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(Editor’s Note: This piece is the winner of a Creative Writing Challenge issued by Queen Valerie Bordeau. The citizens of the Kingdom of Paidalot were invited to create a written work of their choosing using the following search words:. Old Gray Mare, Fukushima, Artistic Licensing, Flash Gordon, art boutique firm and Polaroid). Winner gets first posting on the KOP blog (and a link for their portfolio). Congratulations to Lauren Ball for submitting the following creative piece. Enjoy!)
The year was 2026, and I was running a successful art boutique firm in lower Manhattan. It was my dream job. My company did exclusive buys for the rich and famous, and I was in high demand. This had to be due to my artistic licensing and my ability to charm the socks off of my clients by never leaving a buyer unhappy! So, it was a Tuesday, around eleven, and in walks Michelle Obama. I looked up over my readers to see what all the activity was.
“Hello darling,” she rang out. “I’m looking for a few pieces, and I simply know you are the only one to help me dear!”
“Michelle, what a surprise!” I stood up and listened attentively. “I want a painting of Fukushima,” she began. “You know, right after the disaster. It needs to be graphic, and it should show depictions of the tsunami, as well as the evacuations of hundreds of people leaving their homes. Oh, and that one famous image of the huge billows of smoke and flames emanating from the reactors, it needs to include those too. I’m going to give that one to Malia.” She strutted through the gallery with an evil smile from ear to ear.
“For Sasha, I‘d like the artist to depict Flash Gordon,” she continued. “Only, I want him to be holding the severed head of Korea’s Kim Jong Un, dripping with blood, the corpse on the ground beneath him clad in nothing but a pink tutu.” She laughed and rolled her eyes.
“The last thing you need to know, is that I came to you expecting that my privacy will be held in the highest regard. I know these works may seem bizarre and even offensive to some people, but we are a quite intricate family. Let’s just say, we have our own brand of humor.” She came in close and gave me a threatening look. “Yes ma’am, you’ve got it”, I answered.
As she headed out, I sat there and cringed. Is this what art has come to? I know some of my clients had strange requests, but I couldn’t judge when they were paying top dollar for what they wanted.
I commissioned an artist and oversaw the two works fully through development. But I was nervous about Michelle’s reaction. Would she be satisfied with the work? This could really damage my reputation if she were to be unhappy. I had included everything she asked for, so I just had to go on my experience and track record. I decided to personally deliver the art to Michelle, along with a fifty-year-old bottle of Merlot. Surely being the wine connoisseur that she was, (or drunk as the rumor went) the bottle would be the icing on the cake for her!
The day the art arrived at my boutique, I had them carefully wrapped and followed the delivery van to Michelle’s vacation home in the Hampton’s. I called to let her know I was on my way, and her excitement grew my anxiety to new proportions. “Let yourselves in,” she had said. “We’ll likely be on the beach”.
When we arrived, the house seemed empty. I instructed Manuel, my trusted employee, to unload the van and bring the paintings into the house. Just then, as we stood in the foyer, we heard a bit of commotion coming from the back of the house.
In the backyard on top of an old gray mare sat Barack, stark naked, with a purple boa around his neck and a cigar in his mouth. Michelle stumbled around with some Polaroids in one hand, and a martini glass in the other. She too was naked except for the camera which hung around her neck betwixt her sagging raisin-like breasts. I felt heat roll over my body. I was embarrassed and turned quickly grabbing Manuel by the wrist and yelling out, “My apologies, I thought I was expected!”
“Wait, wait, wait,” she followed me yelling, and throwing on a robe. “Come back!” she commanded. I stopped but didn’t turn around. “I…I just thought you confirmed earlier that I was coming, Michelle. I brought the art you commissioned.” She tripped over the bottom corner of her robe as she pursued me. Hitting the floor hard, she let out a deep roaring laughter. “The art I commissioned?” she laughed.
Now turned around, I glanced beyond Michelle only to see Barack now attempting a sexual act with the old gray mare. I just wanted to get out of there. Michelle laid on the floor in the same spot, laughing uncontrollably and rocking from side to side while repeating “Art, Art” in between fits of laughter.
“Okay, there’s your art, I’m leaving now.” Manuel and I ran to our vehicles. I had never found myself in such a cantankerous or awkward position. What people do behind closed doors is their business, but I wanted no part of that scene. Driving back, I was confused. How am I to get paid? What about paying the artists? It appeared that she had no recollection of her request for the artwork. Now I had delivered questionable artwork to a powerful family, and had no idea how she will react to the unwrapped product, or what it could cost my reputation.
The next week was awful. I bit all my nails off. I paced and obsessed over the dilemma. Then, on Wednesday afternoon, a flower service delivered a beautiful bouquet with a note attached.
It read, “Dear Lauren, These two paintings are absolutely winners. I don’t know how you do it, but you really know what I like; it’s almost as if I told you what I wanted painted. The wine was exquisite. Anyhow, enclosed is a check, make it out to whatever is fair, I trust you. -Michelle.”
My feeling of anxiety lifted and I was able to relax for the first time in days. I closed the shop and decided to take a two week vacation. Sometimes this job is not all it’s cracked up to be, I thought.