I Scrape Him

Contributor: H. C. Turk

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We view my father's masterpiece hanging in the school museum. The medium is egg on canvas, not egg tempera. No one knows how he did it. He's retired, so he won't say. And I won't describe the imagery, which is only what you see. The same as any great art, the content consists of expressed ideas. Hmm, now we're thinking.

My closest friend, F1 (another educator), only has to look a moment before the condemnation.

"G did the same thing."

G could be my love, if the expression could be found in my lexicon.

"It can't be the same. This is unique."

"So 'same' means plagiarism."

Since this is an opening, G arrives. I haven't been seeing her. The three of us chat. I know exactly how I feel about G, but can't express the idea. If you could only see it.... She admires the painting. I admire her skin: it's so smooth, polished. G explains a bout of dermatitis. Surgeons had to literally scrape away the disease with straight razors. Her skin was left with a burnished yellow tinge.

I've seen the same technique in art school, but not on human substrates. Scrape away the superfluous until the super is revealed.

After G leaves, F1 checks on his allegations, studying her vicinity. There, in a space open to Dad's painting, F1 finds a straight razor dripping viscous yellow fluid. In the crowd, we are jostled, and someone removes the evidence. Though aware of the idea manifested, we didn't see it.

Leaving, F1 and I understand that we have to give bad grades to the audience. Innocent members will suffer, but that's the way of public education when graded on a curve.

Standing along the property's wild ditch where the students will soon gather, I tear off the bad parts of the report cards we made, but the water is too clear. I see them sink yet remain visible. The last one is the thief's. Down the path toward the railroad tracks I see the campus police arrive, seeking evidence. They are enthused at the negative grades floating at their feet. I wonder how long they'll need to understand that they are observing a response, not a cause. Looking down at the visible corners on the bottom, I know I have to go to G.

She's eating with a man I saw at the art opening. Soup. A phallus is floating in her bowl. In her artistry, G makes it appear to be a fat green bean, but here's an art that's only artifice. Perhaps concerned with his eating, the man scrapes his plate.

I wash my hands in ritual preparation for F1's arrival, when he brazenly opens a book directly before G to reveal photographs of her art: overspray tortoise shell combs and shells painted with ducks, the latter an addition to the background that—along with the combs—is a virtual parallel of father's earlier style.

"You can't copyright talent," the man fumes.

F1 wants to look in the fridge, if only because it's locked, but he wasn't invited to eat. He doesn't want to eat. Returning to G, who is effectively stabbing brussels sprouts with a spoon, he turns to the back of the book, revealing those illustrations with the highest grade. The photograph is of G's studio. In the back, not hidden though in black and white, the scene portrays no artist present, only some canvas stretchers and a table with painting knives, plus a straight razor and a yolk-like substance.

G can neither look away nor speak. As F1 slams the book closed and G regards her bean, the man empties his plate, then confronts me with his superficial ideas.

He is no person I could reify. When his concepts intrude, I scrape him, drawing the yellow fluid.

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H. C. Turk is a self-taught writer, sound artist, and visual artist living in Florida. His novels have been published by Villard and Tor. His short fiction, sound pieces, and images have appeared on numerous web-sites.
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