A late night exercise in ink and paint

The party last night was a defining moment. As I entered the shabby hall that served as common room for the freshmen, I was greeted by a noise that I had never heard. The din of dozens of young adult voices all teaming together in an uproar of laughter and speech. It was a raging orchestra of voices that seemed to never end. Drinks were being opened adding as percussive sounds while the wooshing seltzer bottles and clicking of lighters added to the layers of smoke, smells and noise. I found myself taken in as a swimmer in the undertow.

I imagined this is what it must have been like when parties were thrown in Cambridge. I was never invited as my name always prevented that. No one wanted an association, save for Jules. Now, here anonymous, I felt the rush of being a teenager for the first time.

At least two hours went by in the increasingly crowded and smoky common room that never ceased in volume. I stood talking and luxuriating in the fact that no one asked anything beyond first name and major. Then I heard the most awful sound carry through the packed bodies.

“Well, I’ll be, if it isn’t Anstruther!” came the paralyzing tone of Kurt Vander. Possibly the most obnoxious young man in Jules and my class back at Cambridge Latin. With his booming voice and all the tact of a wrecking ball colliding with an orphanage, Kurt stopped the party’s orchestra of frivolity with nothing but my name. He continued.

“Anstruther, what the hell are you doing at Brown? I thought you’d be doodling some fairies or following your old man to wherever he’s gotten to.” Kurt let out with a gaffaw. I winced as I felt every eye collapse in on me and the slow rise of murmurs begin. He didn’t stop there. “Who let you in anyway, Anstruther?” he bellowed with emphasis on every syllable. “I thought I left you behind with that loser, Dermsford in Cambridge.”

As he said this, Jules popped from the edge of the crowd, fuming. “Vander, old, chum. I see you haven’t changed during the break. I thought a few months would have given you some sense of manhood rather than this fine display of childish rabble rousing. It seems to me that an ivy league man should be able to not stoop to insult on first meeting to get noticed at a party. Or do you feel slightly insecure about your own father?”

“At least my father didn’t isn’t a heretic.” Kurt retorted.

“No, just a hypocrite. Headmaster of Cambridge Latin, but had to buy his son’s way into school because the boy couldn’t even pass the entrance exam.” Jules wielded his inside knowledge like a sword in the hand of a knight. “Cavan, let’s take off while Kurt tries to figure out what I just said.”

We left, giving our regrets to the hosts and watched as sycophantic cronies tried to explain what Jules said to Kurt.

I was sitting tonight realizing no matter where I go, I’ll always be my father’s son. So I sit here painting and drawing a streetlamp for theory watching the slow humm of the Tesla bulb burn the gas within and brighten up the world enough for me to sit and paint on a street corner enjoying a moment’s peace.

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