Donna arrived early at the Doctor’s office with Betty, her friend, nervous about whether she would find the building, having never been in that part of town before. It made her nervous to go there because the area had the reputation of being a hot bed of gang activity. Every time she watched the news there was a report of a shooting or a drug bust or something like that in among the apartments. liquor stores and convenience stores that dotted the area.
She almost backed out of going to the appointment but her friend really needed a ride and she had already backed out of helping her out earlier in the month. She didn’t really like Betty very much because she was so needy. It was always about her and her needs, never about anyone else. It irked her because she herself was needy and wouldn’t have minded a little attention being paid to her once in a while. Her husband gave her no attention unless it was as a prelude to sex. Even that attention dissolved as soon as her husband ejaculated, which usually took about 30 seconds (yes, she counted). Her kids gave her no attention, but that didn’t really bother her. She understood they were just being self-consumed teenagers. Her boss gave her no attention, which she liked for the most part. He left her alone to do her job and she did it well. She did wish for some recognition every now and then but she could live without it.
She was waiting for Betty to be done when she noticed a man sitting across the aisle from her. He was older, maybe just a tad overweight, with a nice hat. He had a small book he was writing in. She wondered what he was writing about. She was reading an essay on immigration from The Atlantic Monthly on her phone and didn’t pay much attention to him. After she finished she looked up and saw him looking at her. He wasn’t looking directly at her, but at her shoes. She looked away but looked back quickly to see him looking down at his journal. He looked back up at her again, but once again, he wasn’t looking at her face, but lower. This time he seemed to be looking at her legs. She then realized he was not writing in a journal, he was drawing in a sketchbook. And he was drawing her.
This made her self-conscious. She started wondering how she looked. Was her hair in place? Was she color coordinated? Then she realized her shirt was open, showing her tank top underneath. She hoped it wasn’t too low. She was always trying to find that proper line between showing off her girls just a bit (since she did like how they looked and was proud that while her friends had to have help from their favorite plastic surgeon to get theirs to look that good, hers were God given) and not wanting to look like a hootchie mama letting them all hang out.
As she looked down to check herself out she realized crumbs from the granola bar she was snacking on at landed on her chest. Should she wipe them off? They would go down into her bra if she did that, but at least she could do it quickly and quietly. Or should she pick them off like she usually would do if she were alone, not being watched? They wouldn’t get stuck in her bra that way, but she would be doing something much more conspicuous. She chose to quickly wipe them down into her bra. The man was looking down when she did it so she didn’t think he noticed.
Knowing someone was drawing her also made her happy. She liked the attention, liked being looked at. It reminded her of the early days of her marriage when she would catch her husband looking at her when they went out somewhere. He always liked her face and figure, complimenting both frequently, and expressing physically that it was sometimes more than just admiration of her beauty. He had been quite the driven lover back in the early days. Those days weren’t nearly as frequent anymore, and she had accepted that as part of being in a longer marriage and in getting older.
But that didn’t mean she liked it. She felt a little thrill whenever she realized someone was admiring her, even if it wasn’t that frequent. There was a rush she felt when it happened and she was feeling that now. She wondered if her neck and chest were turning red, which it did when she felt that way. She hoped not, but then again she sort of liked that she had a signal from her body about what was happening inside show on the outside.
Having this feeling happen so randomly brought up all sort of emotions about her marriage, about her self-worth, about her compromises with family and friends (Betty being a perfect example). A switch flipped in her head and she decided she had had enough. It was a most unexpected epiphany out of the blue.
She was looking down at her phone when a pair of running shoes appeared on the floor in front of her. She looked up to see the man smiling at her, about to speak. He said, “Hi, sorry to interrupt you. My wife just buzzed me to come into the Doctor’s office so I have to go but I wanted to show you the drawing I have been doing of you before I did.”
Donna looked at the drawing. It was of her with her head down looking at her phone. Her legs were crossed and sure enough, her shirt was open and a bit of cleavage was showing. She was glad it didn’t look too low. She looked up, smiled and said, “I was wondering what you were doing. At first I thought you were writing in a journal then I saw you looking at me and figured out that you were drawing. You caught me pretty good I think, thank you.”
He said, “No, thank you. I loved how still you sat, made it easy to draw you. You didn’t even uncross and recross your legs the other way, which is often what happens. Anyway, I have to go but here is my card. If you want me to send you a photo of the drawing now and when it is finished, just email me so I have your address and I will do it, ok?”
She took the card and said, “Yes, I will be sure to do that. Thank you.”
After she got home she went to her office and wrote out a plan. A year later she was divorced. She moved to the city she had always wanted to live in, San Francisco. She even moved to a somewhat scary part of town so she could get a good deal on a fixer-upper. She was renovating it herself. She went back to school, this time not to be an assistant to someone but to be an actual scientist, which had been her dream. She heard from Betty once in a while but no longer felt responsible for trying to solve her problems.
Four years later she emailed the man who had drawn her, asking if she could see the drawing. He sent her the finished version. She asked if he would accept a commission to do a large painted version of the drawing. He agreed and 6 months later she had it over her mantle in her remodeled home. She also bought the drawing and had it in her bedroom.
When friends came to visit they often remarked about the simple ‘slice of life, small moment in time’ feel the painting had. They liked that about it. She would smile and agree, all the while knowing not all moments in time are equal.
