The Probos Kiss - a tale by Richard Guest
Drawings by Nikki Light
A blacksmith tells his son from an early age that in the beginning the gods were bored with the world they had created, and wanting a bit of amusement decided to put some people in their paradise.
But the first people soon became wearisome to the gods. The people were only a slight improvement on the animals that the gods had created previously, and to be frank the people lacked discipline - they lived entirely by instinct and mostly did little more than vandalise there beautiful surroundings, while pursuing their animal desires. Back to the drawing board for the gods. They scrapped the lot - every last person.
The frustrating thing was that there was nothing wrong with the basic design - it just needed a little tweaking. So each of the gods took a part of the human body and concentrated on improving that. The god Probos argued that what was lacking in the little fellows was a direction in life, and elected to make the nose (his chosen body part) the shape of the new people's destiny - and no two noses would be the same. The other gods laughed at him but, not having any better ideas, decided to go with it, subject to regular reviews.
The gods set to work re-creating their human creatures bit by bit on a sort of heavenly production line. As each of the little people came to the end of the line, having been assigned their regulation limbs, heads etc, Probos would sculpt them a nose from raw matter and, planting it on their face, seal their fate. The gods, perhaps feeling a little jealous of their colleague's creative streak, and appreciating the irony of it, called Probos' part in the creation the Probos Kiss.
The gods repopulated the earth, a little sparsely to begin with, and watched their creations set about their tasks. As the people became more sophisticated and started to build villages, the gods had to create plumbers, carpenters and soldiers. For each of them Probos created a unique nose and a unique destiny, albeit one they could not escape.
But of course by the twentieth century, Probos was sick and tired of it all - he had made mistakes, duplications had occured and the humans just would not stop mating with humans from the wrong profession, making a mockery of his nose shapes and totally altering the destinies of their children. He finished off the Web Editor's nose he was working on and quit.
The Blacksmith explained all this to his son, and pointed first to his nose and then to his son's. They were an exact likeness. Some noses had stayed true to their professions and destinies, he said, and their nose was one of them. 'Can't you see you're destined to be a blacksmith?' he said 'It's as plain as the nose on your face' he said. The son listened in a seemingly disinterested kind of way - but he took it in.
The belief stayed with the boy, although he denied it from time to time - railed against it when a gate would not hang straight, or a customer was dissatisfied with his work. He came to truly believe he was destined to die a blacksmith even though he yearned for the kind of life his friends had - banking, carpenting, plumbing, working in shops, because they came with benefits like gambling, smoking, drinking, and dancing with girls, that his father assured him had no part in the life of a blacksmith. The not dancing with girls irked him the most.
He had dreams of leaving the business and the family home to travel the world as a sort of dancing gigolo. They were strange dreams that don't bear closer inspection, so we'll gloss over them and move on. Of course, one day the blacksmith's son couldn't take his ascetic existence any longer and decided once and for all to escape.
From the pittance of his wages, he managed to save his fare to the capital, where he planned to begin his life afresh. It was a long journey, and when he got there he couldn't help noticing the shoddy metalwork that adorned the houses of the city. After a day or so it began to really bother him that gates hung askew, fences were warped, once elaborate metal decorations were bent and mangled. It was a nightmare of bad blacksmithery. He fled back to the arms of his ageing father, and vowed to never try and escape his nose and his destiny again.
Back in the smithy one day, the blacksmith's son had an accident. A limosine had pulled up outside. Some very glamorous people got out of the car, dressed in city clothes, carrying cameras and lights. While straining to see what was going on, the railings slipped through his fingers and smashed him on the nose. There was a torrent of blood and not a small amount of pain judging by his howls, which echoed round the valley and drew the stranger's attention.
The strangers were a film unit scouting locations for a period drama to be made for the BBC. The director of the project was mesmerised by the raw emotion bursting forth from the youth. When he finally came out of this trance, rooted to the spot with his mouth open wide, the Director demanded that the casting director sign the boy to the project on the spot.
Understandably the son was not in the mood to sign an acting contract, but after a spell in the nearest hospital and a bit of nasal reconstruction, he did.
He was last seen on TV in a series of deoderant commercials, and in his spare time he got to dance with a lot of girls.© Richard Guest 1999
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