Shameless self indulgence, Writing

Grumpy Monkey Fiction: A 10 Minute Story of Art, Soda and Revenge

{Originally written very fast, this story has now been subjected to a round 2 revision. Cleared up a few typos, made a few more connections, and hopefully added some value. Thanks as always for your consideration. Yours truly in bananas, TGM.}

Art class was always a challenge for me.

Drawing, I had decided, was like shooting pool.

Sometimes, I was really good at it. On those days, the angles and positions and shapes of objects would leap out at me and present themselves for quick translation to the page. The artistic equivalent of running the table and sinking the eight ball.

On other days, I was all thumbs, unable to manage even the simplest angles and crudest representations of shapes and objects. The artistic equivalent of scratching on the break.

That’s why I was particularly pleased with how today’s still life was going.

Sure, the subject matter wasn’t particularly interesting– a vase, some wilted flowers and an orange, but I felt like I was in an artistic groove.

Looking down at my sketch, I noted with pride that I seemed to have captured the subtle convex curve of the vase, and that my orange was decidedly circular without looking too perfect.

“You know,” I said to Bob, who was scribbling furiously at the easel next to me. “This could be my first ‘A’ picture.”

Bob stopped scribbling and glanced over at my easel. I saw one eyebrow involuntarily raise in silent appreciation, but his face soon clouded over with anger.

“That ain’t so hot,” he muttered, and turned back to his work.

But as he resumed, I could hear his pencil digging a little harder into his paper.

I looked over at Bob’s drawing and could see why he was upset. The angle on his vase was all wrong. The curve started too soon and ended to early, and the orange was looking more like a lumpy pear than my sublimely dimpled sphere.

Bob had always been the standout art student in the class, always the one to get his work displayed in the glass cases in the front of the school. But on this simple project, this inconsequential still life, I might have finally beat him.

Returning my attention to my own easel, I made a couple of quick touch up strokes and then decided to call it quits. Sometimes you can ruin a good drawing by working on it for too long. Like Kenny Rogers said in that song about folding or riding trains or something,  “You’ve got to know when to fold them.”

I wiped my hands on my pants, took a big step back and drank in the majesty of my still life.

It really was my best work to date.

A drawing like this deserved a Coke. “I’m hitting the Coke machine,” I told Bob. “Want anything?”

Bob shook his head. He was trying to round his orange into shape, but it just wasn’t happening for him. And it looked like the pencil outline on the edge of his vase had started to smudge.

I whistled as I headed into the hall in search of the nearest vending machine. Found it around the corner, pulled out a crisp dollar bill, and listened to the pleasant “thunk ca-chunk” sound that the Coke can made as it tumbled down the machine and into my gifted artistic hands.

I cracked the can open, took a long sip of that sweet brown nectar, and headed back into class.

What I saw when I walked in the door made me spit Coke all over the floor.

There were two huge slashes right through the center of my drawing, turning my pristine sketch into fringe.

“What the fuck?” I started. Then it hit me — Bob.

“You fucker,” I dropped the Coke can on the ground, snarled like a wolf and sprinted like a jackrabit across the room towards his easel.

Bob was pretending to study his painting, but I knew by the way he reacted with lightning quick reflexes that he had been waiting for me.

He ducked around a desk, through a juke move to get past me and headed out the door of the art room, sprinting down the corridor at full speed.

I was hot on his heels. My shoes made slapping sounds as I pounded the linoleum in pursuit. I could think of only one thing — murder. Sweet, glorious redemptive murder.

But Bob was on the track team and he was faster than me. He made it to the end of the hall and ducked into a stairwell. By the time I got there I didn’t know if he had gone up or down.

My breath was short and my anger was cooling.

It had been a pretty damn good picture. But maybe not worth a manslaughter charge.

I trudged back to the art room in defeat.

Back inside, I was surprised to see a sea of sympathetic faces smiling at me.

There was a new unopened Coke can on my desk. My drawing had been taped back together. And someone had even penciled in a charcoal “A” in the top corner.

I couldn’t help but smile. “So everybody here hates Bob, too?”

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