students collaborate: fuller ross and marisol hernandez

photo by Marisol Hernandez

Jackson Hole Community School students Marisol Hernandez and Fuller Ross finish up our eight-day series of student collaborations from the photography and creative writing classes. Thank you to Christian Burch and Robin Cameron for partnering with Culture Front to publish this powerful student work!


photo by Marisol Hernandez

photo by Marisol Hernandez

Dirty Dishes by Fuller Ross

Boxes of Chinese food and empty beer cans surrounded Sean’s apartment for another night. The TV was over sized for the small apartment. It served as an oasis of light in the otherwise dark and glum room. The culprit was snoring lightly, surrounded by the mess, unconscious on the black futon. His dress shirt was lightly unbuttoned and the remains of not shaving for two days covered his face.

Sean woke up the next morning; slowly he sat up, turned off the TV and went to shower. Like the kitchen, the bathroom was a mess, toothpaste sat in the sink with no cap on it and towels sprawled the floor, and the toilet seat remained up. Sean stepped through this mess without picking anything up. The hot water covered his body, Sean disregarding soap, shampoo, and conditioner got out. He got dressed and looked in the fridge. Nothing remained but a couple bud lights and a carton of eggs that only contained broken shells. No breakfast. Instead he would find the small tin of Folgers instant coffee, then he would microwave some water and that was how Sean was surviving. The apartment looked as if a lazy college student lived here, but the fact of the matter was Sean was not lazy. He was very successful and before three weeks ago he had lived in a large Tudor home in North Hills Pennsylvania. He would drive into his office at the old U.S. Steel building and sit in his oversized office that no executive needed. It was this excess that made Janie leave him, the unneeded surplus that they had accumulated. Of course the kids sided with her, seeing him as selfish. What they didn’t realize was that he was the reason why they could go to private school, why they could do go to the country club every summer. They wouldn’t have that without him, they were nothing and his ex was nothing. Sure she went to college, but what would she do with her English degree, with no masters. What could she do? These thoughts would race through his mind. He instantly pushed that out of his mind as he got into his 2012 Hyundai Azzera, the car that his wife told him not to get. It was too dangerous and wasn’t big enough for their family. This was a distant thought as the engine roared to life. He put it in gear and left. This mindless drive that was so new to him but so old. The calls from the school and his wife were absent. No longer was it “pick up milk on the way home from work”. If he wanted to he would go to the bar he would go on a road trip this was the new life.

“Here you go sir,” said the parking attendant at the parking garage, interrupting Sean’s thoughts.

“Ok,” Sean responded like someone who had insomnia would. He parked his car in the same place as he always did. Repetition was his life.  He walked into the building seeing the various Christmas decorations that had been up for a month since their actual purpose had been set. This wasn’t so bad but more annoying, as he would see everyone move around in the past. Christmas was over it was done, he almost wanted to yell at everyone to move on. But why should Sean care? He was fine. The day passed by slowly and countless emails were sent, and received, a few were from his son James indoor soccer team, were soon deleted. Passed by and forgotten. This had become his life a constant scroll through email after email, repeated day after day. His old life would eventually marked and would soon be deleted

Finally he was done, another boring day that left him feeling empty. Sure, it made Sean a ton of money but what was it all for. Now he could go to Rivers Casino, the new “ugly” building as his ex wife would put it, where people who were desperate went to spend countless hours. It was not glamorous it was not like Las Vegas.

The Duquesne Club sat to his right, the Gentleman’s club that turned a 1,800-dollar annual fee, into a nap place, a small price to pay, to gain a new look, a new group of friends. Sean strolled into the club, and looked for the receptionist. He registered as quickly as possible as the man finished up the paper work Sean looked in at the new green and brown leather couch’s that surrounded the room.  Old men were scattered reading the gazette, while the young men awkwardly looked about, they had probably never worked a day in their lives. Sean was soon admitted and given an account feeling uncomfortable Sean sank down into an isolated chair grabbed a paper ordered a scotch and read. He was still on his edge that a text or call would come in telling him to buy turkey for lunches. Soon the realization that he would no longer be doing this set in and he relaxed closed his eyes and dozed off.

Suddenly his blackberry buzzed, and knocked Sean out of his base. The caller ID read, “Home”. This was another part of his old life. He pressed ignore, guessing that it was his wife telling him that they had a meeting with attorney this week. He knew this already and went back to his lounging time.

After a dinner that contained the $65 dollar duck and a $22 dollar cocktail, Sean moved back to his car. As he entered and was looking out the rear window he saw a white ball hidden in the back seat. Sean disregarded this forgotten item and moved on making it back to his apartment. As he walked in he pressed the message button on the newly acquired phone that still had the price tag. A quiet voice was on the phone.

“Hey Dad, this is James.” I don’t know if you remembered but you were supposed to pick me up from school today and take me to soccer.  Uh I bet you were busy with work. Call me back when you have the time.” James stuttered, there was a short silence.

Sean could hear Janie ask for the phone, “James go to your room and get ready for bed. Thank you.” It turned to a low growl instantly, “Sean, what do you think you are doing, just because you don’t live here you are part of this family, and so help me if I get another call from the school of James crying because he has no ride and his dad forgot him I will make sure you never see them again.” She regained her breath, “We need to talk, actually I have nothing more to say to you need to talk to James it is him you disrespected, I just hope you can prioritize your time better if you are given this chance. Goodbye Sean”.  The sound of the phone angrily being thrown to the receiver was echoed through the phone, then nothing.

Sean looked at his blackberry a couple of work emails and another dumb soccer update. He slowly pressed in the keypad and redialed the number. Then pressed call.

Bring, bring, bring, bring… bring. “Hello, answered Janie” Sean stood there motionless, “Hello,” Janie repeated.

Suddenly, Sean ended the call and through the phone back to the couch. Turned his head looked back at the sink and the huge pile of dishes, jerked away and turned on the T.V. letting the late nights drone on.



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