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Lyubomir Nikolov


I was roaming the basements near the Arts Academy, looking for David. From the depths of smelly holes pretending to be art galleries, chubby saleswomen shrugged me off. "Oh, David isn't here. Nobody has seen him since that woman butchered his canvasses.", said one. "Who knows, he may even be dead", opinionated another. Nobody knew a thing.

I was searching for David because a friend of mine wished to buy his paintings with the cross-eyed child. The very ones Sonya destroyed with a knife. Every one here knew the story - every painter, every one who sheltered in the basements, every saleswoman's lover heard it and passed it along further. During the second day after David's exibition opened, Sonya had sneaked into the gallery and cut to pieces the paintings with the cross-eyed child. It was their child with David, she said to everybody, and most of the paintings were of her and the child. Sonya hugging the baby, or breastfeeding him, or pulling his hair, and even holding the child upside down by his feet. The baby was about a year and a half old, intelligent, with sharp, penetrating eyes. Eyes like fish-hooks - biting, drilling, never letting go. But the baby was cross-eyed. Just a little bit cross-eyed, Sonya thought, but in David's paintings there was a horribly cross-eyed child, painted without a trace of love, coldly, as if it was a mere object composition (still life?), say, a carcass of a rabbit next to a bottle of Burgundy in a basket. When Sonya saw the old gallery guard napping on his chair, she quickly took out a scalpel, ripped the paintings, and ran away. The guard did not even wake up.

The next day David went to the gallery and started stitching up the remains. He sewed them coarsely with a needle and tread, the way one repairs an old canvass sack, not art. Now the baby looked even worse - looking more like a patient after brain surgery. The coarse stitches made mother and child ugly and painful, not a happy family, but people going through terrible suffering, broken down, like begging wanderers. But the public started paying more attention to the restored paintings. People started asking who the child was, they were strangely attracted. Determined to prevent new damage, David hired more security. He instructed the guards by showing the paintings to them: they had to watch out for the woman depicted. Had to remember her face, so as to be able to recognize the real woman, if she came again. Then the stupidest guard asked "And the kid? Are we to watch out for the kid too?"

"What a douchebag!", snapped David, "The baby barely walks yet and isn't mine."



© Lyubomir Nikolov
© Vesselin Vesselinov, C. Hasbrouck, translated
© Електронно списание LiterNet, 01.09.2010, № 9 (130)