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A Carpenter's Tale

Updated on August 22, 2015
Ivan Uys profile image

Came to the United States in 1962. First attended Rochester College in Rochester, MI. Graduated from Abilene Christian University, in 1966.

The Carpenter’s Tale


“Once upon a time…”, I think, the story is supposed to begin, as I was walking through a wilderness of political frustration and personal consternation, because I could not understand so many diverse opinions and points of view from people whom I considered friends.

When I preambled my way through this maze, I encountered, in a corner of the forest, a carpenter who was building a large construction. As I gazed, unseen by the carpenter, the “building” was not getting larger, but there was constant sawing, hammering, and nailing. Sometimes an old wall was ripped out, and a new one immediately replaced it, with strange curves that veered in different directions. His eyes were those of a bloodshot sot, while his face reflected the pressure of his constant, yet thankless task. What surprised me the most was his dress? He wore a clean starched shirt with a red tie. His pants, showed no dust from the saw, and was a neat grey flannel, with pleats of military precision. His shoes were polished to a mirrored shine. Although he wore no jacket, and his sleeves were rolled up to below the elbow, he did wear a whitish apron. This covering was filled with red stains, which seemed to reflect the blood of an inept. Other stains looked as if the carpenter had been crying as he wiped those stark eyes with his smock. As I looked around, the forest seemed to darken, and the ill wind sent chills down my spine. My affixed stare was broken by an abrupt “What do you want, and how did you get here?” Although the tone was not unfriendly, it did reflect annoyance.

“What’s going on here?” I asked.

“That is not the question!” He sneered. The question is, “What do you want, and how did you get here?” he repeated.

“I have political issues with friends,” I said, “and our differences are vast. I know it’s not kosher to speak about politics, but when you become friends with someone, and nothing political arises, you are both comfortable. Then all of a sudden some remark about a political party, group, person or idea, comes up, you find yourself wanting to “educate” them because, surely, they could not be that wrong! What I want is to resolve these issues, without conceding my views. And now, how did I get here? I don’t know, but I think that I believe that many of these problems lie in what we call PC (P…….L C………T).” I think I walked deeper into the forest because I care about those friends.”

“Okay,” he said, (with impatience dripping down his cheeks like beads of sweat on a 104ᵒC Texas day) “however I only do explanations in the rooms’”

“Rooms, what rooms?” I asked, with my frustrations beginning to mount. “See that edifice?” He nodded toward the piles of wood (Oh that is what was before me! An EDIFACE?! An “edifice” to what? It looked like an incomplete stack of junk that could not be finished, would never be finished, and it was totally disjointed. There was absolutely no common sense to it.). “Go in there and find room # 1. It’s at the back of the hall and easy to find.”

“How many rooms are there?”

“Two! He said, “Just that great hall and another.” he replied with growing impatience. “Don’t forget to read the signs above the doors” he said as he hurried away to fix another wall that was buckling under the strains of the ill wind that continued to blow through the forest.

“Easy for me to find then,” I replied with a slight hint of sarcasm.

He ignored me, as I started to saunter off.

“Hmm,” I thought “just two rooms, and I am in number 1. How hard could that be?”

As I entered the door I found myself in a gargantuan mansion. There were crystal chandeliers suspended from, it seemed, heaven itself. Glitter and gold ensconced everything while chesterfields lavished on the floors. I was awed by it all, and moved to a couch, when suddenly a stranger appeared behind me, or so I thought. Actually, it was the carpenter, but now dressed in a coat of many colors. Though clown like, I did not criticize.

“Are you in the right room? “He asked?

“I was just reaching for some champagne…” I faltered.

“I asked you a question! Are you in the right room?”

“Well, I thought I was.”

“I told you your room was in the back. Did you read the sign on the door?” he asked with a stare that crushed any thought within me to be pugnacious.

“Go back and read the sign!” He said.

“Can’t you just tell me?” I asked.

“GO AND READ THE SIGN!” He said slowly and deliberately as his eyes, now a piercing blue, slatted to fine lines, and matched the slits of tightly pulled lips.

