The Different Shades of Light
in the museum. This was clearly marked on a sign at the door, but
what about simple logic! Simple logic should have told the old
man that he couldn’t sit on the bench, cutting his pear into quarters,
and stare at that painting. He had sat in that same spot yesterday
afternoon as well.
the security guard, frowned and stepped forward. As he strode towards
the bench, the old man raised his arm and pointed to the painting.
He spoke as though he and the security guard were old friends.
ever seen such a beautiful woman?” he asked. “The more I look at
her the more I see.”
not eat in the museum,” Manuel said, fingering his badge.
are explosive,” the old man continued, popping a pear quarter into
his mouth and talking between chews. “Voluptuous.”
his throat. “May I remind you, Sir, that eating is not allowed
in the museum?”
man nodded, closed his knife and put it into the pocket of his trousers.
He wrapped the remains of the pear in a handkerchief and put it
into the same pocket. He sighed. “She is so lovely. You know,
I was married for 47 years, and never once would Esther have allowed
me to look at her body this way.”
at the painting that spread out over three canvasses and covered
the entire southeast wall. Her blue head took up most of one canvas,
with her enormous orange and yellow breasts and pink belly occupying
the second. Her legs, fading from deep blue into purple, stretched
out to her tiny lilac feet. She was curling her toes.
“It is very
bright,” Manuel said, and turned to go back to his post.
“As it should
be,” the old man said. “Would you care for a pear?”
back to the old man. From out of nowhere, another pear had appeared
in one hand, with the knife poised in the other, ready to slice.
here yesterday,” Manuel said. “Eating an apple.”
man nodded. “Esther loved to visit museums. But it all seemed
so dead to me – dead pictures by dead artists.” He shrugged. “Now
Esther is dead, and suddenly the pictures are alive.”
an eye on the paring knife still hovering above the pear. “Your
wife passed away recently?”
for further details, but none were forthcoming. “I’m sorry,” he
said. “I’ve never been married, myself.”
man seemed to perk up at this. “Really? Then it would be easy
for you to fall in love with Larissa.”
man pointed towards the painting with the hand that held the pear.
tell me her name. A woman full of secrets.” He winked. “So I’ve
given her one myself. She is easy to fall in love with, don’t you
closer to the old man, glancing back towards his post. There were
no other guests at the museum.
you should take some fresh air. Eat your pear out of doors.”
He looked towards the painting and shrugged. “I’m not much for
modern art myself.”
man nodded and continued. “Esther was always on a diet. Why would
an old woman diet? What did she care? What did I care? Now look
at Larissa. You could get lost in all that ripe flesh.”
man slid the knife cleanly into the pear. Manuel looked at the
the detail,” the old man said. “Her legs, parted just enough to
give you a glimpse of the life between them, eh? And those breasts,
what do you say? Imagine diving between them, suckling like a babe.”
Larissa’s protruding red nipples and blushed as he felt himself
stir inside his trousers.
man popped a piece of pear into his mouth. “She speaks to you,
of the afternoon, Manuel avoided looking at the painting. Yet as
he took his supper in the café down the street from his one-room
apartment, he was surprised at how easy it was to talk with her.
She sat across from him and leaned forward on her lime green elbows,
her head cocked to one side as she told him about the comments she’d
received at the museum that day. Holding her close in bed that
night, he spoke of love, and finally, imagining her plump fingers
dancing over him, of lust.
day, Manuel overslept, dreaming he lay gripped between milky purple
thighs while he suckled at firm yellow-orange breasts. At work,
the old man waited, peeling an orange, the peel curling into his
lap. Manuel hurriedly pinned his badge on his jacket lapel, and
for a moment felt embarrassed at his behavior the previous evening.
Was she not, after all, only a painting? He stood with his
back to her.
the old man called. “Would you like a piece of my orange?”
and approached the bench. He sat down next to the old man, and
both of them looked at Larissa.
life is over,” the old man snapped his fingers, “just that quick.”
Manuel a piece of his orange. Manuel inhaled the pungent scent,
touched it to the tip of his tongue and took a bite.