By Lance Valentino
I told Miss Talbot that she should not worry about introducing our new member to the Story Project, that I would do it.
“The good doctor already has the job, Lance. And stop calling him the new boy. His name is Bob.”
She nodded smartly. “Yes. Robert Brown. Technically, it’s Robert Brown the Third. He’s from the Midwest. Don’t you have class soon?”
I decided to welcome Bob anyway. I waited in the entrance hall. The furniture there is concerned more with appearance than comfort, so I stood. The sun was streaming in the front windows. It’s a glorious thing to feel the warmth of the sun in March. It’s like remembering the world is not always Winter.
When the door opened, I jumped up from the 100 push-ups I had been doing. X held the door open for Bob as if Bob were a woman with an escort and not a man. I know X thinks it only kind, but treating a man like that makes him soft.
I confess I had envisioned Bob as a sort of pig farmer, with overalls and a John Deere hat, both worn and muddy, and with eyes wide at cosmopolitan grandeur. I was a bit surprised then to find these things:
He wore overalls, thin and ragged in places.
He wore a John Deere hat.
He gazed about in wonder.
I almost laughed with joy. I didn’t laugh at him — no one should have to suffer that. But it was such a pleasant surprise I couldn’t help but feel happy, and even more so when I saw that he gazed not with childish ignorance at the high ceiling and chandelier, but with a sort of mature innocence. It is true: the soul is in the eyes.
X introduced us and I shook Bob’s hand. “Bob,” I asked, “what sort of things do you like to write?”
He began speaking very quickly, and it was forty minutes later when X convinced us to move from the entrance hall to Bob’s new residence.