The Tile Setters
by Ami Chopine
The first time Paul Atkinsley saw a Massys floor was at an engagement party for
one of his clients' daughter. He enjoyed these kinds of functions. It gave him a
chance to network, gain new contacts. This was where business happened, at least
for the first half of the event. After that, unless there was someone of particular
interest he was talking to, Paul got bored and started thinking about going home.
Such was the case now, but something held him there, sitting alone at his table and
watching a few lingering couples dancing on the floor.
He looked up to see Lawrence, his client, watching him.
Grasping for something, Paul said, "That's a fantastic floor." As soon as he said it,
he knew it was the tile floor that had drawn him in. Each tile was an exquisite piece
in itself, the patterns in soft golds and greens, weaving and swirling. Each one was,
as far as he could tell, completely unique, yet they matched together perfectly. The
whole of it invoked a focused calm that Paul found rather pleasant.
"You like it?" Lawrence asked.
Now that Paul was aware of the floor, there were no words. He wanted to get down
on his hands and knees and touch it, let his fingers follow the patterns. And
suddenly there he was, on the floor. The tile was warm and soft, like flesh turned to
stone yet still alive. A few people in the room stared at him, but Lawrence got
down to where he was.
"It's remarkable, isn't it?" Lawrence said.
"Do you want a floor like this?"
The possibility hadn't occurred to him. Yes. Of course he must have it. At the
agency. That was where he needed a floor like this. It would pull customers like it
"I would," Paul said, but instead of the take charge voice he meant to use, it came
out in a whispered awe.
"Arthur Massys made and set the tiles. I'll get you his address."
Paul nodded. The people were still staring. He stood up.
Lawrence looked at him a while, with concern. "Paul, there hasn't been time or
circumstance tonight but how are you?"
A question about his father. That is what it was. Lawrence didn't care about Paul,
but about his father being gone. People still wondered if he would be able to
handle business without the great experience and whatever else they thought his
father had that Paul didn't.
"I'm doing great, Lawrence. The business is great. We've just hired some new
creatives that are going to take us in great new directions," Paul said. Must keep
the client confident in their abilities.
Lawrence nodded, the concern not quite wiped from his face.
"I'm almost the last one here. I really should go."
"Paul, if you need anything, don't hesitate."
Paul walked towards the door, but he couldn't leave before he turned around to see
the whole floor. He stood there a few seconds, then his gaze touched on Lawrence,
who still held that concerned look on his face. Paul turned and left.