The second chapter of my NanoWrimo novel from November 2008
The Cabinet Makers
“What the hell’s this drivel Calthorpe?” Ransome barked sternly. “Obviously you haven’t read the brief; it’s just a fucking waste of time having you turn out this dog’s dinner garbage!”
Ransome was not a man given to tolerance. He had now been appointed Director of Operations (Southern Hemisphere Section 9) and he was able to give full vent to his dark personality and the sting of his acerbic tongue, which made life hell for every maker in his section.
“Maybe you’ve forgotten Calthorpe, but we do have a clear brief on this issue and the deadlines are fast approaching. I suggest you stop fucking about and start producing some viable work. Work which is more fitting to the brief we have and less dreams of a wood nymph and visions of angels.”
I gazed blankly at Ransom thinking, “I hate you with a passion, you and all you stand for. Yeah you may be a good Director, at least in the view of the hierarchy, but as a man you have less charisma than bear shit in the woods.”
I nodded dutifully with what I hoped was a genuine look of remorse and assured him I was ‘on the case’ and would knock it into shape, hell, even work overtime if it needed. The last thing I wanted or could handle at the moment was a dressing down by this or any other megalomaniac. Ransom seemed satisfied with my feigned shame and dismissed me from his office.
Turning to go I took in the luxurious surroundings that came with the rank of Director. Thick dense weave Persian rugs, no not just rugs, they were fully fitted wall to wall and they went on forever. My feet seemed to sink in to the kind of softness you can only imagine when you’re high on Metasy or chillin after a good fuck with a lifelong friend. The walls were hung with paintings by Scarppy Sardenskio, especially commissioned by Ransome on receiving his promotion 18 months ago. Scarppy was a really hot deal, a well loved artist with great vision and a huge price tag.
There were all kinds of stories about Scarppy. Some said he had been a total failure as a programmer and unable to make any grades in moulding and that he ended up in a dingy squat in Siltville , a place aptly named for the dross of society. Others maintained that he had been groomed from conception to pander to the sensibilities of the elite. His life, so it went, was a never ending round of apricot oil massages, instruction in the finer points of sexual techniques and delicate exquisite meals such as goat’s cheese with truffles and tamarind sauce washed back with fine oaked wines or mulberry champagne. I could only dream and imagine with envy, what that life of total debauchery in some Mediterranean Harem would be like. Some rumours had it that he had been picked up one night by an aristo looking for a bit of rough and that she had spotted his awesome artistic talent , as well as screwing his brains every which way till sunup.
Whatever his origins, Scarppy was privileged beyond anything I would ever see and was free to pour out his heart and soul into what became his calling. He was in demand for his artistry and eroticism which flowed from every pore of his being and he was a legend in his own lifetime.
Wandering back to the section quarters, the surroundings changed suddenly and were about 25 pegs down from the luxury of Ransome’s palatial offices, and my mind wandered back over my career. I had followed the normal route, first as a programme assistant, sailing through all the exams to become a qualified but inexperienced programmer. We always had overseers even when we were fully qualified and that felt good in one way because any errors could be, should be, picked up before rollout. In another way the idea of flying solo had enormous appeal. To be the ultimate BSHG or ‘buck stops here guy’ was a vision most young programmers had crawling round their veins. I had those elegant dreams but I used to have nightmare scenes in equal proportions.
I would be soaring across a deep crimson sky with intricate dimensions unrolling at my feet. All of my intellect and my very being had come together as the programme started to run. Cogs would click, wheels would turn and everything would slot into its rightful place. I would be applauded in a hail of glory as the makers vision which was then moulded came into being, sparking into life and rolling on smoothly oiled castors. I would be lauded and praised for programming such an amazingly efficient panorama and feelings of adoration would emanate from everyone on the section. Word would spread on the grapevine and my email box would be pinging every second with congratulatory wishes and fan mail, just like Scarppy Sardonskio. My star would be shining brightly and all would be well in the universe.
