On a cold morning I visit the second floor of an art store and I see folks I’ve been out of touch with for years. They are passionate, hearty, close to the world, not given to cynicism or hip irony. At the same time they’re all artists or musicians–or bikers. I discover they’ve all signed up to go into the army. They’re changing their lives because there is a dire crisis and they are needed. They briefly take me upstairs to the dark third attic level, where the old man lives who originally founded this art barn years ago. He’s revered by those below, but all the same, there’s a reason he’s retired up here and secluded among all his antiques and the memorabilia of his years as an art store owner and art director. Back down in the bright gray light of the second floor, which doubles as a bar, everyone is in good humor, and I apologize for not coming by more often. I explain that my finances for art supplies have been limited recently.
Outside on the misty street, I hold onto an orange dog, a rounded beast with short fluffy hair, big as a tiger. I chuck it under the chin as I wait for Nancy to pick me up in her Mustang, a light blue 67 model with commercial lettering on the side. She pulls into the art barn parking lot to get turned around, but just then the founder sticks his head out a third story window and yells rudely at her not to block the parking lot. She yells back defiantly, just as rudely, and as she starts maneuvering out of a tight space I look up to see the ballet company through the windows of the first floor. Twenty esthetes dance and whirl, practicing their craft, but these shadows in the window have not volunteered for the military. They are not the caliber of the men and women on the second floor.
I tell Nancy everything that happened. But she says seen that movie before, and starts playing it on the car’s DVD player. The blue screen shows diagrams for editing and amplifying the story. I can add some commentary from what I’ve just witnessed.
copyright 2010 by Michael D. Smith