Short Short Story – The Bureaucrat

Here is another short short….

I need your advice at the end.



“In the 1930s, [Hopper’s] work toughens up and becomes strange.”

                                                            -Holland Cotter, The New York Times


It bothers him, the things he can do at his cubicle, the things that nobody will notice or care about. For example:

            He once tried to paint a copy of Nighthawks at his desk. It was mid-afternoon on a Tuesday. He had bought a beginner’s art kit at lunch time at the shop around the corner. He threw his silk tie over his shoulder, rolled up his starched linen cuffs and began. The street came out in brown and black blobs and he couldn’t get the light right in the diner. The streaks of yellow wouldn’t soften, even though he watered them down. The man and the woman in the red dress were stick figures he drew on in marker as an afterthought. He got paint on his tie anyway, and sat down in his extra-comfortable leather office chair, completely discouraged. It had never dawned on him that painting might be hard.

            He is obsessed with Edward Hopper and he doesn’t know why.


            “In the city, no distances are respected. Hopper’s eye is everywhere. He peeps through apartment windows, catches people undressed, depressed, lost in thought, just plain lost. He looks over shoulders, down women’s dresses.”



            There is no window near his cubicle, although he spends a lot of time imagining that there is and imagining that the world outside it looks like an Edward Hopper painting – all disjointed light and beautiful melancholy.

            He leans back in his extra-comfortable leather chair, closes his eyes and sees that woman in the red dress everywhere behind his eyelids. She is smiling at him slyly from every single cubicle.


            He tries again, to paint Nighthawks. The red blob of paint will not materialize into anything other than a red blob no matter how hard he focuses, no matter how tightly he holds the brush.



            “Edward Hopper’s snapshot-like composition creates an inescapable sense of loneliness. The isolation of his subjects was heightened by Hopper’s characteristic use of light to insulate persons and objects in space.”

                                                                          –Encyclopedia Britannica


            In his daydreams, his chair tortures him. He wiggles his bottom deep into supple leather comfort and stares blankly ahead. He imagines being chained to this chair forever, having cigarettes put out on his skin by the red-head in the red dress.

            He smiles for the first time in weeks.







So, should I torture him some more?


3 thoughts on “Short Short Story – The Bureaucrat

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