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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.

 

The Lutes Of Beacon Island
By Alan Ira Gordon

"I got the Black Shakes real bad, May Louise."

The first lucid words I’d heard from Abel in two days. He looked like crap lying there all gaunt and drained on his sweat-soaked mattress, seemingly closer to seventy years old than his true forty-five.

I turned back on the video player at the foot of Abel’s cot. The old Disney movie Fantasia kicked-in. Abel sighed deeply as his favorite scene flickered on, the calming zen-like Ave Maria sequence. Near the end of the film, right after that nightmarish good versus evil battle scene of Night On Bald Mountain.

My daddy Abel. Paratrooper veteran of the last terrorist war. A chronic Black Shakes disabled vet. And when it all boiled down to it, the best keeper and protector of the Lutes of Beacon Island that there ever was.

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 the best...

To read the rest of  The Lutes Of Beacon Island, order Strange Stories of Sand and Sea

 

 

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