Art Was Everything...
This once masterpiece of carefully sculpted medium now looks like just a lump of clay. My endless hours of painting using my color wheel, negative space and the best brushes possible look no better than a toddlers try at finger painting under the influence of a candy bar.
My modest art gallery cannot compete with the other glitzy ones that are on the safer and more upscale side of D.C. The others offer shiny marble floors; I offer pitted, rough concrete; they offer bright state of the art lighting; I offer outdated track lighting with buzzing noises; they have air conditioning during this hot summer; I offer two loose ceiling fans and a window air unit that is unreliable; they offer lavish art shows with wine and caviar; I can barely afford bottles of soda and chips. So as you see there is no competition. Sometimes it's hard getting ahead without having money, but I have to keep plugging away.
My hole in the wall gallery is easily dismissed as a second hand chicken shack and blends perfectly with the grafitti lined neighborhood. I have been meaning to spruce up the place, but who will notice? I open my gallery six days a week starting at 4:00p.m. and ending around 9:00p.m. I have to work as a waiter during the day just to be able to afford the rent of my gallery and my art supplies. I can’t afford a car so I take the bus; I can’t afford my own apartment…so I live in the gallery and use the storage area as my art studio; I can’t even afford to frame my paintings. Without the support of my family, I am what you call a real starving artist.
Three weeks later….
It has been eight days since I had a person of interest. A person of interest is someone who comes in to actually look at my work and have some jingle in their pockets. Not the ones who try to hustle me, get me to baby sit their kid while they run across to the market, or scout out the place to rob.
Here I am coasting off a Wi-fi signal from the tenants who live upstairs…I always smell those empanadas, they remind me of what real food smells like. They sometimes pitty me and throw me down a burnt one. Anyway, I have two hours left until I close. I had no one come in today, not even someone just to pester me. I feel depressed….
“What’s the use…I’m wasting money on electricity to stay open… I think it’s time to close early tonight”, I whine to myself.
I click my laptop to sleep mode, turn on the store’s phone answering machine and get ready to shut down the lights.
No sooner than I leave the safety of my counter, a young boy walks in. He does not look a day past twelve, I have to say I don’t take him seriously. You know at any moment this out of place character could pull a hand gun or knife on me…hey crazier things have happened.
My eyes follow the boy’s every move…I try not to look obvious…he may try to steal my jade blown glass marbles that freely rest on a table made of bubble textured scarlet glass.
“I can see why the web lists you last under fine art galleries in D.C”, the boy speaks with the most discerning voice.
My temper is trying to surface. It's bad enough I might lose my gallery as early as next month if I can’t make the rent. Who is this little boy anyway? What made him so special?
“They always save the best for last”, the boy smiled back at me, paying me an unexpected compliment.
The boy is different than most kids his age… he has a sharp eye for detail and is interested, but where are his parents? Did he just decide to stroll down twilight alley alone in search of the next Picasso?
“How old are you? If you don’t mind me asking”, I ask the oddly mature Asian boy wearing little round glasses with his dark thin hair parted across his forehead. He also sports a miniature suit with a cool blue shirt and snappy grey dragon tie.
“I will turn eleven soon”, the boy quickly answers like it does'nt matter.
“What’s your name?”, I ask him.
“I'm not allowed to give you my name”, the boy speaks.
“I get it…you’re street smart…that’s perfectly fine”, I speak while glancing down at Sunday’s paper.
“We talk art…okay?”, the boy speaks like he is proposing a business deal.
“Whatever you want Sir”, I speak addressing him with sensitive respect.
“This painting is very captivating…what medium did you use?”, the boy asks.
“Oils”, I respond
“What about this one?”, the boy pointed.
“Acrylic”, I answer.
I am forgetting his age…he is so precise…so engaging…I can only wonder in nail biting curiosity…who is this kid?
Suddenly four husky men barge into the gallery all wearing ear peices and sunglasses. They are tall, intimidating and well dressed.
Maybe this kid is part of the mafia? Maybe he is someone important?", I question to myself.
“Sir…we must leave now before we all get into trouble”, one of the men orders.
“But I want to stay a little longer, I really want to see more of his work”, the little boy challenges.
“We should of never allowed this…say goodbye…it will be a while until your next public outing”, another man mumbles while holding his ear piece and whispering something into it.
“Thank you for everything”, the boy speaks while lowering his head and allowing the men to escort him out of the gallery.
A few weeks have gone by and even though I have a bit more traffic, sold a sculpture and am earning good tips… the gallery is slipping through my fingers. The steep rise in rent is killing me, an affordable art supply company I rely on is going out of business and my visit to the ER for a high fever…is taking it’s toll on my already tight wallet. I pray everyday for a miracle to save my art, my passion, my life. I'm drowning in heavy paint swirled with infinite expenses.
Today I shuffle through piles of junk mail and discover that there is a registered envelope for me to pick up at the post office. It said it needs a witnessed signature with three forms of ID.
“What now!”, I gripe while falling apart.
I walk five blocks on my day off to retrieve this “mystery envelope”.
I open the envelope and inside is another medium sized dark purple envelope with a silver seal on it…royalty crossed my mind.
