New Fiction - Permanent Exhibition

An essay by Mr. Vince DeMarsh, as provided by Dr. J. A. Grier
Art Amanda Jones

As an agent for eccentric artist-types, my life was unpredictable, but I had an eye for the kind of talent that made money. In fact, I was on the phone with some of that talent, and was getting more and more frustrated as the conversation continued. Trish was saying, “Vince you don’t understand. I can’t work. I mean it; it’s like my head is splitting open. I told you I’d be like this if it rained. I’m always like this when it rains.”

“You can’t take some aspirin?”

“No. Martin and I have tried absolutely every available treatment for my migraines and nothing works. Even the strongest prescription painkillers can’t cut through. We’ve tried acupuncture, homeopathy, supplements, allergy remedies, and all sorts of food intolerance tests. It’s making me nauseated just thinking about it. There is no solution other than waiting for the sun.”

“Given how much rain we’ve been having, I think that might not work.”

“I know. Listen. Bottom line is I might not have the paintings finished on time for the first exhibition.”

I got angry. “Trish, you are under contract–a very strict contract with substantial financial liability for both of us. You will fill that gallery show, and then the two shows afterwards, or neither of us will work in this city again.”

“Stop ranting; it’s making my head pound. I just need you to move the date by a week.”

“I can’t. We are locked in, both of us. So you absolutely will fill that gallery by opening night.” Then I softened my tone, thinking maybe that approach would be more effective. “Look. I know you have some older work. It’s not as fresh as your recent stuff, but between that and the pieces you’ve painted this spring I bet you can pull this together. Remember, this is the kind of opportunity that could make your career. Willmake your career.” It would make–or break–my career, too, but I didn’t say that.

Here was a long pause. Finally, she said, “Okay. I will manage somehow. I’m not missing this for anything. Anything.”

She hung up.

The rain hardly quit for the next two weeks. I called every few days to get an update, but the only person answering her phone was her husband Martin. He kept assuring me that the paintings would be ready to go on schedule. I was concerned, but I knew that Trish was ambitious, driven, and tenacious. So I wasn’t too surprised when, at the critical point, there were indeed enough pieces to pull off a show.

It was thankfully good weather that night as patrons filed in to view Trish’s pieces. Trish stood by, pale but smiling, answering questions and avoiding me. I was working the crowd.  I always kept shows casual but classy, with a drink and a handshake for everyone through the door. I had a great memory for names and faces, too.

But the act was a struggle tonight. The art was good, but not as stunning as I’d hoped. I knew she was capable of a great deal more than this, which is why I had agreed to this gamble in the first place.

After all the patrons had left, I grabbed a bottle from the bar and poured myself another glass of wine. I went up to Trish and Martin. “Well, a passable opening here overall. A few pieces sold, but, Trish, this is not what I’ve come to expect from you.”

She frowned. “I’m more disappointed than you are, I guarantee it.”

“Maybe. If you sell a few more pieces over the next two weeks while the art is on display, then that will help. But the financial outlay for these three exhibitions is considerable, as you are well aware. Either we pack them in for the next two shows or we take a big loss. Your contract–”

Martin spoke, irritated with me. “Yes, we are well aware, Vince.”

I was not going to be derailed, and continued to address Trish. “Can you guarantee me a better second show?”

“If it stops raining, then yes.”

I turned to Martin. “There really is nothing you haven’t tried?”

“That’s right.”

I rubbed my chin then shrugged. “Well, it’s only our careers on the line. Let me know if there is anything I can do between now and July.”

They both gave me a sour look. Martin said, “Find a cure for migraines.”

With that, we went our own ways. For a week it was fine, the sun was shining and reports from Trish were that she was working pretty steadily, and she liked the results.

Then it started raining again.

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