Mud (story by R.C. Peris)

He giggling and smashing mud between his hands. Little Eddie. He was enthralled by the mud. He was sitting in a wet, soggy mud puddle that dirtied his legs and all the way up to his waist. He scooped up more mud, held his hands to the sun, smiled like a prince and smooshed mud until his fingers were thick with the goo.

My name is Edward Jerroll. I’m a well known artist. My work is in museums around the world. I have been creating since I was Little Eddie’s age.

At five years old, I won a coloring contest. At seven, I was copying Disney characters without trace paper and could sell them for a few cents to students. The month of December and February were a busy time for me as I got commissions from students because of the holidays. I learned early that being an artist meant working. With each drawing there was a sense of discovery. Receiving orders and money did not dampen my enjoyment.

I won a statewide art contest in high school. At graduation, I laughed at all the students who faced regular college or blue collar jobs. I moved to New York City to attend art school. I met many influential people and I began to produce my most innovative work. I got a studio space with a friend. We halved the rent. I expanded from painting to sculpture. When I graduated, my work was already in galleries.

I stayed in New York City, married my first wife and bought a weekend/summer home in the Hamptons. I got commissions from around the world. I continued to work.

In my thirties, I found a new wife. I was now a household name. I continued to work but some of the joy had left me. My work felt dull. Commissions dwindled.

In my forties, I divorced and remarried. I sold my loft in New York City. We lived in the Hamptons and I refused to leave home on most days. Little Eddie was born. I spent four years staring at blank canvasses, blocks of wood, and plaster.

I became depressed and suicidal. I was in a hospital for a month. And now I am sitting in my studio staring at Little Eddie through the window. My anger grows and grows. I am choking on anger as I watch him. For the first time in a week, I go outside and yell at Little Eddie. I yell until he cries and his mother takes him away. I poke the mud and hold my finger to the sky. I feel no joy. I am no longer an artist. I will drive into the city and buy bullets for the gun.

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