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An Artist`s Integrity

by Nancy Ames

The entrance to Jerry`s Pub was a few short steps down from
the sidewalk and the golden electric haze hovering above the
rich walnut polish on the long bar proclaimed a comfort zone
to his irritated nerves. He also recognized two or three dimly
illuminated acquaintances, so he would be able to glean the
local news. Right. And then he would go and get that money.

But then, unfortunately, he proceeded to get very drunk very
fast and a huge chunk of time warped by. All Tony`s fault.
Plied him with drink and tried to pick his brains about a
certain itinerant art dealer from L.A. So Dalton naturally
told him a great many inspired lies, soaked up his liquor,
and became paralysingly bored.

He noticed that, outside the small windows set high up in the
wall, the sky was darkening significantly, to a dull and ominous
maroon colour. Dalton stared dramatically at his wristwatch,
cursed bitterly, floated up and out of the pub, wobbled
successfully through a few hundred pedestrians, crossed a wide
street and its rat-race traffic-jam, on a red light, and entered
the Lazy Lion, to be greeted by Jeffrey`s young and anxious eye
and discreet little finger-wave.

The woman who was seated opposite Jeffrey at the circular white
table was quite large indeed and flamboyantly dressed. Dalton
discovered that he loathed her on sight, which cheered him
immensely at first, but then she opened her fat mouth and said
exactly the right thing.

"Oh! You`re Dalton Sinclair!" she gushed at him. "Please", she
wailed, operatically shrill, "Please, Mr. Sinclair, do not give
any of this money to horrible, horrible Jeffrey. Such a twerp!"
Heads were beginning to turn alertly in the crowded restaurant
and then, highly amused by her own tipsy wit, the woman laughed
loud, long, and merrily.

Dalton`s face became perfectly, transcendentally blank. He deftly
plucked the fluttering check out of the bejewelled fingers, shifting
his gaze slightly to take in young Jeffrey so that he could closely
observe the worm squirming. While pretending to listen attentively
to the florid female`s fatuous and detailed description of the work
of art she required for the pink wall above her fabulous new sofa,
Dalton recalled with relish his original, distinctly vengeful
intentions toward the perpetrator of this rank insult. His eyes
gleamed dangerously as he smiled down upon the younger man, who
seemed to be adhering to his red leather chair.

The soprano monologue ended abruptly and the woman`s loose mouth
gasped pathetically for air through her huge red fish-lips. She
looked up at Dalton, eyes shining expectantly, and a silvery-soft
mist of mercy washed over the lush landscape of the drunken artist`s
mind. In his most vibrant voice, he proclaimed, "My God, Jeffrey!
I thought you were bringing me something to screw." He grimaced
eloquently. "Pardon me!" And in one fluid gesture, he raised his
arm and released the check, which floated gracefully down onto the
woman`s ample lap. Then he enjoyed a long moment of crystalline
silence, so very rare in that pretentious place, before turning
unsteadily on one heel. Smiling serenely, his head left the building.
His body followed along somehow.

Below a darkening sky full of monumental, subtly ruby-tinted cloud
formations, the surreal canyons of the downtown streets were filled
to the brim with bustling afternoon crowds. Dalton was basking in
the midst of all the glorious movement and colour, legs braced like
a sailor, when he heard Jeffrey`s voice, unusually loud and harsh,
speaking close behind his left ear, and Jeffrey`s voice was saying,
"You goddamned arrogant son-of-a-bitch! Now you owe me big!" A cold
hard object was prodding Dalton painfully in the ribs and stinking
hot breath was polluting the back of his neck.


Author's Note: This is a segment of my short story "Maroon Afternoon", had fun writing it.

Posted on 07/18/2018
Copyright © 2022 Nancy Ames

Member Comments on this Poem
Posted by Chris Sorrenti on 07/19/18 at 01:43 AM

Really enjoyed this, Nancy. Great stuff! Let me know if you ever publish. I'd be happy to buy a copy.

Posted by Chris Sorrenti on 07/19/18 at 03:54 AM

Nancy, I'm posting this here because I'm not sure of you'll get my message back, due to a bug in the system. Anyhoo, you're quite welcome. As for publishing, you gotta follow your heart. Personally, I've got a long term project of self publishing a "selected works." About 30 of my best poems, many chosen due to positive feedback and comments I've received here at Pathetic. Meanwhile, this is fine for me too. Continued success with your writing!

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