It was the big day. Not for me but for the artist, J_. Both the frantic work done by my girlfriend D_ and the tenacious orders dictated by J_’s mother B_ was accelerating sequentially by the hour. The minutes till showtime ticked away as my mental state descended from mild irritation to the genuine feeling that I was trapped; being held hostage against my will by the housewives of the Hudson Valley. Hippies who apparently didn’t smoke weed or have sex; “empowered” women fueled by the money made by their husbands; the blood sweat and tears of J_’s father. For the purposes of this story he will be known as B_J_.
I have yet to tell you about this man. I can’t say I know him well, much less at all beyond a few words exchanged. My observations told me enough. You see, he had made a modest fortune with his Brooklyn-Polish work ethic through a construction company he built from scratch. This enabled B_ to buy pieces of art galleries and belittle ne’er do well bums like myself.
We were going over to the gallery early and I was damn near out of my mind. As unhappy as I was at J_’s place, at least it had the comforts of home. It was early afternoon and we were going to be stuck in this gallery until God knows what time at night. I tried to think of things I could do to occupy myself for the four hours until the show started.
After reaching the gallery I immediately noticed that it sat adjacent to a set of old train tracks. I was at least thankful that this gallery housed in an old library was close enough to town so that it was an easy walk. I walked down the railroad tracks like some hobo; a Brooklyn bum ostracized and cast out from the pack. I began to consider how much of this was my imagination and how much was real.
I walked through the town of W_. I admired the wood frame houses near Main Street; these were honest homes. Modest and minimally ornamented but elegant and solid like a good woman with the character that skilled craftsmanship leaves behind. Why can’t today’s developers build this kind of housing for working people? I stopped in a modern looking pizza place in a strip mall near the railroad tracks. As I was sitting there I inadvertently made eye contact with a few curious, way too young girls from town.
In walks a man in a camouflage military uniform. The jail bait girls turn in their booths to take notice. Our relatively close proximity to Stewart Airport and West Point made this probably not an uncommon occurrence. I ate my slice of pizza, people watched for a few and decided to head back.
I got back to the gallery just as J_’s photo exhibit was being set up. I asked if they needed any help hanging pictures and again the answer was “no”. I thought to myself that this must be how disabled veterans feel.