Icarus Transfigured by m. l. teague (page 44)

Next Back Contents Home

Chapter Eighteen

The Two-Legged Easel, Excerpts from Daedalus Monet’s autobiography:

(10.4) Most people take colors for granted, yet their peculiar nature is easily demonstrated: If one were obliged to describe the experience of green in language, it would be impossible. It is a tautology: green is green. It is the color of tree leaves. Tree leaves are green in color. One can explain green in terms of other greens, or light waves, or almost being blue, but none of this makes sense to a person whose only experience of the world is in shades of grey. That one experiences green is true, but to call it a shade of grey is a lesser truth bordering on outright falsehood. There are no apt words to touch its beauty, but it is true even if it cannot be talked about.

Wittgenstein told us the unsayable alone has genuine value.

(10.5) And yet, when does the color green become teal?

In logic one finds the paradox of sorites, which is where one concept indeterminably becomes another. That is, where the color green, little by little, becomes the color teal. Though both ideas (green and teal) are readily graspable as facts, the fixed point where one begins and another ends does not exist. If the Devil dwells in the details, then it is in the unfinished business of in-between.

         In-Betweenness

Aloysius sat in the front room while a police officer talked to Emma in the hallway. Two officers in his hearing shared untoward details. “A tape of her pleasuring herself in the midget’s VCR…”

The painter’s febrile brain swelled. He could not put a single fact to what he saw during the evening, yet the image of a woman, so engaged, was burned indelibly in his mind. In meeting Jacques at Spyglass Darkly House the night before, he left the impression there was more to his estranged acquaintance with the photographer than was freely confessed.

An officer peeked at the message tally on the phone machine and, suspecting Aloysius was eavesdropping, kept his remark to a fellow officer serviceably brief. “Leave it for the detective.”

Another car pulled up outside. It was Seth Bowles, and it was more than the dejected suitor could endure to see the professor in the apartment.

“What’s your connection, here?” the officer asked the new arrival.

Seth puffed up. “I’m a good friend.”

The same officer turned to Aloysius and said, “You’re free to go.”

It was the painter’s opportunity to leave, but the professor blocked his way. “It must be terrible for her,” ventured Seth.

Aloysius nodded, not wanting to speak for fear any embellishment would provoke more questions.

“Emma tells me you’re a painter,” the older man probed. “Where did you do your MFA?”

It was an odd topic at such a moment, but was answered. “Indiana University.”

“A good program, then?”

Aloysius responded to the insincere approval of his school choice. “The only thing that matters as an artist is having something to say.”

“Do you exhibit anywhere?” pressed the rival. “Do you exhibit in Chicago?”

“Did.”

“Did?” he repeated. “Did you run out of things to say?”

The receiver of this pert remark was unscathed. Though Aloysius was timid around authority figures, they never impressed him. With few exceptions he found the exemplars of academe to be middlebrows who trafficked in fashionable, off-the-shelf opinions; and it galled him such men were lionized by kingmakers and sycophants marginally less clever than themselves.

A police officer stepped between the two and asked the professor to move his car blocking the drive. Before Seth returned outside to comply, he spoke honestly to the painter. “We have more in common than you imagine.”

The moment did not afford time for in-depth character appraisals, for in wanting to spare himself further humiliation, Aloysius aimed in the same direction as his rival; Emma’s pitiful look caught him at the door. Swallowing his pride, he took the fingers offered him; their pained attitude seeped into his palm. Her head found his shoulder, although the awkward embrace made her resemble a board threatening splinters.

“Are you leaving?” she asked.

He cobbled together a reply. “I feel I need to.”

There was a pause on her end—a disappointed pause. “If you must.”

“It’s for the best.” His proclamation felt more like a dispassionate assessment of the situation than a grudging sacrifice of his wishes.

Her response was haggard. “This obsession thing with Jacques. It’s more than I can deal with.”

“What Jacques did—it was about him. Not you.”

Emma sighed. “Why is it all the wrong men fall in love with me?”

Aloysius assumed he was just another wrong man, and resented the unsolicited rejection. He dropped his arms to release her, in relief. “I must be going.”

Seth’s reappearance at the door was enough to send him hobbling down the steps outside.

He slowed on spotting Harrod Pincher on the sidewalk below; the accompanying officers parted like the sea on seeing him approach. The detective stood erect in a greeting. “Ah! Mr. Gauge! You’ve been in our hamlet but three days and I’ve seen you as many times.” Affecting a pose, his gaze rose to where the professor was still visible in the doorway above. “Clinging too long to youth is a sin, wouldn’t you agree, sir?”

Aloysius felt the pointy end of this remark, too. He was in no humor for a second sparring partner, so turned huffing up the block. A smirking fellow with a microphone came running at him from an open van across the street. “What does the death of the midget have to do with the woman in this house?”

“No comment.”

He persisted. “The police say they found scads of sex tapes in his trailer. Are you one of the guys on the videos?”

“What?”

The reporter explained, “I’ve heard she’s had a hundred men.” He crowed, glaring at a cameraman. “Are you getting this?”

Aloysius, dropping into his Saturn, bristled. “No comment!”

He was halfway down the block before realizing the news van kept pace.

Scene: Speeding onto Broadway, an opportune crowd of crunchy granola-types bustled outside the doors of Bean and Nothingness with placards protesting the use of dairy products inside the establishment. One sign read, “Stop the Enslavement of Cows”; another, “Drink Soy”.

Despite their pleas, the coffeehouse was in the middle of a rush. The absconder traded his car for the cover of the mob, thereby losing the pesky news van. Reflex more than relief had him queuing for coffee, though he was late remembering that Erica covered Emma’s shift.

The barista wanted an update. “How’s Emma?”

“Okay.”

“Did the police kick you out?”

“No.”

“So you left her to the wolves?”

“Seth is with her,” he mumbled.

“Seth?”

(Aloysius forgot about the three-way nature of the relationship.)

“You should take some coffee to her,” she insisted.

Erica, the patron reasoned, did not want Emma alone with Seth, and was attempting to employ him as a wedge. He resented being used as a fourth leg on a table in which he shared no part. Before she commenced the second drink, he blurted, “I’m not going back.”

Erica noted his terseness. “Are you so busy today?”

He did not answer when any answer would have ended the conversation.

She took the non-reply the way he intended. “What kind of person bails on a friend in her hour of need?”

He threw it back without thinking. “More of a friend to her than you.”

Erica was pulled up short by the retort. “What the hell does that mean?”

“I saw the professor and you at the party.”

Squinting out from under layers of mascara, she puzzled, “What makes you think Emma and I are such good friends, anyway?”

He shared in her bafflement. “You came to lunch with us.”

The girl almost laughed. “I did that as a favor. She was trying to set me up with you.”

Aloysius could not hide his disapproval of the notion.

Erica circled her wagons, too. “You’re not my type, either.”

He faded from the counter without his drink, careening in the direction of the door and crowded sidewalk.

Chapter Eighteen. Section Two/ Back/ Contents Page