The Student: Part Three

The scene is set exactly as the first two. Holderman is peering out a window and he goes over and opens the door for William before there is even a knock. Holderman motions for William to take a seat and as he walks by him William hands Holderman a piece of paper. Holderman sits down and reads the paper while William sits down directly facing him. Holderman’s mannerisms are clearly different today; he’s more relaxed and open, more polite and friendly.

Holderman: (not looking up from the paper) This is good, not very good, but definitely good. Your meter breaks in a few places, but your rhyme is perfect and your word choice is marvelous. You can adjust it easily and make it a true sonnet. Once you do that, you should have little trouble publishing it.

William: (in awe at the compliment) But… well… thank you… sir.

Holderman: You have a lot of room to improve you see, a lot. But your potential finally shines through. I think there may be hope for you yet.

William: (shuffling in his seat some) Well, I’m just glad you like it.

Holderman: I do… But there is still something wrong with it, something I can’t put my hand on.

William: Oh? Can you help me out? I’d like to know since I’m on the right track it seems.

Holderman: (pauses a moment) Do you paint?

William: (puzzled) Ummm no… (chuckle) I don’t have a lick of artistic talent. I can’t even draw stick figures worth a damn.

Holderman: Have you ever painted?

William: (shaking head) Nah man, never.

Holderman: (imitating motions with his hand as he goes through monologue) Did you ever pain in kindergarten. The kind of painting where you sink your whole hand into the finger paints, you smear the colors all over the construction paper not caring what it looks like to any one else but yourself. Your only goal to create an impress and an expression of you. The kind of painting that comes from childish brashness and freedom. The kind that inspires adults to be more open and relive their childhoods. Have you ever done that?

William: (dazed) Well, yeah, sure, I guess so. I don’t remember kindergarten that well but yeah, I guess so. Sheesh. Why are you asking me this?

Holderman: Because you are a painter.

William: Huh? I’m not quite following you here.

Holderman: You see, you as a poet are a painter. The only thing that separates you from a Van Gogh, a Rembrandt or a Monet is that your medium is words and your canvas, a blank sheet of paper. You must paint and express in much the way they do. You must use your pen as if it were a paintbrush and your words as if they were strokes.

William: (flailing hands about) Ok, woah woah woah woah here chief. Last time I was here you were smashing vases, crumpling up my work, calling it “excrement” and today you’re all compliments and now feeding me these lines about being a painter? What the hell is going on here? Are you deranged? Do you have some disorder I need to know about? Because this is really weirding me out.

Holderman: Would you rather me smash a vase? I have plenty (motions over his shoulder).

William: Well, know I rather like it, it makes you seem like less of an ogre

Holderman: (loudly) that’s because I’m not an ogre! (William jumps back, Holderman stands slowly and gets as much in his face as he can comfortably) I am a complicated, intricate, three-dimensional human being the same as you and all your readers I am no more an ogre than you are. As a poet you must be all things, the good, the bad and yes, the ugly. Accept them as a part of you and let them all shine. That’s the only way your readers can ever associate with you or even tolerate you.

William: (humbled) I see.

Holderman: (continues) The reason I use this analogy is because you didn’t paint enough. You vented, you opened up and you did everything right but you simply didn’t let the words flow like smooth strokes from a tiny brush. You have been brave dear William but now you must be an artist. That is the greatest challenge of all. Few even come close. But I think you can do it and damn it man, I’m going to see that you do.

William: (looking up at him) Ok… sorry. Calm down please, I liked the other side of you better.

Holderman: Very well. But now I’m frustrated. Now comes the part where you have to pull through. I can’t toss you a book to teach you this or even tell you how. You just have to remember what it was like to smear those paints onto that paper as a kid. (long pause) In fact, perhaps you need to relive that. Yes, when we break for the day, I want you to go home and make a finger-painting. Relive the joy and the emotion. Get back in touch with that side of your self. I think that will do you a world of good in your writing. Yes… you do that.

William: (unsure, but making a mental note) Ok… I guess I can do that.

Holderman: Also, be sure to bring me the painting. I wish to see it.

William: (looking around) Ok…

Holderman: (there is a long awkward silence that seems to take forever) Didn’t I give you another assignment? Yes, I believe I did.

William: (hangs head and begins to twitch nervously) Yes… you did.

Holderman: (sternly) Tell me about it.

William: (wringing hands) Well, it didn’t go too good.

Holderman: (more sternly) All the more reason, talk to me.

William: (Blushing some and getting more and more nervous) Well, I went to the club…

Holderman: That’s a good first step

William: (continues) but for the longest time no one was there. No pretty girls my age that is. But after about two hours, one walked in. She had gorgeous eyes, and long flowing blonde hair. Her warmth and personality radiated off of her. She was almost angelic.

Holderman: Did you talk to her?

William: Well, I walked up to her, swallowed the whole of my stomach… (pause)

Holderman: and…

William: (deep sigh) I told her I thought she was very sexy and that I wanted to (waffles) be alone with her.

Holderman: I see. What happened next.

William: (hangs head) She got angry, stormed off, told management what I had said and had me thrown out. (tries to speed through the rest) I’m not allowed to return for a few months at least. Not that I liked the place, damn rat-hole.

Holderman: (lound chuckle) Congratulations dear William. You have had your first experience of being punished for telling an uncomfortable truth. (imitates a toast) May it happen many more times in your future. It is your duty as a writer to say what is true and real, even if it hurts. A duty you must take to your grave. Some take that literally though, one writer friend of mine died a few years back, his epitaph simply reads, “I’m dead”. He had a knack for bluntness though, something you lack I’m afraid.

William: (puzzled) What do you mean?

Holderman: Be alone with her… please.

William: (lays back in chair) Ok, fine. But I completed the assignment and even if I didn’t I can’t go back. So there, you happy?

Holderman: (directly) Happier. But not happy.

William: (slightly frustrated) Well, I’m sorry.

Holderman: Nothing to feel sorry for. You gave it a good run though, the bluntness will come over time. You’ll see, soon you’ll be writing the most heart-felt pieces of all time but be constantly scolded in your day-to-day life for being unfeeling and heartless. You’ll see.

William: Well, it’s getting late, I guess I should be going.

Holderman: Perhaps, but, before you do, you have to get your assignment.

William: (confused) I thought I already had it? .

Holderman: Yes, the painting is important, very important. But you must also write a poem to go with the painting. Make it something to mirror your colors and strokes. I’ll expect both parchments the usual time tomorrow.

William: (gets up to shake his hand, Holderman doesn’t move, William begins walking toward door) I guess I’ll see you tomorrow then.

Holderman: (not looking at him) Yes, you shall… Yes…

(exit William)

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