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The Drawing Book
It truly is amazing how one can learn so much about another human being from their belongings!
A prime example would be Andrea Louis. This woman dresses all the time like she is going to the Buckingham Palace- she wears either a proper skirt or trousers with a fancy blouse, ironed and pressed. Her outfit is topped off with some gold jewelry and heels that aren’t too showy or strappy. You can infer from her looks that Andrea is a snob. Of course, this is correct.
Not only does clothing imply a person’s character, but what they own does the job as well. Winifred Keegan’s purse is perfectly organized; her checkbook and credit cards separated by size, then color, and all her receipts are ordered by store. Your supposition may be that she either has OCD, or just likes to stay structured.
But can one infer wrongly from a person’s looks? Or can those looks lie to you like those pop-up ads claiming you can win a free laptop?
Nathaniel Conch may look like an impactful person- positively, of course. He seems to play an important role in the world, that he will touch everyone he comes in contact with. Not really an outgoing fellow, though, but friendly nevertheless. He holds his head high, and smiles regularly. Really a commonplace, nice guy.
But his drawing book is a counterexample to this whole dissimulation. No doubt, Conch is a remarkable artist; his gradation is fabulous and his crosshatching could not be done better. It’s just the pictures. The disturbing, horrifying pictures.
Conch is the Poe of the drawing world, times ten. His black and white pencil pictures depict brutal beatings and killings, people committing suicide, children dying. His best yet most unsettling work is a woman crying. Her beautiful features are distorted, so gorgeous still, her cheeks stained with tears. She’s so perfect, so depressing. Her eyes are deep, hard to achieve in a drawing, and are aching, hurt. Her arms are hugging her body like she is in terrible agony and is trying to comfort herself. It is a truly disconcerting piece.
If you flip the page you will see another gruesome pencil sketch. A man, engulfed in shadows, has his hand around a young boy’s neck. The boy is struggling. Let me go, let me go! His uncovered back is scratched and scarred, rivers of red flowing down his body. Let me go, let me go!
Next page is a beautiful forest, a cliché of a fairy tale setting. In the middle of the clearing lies a body. A body without a name, without an identity. It lies there, cold and still. It lies there and mourns. It mourns silently, it weeps quietly, praying for rest. But no rest comes. It’s just a cold, dead, nameless body, and it’s lying there.
Now a woman is weeping again, though not as stunning as the other one. She has the neck of a broken bottle in her grasp and is kneeling over a man’s corpse. In his head are the jagged remnants of the glass, jarring out of his face. She is not necessarily crying out of depression, but out of alarm, out of rage. Her hair is masking her eyes, but you can see the tears rolling down her face to her chin to the cadaver’s unmoving chest.
Another simple sketch is a door, a plain wooden door. But that door is marred with scratches, perhaps those of a groveling person’s. And beneath it is a knife, not a drop of blood on it or any indication of its use. Just a knife that may embrace a secret, a mystery. A mystery that no one may solve.
In a meadow stands a lone, leafless tree, its lifeless branches wilting as if reaching towards the grassy carpet. A flock of birds are flying off in the distance, deserting the scene. Except for one swallow that lies mangled under the tree. They are the same; dead and abandoned. Dead and abandoned and hating the world for doing this to them.
On the next page is a palm, scarred and damaged. Inside the hand is a ladybug’s corpse. A majestic ladybug just lying there, just deceased and lonely. Could this innocent looking hand be the killer? Or was it simply trying to help it, but came too late?
The last page is a disturbing picture, the scrawled title reading, “Self- Portrait.” It is the face of a man, tears welled in his eyes, but not spilling over. The face is dreadfully sick, the skin drooping at the mouth. This time, the eyes aren’t deep, but rather shallow, only showing the already apparent grief, yet devoid of most emotion. His mouth is open, as if moaning in pain.
It’s a picture of Nathaniel Conch.
Conch’s outer glee must be a façade. He has to be the dark figure that his sketches reveal, though everyday he carries out the routine he built without so much as a complaint or a tear. Will he eventually be driven over the edge of depression? Either way, he must be the same as the tree and the swallow, dead and abandoned and hating.