By: Alan Berger
He first got the news while painting his last painting. He was born in America but left for good, or bad, for Paris and never planned to go back, unless as an artistic hero. Nothing less will do. His art was all that mattered.
He would buy new brushes, paints, pallets and start a new new canvas in Paris.
But that was way way ago and things change. One of which was the reality that he would never be another Vinnie Van, or another anyone or anything, but himself.
He brushed the last stroke, thinking of what a nice touch that last one would be. But, it wasn’t.
He was running out of the kind of money he once had and had long ago ran out of a talent he never had.
In a way it was a relief. Acceptance can be a better looking thing sometimes, if not a beautiful thing all the time.
Perhaps it was time to go back and introduce himself to his only Grandson and only daughter in law, the dog, cat, etc,etc, and maybe introduce himself to himself.
He had left behind a broken hearted wife and broken hearted son a dog a cat etc. etc. He took nothing with him but his social security payments and various annuities, his ass and what he was wearing because, he was an artist and that is what an artist does. He sent money and letters back home and both were rejected. He would only hear things once in a while from his spies.
The kid he left behind grew into a nice young family man but soon thereafter entered the hereafter while serving his country. The country Pa ran away from while in a foreign land very much unlike the one his son was once in.
Paris. What a place to get bad news in.
The woman his son married came complete with a dog and a cat and two lovely children and they had one child together before he deployed.
The seven of them had a real good thing going,
Maybe their house could use a fresh coat of paint he thought.
After all, I am a painter. Besides, most homes, he imagined, could use a fresh coat of something or other.
Maybe their house could use me, he wondered.
There are lots of things I can do, he self-declared.
Inside the plane on the way back, he had an idea for another masterpiece painting. An idea he thought that would solidify him forever in the art world, and he was also glad that he wouldn’t be wasting his time executing it.
So from ‘The city of light” to “A city of the uptight”, he went.
He thought of what some dilettante once said, “Love the art in yourself, not yourself in the art”.
He took a cab from the airport to the family he never knew, except for the one family member that was no longer there.
At the same time his daughter in law was in bed preparing her motor skills for the morning ahead. Step one was putting on her happy face for the kids’, then getting the brood up, dressed, fed, and ready for school, so after they left, all she had to do was let the dog out and go back to bed. Then she remembered it was a Sunday morning and there would be no school. She took a deeper breath than usual and got ready for an all day day with her children and the livestock.
I was right, he said to himself as he got out of the cab, a fresh coat of paint and a new color.
He rang the doorbell.
The first thing the lady of the house thought was that it was The Marines coming to inform her it was all a terrible mistake and that her husband would be home soon.
The second thing she thought when she heard the bell was that, The Jehovah Witnesses’, were at it again.
The two who had come to the door on a Sunday morning wanted to talk to her about Armageddon and she laughed to herself because she replied to them, “I’m a getting, ready to fix breakfast for my children, have a nice day”. She hoped that later when they thought about that remark that it made them laugh.
She wondered if it would be the same two and what to smartly say to them this time around.
If they were a different pair, she could repeat the same thing as last time.
She looked through the peephole and saw neither.
It didn’t look like a new pity package from the neighbors.
She called her old German Shepard to her side. “Here Semper”. The dog started to growl as he looked up to her to make sure she saw he was now the man of the house.
She opened the door with her dog by her side and saw a stranger with a somewhat familiar face.
“Hello, I’m your father in law”, said the face.
“Not anymore you are”, she said before slamming the door in that familiar face and that suitcase of his.
Well. He thought, she doesn’t understand the narcissistic, altruistic syndrome when she sees it. It happens, he diagnosed.
She saw him, she did, look over her left shoulder as she opened and slammed the door on him.
He saw the kids having breakfast sitting around the table looking back at him and wondering which one of the brood, was his blood. Poor dear.
He most likely figured it out on account of the age, coloring and same curly air.
He called a cab. Now, who knows? He wondered, maybe she’ll come to her senses while I await my ride, he had hoped.
But she did not come to her senses.
The kids’ asked if that was Grampa. She said it was. They asked if they were was going to get to meet him. She said of course, I’m just going to let him stew a while. That’s all. They understood. But one went on to say,” But Ma, he lost someone too”.
“Let the bum in’’, said the oldest from husband number one.
She ran to the front door and opened it but he was gone.
He thought about checking into a hotel but instead rented a mini-van with a mini-fridge.
I’m still living like royalty compared to the rest of the world, he surmised.
The problem with that is, who wants to be a comparative shopper? He analyzed.
He didn’t like that everyone surrounding him was speaking English and Spanish instead of French. It wasn’t as sexy.
He went to the beach and fell asleep on the sand and when he awoke, the first thing he thought of was his son that was now a was and that the tide washed him away along with the sand castles and The Eiffel Tower that may or may not had ever been there, and after too much wine, left together with the tide at closing time. He thought for the first time that you couldn’t leave fingerprints in the sand. He looked at the waves and thought,” I roam with the foam”. Soon after that epiphany he thought, “What the fuck is this? An Old Spice commercial”.
He thought also about ever since he was young, although being somewhat charismatic, interacting with people on the outside went alright, but there was nothing like going to his own room and shutting the door and being alone on the inside and now the only door he can shut is the one to the rented mini-van.
I wonder if I should have gotten the hot plate option, he wondered.
He then thought about taking up painting. Again.
At about that same time an E mail was being generated that would be sent to his still daughter in law informing her she won a three day vacation in Palm Springs. No time share talks, nothing to sell, no bullshit. Bring your appetite, the kids and cats and dogs, just a new hotel looking for some karma.
She did some research and accepted the dates they offered.
They all had a ball that weekend at Palm Springs and were so happy and tired on the way home from that vacation Gramps had sent them on.
They needed that. They left the cat home and the dog didn’t even eat any of the furniture in the hotel room.
They finally arrived home.
A home with not only a brand new paint job but an old guy sleeping on the front lawn, on a drop cloth yet, with a paintbrush still in his paint covered hand.
He thought that the paint brush in his hand as he pretended to be sleeping would be a nice touch to their, “All inclusive weekend”.
And it was.