Drawing and story © 2015 Marty Coleman | napkindad.com
I had just finished with a dentist appointment and came here for lunch.
They were outside on the patio and I sat where I could draw them. I ate and drew at the same time. After a while the woman facing me realized I was drawing her. She leaned over to say something to her friend. I continued to draw until they were about to leave. I stood and walked over to them. I held up the drawing to the woman facing me and showed it to her. She said she noticed me looking at them and wondered what I was doing. I explained who I was and what I was doing. She said she really liked it. I showed it to the other woman and she said the same thing. I told her she could see it finished at my website or if she prefer I would send her the image via email when I was done with it. I gave her my card and she gave me her email address. I said goodbye and went back to finish my lunch.
It has taken me about a month, maybe more, to paint and finish the drawing. Now I am about to publish it and send her the image and the link. Will I get a response? What do you think she will say and think about it?
Drawing and Story © Marty Coleman | napkindad.com
My back and leg were hurting.
I chose my chair deliberately so I could draw the receptionist, who had an interesting look.
I showed her the drawing after I had it partially finished. She thought it was cool.
I came back again because my back and leg were still hurting.
I sat in the same chair and continued my drawing.
I showed it to her when I was done. She thought it was cool.
I went home and painted it.
I saw her at the race expo and told her I had finished it.
She gave me her email address so I could send her the link to this blog post.
I wrote this story, posted it and sent her the link.
Her reaction was…
Drawing and story © Marty Coleman | napkindad.com
Amanda had her resume laid out just right. She had her business card just so. She had her lucky necklace on and, embarrassing as it was, her lucky underwear too. She had her coffee ordered and picked up. She was ready for the interview.
He walked in with long strides, letting the door close on the woman coming in behind him. He went straight to the counter, stopping just short of running into the back of the man waiting to order. He took a deep breath and rolled his eyes.
When it was his turn he said to the Barista, “Well, aren’t you cute. Aren’t you going to give me a smile?”
She looked at him and said, “I am trying. This is my smile today, sorry. What can I get for you.”
“I want a very large cup of your strongest coffee, black.” he answered. When it was delivered by the Barista he said, “Thanks but it would have been nicer for me if you smiled.” He was not smiling as he said it.
He came over the Amanda’s table and sat down. She put out her hand and said, “Hello Mr. Bendetto, I am Amanda. It’s nice to meet you.”
He didn’t take her outstretched hand. He just nodded and said. “Let’s get started.”
He asked her a series of questions, all were short and curt and they all started with “Sweetheart,” or “Honey,”. When he was done with the interview, which took all of 1o minutes he stood up and said, “I will let you know.”
She stood up and said, “Thank you. I will wait for your email.” She held out her hand to shake his.
He responded, “Honestly, I don’t think you should hold your breath. I expect the job is harder than you can handle.” and walked away without saying goodbye or shaking her hand.
Amanda was just about to start crying when her coffee cup raised up from the table. It had grown wings and flew over to hover in front of her. The lid came off partially and the coffee talked. It said, “You are more than he thinks you are.”
She stared as the coffee floated back down to the table as the wings disappeared, landing softly and not spilling any of itself. She looked up to see if any other person had witnessed it. It appeared no one had seen the coffee fly. That is until she looked over at the barista who had served the man his coffee. She was staring at Amanda with her eyes wide and her mouth open.
Amanda got up and walked over to the Barista. “Did you see that?” she asked.
“Yes, I did. And I heard what it said as well. How did that happen and why didn’t anyone else see it?”
Amanda said, “I have no idea. It was very strange. But it said the perfect thing to me, that’s all I know.” Then she asked, “What is your name?”
The Barista responded, “I am Amanda. What’s yours?”
Amanda laughed, “That’s my name as well! Nice to meet you Amanda. I am sorry he was such a jerk to you, I heard him talking to you.”
“Yes, he was. Nice to meet you too Amanda. I overheard a bit of his conversation with you. He seemed rude to you as well.” Amanda the Barista said.
“Yep, he was a jerk to me. I was having a job interview with him but it didn’t take me long to realize, even though I am desperate for work, really desperate, I wouldn’t work for him no matter what.” Said Amanda.
The Barista responded, “I am sorry you are in that situation, but I think you are right. I can’t imagine working for him! What sort of work are you looking for?”
“I’m a bookkeeper. I was helping to run my dad’s business but he sold it and retired recently so I am looking for something else. I just got a divorce as well so the pressure is on.”
“Oh, that sounds like pressure for sure! You know, you might want to talk to Sylvia, the owner here. Her son, John, has been doing the books but he is about to go to graduate school. I think she might be looking for someone.”
A week later Amanda the bookkeeper had a new job. She had met with Sylvia the owner and they had gotten along great. The pay wasn’t quite as good as with her father’s business but it was not bad either. She knew she could make it with the salary and the hours.
On her first day she was going to meet with John, the current bookkeeper to start her training. But before he arrived for the day she had to clean out an old desk to use as hers. It had office supplies and a disheveled pile of papers cluttering the drawers. She took them out and was figuring out what to do with them when one piece fell to the ground. She picked it up, turning it over to see if it had anything on the other side.
