I stared at the painting—the god-forsaken, horrifying painting.
It was the first of an installation that I’d hoped would not only reap critical praise, but would also sell like fucking crazy.
Or so my trusted protégé/roving talent scout, Jill, had told me.
I stared at the painting again.
I closed my eyes and shook my head.
I was in hell…
Lance, my trusty assistant and gay bestie, ambled up to me and cocked his head to the side.
“Zombie turkeys,” he said, sotto voce. “Interesting.”
Correction: I was in Zombie turkey Hell.
I wondered if there was an open bar in Zombie turkey Hell.
“Where is Jill?” I asked. I was going to strangle her with my bare hands.
Lance took a slow side-step away from me. “You know I hate it when you seethe like that.”
“I do not seethe!” I looked at him and he’d already taken another long side-step away from me.
“Jill’s in Portland this week,” he said, “and yes, you are seething.”
I opened my mouth to scream at him, but had to admit that yes, I was seething.
I wanted to yank the zombie turkey off the wall, drag it outside, and torch it.
“You’re right,” I said, turning back to the painting, folding my arms under my breasts—only the flat-chested could cross their arms over their chests, and I had been blessed with an ample bosom. “I’m sorry.”
Lance sighed, cracked his long, elegant neck, and then stepped back toward me.
“Our Miss Jill says this painter is the next hot thing… says they can’t keep his shit on the walls in Denver.”
I rolled my eyes and took another, closer look. The detail was good, if not nauseating. The image was strong and commanding.
Yeah, but the subject matter was ridiculous!
Even if I could sell this turkey, I’d be the joke of the Chicago art world, not to mention the east coast.
No, this couldn’t happen. I was going to have to dump this…
Some workmen toted in another painting, this one of a gaggle of zombie turkeys surrounding one normal, non-zombie turkey.
This was ridiculous.
“So,” I said, looking over at a beguilingly off-centered couple standing by a still wrapped eight by six feet painting leaning against the bank of front windows. “Which one is he?”
The couple consisted of a slightly punky, devil-may-care faced lothario with a goatee, distressed, practically painted on jeans, and some awesomely broad shoulders.
The other was about as interesting as dry toast: an almost handsome face that seemed just out of focus... hair too neat… clothes right out of a J.C. Penny catalogue and a rather impressive ability to blend right in with the potted plants.
Lance groaned. “The pathetically plain one? That’s Randy Crawford: the artist. The hot little slice beside him is his boyfriend, Darius.”
Of course, it had to be the boring one.
“God is a mean, hateful bitch if a sad sack like that can land himself such a gorgeous piece of ass!" Lance shook his head bitterly.
The aforementioned Darius tore the paper covering from the front of the third painting.
I gasped as the motley tableau before me assaulted my eyes: a grisly depiction of a flock of the zombie turkeys ripping apart a human corpse. The man, or should I say what was left of the man’s shredded and blood-splattered body, was holding a cornucopia in one hand, and a meat cleaver in the other.
The irony was not lost on me, and yet I could not imagine what kind of mental imbalance or chemical reaction could have caused any sane person to paint this travesty.
Was the boring painter a closet meth freak?
At least that would be something interesting I could tell people at the showing.
Oh god, there was going to be a show, wasn’t there?
I asked, “Do you think we could just tell people that the hot one is the artist?”
“Not a chance.” Lance stage whispered. “He’s already posted his mug all over Facebook and Pinterest. There’s even going to be a banner by the front door.”
“Fuck.” I put my hand to my forehead and tried to relax.
But I was starving!
How could I deal with a zombie turkey apocalypse on an empty stomach?
But nothing sounded good.
“Lance, I think we should order…”
He waved me off with his perfectly manicured hand.
“Way ahead of you, boss-lady. I ordered you pasta fagioli from Roma’s, with those little crustinis you like so much.”
I sighed as I gazed lovingly at him. “Did you, maybe…”
He smiled devilishly, his perfectly symmetrical face a portrait of beauty, his warm green eyes sparkling.
“I ordered myself an Italian hoagie… you know I can never eat the whole thing!”
He sucked in his fabulously ripped six-pack and acted as if he needed to diet.
But if he ordered the hoagie, and I ate half of it, it didn’t count.
Girl logic: perfect and insane.
“Which reminds me, I’ve got to get the contracts for the Caron show out by noon!” He made a show of looking at his shell pink Rolex—a gift from a thankful and filthy rich art buyer that Lance wined and dined… and then did things to that I’m too young and pure of heart to know about.
The buyer, Churchill Walker, had been old and crusty, though truly charming. I’m sure Lance earned every spinning gear and crystal facing of that twenty thousand dollar plus wristwatch.
He eyed me. “So you’ll have to stay up front to tip Franco when he delivers the food.”
“Why didn’t you add the tip to the company card?” I whined. I hated handling cash. And though Roma’s delivery man, Franco, was super nice… he liked to talk far too much about the stupidest of things. He also looked a hell of a lot like every Italian uncle in every movie ever made: potbelly, a mustache, and a hooked nose.
“That’s why god created Visa and Master Card… not to mention American Express!”
He shot me a stern look. “If we tip using the credit card, he has to claim the whole thing on his taxes, whereas—”
“Whereas,” I cut him off, “cash leaves no paper trail. I get it.” I reached up and tucked a lock of his flaxen hair back behind his ear.
Lance twirled his Ralph Lauren jacket over his long, well muscled arms and kissed me on the head.
“I’ll be back before you can say cunnilingus.”
I smacked him on the ass as he sashayed toward the front door. “You’re really straight, I know it!”
He blew me a kiss, and then acted as if he were about to faint when he strode past the geek artist and his hottie boyfriend.
I saw two more very large paintings being hauled into the gallery.
Jesus… this was turning into a nightmare.