Thomas had heard curates and academics lecture endlessly in the corridors of the museum, their words bouncing off the cold walls in invisible, insubstantial waves, their rhetoric as sculpted as the marble pillars: art for art’s sake is not art, art for one’s own sake is not art, art for others is not art, divine sublimity for the sake of creation: that is art. What pretensions! Voices, windy echoing on the cold walls: whisper, shudder, consonant, vowel, unintelligible but for a word here and there—“never,” “contours,” “sublime transcendence.” Pompous blowhards. No matter. He recognized the speech: recognized, remembered, knew, ignored. Their words are not Thomas’s words. The words here are not art. They do not concern art. He spat.
In a maze of winding hallways, Thomas snaked through the exhibits. Statue of David, scrotum but no rectum, constipated I’d bet. Hasn’t shat for a thousand years—friend and lover to the armless, assless Venus de Milo—fertilizer of fallow fields. He doesn’t pass like me. Thomas passed by Dave. Sling slung over the shoulder, slingslung flaccid but stony hard, iron irony—marble erected in impotence: solid, stony sloth. Replica, anyhow. Plaster marblemold. Not even that accurate. Mike’s Dave stood on a raised platform, his plaster flaking.
Mockmarble crumbling plastershell behind him, Thomas pressed on to the Monet section, taking his usual seat, expectant, staring at the center painting on the West wall. It was a piece he knew—had memorized. Hazy, sunset-shadowed parliament buildings stood motionless, trapped in a moment which craves the next. Ever approaching Night crouched on sinewy haunches, flexed to lunge, forever prepared and patient, waiting. The water which had once flowed and eddied now lay stagnant, the reflections therein unwavering. Still. But not for long. He was just in time. Back storeroom of the museum. Alone. Wall-thumping. Curator. Panting. Woman there. Breathing. Thudding. Dull. Hardbreathing. Thud. Breathless bodies beat away the minutes at the usual hour against the wall behind the painting. Hidden—virile, victorious, self-pleased—God what a curator. He’ll be finished soon. Call you? **** that. You’re fired. New secretary, same curator, same wall, same rattling Monet. Same Thomas. The future is the present is the past, that bygone mockery of progress, ever laughing.
Laughter, now static-hidden, now buzzing clearer, now hidden, finally burst in his ears, the booms of a fireworks display. Such a long time ago. Thomas was a student then, an avid learner with a passion for the arts. Going places. An old Professor smoking a pipe. Smokebillowing windwhispers — You’re going places, Thomas. Laughter. There she stood before him, Vanessa, brilliantfaced, ringing laugh sighing again. Bright and wonderful she had told him of every work the museum held; wonder-full and bright he had drunk her words. So long ago. Fondly the repartee bounced in wave and particle between them, Thomas and Vanessa, Vanessa and Thomas. They knew well their medium, with one ear silently listened to the starry night, couched in quiet awe. Vincent, mad-eyed, still-listening to his mono audio, did not know how they admired him. He had loved, they had loved, and loved she was gone, a ghost, the first phantasm flitting behind that damned Monet. First, but not last. Curator. Usurping lecher. He spat.
And now the same lecher hid behind his Monet-hanging wall. Every day Thomas watched, waited, and listened, ashamed, alone, hoping to hear the bodies beating as he remembered, but always knowing that only every third day would the painting shake—stone-writ. Penciled in by the curator; I’ll see if I can make time for you: scheduled, controlled, linear. Behind the framed painting she beds down with Procrustes. He’s protected, a son of Troy. The plaster ceiling—crumbling, flaking—dusts the marble floor. Dusting marble? Never mentioned... Who told you the floor was marble? Limestone floor, limestone pillars. I will not lie, not intentionally.
He stood, still watching the shaking masterpiece: the painting still suffering sodomy, but not stillsuffering. Nothing immobile. All eroding. Water cutting rocks. Canyons thirty-thousand years in the making. Ground stonesits motionless and indestructible, underground walls hiding sputtering, spurting streams, the siltful waters hiding nothing—only slicing into the solid rock, gouging granite gaps and crevices. Stillwatching, Tommis listened, still-listening, to the drumming against the wall. Almost finished now. Five minutes, no endurance. Way to ride, cowboy. In the last throes, the painting fell, marblelimestonefloorbreaking. The wooden prison lay splinterframed. Tommis ignored this. No frame. Unimportant. Vanessa. He listened to the last thud.
