Out of my head, late at night, I drew this peculiar physiognomy. Started off with the eyes as usual, then went off on a tangent. My art tutor used to say that the best place to start a drawing when making portraits are the eyes. The reason being, she said, is because once you draw the eyes, you define the person, their characteristics, mood, you begin to feel your creation, as if they are staring back at you. This ultimately affects the rest of the piece.
Listening to this sound advice, I started off with the eyes. As it was quite late in the evening, I decided to begin with a simple set of glasses, or goggles. I like drawing glasses. The next hour or so, I was busy carrying out near-perfect straight lines with my newly-acquired 0.05mm pen. You cannot believe the ecstasy I go through when making those neat, miniscule marks on the page! Very therapeutic.
It felt bare on completion, something was missing. Aha, the background, the background story to my character! I guess most paintings and pieces of art do not supply informative background stories to their pieces, letting the viewer figure out what the hell is happening there. By writing those two minute lines above my physiognomy I will give the viewer, and essentially the reader, a better understanding of my creation.
"this was his first job interview."
"he was looking his best."
Sounds amazing, doesn’t it! Catchy, makes the viewer wonder how utterly grim and ugly would he look at his worst if he already is "looking his best", mean, morbid, maybe even a hint of macabre. One would almost certainly assume that this man below is some major magnate, a boss of a large corporation, exercising such qualities as having slick, sharp hair, big full lips, small eyes highlighted by the humongous eyebrows. And the chin, the big, acute, fat chin, a symbol of bullishness and character. But no, let’s turn the tables! Let’s make it more fun, make him the office clerk, the dinner-man (somehow it’s always dinner-ladies), or better still - a librarian! Yes, he would work as a Library Resources Technician in the state library of Iowa, in the fifth least corrupt state in the USA. He’s a do-gooder, he’s slow, confident and placid, he’s the idiosyncratic Roderick Barlow.
Maintaining a concerned and very important look on his face, Roderick Barlow was waiting impatiently for the interview. It was his first time. Never had he seen so much insolent, rude people in his life; nobody would dare say a simple “hello"! It was as if Roderick was on another planet, where greetings had been abolished by society, and were politically-incorrect to quite an absurd degree.
Roderick Barlow had just come down from Twin Peaks, looking for a respectable, modest job. Waiting for the interviewer, Roderick was deep in thought, he was very concerned about the impertinent behaviour of the local crowd. He felt lonely for the first time in his life. He realised that there were a lot of first-times beginning to recur after he decided to leave home (unforeseen circumstances). Proud, ignorant and naive, yet exercising impeccable rustic manners, Roderick came to the conclusion that this was not the place to be. He hesitated.
Presently, the interviewer came. He sat down. He was not quite happy with Roderick Barlow’s serious looks, too serious for his taste. With his robust, muscular tall build, you’d never know what he could do when he’s angry or distressed. We don’t need a Lennie in this quiet, peaceful state library of Iowa, he thought.
Roderick, not to seem impolite, quickly maneuvered around the small, round veneer ebony table in the middle of the room, eagerly extending his right arm to proceed with a bold, warm handshake, a very customary thing up in the north.
"Hello!" - Roderick started, his moderate, baritone voice taking the interviewer off-guard with its uniform boldness. No necessary complexes. Astonished and, in a way relieved, the interviewer began to talk to him, and in doing so slowly realized Roderick’s profound, intimate and humble nature, dropping his prejudices and misconceptions, one by one. The interviewer was very interested to find out more about this extraordinary person. Man, did he look different from the rest!
"I’ve read your application. Completed a degree on Data Infrastructure Engineering at the Highline College of Seattle, a lot of volunteering, etc. Mhm, very interesting.” - The interviewer quietly skim-read Roderick’s CV aloud, overall feeling quite pleased about him. He was just the right person he was looking for to take the job.
After 20 minutes’ worth of casual, pleasant talk, the interviewer faced him with a question in a sudden, yet friendly interrogative tone of a detective - “Why did you decide to come down here from Twin Peaks? And by car, halfway across America. It’s quite a ride, I gather."
Instantaneously, Roderick replied - “Sir, I have decided to break away from the rural worlds of this country, I want to dedicate the rest of my life to public service. I want to build myself a new identity."
"I want to understand what made you leave Seattle, Twin Peaks. You see, you lived there for 30 odd years, you’re a middle-aged man! I mean your record is clean, so it’s nothing of this sort, I suspect. A few unpaid speeding tickets, but everybody speeds in this country, right?"
Roderick was feeling pressured. He grew scared. After leaving an extended, considerate pause, avoiding eye contact and speaking low, but managing to retain the same boldness of his distinctive voice, he pronounced - “Under exceptional circumstances. Yes, that’s it."
"And they are?...” - Seeing that Roderick grew serious and uncomfortable, and the fact that he was hesitating to answer for a while, the interviewer decided it was time to change the spirit of the tedious-growing conversation, by briskly adding in - “Never mind. You will come by tomorrow morning, same time. We will arrange a pre-employee “taster session" for you. I think you’d like it."
