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“Wonderful!” Alexi said excitedly while hugging his equipment close to his chest. The easel and canvases were getting heavier every day, but he wouldn’t stop painting no matter the aching pains in his back and knees! Alexi finally found the spot in the city he was looking for. The little park that would be lit by the rising sun in only a few more moments.

               He excitedly set up his easel, roughly placing his new canvas on the wooden tripod. In his haste, his paints fell out onto the ground rolling every which way. He pulled out his pallet and began quickly mixing paints, grabbing what he needed from the unorganized mess below him. The buildings near the park began to illuminate with the morning sunshine.

               “Perfection,” Alexi whispered as he closed his eyes to take in the context of his masterpiece. His nose twitched, catching the smell of freshly cut grass from the night before. A gentle wave of stench crawled to him as the breeze picked up and the overflowing garbage cans’ contents made themselves known. “Oh my,” Alexi said, making a note to omit the disgusting trash from his masterpiece.

               His ears perked when he began to hear the footsteps and laughter of children as they approached the park’s small playground. It was the only park anywhere near the business district, and on a beautiful Saturday like today, all the children of the CEOs came to play with their nannies. Even the nasty little Jonathan couldn’t break his will today. Not on a perfect day like this. He will ignore the jabs from the little riffraff.

               The brush began to move as if of its own free will. Alexi was but a simple vessel for the artistic gods that used him as a conduit of expression. His smile widened as he blended the color of the green grass with the tan colors of the buildings to mark his trademark transitional style.

               Jonathan said some sort of insult, but Alexi pretended not to notice. The rest of the children played blissfully while Alexi painted. Finishing with the grass and buildings, Alexi decided to immortalize the children in this painting. Even nasty little Jonathan, though he may appear slightly chubbier and with more crooked teeth.

               His smile grew so wide that you’d expect his cheeks to be engulfed by it. He was done, the work was complete. It had style, it had lighting, it had color, and most importantly it had life.

               “It’s a Masterpiece!” Alexi proclaimed. Though his joy was cut short when he saw one of the children playing with a large red kickball. He thought that the ball would give his masterpiece even more life. Suddenly his work was incomplete and he scrambled looking for the red paint.

               He finally spotted the red tube laying a few feet away. “You little devil,” he swore at the rogue painting tube. He reached down, his old bones cracking and popping hundreds of times it seemed. Finally he reached the little red rebel and gave it a glower. He slowly rose back upright, making sure nothing actually cracked on the way back up.

               “What a stupid drawing!” He heard the familiar nasty voice of Jonathan proclaiming his own review of Alexi’s great work. Alexi began to protest but was frozen in pain as he watched the young, nasty boy, knock his painting down into the dirt.

               Jonathan stuck his tongue out and laughed as he ran back to the playground. Alexi lost feeling in his knees for a second and had to quickly grab a nearby railing to keep from falling. He knew the paint hadn’t set yet. His masterpiece was ruined. “Oh my,” Alexi lamented as he looked down at his ruined painting.

               He threw himself a little pity party before resigning yet another piece on top of that overflowing waste bin. He chuckled at the irony. Perhaps it was fate that the only piece of the park that he didn’t capture in his masterpiece, would be its eventual home. He would have to be more honest to his subject next time.

***

               Alexi continued on with his morning. Stopping at his normal bagel stand and even buying a newspaper from Ollie. He had no intention of reading the thing, but knew Ollie needed the patronage.

               After a few more hours of walking he came to his next site. The next perfect visage in his mind. The artistic gods have spoken, that park was a trick. This place, however, is the spot he was meant to be. He closed his eyes again and felt the gentle breeze hit his face. He reveled in the cold salt water misting over him every few seconds as the ocean waves gently rolled against the beach.

               Dogs barking, music playing, and food trucks yelling their specials to potential customers filled the air of the beach side. Alexi hugged his equipment again. This time he could feel it. This will be his true masterpiece.

               He placed his easel into the sand, digging it deep as he thought back to rotten little. The easel settled firmly into place, Alexi gave it a few sideways tugs to test. Nice and secure he decided. Pulling out a new canvas from his large bag, that was more like a tarp with various crossings of rope, he settled in once again to begin his work.

               He took great care this time to gently take out his paints. “No runaways this time,” he said sternly shaking a finger at the stack of inanimate coloring materials. They would listen this time, last time he was simply not stern enough.

               Mixing his paints, he took in the scene. A serine beach with an abundance of people and their dogs enjoying the sunlight and gentle ocean waves. A small rock formation in the distance would be his substance, something to ground the scene and give it more girth. The substance was always beautiful to Alexi. In his youth he would swim out to the formation that they called “Lover’s Rock” and spend all day with his wife Jane.

