There is a church bell in a tower in the town. There is a small house in a row of small houses across from that church bell in the town's tower. In that small house lived the old lady. She used a cane to pull her shuffling feet along. One summer, the bell would ring every so often in the dark night, and Mother would send me to run and see who was ringing it because it was never rung.

I could never run fast enough to see until one night (it was almost dawn, that's how night it was) I felt like it might ring. I ran down the hill from our house to the bell tower and just as I saw the top of the tower with a glimmer of bell inside peek into view, it jerked into motion and clanged into instant sound. I skidded and slipped and swept down that hill to see what I could see.

In the stillness, I thought I saw a flicker of pale cloth slip into the old lady's house and the door suck shut without sound and gave a nearly invisible cough of dust. But I wasn't sure if I saw the cloth or if it was just the dust I saw now in the half-dawn light shifting erratically, settling into aerial jetties while I sat on the cobblestones paving the town up and down and around like the scales of a giant dragon.


I am a Machine Operator. When the man from the metal place came and told me I was going to be a Machine Operator I was not happy and I was not sad. I just was. I watched my shadow along the floor of that place and it seemed to twitch at me, the head did. It seemed to twitch and look back at me because I made him, my shadow. I made him by just being. I just was and so was my shadow.

The man from the metal place, he is not like anyone else I have ever known. He is almost like metal too and I wonder why isn't he a Machine Operator? Why am I a Machine Operator. There are fair things and there are unfair things but life it is neither. It just is.