Night and day

tortilla-chipsAuthor’s Note: This is the second part of a three part short story. If you would like to read the first chapter, please visit Extra point.

Beyond the raucous parties filled with alcohol, salty tortilla chips, and excessive testosterone levels, Bryce had a secret – one that he had been keeping close to the vest for years. As the final guest disappeared through the front door of his apartment, Bryce locked the door and turned the deadbolt. It wasn’t really necessary – turning the deadbolt – but, it gave him a sense of privacy that allowed complete immersion in what would come next.

He left the assortment of empty beer bottles on the counter. There had to be at least a dozen of them scattered about. The bag of chips, already beginning to stale, could wait for another fifteen minutes. Bryce marched in a straight line toward his bedroom. He opened the walk in closet and counted over three jerseys from the left. Pushing the hangar to the side, he located the two sets of sheets sitting on the shelf. Nestled between them rested Bryce’s secret in its coveted hiding place.

He retrieved the magazine and retreated to sit on the corner of his bed. He furiously flipped pages until he reached the foldout midway through the issue. He felt a surge of adrenaline course through his veins. The two page spread of the Monet reproduction was the feature piece in this month’s installment of Art Appreciation.

Bryce never really understood all the technical details. He didn’t comprehend the techniques or artistic elements that comprised the production of a painting. He just knew that when he looked at some notable works of art, something shifted inside of him. And he liked that. What he didn’t like was the sense of apprehension that accompanied his desire to feel that way in the first place.

Bryce was raised in a household devoid of genuine parental involvement. He wasn’t abused. He just wasn’t necessarily openly loved. His sense of pride and feeling of belonging came from interactions with his football teammates as well as the girls who ached to hang on his bulky biceps at high school social events. It was all he knew. It was all he was taught, not by his parents or teachers, but by his own personal experiences.

There was too much risk involved, for Bryce at least, in revealing a side of him that had remained hidden for so long. Bringing this fascination with art to light may disrupt the equilibrium that he had established. Surely, there was not a man alive today who would watch a football game in the afternoon, and then revel in the observation of art by night. What would his friends think? Would he be looked upon as weird? Abnormal?

Bryce was physically gifted. He had the six pack abs and chiseled calf muscles to prove it. But, he also had another capacity that wasn’t as obvious – a mental aptitude not related to academics. It had allowed Bryce to become one of the most accomplished high school quarterbacks in state history. It’s what some people refer to as street smarts. Bryce always had a strategy. The vibrating alarm coming from the cell phone in his pocket reminded him of his game plan that had nothing to do with Xs and Os on a football field. His nighttime shift at the local art museum was scheduled to begin in thirty minutes.

As a security guard, Bryce was able to maintain his image as a rough and tumble ball of testosterone while catching glimpses of the art work he enjoyed while on his evening rounds – all under the veil of it being his job.

Strolling through the double doors to the museum, Bryce always felt tiny. The size of the colossal front entrance leading into the massive central atrium certainly provided a dwarfing sensation. The daytime guard, John, was anxious to greet Bryce. “Hey Bryce, Tom asked you to call him before you start your shift.” Gathering up his keys and water bottle, John continued, “And by the way, what happened in the game?”

“It was crazy. The Titans pulled out the winning touchdown in the last minute of the game.” He was talking about football, but he was presently thinking about the painting hanging on the wall in corridor two on the third floor. The adrenaline rush of a football game wore off after a few hours. The one he experienced from a painting, however, seemed to be interminable.

old-dial-phoneAs John departed through the front door, Bryce insured the front doors were locked shut. Then, he sauntered over to the front reception desk and dialed *9 on the old style rotary telephone to reach his supervisor. “Hey Tom, this is Bryce. John told me you wanted me to call in? What’s up?”

The voice on the other end of the line had a pleading tone to it. “Listen, Bryce, I need some help. Frank called in sick for tomorrow’s shift and John has a flight out of town to visit family this evening. I need someone to cover for the day shift tomorrow.”

Bryce had become accustomed to the nighttime ritual. There was a quiet solitude in meandering through the dark corridors. The precisely positioned soft lights directed at each of the paintings accentuated their natural beauty. This time alone at night was a personal sanctuary of sorts for Bryce. He wasn’t necessarily thrilled with the request being pushed upon him, but he could tell that his boss was in a bind. And he figured that seeing the art in a new light might be appealing.

“I can do it. What time do you need me here?” replied Bryce.

“Eleven to five, and thanks a ton buddy. I’ll make sure you get an extra day off sometime in the next week or so.”

do-something-different“Sure, no problem.” As Bryce hung up the phone, he grabbed the keys in the desk drawer and began to make his first of three rounds for the evening. Little did he know that the difference between his two shifts, night and day, would be just that – night and day.

Author’s Note: This is the second part of a three part short story. The final installment will be published next week. If you enjoy these stories, please connect with me on Facebook to share more inspiring reminders throughout the week. Thank you for reading and providing your thoughts – best wishes for an inspired day!

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10 thoughts on “Night and day

  1. Writing to Freedom April 14, 2015 / 10:35 am

    Clever, moving, and engaging. I appreciate and admire your story writing skills Dave. And I look forward to hearing more about Bryce’s move toward the calling of art. 🙂

    • davecenker April 14, 2015 / 11:25 am

      I always appreciate your kind comments, Brad. Thanks for taking the time to read and share in Bryce’s revelations.

  2. Lynn April 14, 2015 / 12:13 pm

    Interesting Dave. I am working on a piece about discovering your passion. It sounds like Bruce has been discovering his for some time, hopefully he gets more comfortable with letting the part of himself shine!

    • davecenker April 14, 2015 / 12:58 pm

      Thanks Lynn, I appreciate you taking the time to read – and recognize some of the slightly hidden messages in Bryce’s story 😉 Best wishes for an inspired day!

  3. heraldmarty April 15, 2015 / 3:14 pm

    That whole peer pressure and fitting in thing can sure do a number on people. I used to harbor a lot of anger about being target of some pretty nasty bullies in school, but later in life I realized they did me a favor because not fitting in presents one with a tremendous opportunity. Some will of course allow it to beat them and do whatever it takes to find a way to conform, even if standing on the fringe is as close as they can get to experiencing a sense of belonging. And others, will use the opportunity to embrace their individuality and in doing so learn the beauty of being ‘different’ in a world of carbon copies. Looking forward to the next chapter in Bryce’s story. 🙂

    • davecenker April 15, 2015 / 5:10 pm

      Thanks Marty, I really appreciate you taking the time to lay out your thoughts so completely – for two reasons. First, I always enjoy reading your comments 🙂 Second, I am happy to see that someone else has essentially identified this behavior as what it is – bullying.

      It doesn’t always need to physical, and it doesn’t always have to be with words. It can often be even more damaging in the form that Bryce is experiencing.

      Thanks again for taking the time to read and comment – I sincerely appreciate it 😉

  4. Dalo 2013 April 18, 2015 / 9:30 pm

    Really like the twist this story has taken – the amount of things people keep hidden from the world, afraid to let the world fully embrace them (and vice-versa). Wonderful writing and look forward to part three.

    • davecenker April 20, 2015 / 9:07 am

      Thanks Randy, I appreciate your kind words and insight into the true meaning of this story hidden beneath the surface 😉

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