Bryce stared out of his hospital single-bedroom’s window, feeling plenty of sorrow for himself. Sunday’s were boring to him. Up to this point, he’d not regularly attended church services, his parents were dead, he had no other family, no friends and in general, nothing interesting seemed to happen on the ward he’d been admitted to. Each day, the diligent sanitisation staff emptied bins and enthusiastically pushed and pulled on plastic brooms in practised patterns on their rounds, while remaining taciturn throughout. Over the last week, he’d developed a longing to get to know them. And yet, had he ever managed to catch their attention, the reveal would be that they held no desire to share any detail of their lives with him. Today, following yet another series of tests and measurements last Thursay, a final analysis was due. Upon waking up earlier, staring up at the ceiling, Bryce had fully expected to be discharged.
During the great pandemic of 2020 – 2024, the home accommodation of cats and rabbits fell, while for the same period of time, the figure for dogs rose. Writing as a dog, I find the statistics both believable and understandable. After all, you won’t get very far down the road for your daily exercise expecting a rabbit to lead the way. However, this hasn’t been all good for the dog world, at least not in my part of town. First-off, the additional influx has brought with it pressure onto the ownership of territories, with new claims appearing every month. These new dogs, often they don’t even have English as their first bark, growl and whine language, making civil communication over a dispute near-on impossible.
“I wonder what’s up there?” Phyllis said to Zelda over a background noise of the elevator counterweight system in motion. They studied the control panel showing floor levels marked with gallery names. The label for the top floor read PRIVATE NO PUBLIC ACCESS. A mutually-shared sense of curiosity dispensed with any need to exchange words, as her companion pressed the corresponding button.
Outside of the elevator, everything in view was a disorientating whiteness. A labyrinth of echoey corridors, soon found them lost and confused. “Wow,” said Zelda, “Are we in Heaven?” Aside from the floor, skirting boards, the walls, the ceiling and pendant lamps, there was nothing. Not a trace of decoration, no tropical plant displays, water-cooler or snack-bar vending machine, not even a fire-extinguisher canister, as one might expect.
“I don’t recall dying.” Said Phyllis sardonically, “This, is like some mad Minimalist’s fantasy! What is it about minimalism’s fascination with the colour white? Why not all this in mauve, for example?”
I came across this fragment online: An interview film featuring two characters living as husband and wife in a small, Paraguayan town. One that includes a large community of ethnic Germans, within its population.
While at no point in the clip is a date mentioned, the fashion, furniture, quality of the picture, sound and the historical references divulged, gives a feel of the late 1950s.
Most of the filming takes place in a spartan-furnished lounge, with the pair shown seated together on a charcoal-grey settee. A bland, greenish landscape painting hangs framed on the wall. To the left and smaller, a pictorial calendar displays August’s arrangement of a white teapot, cup, saucer and a pile of books. A ribbon-tied spray of pink carnations lay across the open pages of the topmost book. The wallpaper, floral and faded, completes the scene.
“Ja, nien.” The woman is wearing a sleeveless white blouson top and a black wrap-around skirt. Her make-up and hair are immaculate. Initially hesitant, she directs her answers to a man positioned off-camera, evidenced by the occasional plume of cigarette smoke drifting across the scene.
“And so it’s true, lo and behold I was the only one with a camera, the day Jesus was laid in his tomb.” Lottie holds the photo hardware up for the gallery crowd to scrutinise. A retro model, but containing more computerised technology packed into it, than available to the entire global effort for outer space travel, c.1954 – 1986. “So that’s my story and now I am ready to take some questions. You there, with the clown make-up, what would you like to ask?”
The beige-coloured painted walls of the gallery space, specially commissioned for the one-person, one-piece exhibition, has created a relaxed atmosphere. The critics from the press have been polite throughout Lottie’s monologue account, despite the only beverage available being tap water.
Joseph of Arimathea cries out: “Who, has left Our Lord’s mortal vessel slumped on the chair like this?”
Within the tomb, an elderly turbaned man emerges from out of the shadows. Dressed in an embroidered stola, a walking-stick decorated by intergrown knots helps bear the load of sombreness he carries as he shuffles into a space of light.
“I am Nicodemus of Judea,” his voice is hoarse, dry and pitched upwards, “High Priest of Sanhedrin and I swear to Almighty God, that it was not I. Perhaps, instead…” a stubby index finger extends outwards to form an accusatory pointing device, “it was him, over there!”
“… and now,” the newsreader concludes “with the time fast approaching ten thirty and a-hem… acting in full compliance with the newly elected government’s single issue election manifesto promise…” the middle-aged man pushes himself up and out of his chair, “I will disrobe, taking off all my actual clothing.”
“In this special, extended edition of the news,” the newsreader tugs at his tie and begins unbuttoning his shirt, “the Nudist Party’s MP for Dulwich and recently appointed Minister for the Department of Domestic Affairs, Ms Brighton Hope… is here with us to explain the Nudity Act, which was rushed through the Commons today and became a part of British Law, just a few seconds ago.”
An odd moment for the viewing public: the camera recording the scene swings in different directions, seemingly out of control. Aspects of the studio not normally seen are revealed. Lighting, cables and members of the crew holding e-clipboards are caught motionless in the shadows.
A bonus! The distraction has spared viewers the sight of a saggy backside flopping out over the elasticated waistband of a pair of rather grim-looking underpants, descending two flagpole legs. The next stabilised image frames the newsreader re-seated on his caster wheel chair behind the studio desk, with his modesty mostly in check.
“Adam, I’m glad you came in following our conversation on the fone. Won’t you sit down, no? Okay, let’s cut to the chase shall we? Now, let me get this absolutely right, you want me to give consideration towards allowing you to work from home. Is that right?”