Note from Brian:
“The Temperament of an Artist” is our August 2017 story, but it was originally a summer 1993 story. Let me explain:

This is an extremely early story of mine, written in middle school and sent out on submission without any revisions because I was a young idiot who just couldn’t wait to mail a new story to the editors I found in the Novel & Short Story Writer’s Market. Sigh. I still owe a lot of them apology letters for sending them so many bad stories those summers of my teenage years…

Most of what I published in the 1990s is dead and buried in a folder on my computer for good reason, but at the time I was just having fun and trying to sell short stories like my literary heroes.

“The Temperament of an Artist” was the second story of mine to see print, published in a little paper zine in 1995 that doesn’t even seem to have existed if you search the web for information now.

I revised the manuscript a few times in high school and college to try to improve it, but still, I was surprised to like this one as much as I did when I opened the dreaded “old stuff” folder while considering the contents for Walking With Ghosts.

It’s not great, but it’s kind of fun, I think. Especially if you put yourself into the head of the wildly optimistic thirteen-year-old kid who wrote it while believing his work could set the world aflame.

As always, please feel free to email me at if you’d rather do that instead of commenting on this actual post. Thank you again for all of your support! — BJF

“The Temperament of an Artist”
by Brian James Freeman

The prison superintendent sits in his high-backed leather chair and pretends to read a document in the folder containing my personal records.

He’s not reading anything, though, he’s just making me wait because he can.

That’s okay.

He’ll play his games and I’ll play mine.

“When can I have my art supplies back?” I ask.

He pretends not to hear me just like he’s pretending to read that report from his guards about the illegal contents of my cell.

Of course, of course, I get it, I really do.

He wants to control the room. He’s gotta be The Man.

That’s fine. Let him be The Man.

I’ve never met a prison superintendent before but I’ve met plenty of people who thought they could bully me, push me around, and tell me what I was supposed to do with my life.

Most of those assholes are dead now.

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