Rufus’ mother had returned from a few weeks away in Los Angeles and the detox had taken sundry effects. She had not decided any particular dramatic revenge upon her son until after she and her boyfriend entered the living room and found themselves standing on a sticky spot of the floor.
“Where should I put your diamonds?” asked her boyfriend and swung a small purse-like bag from his arm.
“What’s this?” asked the mother rhetorically.
“This bag looks like a purse and I want to put it down; where should I put your diamonds?”
She squatted down and smelled: yes, it was the dried remains of a spilled gin and tonic. Before she knew it, an impulse from her subconscious mind commanded her to wipe her finger in the sticky goo and then pop the be-ginned fingers into her mouth and suck. She did so and it wasn’t until a moment later that her conscious mind reminded her that she had detoxed from alcohol and she wasn’t drinking anymore, ever again, for as long as she lived, so help her, dear universe. She pulled her finger out of her mouth and bellowed Rufus’ name.
There was with the mother an entourage of persons who all came into the room immediately: a personal assistant and a butler. The boyfriend was already in the living room and held a purse in his hands.
Rufus’ mother bellowed a second time but this time said some mixture of words like alcohol, Rufus, how could you, and is this gin and tonic.
At the sound of this second bellow, the aid and the boyfriend looked at the butler, but the butler, for his part, held up his hands placatingly for he, too, had been in Los Angeles for the duration and had only just arrived.
“But how did this dried gin and tonic arrive here on the floor?” asked Pechuga–for that was the personal assistant’s name.
“It wasn’t me,” said the boyfriend, whose name was Lopo.
“Ma’am, I take responsibility; I will submit my resignation immediately,” said the butler.
“No, no, it was me,” said Lopo, how realized he too could play the hero and play it as well as any butler, “I did it just before we left!”
“Ma’am, if you’d like, I’ll clean up the mess and escort both Lopo and the butler off the property,” suggested Pechuga.
“Shut up all of you: I know where this dried gin came from… oh, yes, I know.”
The butler, Lopo, and Pechuga watched as the mother walked to the liquor cabinet and subconsciously poured herself a gin and tonic.
“This is my son’s doing; this the work of a burgeoning artist,” said the mother.
“Are you sure you want to drink that?”
“The gin and tonic?”
“It is dried. How could I drink it?”
“Not that old one on the floor: the new one in your hand.”
The mother looked down at her hand. She blinked. Her mouth sagged open a space. Slowly her hand opened and the glass fell to the floor where it shattered. The mother let out a low wail.
“Thank you, Pechuga. I hadn’t noticed…”
“Allow me, ma’am,” said the butler as he produced a broom and dustpan from a nearby closet.
“Is Rufus in his room?”
“He isn’t here.”
“Lopo, and you Perez–“for that was the butler’s name–“and, you, Pechuga, I want you three to clean out Rufus’ room. I want all his stuff in the basement dumpster within the hour. I’ve had enough. No more school, not more loans, no more money–no more free rent. He can grow up and make his way in the world!”
And so it came about that Pechuga, Lopo, and Perez cleaned out Rufus’ room. As they worked to empty Rufus’ artwork, furniture, and books from his room, the three spoke with one another in these term:
“He was with us this summer at the lake house,” Pechuga reported, “and he found a dead–what he thought was dead–deer on the side of the road and he dreamed up the most marvelous fantasy about becoming a great master like some guy–who was that he was telling us about?”
“Leopold Devine Cheese,” said Perez the butler.
“That’s right–haha–he makes up words when he isn’t sure what to say. Instead of saying Leonardo de Vinci, he says “devine cheese.”
“What did he do with the dead deer?” asked Lopo as he emptied a drawer of colorful socks into a trash bag.
“He planned to butcher it.”
“I like venison.”
“No, not to eat: he wanted to draw it.”
“Like the sketches of the old master himself.”
“Only the deer wasn’t dead. The deer woke up.”
“Rufus came into the kitchen where I was preparing an omelet for mother’s lunch and he asked me for a glass of water.”
Pecuga: “No, he said, ‘Where’s the garage door opener?’”
“Oh, that’s right.”
“You always destroy the best part of that story, Perez. My god, you are a terrible storyteller. Please stop saying that he asked for a glass of water. He didn’t ask for a water: he asked for the garage door opener because he didn’t know how to free the deer.”
“A butler should be seen and not heard.”
“Or smelt,” said Lopo.
“Yes, sir, exactly.”
“All these art books have dried up Rufus’ brain,” suggested Lopo. The three came and stood before Rufus’ bookshelf, which held a goodly amount of books for this was a real bookshelf that had been purchased before the days when Blurberry had transformed their iconic bookshelf into a gallery space for the sundry trinkets one might showcase in one’s house. Etc. A debate does exist among the scholars about which exact bookshelf Rufus owned in his room. Was it Droom, Luta, or Sanda? There is a rich debate, which the curious reader will enjoy following in the footnotes to this text which will be published soon.
