“We’re going to need you to paint here.” The gallery curator pointed at the space between the Dali and the Magritte.
“There used to be a painting hanging there? Is that why the wall has that weird patch?”
“Exactly, we’re going to need you to paint over that weird patch.”
“Where did the painting go?”
“It was stolen.”
“Stolen? They only stole one painting?”
“Was it the most expensive?”
“No. Actually, it was one of the least expensive paintings in the room. The thief was either not very well versed or a huge Miro fan.”
“Isn’t Miro expensive?”
“Sure, but, look, there’s a Dali, or Picasso. I think the thief might just be a crazy person who some how wandered off with it. Anyway, I have to go. We open in ten minutes, will you be finished by then?”
“Sure. Shouldn’t take more than a couple minutes to paint that.”
The first gallery goers to come through the gallery doors were Alica and Hap. They were both anxious about their relationship. One of them wanted to break up and the other wanted to get married. So they compromised and went to the art gallery. To hide his nervousness, Hap talked on and on about each painting. Sensing Alica’s frustration with him, he was careful not to provoke or disagree with her on anything.
“I think the melting clocks represent how Spanish clocks are poorly made,” Alica commented on Dali’s Persistence of Memory.
“I think you’re right,” Hap agreed. Alicia said that to see if he would agree with anything. She felt she had the arms to take this relationship behind the barn and shoot it. She just needed the legs.
Next to the Dali was the freshly painted patch on the wall. Alicia and Hap stopped in front of it.
“I like it,” said Hap, commenting on the drying paint. “It’s smart. Like, it looks like the wall, but, it stands out cause it’s so shiny.”
“You like this?” Alicia wasn’t sure if he was kidding. She could see it for what it was: drying paint. “Are you kidding?”
“No, I really like it. I think it’s a masterstroke,” Hap confirmed. Internally he couldn’t care less about the painting, he was just trying to sound smart for his unimpressed girlfriend.
“Yeah. Look at it. You can see that the painter really knew what he was doing, cause he painted it just like the wall, but shinier. It’s really smart and playful and-”
“It’s wet paint! You are seriously watching paint dry, and you like it? How can I be with someone who can’t tell the difference between art and paint drying? I am sorry, Hap. It’s been fun to a point, but, now I gotta go.”
Then Alicia turned and walked away from Hap’s helpless cries to stay. She had to walk fast, cause, she knew his voice could hypnotize her. She had fallen in love with his voice before she had fallen in love with his heart. But, now his voice had said something so dumb that she had to leave, not give him a chance to say something smart and redeem himself.
He was following her. She walked faster.
“Even if it is drying paint, shouldn’t I have the right to enjoy it?” Hap shouted his question. There was only a yawning security guard in the room, standing at the door. Normally he’d ask the screamer to lower his voice, but, Vince, the security guard, agreed with the question and kept quiet. Alicia flew past Vince, out the door not letting Hap’s question sink in. She had to get out. First the room, then gallery, then the relationship.
She pushed open the gallery doors and stepped on to a Saturday morning city street. The cold and brutal fist of February clocked her right in the face. Her apartment was west. She turned and walked away from a sun that she could see but not feel.