Art Of Dual Reality
For the final touch of his latest painting, Leonard Alvarado applied a slight dab of reddish yellow on a tree in the far background, then stood back. Pleased, he said to himself, I am pleased.
The painting depicted a large dog with a coat of wild bright and blighted splotches eating its own tail which passed through its body, protruded from its rump, and had attached to it the head of another dog which in turn was preparing to lick a cat that grew from the earth by its tail which resembled a rattlesnake. All aspects of the painting were fully disconnected from lackluster, unadventurous reality, including the homemade farm fence in the mid background behind the dog which swooped and plunged in curvy height as if it were made of elastic wood. Behind the fence, open fields sat on their haunches, if open fields can be considered to have haunches, which in this case they did, and upon those open fields, cross legged, sat two human figures, each with only one arm, each scratching its oversized, earless head.
Leonard’s constant companion Cynthia Buckley came into the studio and sat on a bench, looked at the painting. She wore a splattered apron. An unlit cigarette hung on her lips.
“Does that cat have only one eye?” she asked.
“Yes,” replied Leonard. “It’s a well known genetic disorder of animals that grow from the soil.”
“I see. And the dog?”
“Dogs love to eat other dogs. Or themselves.”
Cynthia pulled out a book of matches from her apron. “I guess they do,” she said.
Leonard and Cynthia lived in a small town outside of Guadalajara known for its flower festivals. They had about two acres of land near a small creek that ran a bit of water after a rain. Sometimes they drove into the city, but they mostly stayed home and tended to their obsessions.
“And what are our obsessions?” asked Cynthia.
“I thought I was narrating.” Leonard often wondered if he was real.
“You are,” said Cynthia. “Real I mean. And to answer my question because you won’t, we are both obsessed with creation.”
True as witnessed. The house and the surrounding garden were full of Cynthia’s sculptures, savage stone figures with a face for every age, their hands on their temples or on their necks, and every one with their ears missing. Leonard’s paintings filled every room.
“Does that mean we’ve got a mental illness?” asked Leonard.
“Of course. You hear voices.” Cynthia lit her cigarette.
Of course indeed. Leonard always heard voices. More frequently and more intensely in the middle of the night when he was trying to sleep, but then again maybe sleep was but a dream and life a sleep he hadn’t awoken from yet. When Leonard was ten years old, he fell off a roof into a pile of bricks.
“Bricks are symbols of society,” said Cynthia. “Hard and unforgiving.” She blew smoke toward the ceiling.
“What if we revealed our condition?” asked Leonard. “Your sculptures gather dust. My paintings gather frames. We could gather sympathy.”
Cynthia was tight and quiet around most people. She was also convinced that everybody carried seeds of mental or spiritual illness and therefore there was no point in taking out an announcement. Human condition.
“Not a good idea, Leonard.”
“Okay,” said Leonard. “I guess you’re right. Want to eat something?”
“Not that cat.”
“That’s why I love you. Give me a drag on that cigarette.”
Cynthia snuffed her smoke in an ashtray and stood up. “Cigarettes are bad for your health,” she said.
That evening, after the sun went down, Cynthia and Leonard sat on a stone bench under a tree they had planted years before when they had been filled with youth and buoyancy at the prospects of a new life under different stars than the ones that had earlier veered off course due to badly navigated marriages followed by harshly serrated divorces or by other desperate attempts to fit in where they didn’t belong.
“It’s true we didn’t belong,” said Cynthia. “Yet now we do.”
“I didn’t say anything.”
“You don’t have to, Leonard. I do the thinking for both of us.”
Leonard rubbed his chin. Sometimes that helped him anchor his existence, made him tangible. “Maybe we’re the same person,” he said.
Cynthia laughed. “Don’t be silly. I’m here, you’re there. Look at the lights below.” She pointed.
Leonard looked. Their place was on a small hill and lights from the houses below confirmed with their illumination that inside lived another person or another family also at times unsure of their bearings, subject to the same hopes and the same flaws. And each light that traveled up the slope carried with it a promise of human attachment.
“Or estrangement,” said Cynthia.
“Well, we can’t all get along I suppose,” said Leonard.
At times a sculpture can talk, if only in the imagination, and the one closest to the bench where Cynthia and Leonard sat took a turn speaking, if only in imagination, when it mentioned it couldn’t hear any cruelty in the world because it didn’t have ears and so at times felt sorry for Leonard who could hear just fine but not Cynthia who refused.
“Yes, I refuse to hear certain things,” said Cynthia. “Things not worth coming inside.”
“Judgment, accusation, diagnosis.”
“Quite a talent,” said Leonard. He touched his nose to see if it was still resilient. His nose kept him grounded, too.
“More than a talent, Leonard. It’s our life away from life.”
And it was. Cynthia and Leonard chose their town, their hill, their house, and their creations. If neighbors crossed the street when they approached, or thought they saw a lone gray haired lady talking to herself, it didn’t matter. What was important was that Leonard and Cynthia were together with their magnificent paintings and sculptures, blessed with an irrational existence, and isolated from a world that without mercy thrust the poor visionless in hastening steps from one perfect blind spot to another.
from my sanctuary of thoughts in a small town in the middle of almost nowhere, but of course we all have a somewhere so it’s not that exactly. I thank you for reading Dynamic Creed. Hope you liked this piece.
As more people hear about what’s happening here with stories that get you reflecting on things, I’m getting more companions of this journey. I sincerely appreciate that fellow travelers and feel more connected.
If you know someone who would enjoy my work, pick up the phone and let them know. Having said that, now I feel like a carnival barker or the guy outside the restaurant waving you in with a menu. But there it is. Must promote, it’s a rule or something.
In closing, if you’d like to leave a comment, ask a question, or just say hello back, you know what to do. And I hope you do it. Thanks again, yours in solidarity, Victor David.
I enjoyed this couple. They remind me of the description of the self contained couple on the plane in Vonnegut’s Cat’s Cradle. I don’t remember anything more because I read that so long ago. But at the time it impressed me enough to stick in the brain for 50 ish years. My brain is not as reliable as it used to be but I thought I saw a comment from you on the STSC Substack recently with questions. Of course I couldn’t find it again. I can offer up some answers to the questions I remember or imagine you asked if they remain unanswered. I am a member and supporter. Cheers!
"She was also convinced that everybody carried seeds of mental or spiritual illness and therefore there was no point in taking out an announcement. "
This is really woven together tightly. I love it!