20071104

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.

6S

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.

10 comments:

Adam J. Whitlatch said...

Deep and moving. It makes you take a step back and look at your own life. Well done, Joe.

Tara said...

This could very well be the longest 6S, but with no single word wasted. It all contributes to the drowning effect. Excellent work.

Liz said...

This is a great 6S. The imagery and metaphors themselves were floating throughout the piece. You get the sensation of the man drowning as you read through the story. It is really well written! A very moving piece.

Anonymous said...

Excellent.

Bob Jacobs said...

Well thought out, Joe. Cool 6S.

austere said...

Gatsby-rich.
Atleast he didn't get subprimed or dollar'd.

Linda said...

whew... need air... lot's jampacked in a mere 6S. Outdid yourself with this one... Peace.

Kathy said...

This was a great piece, Joe. You have the ability and skill to invite the reader into your stories. Well done, another star to add to your journalistic accolades.

G & G said...

Definitely puts life into perspective. We can all relate to this story in one way or another. We may not have all the wealth that he did, but we all feel like we're drowning every now and then. GREAT JOB JOE!

Madam Z said...

We all have to drown sometime, Joe. At least this man had a good, long swim before he assumed the "dead man's float." And you skillfully guided us from the smooth waves to the choppy waters in just six sentences. Bravo!