I quickly moved back to the entrance and looked up. There just above the door was a beautiful sign. It said, “This is No. 2 and the home of all those who are down trodden, rejected and poor. This Hall is sponsored by the USG, and the people of the USG have provided safe sanctuary for all, regardless of citizenship.”

I stood there, agape. All this finery, all these privileges, and I was not allowed in there? This is America, for goodness sake! The land of the free, the opportunity for all and where all men are created equal. But wait a minute, I was in a plantation after all, and nothing was the same. This was not the land of Lincoln, or America the Beautiful. This place had its own rules, and its plans were of peculiar design, as I obviously observed when I arrived. The scheme was in constant flux, changing on the whims of those ill winds that always blew throughout this forest.

“I read the sign,” I chortled,” and it said: 'for all'. Why could I not be in there?”

“Look about you, do you see anyone in the mansion that looks like you or talks like you?” (I have heard that before!) He was right, everyone there was dressed in bright rainbow colors while stocking up on the USG’s benefits. The instructions, as to how those benefits could be obtained were written in a strange language. Yet these people seemed to read them with the efficiency that gave them complete access. I realized that I could not be in this room, as I would starve to death.

It was then that I noticed another room toward the back of the mansion. It also contained instructions, plain for me to read with the # 1 on the door. Before I entered I read the simple statement. “Sponsored by CAP. ( CAP……M.) Enter at your own risk.”

It wasn’t an unpleasant room. Most everything was old and faded. The occupants generally wore the same red tie, with shirt sleeves rolled up, flannel pants and shoes that were once mirrored. The carpenter entered, dressed as he was when I first saw him, however, the crisp starchiness was gone, and his shoes were scuffed. He wore the same apron, as before, and walked around sponging off the blood from some of the tenants who were bleeding from the barbs of the PCs.

“What’s going on here?” I asked.

I was surprised to find that his disposition had changed. His soft grey eyes were a sad and no longer bloodshot, but still very piercing and perceptive.

“You said you would clarify in the room.” I stated.

He looked at me with a wry smile and asked, “Are you not a perceptive person? Have you not seen where your problems lie? I made you come into the rooms because that would enlighten you. Each room has its unique criteria. You did not qualify to take part in there because of your dress, and you could not read those instructions as to how you could enjoy the benefits that the “multicolor” were relishing.”

“Your job,” he continued, “ is in here, where you can work on improving your life and the lives of your fellow CAPS. That is what CAPS do. There are incentives in this room, there are prospects here. Look around you! Do you see perfection? Do you not see opportunity in those faded and broken chandeliers, those grey and musty walls? All of us, in here, wear red ties, right? Does that not indicate dominance, ambition, and leadership? I know it’s all faded, but it was not always that way. As a matter of fact, this was Room # 2 once, but the SOS (SOC……S) decided that the USG needed that room and got them to sponsor it. Do you understand now? So you must get busy, bring back things like integrity, morality, ethics, hard work and a deep consideration for those around you, and maybe we can change things and this hall can accommodate all.”

“But,” he cautioned, “freedom lives in this room, and that allows for good and bad behavior, the latter has created room # 2 and allowed the decaying of room # 1”

His voice trailed off, and right in front of me, his appearance started to change to the figure I originally saw.

“I don’t have time to say anything else. If you have not gotten it by now you never will. Be gentle with your friends and try to make them see that its “freedom” that provides all with opportunity, but takes them as well That is where the CAPS fly. In the other room there is no need for freedom, as the USG provides everything while it spits out incomprehensive laws to protect its inhabitants and deny their need for freedom. “

With his blood shot eyes blazing once more, he picked up a hammer and left the room!

I was stunned as I reentered the forest. The ill wind had not let up, but I hardly noticed, because my mind was on my friends. Didn’t this carpenter have a miracle in his back pocket? But as I looked back on it, when I first saw him, as neatly dressed as he was, he had no pockets. The answer to all of this was that I must surely have dreamt it. But why then did I still feel that ill wind on the back of my neck? Ah, that’s it, it was not a dream, and it was just a bedtime story: “Once upon a time………..”







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