"Come here," he said, stumbling over to his work space in the corner of the living room. He held a full glass. I noticed that he put an olive in it for the occasion. He turned on the desk lamp, and on the desk laid and eight and a half by eleven linoleum block clipped to a board. It was a city scape, only half finished. It was really quite good, but it didn't look any more finished than the last time I saw it. I noticed that all of the carving tools were packed away. The desk chair was pushed in and the lint balls, collected at the feet, swayed like cottonseed from the air burstin out of the heater.
"I'll give you a print when it's done," he said.
"That'd be great," I said.
I went to the kitchen and poured a glass of water. Tobias was still in the living room with the block in his hand, shaking his head in dismay. He plunked it down carelessly, and looked at it for a few seconds. His fingers probed his cocktail glass for the olive. After pulling it out, fingers wet with gin, he popped it in his mouth and chewed it violently. He then turned off his desk lamp and hobbled back to the kitchen.
"You're right. You know, that thing about being a starving artist. I know that you have to throw yourself into it to be successful..."
"No," I said, "I was just messing with you. I'm sure there are plenty of artists that have never suffered." I could tell that my bid to make him feel a little better came too late.
The record ran out, and Tobias made no move to put a new one on. I could hear the repeating crackle of it, but he payed no heed.
"Christ, I'm hungry," he said with a change in his voice, trying to shake off his slump. "You want something to eat?"
"No, I gotta get going," I said.
I grabbed my windbreaker as Tobias heated up a can of beef stew on the stove. "Make sure you turn that thing off when you're done," I said, taking heed of his drunkeness. He grunted, head hanging, looking into the brown, chunky sludge. He looked tragically comic, with the wooden spoon in one hand, stirring,an inch and half of ash dangerously defying gravity.
"See ya tomorrow," I said, closing the door behind me.
- ► 2010 (10)
- ▼ September (8)