Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Circa College Days
By Eugenio Rodríguez

He was lifted from the photo, removed from all limitations imposed upon him by the old magazine, undeserving limitations on a man of his unrestrictive nature, and was told his death would come --or had already come-- five years later. Just like that. They thought that a man of such experiences, an artist who had traversed life’s darkest halls and sharpest corners, would take the news but with a burst of gallery-resounding laughter. The opposite happened. The most opposite to life one could imagine. His face turned putty, his cheeks waggled, as if his body seams no longer could hold him. It was something to watch: palpitations, fatigue, cheek slapping, alcohol-drenched handkerchief on his nose. If they had not come quickly to belie the truth, rushed to tell him it was all a joke, not to worry. But he, still pouting, still doubting. So they kept on. How could he believe in such advanced retrospectives, how could he go for such marble inscriptions, a man so well versed in Munch, who had not only echoed but transcended The Scream.  And so, little by little, with these sound reasons his face colors reappeared, his shirt puffed up again, his gaze regained in perspective, his chin pierced the air as before, and hardly without any effort, as someone who just put back on his bottle-green corduroy jacket, he rejoined the exact pose in the photo, next to one of his neo-expressionist paintings.

I closed the art magazine, left notes and footnotes on the century-old oak table, and stepped out of the room with endless book galleries circling above, walking alongside readers embalmed in the muted light, until finally I reached the main door of the New York Public Library. As I walked out into the afternoon, past the Roman lions and Doric columns, down the marble steps, I stopped midway, and took a deep breath. Pigeons fluttered over the tourists’ heads down at the end. Some, already dead, were
throwing bread crumbs into heaven.

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