By Delbert H. Rhodes
The house lights smile brightly, as iridescent rays dance across the ceiling, walls and polished floor. The room choruses with excited murmur, as an expectant crowd awaits him. His first book has been, and although surprisingly to him, a wonderful success. Tonight he would give thanks.
Off stage, he stands staring at his reflection. He is a tall athletically built man with dark hair, and eyes and a smile that makes a sad day joyful. Albeit before him the mirror casts a pleasing visage, in no way could the glass look upon his deeper feelings. The success of his first book is more than he could have imagined. More than he could have dreamed.
As would a novice writer, or perhaps any writer, and although he spends countless hours researching the craft, he would have been happy had five or six people purchased, and actually read his work. Now this, this success seems almost unspeakable. Nonetheless, true. Tonight, in this place, reality is more like a dream. Staring back from the mirror, his reflection sluices happy tears from his eyes.
On stage, the Master of Ceremonies nears the point of introduction. Making a last minute check of his image, the writer carefully shifts his clothing. He properly aligns necktie to buttons, buttons to belt buckle, and belt buckle to pant zipper. His jacket anatomically matches, and his shirtsleeves slightly kiss the tops of both hands. His shoes are mirror polished, and gleaming. The writer’s clothing fit as though a blue print provides for the crafting of his apparel. Although he has never served in the military, he dresses according to standard, and from head to toe. Whenever seen publicly, he presents meticulously. To him one’s public appearance is as important as one’s word.
Ready to face the audience, and nervously stepping into the wings, the writer waits. The MC makes the introductions; and it is as though the writer hears his name for the first time. Apprehensively, yet with great pride, he steps from the wings and onto the stage.
Conscious of the bright lights, the crowd, and the cameras, unseen, as the humbled man walks to the podium, a battle with his feelings wages. Focusing on the MC’s outstretched hand, the writer regains composure. These last few minutes, he thinks, and as if clarity embellishes him, are substantial material for a second novel. With a firm handshake, the Lectern, the room, the crowd and the night are his; and facing them: from somewhere in his heart pour words of sincerity.
Standing there alone, the writer expresses his gratitude, great surprise, and shock at the book’s overwhelming success. He tells them of how, when much younger, he had often thought of writing a book. Continuing, he explains that he never quite understood the mechanisms involved. Additionally, the writer paints a clear, but troubled picture of his lacking self-confidence.
An inner conflict he constantly suffered in his youth. A burden of which today, though to a lesser extent, he continues to bear. Suddenly he realizes a difference within him, a feeling he has never known, and a sense of comfort he has never felt. Astonishingly, and for the first time in his life, before the crowd, he feels whole, stable, at peace.
Scanning the vast room, as sun bright lights warm his hot skin, and radiant eyes beam from smiling faces, he sincerely thanks everyone connected to his accomplishments. Within this embodiment: they are his teachers, his college professors, family, friends and fans. He speaks to the many people who guided, supported, and yes, even tolerated him, as he struggled his way through infancy, and through tears of frustration while slowly, and painstakingly developing his craft. “My success,” he says, “is your success.”
“Mine were the brain and pen producing and providing an idea. Yours was the paper, the canvas upon which my imagination and creative techniques were crafted.” “Without you,” he embellishes, “without ‘you,’ my book, and my work would be without success. My reality; therefore, could never have been dreamed.” “With love and heartfelt adoration, and from the deepest part of me,” he tears, “I thank you.”
Before a room of cheers, smiles, and sobbing eyes, he is celebrated, dignified, and credible. Here stands a simple man in thought and deed. Albeit throughout his life others have misjudged him, misconstrued his manner, misinterpreted his silence and aloofness as arrogant superiority, spoke harshly of him to demean his character, destroy his pathway to respect and success, and albeit some simply disliked him because seemingly, he disliked them. This man wants the best for every deserving person on the planet.
Yes, he holds no special concerns for the ill-mannered or the wicked, and criminal minded. No, he could care less for the perils bemoaning them. He, however, does care about the good people, honest and hardworking people, those understanding the true meaning of respect, and therefore, cultivating the sweetness of life. These are the people he loves, these are the people for whom he writes. God willing: he intends to write for them until life pens his final word, and turns his last page. His eyes would be sightless to the final edit, yet radiantly revitalized by an everlasting vision. Of such an honorable end, even the writer would be at a loss for words.
With tears, welling in his moist, and reddened eyes and a cosmic smile the writer enthusiastically waves to his public. Attempting to meet every eye, he thankfully makes his fond farewells. Leaving the podium, he sidesteps as he departs the stage, never turning away from the audience. Never. After reaching the privacy of the wings, the man falls to his knees in supplication.
Clasping his hands before him as if to pray, he looks toward the heavens: “Father,” he tearfully whispers, “my success is your success. Thank you for loving me.” Placing his face between the palms of both hands, quietly and with humiliating joy, the writer weeps.
Hidden behind a far curtain, all that I have witnessed amazes me. Never before has anything affected me so. How could I know his thoughts, how could I feel his feelings, experience each moment as though I am he! The answers to these questions are greater than I am, but I am willing to explore them.
Leaning on my broom, as the writer continues to sob, tears well in my eyes. Secretly, I cry for his happiness.
Copyright © 2002 Delbert H. Rhodes