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Shoes never feel heavier than when weighed down by the lack of opportunity. To walk the streets aimlessly wishing you knew in what direction to actually take, people coming and going on the paths to their future, not a single one of them willing to offer a break let alone a glance of hope, the footfalls of the worn out shoes which belong to the worn out soul now having veered off to the gutter and the destitution it represents.
It was at this lowest point of my life when I felt like throwing all away, including the breaths of exhaustion from trying so hard but to no avail. To take one final climb to one of the many high peaks I perch atop around the city to create my art, once having felt so inspired by being so close to the cosmos of creation, now writing one last story before letting it all go and falling down to that gutter of broken dreams.
The tale wasn’t a literal call for help, as I learned long ago that the world is more likely to turn its back when shown honest suffering. No, it was quite the opposite. A celebration of my one and only love; story. The magic of it, its timelessness, its universal voice, through my art and craft building a fictional world of wonder and hope, allowing my own talent to enchant me one last time as I formulated the concept, layered into it just the right amount of intricacies, the characters which began to take shape like beautiful flowers springing forth from the seed of this narrative.
When I clicked PUBLISH, that powerful word that I had fought so hard to traditionally accomplish before going off on my own I honestly thought that would be the last time. That I would never again pour my soul into telling a story only to send it out into the world to be ignored. Maybe by falling to my death would I spark enough interest for the rats in the race to take a little notice, to see that I actually had something of value to share with them all.
And so I sat my laptop to the side, the one I had saved for years to buy, the one that I had used like a painter uses a brush or a composer a piano to help bring about their art.
Sitting on the edge of this twelve-storey building with back to the open wind I planned to plummet into the unknown backwards like a scuba diver, taking one last deep breath with one last look up at the cosmos above. But just as I started to lean back a notification came through on my blog. Someone had actually commented on that last story.
At first I thought great, what better ending than to leave on a high note. To propel towards success into another lifetime perhaps? But that little dangerous thing inside me called hope wouldn’t let it be, driving me to take one last look…
Patron: Your stories are like whole universes that forever change a reader.
Yeah, the words stood out so bold to me. Who…? How…? Then self-doubt. Probably just some blogger trying to get me to their own space. To Like, Follow, blah, blah, blah. That modern day fake support that has no real value in the real world unless they’re by the tens of thousands. I looked at the user name. A word not commonly used anymore. I clicked on the name. No info.
Patron: Do you take requests? I have always wanted to visit Paris but have never been able to. Would love to experience it through your words.
What the hell, I had to go ahead and bite, even though it was likely just a lure.
Stories of Substance: To smell, touch, taste that mecca of art? You and I both! Always thought of writing a story amongst such a beautiful backdrop, but that’s a tale I’ve been waiting to physically take in before setting words to. My Oz, I guess you could say.
Patron: Ruby slippers await…
And that was all, nothing else said by this mysterious commenter.
How was I supposed to finish what I had started now? Would I hear back from whoever this was? How long had they been reading my work? I had always told myself that if I only had one dedicated reader it would be enough to keep going.
I closed my Spectre and headed home.
A man in business attire was waiting for me on my humble doorstep. Was it a cop who was here to arrest me for trespassing on one of the high-rises? No, his suit looked too expensive.
In our brief encounter I learned that he was an attorney, his client, who was only referred to as ‘the patron’ wishing for me to have an envelope. As soon as I heard that word, patron, I froze.
But I had to snap myself out of it in order to sign for the envelope, digital footprint coming to mind as I put pen to paper in answer to how this person could have found me.
Inside the envelope was a cashier’s check for $50,000. I could only stare.
“The patron hopes this will suffice for your stay in Paris, for the story,” the attorney said as his parting words.
I was in shock, wanting to get inside as quickly as possible so as to keep that check safe, once behind locked and bolted door looking at every part of it. The bank it was issued from, my name, the amount… I hadn’t been seeing things, that five really did have four zeros attached to it!
That’s how it had all began. How my struggling existence turned to vibrant life within the instant act of a comment. Some call me an overnight success, but my lifetime of preparation proves otherwise. It just took one person to take me from the depths of despair to the artistic paradise so many only dream of. Twenty years ago tonight such a gift was bestowed upon me, ‘the patron’ supporting one piece of work after another following that trip to Paris.
With such support I not only soared in my art, I indeed became part of the cosmos of creation, the priceless gift of opportunity now opening eyes, opening doors, that ever-elusive word PUBLISH now constantly being offered to me.
Eventually this led to me winning some of the world’s most prestigious literary awards, including the kind that become part of your name based on the title which precedes it. But the biggest honor is what lies before me tonight, as I have finally been invited to meet ‘the patron’.
The estate is just as grand as I have always imagined, castle-like walls covered in lush greenery which extends from a garden paradise, towering gates opening to invite me in.
When I finally reach the main house I am awe-struck, the giant pillars of the entrance worthy of Mount Olympus. Inside is filled with works of great art, many of which I recognize as part of history.
I am led into a dim hallway, only upon entering do I see the framed images so exquisitely displayed, the soft light gently spotlighting what my eye can’t believe; the covers of my stories.
All of them; from the simple images I used to make when I was a nobody to the ones that were printed millions of times over, each and every one of them a part of me, adorning these elegant walls leading to…
A rather small sitting room, Victorian furniture adding grace to its cozy feel, illuminated by a crackling warm fire, another genteel chair positioned before it, only this one has wheels, the one who’s seated in it their back to me.
Slowly, respectfully, I make my way around to see who this wonderfully-encouraging person is.
What I find fills my being with so much emotion gathering up into my core before rising further to the windows of my soul, the levee of my eyes then bursting into a flood of tears which drops me down to my knees, my hands falling down to the stiffness of hers, so rigid they were.
Collapsing not only for this kind yet so unfortunate woman who is around the same age as me, her twisted stone-like body unable to move even a millimetre with the exception of those eyes, so green like the lush gardens of outside, full of life, wonder, appreciation for the ability she still has to see, hear, process. No, not only for her tragic circumstance, but for the support she has shown me throughout the years, now knowing from what lies at her feet that she not only gave voice to an artist, she literally saved his life.
Patron of the arts.
Patron of my art.
Patron of my heart.