About a month ago I read about a relatively new literary journal called Big Fiction. They publish longer short stories, generally three per issue. I’m intrigued by it because I’ve been known to write longer short stories and would like to find a place to submit them. I subscribed. I’m reading my first issue. The second story is The Bricklayer’s Club by Molly Bonovsky Anderson. Jason is on the younger side of life. He’s run away from his girlfriend and is now holed up with his stepfather, who he never really got to know when he was a kid, but that’s where he ran to when he needed to run. Apparently, Jason wanted to be an architect, but has changed his mind. Dale, the step father, says, “Thought that was your dream.” And the following conversation ensues.
“I got to thinking,” Jason said, “about how important a guy like that is. The guy who designs the house, or the office building, or the church, or whatever.” He slurped his soda. “And all the stuff he has to do–boss people around, I mean, you had to do that, right? And you have to be an artist–which means you have to join the artists’ club.”
Dale frowned. “What does that mean?”
“It’s like anything else–if it’s important, it’s a network. You can’t just float around on your own.”
“That bad?” Dale asked.
Jason scratched dirty fingernails through a five-day bear. “It was for me. I started thinking that I’d rather be one of the guys who lays bricks for the building than the one who designs it.”
“Even if the bricks never amounted to anything0–if they just kept going up and up in an endless wall. Even if I never saw the finished product and was just laying them down without even knowing what it was going to be–a daycare, a rest stop, whatever. I wouldn’t care. I would just lay them and then go home at night and be me again, and there wouldn’t be any identity to live up to.”
Dale belched. “You don’t think bricklayers have a club?”
“I think this is it.”
“So you wanted to lay bricks,” Dale said. “Why didn’t you?”
“Because there’s this stupid thing inside me that makes me want to write about laying the bricks, instead of just doing it. I wish I could kill that thing.”
I don’t want to kill that thing, but I get what Dale is saying, not just about the writing thing, but the desire to be a bricklayer instead of one of the important people.