The Virtual World / The Natural World

A Man Possessed

I was painting a rich white man's house ...
The Painter

I am a painter, not much else. Houses are what I mostly work on, sometimes apartments. It’s not glamorous but it pays the bills and puts food on the table. I have a wife and two boys. Eight and twelve. They really grow up fast, shit. I paint and I eat with my family and I go to sleep. Things are steady. I love my wife and my kids, but I am angry. I am tired of all of this. I paint. I eat. I hug my kids. I go to sleep. I wake up and repeat six days a week, and I am angry. I can do better, for them at least. I can do better. But I am tired. I paint and I paint and I paint and I sweat – and I get a check. No one congratulates me and no one notices me. I kind of ... blend in with the paint. I don’t like my work, but I am good at it. I am quick and I am efficient. I am a hard worker, but I get tired like the rest of you. Sometimes I just want to hop off the ladder, remove my overalls and walk – doesn’t matter too much where. I want to walk until everything is all right. I paint houses for rich white men who enjoy the feeling of masturbation. Men who want the house painted because their wives want the house painted. “Change,” she says. “Change is good, so let’s accept it. Let’s paint the house, honey.” Men with nice black slacks who drive nice black cars. Men who define success as blind attention – devotion for the sake of devotion. I don’t want to be like that. I want success and money for my family, but I can’t become someone I am not. I am a painter, not much else. My family is my everything, my only motivation. A little selfish isn’t it? To bring two more people into this world so you’ll care about yours enough to keep going. It’s what we did though. Now we have two boys and I work for them. I put up with horseshit for them. And for her. She is the only woman I will ever love. 

I was painting a rich white man’s house last week when he came out of the back door and mentioned a spot I had missed. He pointed to it and became angry. “Why haven’t you gotten that spot yet?” He held a beer with his right hand and pointed the tip toward me, snapping his jaws and stripping me of dignity. He was lowering his moral standards just talking to me. “When are you going to paint that spot?” I told him I was getting to it, that it was just about to be painted. “I want that spot painted and I want this house to look good. I want to look good, yes. Yes.” He walked away. “Stupid nigger,” he mumbled under his breath as he opened the patio door. That was all I needed. That was it. He shut the door like the cocksucker he was, and I went to my car to grab a can of black paint. I brought it back and began painting over the white coat I started earlier. I painted like a man possessed. I slammed the brush against the wood and watched the bristles spray off in every direction, spattering black paint everywhere. I dipped my entire brush in paint again and drew a thick, black line across the wall. I stuck my hand into the bucket and soaked it in the paint. Then I punched the wall until my knuckles bled, which didn’t take long. I hopped off the ladder and threw the dripping bucket at the wall. The man came outside but I was already gone. I walked away.

—Cliff Weber

108 comments on the article “A Man Possessed”

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Rembrant

I don't really know what to make of this. It really sucks that this painter became the victim of a racial crime, but for an article about the plight of our racial reality, he waited a long time in this epic to mention what he was really pissed about. Makes him seem like hes looking for something to be mad at because he hates his job so much. Of course racism is, and will always be, a trigger to hatred and resentment, but keep the scope of blame to the subject at hand. Using a public forum to stereotype an entire culture or generation is a bit much. We don't all drink beer during the day after all. Secondly, if you hate your job, don't be a painter. Grab a canvas and some oil paints, and create a real work of art instead of a long, drawn out poem about the horrors of racism, when the only real issued seemed to be that one guy in the world was a racist dick to another (again, sorry for that). And last, and most important, your a professional painter, if you missed a spot...you screwed up so don't be mad that a dumb redneck told you to fix it. A little harsh I know, but so is writing a verse that makes it seem like the world hasn't evolved since the 1800s. I'm sorry that some people in the world are dicks, but the true measure of a man is whether or not he can move past such a degrading comment.

Rembrant

I don't really know what to make of this. It really sucks that this painter became the victim of a racial crime, but for an article about the plight of our racial reality, he waited a long time in this epic to mention what he was really pissed about. Makes him seem like hes looking for something to be mad at because he hates his job so much. Of course racism is, and will always be, a trigger to hatred and resentment, but keep the scope of blame to the subject at hand. Using a public forum to stereotype an entire culture or generation is a bit much. We don't all drink beer during the day after all. Secondly, if you hate your job, don't be a painter. Grab a canvas and some oil paints, and create a real work of art instead of a long, drawn out poem about the horrors of racism, when the only real issued seemed to be that one guy in the world was a racist dick to another (again, sorry for that). And last, and most important, your a professional painter, if you missed a spot...you screwed up so don't be mad that a dumb redneck told you to fix it. A little harsh I know, but so is writing a verse that makes it seem like the world hasn't evolved since the 1800s. I'm sorry that some people in the world are dicks, but the true measure of a man is whether or not he can move past such a degrading comment.

Anonymous

"Victim of a racial crime"? Are you fucking kidding me? He was insulted, end of story. Do you even know what a crime is?

Of course, this story was actually written by some snivelling white college kid who wants desperately to feel oppressed.

Anonymous

"Victim of a racial crime"? Are you fucking kidding me? He was insulted, end of story. Do you even know what a crime is?

Of course, this story was actually written by some snivelling white college kid who wants desperately to feel oppressed.

Rembrant

Read the whole comment, not just the first two lines...Your not smart if you just jump to ignorant conclusions.

Rembrant

Read the whole comment, not just the first two lines...Your not smart if you just jump to ignorant conclusions.

blackHat

You miss the point. This isn't about racism. It's about someone evolving past wasting his time working an unfulfilling job, and finally deciding to take charge of his life, instead of taking the path of least resistance. It's about self-reliance and self-respect. It's about reaching for something better in life. His retaliation against the man who called him a 'stupid nigger' is only a small part of the story, but it nonetheless reminds us that such things have consequences; that no matter who you are, or your position in the world, there are consequences for disrespecting people. The world would be a far better place if people were more like this man and took disrespect seriously. Most people simply knuckle under to it, for the sake of keeping things on an even keel.

blackHat

You miss the point. This isn't about racism. It's about someone evolving past wasting his time working an unfulfilling job, and finally deciding to take charge of his life, instead of taking the path of least resistance. It's about self-reliance and self-respect. It's about reaching for something better in life. His retaliation against the man who called him a 'stupid nigger' is only a small part of the story, but it nonetheless reminds us that such things have consequences; that no matter who you are, or your position in the world, there are consequences for disrespecting people. The world would be a far better place if people were more like this man and took disrespect seriously. Most people simply knuckle under to it, for the sake of keeping things on an even keel.

Anonymous

I find it fascinating that some people jump to the conclusion that " Cliff Weber" is both the subject and author of this piece.

Anonymous

I find it fascinating that some people jump to the conclusion that " Cliff Weber" is both the subject and author of this piece.

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