               He smiled as he reminisced about the old days, but quickly shook it away. He didn’t have all day to catch the beach with this lighting. The sun was setting and the colors were perfectly spread over the afternoon sky.

               The first stroke of the brush washed over the blank canvas, just like warmth washed over Alexi at that moment. The euphoric feeling of doing that thing he loves most. Athena herself was moving his hand along the canvas. His smile returned again as he blended the light blue of the sunlit ocean with the dark grey of the shadowy Lover’s Rock.

               He captured it all this time. He was not going to let fate take away another of his prized works. He painted the ocean, the sky, Lover’s Rock, the beach, the food carts, the people, and most importantly the dogs. Oh did he love those furry four legged marvels. They were so smart and so loyal.

               “It’s a Masterpiece!” He proclaimed again this day, as he finished the final stroke on what is surely the greatest painting he had ever done. He marveled at his work. From this close it was beautiful, but from a wider vantage point, he could really take it all in.

               He stood up and moved his stool back. “Yes,” he began breathlessly. “Perfection.” Alexi marveled so long at his painting he didn’t notice the dog beginning the chew on a rope from his backpack. A sound of sand shifting caught his attention and his eyes widened as a dog started to steal his backpack.

               “Oh, no! Bad dog!” He yelled as he grabbed the three other ends of rope and began to pull. He had one more canvas in there and wasn’t about to have his backpack stolen by a dog…again. “Give it back to me you little devil!” Alexi tugged as hard as he could but the dog was holding strong.

               “Rex! C’mere boy!” a booming voice called from a large pickup truck near the entrance. The dog immediately released the rope. Alexi’s relief was short lived as he lost his balance and began falling backwards. He landed hard against something, it gave a little bit, but was firmly planted in the ground and withheld his weight.

               To his horror, he turned to see a smeared painting sitting on top of a very sturdy easel. “Oh my,” Alexi lamented again as he took inventory of his misfortune. He slowly looked over his shoulder, pulling on the cloth to confirm that wet paint decorated his formerly white shirt.

               He let himself stand in dismay, but only for a moment. He had another canvas still, and more than enough time to create another masterpiece before the day was done. He quickly disposed of his most recently smeared work.

               He chuckled that his personal style was blending, but surely this was a little much.

***

            Darkness descended upon the city. After a few hours of walking from the beach, Alexi strolled along Main Street with his equipment. Two less canvases did a great job of alleviating the burden on his back. He past the final cross street before he saw his spot. The perfect spot in the whole city to see all the buildings with all their lights and the people walking all around.

            He smiled and channeled Athena once again, “Yes, this is it. I was wrong both times before, but now I can hear you.” He got a weird look by a tourist who was about to ask for directions, but wisely decided against it.

            He remembered working as a caricature artist, drawing all sorts of silly things for people. He certainly enjoyed that work but none of that could give him the fulfillment of being an avatar through which the gods expressed themselves to the people.

            With renewed vigor he set up his equipment. He even collected some hazard cones that were left by some lazy road crew and put them around his work area. “There would be no mistakes this time,” Alexi said out loud, garnering some strange looks by the pedestrians.

            “Alexi took in the sight before him, the wonderful colors of the buildings lit to attract all the big spenders. The people walking down the streets giving him a strange look,” Alexi smiled as the people around him gave him that matching strange look that he spoke up.

            The brush hit the canvas like a wave crashing against the stony shore. An explosion of inspiration and determination hit Alexi like never before. “In fact he knew, that before this moment he was but a naive worshiper of art. Now though, in this moment, he was a god.” Alexi’s outer monologue created an even wider birth than the orange traffic cones did.

            He captured it all, the lights, the cars, and most importantly the people. “It’s a Masterpiece!” Alexi declared as he marveled at his work once more. He stopped and searched around for a moment. He had a puzzled look on his face. 

            “It’s a Masterpiece!” he declared again. Again, nothing. Alexi couldn’t figure it out. 

            He scratched his head, “It’s a Masterpiece?” He asked one final time. No response again. He threw up his arms and quickly kicked the easel out from under the canvas. The painting hit the concrete leaving a small streak of paint where it had skidded along the sidewalk.

            Alexi smiled as he disposed of this latest creation. Cleaned up his supplies and walked back home to prepare for tomorrow. “After all, I will need more supplies to make masterpieces tomorrow.”

October 10, 2019 21:28

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