Dragging his tired feet out of the state building and heavily dropping them near the pedals of his car, Roderick could not help but notice a slight smile develop on his stout face. He did it! He knew he would, Roderick never underestimated his charisma, but this time it was new ground, the atmosphere was not yet of ordinary. And he was quite nervous, not his usual contained, tactful self. Maybe he will make himself known in this peaceful town, someday.
Driving back to his humble, bare apartment, Roderick was reflecting back on the tedious and long, but nonetheless very interesting and important events that had occurred to him in the past few days; he was revising and polishing up his personal to-do list for the week ahead while waiting for the stoplight to waive, relinquish its hold, and let him drive into the desolate evening void of high roads of Des Moines, tumbleweeds brushing past in a senseless fury behind him.
The taciturn, attentive and bold personality of Roderick Barlow made an impression on the experienced interviewer. But he had his doubts about him. It just did not fit together in his head; maybe it was the glasses that he never took off, or his impeccable rustic manners, or the fact that he was never late, and did not share the accent of the north nor the dialect of our neighbor to the north. He could not tell. 24 years of analyzing people every day, and for the first time in working for the state of Iowa he could not tell anything about this man. The interviewer was used to seeing through simple peoples of nearby counties who held secrets scarce from each other. That’s what maybe made Roderick so alluring, unusual and fascinating.
"Good morning to you, too, Roderick!" - bellowed the interviewer the next morning, conversing gaily about Roderick’s future and his personal plans for the next decade or so, all the while exchanging the occasional yawn of a Monday morning. Presently, he lead Roderick to a small office which was to be designated just for him and the precious data of the state library, stored on arrays of servers in the server room, neatly wired down to a big computer with a tiny screen which stood in the far right corner of the gray, well-lit room. The old mahogany door had a translucent glass insert which took up a generous amount of space; and a thin layer of grease and dust managed to form around a small rectangular area, situated at a man’s height, a place where a plaque used to hang. Now it was probably being rectified for the next employee, the old name of one Mr. Smith relentlessly scratched off.
"Rather straightforward, I must admit.” - Roderick pondered on the idea of having his name on the door.
The interviewer was eager to begin the inaugural ceremony; he wanted to make Roderick feel welcome and at home. He proceeded with the paperwork, asked for Roderick’s signature - “Here, here... and here. That’s right, all set! I will contact you shortly, you will receive your official employee badge, and a plaque with your name on this door.” - After a pause, the interviewer added - “For now, you can wander around this soon-to-be-yours office."
Roderick was happy and excited to the brim. All his diligent efforts weren’t for nothing. He left Twin Peaks under the pseudonym of Roderick Barlow. He was the scandalously infamous Douglas Ferguson and he wanted to avoid publicity. The glasses were a wonder. Roderick, or, should we say Douglas, was happy. Giving himself a new identity was the nicest thing he had done to himself in a long time. The glasses worked wonders.
Douglas Ferguson, the infamous entrepreneur of the North-West; having managed small startups for decades, he decided it was time to rest. After all of his hard work, he wanted to retire and try to work an honest living. The library was the perfect place, in the perfect town, very far away from his nearly-forgotten realities of the past. Douglas wanted to change, and change for the good. He was tired of buying out failing startups and wasting his time and energy to try and make something out of them; he would sell these businesses out in the end, anyhow. He was not Douglas Ferguson anymore (he kept forgetting that), he was Roderick Barlow. And Roderick Barlow wouldn’t dare commit a dirty, scandalous crime for the sake of money, or fame, or for anything in the world, for that matter. He liked his new identity. He felt proud.
The interviewer waved him a farewell, running off on important business that required his immediate attention, and left him be, the keys to the office dangling from the door.
That’s it! Paperwork signed, supplied with an office; all one could ever want and dream of, Roderick thought. He contemplated once again at the prospect of having his own name on a door. By Golly, he should have been used to this, by now! But no, your name on a door on a plaque is something one can’t ever get quite used to; even now, after decades of experience, you just have to appreciate the little things in life! Roderick sat in front of the tiny monitor, hands clasped behind his head, relaxed, reluctant to lift a finger.
Meanwhile, the interviewer was quietly reading the Evening Gazette he picked up on his way to the office. Funny thing, just think about it - how similar do people look; right at this moment, the interviewer was focusing his nonchalant glance upon a small picture of a man wanted back in the North-West. He seemed to remind him of someone; the slick, sharp hair, the small eyes highlighted by the humongous eyebrows. That fella was from Seattle, and he was wanted in for money laundering. Shame, the news reported him missing second day.
Wait a minute!
He’s not the placid do-gooder, after all! Roderick Barlow is Douglas Ferguson’s pseudonym. What do you think will happen to Douglas in the end? - I think he will go to jail. Not necessarily for a long time, but long enough to show up as a fact on a CV in inconveniently bright red, bold letters. Let’s hope that Roderick Barlow will survive the national hunt for the infamous Douglas Ferguson! If he got so far without being arrested, I think there’s a big chance for him out there, he will make himself known in Des Moines...
$root - whoami creator of physiognomies
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