Wednesday, May 3, 2017

The Life of Vincent

I took Creative Writing: Fiction this semester (big stretch, I know hehe) to fill in some elective slots for my major, and I did one short story that someone asked me to share. I don't suppose it's the best thing I've ever written, but it's entertaining at least.


The Life of Vincent

     I live a very comfortable life, but that has not always been so. Like many others, I have had some bumps in the road. However, my bumps were all nearly catastrophic disasters. If it weren’t for the people who came into and out of my life, I would not be sitting here today.
     Personally, I have always liked myself. I accepted myself for what I am. Not many could say that, so I believed knowing that gave me a leg up on others around me.
     In the home of Mr. Chesterfield, I lived a rather sedentary lifestyle. I also resided with a dignified individual named Adelaide. I didn’t believe she liked me very much. She was much older than I, and visitors seemed to prefer me to her. I couldn’t tell you why this was. I rather liked her too in addition to myself. Perhaps people were simply more comfortable with me. She shouldn’t have taken offense, however. She had several amiable talents. For example, when given the chance, she had the ability to entertain three times the number of visitors than I could. Still, I often wondered that if she could say it, she would say, “Vincent, you’re overstuffed and full of yourself. Why, just look at you! Sitting there in the corner looking pleased as punch, you’d think you were worthy of a throne room!”
     That wasn’t fair. Depending on the throne room, Adelaide could have fit in quite well. I’d always admired her Victorian curves. She would have been beautiful set along the aisle, a welcome site to all who would come upon her. Just the mere comfort she would exude would be enough to cause even the most skeptical of courtiers to alight upon her presence, grateful for the small break from the everyday.
     As for my own possible privilege in being worthy of a throne room: Nothing could have been further from the truth. Sadly, my life had left me looking disheveled and tattered. I would have no more place in a throne room than a hat box left forgotten in a field before becoming a home for bees.
     Alas, she never knew my opinion—for we did not speak. Even if, by some miracle, I could have spoken, I doubt she would have listened. Each of us lacked proper communicative abilities. That couldn’t be helped, so we tried to make do with what little we had.
     How, do you ask, then did I know that she didn’t like me? It was the little things. As I’d heard said “the Devil is in the details” after all. For example, once, a little dog visited the Chesterfield home, and it left some hairs from its fur on her side. Quick as a wink, she dispatched those hairs so that they would come to rest upon me. Smelling the little bits of fur, the little dog then proceeded to relieve itself upon my leg. Oh, it stank for ages! I know Adelaide was fraught with merriment in regards to my embarrassing predicament. I couldn’t get the smell out of the fabric for what felt like months but was actually a few weeks.
     Then, there was the episode with the cat. The vicious monster decided to sharpen its claws up Adelaide’s sides, doing some very minor damage before Mrs. Chesterfield scolded it into submission. The cat left Adelaide alone, but the same could not then be said for me. Just like with the dog, the cat decided it would turn to me when no one was looking, and it used me for all its future claw-sharpening activities. All my efforts to dissuade the feline came to nothing. It was a stubborn brute, and its talons did quite a bit of damage along my back before it was at last sent away. Afterwards, I never experienced a single day when I missed it.
     For employment, I considered myself a counselor of sorts. People came to me when they wanted to unload their troubles into my lap. I didn’t mind. In fact, I rather enjoyed the sense of fulfillment it gave me that I could help. I could, at least, say that I did a better job at this than my neighbor. Adelaide groaned when, for example, a woman came along and collapsed against her from losing her latest beau. She distressed over the mess tears could leave upon her vestments. Also, I believed her advanced, antique age had made it so that she couldn’t handle the stress that she once could. Her creaking skeletal structure and groaning only added to the fact that people preferred me to her, and that wasn’t precisely my fault.
     I have always been rather fond of my most faithful patient, not to mention owner of the house in which I resided, Mr. Chesterfield. He was an older gentleman, older than I. Every evening, he would visit me and smoke his pipe. The odor was not unpleasant. I actually grew rather fond of it. I was sure he appreciated it that I didn’t ask him not to smoke. I knew for certain that Adelaide would have taken offense, but then, that only cemented the reasoning behind others’ preference for me.
     However, one morning, I heard the most distressing news. Mr. Chesterfield and his wife had an argument—about me. Mrs. Chesterfield claimed that her husband needed to quit me. She said that she had grown tired of the way I looked. She even had the audacity to say she was repulsed by my smell! They spoke about me as if I weren’t even there.
     I have to say, for his sake, that I admired Mr. Chesterfield for trying to stand up to his wife. After all, it was from her that he would often escape to me. He tried to convince her that he needed my companionship, that it was the best part of his day when he could come home and spend time with me, but she would hear nothing of it.
     Sadly, they kicked me to the curb, leaving me at the mercy of the cruel, cold world. It rained upon my bare head, reminding me of the short amount of time when Mrs. Chesterfield placed a crocheted mantle across my shoulders. How I longed for the garment that, sadly, later got destroyed by the aforementioned cat.
     I wondered to myself if the Chesterfields had replaced me. Did Mr. Chesterfield have anyone he could confide in the way he once so happily did with me? Would Mrs. Chesterfield crochet something new for someone else? And how did my Adelaide fare without me? Granted, she never thought much of me to begin with. She probably didn’t miss me. I hoped my replacement, if one had been attained, better suited her. Perhaps Mrs. Chesterfield had managed to find someone to better match her temperament.
