PERSONS OF THE DIALOGUE
ADAM, who is the narrator
And others who are mute auditors.
The scene is laid in the Sistine Chapel of the Papal Palace in Italy; and the whole dialogue is narrated by Adam the day after it took place to the angels surrounding God. The actual event transpires several days after Adam and God were rendered in fresco form by Michelangelo.
I was just lying there yesterday and chanced to catch sight of God pointing an accusing finger at me. Surely all of you must have seen this. I have been conceived by my Father only several days ago and He has already forbidden me from many pleasures. When I caught sight of His accusing finger, I wanted to see in what manner I could draw Him out in His opinion that I will never be as great as Him.
I looked over, and asked Him what His truly honorable command was.
I must misapprehend your meaning, God replies, continuing to point His accusing finger at me.
Surely you must have another command for me to uphold or desire to forbid me from yet another of the good trees, I said.
I’ve always taught you to be fruitful and multiple, and to fill the earth, my Father tersely replied, I gave you the fish of the sea and the birds of the sky and the cattle of the earth.
How well I remember Father, I said, feeling myself escaping from the calm and good demeanor that usually marks my disposition.
I gave you every plant yielding seed and every tree with fruit yielding seed and every green plant for food, my Father continues, does this not still hold true?
The air hung like moth-eaten uniforms around the barn. Heavy dust muffled the buzzing flies and distant grinding of machinery that threatened the peace. Standing on the band where the city met the north, the barn was close neighbours to abandoned piano factories and unkempt grasslands. It was visited once a year and given a fresh coat of sky blue paint. The paint was always meticulously applied and gleamed for hours after. It covered the long boards that made up the expansive barn and the decrepit inner workings. Within the vacant shell, dark sludge polished the floor and oxidized metal held on ornamentally. The inner workings use to hold simplicity; only with age did it become complex. Not a soul had entered the barn for years. The way of entry was also painted sky blue, and unceremoniously pierced by three round holes that were aimed straight at the heart. As the compliant sunset folded on the barn, like a flag on a coffin, the blueness of the barn disappeared against the blue of the western sky. The barn was no longer domineering. Any comrade with vision could see it was nothing but a shell of blue paint, masking the rotting wood within. The barn stood a marker, another white cross on the field, an individual that could not be distinguished from the breadth of the sky.
The art of all things was between third and fourth. Mrs. Huxley was meeting the art dealer in an hour’s time and there was hardly anything to be done.
“He’s stuck.” Mrs. Huxley said to the elevator boy. The boy stared at the spot in the break of her delicate brow line and in his peripheral vision watched as she twirled a golden lock around her manicured finger nail. Her nails were blood red.
The elevator at the Cecil Hotel in Alexandria was operated by a light counterweight and Mrs. Huxley now wondered how it was holding up her husband’s considerable load. She peered upwards through the ornamental black gate at the box jammed between the third and fourth floor. She could imagine dearest Mr. Huxley there, his fat filling the four corners of the small chamber, his heavy lids eyelevel with the fourth floor landing. Obese Mr. Huxley would probably have unceremoniously propped the multimillion dollar painting on top of his mass. The canvas, measuring 3.6 meters in height and 5 in width, was covered with textured red and purple flowers. It was chosen by Mrs. Huxley. The artist had carried his brush with intent and it was obvious the technique was flawless.
“It was a terribly intricate procedure I had to endure in order to obtain that Van Gogh.” Mrs. Huxley says idly to the boy, “The poor old woman who dug it up from her cellar in Arles was just going to let it waste away and besides, the old Mister up there wanted to buy me something inexpensively nice for my parlor.” The boy laboriously fingered the stiff switches on the elevator control panel. The hoist ropes stayed relentlessly still.
Mrs. Huxley glanced at her diamond-encrusted watch. The clock hands seemed to spin furiously pushing the minutes forward. She inhaled deeply to taste the sea salt that clung to the air and realized it was only hours ago that she had abruptly woken in the night and walked silently through the presidential suite. As Mrs. Huxley had softly padded through the suite, she saw the grandeur she had gained. A second-rate actress could not have imagined such opulence. In a stupor, her gaze had found its resting place on the round rumbling mountain that was Mr. Huxley, rich through blunder and insufferably dull. She had silently thanked him for booking the suite. It offered a panoramic view of the eastern harbor of Alexandria.
The boy at last managed to shift the switch on the elevator control panel. Mrs. Huxley glanced at her watch again. Nothing happened. “It is appallingly inappropriate for a husband to be trapped in a metal cage an hour before the most important rendezvous.” Mrs. Huxley said to the boy, “Il est un idiot insensé.” She spun around to catch sight of a general manager that might ail her in this predicament, too no avail. The moment after the next carried a most deranged composition to her ears.
You had your coffee black and sat in that corner like you always did, waiting for one of those pretty undergrads to recognize your handsomeness. I don’t quite understand why you did that, always sit in that corner, in a hipster café with the “fine art” on the walls. You detested that sort of bad art. I piled the brown sugar into my espresso and watched you fiddle with your thick leather bound novel, the kind only a professor would pretend to read in a hipster café with bad art on the walls. You held the novel almost at arms length, resisting the ease of the bifocal lens in your old suit jacket pocket. The tweed hung like poor drapery on you, now that the lines of your movement didn’t extend quite straight, but the charm in your beat up brown leather briefcase hadn’t quite receded. That’s what my friend loved most about you, your charm. As I stirred the crystalline sweetness into my tiny tiny cup, I saw you cautiously avoid my gaze. You remember me, the student whose best friend loved you. You lowered your dark eyes onto the pages you held and became ridiculously spellbound by the adventure contained in those pages. You didn’t even pretend to put on those bifocals everyone knew you needed. I began to walk towards you, demanding you to lift your gaze to meet mine. You politely stood up and pulled out a chair for me. How goddamn chivalrous of you. You began to use up that recycled small talk, asking me how my day was, what I’ve been doing these past years since we’ve last seen each other, but you didn’t ask me about her and you couldn’t even have the decency to generate some brand new small talk. I shot the breeze with you for a while. I always enjoyed shooting the breeze with you, especially back when you taught theology and I was studying philosophy. You wanted to trust everything and I wanted to question everything you trusted. I remember the riot we always had, the three of us, always staying till the closing time of some blues bar, café, slamming the table with politics, art theory, the Pope. But you taught theology and I learnt philosophy and as I watched you that day across the table, I questioned why you still trusted that corner in the hipster café with bad art, waiting for some pretty undergrad to recognize your face.