“I agree with you,” said Perez, “These books are the heart of all Rufus’ problems. I shouldn’t wonder if tossing them out on the street isn’t enough?”
“That was a double negative and I have no idea what you are saying,” said Lopo.
“You are suggesting,” said Pechuga, “that we burn them? The building had an incinerator in the sixties, but the pollution laws have outlawed its use. I guess we could go to the roof, though, and burn a few of these books.”
“I think as a gesture it is a good idea to burn a few of the books.”
“I agree. Let’s toss as many as we can down the garbage chute, but save a few special books for the barbecue. We’ll pour a few drinks and toast the occasion.”
“Oh, but Ms Pugh doesn’t drink–remember.”
“I’ll give her another twenty minutes,” laughed Lopo.
“I’ll bet you twenty dollars she makes it until this evening at about nine.”
Lopo and Pechuga looked at Perez and anticipated his whim, but he shook his head saying, “A butler should be seen not heard, smelt, or found gambling.”
Pechuga picked up a book at random from the shelf and read the title: “Fire in the belly: three artistic uses of whisky.”
“That doesn’t sound too bad, actually,” said Lopo. “Let’s set aside any books that don’t deserve destruction. We’ll make three piles: one of the evil sort that we’ll burn–just a few of those for fun–, another pile for the dumpster, and a third small pile of those that we might read or donate to Salvation Army.”
With this plan the three set to work sorting the books.
“Wow,” said Lopo, almost immediately, and held up a very large book with colorful images called “Georgia O’Keeffe’s Brazilian.” Lopo turned the book to the side and squinted his eyes saying, “Perez, come over here and look at this!”
Pechuga, a feminist by nature, glanced at the image and became furious saying, “I will not stand for the objectification of women’s bodies! Put that book in the burn pile! I will personally barbecue that book myself.”
Lopo, not wanting a fight, complied, but not until after he had looked through a few of the images and even turned the book sideways to fold out an enormous page.
Pechuga, for her part, made quick work of the following books and sent them each to the basement garbage: The Judgement of Paris: the revolutionary decade that gave the world an impression and that impression was impressionism; Edward Hopper’s unmarked van: a memoir of voyeurism; Furniture in the Dark: my journey to find the light switch; L’Americain: a photojournalist’s use of child labor; Frida, Saturday, and Sunday: Frida Kahlo’s religious journey; and Van Gogh: the ear’s perspective
“Look at this one,” said Perez, who up until this point had conducting his work as straight faced as possible and with utmost professionalism, “The success and failure of Picasso: a life before viagra.”
“Haha,” said Lopo, “let me see that one.”
“There aren’t any images.”
“Oh, never mind,” said Lopo as he tossed the book into the dumpster pile.
Pechuga rolled her eyes at this and mumbled something under her breath, which was probably that it didn’t surprise her that Lopo was only interested in images and had no patience for the written word. Seventy-five percent more women take surveys about how many books they read, which proves the point in a way.
“Confesiones inconfesables in Spanish,” said Lopo and he flipped through the book. “It isn’t in Spanish: it is written in English.”
“Maybe the confessions are not confessable in Spanish, which is why the author wrote in English,” suggested Pechuga.
“No wonder Rufus’ brain dried up,” said Lopo, and he read a quotation penciled into the margin of the book, “Although I am not a painter, I think that the iconicity of the gesture spatially undermines the exploration of montage elements.”
“With enough schooling, anyone can be spatially undermined,” the butler observed, but he later regretted the statement and that night in his journal reminded himself that his job was to be seen, not heard.
And, so, without too much further “exploration of the montage” of the books, the three dumped many art books down the trash chute: among the more important books were Mao’s last dancer: how a Texas cowgirl roped herself a ballet dancer from China; Sam Maloof: 36 pieces of driftwood carved by a master woodworker; North of Crazy: a memoir of a hat maker; Hanging south by southwest: a sexual history; Caravaggio: painter of literal existentialism; Jackson Pollock: an American cup of tea; La vida cotidiana del dibujante underground; POOPism: poo as artistic medium in the Warhol sixties; Metaphysical caprice: Kierkegaard’s kissing cousin; and Ontological gestures: an adult coloring book of Heidi Klum posing in philosophical positions.
Lopo held the adult coloring book in his hands for a moment as if he was thinking that it might actually be fun to try, but he quickly tossed it into the dumpster pile and wiped his hands on his shirt because the book was sticky. If he had been alone, perhaps we would have seen him act differently, but among his peers–and especially if a young woman was looking on–he would never waver in exuding masculine power and there is just something about a coloring book that isn’t macho even if Heidi Klum was involved.