The Drowning Man

by Joseph Grant

Drifting in an out of consciousness, he thought of the glory days of his youth when he was back in boarding school on the swim team and how he had been an excellent athlete, winning medals, admiration and challenges from boys at other schools at the pool at the local Y. Since that time, he had done tremendously well in the bond market, opened up his own investment firm and in the interim, married the girl he had met at Yale, raised a large family with her, worked many late hours and many late years, divorced the woman not long after his pretty nineteen year-old secretary threw herself at him, married her and had a few more kids and then predictably got dumped by her for a younger man when he was away buying half of the European art catalogue for her. Swimming in various waters of his life came natural to him and he took to it with the same determination to succeed as he had at his prep school, however shark-laden and treacherous some of those waters had become since then. With his endless source of wealth, ex-wives, children, lovers and sometimes less than reputable contacts, came much in the way of endless litigious issues and he found himself spending more time trying to navigate his way through the choppy waters of the courtroom instead of the slightly smoother waves of the boardroom, where he was a much better swimmer. Surrounded now only by his high school awards, pennants, photographs and trophies, he lay supine in his sterile, white-linen hospital bed on a dead man’s float, he thought as gasped for breaths as his mind drifted farther and farther from the living shore. Behind him hung an illustration from his personal collection, The Drowning Man by the German painter, Bohrn, a favorite of his father’s and he remembered his father, a cold man for whom he had never much use, pointing out the painting to him as a boy, explaining to him that the man was drowning because he allowed himself to be vulnerable to life’s elements and he recalled in his last breaths how he had always feared that portrait of the terrified drowning man, who he himself, with pneumonia filling his lungs, had ultimately become.


Joseph Grant, author of Naughty Nasty Mr. Ivers, is originally from New York City and currently resides in Los Angeles. His short stories have been published in over 50 literary reviews and e-zines, such as Byline, New Authors Journal, Howling Moon Press, Hack Writers, New Online Review, Indite Circle and Cerebral Catalyst.