Thursday, January 2, 2014

Paradise Unvarnished

Note: This piece was first published in SLANT in 1991.

No talent. It wasn’t easy to stomach. The public had no use for his 
 abstract expressionist paintings. They were too big for most walls. He’d be a has-been, 
except he never was. 

Uncle Dudley’s letter was still in his pocket. It said, “Come home to run the restaurant, or it’s going on the block February 1st. It’s time you should make a living, 
already. Either way, Rebus, I’m retiring." Could Rebus leave Key West? 
Face real winters?

 The temporary life of the aspiring artist/bartender/cab driver is better suited to the young Turk, still waiting for his ship to come in. Meanwhile, this old Turk hadn’t had a new idea in years. His opinion was stale. Out of schemes, Rebus sighed, polished off his beer and reached for another.

Dudley’s ultimatum. This was his ship coming in? After all the years of sweat and turpentine it looked more like a dinghy.

Like so many before him, Rebus had believed that once he finally got old enough to dwell on anything other than getting laid, his serious work would inevitably emerge.

On the road in South Carolina, he could see the plain truth. The artist scheme might have gotten more traction if he’d been half as talented as he’d been horny ... and maybe if he'd made smaller paintings.

--  Art and copy by F.T. Rea