Working on a New Story

Watercolor Sketchbook exercise

For days now, stories have been blistering up in my imagination to add to the book I’ve been working on these recent years. I’m thinking about adding a third character to the Hank and Randy saga. Not sure of his name yet, but for now he is Sonny . . .

Sonny was in a rage this morning. Standing at the bandsaw in the maintenance shed of POCO Graphite, his blood pressure continued to surge. It wasn’t spurred by any particular incident of this day or the day before; he had merely reached the end of his rope in this careerless job that was making his graduate education possible. His Bachelor’s degree from Northeast Missouri State University was funded by his parents’ blue-collar support, and he knew that they expected more from him than landing a mere teacher’s position in a public school. So he had made the pledge to pursue a Masters of Fine Art degree in North Texas, which was going to be expensive. To support this effort, he hired in as a maintenance helper at this industrial plant, and was now in the midst of training as a welder.

As a budding artist, Sonny had hoped that acquiring metalworking skills would help him find his niche in the art world, but it wasn’t happening. Instead, every day found him standing at the bandsaw, cutting stainless steel two-by-four channel iron at forty-five-degree cuts, each one requiring forty minutes of standing and staring at the saw in case something happened–the blade binding or snapping, or the piece of stainless steel shifting under the grip of the vises holding it in position on the cutting surface. Boring. As Sonny stood there, he found himself sketching the images of bison with soapstone on the cutting table as he watched the saw grinding away. Every night after supper, he wearily sat at his apartment dining room table and sketched in watercolor herds of bison that he hoped he would one day see if he ever fulfilled his lifelong ambition to visit Wyoming or Utah, or any state preserving bison herds.

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