Thomas could not control. How could he when. It’s perfectly excusable that. I can’t be judged if. Why does. Done. A seed—denied, ignored, suppressed, unleashed—is sown in stony ground. Self-pleasing figures standing around him, marblemade, unfecal, infertile. Framed in preconception, unaware, or perhaps too aware, of the ever-cracking plaster-caste past, the voyeur slides into the shadows, vanishing without effort, knowing only the final spasm. He will return, not understanding his momentary fulfillment, jealous rage welling up in his heart, an endlessly unsatisfied, unwitting student walking into hurricane force wind—wind invisible and insubstantial, full of animosity and spiteful power. Full of fury it blows, hollow and empty.
A Subway Ride
Pounding the doors open, Thomas left the museum. Lions, stony, lay couchant at the gates, suffering none to pass unheeded under their granite stare. Immutable rock: dull, rough, and eternal. Thomas cringed under their stare. The sun blazed out from behind a cloud, golden-dancing on his shoulders—brilliant—and a hollow anger that slept in him stirred again to waking—yawning, vacuous—unmitigated rage pulling and twisting his organs together and apart. The saliva turned to bitter acid on his palate, and his stomach bubbled and churned and lunged in on itself, slowsucked into the surrounding vacuum of loathing. There it was, laughing in the sky: the greater orb by day. Sun, moon, stars—false idols and fabrications. He would escape it. Yes. There, the entrance to the subway. Sink now beneath the earth.
Thomas descended the stairs to the subway, steam-wisps dissipating up out of the opening in smoky-whispered silence, incense of the underground. A formless, grey-suited sea of faceless, colorless men and women flowed and ebbed with the train schedule, and Thomas dissolved into the currents. Awash in grey tides, he drifted. Waited. On a bench by a pillar, an old woman sat crying into her hands, her face contorted in lugubrious misery. Weep on, frailty. From the flow, Thomas—waiting, floating—a sliver of his wondering spurred on by imagination, watched her, that tiny fragment of another life seen from afar, gone after the briefest second—a breath of the unknown—one shining, microscopic shard seen through a fogged, foreign lens, fleshflashed and forgotten. Thomas observed her still, wondered, imagined, decided, knew. Her sons had abandoned her. No. Never. Husband? Perhaps…. No. Another man. Well! Not old, actually—probably no more than forty. Another man. Used her. Left her pregnant, alone, afraid. So long ago. Immaculate. Did Mary weep for her son? This woman did, her tears Vanessa’s tears. Another man. Used, seduced, left to womb-rotting loneliness. False smiles and liewhitened teeth mollify the weaker sex: mollify and mollify. Cycling rock-tumbler.
Trainscreech. Begin the flow. The grey sea oozed and wavered, quivering as the cars emptied—trickled—a funnel effect slowing the osmotes at the doors. One last droplet, and then. And then. The torrent, the flood, Thomas lost himself in it, scrambling to stay with the haste-spurred tumult of the tide. Bodies pressed against him, crushing the air from him, and yet he was alone. So many people. A mass. A furious swarm of locusts. Greengrey now, the sea became a cloud of buzzing, gnawing, hunger-maddened plague-bugs. Greengreylocustplague humhowling around him: peaking, crashing, tornadoswirling: particulate updownaroundeverywhere, Thomas staggered, panicblinded. Humhowling still, the swarm carried him toward the gaping, deepinhaling mouth of the train. Swallowed. To be swallowed alive! Oh, Jesus. And then if it consumes me? And then if it digests me? Makes me its own to be released upon the world ere I fragment within its churning bowels? And then. No! People. Just people. Slowly, tediously slowly, the swarm disintegrated; the greengrey air, once thick with beating locust-wings, fled on phantom winds, and the sweat beaded on Thomas’s forehead as he shook in spasmodic shivers of panic, adrenaline freezing through his veins, a cold mercury icing any pain until only alertness remained. Just people. Grey amblers traveled un-swarm toward the doors—the metal, inanimate doors. Thomas, again lucid, walked with the crowd into the car and sat, gripping a pole for support, on a poorly cushioned seat, watching the tide fill the space around him. And waited.
I want the bomb
I want the P-funk!
My band is better than yours...
I want the P-funk!
My band is better than yours...