceivable only to him, or any other Xibalban Lord...
No matter what age he was in, no matter where he was; there was always something or someone that would make the time spent worth it. It was always indirect, but undeniable. The influence, the phrasing of the words that brought his brother back a moment, just as if it were only days before they had enjoyed a meal together.
If only he had his mask, he might be able to collect these moments of Jade’s essence... someday... that day would come – unfortunately, being an ancient soul did not automatically come with patience.
This particular year he had wondered in the shadowy afterlife in his form. Unsubstantial, yet still the great Quetzalpapalotl, the ‘butterfly’ king; though the shadows made him appear more of a moth, his angered eyes, a burning red. Transmorphic, yes; he could manifest as a cat, a vampire; a sprite or shifting shadow... or he could do what he always did... wait for someone to give up on life totally and completely, then take possession of what was left.
This particular time was another random stranger, about to jump into a gorge for reasons he did not really bother indulging, the living were always so damn melo-dramatic... He soon made his way towards Paris; and, as the fates would have it, he met three groups along his way that required his assistance. The first a group of aristocrats who had broken their wagon wheel on a stray rock, all looking puzzled at each other arguing why they hadn’t brought a servant along.
The second group were travelling tradesmen who had lost their map, Shade had always been observant and knew the roads and sights well and drew a suitable replacement map for them.
The third group included a bar keep, a carpenter and a smithy, all out of work, no one would hire them with the growing taxes and unemployment trends increasing, could not find even the most menial of jobs or tasks anywhere in Paris, had abandoned all hope of a life there and had set out in this direction. Over a brief conversation he learned that the bar keep needed to cover rent for his bar. Shade decided to invest in this group, and would have somewhere to call home for the duration of his stay in the world of the living.
The bar keep went by Gil, Richard the carpenter, and Andre the smithy; and they were now on their way back to Paris, smiles on their faces once again that made him content, this time he would be Francois.
The bar was quaint, dust and dirt had no doubt outnumbered the customers for years. The lodging upstairs were spacious and would be renovated over the coming week along with the rest of the large building. The back of the building would be converted into a wood shop and smithy, but, first thing in the morning, the entire building would be getting a thorough cleaning.
By supper time the next day the place was clean and store rooms full with a good compliment of food, beer, wine and spirits; wood and metals necessary for the renovations were set in the back rooms along with any tools.
Shade, having a gift for drawing sat down with his new partners and drew templates for the new bar, new tables, new chairs, a new banister and over the next few days they redid the entire place working day and night over breaks plentiful in drink, and food, tested from the sample menu selections. With the new shelving installed, shade placed the glass and metal dishes. The place already had people knocking at the door and sneaking a peak through the windows, necessitating curtains soon enough; the grand opening would be tomorrow.
The look of pure excitement on Gil’s face was wonderful, as no less than twenty people ready to sample the food and drink. The soup’s fragrant smell had wafted through the air for days a few customers remarked, they were ready to taste each item on the menu another table stated. While a customer from the place from long ago insisted he had not seen such happiness on Gil’s face since his wife had been with them still. Indeed, the new establishment would be a great place if the line ups even in the morning were testament to the intrigue of the place.
Richard and Andre renovated the upstairs, noise offset by hired musicians who played on the stage which jutted out from the stairwell. They had decided on the name “Jacques” for the sign, though none of them were named such, nor did they know anyone by that name, it seemed to suit the length of the wooden plank and would no doubt be a conversation piece.
As days turned into weeks, Shade tended to the behind the scenes aspects of the bar, restaurant, wood shop and smithy; had hired a cook, a waitress and a part time bartender so Gil could enjoy a day off every so often. Extra shelves were created to showcase the wood and metal works as Richard and Andre turned out piece after piece of Shade’s designs which captivated the interests of the middle class.
Each piece had been meticulously designed with political and religious insights that could be inferred if one had the knowledge to decipher it; and while Richard and Andre had no idea why their works were so popular, they were happy with the money and prestige. Finally, they had realized success and owed it all to their friend they had met happenchance.
The grand design of the messages, Shade kept in the form of artworks in his room, as he slowly dispersed the mindset subliminally, esoterically; forming opinions with design, encouraging will where none existed, and building up the confidence of the people as his only his brother could... and apparently, he could to if he had to...