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FOR THE SAKE OF ART

Ed was sure he had no idea what it was.

Ed was sure he had no idea what it was.

Ed Nelson was not fond of traveling. He got seasick at the mere mention of the ocean. You’d never get him on an airplane. The pressure nearly made him pass out once. It seem that headache would never go away. Trains were OK, but they took too damn long. Having his choice, Ed would have rather stayed put.

That’s why his colleagues found it strange that Nelson decided to drive to the consortium. It was cramped in his small compact car. And the drive would take longer than any mode available to him. Longer than even taking the train.

Ed Nelson did alright for himself in his sales position. But he had run into a brick wall. He hadn’t advanced his station in years; though he’d have been made a full partner by now. Instead he found himself hauling ass down the interstate to cross state lines before darkness set in.

Up ahead in a clearing he saw it. A Farris wheel, he thought. Or the maddening loop of one of those anti-gravity roller coasters. But as he neared the structure, Ed was sure he had no idea what it was. A sculpture maybe? He laughed loudly. It could be a Druid icon! What ever it was, it looked hideous on the side of the road.

Between exits this monolithic doughnut stood, maybe fifty feet high – a monstrosity. Interwoven like a wreath, bars and crosses, spheres that appeared as heads of some civilization climbing to the heavens. He was so taken by the piece of “art”, Ed Nelson hadn’t noticed the line of people.

Standing at the gaping portal were approximately 40 people dressed in white waiting their turn. On this grey and depressing afternoon, Nelson saw blue skies through the opening. There was sunshine. It was a beautiful day. But only inside the ring. He pulled to the shoulder of the road near the median and stepped out of his car to investigate. Apparently not dressed for the occasion, Nelson was stared at and ignored.

Taking a place at the end of the cue, he tapped the shoulder of a pleasant looking older woman.

“Excuse me Ma’am” Ed began. “What’s going on here?”

“Young man, do you see this monument?” she said softly. “It is the way out of your despair. Through that opening… is redemption!”

“Redemption” Ed Nelson repeated. It sounded nice. He was in need of a change. The “rat race” would have to carry on without him.

But suddenly, the crowd stared to disperse. He stood confused.

“HEY!” he called. “Where’s everyone going? What about redemption?”

One man looked at Nelson and then back at the sculpture.

“Redemption? It’s an ugly piece of art!” the man said incredulously! “Do you have any idea how much of our tax dollar are tied into this… this shit!”

‘Then why is it here?” Ed Nelson finally wanted to know.

The elderly woman who have duped Nelson earlier overheard the question.

“You moron, it’s art… for the sake of Art, you nabob!” she stormed away with the rest of the crowd. Ed Nelson felt foolish and greatly let down, standing by himself. He never saw the placard.

“SPHINCTER” dedicated to the people of this Great State by Governor Art Decoupage.

“Art for Art’s sake” he thought to himself. What a waste of resources! It was only fitting this piece was named after it’s patron!

FIRST SIP OF LOVE

First KissHe saw her from a distance, a waif with a broad smile and bright eyes and a gait that would mesmerize. Waiting for something, someone perhaps and his lapse of concentration was telling. The players were yelling “GET IN THE GAME!”

Blake Daley was his name. Confident and sure with numbers, but horribly bad on the frozen ponds around which he worked. He blamed weak ankles as a kid. Blake never came forward with his lack of interest in anything athletic. When Blake was asked to act in the role of statistician for the rink, he reluctantly jumped at the chance.

But now his thoughts were elsewhere. There across the rink in the bleachers, where she sat with her friend. And she’d glance over and see him watching. He was far from inconspicuous. When their eyes met on those occasions, she’d grin widely and his cheeks would assume a bright shade of fluster. Blake was nervous around girls. Especially one as striking as Carol.

Her eyes were rich like cocoa, hot and searing, endearing himself to her. Her smile showed brightly, a wide grin full of Chiclets which she wore proudly like her badge of honor. Carol’s hair was the hue of autumn’s height, alight with the auburn which he associated with warmth and comfort. And there she was, so near. So far away.

The combatants completed their task. The game was over with little fanfare. And Blake decided he could no longer stare. He was determined to meet the one so fair with crimson hair.

As Blake approached her, Carol’s friend excused herself leaving the two to close the gap between them or fail miserably trying. Blake would be lying if he admitted to not being nervous. But her demeanor calmed him. Her look was soothing and inviting. Silent introductions and handshakes. His hand sliding to grip her elbow to help her keep balance on the rickety bleachers. And it stayed there as they shuffled to the aisle for their short descent to the exit.

“Can I call?” he asked shyly; softly.

“Do you have a pen?” she smiled.

As she wrote, Carol glanced up at Blake and their eyes embraced each other in looks of future’s promise. Her smile remained, a Cheshire cat in the frigid hockey rink,

Carol returned the pen and slid the scrap of paper into his gloved hand. And she leaned in… a tender kiss catching the corner of his lip.

