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February 17, 2015 Fiction

Autumn Rhythm

Jimmy Chen

Autumn Rhythm photo

The Abstract Expressionist's jeans were covered in paint marks, which he wore down the sidewalk towards the cafe with the hurried gait of someone deeply preoccupied with a current piece, who really wanted to get back to it, however tentatively derailed by his need for some coffee. He was also a bit lonely, and wanted to see her face, to whose residual semblance he planned on masturbating that night. Tiny palette knife marks, distributed randomly in the refuse of extra paint, over the course of many paintings, arbitrarily developed into a harmonious field of vision, in contrast to the actual painting he was working on. Did it bother him that his jeans looked better than his painting? Yes. Was he attune to the grim irony of late modernism, how ugliness veiled itself as profundity? Yes. And did it bother him that his parents still paid a notable portion of his rent, which always incurred a monologue by his father about how much of a mistake it was to major in art? Yes.

He entered the cafe and scoffed at the lyrical nudes on the wall, how attributes of the female body tended to morph into local topographies such as hills and trees, likely painted by a borderline woman who envisioned herself the subject of her work, and whose perceived atomic connection to the earth was mostly delusional. The Abstract Expressionist stood in line holding his last five dollar bill, looking over the shoulder of the current customer, into the barista's face. It was hard not to imagine Jackson Pollock's tendrils of paint haphazardly flung across her face in the fashion of the pornographic "money shots" to which he achieved orgasm, mainly in the kitchen (the wifi in his room was shoddy), in the precarious hours, at times minutes, imminent to his roommate's return from work.

He ordered a dry cappuccino, its foam most tedious to render, to prolong his time at the counter with the barista, whose face at this point resembled one of Pollock's many indistinguishable masterpieces from the early '50s. Did he engage in rhetorically incidental yet flirty chatter with the lovely barista? No. Did it bother him that his only erotic recourse that evening would be to pretend masterpiece on her face? Yes. And did the barista have a rugged yet sensitive boyfriend, and was she the kind of woman who, feminism aside, liked to be "dick slapped" across the face by his meaty dong, and were such recurring nightmares, as offered in the form of masochistic daydreams, in the mind of our aspiring painter actually true, and wouldn't that be worse, that the seemingly benign world at large could bear the manifestation of one's psychotic nightmares? Yes.

The Abstract Expressionist, now back in his paternally subsidized studio, hearing the docent describing his painting fade into the distant roar which brings a brittle leaf to his pane, squeezes out a massive thick load of titanium white, trying to cover up the gross and unyielding images before him.