Judge Santiago Burdon

Van Gogh Ate Yellow Paint

Made it out of bed and was grateful I had survived another day. Here I am, a frog taking temporary residence on the lily pad of another princess,  searching for the kiss to change me into the prince of a fellow I know exists.

I walked into the kitchen, and she stood at the sink, looking out the window. There was the faint sound of sobbing. I wasn’t excited at the prospect of dealing with a dilemma first thing in the morning, but I put aside my feelings and inquired why she was blue despite the possibility of any number of reactions.

“Good morning my love. What’s wrong? What’s got you so downhearted?”

She turns and hugs me placing her head on my chest.

“It’s nothing. Don’t worry about it.”

I had an idea as to the cause of her melancholy. There’d been an opening for her new series of paintings at a fairly prestigious art gallery last evening, and it didn’t come off as well as she would have liked. The review of her work was less than complimentary, describing her art as mediocre. However, she did sell four pieces and collected a tidy sum of cash. 

Damn it! The trap has been baited. When a woman is crying and tells you it’s nothing, trust me, it’s something. There’s no way to determine if you should take her word for it and not concern yourself or risk inquiring further as to the reason for her grief. I choose to honor her request and not pursue the matter.

“Okay baby, well cheer up. It could be worse, it could be raining. Did you make coffee? I’m starving this morning, gotta a taste for chilaquiles. How about you? Did you eat already?”

“Really, all you can think about is stuffing your face? Don’t you care that I’m depressed? Is a little compassion too much to ask for?”

As usual I had made the wrong  decision. Now I’d given reason for her sadness to develop into rage. Unwittingly I had offered myself, an innocent bystander, as a target for her displaced aggression.

“You know my dear, the symbols  for opportunity and crisis are the same in Japanese or Chinese, I’ve been led to believe.”

“Well that’s just fucking great. I’m not Japanese or Chinese. I don’t live there and don’t speak either language. So you’re saying I can count on all my opportunities to end in crisis?”

“No, what the hell? Why do you have to take it that way? I was just making a point that possibly your present crisis will provide you with a future opportunity.”

“I’m mediocre. Just mediocre. I expose my life, my feelings, my insecurities in color on canvas, and I am viewed as mediocre. No one wants my art.”

“You sold four paintings. That has to count for something. I consider that a success. Did you know Van Gogh only sold one painting in his lifetime? They say it was bought anonymously by his brother.”

“Is that supposed to make me feel better? It didn’t do much for Van Gogh in the end. He ate yellow paint to make himself happy, and it obviously wasn’t much of a cure because he cut off his own ear and committed suicide.”

I waited to see if she was done.

“You can sit down and write shit about poodles eating garbage out of a dumpster in an alley, and it will be interpreted as some insightful  sociological observation on prostitutes, drugs, booze and your personal  mental condition. People seem to just eat it up with both hands and have second helpings. They refer to you as a Bukowski protege or the bastard son of Hunter S.  It is all so easy for you.”

“Is that a compliment?”

“I’m not sure. I didn’t mean it to be.”

“It’s not your paintings I like, it is your painting.”

“You said that before, and you have to say things like that because you love me.”

Whoa! I couldn’t recall ever saying that I loved her. If this is her idea of expressing love, I’m definitely positive I never used the “L” word.

What do ya think? Should I address the love reference now, under these adverse conditions, or save it for a more appropriate time? Sure, I know there’s some of you out there wanting me to bring it up now. You sick bastards, hoping to witness my demise. It’s not going to happen just yet, I’m not totally masochistic, after all.

“I really like the poodle prostitute analogy. Can I use it? Secondly, no one has ever referred to me as being as talented as Bukowski. Don’t sully his reputation by putting my name and his in the same sentence. Although the bastard son reference, to Hunter S., is classic.”

“All I’m saying is that it is all so easy for you.”

“That’s bullshit! Nothing has ever been easy for me. I’m not complaining just stating a fact. The difference between you and I is that I’m not a writer seeking fame and fortune. I’m a writer because I’d been cursed at birth. It’s an affliction, not a blessing. All genuine writers will validate my statement. I write for me, not to please anyone else. I don’t care if they appreciate my work or not. Never should your success be determined by the judgement of others.”

“I know what you’re saying, I just don’t know how to think that way.”

“Well to start, I guess it’s bloody marys, Mozart and drugs to get this Sunday off to a better beginning.”

My prescription cured her temporary infection of self loathing. Within an hour, she was back to the person I enjoyed being with. Later that afternoon, after some angry sex and righteous cocaine, she drifted off to the place where nothing is real, nothing can harm you, nothing else matters, for her. I’m unable to find that place. My dreams are made from empty scotch bottles, plastic baggies, and the sound of my father screaming at me.

I sat in the kitchen, just staring out the window. Then I began to write.

I found refuge behind a dumpster to sleep that night. The noises of the city; the sirens, car horns, distant screams and gunfire served as my lullaby. When I woke the next morning, I noticed a pristine white poodle eating from a garbage can in the alley. I could hear the click clack of high heels coming closer, followed by the voice of a woman.

“Angel cake, angel cake, get out of that garbage baby!”

It was a prostitute, most likely just finishing up her shift, chasing after her dog.

“Hey, I like angel cake,” I said. “Did the dog eat all the angel cake?”

“Who said that..?”

And the circus continues, the show that never ends.

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