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This painting was made from a vintage photobooth photo 1940's or 1950's.

This painting was the subject of a fiction competition called "Renovated Reputations" that I had on my blog. There are several stories about this character read them all here:

http://kenney-mencher.blogspot.com/2010/10/flash-fiction-contest-win-this-drawing.html

Edgar by Mark Brosamer

Lots of the kids in our cul de sac had fathers who had gone off to the war, so my case wasn’t really that special. Still, my mother bore it hard, and maybe even harder because I was an only child. Sometimes I would see her crying as she smoked out on the porch or standing over a sink of dirty plates. Usually I was running out into the street and I will admit to you that her sobbing embarrassed me enough that I did not stop to comfort her. I pretended I didn’t see her tears, and she would do the same, yelling after me through a cracked voice something like “Edgar, I want you home when the streetlights come on!”
Mostly the kids on the street spent our days outside, playing war or imagining ourselves on some great western adventure, and this was especially true that breezy summer when our fathers had been shipped overseas. In our play, we fought their enemies in our own backyards, in the fields and culverts that peppered our little suburb. We turned anything longer than our arms into rifles, anything shorter into hand grenades and sticks of dynamite.
I didn’t think about my father dying, to tell you the truth. I somehow knew that he would come back when school started, as if the war could not possibly last through Labor Day, when I’d need him to help me with math or get ready for the October Pinewood Derby.
I remember the strong, warm wind coursing through our town that summer, how it irritated our eyes and kept us down at the creek, our pantlegs rolled halfway up our scrawny thighs. I remember the incident with Mr. Jenkins, too, who lived two doors down from my house. As one of the few men left on the block, he had come to help us when there was a toilet leaking or a lawn that had grown too long for a boy to mow. I don’t know why he wasn’t sent off, although Pete had overheard his mother whispering something about a bad liver or maybe it was flat feet. We weren’t that concerned. In fact we were glad to have him home that summer, because we had been eager spectators of his own private war, the one he’d been waging since spring against the gopher in his front yard.
Arnie’s cousin had seen him at McWhorters buying traps, and then we all saw him dropping poison down the holes that had turned his lawn into a miniature minefield of craters and the excavated piles of dirt next to them. He dug; he swore; he’d shake his head and scowl every time he passed his front lawn on his way inside.
It must have been late August when his patience wore out. Most of us kids were sitting on the curb in front of Carl Finkelstein’s house when Mr. Jenkins called us over to his yard.
“Hey boys, y’all come over here for a minute,” he said, gathering us towards him with a broad sweep of his thick arm. He was holding a white painter’s bucket full of hammers, eight or nine of them.
“Listen men, I have a little mission I need you to help me with, something I can’t do by myself, okay?” He set the bucket in the middle of his tortured lawn and rubbed his hands together slowly.
“I want each of you to take a hammer and kneel yourself down in front of a hole, you hear me now?” He reached into the bucket and pulled out a hammer, handing it to Nick Campolo, the oldest kid on our street at twelve years old.
“That’s it, come on over boys.”
Out of curiosity, I had crept over to see with my own eyes the bucket full of hammers, but I did not come any further until Mr. Jenkins called me by name.
“Edgar,” he said, drawing out the ‘e’ in my name a little too far, “you’re a tough little cowboy, ain’tcha?” He held the wooden end of a hammer out to me, and I could feel the eyes of the other kids on me as I reached out for it. I raised my arm as slowly as I could, wondering if I could stretch it out slowly enough for him to think I was an imbecile or just uncoordinated. Maybe he would lose interest in me and pass my hammer into one of the clutching hands of the other kids.
Mr. Jenkins waited as long as he needed to, then dropped the hammer into my small hand. It pulled at my arm as if it had already hijacked my tendons and muscles for its own purpose. I wanted to run home, but knew that I would never hear the end of it from the other kids, especially Nick, who had positioned himself at the biggest hole and was staring menacingly down into its black mouth.
I sunk down beside one of the last remaining holes, trying to choose one that looked abandoned, although really they all seemed pretty fresh to me.
Satisfied with our positions, Mr. Jenkins the garden hose from its rack near the faucet at the front of the house, stretching it to the last remaining gopher hole in his lawn.
“Now boys, listen to me carefully. There’s a war on, as you know, and we all need to help each other out, right? Like them times I lent a hand to your mamas ‘round the house. Well here’s your chance to lend me a hand. I’m about to turn this hose down into that gopher den, and in a minute you might see him pop up out of your hole, and if you do I want you to bring your hammer down on his dirty little head, okay?”
I looked around at the other boys, hammers suspended over their heads in anticipation, all staring into their holes. I counted them, trying to calculate the odds of the gopher coming up my hole, but the arithmetic eluded me. I did not know anything about the underground science of gophers, or whether he might have some contingency plan saved for just such an ambush as this. I secretly hoped they were more clever than we gave them credit for, like the cartoon coyote that seemed forever to escape, scarred, burnt, flattened, and pock-marked, but always intact.
My mind reeled, striving for escape, and meanwhile Mr. Jenkins had turned on the hose, jabbing its end into the hole at his feet.
I stared as far as I could into the black hole between my knees, my eyes blurring in the hot afternoon wind. I imagined that I could see through the end of that miniature tunnel, beyond it and into whatever jungle or trench or desert my father was protecting for America. I saw him back in our living room, sitting in his plush recliner and smiling as he pulled at a cigar. I saw my mother, too, calling my name into the evening because I’d been out too long and gone too far. I heard the water gurgling through the tunnels, its pitch rising as it rushed at the light, sweeping its prey towards our little troop of boy soldiers. I tried not to blink but my eyes burned. I stared and stared down that hole, the shriek of the water ringing now in my ears, chanting softly to myself, “Don’t let it be me. Don’t let it be me.”

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Here's a little bit about me, Kenney Mencher, the artist.

Originally from New York, NY, Kenney Mencher earned a BA and MA in Art History from City University of New York and University of California, Davis, respectively, following which he went on to obtain a MFA in painting from the University of Cincinnati in Ohio. He has taught at a number of institutions including the University of Chicago and Texas A&M University, and now teaches at Ohlone College in Fremont, California.

I have an extensive national exhibition record that includes solo and group shows. My work has been featured in newspapers, as well as the "Artist Magazine." It has also been published as cover art for four paperback noir novels and on the cover of the Laredo Philharmonic playbill, Lullaby Hearse Magazine, and the Oregon Literary Review. I maintain strong relationships with a large group of collectors in several states. I am a professional and will live up to any and all commitments I make both socially and professionally.

To learn more about me please visit my website at:
http://www.kenney-mencher.com/

If you like something on my site please e-mail me on message me on Etsy and I'll post it on Etsy.

Edgar 11"x14" oil and mixed media on masonite by Kenney Mencher

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  • Materials: oil, paint, masonite, mixed media
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