Maya Leaves On Saturday
By Alan Ira Gordon
Story illustration by writer-poet-illustrator Marge Simon. For more examples of Marge's work as well as to contact her for freelance artwork, visit her website.
“…Amar made his Boston debut at
Tanglewood in 1981…” Saturday, 11:00 a.m. I fumble-out and click-off
the classical radio station alarm, fall back onto the couch and
take-in the Manhattan studio apartment. My apartment. And Maya’s. And
Randolpho the artistic pitbull, stretched-out on the chaise nearby,
his sleepy eyes telegraphing me: You have 60 minutes. Deal with it,
Isaac. Deal with it. Deal.
Maya leaves me each Saturday.
I work downstairs at
my father’s drycleaners; Monday through Friday, I don suit and gloves
per family business mandate, ride the elevator down while Maya paints
up here in the apartment.
Each week is a new
portrait of us painted by Maya, begun jaunty, bright and full of
breeze. On Monday, Maya laughingly reads the funnies to me over
breakfast, blonde hair aglow and blue eyes bright in the early morning
light. Tuesday the slippage begins, comics read but less jauntily,
more bite. Wednesday morning a layer of clipped remarks are applied,
of roads not taken, paths diverted, chances ill-met; wistful desires
to travel abroad, perhaps paint in Europe, the Left Bank. Thursday
morning a coat of accusations is spattered on, of being held-back by
my family commitments, my non-artistic provincialism, the indignity of
it all. Friday the unveiling; funnies gone, from behind the Wall
Street Journal financial section, caustic comments lighting-up the
meltdown, shouted fears about money, our life, her art.
A final brushstroke as touch-up, her
weekly ultimatum. I’ll be gone when you come home tonight, Isaac.
If you don’t meet me at JFK by Saturday noon, I’m off alone to the
Left Bank. My comments on this portent are always interrupted.
I am an artiste, Isaac! Art triumphs over commerce! Deal with it! Deal
with it! Deal!
Friday evening I return only to
Randolpho. We walk, then I drink on the couch. Then Saturday morning.
She leaves clues for me each Saturday
morning, the apartment set as gallery, a performance art always
consistent, five pieces in all. Randolpho snoozes as I wander our
small area, finding this week’s clues. Her father’s gold-handled cane
balanced atop a salt shaker on the corner table; four crisp, cold
100-dollar bills in the freezer; the phone off the hook on the window
ledge with a passport balanced nearby; French wine and empty Chinese
food bag perched as props to our small table Buddha; a large lock of
Maya’s hair abrush a coffee-ringed napkin on the breakfast nook table.
Maya has scrawled a phone number on the napkin, one word above it, in
title to her performance piece. Deal.
Randolpho sighs as I pick-up the napkin
and walk to the phone; I open Maya’s passport, then without looking at
the napkin I dial her sister’s number.
Sunday is a day of rest, the gallery
closed, the artiste on Sabbath. Maya is aglow once again in our nook,
laughingly acting-out the bright Sunday funnies, directing me as I
move her self-portrait about our small world. Ever in search of the
proper perch from which to begin our week anew.
We are the remnants of a very dying breed, "real fryin’, dyin’
New Englanders," Abel liked to say. In all my seventeen years, I can’t
say I’ve ever met nor seen more’n a handful ‘a folk.
After two and a half greenhouse centuries of rising tides and frying
ecologies, not many are willing to hang-on along the coastline. The
focus of the world’s moved way In-Land, and I suppose its for