Recently I've been rather busy working on a (very) short story. Well, not so much working, more renovating and tweaking. Sculpting, if you will (inside joke, for now...). Anyway it is called "On Display" and is a first person narrative with a riddle at it's centre. I can't tell you any more or else I'll spoil your reading of it. Well, I can also tell you that it's set in some sort of gallery but that's absolutely all that I can say. Just give it a read, provided that you're intrigued...
What kind of word is 'avant-garde'?
I hear it a lot, standing around here. It normally comes from those people who touch their chins lost in ‘thought and contemplation', those types who clutch their glossy paper guides and, on occasion, lift them up for a quick scan. Poseurs. I don't like them much, they're always dressed up in a way that puts most of the others to shame. They get stared at a lot but don't realise why, don't really care. It's their uniform, I guess. Uniforms for toffs.
To be honest I don't know why I bother standing around here. There are dozens of other places I could be. Dozens. Like in the old dusty workshop with Trevor. Trevor's a real mate, a real guy. He doesn't use words like 'avant-garde', 'cubist' or ‘exquisite’, he doesn't say things like 'I really love how the artist incorporates this feature in order to achieve the final profound message of the piece' and act like he actually knows what the hell he's talking about.
I miss Trevor. I remember those days he spent just talking to me, smiling at me, treating me like a person. I remember that time when he draped some silly red scarf over my shoulders, popped a top hat on my head and took a few funny pictures for his mates. Those were good times, me watching him as he chiselled away at his latest project. He was always so happy at work; he literally threw himself into it, stopping only for food breaks and the occasional nap. He's probably working on something right now, keeping busy.
Wish I could say the same. Here I am, in a brightly lit room with blank white walls, among all sorts of guff. Colourful, garish guff, that's all I can say about it. It amuses me how they laid it all out with loads of space between each piece, in hopes that it will make it all stand out and look better. It doesn't, it really doesn't. It's still ugly-looking nonsense, only now its spaced-out ugly-looking nonsense. Display may be essential to design but it can't save everything.
Then again I'm not much of an art fan myself. Never could understand it. I'm more of a simple sort with straightforward tastes; perhaps a little stuck in my ways but I'm happy. I wouldn't be here if I wasn't happy being in one place. Well not happy, more content. Standing still is what I do.
Not like any of these people, they're always moving around. They're never in here for too long, even the dawdlers. I suspect that a few of them only come in to get out of the rain to warm up. I can't say I blame them really; more often than not this place is better than out there. I can remember one time when I was being moved around, we were out in this particularly bad traffic jam on the motorway and I ended up sliding backwards, scratching the back of my hand on a rusty nail at the rear of the van. Those movers really should make their passengers in the back more secure, if you ask me. I'd tell them that if they bothered to listen. Anyway, when the organisers found out, they just shifted me to a corner of the room and did their best to hide the mark from the onlookers. They can't show they've failed in front of the viewing public. No, it just wouldn't do.
Still, I was lucky. I know someone who, while being moved, lost an arm. Well, up to just a little above the elbow. When the organisers realised they completely freaked out, coming up with the story that it was 'all part of the symbolism'. If she herself was distraught she hid it well, behind that stony face of hers. She’s only a few metres away from me now. I'd wave at her if I could but then I'd probably use the wrong arm and end up looking foolish.
She's one of the nice ones. The rest of them have little time for anyone else; always gazing off into the distance away from each other, always lost in their little own worlds. Then again I can't really say I'm much different. There isn't much else you can do when you're stuck in a place like this. Daydreaming tends to be your only option, that and staring back.
I kind of hope that one day I'll see Trevor again. Neither of us were particularly happy when the day came for me to leave; he wasn't content with the way things ended and I wasn't either. Plus I didn't like the way the movers led me out. By the leg and the arse. Is there more of an undignified manner of parting ways? I hope he returns, saying there was a mistake and just bring me back to the workshop with its familiar musty atmosphere, back to the early days. It probably won't happen though.
No, he's forgotten about me. He's probably moved on, chiselling away at his next project, making light friendly conversation. My future's sealed elsewhere. It's far more likely that some old jumped-up suit of a man will waddle in one day, look me up and down, sniff loudly and pull out his thick leather-bound wallet. Then I'll have to move again, probably plonked in a big garden somewhere in the South of France, with a good view of a few shrubberies and the water fountain. With my luck it'll probably be one with a winged midget pissing water at its centre. I could try conversation but it'd be hard to overlook the pee stream.
But that's a long way off, they keep saying. Apparently, as far as pieces go, I'm nothing much to see. 'A damaged piece by a virtual unknown, with funny-looking eyes that follow you across the room'. Charming. Then again, I'm glad that's the way it is. Well not glad, more comfortable. As comfortable as you can get standing on display all the time.
Some more of the dressed-up poseurs are drifting by now. I wonder how long they'll be here for.
Thanks for reading,
P.S. Please bear in mind that this is still a rather pulp-y work in progress and more redrafting may be needed. Hopefully I'll get there in the end.