There, on the other side was a drawing of a coffee cup. A coffee cup with wings. She stared at it with her mouth open until she was interrupted by a male voice saying, “You better watch out, you might catch a fly with your mouth open that wide!” She looked up to see a young man, maybe 30 years old, handsome and smiling with his eyes and his mouth. He came in and reached out his hand. “Hi Amanda, I am John. What were you looking at that so astounded you?”
She blushed slightly, smiled and said, “Oh, hello John. Nice to meet you. Sorry about that. I was looking at this.” She picked up the drawing of the flying coffee cup and showed it to him.
He said, “Oh, THAT’S where that drawing is! I have been wondering where I left it for at least a year of so. Was it in that pile of stuff?” pointing to the mess on the desk.
“Yes, it was. Did you draw it?” she asked.
“Yep, that’s by me. You can just call me Picasso, thank you very much!” he said as he laughed a big, hearty laugh.
“Ok, this is REALLY weird. I was looking at the drawing the way I was because I have seen it before. So did Amanda the Barista actually.”
John looked puzzled. “How can that be? Did you see it here, in this room sometime in the past or something?”
“No, that is what is so strange. I didn’t see this drawing. I saw the actual flying cup. It actually was my coffee cup when I came in last week for an interview. After the guy interviewing me left my cup grew wings and flew up to me and spoke. I know it sounds crazy but ask Amanda, she saw it too. Nobody else did, but she did.”
John stared. It was his turn to have his mouth drop open. “Why is YOUR mouth catching flies now, if I may ask!” said Amanda with a laugh.
John fumbled a bit as he looked down at the drawing that was now in his hands. “You wouldn’t believe it.”
“Try me John.” she said. “After all, I just told you I believe in flying coffee cups.”
“Ok, but it’s really strange.” he said. “I drew that about 7 years ago when I was 23. I think I even have a date on it, I drew it in April, right? I was just starting to help my mom here at the coffee shop and I had just left a long term relationship. I was stuck in the back of this office and I was feeling lonely and depressed. I drew this coffee cup that was sitting in front of me out of boredom one day. I left it on the desk and went out front to get some fresh air and something to eat. While I was out there I saw the most beautiful, sweet woman sitting at a table with a friend. I actually couldn’t see her very well, I was behind her. But I could see the side of her face and her smile and her beautiful brown hair. It was about the same length and style as yours I think only brown, not blonde. Anyway, she was showing off this incredibly unique diamond engagement ring to her friend. I had never seen anything like it. It was shiny and bright and she was beaming with joy.”
“I came back to the office and sat there wishing I had someone like her. I wished I had her actually. I sort of zoned out and started to draw wings and a mouth on the cup in the drawing as I imagined it flying out the talk to her. I wanted the cup to tell her she was making a mistake, that I was the right one for her. Of course I didn’t have any idea about who she was or what she was about. I didn’t really know if I was the right one for her. I was just wanting to be the right one for someone and I attached my dream to her at the moment.” He looked at Amanda with a look that said please don’t laugh at me.
“I often wonder what happened to her. I really do hope all went really well for her. It’s probably a blessing I didn’t see her face very clearly because if I had gotten a good look I probably would still be looking for her face in everyone I see.” He put the drawing down. “I told you it was a bizarre story.”
Amanda was crying. Big tears were rolling down her cheeks. “John? That woman was me. I was engaged 7 years ago in April and I remember coming here with my best friend to show her the ring. I had the same style hair, but then it was brown.”
John sat down. Amanda and John stared at each other for a long time without saying a word.
Amanda went home and got the ring that afternoon and brought it right back. It was the ring John remembered, very unique and shiny.
A year later John and Amanda were married. Amanda the Barista was a bridesmaid in a small ceremony at a beach about 100 miles away. John and the two Amandas opened a second coffee shop at the beach a year after that called ‘The Flying Cup’. They now have 24 shops at beaches around the world. and are known for their story and their flying coffee cup logo.
They eventually sold their story to Universal pictures and it was made into a movie that did pretty well.
Drawing and short story © 2015 Marty Coleman | napkindad.com
Dominique was born in France but moved to Chicago when she was just a baby. Her father died when she was seven and her mother raised her as best she could. When she was 18 her mother decided to move back to France but Dominique wanted to stay in Chicago and go to school or get a job.
Dominique went to the gallery opening because the exhibition was titled ‘Pierced’. She saw a flyer for it posted in the back hallway of a club where she danced. She wasn’t really an artsy type of person, she had only been to one museum in her life, but she was excited to go because she loved piercings. She had 20 of them herself and was hoping to get more.
She asked one of the other dancers, who went by the stage name ‘Flame’, if she wanted to go with her but she had no baby sitter for that night. The other girls at the club weren’t really very friendly and most of them sort of scared her. She would have invited her best friend at the club, ‘Trinity’, but she had been arrested for her 3rd DUI two days before and was still in jail.
She decided to go alone though it was very scary for her to do so. She never really went out to anything remotely ‘cultural’ even though she read about a lot of those sorts of events online. In her mind she wasn’t very socially adept, never really knowing what to say. She had gotten better at small talk, working at the club had helped her with that, but she still worried about talking about serious stuff. She had it all in her brain, she thought she was pretty smart after all, but she just sort of froze up when that sort of conversation was in front of her.
