This article is part of the The Great Authors Series series.
Viktor Haas-Mullinger stepped from the shadow pattern created by the window lattice, clad in the tunic, woolen pants, and leather apron of a colonist craftsman, emerging fully into the sunlight by the door and recalling as he did the clock beside his bed, which had once ceased to work and had made him late, a flickering blue LED lapsed into its own timeline, a glowing reminder of the inadequacies of quantifying existence in the false realities we give our collective consent to create.
He watched the disemboweled swirl of floral fabric and over-stressed denim as a tour bus emptied in his proximity, five dozen Pan Europeans with their solid currency and Sino-Japanese electronics, talking in a mixture of languages that shared common ancestors with English but bore more resemblance to German. English words were already forming on his lips when the first woman entered his shop.
"I am Clark Debussey and this is my smithy. We make pots, pans, implements for farming, and iron fittings for muskets."
It was a lie offered and accepted with a smile, a fiction of participation, a place where nothing was made except for money and nothing was sold beyond a vague sense of witnessing a moment not metered by the flickering blue LED beside a bed. Escape, like all things we consent to believe, was an illusion.
Not what I had in mind when I ordered an Italian gondolier. This is literally just a tiny toy. Needless to say, the Italian businessmen were not impressed and I looked like a damn fool. We lost the pizza pie account and will have to lay off half our factory.
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