The American Tale


Man wakes up in the midsummer of his life.  Outside the June gloom covers the city in a gray blanket.  Inside his studio apartment stands a coat rack in a lonely corner of the room.  The man reflects back to the day his father gave it to him.  “Son, this coat rack was made by my grandfather.  He gave it to my father and now I’m giving it to you.  My grandfather told my father the same thing I will tell you now.  We hang our lives on it each day so take care of this rack.”  That was a long time ago when the man was young and full of promise.  It also was a time when holidays were spent with family and the world seemed much bigger.  The man glances over to the coat rack and sees the famillar garments hanging silently from it.  One dark unattractive jacket with a Vanguard Security label logo hangs from the first peg.  On the second peg is a stiff pair of used overhauls covered in white blotches, and finally on the corner peg a beige jacket, something a college professor might wear hangs covered in dust and cob webs.  You were right dad, the man thinks to himself.

He begins to walk through the messy apartment towards the kitchen.  There is a long couch and coffee table, both look a few eras out of date .  No pictures hang from the walls, for the stacks of books liter the perimeter of the entire home.  Following his normal morning ritual the man pulls out a two burner hot plate and plugs it in.  He places a kettle of water on it and leaves.

A small closet door is opened and a tiny avalanch of spiral notebooks spill on the man.  Inside are stacks of similar notebooks crammed in the closet in any way possible.  The man fishes out a particular one and draws a pen from a pencil tray.  The kettle of water begins to whistle its completion.  He picks up the fallen notebooks with little concern and stuffs them back inside and slams the door quickly.  

When he reaches the kettle it has erupted into a high pitched roar.  It reminds him of the days when he was a small boy.  His mother would make them both tea each morning.  Then they would sit alone in their single room apartment enjoying their hot beverage.  What used to amaze the man the most was his mothers ability to with stand the heat form the mug.  Each morning when they had their tea she would hold the mug directly to her cheek just below her eye.  Her eyes would close as if it felt good.  As a boy he would attempt the same act but each time he would cry out in pain.  His mother would laugh and say, “one day when you are older and sucsessful you will be able to buy sinus medicine instead of a hot mug.”  At the time it didn’t make much sense to him but now the message is clear.  

The man opens to a blank page in the note book and sets himself in his favorite spot of his home.  He sits on a tiny desk facing the only window in the house.  Through the window is a brick wall of the building next door.  He picks up has pen to begin.  Outside the city begins to wake.  The sound of a garbage truck picking up the trash and the horns of a police siren pollute his ears, on the page the man writes, another day, maybe today is the day…he stops as if he already knows the answer.  He picks up his hot mug and holds it to his cheek.  He slowly closes his eyes quietly.

Written by Erik Niel

Voices of America – SPEAK YOURS CLICK HERE!


2 responses

  1. Vincent Chigurh


    This is a beautiful piece. This is a world of dreams and ambitions, long ignored forgotten or trampled. This is a man who does what he must…to survive…

    The story is evocative and visceral. Great job!

    March 18, 2011 at 12:11 pm

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