Thursday, July 7, 2011

Third Person Thursday: One Man's Piano is Another's Helicopter

Arthur was beginning to feel the cramping in his hand. He dropped the pencil and worked his fingers in and out of a fist then decided that a glass of water might be in order. As he stood, he could feel and almost hear his spine whining as it straightened back into its intended shape. On his walk to the kitchen, his knees and ankles cracked, making it sound like he was walking on gravel.

He downed a full glass of water and filled another. He hadn’t realized how thirsty he was. He licked his lips and felt the spot on his top lip that was becoming raw from sticking his tongue out while he worked.

It wasn’t until he began totaling up his physical symptoms that Arthur noticed he had spent four hours hunched over his desk. Immediately, he thought to check on Peter, his five-year-old son, whom he had left in front of the television so he could work on his project.

He stepped lightly down the stairs, half not wanting to disturb the boy and half afraid of what kind of disaster he might find the unattended child had made. He peeked around the corner to find Peter sitting just as he had left him, watching a cartoon with a dog wearing underwear for some reason. He didn’t bother asking what Peter was watching, just if he was okay.

“Mmm-hm,” came Peter’s answer.

“Can I get you anything, buddy?” Arthur asked, sheepishly.


Arthur returned to the kitchen, poured a glass of lemonade and filled a small cereal bowl with some plain tortilla chips. He never understood how his son could eat them without something to dip them in, but at least it kept him busy in front of the television.

Arthur set the snack down on the floor in front of his son. Peter never took his eyes off the screen.

“Thanks dad.”

“No problem buddy. I’ll be in the study if you need me.”


Confident that everything had been okay without him noticing and feeling refreshed and rehydrated, Arthur returned to his desk and stood over it for a while, admiring his own handiwork. It was just recently that he had decided to try his hand at political cartooning and his first real attempt looked to be taking shape.

Arthur was very pleased with himself as his eyes examined the rough draft on his desktop. The city’s mayor appeared toward the left hand of the panel. His face, Arthur admitted to himself could use more detail, or maybe he would just add a sash around his chest that said “MAYOR” so that everyone would know who it was. He held in his hand a pair of pruning shears and with a crowd of men in expensive suits smiling behind him, prepared to cut a rope that held up a piano with the word “Luxury Tax,” written across it. Directly below the piano stood a group of more moderately dressed people. There stood a teacher, a nurse, a policeman, a fireman and more unrecognizable faces behind them.

It looked pretty good for now, Arthur thought. He took the sheet of paper and set it on his wife’s desk, which sat directly next to his in their shared home office. She was due home from a trip late that night and he figured she could take a look at it in the morning and let him know what she thought. He trusted he opinion.

Arthur spent the remainder of the evening with Peter. He took him to the park in an effort to make up for the time that he had not spent with him while drawing his scathing political commentary. After a good hour there, he let the boy ride on his shoulders home, even though he was already starting to become too heavy for this to be comfortable for Arthur.

Once they had shared dinner and Peter was in bed, Arthur sat with the newspaper and read it on his bed, sitting on top of the blankets and sheets. Eventually, he dozed off with the paper open on his lap.

He awoke to his wife sitting down next to him on the bed. She touched his arm gently and whispered, “I’m home.”

“Welcome back, honey,” he said and they kissed. “How was it?”

“Just fine,” she said, “but I’m so glad to be home. I missed you and Peter. Thank you by the way.”

He rubbed his eyes and asked, “For what?”

“For the drawing on my desk,” she responded.

He smiled and asked, “Did you like it?”

“I love it,” she gushed and held up the cartoon he’d worked on all day, admiring it herself as she did. “I don’t know what it is exactly, but I love seeing how creative Peter is becoming with his doodles. It looks to me like a group of penguins and maybe a Jedi. Then I think that’s a helicopter and I have no idea what this stuff over here is, but it looks like a man with a badge in a group of other people. Did he tell you what he was drawing?”

Arthur hesitated for a minute. “No, he didn’t tell me,” he said, “but I thought you’d like to see it.”

“It made my night,” she said, kissed his forehead and left to take a shower.

Arthur sat and looked at the cartoon, which his wife had left behind on the dresser. At least she had recognized the policeman.

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