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Rated: E · Short Story · Contest Entry · #2201795
Masonry is at times a necessary skill.
Word Count 298

“What are you doing Carl?” Mr. Johnson asked.

“Laying bricks.” Carl replied, continuing to move, brick by brick, in a circle around the bucket he sat upon.

“Why?” Mr. Johnson is notoriously nosy and Carl chose not respond. He just glared at his neighbor and brandished his hammer before splitting a brick in half with three snapping blows. Then he troweled mortar, placed the half-brick to finish a row, and began the next tier. Steadily, a tight wall formed around him.

Mrs. Jenkins approached, her unruly dogs dragging her on slightly entangled leashes. She smiled, in well practiced pleasantness, and asked,”What are you doing Carl?”

“I’m laying bricks,” came the terse answer from within the circle.

“Why?’ Mrs. Jenkins got no answer either.

Soon, a crowd of onlookers stood in Carl’s front yard watching and wondering. With every newcomer the question was asked and the gathered crowd answered, “He’s laying bricks.” When the follow-up question came, they had no answer, so they made up their own. Their guesses were imaginative, but most common was he was building a wishing well. But, Carl neither confirmed ,denied, nor even spoke. He simply continued: trowel mortar, place brick, tap brick, rotate clockwise, and repeat.

And, in their confusion, the crowd became increasingly angry.

“We don’t want it here.”
“It will drive down property values”
“It’s weird...he’s weird.”
The crowd raised its unified voice in complaint.

They were startled into silence as the mortar hod came flying over the wall, then the trowel, then the hammer, and finally the bucket Carl had sat upon. Within his enclosure, Carl couldn’t hear the petty, bickering complaints of his neighbors. He sat cross-legged on the earth, released a heavy sigh, and smiled. Finally he had peace and quiet. His wall was finished.

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