Friday, September 27, 2013

John Henry - Part Six

John Henry

Part Six

            I walked across the room to stand before the painting.  I said nothing.  I stood in front of the metal desk.  I looked at the painting.
            ‘Looked’ is NOT what I was actually doing.  ‘Before’ (in front of) and ...WITHIN... the painting... and its frame... is the better representation of the barrage of multi-tier scrutiny I was mentally ...cascading (as does a waterfall)... at ‘it’.  My breath rate was restoring.  My eyes were absorbed in detailing.  My heart rate was elevated.  My mind’s eye was forming... affirming... confirming... reforming.  It was picking up, putting down, turning over, reaching in, wandering beyond, spell casting for more and absolutely check listing all this down the professional balance sheet within me that is ‘back there somewhere’.  I glowed... within the radiant glow of the painting before me.
            I had already seen the signiture and moved on to fussing with my critical eye to confirm the gilt gold goddess; the frame holding the painting.  Roaring around the gold rectangle my eyes wrapped the goddess frame as “perfect-real-untouched-original”.  Galloping faster my eye probed the frame’s inner edge for the dusting wear it purveyed to me so required NO scrutiny past the ‘wear-is-there’ ‘where it should be’; along the frame’s bottom inner edge.
            Then, with head cants back and forth to create the quickest of subtle refractions, my eyes parleyed the painting’s surface to ‘see’ it ‘flat’ and thereby show that its surface was ‘flat’ (opaque), ‘dry’ (not shiny) and showed no disturbances such as ... restoration, cleaning, re-varnishing and... more...  but bringing to my eyes TOO... the ‘old’, ‘old soiling’ and ‘original old surface’.  Sneaking my eyes to the painting’s edges I affirmed the dust soiling ‘build up’ along the frame edge on the painting; the proper residue created from a century of dusting with ‘never out of the frame’ terminal moraines of plowed dust at these edge cracks.  My vigil was rewarded with only affirmation of the most desired state; ‘painting untouched and undisturbed original frame’.
            The next horror hoop leap is the ‘be sure’ and I did that with the ‘YOU TOUCHED IT’ horror hoop leap of boldly lifting the whole framed painting off the wall with a calculated ‘up, up, out’ gesture of my right hand riding my right arm and AWAY from the wall came the framed package.  Before ‘anyone could say’ I had turned my body slightly to the left and presented the now room lighted back of the whole to my rascally eyes to SEE the old nail heads after... old nail heads (holding the painting into the frame), the old oxidized brass hanging wire, the dust filled ‘in there’ frame-canvas meet cracks and the requisite ‘dust dirty’ top (edge) of the canvas-in-the-frame upward to the top of the frame... ‘dust dirty too’.
            Back on the wall the framed painting package went seconds later with my careful and well practiced ‘trick’ of angling the bottom well out from the wall to assure I ‘push’ the hanging wire back onto that wall so to ‘catch’ the hanger as I slide the painting down in one ‘seconds’ of motion ‘DONE’.
            Done TOO this ‘it’; the discovery of the painting.  Done but twenty seconds ‘in’.  Well... probably nearly a whole MINUTE from the starting block departure at the doorway to the ‘it’s hooked’ sensation memo from my right hand as I ...hung the painting back up...:  “THERE.”  “DONE” I BE and said to myself still standing BEFORE the painting with my eyes returning to ‘general appreciation’ mode AND... suddenly I aware too... that eyes are ‘on me’.
            I must highlight these last ‘twenty seconds’ before I head back into professional Hell.  I must highlight that wholeness; the discovery of the painting and the seconds of that discovery.  The distant discernment, the approach, the pillaging with the eyes and  the then forward from there... onward to the final ‘hang back up’.  THIS... be the very ‘it’ of ‘my all’; the ‘what is it’ of my antiquarian-be-I.  It is these skimpy airless seconds of discovery and the affirmation of the discovery that a tingling in my finger tips and the mystical out-of-body self view... are the it of I and ‘antiques’.  Fleeting tiny private seconds of ‘I only’ discovery ARE IT for I.  Once done; discovered and the... professionally affirming that discovery... in those tiny seconds... the wholeness of it all... for me... is over.  I am completely and delightfully at home with this distillation.  I understand that this is the it of all of this for I.  I take each one; the twenty seconds of an art discovery... just for what that glow is and ask no more.  I am, too, at one with it ‘being over’ for ever... ‘now’.
            What happens next is the thump on to the ground at the bottom of this playground slide ride of discovery.  My ride over, I am dumped on the ground... back into the ...elementary and boring... mechanics of the discovery... for ever... with no return to those moments of discerning discovery
            I am... ‘stuck there’; at this ‘in a kid’s bedroom’ ‘in an estate’ WITH SOMEONE watching me... and the rhapsody of ‘that’
            “You like the painting?” came a woman’s voice from the doorway behind me.
            “Ah... OH YES... I auto-blurted.  But... ‘BOOM – GRIP’.  I caught my ‘in mid gush’ and... my clam shell closed.  Tight.
            “It’s SIGNED.” said the voice.  The voice had eyes.  I had felt ...and still felt those eyes... like a hot laser pointer... sweeping across my shoulder blades at the top of my back.  I didn’t heed this warning
            “Yes; John Henry.”
            (MY MISTAKE!)
            “No.  It’s SIGNED  TWAH...”
            “Twachtman; John Henry... TWACHTMAN
            “Oh... THAT’S RIGHT.”
            (Mistake continues).
            “But.” she says
            (Recover fool).
            “It’s a nice little painting.” I say.
            “I love it.” she says.
            “You should.” (Internal data release:  Trouble; this is not WASP complacency.  Alert:  MORE GOING ON HERE.  Alert:  SHE KNOWS THE PAINTING.  Alert:  Process data.  Go forward carefully.  Skillfully:  “I wonder how it got here.”
            “Here; my room?  I brought it here”.
            “Oh.  Very nice then.”
            “It is.”
            “It is... YOUR painting?”
            “Your painting... or the ESTATES painting?”
            “Well I’ve always liked it.”
            “Yes.  I do to.  But:  Is it yours?”
            “Well I has been.  No one else cares about it.”
            “Oh.  I see.  You have the painting.  Here.  But its part of the estate”.
            “Not here; this house.  It was in the house in Maine.”
            “The main house.”
            “The Maine house”.
            “Right.  You got it there?”
            “No; I took it out after the robbery.”
            “Robbery?  The main house?
            “No: the CAMP robbery.  I took the painting after the robbery.”
            “Oh.  The painting was originally in the camp?”
            “Yes.  It was always there in the front room.  I took it.  It’s of the BACK of the CAMP.  (SHE IS RIGHT! I internalized).  I always wanted it and didn’t want it stolen.  I brought it back here.  I still lived here then”.
            “Oh.  Ok.  The painting was originally in the camp.  You took it out of there.  Brought it here.  So... it is yours? Or still the estate’s?”
            “The estate’s?”
            “Part of the estate.”
            “Oh well.  I guess it could be.  But I’ve always considered it mine; my painting.  I’m going to take it to the house (her home locally with her husband and children).  I just haven’t yet.”
            I didn’t say anything more.  There was trouble brewing:  The painting IS part of the estate I could understand.  She DOES have the painting... in her bedroom... and considers it hers... I could understand.  I... am her quandary-to-be?  I could understand this... but she does not?
            How could that ...her quandary I be?
            It be... because I just bird dogged a ...John Henry Twachtman painting... ‘in an estate’ just like I was hired to do.  What, then, do I do?
            And just how much does SHE know about this painting?
            AND...:  Just what is this painting.
            AND...: What is it doing here.
            AND...; How did it get... to the CAMP.
            Internally I conversed: “I don’t think she understands what just happened here:  I FOUND A GOOD PAINTING.  I was hired to do that.  The painting... doesn’t have anything to do with her.  She doesn’t own it.  The estate does.
            And... again:  Just how much does she know about this painting?
            And... again:  What do I do?”

