top of page

An Accountant by Trade

This author is a recipient

of the Sigma Tau Delta Award

Sigma Tau Delta Awarde

Harry was an accountant by trade, but not by choice. For as long as anyone could remember, he had been good with numbers. His mother often joked (she was always joking, perhaps in an attempt to offset the fiery reticence of his father) that he had been figuring out the medical deductions for their tax returns as he traversed the birth canal. Harry himself would quip that he’d actually been working out his depreciation. It seemed that numbers constantly blitzed through his dendrites, being prioritized and organized until everything was in its rightful place. Everything, that is, but Harry. Numbers bored Harry to tears. He’d never wanted to be an accountant; he’d always wanted to be a musician. 

As a boy, he had tried a number of instruments and his mother’s patience, always with the same nerve-wracking results. His piano and guitar teachers declared his fingers too short and too fat by turns. A slight overbite rendered his embouchure ineffective for woodwind or brass. He tried drums for a while. Drumming, his teacher said, is just counting with a rhythm. Harry had promptly counted to three and stomped on the teacher’s right foot. He’d then counted to three, and stomped the left. Harry was thrown out of the teacher’s house, and no other teachers would talk to Harry’s mother after that. He’d been forced to give up on playing music, though he’d still scrimped and saved his meager allowance until he could buy a tarnished trumpet, no longer suitable even as a rental, that he’d seen at the local musical instrument store.  His father had forbidden any more instruments or even talk of instruments after what he called “the incident,” so Harry had kept the trumpet in a secret hiding place, taking it out only when no one else was home, trying unsuccessfully to overcome the defect of his rotten embouchure. When he’d moved away from home, he hadn’t even bothered to take the trumpet from its hiding place, and he had left it behind with only a 32nd note's worth of regret. If only he could sell his soul to the devil like Paganini or Robert Johnson. He’d have made the deal gladly, and found a way to write it off as a business expense.


David Dowell was born in a brackish backwater of the Milky Way Galaxy. After wandering for quite some time, he currently resides with his fiance in Kewanee, Illinois, where he receives dictation from someone who “is not the ghost of Magritte.” He has been published several times in Quercus and has also published two books: Folk Songs of the Sixth Great Extinction Event and The Martyrs Can Barely Keep Up With the Demand. He is currently working on his MSW degree and a novel.


bottom of page