Storytime: Thudmaker.

December 3rd, 2014

Bang, clang. The day was rattling on the windowpane, slamming and knocking and trying to break in. It was fit to send your brains running home to bed, which was convenient because that’s where Thudmaker already was. Sleeping.
The day smashed the window in, climbed over the pillow, and poured into Thudmaker’s eye. The eye blinked. The bed shook. And up stood Thudmaker, ten thousand stone and a hundred feet tall; scales for skin and horns for hair; with more muscles than belly and more belly than anything.
“Mmmrgn. Hungry.”
So the day started up like they always did. Thudmaker got out the food and the little Thudmakers ate it. The biggest two ate fast, got up faster, and ran around the house sixteen times until they’d pulled together all the bits and pieces of Thudmaker’s outfit. The yellow hat, the overalls, the battered brown boots.
“Be safe,” they said. “Be careful.”
Thudmaker nodded and hugged them and walked off with hammer in hand and a bit of bread in belly. Another day, another job, another bit of work.
Better go find some then.

So Thudmaker walked and walked and down and by Thudmaker came to the sound of a godawful lot of noise and such. It was an old man with a black suit and a black cane and a black car, sitting at the side of the road next to the old dirt heap that the little Thudmakers used as a playground and yelling at his cool-looking phone like it’d pissed down his trouser leg.
“You!” he shouted. “YOU! You gormless git-shit! You pissless pennyfucker! I’ll buy your house and have it fed to you! I’ll come to your door and eat the meals right off your plates! I’ll use your vacations to have larger, showier vacations right next to you and I will have a good time doing it! GOODBYE!”
He hung up. Then he spied Thudmaker. “YOU!”
“Wasn’t me,” said Thudmaker.
“No, no, no, not THAT you. YOU. You must work for me! I need this foundation built! This is a good pile of dirt this is, this is a good pile of dirt. Nobody’s building on it and it was a steal, I say, a steal. I want a condominium on this thing lickety-split and sold fast, before this housing market goes up in flames. You build me this ninety-million dollar building and I will give you this little shiny thing I found on the ground.”
Thudmaker looked as carefully through nearsighted eyes as was possible. The thing was sort of shaped like halfway between a blob and a lump, and it was very shiny indeed. Sort of. “Deal.”
“Good, good. Now hurry up or I’ll break your contract.”
Thudmaker stood up tall, put hammer to hand and hand to task.
Thud, thud, thud.
And bam, there was a nice new condominium, sitting right on top of the big dirt heap that the little Thudmakers had spent so many hours making little worlds in and jumping on and falling off.
“Lovely, lovely. Here, have your shiny thing and go away.”
“Thanks,” said Thudmaker. Tucked that into a pocket of the overalls, good and tight.
Nice, but not enough. Not to keep all the little bellies full.

So Thudmaker kept walking, walking, walking, and kept on walking until someone said Hey You because Hey You was Thudmaker’s secret name that everyone had found out years ago.
“That’s me,” said Thudmaker.
“I need a demolition job,” said the person who knew Hey You’s name. She was long and heavy and serrated along her edges, like a Bowie knife but with a less friendly face. “This hovel’s in the way, and we need it smashed. You look big and dumb enough to do the trick.”
Thudmaker considered the object of her disdain. It was Thudmaker’s house.
“Pay me,” said Thudmaker.
She pursed her lips. “I am authorized to distribute one-half of a little piece of string.”
“Not interested.”
A sigh, as long and theatrical as the human-plus-a-little-bit-of-lizard lung could manage. “Fine. A full one hundred percent share of a little piece of string.”
Thudmaker walked up to the house and knocked on the roof. The oldest little Thudmaker opened the door a crack.
“C’mon out kids,” said Thudmaker. “Time to move.”
They carried out all their clothing and their toys and put them in Thudmaker’s old suitcase, and they stood there by the side of the road as Thudmaker stood up tall, put hammer in hand and hammer to house.
Thud, thud, thud.
And no more house, pounded so flat into the dirt that only the tip of the roof stuck out.
“Satisfactory,” said the woman, making a note in her tiny and ridiculously expensive yet already obsolete computer. “You may have seventy-two percent of a bit of string.”
This was more than Thudmaker had expected, but it still wasn’t enough. So Thudmaker said thanks, and tucked the string into another pocket of the overalls, and trudged off.
The little Thudmakers followed, and their bellies too.

Now by and large Thudmaker got tired of walking, so they all sat down for a spell next to the river, and Thudmaker’s toes got a nice long dip to keep them happy. And as they all sat there with their luggage, up hobbled a beard.
“Nice place,” said the beard. Thudmaker realized that there was a person behind it. “Beautiful place. Waterfront. Good proximity to community centers. Think I’ll dam it. You up for the job?”
Thudmaker looked at the little river. Thudmaker looked at the little Thudmakers. Thudmaker gently retrieved Thudmaker’s hat from the smallest of the little Thudmakers, who was wearing it as a full-body coat. “What you paying?”
“Ehhhh…..” The beardman cast about for a moment, then bent over and picked something up. “This stick. No more, no less. Take it or leave it.”
“Can I have a bigger stick?”
“What are you, some kind of communist? Loads of people wanting to make dams, friend. Loads of people. Scads. Gobs. Two-thirds of this stick, take it or leave it.”
“Deal,” said Thudmaker, taking off the overalls and handing them to the little Thudmakers. “Here, hold onto these. Going to get a bit damp.”
And Thudmaker stood up tall, put hammer in hand, put hand to river, dredged up stone from stone and strength from strength.
Thud, thud, thud.
And there was a proud new concrete sky in that part of the world, soaring hundreds and hundreds of feet and quite confusing the little river, which puddled up behind it and left Thudmaker and the little Thudmakers high and dry along the riverbed.
“This will do…sort of,” said the beardman. “But you took too long. No stick for you.”
“Pay me,” said Thudmaker.
The beardman scoffed, distinct from both cough and sneer, but with elements of both. “For such substandard, slapdash work? Never! I would sooner die.”
“Pay me or I’m going on strike,” said Thudmaker.
“Oh boo hoo. Some of us work for a living, loafer. Now hush up and clear off; you’re on my property.”
Thudmaker stood up tall, dropped hammer from hand, and sat down. Hard.


Down the road, there was a creak and a crack and a woosh and down, down, tumbling down came ninety million dollars’ worth of condominium, tumbling through a sinkhole deep enough to swallow Timbuktu and you too until all that was left was a nice jumbled dirt heap full of shiny treasures, the most visible a cool-looking phone.
Up the road, there was a push and a pull and a POP as a whole house just hopped back up out of the dirt, launching a real estate agent over three kilometres.
And right there, right at that moment, there was a looooooong slooooowwww creeaaaakkkkinggg from the concrete sky.
“Wait!” shouted the beardman. “Half a stick! A third!”
“Fine,” said Thudmaker. “Hand it over.”
“Here, take it!” he shrieked. And he threw it to the ground.
The creaking stopped. Then one little noise.
“Oops,” said Thudmaker.

When all the fuss was over, most of the concrete was clotted around Thudmaker’s thighs. Thudmaker picked it up, rolled it into a ball, rolled that ball into a smaller ball, rolled that ball until it fit between thumb and forefinger, and threw it away. Then Thudmaker took off the yellow hat and the big brown boots and heaved a sigh.
“Here,” said Thudmaker’s second-oldest, and passed Thudmaker the shiny thing.
“Here,” said Thudmaker’s oldest, and passed Thudmaker the bit of string.
Thudmaker sat down soft, put lump to line and line to stick. And they sat there for a good evening while the river played with bits of stone, and went home with fish dinners.

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