"Art is not what you see, but what you make others see." Edgar Degas

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Flash Fiction Friday - The Story of Bob




His full name was Wendell Robert Forsythe the fourteenth. XIV. Legend had it that each generation of Forsythes produced exactly one child, a boy, and each had the same temperament, laugh, and sunken eyes. They all started off left-handed; some stayed that way. They all spoke in the same soft, low, slow way and they all spoke from the same slightly elevated altitude. But none of this mattered to XIV’s friends, who all knew him simply as Bob.

When Bob was six years old he attended a party thrown by his great-grandfather (XI) on the occasion of the old man’s 100th birthday. Longevity was a Forsythe tradition and far be it from Old XI to give up the ghost without a fight. At the party Bob met a woman who spoke more clearly than he’d ever heard anyone speak before. He fell in love. “Life is too short for,” she said. It was obvious that she had more to say but before she had the chance to say it she stopped, got a queer look on her face, and dropped dead. She’d proven her point to Bob in the most eloquent way. “Life is too short for,” became his motto.

There’s a joke about the guy who lives every day like it’s his last: he wakes up, calls the funeral parlor, the florist… but Bob lived every last day a different way. If life was too short, and it obviously was, he would need to prioritize to get the most out of it.

Bob learned how to play trumpet. He never took a lesson or read a book on it. He picked up the instrument and put on a Miles Davis album. And he played it over and over and over and over and over and every time he tried to get a sound using only his lips, his breath, and a piece of metal. It took him three years to be able to play without the record but when he did it sounded right to his ear. He had found success.

The key to his success was indulgence. There was nothing indulgence couldn’t do for him. He indulged all equally - his mother, his cats, his son (XV), and his wife - but none more than himself. It was a Forsythe tradition for fifteen generations now. Bob had no intention or desire to break the chain.

When the end came, on a beach in Mexico, he was sifting sand into the bucket of Wendell Robert Forsythe the sixteenth. XVI. He was noticing the way the sun was glinting on a particle of sand. He reached for it and saw the same shining light reflecting from first one then all of his fingernails. Little Bobby (XVI) caught his grandfather’s head the way you’d catch a football. He was proud of himself, and rightly so, for his excellent catch. He buried his face on his grandfather’s neck and took a nice, long nap.