“What is this?”, I ask myself…I knew this was unlike anything I had ever received…well besides that court order I received once…well that’s a different story.
I gently tear the envelope open to reveal a stiff pearly white invitation with fancy writing on it….the invitation reads…
Dear Sir Neil Fink:
You are cordially invited to the White House for a birthday dinner on Saturday, July 13th 2013 at seven thirty in the evening. We are not entertaining guests at this time so please be aware you will be the only one permitted. Please bring with you three forms of ID and dress formally. I will be calling you to confirm your attendance, thank you.
To President Barack Obama
My first impulse is to believe this is fake. I am expecting co-workers to confess about their prank…but no one comes forward that they are involved in such mental horseplay.
I go about my business throughout the week, not really believing that I, out of all people…a virtually nobody am invited to the White House for a formal birthday party. I mean come on…didn’t they know about my petty record…well again that is for another time.
On Friday I get a call from the elusive Louise Kreb…Executive Secretary for the President. She wants to confirm my attendance.
“I don’t believe this is real…this has to be a joke…who put you up to this?”, I question.
“It is true…you have been invited to a birthday party at the White House”, Louise calmly speaks…I can envision her smile from her meek, solid voice.
“How did I get invited?”, I ask.
“Why the birthday boy requested your attendance personally”, Louise graciously explains.
I am in shock…it had to be that little boy…he said he had a birthday soon and he did have four men that appeared to be secret service protecting him. But there are still questions…what does he have to do with President Obama? What did the little boy want from me?
I am wearing what I was instructed to wear…it cost me two days in tips. Louise instructed me that I would be picked up by secret service and escorted into the White House.
Louise was right…everything happened like clock work… right down to the last detail.
I feel so important for the first time in years…I also feel a thousand of butterflies wildly playing in my gut…I am going to meet the President!
Entering the White House is a joyous fear I cannot explain. Secret service leads me to the Formal Dining room, but to my surprise I am the only one there.
“I was expecting a gala with hundreds of people ballroom dancing and the president making his enterance by arriving in a helicopter, but it is quiet. I start to feel like I was directed to the wrong place for the wrong purpose”, I thought while circling the room for anybody that looked like a man of my stature.
“Am I in the right place?”, I squeak.
“Yes… please have a seat where you see your name on the table…we are still waiting on a few more guests”, a woman speaks from the kitchen.
I sit like I have swollen hemorrhoids; with great concentration on how to sit my bottom on such a painfully plush satiny rose colored cushion.
“You made it! I am so pleased!”, a voice laughs from behind me.
“It’s you!”, I say, but what is your name?”.
“My name is Kim Yin, adopted son to the President”, Kim speaks highly.
“I never heard of that in the news”, I note.
“It’s for my protection”, Kim reveals with a long hard stare.
“Of course…I understand your dilemma”, I acknowledge.
“Well Kim some of the other guests are running a bit behind…do you want to ask Mr. Fink your question”, a distinguished voice asks while walking into the large room.
It was him…President Barack Obama in the flesh, in his dining room, in the White House.
“Good evening Mr. President”, I barely peep out.
“It’s good to finally meet you Mr. Fink…Kim tells me that you are a very fine artist”, Barack speaks while shaking my pale limp hand.
“I’m okay…I guess”, I say.
“You don’t have to be humble with me son…if Kim thinks your work is amazing…then I’m sure it is…he knows his art…just like his father did”, Barack speaks while sitting down next to me.
“Who is his father?”, I ask without thinking, I know it must be a top secret clearance question.
“I am not at liberty to discuss the details…but what I can tell you is that I knew his father very well and promised to take care of Kim if something would happen to him”, Barack directly responds without a one break in his perfect voice.
“So um…what question do you have for me Kim? I speak while directing my attention away from the President.
“Can I have one of your paintings as my birthday gift?”, Kim asks.
“Which one?”, I ask.
“The one with all the overlapping trees protected by the blue flame and an angel wearing her hair for clothing, I think it is entitled "Birth" ”, Kim vividly describes.
“You know I don’t even consider that one my best. It was one of the first pieces I did before I learned advanced stroke techniques and color blending”, I comment.
“It's imperfections is why I love it so much”, Kim smiled.
“ The kid wanted art !…Not a video game, race car or even Super Bowl tickets…just art.
“Name your price”, Barack speaks.
“If Kim truly appreciates it that much…I will give it to him”, I spoke feeling more satisfied with Kim’s happiness than the wink of cash.
“Your truly a very kind and generous man…”, Barack speaks.
Dinner at the White House was amazing…but I had my turn with the President and once the rest of the guests arrived I blended into the background like I was not even there. Still it was a rush and something I will always cherish.
An amazing thing happened after that night…my gallery was on fire. I had actual people of interest come in most nights. I started to get fair offers on my work and sold a lot of my inventory. I quit my day job and finally got to paint, sculpt and draw full time.
I don’t know what changed…but I guarantee Kim and the President had something to do with it..
The End….. This story is completely fictional…it is no way intended to misrepresent or offend anyone in anyway… including President Barack Obama.