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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Art (01/18/07)

TITLE: A man named Art
By Ken Kocon


I knew an Art once. Black man had a motor cycle. I met him while I was doing roofing.
Just a crap job my Dad got me when I was on summer vacation from college. Suburbia Daddy’s boy you know.

Dad got me the job by pulling some connections. It was a good paying job for a kid. The wage was $6.59 an hour with some OT. I was a roofing apprentice. We worked in 4-6 man crews at job sites doing industrial roofing.

I did not care. I was going to college to pull in the big bucks someday. Doing what? Well how was I supposed to know? I was skinny 19-year-old going to the Big U of M. Chasing girls and going to frat parties was all I had on my mind. I was not concerned about the future. You could legally drink when I was 19. Lucky me a future of alcoholism.

So I get this job and meet Art. Now Art is maybe 35-40, short stocky. Art had big arms and I remember a scar on his bicep. He also had a wife.

Art was a roofing journeyman I believe. He was working hard for a few bucks trying to hold together his family. I believe he had been with the company a few years. Art was the only guy on the job site who made me feel comfortable and showed me the ropes. You now how it is when you get a new job, you feel your way around until you connect with someone. Art was that someone at this job. We swapped stories and went out to Burger King together. He was kind and friendly not like the other crewmembers.

Many of the crewmembers called you college boy, pussy, or some other colorful word. The men that were hardcore roofers did not have much time for happy go lucky college kids. These career men woke up everyday busting their butts. They worked at a tough job to make an affordable living for their family.

Anyone who has ever done roofing knows what I am talking about here. Climb up a two-story ladder with a 70 lb block of shingles on your back and tell me how you feel. Now do it 20 times. Industrial roofing could be even worse. You have to shovel truckloads of rocks in all kinds of weather. The journeymen and crew leaders had no time for slackers or Daddy’s boys just passing thru.

Well Art came to me one day towards the end of the summer. He had a problem. His wife tossed him out and he had no place to stay. “Just a couple of night’s man.” Art said.

I was living with my college roommates, it is not like we didn‘t have room for a few nights. I balked, and told him no. I did not know Art very well I reasoned.

I guess that is the point in my whole story. I turned my back on someone in need. It obviously still bothers me when I think of him. That was 23 years ago. When I think of the man Art, that is what I always remember. That and he told me once he was being sunburned. I did not know a black man could get sunburn. Art I hope your all right man. Forgive me!

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This article has been read 522 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Peggy Bennitt01/30/07
I liked the "voice" in this story. It gave just the right nonchalance of the frat boy trying to be tough and unaffected by it all. It also made the brokeness of the confession that much more powerful. A pronoun issue and some punctuation problems here, but those are easily corrected. The writing skill and voice are what make this a winner!
Donna Powers 01/31/07
A very interesting character study. You gave him a very authentic "voice" but I admit I was thrown a bit by the roughness of his speech. However this seems like an authentic account and it certainly seems to be honest. You have promise as a writer. Keep writing!
julie wood01/31/07
I enjoyed reading this story. Not only the other characters, but also the narrator came alive for me with his colorful tough-guy way of talking!

Great message and one I can identify with, often having wished I'd done things differently.

The title also grabbed me. I'm always curious about personal name titles--what the characters who have the names are like--and also enjoyed this original twist on the prompt "Art." (I wondered if anyone would do that!)