The gallery was in the art district of Chicago. She had never been there and got lost. She felt annoyed with herself for not figuring out how to get there in advance and felt a panic attack coming on. Luckily she found it right about then and was able to calm herself down by doing the breathing exercises she learned about on some fitness website she sometimes followed. She checked her makeup in the rear view mirror, reapplying her eyeliner just a bit and touching up her lipstick.
She dressed how she thought one should dress for an artsy event. She wore heels that weren’t too tall, certainly not her stiletto height that she wore on stage. She had on a maxi skirt, the only one she owned, with a bold blue and gold print. Blue and gold were her favorite colors and they matched her piercings. Her blouse was just a simple pale blue leotard type top. It did a pretty good job of reducing how big her bust looked, which she hoped for since she hated the attention they got when she wasn’t on the job.
The place had a beautiful sign hanging from the front letting her know the name of the gallery, Foray. The gallery was crowded but not so much so that she couldn’t make her way through. She had to go to the bathroom and asked a cute girl who, in spite of looking about 14 years old, seemed to have a certain confidence standing in the middle of the room, as if she knew the gallery. She pointed to the back of the gallery and said, “Go to the left back there and it’s on the right. I like your piercings, by the way.” Dominique thanked her and went off to find the bathroom.
Dominique chuckled to herself once she left the young girl. So young yet so confident, something she wished she had been at that age. She found the bathroom and relieved herself. There was a big orange vase made out of corrugated cardboard in the corner of her stall. It had a single white PVC pipe sticking out of it with a large paper flower sticking at the end. The flower was blue and gold and looked a lot like the stud coverings she had on her piercings. This made her happy.
She went back out into the gallery and started to look at the art work. She hadn’t really known what to expect since the flyer didn’t have a picture on it. She assumed it would be pictures of people with piercings, but it was not. It was large paintings of strange scenes. One was of a fat man on a fishing boat catching a giant Marlin. It showed a close up of the hook poking through the fish’s lip. Another was of a woman at a sewing machine. She was in pain with her finger impaled by the needle of the machine. It showed blood all over the sewing machine. It made Dominique wince. There was a very large painting of a man dead on the ground with a big hole in him. Another man was standing over him with a gun that was smoking.
It was all very strange to Dominique. She was repulsed but wanted to look at the same time. She had no idea what any of these paintings had to do with piercings at all. She walked into an area where there was a wine bar and food, which she quickly indulged in. She would have preferred water, her mouth was really dry, but she was hungry and thirsty and that’s what was there. The wine wasn’t very good but the little cracker thingies with the tan-colored spread on them were yummy.
She was going for a second helping when the young girl she had asked direction from came up beside her. “You found the bathroom, right?” she asked.
“Yes, found it fine, thank you” she responded. “I liked the vase with the blue and gold flower, that was cool. Who did that one?”
The young girl laughed, “Ha, that’s mine. It’s the only place my mother let me put it. She’s mean like that!”
Right then a woman who looked surprisingly like the young girl came up. “Are you telling a perfect stranger how mean I am to you? You always make me sound like the worst parent.” She laughed and grabbed the girl around the shoulders from behind and nuzzled her neck.
The young girl looked at Dominique and said, “That’s my mom, if you hadn’t guessed.”
Dominique laughed and said, “I figured. You two look a lot alike. She reached out her hand to the girl, What’s your name?”
The girl answered, “I am Veronique but I go by Vera. This mean person behind me is Cruella.”
Her mother laughed and said, “Yep, that’s me, cruelest mother on earth! Actually, my name is Angelique but I usually go by Angel. Nice to meet you.”
She held out her hand and Dominique shook it. Then she turned to Vera and shook her hand as well. Both hands were warm and strong. It made her feel good. “I am Dominique but I usually am just called ‘Dom’.
“So, what do you think of the art here?” Dom asked.
Vera looked at her mom and was about to speak when her mom said, “I am not sure, what do you think?”
Dom responded, “I like it I think. It’s sort of scary though. I like the colors he uses but I don’t really understand how the paintings relate to the title of the show. I only came to here because I like piercing a lot.”
Before she could continue Vera said, “I sort of got that.”
Her mother said, “Don’t be rude Vera.” But Vera rolled her eyes and protested, “I wasn’t being rude, I was just stating the obvious dear mother.”
Dom smiled and said, “I didn’t take it as rude, no worries. I know people look at my face and see a lot of piercings. Anyway, I thought it would about that. I am not sure what these are about. But then again, I don’t know much about art. This is the very first art gallery I have ever been in. And I have only been in one museum before.”
Vera sighed, “You are so lucky! I have lived my whole life going to galleries and museums, they can be so boring!”
Vera’s mother sighed back, “See what I get for exposing my daughter to a life of culture and beauty? Such an ungrateful little waif!” She then let out a big laugh and kissed Vera on the cheek.
Vera wiped her cheek and looked at her mom. “You can be so embarrassing sometimes!” she said as she laughed back.
Dom was completely enthralled by how fun this encounter was. Her spirits were lifted by seeing the relationship between Vera and her mom. But she was confused. “So, I have a question Vera. You said the vase in the bathroom was yours and your mom would only let you put it there. So Angel, does that mean you are the owner of the gallery?”
