Meridith Gresher


The remnants of pensive Jonah are akin to a buy from his used book shop, perhaps a bit moldy, some brittleness, a mark or two from other hands. The pensive produces sleep that fills his mind with abstractions he will later paint while his room bathes him in the scents of licorice and mothballs. Jonah wakes asking, "Why must I give up Monte Carlo?" to a wall, bridal gown white, satiny if dusty of his one bedroom apartment.

He has dreamed for thirty-seven years of a James Bond type tuxedo custom made. Classic black tie: current cost estimated at five thousand dollars. He sees himself standing near the craps table having not yet bought in but surveying, Cuban cigar upon the air with and the taste of Cognac on his tongue.

Jonah tips his right hand off the bed and shakes it to stimulate a bit of circulation. Only quarter till eight. He'll draw for an hour refusing to believe he is not immune. The idea of diabetes bothers more than the pain of poor circulation or his weakening vision. His thoughts return to Bond and the girls of Bond.

He floats his memory to "You Only Live Twice" and deposits the eye of Tsai Ching's "Ling" while the mane of her back-teased hair becomes a wintry, engulfing sea engulfing. Jonah masks her image as she was only seen in the pre-credit sequence. He feels akin and inspired by the minor characters drawing and painting them into his oils.

No one notices the Bond motifs in each painting not even those rare individuals who buy Jonah's work for a paltry fee Saturdays at the flea market when the owner lets him set a display outside in exchange for ten pecent of the profits. No commitment on rental space. Most days Jonah goes home with nothing but the pleasure of salt pretzels dipped in mustard that the owner, Phil, sells at his concession stand.

Jonah bundles up his oils at the flea market only to place them down on the floor of what he calls his common room. He spreads them out like a giant jigsaw puzzle in the barren room with the bridal white if dusty walls that smell, too, of mothballs and licorice. In the far corner near the double French doors to his small balcony sits easel and paints. On the easel sits a painting of a man dressed in a tuxedo with his top two shirt buttons and bowtie undone.

The man curls over, nearly fetal, hunched toward a giant fire that burns with images of small paintings. The man sits in the belly of a whale. Jonah crosses to the painting and stares at it while images of "Live and Let Die's Solitaire" come to the foreground of his thoughts. "Why must I give up Monte Cristo?" he says to the painting as he slashes deep indigo across it obliterating both the whale and the man inside. Jonah, a man in the sea of his paintings, enveloped in the belly of his bridal white room.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Wonderful imagery and character