Monday, November 28, 2011
Like Rivera and Kahlo
A short story by Daniel Olivas
Take it, man. Take it. No, it’s cool. She’s asleep. My Sandy. Sandy Chung. Isn’t she beautiful? So take the picture of us before she wakes up. I’ll leave my sunglasses on because that’s how she likes me. Says I look like a real artist. But she’s the great artist, really. We’re like Rivera and Kahlo. Frida was more immediate, man, totally here with her painting. Powerful, all of her pain right up there for all to see. And Diego Rivera knew it. I know it, too, with my Sandy. She’s the one with the soul. I totally believe it, man.
Where? Up north for this small art festival. I don’t mind bus rides. And Sandy just likes to snooze or sketch the scenery so she doesn’t mind, either. Yeah, right now she’s snoozing but, man, you should’ve seen what she did when we left L.A. But snap the picture first. Now. Cool. Thanks, man. Put the camera in my backpack and I’ll grab Sandy’s sketch pad. Here. Look at this. Can you believe it? She totally captured that dude’s face, his raggedy clothes, the shopping cart. Look! Sandy watched him at the bus station, for like an hour while we waited for our bus. She just stared at him while he went around picking through trash cans, begging for change, being hassled by the security guard. She watched him and, I swear to God, she drew him in her mind first, and then when we got on the bus, she just started sketching what she already had in her brain. Too much, man! Too much!
Me? I don’t draw like her. No. I take these pictures, see, or I have someone like you, someone I don’t know, take a picture with me in it. Then I scan them and manipulate them on my PC. I’ll do that with the picture you took of me and Sandy. I’m going to give it to her. A good-bye gift. What? Well, I’m going to leave her. Decided last week. She doesn’t know it yet. I need to find a right time. Maybe when we get there. I don’t know, man, I don’t know. Need my space, I guess. I’m no good for her anyway. She’d paint and draw way more if she didn’t worry about me. Don’t get me wrong. I totally love my Sandy. She’s everything to me. But I’m dragging her down. Down. It’s best for her, man. If Rivera had left Kahlo, man, Frida would have produced so much more. But she took care of her Diego like he was a baby. No. It’s totally for the best, man. No question in my mind. None whatsoever. That bell has been rung, as my mom used to say.
But isn’t she beautiful, man? My Sandy. I love to watch her sleep. She’s going to love what I do with that picture. Thanks, man. You helped me out big time. You’re cool, man. Cool. So why are you going up north?
LATE-BREAKING LITERARY NEWS:
◙ My review of Héctor Tobar’s novel, The Barbarian Nurseries (FSG), appears in the new issue of High Country News.
◙ Carolyn Kellogg reviews Luis Alberto Urrea’s novel, Queen of America (Little, Brown), for the Los Angeles Times.