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Cory opened the door at 761 5th Street and was greeted with a downward flight of stairs. He glanced around nervously, and seeing no other avail, Cory started walking down the stairs one by one. There were about thirty concrete stairs leading to a simple, forlorn black door.
With his right hand he gripped the handrail. Cory’s other hand clutched his portfolio full of photos. He thought about the photos. There were so many differences between among them. Some were silly and whimsical, yet others were serious and beautifully sophisticated. They were his life, almost all Cory knew.
Cory thought about his favorite photo. It was an old photo; in fact, it was the first photo Cory took. It was gray, but every time Cory looked at it, he felt warm. He knew every inch of the photo.
The mere thought gave Cory goose bumps and reminded him why he was there. He quickened his pace and jumped down the last three steps. After smoothing his hair back and adjusting his tie, Cory’s right hand slowly jerked to doorknob like a disobedient puppet.
Creeeak! The door swung open. Cory’s eyes stung a bit as he stepped into the well-lit room. Paintings and sculptures decorated the butter cream walls. A woman with a purple dress and a black jacket walked to him, her black plumps clicking. She held a clipboard.
“You must be Mr. Cory Trolsbud,” she said, reaching out to shake Cory’s hand. “I am Dr. Cammonray’s secretary, Miss Huterly. The doctor is waiting in his office.”
Miss Huterly led him to a slightly ajar door. The nameplate read, Doctor Charles F. Cammonray, Art Director of Artist’s Oasis Magazine. Cory sucked in his breath as Miss Huterly pushed open the door and nodded for Cory to go in. Cory hesitantly put his right foot in, then his left foot, then his right foot again, and shut the door. He felt as if he should say something, at least clear his throat, but he couldn’t.
A sleek black leather chair spun around. As Dr. Cammonray put down his magazine, Cory saw his face. It looked exactly like it did every month in Artist’s Oasis. Dr. Cammonray was a balding man in his late 50's, with thick, black rectangular glasses and slightly yellow teeth. He wore a red suit, a bright yellow tie, and a pink polka-dotted pocket square.
“Hello. I am Dr. Cammonray, but of course you already know that.”
“Yes, sir, Dr. Cammonray, I read Artist’s Oasis every month. Your work is. . . quite frankly, stunning.”
“Thank you, Mr. Trolsbud. Please sit down.”
Cory sat in a chair that mirrored Dr. Cammonray’s.
“Well, let’s see what you’ve got,” said Dr. Cammonray, leaning forward.
“Right,” said Cory, setting his portfolio on Dr. Cammonray’s clean desk.
“Um, these photos are in order, the newest at the front.” Cory pushed the pile of photos across the desk to Dr. Cammonray.
Dr. Cammonray examined them one by one, sometimes nodding, but mostly looking at them harder. Cory kept his head down and played with a loose thread on his shirt, occasionally glancing up, trying to read Dr. Cammonray’s face. Dr. Cammonray shoved the pile across the desk.
Dr. Cammonray cleared his throat. Cory sat up straighter.
“I must say, it’s certainly a. . . an interesting collection.”
Cory felt his stomach sinking to his knees.
“These pieces are very impressive, but. . . it doesn’t feel, well, I, I don’t know. . .”
Dr. Cammonray pulled out a sheet of paper from a drawer and put it on his desk.
“So, creativity. . . good, good. . . originality, fine. . . structure, good . . .” Tapping his fingers, he frowned. Then he pulled out a photo that had been caught under a calendar.
“Is this photo yours?” Dr. Cammonray asked, his eyebrows raised.
It was the photo. Cory nodded, his throat dry. Dr. Cammonray examined Cory’s favorite photo.
“Hmmm. Why did you create this?”
“That was the first sculpture I ever made. He inspired me to start sculpting when I was. . . down.”
“How long did it take to make it?” questioned Dr. Cammonray.
“About three days.”
“Amazing,” said Dr. Cammonray. “Impressive. I think I’ve made my decision.”
Cory waited, pinching himself in case he wasn’t accepted.
“I think we can use your sculptures, but not in the way you requested. You see, the magazine is going to start a new section featuring new artists in the art world. I think you could be our guinea pig. Perhaps someone will hire you. If we get positive feedback, we might even offer you a better deal. Would that be okay?”
Cory nodded, awestruck. “That would be good- great, in fact. Thanks, Dr. Cammonray.”
“No problem. I started out like you, too, so I understand. I think you’ve got the right stuff. Let’s have Miss Huterly schedule you for next week, Thursday. . .”