BTW: The photo art and prose included in any given post are separate creations having nothing to do with each other. Duality and such …
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The meeting so annoyingly interrupted was penultimate to the release of the wildly anticipated new product certain to make them both renowned and rich. Surely among the most important events in modern history. Every painstaking attention to detail had to be perfect prior to release. The team huddled together, he right in the middle of it, concentrating so hard under the florescent lights and on such little sleep he had a headache, which he ignored. Now this! Right at a critical point! His secretary tried to be discreet as she cracked the door and silently extended her right hand with the pinky and thumb out to indicate a phone call, but once she got his attention she got everybody else’s along with it.
“Take a message,” he told her.
“It’s an emergency,” she said sternly, forcefully, almost as an order, reflecting the company’s philosophy that ‘secretaries rule the world’ and hired only those capable of taking charge.
He sighed. Somebody said, “We need a break anyway.”
“Some of this will take until tomorrow at least,” somebody else said.
He signed again. “Fine,” then, because he was team leader, “We’ll reconvene at eight-thirty tomorrow.” As they filed out he gave his secretary the ‘what-the-hell’ look, to which she gave him the ‘pull-your-head-out-of-your-ass’ look back.
“There’s a problem with your father,” she told him. “Line three.”
It was that nurse at the assisted living facility again. Had to admit she sounded more frantic than usual. “Okay, I’ll be right over.”
The nice thing about driving at this time of day was that traffic was lighter. The bad thing, he cursed, is that what traffic was out was slower. Much slower. He weaved and diced his German sports sedan in and out and between the other vehicles like a bat shooting itself at insects and made the trip in 35 minutes. He found his dad poised in front of his easel, brush in hand, glaring at a painting already judiciously illustrated. The nurse pulled him back up the hall.
“He’s been like that for three days,” she said. “He hasn’t eaten, hasn’t slept, or if he has he did it standing up. This morning we found he had soiled himself and he fought and cussed us as we got him changed and cleaned up.”
“He’s just been standing there like that?”
“Once in a while he seems to dab at something, but, yeah, just like that.”
He went slowly into his dad’s room and around where he could see him. Still took several seconds before his dad noticed him, and when he did he said in his most annoyed tone, “Oh, Jesus Fucking Christ, they called your ass, didn’t they?”
“Uh-huh. They’re worried.”
“They’re mother hens! I haven’t been working that long.”
“You’ve been here for three days, and you haven’t eaten, and you haven’t slept, and this morning you shit your pants.”
He looked directly at his son for the first time, a little disbelieving but acknowledging it was probably true. The nurse appeared in the doorway, holding a food tray. “Well, good god damn it!” he said angrily, wiped his brush and put it and his palette down and moved stiffly towards the little table next to the window. “Bring it here, then,” he barked at the nurse and she placed the tray in front of him. It looked like chicken noodle soup, a cheese sandwich, and orange Jell-o. “Jesus,” his dad shook his head at it. “I’d like to order crawfish etouffee with key lime pie instead.”
The nurse said, “We don’t serve that.” Then added, “And you know it.”
“Get the hell out of here and let me eat.”
He sat down opposite his dad and told the nurse, “I’ll stay with him for a while,” so she’d leave them.
“God damned interruptions,” his dad cursed, but picked up the spoon and slurped the soup.
“Yeah,” he said, “Speaking of interruptions, I didn’t exactly have time for this. I’m in the middle of creating something new myself. Something important. Something that will matter to a lot of people.”
His dad snorted. “Will it be obsolete by this time next year?”
He thought of the ‘update’ planning meetings already on his calendar to follow the launch. Shoot, he thought, it will be obsolete in three months and updates would start rolling out a couple months after that. “Maybe,” he hedged.
His dad, ladling the soup down rather rapidly now, pointed at the painting with his spoon,. “That won’t be,” he said.
The painting seemed to be an abstract portrait of a woman; he didn’t recognize the subject. The paint flowed in long, vibrant ribbons from the top. His dad had used long, thick brush strokes to apply the paint; the texture broke the illusion that it had been pulled down by gravity. Instead, it almost looked like it had been applied by a shotgun, then smeared or allowed to drip. Vibrant colors edged in contrasting pastels. He had to admit, he found it compelling.
His dad said with his mouth full, “People will be studying my art long after that ‘product’ of yours has been replaced ten times over, so don’t talk to me about interruptions.” By now the soup was gone and he had moved on to the sandwich. “I guess I was hungrier than I thought.”
He asked his dad, “What do you call this painting?”
His dad replied, “Torment.” Then added, “I may change it to ‘Annoyance’.” Finally he gulped up the Jell-o and looked at the tray as if surveying for another morsel. For the first time, his dad looked tired to him, his concentration broken.
“Why don’t you lay down for a minute.”
His dad nodded and lay awkwardly on the bed. He covered him with a blanket. “Just for a bit,” his dad said, but in short order he had fallen fast asleep.
He sat with him for another 20 minutes before rising and moving towards the door, pausing to study the painting again. He found himself hoping his dad could finish it.
All my life I have had to learn to do things differently. To see the world differently.