Ducks in a row.
Time to Settle Accounts
December 1, 2012: Ducks in a row.
After brunch at Revolution, Rose and I headed north on Milwaukee toward an art gallery called Galerie F. They were having an “end-of-the-world” event and Rose wanted to buy her brother a print for his birthday.
“I sort of romanticize death,” she said with a laugh. “Also my brother is preparing. He’s got a year’s supply of food at his house.” A few short steps later and we were at the gallery.
It was empty, aside from a man on a computer behind the counter and a six-year-old girl wandering around holding brown construction paper. The space was white and rectangular, with framed prints along the left and posters along the right.
Rose led me toward the prints. “This is the one I’m getting him.”
The print was nine frames, 3x3x3, showing scenes of the end of the world. One showed a crawl of cars abandoning city life, one by one, bumper-to-bumper; in the foreground was a businessman who may as well have been making his morning commute, bored and annoyed, leaning out of his window.
One showed a headless man upright in front of the TV in his sports-themed man-cave. In the window to his right is an orange mushroom cloud.
One showed a baby in tears, a spilled pint of milk laying next to her and pouring out, while all surrounding buildings were rubble.
I slowly explored the rest of the wall while Rose walked to the front counter to talk to the man at the computer. And then – whoosh – I felt a gush of air behind me. I turned and saw the little girl was now running in circles with this long piece of construction paper blowing behind her.
“Laurie,” the man said, pointing toward the girl, “why don’t you sit back down and color?”
Her run came to a dramatic, two-step halt before she forgot the whole thing and ambled over to a long white ledge along the front window. Several markers of different colors were loose and rolling on the ledge, and she sat down on the ledge, picked up a black marker, and spread out the construction paper.
It had the wide/short dimensions of the bottom half of a flag. She was coloring vertical lines of different colors about five inches apart. She picked up a thick black Sharpie and pulled off the cap. She colored a line, and then looked up at me, perturbed.
“This smells weird,” she said. “I don’t like what it smells like.” She grinned, teeth just coming in. “Smell it,” she said, raising the marker toward my nose.
“You’re not going to draw on my nose, right?” I asked. She shook her head and I smelled the Sharpie. “You’re right. Smells bad.”
She continued drawing vertical lines onto the brown construction paper – orange, blue, black, red.
“What are you drawing?” I asked her. She stopped coloring and leaned backward, examining the paper and the lines.
“I don’t know yet,” she said, and then cautiously returned to her lines.
Rose skipped back over. “Got two!” she said. “One for him, and that one,” she said, pointing to a print on the wall, “for me.”
We thanked the man, said goodbye to the girl, and walked outside.
It was warm yet the sky looked cold. People were out and active. The scene hummed with misplaced energy.
“I like that place,” I said at last about the gallery.
“Isn’t it great?” said Rose, holding her new prints in a roll.
“Weird stepping back into all that end-of-the-world stuff,” I said. “Haven’t thought about it in a while.”
“December 21st,” she said. “Get your jollies in now.”
NEXT: The future. (12.21.12, as part of the 3six5 project)
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