A gentle peck. Their first “kiss”. He prayed it would last a lifetime!

THE SIMPLE THINGS

Lorraine Jenkins was tired. Between going to nursing school, and pulling a double at the nursing home, Lorraine had every cause to complain. But what purpose would that serve. Her ambition was driven by the need to help people.

She had come up the ranks the hard way, a slim black woman with manly features, but a very compassionate heart. Her mother had done volunteer work in the black hospital in Selma. A product of segregation, Floridine took pride in her work.She put all the compassion she had into caring for her patients. Lorraine recalled how tired and worn her mother looked after hard days. She was touched by how her mother would cry for hours when one of her charges has lost their struggle with life.

And here she was, a single woman dedicated to her work so much that she knew nothing of a social life. Her dream was to finish school and be the nurse her mother always strived to be.

But Lorraine was tired after an exceptionally hard day, Mr. Kettering in room 14 was fighting Pancreatic Cancer. He had been failing rapidly. Lorraine felt the end was drawing near. But Kettering had a spirit; he put up a fight. He was determined to survive to the new year. He promised his granddaughter he would be around for the Holiday.

Lorraine knew such promises were not his to make. But she smiled and nodded. And her eyes had met Mr. Kettering’s and the twinkle that lived there mesmerized her. Somehow, she knew he would not falter.

As she turned on the lights to her small Christmas tree, she sighed. It was one week to the dawn of a new year. Mr. Kettering had made it to Christmas. She smiled inwardly. The old guy was half way home. Lorraine took comfort in that fact. A monumental achievement. A “promise” kept. A simple thing.

IT’S A DOG’S WORLD

IMAG1131_1Funny name these humans gave me. “King” It sounds rather nondescript; what is a king? From my point of view, I must be a big deal. I feel important for some reason. They slather me with praise, always telling me I am highly qualified for this title. “Good King” I heard the hairy one say to me.

The tall, leggy one with the tail in the back of its head… she looks lost in this place. Apparently, my kingdom does not suit her, and the point is moot to her. She seems to be miles away as she stand right there. And that other animal they have… they put in down to play with me. But I am as afraid of it as it is of me. And it smells funny… a cross between baby oil and poop. If it needs to go out, they should let it out.

And what is it about my tail that fascinates it? Always pulling me backwards. Let me voice my opinion just once, and they bring out that rolled paper thing and tell me I’m a “Bad King”. I think I’m getting the hang of this “Good King/Bad King” thing.

But there’s a lot of activity today. It looks festive. A day fit for a… a… well, King! A day fit for … ME! It smells good in here, and I’m getting hungry. Let me get up here and get a closer view! Such a nice spread, I’m glad I stuck around and not followed that poodle to God-knows where. At least I get to keep what falls off the edge.

“HEY, GET THOSE BRUSSELS SPROUTS OUT OF HERE!”

The King is fed. Long live the king!

GOSSELIN’S GALLERY – 5 JULY 1913

EXHIBIT #1 – THE COMELY WENCH

ComelyWenchCome hell or high water, she always gets her man!

Gwyneth Smulders learned young. The ways of her father were not lost on this striking lass. What she lacked in class, she made up for with her seductive glances and her handy side arm. Her wile with that revolver had resolved many a conflict and passed judgment on many an ill-advised suitor who thought her cuter that the mermaids of Clareon. Little did they know, that when this siren wailed, even Neptune swam for cover. Just over 5 foot tall, although small in stature, Gwyneth was a dynamo in a ship battle.

She had come by her skills as honestly as one of her ilk could. She inherited it along with all the booty her illustrious grandfather had pilfered and pillaged from his adventures in the “re-appropriation of bullion”! Blackbeard knew how to party. His granddaughter learned well.

Solomon Diggery would follow where ever her ship traveled. Revenge was an option Diggery always kept holstered, and bolstered by her almost apologetic glance as she left him bloodied after shooting off his jib sail, he had sought her favor. She had fancied the cut of his jib once and thought of cutting it off then and there, but a blast from her Galeon 357 handled that task with a bit more of distance between them, the way she liked it!

Gwyneth Smulders carried a torch for no man. She carried a loaded revolver for one. And come hell or high water, she always gets her man!

EXHIBIT #2 – “NIGHTINGALE’S SHADOW”

SilhouetteShipTerence Foxx had been dead, lo these many years. Pirates who lived hard and fast don’t last very long with a target on their backs. Foxx bore one that sped him toward that goal. And although his murder was neither celebrated, nor decried, it is recalled each year since his passing.

Foxx died on the third Thursday in September; an ominous and rare happenstance. It appears over the sullen horizon, a Pirate’s Moon, they call it. For in the misted evening, before the stroke of midnight’s toll you can see it balanced precariously in the distance. Round and bright and surreal, you can feel her burn. Her wrath is as fiery.

And in her brilliance you can discern the mast and trussed sails; a silhouette in the darkened skies. Foxx’s “Nightingale” sails once again, a captain-less wheel and nary a man on the rudder. A random path to hell, tacking the shadows to oblivion. Every third Thursday in September.

