Negative Space

February 3

Fell asleep sometime after the sun came up--no idea what time.

Sometime later--no idea when--there's this knocking. It won't stop so I get up to answer it. I still have my shoes on. At first I go to the refrigerator but then I realize the knocking's coming from the front door. I am very disoriented.

"Yeah? Who is it?", I say.

A muffled voice from the other side of the door says, "Federal Bureau of Art."

I open the door and there's a badge staring me in the face. It's got a little relief of the statue of Mercury at Rockefeller Center on it.

"We'd like to have a little chat," says the man holding the badge.

Two goons in long coats push past me. They look like they just stepped out of a black and white movie. One of them goes into the kitchen and starts opening cupboards and drawers.

"What's this all about?" I ask. I'm trying to sound real low-key, like this happens once or twice a week. His partner is heading for the bedroom by this time.

"Social call," says the B-movie standing about two-inches from my face. "We was in the neighborhood and we thought we'd drop in on one or two of the artists hereabouts."

I wait for something else to follow and when it doesn't I say, "Sorry, I don't know any artists. All my friends are assholes by profession."

"Is that right?" he says and then shuts up and just looks at me again.

Before I can think up another clever riposte his partner comes back into the room carrying one of my sketch books. He doesn't look happy.

The guy standing in my face takes this as his cue and starts talking. "We just thought we'd pay a few calls and let some of the artists in the vicinity know what's been going on in Washington as of late."

The gorilla pawing the sketchbook snorts in disgust at something. His partner starts asking a lot of questions.

"Do you own a short-wave transmitter? Are you currently in the employ of a foreign government or automobile manufacturer? Have any distinguishing tattoos? Scars? Any moles or warts that don't belong to you?" He doesn't wait for answers.

"Seems" he says, "that certain allegedly friendly foreign powers have been dumping art onto the market in a scurrilous attempt to devalue our own domestic output. We're here to see that they don't get away with it."

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Flightless Hummingbird:  A Pseudo-Periodical