I’m not going to pretend as if I’ve got thousands of fans who’ve been asking me to post more fiction, but there have been a few, and this is for them. I wrote what follows after an editor that recently accepted some of my work suggested that I try to write in present tense. That’s really all I had in mind when I started typing this:
He walks into the gallery and immediately feels cleaner as a sterile wave of white light washes over him. Someone had taken the time to paint all the walls a brilliant white before hanging the art. And they hadn’t used something off-white like “egg shell” or “Italian shore” to make things neutral; this room had been painted in antiseptic bleached-bone white. It is glowing around him.
What’s the difference between a gallery and a boutique? Did one simply portray things while the other sold them? Maybe one offers finger food while the other strictly forbids it. He didn’t know. What he knew was that one painting, standing out like a klaxon among wind chimes, drew him to the far corner. Another man stands in front of it weeping. His suit is also white. Maybe if he were to pull it over his head and stand super still against the wall he could disappear. The first man smiles and realizes that the second is wearing art gallery camouflage.
The first man walks over and bathes in the painting’s color. It’s a fantasy landscape awash in perfection. This is what artists dream of. This is what real life wishes it could be. This is what would be at the end of a Skittles rainbow. Holy shit it’s just freaking awesome. Maybe that’s what it is. Maybe the artist had succeeded in making “awesome” a noun and then nailed it to the brilliant white wall.
“Why are you crying?” The first man doesn’t take his eyes away from the painting as he speaks to the second.
“I painted this.” The second man, still weeping, doesn’t turn either.
“That doesn’t make any sense. You should be jumping up and down and giving strangers high-fives or something. This painting is simply divine.”
“You don’t fucking get it, man,” silence stretches for a bit as salty tears fall in rivulets to dampen the man’s white suit or splash on white marble. “Fuck it. You wanna know? Fine.” The second man takes a slow breath. One of the long ones we all take before telling a story so we can order the nonsense into sentences. “Did you ever have a Game Genie when you were a kid?”
“No. No idea what that is.”
“It was for the old school Nintendo systems. You see, it was a golden piece of plastic. Sort of like a little box. All you had to do was stick your Nintendo game into the Game Genie, and then stick your game Genie into the Nintendo. It gave you three wishes, like infinite lives or invincibility or the ability to jump extra high.”
“Still no idea what you’re talking about.”
“That’s not really the point anyway. I must’ve had thirty or forty games for my Nintendo when I was a kid but I couldn’t really beat any of them. When I got the Game Genie, I beat them all. But that damn golden piece of plastic stole something from me. The games got boring and I quit playing them. I should’ve learned something from that but I didn’t. I guess that’s why I was stupid enough to sell my soul to that morbidly obese black man in Mississippi.” The artist laughs, bitter and short. “Holy fuck it was a cliché. I met the dude on a dusty crossroad beneath an old sweet gum tree. Isn’t that retarded? Anyway, that’s this painting in a nut shell. I gave that monstrosity of a man and his cordon of fat my everlasting soul in exchange for mastery over canvas and oil. Jesus! Now it’s all just so fucking vapid! So bland, so insipid, so fucking pointless! I could paint this shit in my sleep and I fucking hate it!”
The crying artist punctuates his sentence with violence. He produces a small knife, maybe a letter opener, from some inner pocket in his white suit and starts stabbing himself in the neck with a grimace of pain. Choking sobs make a lurid soundtrack as ruby life blood clashes with bright white. It’s over in seconds; the artist falls and the first man hums something melodic as tears muddle with blood. The second man slowly inhales the cloying and metallic scent of death as the artist twitches his way into silence.
“Well you damn fool, I don’t know fuck-all about game genies, but I know art when I see it.” He takes the painting off the wall and leaves the gallery with a skip in his step.
Anyway, I write and sell books and they never cost more than a dollar. If you’re a fan of fiction, you should check out Trailer Park Juggernauts here: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00704HK6Q If you’re a fan of real life with just a sprinkling of fiction, you should check out Ephemeral Truths and Short Fiction here: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00AYRAXNI