Tuesday, August 02, 2005

That's Not Life, That's Us!

Note: This entry is entirely ficticious, as are all characters. And the opinions expressed are definitely NOT that of the author's.

You ever got the feeling you had to do something? Something you don't usually do? Well, I've got that feeling right now. It's really strong and I don't really know why, but I mean, I've just got to do it. Write this, I mean.

So I'm done with that. But you'll want me to get to the point. Well, here goes.. My name's Tim. Timothy Graves. I'm thirty-one, living in Florida State, exact address, I don't think I want to say. I really wish I could say I'm single, but, unfortunately, that's only half-true. I have this girlfriend, Asha, Natasha Sanders, and we've been living together for pretty much two and a half years now. Normally you'd probably think we'd already ought to have tied that knot and hell on the wedding bills. But I'm of the opinion that there's something about marriages that takes the spark out of a good relationship. But that doesn't really matter to me. I mean, whats a marriage or none, if the girl's good with you?

Asha, she's definitely good with me. She's twenty-nine, witty, cheerful, impudent. We kind of met on the job, but I'll come to that later. She's slender, lithe, agile, quick on her feet, clever. You know, good for the sort of thing we do. Or used to.

Well, I'm coming to it. We are - were - uh, art appropriators. Simply put, we used to steal art right under the noses of incompetent curators. It's kind of ironic, really. I'm not the sort of guy into that sort of high stuff, if you know what I mean. You'd never catch me dead in an art museum during the day. I mean, even in school I used to hate art class and all that art history crap, so I guess it's probably surprising that when I got into the business I got really interested in where all the good pieces were, how much they were worth, and how best to cut a valuable piece out of its frame, that sort of thing. The sort of tricks that help any art appropriator do his business.

Now you probably know that the business of appropriating art ain't just some piece of cake. You might go for the minor ones at first, but you've got to judge the rewards and the risks. Nobody would go for a worthless piece, but the trouble is, the bigger the catch, the more it's protected. The ones by the big-shot painters, Raphael, Leonardo, for example, are strictly off-limits. And I mean off-limits. You wouldn't imagine the sort of security measures they'd have put in place for a Dali or a Picasso. Really nuts, I mean.

Me, I was one of those who stole for the thrill. And the money, of course. And something you learn in the business is, stay mobile. That's the trick to stay ahead of the cops. You might ask, why I stole, why I just had to break into those museums and filch pieces of paper worth thousands of bucks in cold, hard cash. I mentioned earlier that I don't have much of a taste for art. Art is useless. I mean, its just a piece of old parchment in a frame hung up on a wall with floodlights pointing at it, and people come to gawk. Just gawk. And a guy with the good fortune to be able to conjure up something like that for money is just going to get the good life all free. No hours involved, just sitting on the beachside somewhere in the Bahamas or something with a couple of girls in bikinis feeding you grapes and stuff.

I ask myself, why the hell do people prize this crap so much? I think, that since they do, there's good money to be made and no one's going lose except for the dudes who put up the crap in the first place. Art ain't like a TV set or a couple of good locks. You lose it, you go on with your lives, nothing happens to you. You lose a TV, you're going to have to get a new one, spend cash, call the police, insurance companies, that sort of thing. And I gotta work hard, real hard, to make a catch. There's effort involved. I don't really think I need to say more.

I still remembered my - our biggest catch. Natasha and I, we'd met, literally, on the job. Suffice to say both of us couldn't let a golden oppurtunity slip out of our fingers. After that, we worked together. Asha would get past the security to nab the painting, I would try to keep watch, break in, plan some of it, and watch the news for a good catch. Stuff like that. Anyway, as I was saying, I remember our greatest job like it was yesterday. We were in Europe. There was this big bogey, big catch, coming our way for exhibition. Some of our sources told us that there was a big buyer, very shady figure, interested in talking price. Now the thing was on exhibition, it wasn't exactly going to be sold to anybody. Solution: Steal it. So Big Boss here says he'll bribe the necessary people, we slip in and get the goods. And if we succeeded, we would be set for life - that thing was worth Bill Gate's ransom twice over.

It was a really cold night, I remember. Asha and I, we put on our gear - tight-fitting black suits, with soft boots and headgear. We slipped in the museum. Now, I'm not exactly sure who the guy bribed or what it was all about, but it sure worked for the first part of the show. I stood watch outside as Asha slipped in and, with her usual quick grace, began getting the canvas out of the frame. Suddenly I heard shouting. Turns out that bribe wasn't so successful after all; whoever it was who got bribed, he squealed. Now, I hold that only dimwit guards will actually shout when they know someone's where they shouldn't - so we got very ample warning. I told Asha to go, myself, I ran the other way. The guards actually saw me. It was embarrassing, but I managed to give them the slip, hiding in an aclove somewheres. I'd done some recon the day before, I knew how the museum went. When the coast was clear I sneaked out of the museum, right out of their noses.

I knew Asha had already got away. I hurried back to the apartment we were using. Asha was already there. For a disappointed moment I surveyed the bare room. No painting. I looked at Asha, inquiring. We had been forced to ditch the catch sometimes. But Asha only smiled, a wide, bright smile, then proceeded to unzip her unisuit and yank it wide open. God, how I stared. It was such a beautiful sight. A masterpiece of the soul. I knew I was getting poetic right there, but I just couldn't take my eyes off what I was seeing. For nestled under Asha's suit was the painting, completely undamaged from the night's activities. For once in my entire life I loved art with a vengeance. Now I'm no prophet, but I could tell, Asha and I would be set for the rest of our lives.

I whooped and kissed her. The next day we hurried up, stuffing the precious thing deep in a suitcase in the proper protective films, and set off for the airport, tickets pre-booked and already in hand. Two weeks later we're in California and having a hell of a time. We bought a big house by the sea and now we don't have to work another day in our lives, with careful spending, of course. I heard that those curators in Europe are still searching for the painting, and they haven't got a clue who filched it and their whereabouts. And the best thing is, we don't know either.

That's that, really. I'm done with my space.

Asha and I are planning to get a baby sometime.

***
This is not merely a story without hidden meaning.

1 comment:

passer-by said...

i liked this one. it's kind of a refreshing change from your usual style of prose or short stories, since you wrote it in first person.
interesting how the words polish off the slightly gungho attitude (and the irregular sentence structure), so that it ends up sounding neither too prissy nor gruff. nice.

just one thing... "we used to steal art right under the noses of incompetent curators" ?! lol sounds like a real blatant statement, no? xD oh, no pun intended either.