Angel answered with a smile, “No, not the owner. I am the artist. Vera wanted to take over the gallery with her vases but I, meanest mother in the world, wouldn’t let her. She got the bathrooms and she’s lucky to have them.” She laughed.
“You did these paintings? Really?” Dom said with her jaw open. She was now mortified. “I am so sorry I said I didn’t get them. I really do think they are good. Don’t listen to me, I don’t know anything. I should have just shut…”
Angel put her hand up to stop her, interrupting, “It’s completely OK Dominique. I wasn’t offended. I completely understand people will have all sorts of opinions about the work. I will say however that the reason I think the name of the show and the paintings are connected is that each painting shows something or someone getting pierced by something.”
Dom looked around. “Damn, how did she miss that!”, she thought to herself. “Uh…DUH me. Now I see it. Man, sometimes I can be so dumb.”
“No worries, you aren’t the first person who didn’t see the connection.” Angel said. “I was married to my husband for 10 years and he NEVER got any of the connections I was trying to make. But I still loved him anyway.”
Vera came up close to her mom and hugged her around the waist in a sweet, comforting gesture. Dom wasn’t sure what it was all about figured it wasn’t any of her business anyway.
Angel excused herself, saying she had to mingle with other guests. She looked at Vera and said, “Are you ok on your own for now?”
She laughed, pointed at Dom and said, “Yep, I am going to walk around with her and explain all the weird things in your paintings that no one ever notices!”
Dom and Vera did just that. They walked around the gallery and Vera explained about little secrets, and in some cases the larger story, behind the paintings.
They got to the last painting, of a man with a gun in his hand standing over someone he had just shot. Dom said, “This is the most gruesome of all the paintings I think. What’s the story behind this one?”
Vera looked at her and said, “This one is of my dad. He had to kill someone a long time ago to protect my mom and me. We went to the mall to shop and there was some guy who started firing a gun near us. My dad pushed us both down into a lingerie store and ran after the guy. He fought him and got the gun away and killed him.”
Dom was stunned. “Wow, your dad was a real hero that day! How did he get the courage to go do that?”
“I don’t know” Vera responded. “Mom says he never really was a scary strong guy before, but she said something just came over him and he did it. She tells me that he never said anything about it afterwards except that he loved us and wanted to make sure we were safe.”
“Wow. Did he ever talk to you about it?” Dom asked.
Vera looked up at Dom and said, “No, he died before I really was old enough to talk to him very much. I was only 5.”
Dom put her hand on Vera’s shoulder. “I am so sorry to hear that. He sounds like he was a really great dad. I bet you miss him.” She was crying as she spoke.
Vera noticed the tears and said, “It’s ok now. I remember good things about him. I am not sad that much anymore.”
Dom said, “You know why I am crying? There is something you don’t know about me. My dad died too. I was only 7.”
Vera looked at her and wrapped her arms around her waist. “I am sorry, it sucks, doesn’t it.”
“Yes, it does.” said Dom.
Vera and Dom went back into the main gallery to get something to eat and drink. They saw Angel again and Vera told her about Dom’s dad dying. Angel gave Dom a hug, holding on for quite a while. She asked, “Would you like to go to dinner with a few of us after the opening is over? It will just be another half an hour if you can wait. I would love to have you with us.”
Vera piped up, “Yes, you have to come, promise?”
Dom smiled and said, “I wouldn’t miss it for the world!”
The dinner was great, as was the fun day the three of them had at the Zoo a week later. Dom started watching Vera a few days a week after school while Angel was at her day job. Vera taught her how she made her paper vases and flowers.
Dom quit her dancing job a few months later. It was a big financial hit but she had saved up some and knew she needed to get out of that business soon anyway. She got a job at the front desk of the Foray Gallery and Vera would come hang out there after school. Dom eventually learned bookkeeping and took over running the gallery’s business side. Turned out she was good at it.
Angel became a very well-known artist and her paintings became much sought after. They started selling to not just collectors but museums as well. The gallery even sold one for $100,000.00, which blew everyone away. There was a big celebration that night!
When Foray’s owner wanted to sell the gallery to move down to Florida to be closer to his dying parents, Dom, Angel and Vera went in together and bought the gallery.
They remained best of friends for the rest of their lives.
Year later, when Dom was asked what was the secret of her success, she would always say the same thing, “The secret to my success is very simple. I had one moment of courage to go see art when I was 21 years old. Everything else came from that”
Drawing and Short Story © 2015 Marty Coleman | napkindad.com
Oriole had her first one person show at the Gallery Heron.
Oriole got the skirt she wore to the opening at ‘Upscale Retail’ a consignment shop in the fancy part of town. Her sister, Wren, said the skirt looked great on her and that she had the perfect blouse to go along with it. They went over to their mother’s house and found the blouse in spare bedroom closet. Oriole wasn’t at all sure the two went together but her mother, Robin, said that contrasting patterns was the new thing and it looked great. Their little sister, Myna, thought it looked stupid but she thought everything looked stupid so they paid no attention to her.
Oriole had her friend, Ibis, do her hair and make up. She had been a hair stylist and cosmotologist before she had triplets. She told Oriole that the striped hair was the newest thing and that a dark circle of rouge on the apple of her cheek was also a new trend (she called it rouge instead of blush, trying to be old fashioned).
