Away from the phone in the comfort of his familiar studio, his mood began to improve immediately. The stress and tension of all the attention he’d received began to drain right out of his body, down through his legs and out his feet. That or the scotch was really, really good. He couldn’t decide which.
It wasn’t a huge space, but he liked it that way. Everything was within reach. It was a small converted bedroom, emptied of bedroom type furniture and filled with drawing tables and computers and tablets and lots, and lots of toys and art. Alongside his own original drawings on various subjects were his own takes on famous franchises like Star Trek and Battlestar Galactica, The Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter, The Avengers, Star Wars, Tron … the list went on and on. He had too many to mount on his walls, and those were just the few he’d drawn on paper or had printed and framed. He had easily three times as many more in pure digital form.
He did most of his work on the computer. It was where he’d learned to draw, and only on rare occasions would he indulge in working on paper or canvas or other physical media. Despite the insistence of many other artists that the physical realm was superior, his particular style suffered when he tried to take it out of the digital realm. The layout of the studio reflected that.
His workspace occupied three of the four walls of the room, and he had a wheeled chair that he could push easily around the protected hardwood floor to any of the available workspaces. Of those three walls, two were devoted to his digital work flow, with tablets, touch monitors, a stylus, color laser printer, color ink-jet printer, a large scanner and many, many external drives for expanded storage and backing up work.
The one smaller wall was for his forays into drawing on paper. He had set up a pivoting light-table on which he could both free-draw and ink anything he felt like working on.
He sank into the chair with a sigh of relief and flicked the main monitor on. He’d left the computer running and most of his programs open; his email was open, and he winced. His phone messages were piped into email for him automatically if he didn’t listen to them, so they were waiting for him here too. 57, read the counter. He closed his mail with a shudder and grabbed his stylus, opening his drawing program to a fresh blank image.
With nothing specifically in mind, he started to draw, rapidly sketching out lines as his mind flitted about over the events of the day. He sat like that for a good hour, just thinking and letting his hands worry about the drawing on autopilot. When he finally looked at what he was drawing at, he smirked and rolled his eyes at himself, quite literally.
He’d drawn himself as a stereotypical fantasy hero type, complete with fur loincloth, bulging muscles that his real-life physique shrank back from in fright, a long broadsword with requisite jewel-encrusted handle, and viking-horned helmet and shield. He’d exaggerated his features, making his jaw a lot more square than it really was, his nose a touch more noble, his brow … well, actually probably a little less wise than it really was in reality, though that might’ve been the indomitable expression he’d put on his face.
He’d drawn his blue eyes as cool flecks of bright blue ice, though in reality they were much darker and usually more distant and introspective than they were in the intense gaze probing the distance of the caricature. His brown hair had become almost blond in the image, though it was difficult to see clearly because of the ridiculous helmet.
He smiled at the image and hit save. He might come up with some use for it at some point in the future. It might make a fun social avatar for a while, maybe. His various profiles could use a refresh.
The more he thought about that, the more he liked it, so he got lost in the world of online social media for several hours, updating his profiles and growing wide-eyed at just how correct Derrick had been. The online world was abuzz with news of the story of the day; his picture was everywhere, as well as the clip from the security camera that showed him quite clearly catching the baby as it felt at a truly frightening speed toward the bare concrete below, head first.
If he hadn’t known it had been himself, he might have thought it an impressive, heroic act as well. The camera hadn’t caught him face-on, so his blank, preoccupied expression couldn’t be seen. It looked like the act of a man with incredible reflexes (or luck, he thought,) making a one-in-a-million catch, snatching the infant from the inevitability of death while broken glass still bounced around on the ground, and then returning her to the arms of her tearfully grateful mother.
Seeing it from outside himself left him slack-jawed, and he started to understand the misconception others held a bit better. Even he felt a touch of pride that he’d been able to do such a thing, though it was tempered by a sinking feeling that the hoopla wasn’t going to die down quickly on it, at least by internet standards. He estimated that he could look forward to being the center of attention for probably a good four days at least, and he’d be a figure of renown and an ongoing internet meme for at least another year afterward.
He looked at his empty glass.
He poured another double and downed it in one gulp.
Then he went to bed.