    Sometimes, trucks would pass by me much too quickly, sending a spray of filthy water pouring down upon me. The deluge of water engulfed me before dripping from my sides like weeping tears. I wished I could cry for I felt so lost, so useless, so ill-used. I often pondered how anyone could want me in such a rotten condition.
     ‘I suppose it’s just as well,’ I thought at the time. If I had happened to have the ability to cry, I wouldn’t have been able to wipe my tears, just as I couldn’t wipe away the spray of water every time a truck drove past. You see, I couldn’t move my arms. They have always been stuck in the same position as they were the day the carpenter made my frame.
     I found it hard to believe that I only spent one night on the curb, for it felt like a slow eternity in my own personal purgatory, worried what was to become of my future.
     The following morning, the sun shone brightly, drying my ragged upholstery. I prayed that mold did not set in for my chances of being reclaimed would have lessened dramatically. No one would want a moldy old armchair.
     To my everlasting delight, I was lifted from the curb and placed in the back of a truck! At first, I worried I was headed to the dump, but no! The driver of the truck went to a house full of young people.
     For years, I stayed in my ragged condition, witnessing the comings and goings of different young adults. They typically stuck around for four or so years before moving on with their life, going who knows where. I tried to content myself with the thought that at least I was still useful, even though I was not as handsome as I once was. I tried not to yearn for the days when Mr. Chesterfield would come home from work and seek solace in my lap.
     Sadly, my days in the house of the young people were numbered. During one rowdy evening, my arm got painfully broken, and not even the members of the youthful household could find any use for me anymore. Once again, I was placed upon the curb, next to bags of trash and a ripped bean bag chair.
     My life had never known such a low moment. Surely now, my next step was utter desolation at the city dump, where I would spend the rest of my days until I fell apart completely.
     A few days later, when I felt myself lifted into the air, I didn’t even stop to wonder where it was that I would go this time. I already knew. This was the end of my usefulness. I was nothing but garbage, no better than what filled the cans that were next to me.
     The rattling of the truck upon which I rode filled me with dread as I pondered what lay ahead of me now. Would I be infested with mice? Would birds come and rip out my innards to use to line their nests? Would I be simply and cruelly dismembered and burned? I could barely look when the truck stopped, having reached its destination.
     “It’ll do,” I heard a woman’s voice say. Peering cautiously out at my surroundings, I found myself in a cluttered garage. A light layer of sawdust covered everything, filling up the corners and any crevice it could find.
     I could not see the owner of the voice because I had been placed facing the garage door, and she stood at the door to what I assume was their kitchen. I remembered a similar layout the day I first arrived at the Chesterfields’.
     “I think so. It’s in great condition. Well, once we strip off that upholstery, fix the arm, and clean out the rest of it,” the man replied, and the door closed.
     I spent a night in the dark garage, once or twice experiencing a great fright at the squeak of a small mouse. ‘What would become of me now?’
     The following morning, the man came out and stripped me bare to my frame. My dog-peed, cat-scratched clothing left me forever. I wouldn’t miss it. I heard the whizzing sound of a buzz saw. How I wished I could see!
     If I could have screamed, I would have with the next thing that happened. The man from yesterday painfully ripped away my broken arm. I only had one arm! What good is an armchair with only one arm!
     Suddenly, I had a new, strange sensation. Aged wood got attached to where my arm once was. I once again wished I could cry, but this time, they would have been tears of joy. My arm was repaired! Of course, I was only but a skeleton of my former self, but if this man could repair my arm, I hoped he could repair the rest of me as well.
     Over the next few days, I experienced nothing but stuffing and pushing and pulling and stretching as I was carefully rebuilt. I didn’t mind. In fact, my new upholstery closely matched the original. This master craftsman had saved me from a depressing fate and wished to use me in his house.
     Imagine my surprise that when he finished that I was not placed into his own living room but once again carefully lifted into the back of a truck. With an affectionate pat, I was sent on my way to destination unknown.
     If I had a heart, it would have surely been racing with the anticipation of what lay ahead. Was I going to a furniture store? Another house? A museum?
     I was placed in a sitting room of a nursing home. I liked the rest of the furniture in that room. There was a large sofa, a coffee table, a few floor lamps, some potted silk flowers, and a small chandelier over the coffee table. We all suited one another, and I got the nicest reception from them. It was like they told me that they were only waiting for an armchair like me to complete the friendly, homey atmosphere the room had.
     Over the next few months, I became rather attached to the floor lamp next to me. Lucille was the light of my new life. With her help, I would many times be the perfect place upon which to sit and read a book. Sometimes, residents would scoot the two of us over to the nearby coffee table so that they could put together a puzzle or play a game. We made a great pair, she and I, certainly much better than my previous, spiteful relationship with Adelaide. With Lucille’s help, I settled happily into my new role, never forgetting what might’ve become my fate.
     I had several visitors during that time, and I learned much of the residents in the nursing home. My favorite times were when family members would come to visit. I would sit and listen to stories of the outside world. To my delight, one visitor was a woman I remembered as having been in the house of young adults. Oh, but, of course, she didn’t recognize me.
     “Here we are, sir, this is the sitting room I spoke of,” a nurse told a patient.
     “I remember having a chair just like this one before my wife passed,” the old man said, and he settled comfortably between my arms like he had returned to the place he’d always belonged.
     “Will you be needing anything else, Mr. Chesterfield?”

No comments:

Post a Comment