Oriole was at the gallery an hour early. She wanted to make sure the paintings were hung correctly and that the food was laid out just right. She found that the piece called ‘Balls’ was hung next to the piece called ‘Hose’ and it shouldn’t have been. She didn’t like the sexual innuendo of the two of them side by side because neither painting was really about sex at all.
She went to find the gallery owner, Miss Heron, and complained to her. But Miss Heron said it was too late to change the location of either painting. She reassured Oriole that no one would notice that they were next to each other and to just not worry about. Oriole was nervous but agreed to let them stay where they were.
The opening was a big success. Many people came to it and 4 paintings sold. There were many compliments on the food. Three people said they liked her skirt. Nobody mentioned the two paintings next to each other, though Oriole did see two girls laughing while looking at them. Her family came, including her Aunt LittleHawk, who had gone on a spiritual retreat in Navajo territory and changed her name from Fiona Finch.
Two days later Oriole was awakened by a call from Ms. Heron, the gallery owner. She told her to get the newspaper and look at the front page of the ‘Art Scene’ section. She said there was a big photo of her welcoming the guests at the opening and a rave review alongside it. Oriole didn’t get the newspaper so she had to get dressed and go downstairs to the corner store to buy a few copies.
The review praised her use of paint, her witty ability to have content and humor together, and the subtle but insistent message of sexual power among women. She particularly liked the two paintings, ‘Balls’ and ‘Hose’ being next to each other. The reviewer, Henrietta Hornbill, said it was the most auspicious inaugural one person show in the city since Nick Sparrow had shown his sculptures of handcuffs made out of different colors of Jello.
Oriole was very confused. How could any one get a sexual control message out of her paintings? She had never thought about that at any time in the creation of the paintings. She called her oldest and dearest friend, Dovey, (who lived in Cardinal City, California and couldn’t make it to the opening) and asked her if she thought there was a sexual message in the paintings. Dovey said, “Duh, I’ve always known that. I am not surprised it was what the reviewer saw.”
Later that day she got a call from Onea Owl of NPR asking if she would be available for an interview, maybe at the gallery, about her work. They wanted to do a story in the next week about sexuality and wanted her included as an artist leading the way in feminist interpretation of sexual issues. She said yes, mostly because she hoped to meet that lady with the hard name to pronounce who was always on in the mornings.
Three days after that she got an email from someone supposedly from Vogue magazine. She thought it was a joke but she recognized the name of Winny Warbler at the bottom of the email as someone who had been a judge on that reality TV show about fashion. Ms. Warbler wanted to do a photo shoot with her as part of an editorial piece on stylish female artists in the city. She was hoping to get Jinny Crow and Penelope Plover as well.
Oriole called her and asked why she wanted her in the editorial shoot. Winny explained that while the striped hair, clashing patterns and bright circularly rouged cheeks had all been trending separately, Oriole had been the first one to have put them all together so successfully. Oriole was even more confused but decided she was going to go with the flow.
Oriole became a wildly successful artist in the city, then nationally, then internationally. She was the biggest hit at Art Basel in Miami the next year. She was chosen for the Venice Biennale and the Whitney biennial the year after that. She was the first artist on the cover of Vogue, first on the cover of Time since Picasso and first on the cover of Art Forum since ‘the artist formerly known as art’.
Oriole flew high with her fame for 45 years. She became incredibly wealthy with homes in New York and St. Tropez. She had her retrospective in 4 museums simultaneously. MOMA showed her paintings, LACMA showed her sculptures and Tate Modern showed her prints and drawings. Her erotic art was at the museum in St. Tropez.
The most amazing thing about her career though was her departure from it. After the retrospectives closed she sent a press release out saying that she was going to retire from painting and focus on bird watching. She sold her homes, donated her remaining paintings to various museums around the world and disappeared from the art world. She moved to Saskatchewan, Canada and watched migratory birds the rest of her life, which lasted another 20 years. She died in her sleep in her small cabin in the north woods. Though it was never thought that she ended her own life, she was 95 after all, there was a note on her desk that made some people think she had known the end was near.
It said, “I saw all the important people in my life fly by today. I can die happy now.”
Barbara woke up and took a walk towards the volcano. She got lightheaded on the walk and saw a vision of all her past boyfriends tumbling down the steep mountain.
She saw Josh, the young man she had the affair with at the beach resort. She didn’t know if he really should be included since he wasn’t technically a boyfriend, more like a one night stand, even though it did last 4 days.
She saw Bob, the guy she met at the photography store. He wanted to photograph her but she turned the tables and eventually got him to pose for her instead. He broke up with her when he realized she had posted the full frontal nudes of him on her Flickr account.
She saw Jared, the older man she had a fling with at her job. He was divorced and a bit pathetic, but he smelled nice and bought her things. She broke up with him when she realized he thought 9/11 was a government conspiracy.
She saw Benjamin, the Jewish guy from her AA group. They bonded when the both realized they didn’t believe in God. He broke up with her when he found the love of his life on Eharmony.
She saw Robin, the dapper fellow she met at the hair salon. He was great in bed and she would have kept him but she caught him with her makeup and panties on one day and couldn’t handle that he was prettier than she was.
