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“Interesting isn’t it?” a female voice coos softly but not sweetly.

I turn rather slowly and find myself approached by very red lips on a pale face. She looks at me, not in a threatening way but she doesn’t look all that interested in me too.

Everything about her manner is purposely vague as to not offend a potential buyer. She stands next to me and I realize by her posture that that she has lost interest in me. Perhaps my discounted clothing or my greasy hair or the fact that I’m pretty sure I forgot deodorant today but she has realized that my purchasing power does not even come close to the picture that hangs in front of us. And what a picture it is. “Interesting” hardly describes it. The painting is a spectacular, pristine example of ugly. It seems to be composed of every single color I ever found atrocious and some I wasn’t even aware I hated yet. Plus it’s a landscape picture so it bores me. But I cannot afford it so my opinion is worthless. No doubt the buyer will be able to describe it in very long words with French roots and hang it on a huge white wall to stare at it. And the price reflects that. Let’s just say that I could eat for several years or buy this painting. It’s rather tempting. Plus the artist is rather a celebrity in his own right. If I stand here much longer I might even like the damned thing. She stands next to me for a second longer.
“I’ll be over there if you need anything” she says, no longer in her soft voice as she gestures to no where in particular. I nod and grunt in reply. As she walks away I am able to assess her in the way that she so blatantly did me.

She appears to be in her 20’s and she is sculpted and calculated. She no doubt does Pilates or something of the sort. After all the entire point of a fit female lies in the fact that she is toned and has virtually no body mass at all. She is taut and her style of dress and such reflects that. Nothing about her flaps in the breeze. If the world suddenly turned upside down she would stay with nary a hair out of place. (Click.) Her feet are confined to gleaming black shoes with dagger like heels. They shine like those predatory beetles that disgust us in documentaries. Except beetles aren’t made in Italy and don’t cost an excess of a new computer. She steps carefully across the dull concrete floor so as to avoid the rather unsightly action of suddenly falling on her face. I wonder if she gets vertigo or if she simply likes heights.

She has on dark stockings which don’t exactly offset her pale skin. My she is pale. Her skinny legs are tightly bound together in a rather tight skirt that goes from her thighs to rest above her hips, like a colorful coi was eating her from the middle. It’s colored in triangles of a mucky orange and olive green. It’s the latest retro pattern lusted after by the nouveu rich. It’s easily obtained at a thrift store, albeit that particular model will lack the carefully applied labeling that made it so stylish in the first place.

As she turns to sit I get greater detail of her see through white shirt. It plunges down towards her rather meager cleavage and shows every detail of her black lace bra. She has somehow managed to tuck the shirt in, in spite of the fact that it appears to be so thin that merely looking at it will cause it to tear.

She sits at her modern desk and rather uncomfortable looking chair. She is in one corner of the rectangular box and I am in another. She is far from the window. Appearing totally absorbed in a magazine I finally see her face. She is pretty. Her purposely messy brown hair falls over her eyes though the blue gleams through. They are probably fake. Her remaining hair is tied back in an oppressive looking bun and the free hair doesn’t look all that free either. Her eyes are surrounded by a carefully orchestrated explosion of make up. Eye shadow is smeared like war paint with the intent of looking like she had partied all night but actually hadn’t. Red lips and a smidge of blush on her hollow cheeks bring out her freckles to complete her facial armor. I wonder how long that took her.
She moves and I quickly adjust my gaze and scramble for a new painting to pretend to look at. I realize all too late that she had simply been attempting to turn the page in her magazine. However the commotion caused by my sudden departure grabbed her attention. Her pixie face finds me intent on a new painting. I look at her through my peripheral vision. Her lips purse in a irritated manner and she breathes as if to say something but chokes the words back. She returns to her magazine. And so the dance continues. She will look up occasionally to find me intent on a new masterpiece. The moment she returns to her periodical I sneak gazes at her. It’s not all that hard. These paintings aren’t too ugly and on a good day that might even be memorable. Gradually she looks up less and less. She has me pegged. At first I was just a poor slop. A fluke that had wandered down the narrow street and into this rather empty cave of art. Now I was far worse to her. In her eyes I was the worst thing ever created. An art lover who would wander into a gallery by chance and sit my designer free jeans on their chairs and stare at their art and not buy anything. Blasphemy at its finest. I wonder if she knows of my intents.

