Recent drawings (20220900)

  • Young man (charcoal, 20220927) Stephen J. Williams
  • Idiot in a striped hat (watercolor and charcoal, 20220926) Stephen J. Williams
  • Up end (charcoal and graphite, 20220923) Stephen J. Williams
  • Youth (pencil, 202209017) Stephen J. Williams
  • Leg standing alone (charcoal and watercolour, 20220914) Stephen J. Williams
  • And health (charcoal, 20220915)Stephen J. Williams
  • Projection room (charcoal, 2022 0916) Stephen J Williams
  • Grrrr (charcoal, 20220916) Stephen J. Williams
  • Unnamed (monochrome watercolor, 20220920) Stephen J. Williams
  • Untitled (watercolor, 20220921) Stephen J. Williams
  • Study of a Sargent (watercolor, 20220922) Stephen J. Williams
  • José Cabelo's face (charcoal and watercolor, 20220922) Stephen J. Williams
  • Mouth (charcoal, 20220914) Stephen J. Williams
  • Rage (watercolor and charcoal, 20220926) Stephen J. Williams
  • Purple and green head (watercolor and charcoal, 20220926) Stephen J. Williams
  • Grim (watercolor and charcoal, 20220926) Stephen J. Williams

In the circle of men singing

Why, when the singing was over, did the young man’s nose look crooked?

Normally, a choir will line up to fill the space in which it sings, but this choir is a circle.

When the game is over and the teams fall back to their rooms, the losing side sits dejectedly along the walls.

The winning side stands in a circle of players, to the exclusion of all others, arms around each other’s shoulders, singing the club song. The words tumble out quickly. There is no effort at all to co-ordinate one voice with another, and no division between tenors, baritones, and basses. And, certainly, no harmony. Heads and shoulders bob up and down excitedly in the rhythm of the song.

Why, when the singing was over, the winning club and fans all happy, was the young man’s nose crooked and his face covered in blood? He was singing with the others. He sang the same lyrics. Players noticed the rover’s grin through a face covered in mud and sweat.

But, just as the singing stopped, and a cheer went up, everyone in the room shouting exaltedly, the smallest man there stepped back from the circle and his face turned away, body bent double, hands cupped underneath his nose as a stream of sticky, vivid red blood poured over his mouth and jaw.

The room was still murmuring with self-congratulation and laughter as arms began to gather around the rover’s shoulders to help him to a bench. While players and team staff fussed around the rover’s head, offering towels, simultaneously barking questions and commands— “What happened?!” and “Put your head back!” —all eyes turned to the bloodied centre of the room.

“No. No. Please don’t. I’ll be all right,” the rover said, adding a hint of uncertainty and pathos with “… I think.” A doctor was called. And the doctor called an ambulance. “I’ll be fine. I think.”

It did seem strange that a nose so irregular should take so long to bleed after coming off the field. Absent testimony or witnesses, the coach and some players scoured video of the game for any record of the final moments of play and of the opposing team’s crestfallen retreat from the field. They found nothing, and their rover was silent, except to apologise for the trouble his nose had caused.

Some secrets escape even a camera’s gaze, and the next day, when club managers viewed a CCTV recording of the circle of men singing, it was still not clear what it showed, or that it showed anything. Arms raised and bodies jumping and hugging obscured the final second when the rover stepped back from the choir. In one moment he stands next to the team’s ruck, the taller player looking down into the rover’s face; and in the next they have both disappeared in the chaos of the team’s rejoicing.

When, the next day, the rover’s face emerged with a bandage on it, a theory also surfaced. And, since rumors abhor a silence, there were many more fictions than facts about what had happened. Neither the plentiful fictions nor the rare facts would go away; and both the rover and the ruck were silent.

The public’s mind is a dark and noisy place, and imagination lights a flame where there is no spark of intelligence—or truth. It was inevitable this imaginary fire would have to be put out, but the coach’s remarks to journalists seemed obtuse, like someone trying over and over to kick goals with a lettuce. The ruck was there, too, thinking he might have one chance to douse the hot mess.

One journalist squeezed her way through to the front of the conference. “Don’t mind me. I’m short. You won’t miss a thing,” she said, excusing herself, as she pointed a recorder up to the ruck’s mouth. “There’s been a suggestion,” she called out in a loud voice with staccato emphasis on her key words, “that you’re going to offer a ‘… gay … panic …’ defence and that …”

“Hold on. Let me stop you right there, so you don’t embarrass yourself. I don’t want anyone to be embarrassed. I … did … not … punch my friend in the nose because he touched me in a … special … way,” the tall man said, repeating the journalist’s staccato. “I punched him because he didn’t ask first.”

Richmond club rooms, 2020
Richmond club rooms, 2020

Recent drawings

  • Man (pencil and charcoal, 20220827) Stephen J. Williams
  • Woman (pencil, 20220827) Stephen J. Williams
  • A length of string (pencil and ink, 20220826) Stephen J. Williams
  • Shouting and pointing I (charcoal and chalk, 20220802) Stephen J. Williams
  • Shouting and pointing II (charcoal and chalk, 20220802) Stephen J. Williams
  • A Strip of Bacon (charcoal, chalk and pencil, 20220801) Stephen J. Williams
  • Bandaged head (charcoal, 20220802) Stephen J. Williams
  • Examination table (charcoal, chalk and pencil, 20220802) Stephen J. Williams
  • Ryota (charcoal and pencil, 20220804) Stephen J. Williams
  • Young Udo (charcoal sketch, 20220703) Stephen J. Williams
  • Dylan in spit hood and restraint chair (charcoal, 20220805) Stephen J. Williams
  • Denouement (charcoal, 20220805) Stephen J. Williams
  • Sketch for a portrait of Balthasar on the body of Teddy Roosevelt (charcoal, 20220805) Stephen J. Williams
  • No more white walls (charcoal and pencil, 20220808) Stephen J. Williams
  • Study of Raphaël Collin's portrait of Victor Grandhomme (pencil, 20220809) Stephen J. Williams
  • Klimt 25 (pencil and charcoals, 20220811) Stephen J. Williams
  • Crouch (pencil and charcoal, 20220813) Stephen J. Williams
  • Screaming Leonardo (charcoal, 20220813) Stephen J. Williams
  • Woman captured at night pretending to be a fox (charcoal, 20220814) Stephen J. Williams
  • A knot of black string that should spell the word 'love' (colored pencils and charcoal, 20220816) Stephen J. Williams
  • Dani (pencil, 20220816) Stephen J. Williams
  • Carl Nassib (pencil, 20220817) Stephen J. Williams
  • Venus or Orpheus can't choose (photocollage, 20220823) Stephen J. Williams
  • Sketch 2 (charcoal, 20220825) Stephen J. Williams
  • Sketch (charcoal, 20220825) Stephen J. Williams
  • String (pencil and ink, 20220826) Stephen J. Williams
  • Head of José Cabelo (pencil and charcoals, 20220828) Stephen J. Williams
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