She saw Trevor, the British Cad who she knew was cheating from the very beginning but she stayed with him because he had a nice penthouse apartment overlooking Central Park. Ironically he broke up with her when he caught her cheating with Benjamin.
She saw Kevin, the police officer who stopped her for speeding. The went out for almost a year, but then he was wounded in the line of duty and had to go live with his parents in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. They broke up when he reconnected with his elementary school sweetheart back home.
And finally she saw Tim, the bodybuilder she met backstage at some competition. She liked his big muscles but he had erectile dysfunction and it was something she just couldn’t get over.
When she returned from her walk she called her husband, who was away on a business trip, to say she loved him. There was no answer and that made her wonder what he was doing.
Drawing and short story © 2015 Marty Coleman | napkindad.com
Once upon a time there was a very tall woman named Galindra. Most of her height was due to her very, very big head. Without her head she would be three feet tall. But her head was six feet tall all by itself so she ended up being 9 feet tall. Luckily she also had very, very long and skinny arms that allowed her to reach the top of her head. This was important when it came to grooming habits.
One day Galindra went to an art gallery. She was going on a blind date and they decided to meet there. It was a hot summer day and she wore her favorite yellow shorts and her tight blue top. She wore flesh-colored flats that made her look like she was barefoot. She straightened her hair (it took an hour) and put on her summer makeup, including trying false eyelashes for the very first time.
Galindra was there first. She walked around the gallery enjoying the paintings. They were of men doing various activities that involved holding things that looked very phallic to her. In addition there were part of things coming in from the edge of the paintings that were also quite phallic, like elephant trunks, baseball bats and long skinny party balloons. She thought these were very funny and interesting. She became engrossed in trying to figure out the meaning behind each of the paintings.
As time passed she realized she was being stood up. The blind date had not shown up. This made her very angry and she expressed her frustration right in the middle of the gallery. She had been stood up many times over the years. She knew it was because of her big head. It made her so mad because she really was a smart, funny, kind and attractive woman but no one ever gave her a chance to show it because all they saw was her head.
When she finished her little demonstration of anger and frustration she noticed someone had come into the room. He walked over to her and asked if she was ok. She said yes, that she had just been stood up and was venting. The man said, “I am sorry you were stood up, that was very rude of the person.” Galindra thanked him and asked him his name as she put her hand out to shake his. He said, “My name is Art. This is my exhibition actually.”
Galindra shook his hand and said, “Oh My God, I want to ask you so many questions! Would you mind?” Art responded, “No, I would love to answer your questions.” Galindra and Art walked around the gallery talking about the paintings for the next 2 hours until Galindra said she had to go get something to eat because she was starting to feel faint. Art asked if she would like to go to lunch with him and she said yes.
Galindra and Art became very good friends. Art eventually got up enough nerve to ask her if she would model for him. He ended up doing a series of 12 paintings of her in all sorts of situations, from nude to being dressed up like an astronaut. He mounted an exhibition of the paintings and the show became his most popular ever. The paintings were featured in Art News and Art Forum magazines. The CBS TV show, Sunday Morning did a long segment on the two of them with their favorite interviewer, Mo Roca, doing the interview.
Galindra and Art got married 2 years later. They had seven children, all of whom had big heads and long arms. They eventually had 27 grandchildren and 4 great-grandchildren . They had an apartment in Manhattan, a summer house on Cape Cod and winter home in the Swiss alps. Galindra lived to be 88 years old and Art lived to be 92.
The man who stood Galindra up at the gallery was hit by a truck the next day and died.
© 2015 Marty Coleman
She sat quietly on the phone.
Ok, she wasn’t actually sitting on the phone. Well, ok maybe she was sitting on A phone, I don’t really know. But she wasn’t sitting on the phone she was talking on. She was talking on that phone. It would be weird if she had another phone with her that she was sitting on, wouldn’t it?
She was off the phone (the one in her hand, not the possible one she may or may not have been sitting on) but still sitting there when I had to leave. I showed her the drawing I did. I think she thought I was weird. Which I might be.
Drawing and epic saga by © 2015 Marty Coleman
Emily took the mirror out of her purse. She was looking for blood splatter but noticed her hair instead. She didn’t like how her hair looked when it blew in the wind. Instead of looking full like she wanted, it looked straggly and thin. She couldn’t decide if it was due to the hair cut she got, which she hated, or the product she had been persuaded to buy at the salon. Whatever the reason, she didn’t like it and wanted to get back in the car as soon as possible. This wasn’t just due to her hair looking shitty, but because of the body in the middle of the road. Emily knew the road was seldom travelled but she didn’t want to take chances just in case one of those survivalist nut cases up in the backwoods came down in a tank or something.
Emily reapplied her lipstick as she drove down the mountain. She got out her mascara and added a bit to her upper lashes when she got to the one and only stop light in town. She even got a bit of blush to each cheek before the light turned green. She was hungry and Chicken King was right at the corner. She liked Chicken King because the chicken fingers were easy to eat and the straws were just the right diameter. She was particular about these things knowing that it all contributed to her looking as good as she did. People thought it was just her lucky genetics and that pissed her off. She worked hard and sacrificed to look this good. She wished people realized that.
She ate as she drove down the coastline. She wondered how long it would be until the body was found. She wondered if wild animals would find it and drag it off the road. Wouldn’t that be convenient she thought. She noticed the moon was red and thought that was very strange.