            I found the painting.
            I was hired to do that.
            I discovered the painting.
            I was hired to do that.
            I understand the painting.
            I wasn’t hired to do that.
            I understand the painting’s history.
            I wasn’t hired to do that.
            I understand the painting’s heritage.
            I wasn’t hired to do that.
            I understand how valuable the painting is.
            I wasn’t hired to do that.
            I understand how much the painting is worth.
            I wasn’t hired to do that.
            I understand the problems of realizing the worth of the painting.
            I wasn’t hired to do that.

            “HOW MUCH do you think IT’S WORTH?” came from the woman standing in the doorway as I... completed the full turn of my back upon the painting and... the first step start of my walk away from the painting... back to that doorway.  This question hit me in the chest like a sawed-off shot-gun blast.  I took it ‘no problem’.  My clam shell was closed tight.  My orange cones of ‘go forward carefully... skillfully’ were deployed.  I walked straight into her - by her – past her – out into the hallway- toward the NEXT BEDROOM door.  “Oh I don’t know you’ll have to get it appraised I guess.” I said in my lightest brush-by tone.
            “I FOUND a LOT of different VALUES for HIM”.
            “Oh.  Good.  It’s nice.” I said and kept going... to the next... and next... bedroom.  And then I was done.  We went down stairs to the living room.  The two men with their arms folded were still standing there.  Their wives were there, sitting down.  The executor was there.  We exchanged ‘I am done thank you’ pleasantries and I ...stepped toward the front door and... Sarah/Sue was still standing at the bottom of the stairs and ... ALL, including her, seemed absolutely delighted that I was about to leave after having only been there about thirty minutes.
            OUTSIDE into the fresh air I went... and heard the door closed behind me.  I have never seen any of those people... ever again.

1 comment:

  1. IT’S MINE… it’s my property… let’s see… could be that Aunt Beth gave it to me; or that Grandpa said it would be mine some day; or that I took it from Ben’s place years ago with no objection; or that I bought it at the Smith Farm auction... it seems that I’ve had it forever… I don’t quite remember… but I know IT’S MINE.