#56 The Frog

by James Silberstein

The old watering hole was ruined. Three flat panel TVs and a new generation distracted by smart phones and micro brews polluted the bar’s simplicity. Carved over the bottles and taps, Basho’s most famous Haiku.

蛙 飛び込む
水の 音

“How long you been coming here, Professor?” asked the bartender.

The professor stared into his glass—a place to drown pain.

“Professor Waters?”

He heard but did not answer the bartender whose vacant eyes hung on as if waiting for flies. He reminded the professor of a frog.

The professor almost said:
17 years since I came to teach painting at the university—five and the affair, seven and the divorce, five more and nearly dead drunk. My own painting shrinking year after year into nothing more than a small bother, a gnat circling. And you—I hate you—your patronizing—professor of what? The art of cliché? The canvas of irrelevance? Shut up, pour another, and keep ‘em coming until you’ve drowned me in the damned, dark depths.

Instead, he sat silently.

The bartender reached under the bar for an Aim ‘n Flame. With a click, the flame spread ceremoniously to the tea candle now flickering before the professor—a violent ambush—the fire flared in the painter’s chest, splashing light into dark as if the earth just dropped into the celestial waters. What a picture it could have been—not only color and line—

But sound rushing.


Flutterby said...

Nice job painting the heaviness of regret.

Jen Harvey said...

Wow this has so much in it. The descriptions, the emotions, the atmosphere. Absolutely fabu;ous stuff!