After about 3 hours of driving she stopped for gas. She put on a pair of those cheap rubber gloves that come in a box before touching the gas hose since the worst thing in the world was to be able to smell gas on her fingers after she got back in the car. She went into the convenience store to go to the bathroom but the toilet was covered in pee and she couldn’t do it. She would just have to wait. She got a pack of gum and told the teenage clerk he should have been checking the toilets more often because one had urine all over it. He looked at her blankly and said, “Someone else does that, I just take money.”
Emily got back in the car and drove away. She was upset about that encounter, realizing that it was an example of the younger generation having no initiative to make something of themselves. What had gone wrong with America anyway, she thought as she searched for another gas station.
She stopped at two more places along the way looking to pee. Both were unacceptable. One had a cracked toilet seat and she just knew it would pinch her flesh if she sat on it. As she walked towards the door she looked at the clerk, a young Mexican woman with dark blush on her cheeks and high arched eyebrows painted on, and said under her breath, “No wonder this place is in disrepair. You people are lazy.” The clerk didn’t hear what she said but did notice Emily’s red lipstick and thought it was too bold considering how dark her eyeliner was. When Emily got back in the car she looked in the rear view mirror and put a fresh coat of lipstick on. She was happy she had some style compared to that ugly clerk. “How could people want to look like that?” she whispered to herself.
The second store only had a unisex bathroom. A man emerged from it right as Emily walked up. Emily hated the idea of sitting down on the same toilet a strange man had peed in, especially as fat and ugly as that man was. She immediately turned around and stomped out. She slapped her hand on counter as she left and said to the clerk, “What the fuck is wrong with you people?” The clerk, a Korean boy about 13, didn’t understand english and had no idea what she said, only that she was mad about something. His mother was in the back room and didn’t hear anything.
She almost cried when she got back in the car after the third try because she really had to pee. But she looked in the rear view mirror, smoothed out an errant eyelash and said to herself, “I have my standards and lowering standards contributes to the downfall of society.” She had memorized that line from her “Planning For Success’ CD and repeated it to herself often. She also didn’t cry because it would have smeared her eyeliner, which had taken a long time to put on that morning.
By this time her bladder was close to bursting. She was glad she hadn’t compromised her standards but she also was getting desperate. The next place had better be acceptable or she wasn’t sure what she would do. She wasn’t holding out much hope when she walked in and saw that the clerk was a black woman. She had a big pile of what looked like black, brown and tan snake coils on top of her head. She had on a very low cut top that showed overflowing breasts. Emily wondered how someone could show that much breast and not show her nipples. “No wonder they all get pregnant so early”, she muttered to her self.
While it wasn’t pretty inside the bathroom, and that annoyed her, it was clean. She was comfortable enough to sit all the way down on the toilet and go. She felt so relieved that she actually said out loud to herself, “Now I can die happy.”
She left the bathroom and walked back into the store. As she did she noticed a young boy, maybe a teenager, standing at the counter. He was in a tan, button down shirt, khaki pants and loafers. His hair was cut in a contemporary but still traditional look. He was standing up very straight and looking straight ahead. She thought some mother was proud of that boy, he looked like he was going to do great things in life.
She smiled as walked towards him, coughing in hopes of getting his attention. Right as she did this he raised his right hand and pointed a gun at the clerk. But he heard Emily cough at that same moment and, without thinking, turned his gun toward her and pulled the trigger. Emily had enough time to widen her eyes and drop her jaw in disbelief. The bullet went straight into her open mouth, hit the back of her throat and cut right through her brain stem as it exited. Emily’s brain was able to think one final thought before she died. “My lipstick…”
The store clerk, named Edna, ran to the back of the store when the shot was fired. The boy ran after her. He tripped and fell hard on a slick patch of wet concrete on the loading dock. Edna, hiding behind the dumpster right next to where he fell grabbed a piece of wood from a pile of broken pallets and hit him on the head as hard as she could. She didn’t realize the piece of wood had a big nail sticking out of it. The nail caught the boy in the eye and he screamed in pain as she kicked the gun out of his hand.
Edna was a local hero. She was given a civilian service award by the sheriff and that made her consider studying law. She eventually earned her law degree and spent many decades representing immigrants before she retired and moved closer to her grandkids.
The boy went to prison as a juvenile, where his nickname was ‘Cyclops’. He got out when he turned 25 and moved to Alabama. Ironically he ended up being a clerk in a convenience store until his death in a car wreck at age 30.
The woman Emily murdered was found on the road where she died. Her name was Shannon and she was remembered by many in her town as a wonderful wife and mother and a dedicated volunteer at the psychiatric hospital. Her murder was never solved. Her husband of 12 years eventually remarried and moved away to Arkansas with his new bride and his 3 kids. They had a daughter together and named her Shannon.
Emily’s body stayed in the local county morgue for a month. No one claimed it and they were unable to find any relatives. She was cremated and her ashes were stored in the morgue. The cardboard box they were in was put in a supply closet during a building expansion 3 years later. During some jack hammering in the parking lot next door the box fell onto the floor and broke open. When the custodian saw the mess he swept the ashes towards the drain in the floor and washed them down. The cardboard box was thrown away.