EXHIBIT #3 – JEPPISON’S CREST

compass1The trunk had been retrieved from the murky depths, waterlogged and in stages of deterioration. Salvage crews find the best “booty” when left to their own devices. But the Jamaican government had a strict policy. Any findings, unless direct ownership can be proved, become Jamaican historic artifacts, and that fact irritated Clavin Beauregard Jeppison. Clavin was heading up this search mission a mere knot into designated Jamaican space. One nautical mile stood between the treasure and some politician’s greed.

Jeppison and his crew had a plan. They would use tow lines and gently drag the chest across the ocean’s floor. But this was not an easy task the floor was ragged and uneven. There were wide depressions where the trunk, if sucked downward, would be lost to Poseidon. Slow and steady would be their only hope.

Clavin’s salvage boat moved methodically, as if trolling for snails. But the better part of madness would not allow him to relent when many years and dollars were exacted into this project. The submersible vessel monitored the move and all seemed on course.

But the jutting rocks hidden in the sands had other plans. A section of the rock pierced the wooden shell of the container. The only way out was up, and that would spell disaster to Clavin and his men. One last attempt to carefully coerce the box from it’s obstacle did little to dislodge it, it merely rotated it to the right.

“Hold it!” Clavin instructed. “I need a front view of that chest!”

The diver in the submersible circumvented the boulder to sit in front of their find.

“Hoo Hoo!” Clavin’s exuberance beamed. “Bring her up! Bring her up!”

The objections of the crew went unheeded. Jeppison had seen something that sealed his decision.

As they lifted the trunk to the surface, the crew remained puzzled. They did not understand why Clavin would jeopardize losing this treasure in a moment of excitement. Jeppison placed his hand over a casting emblazoned on the cover of this chest. It had the dull shimmer of tarnished silver. It was elaborate; ornate in a calamitous way. A crest. Clavin knew the crest!

The men gathered around their find, thinking Clavin has surely lost his mind. Oh, he was crazy all right! Crazy as a fox. Raising his hands to quiet the clamor, Clavin drew in a calming breath. Then, grasping his shirt he pulled it open to reveal a tattoo. A crest. The Jeppison Family Crest! It matched the adornment exactly. The chest was not a historic artifact. It was a Jeppison family artifact. Clavin had cause to celebrate. He had made the best discovery. He found himself. At least a small part of himself.

THE HISTORIAN

PencilpageShe held her ledgers closely, as if protecting their contents from prying eyes. But how can history stay hidden? She wanted the world to learn what life had been before the conflagration. But she had forgotten one important fact. A far as she knew, she was the only survivor.

They had called her “Historian”. That was a name that carried great import. And since the Great Truth Purge, Reconstruction history was punishable by death. Little did that matter now, but the Historian held ethics in high regard.

She had a sudden pain in her head, a stirring of thought in the guise of a memory. It needed to be recorded. She went to the case mounted on the wall. Sliding the glass panel to the left she exposed the object of her office. It was a primitive instrument unearthed in the battle. She held it in as much reverence as the ledger clutched to her chest. She had found mention of it in the earliest pages. It was referred to as a “pencil”.

She handled it gingerly; the tip of the nib was fragile. She knew that once it had deteriorated beyond usefulness, all history would cease. She was frugal with her words. She was not ready to die.

A SHOW OF SIGNS – DEMON DESCENT

tears3_preview

image courtesy of Digital Blasphemy

The Warrior knew.

Armageddon was at hand. Hell be damned.

He had seen the mark of Man left behind when He had descended, for this battle needed its Supreme Commander. Hell would be damned for sure. But not without a fight.

The agents of evil had infiltrated the gates, posing and passing as obedient servants of He who is to come again. The temptation is strong for those who are not prepared. Thankfully, Michael’s sword cut swiftly to separate the rebels from the Defenders.

The Warrior had been a Defender. He still was actually, But his “assignment” had been changed. He was to wait for the Coming and the Downfall. The mark of Man had affirmed the Arrival of Him. Now, the Warrior awaited the descent.

He remained vigilant; a sentinel charged to protect all that was Holy. His eyes were trained on the horizon. Tranquility took residence briefly, but he knew it was a matter of…

A thunderous rumble reverberated in the distant sky. A cacophony of screams and explosions; cackles and war cries. The sky became inflamed with the brightness of a million stars released from hope, each star a fallen soul discharged from the multitudes to avenge their infiltration. Plummeting to earth, scorching all that surrounded their impact to stand erect and strong; a combatant in the name of Darkness. The Warrior unsheathed his weapon; it’s glistening a signal to all.

The battle had begun.

The Warrior knew better this time.

Heaven and Hell be damned.

***

This is a continuance of one of my earliest FLASHY FICTION pieces. From “A SHOW OF SIGNS” (https://wallegories.wordpress.com/2011/08/31/a-show-of-signs/) Posted at FLASHY FICTION on 19 Jan 2010