15 April 2009

Short Story

This is the beginning, thoughts and comments are welcome.

He sits inside his studio. On the floor, cross-legged, with his head cocked slightly to the right. He imagines his eyes are able to see through the different layers of paint and he visualizes the different steps, the other images buried underneath the topsoil of his finished work. Or at least as close as he gets to finished, he’s never said he’s been finished with a piece. He has sold unfinished pieces and has no problem with that, but he’s never called something finished, he just gets bored. His latest is a remake of a Garfield comic strip. It’s painted diagonally across a canvas the size of his wall. Jon is replaced with portraits of the past three popes. Garfield is a carefully reproduced baby with a nosebleed. The baby is identical in all three panels, except for one where he messed up the hand a little bit.
He hates it when people ask him to explain his work. Understanding is dominance. It is psychological rape. It’s all about sex and power and massaging one’s ego. At least that’s what he thinks. Though he has painted over the word bubbles about twelve times and each time painted the exact same words, he feels compelled to do so again. He thinks about Koons’s pink panther. How society is maturing. How we have been running on the same track since the Paleolithic. Perhaps the Garfield baby should also have a broken arm, a piece of bone just barely poking out the paper-thin skin of its fragile little forearm. Maybe.
Jon doesn’t seem like that bad of a guy, but do you know any single man that has both a cat and a dog? Of course not. It just doesn’t happen. This whole thing is ridiculous. It’s all based on a lie. He stands up to rip the thing off the wall and throw it to the ground. He rises, gripping a stool but his right leg fails him. It's fallen asleep. He sucks air in between his teeth as he just barely touches the tip of his big toe to the ground. The drive to destroy has stalled completely. A figure stands in the middle of a room with no more furniture than a stool and some easels, the silhouette shifts slightly leaning more and more back to its center of gravity. The sound of rattling comes from the other room. Plastic resounds against wood followed by a crash. He hobbles over and finds his phone on the floor. He unlocks the screen and navigates to the message icon hopping impatiently in the corner.
"You owe me a new set of silverware, Pete."
The question, the obvious one resulting from this text message, is what did Pete do to his friend, Chris's silverware? Pete was troubled by the fact that he did not really have an answer to that. He recalled many things from last night. His already somewhat drunken stumble to the bar down the street. Getting thrown out of the bar for groping what looked like a woman from behind. He did get in a fight somewhere, with someone, which explains the bruising and the cuts, but what about the burns on his forearm and fingers? Surely, they weren't there yesterday. The welts were swollen and pink. He prodded the fluid-filled pouches of flesh with his index finger. The resistance was both pleasant and somewhat painful. As the backlight for his cellphone turned off, he noticed his reflection. One eye looked like it was gangrenous. How did he miss all of this when he washed his face this morning? Did he? The first thing he remembers today is sitting cross-legged in the studio. Fuck.
He starts getting dressed. A lack of clean clothes is nothing new. Everything he owns is paint-stained. Sometimes he worries that he is too stereotypical. His shoes are slipped onto his feet, which are slipped out the door, which is shut after the feet have slipped outside. He stares at his feet as they navigate the steps and attempts to untangle his thoughts. Pete looks up to see his neighbor. In his mind they both stop on the spot, they stare deeply and longingly into each others eyes. He would say exactly what she needed to hear. He would know what that would be. She would grab his arm and he would pull her in close. They would just stand in each others embrace, eyes clenched closed, teeth gnashed, their hearts trying to break through their chests. And just as the joy would build to intolerable levels he walks into the deli. A familiar bell rings somewhere behind him.
"Petey! What can I get you?" a fat, older gentleman behind a six-foot-high counter smiles impossibly widely at Pete.
"Just..." he fumbles through his pockets and pulls out a wad of papers, "I'll have a..." receipts, post-its, torn looseleaf, no money though. "I don't seem to have any money on me. Heh, do you think I could put a sandwich on my tab?"
His smile shrinks and warps into a tight, straight line between two pale lips. "Sorry, but this ain't no bar, buddy, we don't really do tabs around here."
Pete pleads, "C'mon, you know me Mike, I live down the block, I'm here every day."
"Well then go back down the block and get some money, sorry kid."
Defeated and malnourished, he exits the deli and the bell rings again, signifying his failure to provide for his own basic needs.


  1. you know, i could lend you some money if you're hungry...

    i like it, write faster.

  2. I like where this is going. A description of the neighbor seems necessary. Keep at it.

  3. I've had soooo many mornings of not knowing what happened. But besides that useless fact, I like it. Write more.

  4. I reread this because I thought I owed you a more thorough critique, but my first comment stands: Everything seems in place, but a description of the neighbor, maybe with a little past history, would be good. Again, keep at it.