Then suddenly I would start plummeting in a dizzying spiral totally out of control. The infinite crimson sky would metamorphose into a pitch dark enclosed coffin space, shrinking in a foreboding of doom, squeezing and strangling any beauty from what had been perfection to expose huge cracks in the code.
ERROR_INVALID_FUNCTION 1 0x1 Incorrect function, cannot proceed.
ERROR_FILE_NOT_FOUND 2 0x2 The system cannot find the file specified.
ERROR_PATH_NOT_FOUND 3 0x3 The system cannot find the path specified.
ERROR_TOO_MANY_OPEN_FILES 4 0x4 The system cannot open the file.
“Oh save me, stop the programme, reset , reset ………..” I would scream out aloud.
And then I would wake before the final crash, windows opening in rapid succession and flashing by, the whole screen whiting out in my mind, sweat dripping from my brow, whole body shaking violently. Despite the nightmares I still had a burning inside me, a deep need to have the final say on the programme, to see my work, my programming alone, being rolled out and operating with the superb precision of a Chinese motherboard.
Yes. I had thought in those times that programming was the place to be, that was where life was at the edge. But that was before I had realised the beauty of being a moulder Having received my programmers licence at 17 I thought I was the bees knees and was basking in the satisfaction until 2 years later when I had been selected to become a moulder’s assistant in Section 42.
The feeling of disappointment was immense and when I had been told of Section’s decision to move me along I was frankly gutted. There was me thinking that somehow as a result of the great work I was doing and maybe a helping hand from a kindly tutor I was on track for head programmer in some far flung exotic outpost when , boom, I was fast tracked as a moulder. At first I put up a fight, ha, more of a pathetic protest really. I had been pedantic and finicky about the briefs and pretended I couldn’t grasp the ideas. Al Shapiro was the Moulders Section Leader, and he had probably seen it all before. Nothing I did to try and upset the system had any effect on his constancy. I was just like a baby throwing my toys out of the pram but he gently coaxed and cajoled me.
He obviously knew what he was doing because it wasn’t long before I realised that I was being totally pitiable in my actions and the penny finally dropped that here was an opportunity that people would die for and I mean literally died for.
I loved programming and had revelled in the cut and thrust of tight schedules and impossible deadlines. I’d made many friends in those days, people who were alive and vibrant, keen to rise to the top and make a difference. There had been a great camaraderie, and belief in the system was total. Sure, programmers and moulders worked in unison with the makers and but programming was my first love, she stole my virginity and I hadn’t imagined, couldn’t imagine a life without the soft caress of a silky smooth script running because I had made it happen.
Al changed that for me and opened up new horizons, I’ll be forever grateful to him for all the encouragement and for his patience. I remember the first moulding I ever did after I had come to my senses and decided that programming was great but it was only an assembly game. The real fun was, I thought in sculpting the situation, teasing the corners of it, setting the tone for events, dropping in little kicks here and there, haha, that was fun. Working for Al was great and I had been working with some great guys when I was assigned to Fiona Galtring who was a sound programmer with experience in every situation imaginable.
She was instrumental in coding the Tithonian Fauna stage of the Jurassic period , the Kennedy era and the start of the Communist Bloc, amongst others too numerous to mention. She was damned hot, and not just with binary code. She could lick my battery anytime and frequently did, well in my dreams anyway. Man she had a body to lure the Yeti out of hibernation and soooo sweet.
We received the brief from command on a rainy Tuesday November morning. I remember it well because it was the day after Al and I had a man to man philosophical chat about where Moulding fitted in the big picture. It was from that point that I committed to a new love , that of Moulding. Monday had been a blur of faces, handshakes and hugs, word must have got out about our chat and my acceptance and commitment to the Moulding section. This time, I thought, I have really arrived. This is where I was meant to be. Programming had been great but now this was going to be my true mistress, Moulding was the life for me.
It would be a few years before the love affair with Moulding was superseded by my fall for the act of Maker and the relationship with Fiona kept my mind and heart on becoming the best Moulder Section 42 had ever seen.
This work by Robbe Law is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Non-Commercial-No Derivative Works 2.0 UK: England & Wales License.