Finally my wondering has taken its toll. I want her. But not at all in a sexual way. I want to know her, but not in the traditional sense, no that’s bad. There is something undeniably sexy about surface appearances. A person is just a shell, a hollow china doll that we can fill with whatever grand fantasy about human beings that we ourselves barely know. I want to be the very voyeur to her soul. But because I lack the means to follow my fancy terminology I am simply contented with making up stories. As she sits a parallel version of her existence knits inside my brain, slowly at first but then it gradually swells. The scarf becomes a coat, now a shawl, no a blanket. I wonder if the wool is oozing out of my ears and nose yet. The questions arise and I answer them in turn with pure fancy.
Why is she so pale? Does she simply leave the gallery at night and take the subway to her Pilates classes (which I have no doubt she spends every waking minute at when she isn’t working)? Does the same subway take her home? (My mind places her in a larger brown tweed sports coat wearing a formidable expression sitting on the rush hour subway. It fits) Where is home? Some fancy place in a trendy neighborhood with huge windows and sliding walls and massive art collections. After all isn’t she rich and simply wants exposure to art? Right? No, I shoot the idea down because I find this gallery awful. Maybe a small studio filled with roommates? More likely for a young person in a big city. But who? Other gallery workers who are carbon copies of herself? She returns from her class to find them all there in their finest sweats with their makeup off. Then they can complain about their relationships and bitch about their jobs. Or are her type simply dictated by their cultured nature at all times? Always in sync with trends and ever resourceful to create the look that they can never afford? Too much work. In spite of her better efforts I know she has to be human. Perhaps a boyfriend who she loves dearly but he is lazy and jobless. It’s hard to imagine her loving anything aside from those culture magazines which she has devoured since my arrival. Speaking of that what does she eat? Or does she simply deny herself every pleasure in the name of image? Or does she just have blessed genes that a million mannequins would kill to have?

I snap back to reality to realize that I have been intently fixated by a blank wall for the past half hour. She is eating an apple which answers my question about her food habits. Red lips caress the now inadequately red apple. White teeth flash tantalizingly. White is the color of death. No doubt she saw my lapse. Now I am even less of a person to her.

I have always loved the gallery atmosphere. I was so enamored with concrete floors, colorful canvases and hidden light and sounds that I never realized the real truth. A gallery is designed to appear as friendly as possible without actually giving two shits about its inhabitants. Concrete floors are artsy but hard and cold. White walls are modern and futuristic but dirty easily and can be replaced on a whim. The music and lights hide to prevent their true intentions from being shown. Suddenly I am covered in a cold prickly sweat. I feel trapped. The door has moved a million miles away and suddenly it’s dark behind my eyes. I am dark. The story has fled.
“Were closing” she grounds me yet again. It sounds more like an ultimatum that a reminder.

I want to talk to her. I want to tell her I am an artist. I want to show her my art and explain it. I want to tell her that her life sucks and encourage her to run away. But that’s just my opinion. She probably loves it. So I just nod.

She inclines her eyes towards me in an almost hostile manner. I have dropped another notch on her scale.
So I walk out. She comes to, though it’s simply a matter of timing. She puts on a jacket. My heart leaps and then smirks. It’s a large sports coat that falls to her knees. Its burgundy and frames her well. We walk as one, though we both step different. She is deliberate while I am tentative. Were together. And not by choice but by circumstance. She is not the kind of person I would see and want to write about. She is nothing special. She is no character of mine. Her personality is just an assemblage of rather inoffensive vague images and ideas. They can be torn down and rebuilt with a moderate effort.

A man inspects her cleavage as he walks by. He also eyes me, though he is mainly looking for hostility. No, I am not this nameless woman’s lover, he confirms, rather I am a mere acquaintance and not a good one at that.
The long lost reality finally dawns. She can be anyone; I have simply filled her with animosity towards me and actually believed myself.

I force an awkward laugh as we part ways. I saunter into the rain. She vanishes. I lose my sight. Suddenly I am surrounded by canvases. I stand on a larger one, rectangular and black, utterly boring but worn down. The ceiling of dark clouds drops miniscule crystals. The facades stare back at me. Everything is so washed. It might have once held a permanence but now it just needs paint.

Another interesting human figure whips past. I get just a glimpse but its enough. I walk home while knitting a new story around an even smaller fragment of a human being.





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g-abi said...
Jul. 14, 2010 at 2:59 pm
very cool story!
 
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