by Lawrence Wray
When I heard her key in the door, I ran into position.
Her face confirmed her surprise when she saw it.
She said, “What the hell?”
I said, “I call it ‘The Jesus Dichotomy’.”
She said, “How much?”
I said, “Don’t you see its beauty?” I pointed to the ring of barbed wire.
“Dichotomy?” she said, ‘It’s hardly the right word.’
“Well, it’s…” I didn’t get to finish the sentence before she erupted.
“I walk in the door after a hard days work and you’re… you’re… Well, you’re just standing there with your arms wide, like some sort of magician.” She scowled in the way that only women can. “What have you done today?” She slammed the door. “Any job interviews?”
I said, “Which one would you like me to answer first?” Which, on reflection, turned out to be a mistake, but hey, we all make them.
She shouted. “You need a job.” She looked at the floor and we both stood there in silence for a while, then, “Did you apply for any jobs today?”
“Well, no, but I…” She cut me off again.
“It’s not about the money,” I replied, knowing full well that it would turn into a full blown investigation about exactly that, and how I had spent my day, and how I had spent our money.
“You’re supposed to be looking for work and not spending our money, no wait…” She did that head tilt thing with her eyes staring heavenward, then she shook her head and continued. “No, that would be my money, wouldn’t it?”
“It didn’t cost much,” I stammered. By now I knew that irrespective of the time that I spent getting the lighting just right and the shadow aligned would just add fuel to the flames if I tried to explain.
She folded her arms and from experience, I knew this was a bad sign.
She said, “You took our portrait down to replace it with this?” She pointed at my creation then shouted, “How much?”
“Here’s the thing.” How could I soften the impact and come out seeming at least reasonable? “I found the ring when I was walking.” Which was a lie, I had found it at the back of one of those antique shops that I frequent in the hope of finding something weird and eclectic; which I did. They were looking for ten pounds and when I offered him five, he nearly pulled my arm off.
“What about the printing?” she pointed to the wall. “That frame looks expensive.”
I said, “I got it from a junk shop.” Another lie as it had cost me forty pounds to have it made to size.
“And the printing?”
I said, “Just eight quid,” then I dug the hole even deeper, “But you spend a lot more on just getting your nails done.”
She thought about this, then said, “So while I’ve been out all day working to pay for having my nails done, you’ve been wandering around town buying things with my money and taking pictures?”
I said, “When you put it like that, it sounds bad; but just look at it.” I nodded towards it. “It is beautiful, and the way the ring turns into a heart on the pages is stimulating.”
She said, “So it’s a stimulating, expensive, waste of time, dichotomy?”
Thankfully, her arms unfolded and she looked closer. Which I took to be a good sign.
Then, after a respectable period of time to absorb the intricacies of the art, she said, “I suppose when you look closely it could be described as a dichotomy, in the broadest sense of the word.”
“Yes,” I agreed, afraid to say anything else.
“And it could be a crown of thorns; you know, like the ones Jesus wore at the crucifixion?”
I said, “My thoughts exactly.”
She asked, “Why did you choose that particular reading?”
It was my turn to look closer. To be fair, I had just grabbed a bible, opened it, adjusted the lighting and snapped around fifteen shots.
I said, “I specifically choose it to see if you would notice.” I hoped that this would sound as if I’d given it some considerable thought.
She said, “It’s a reading from ‘John’, but the account of the crucifixion is in ‘Luke’.”
I said, “ohh.”
She said, “This was after the resurrection, when he arose from the dead.”
I said, “ohhh,” again, only this time with an extra ‘h’.
“Probably only a couple of pages back and it would have been ideal.” She shook her head. “You should have used the reading about the crucifixion.”
I agreed. “Yes, I should.”
She said, “It would have been more relevant.”
I said, “I agree wholeheartedly. I was going to just lay it on the page, you know… to signify Jesus and all that, then out of nowhere the shadow just appeared.”
“Divine intervention in your creative endeavours?”
She said. “So it’s a crown of thorns that turns out to be a heart that signifies Jesus’ love for us?”
“Exactly,” I said, again.
She said, “I suppose that would make it a pictorial dichotomy.”
By now even I had my doubts about the exact meaning of the word, so I said, “Does that mean that you like it?”
She said, “Yes.”
I said, “I’m glad you like it.” Then, “And I’m glad that you, you know... get it.”
She said, “You should have used a brighter frame.”
I said, “I showed the framer the picture and that’s what he recommended.”
She looked at me like I was an idiot.
Then I realised that I had just confirmed that I’d had the frame made specifically for the picture.
I said, “I’m starving.”
She said, “I got us some nice lamb chops.”
I said, “You want me to get started on the potatoes?”
She said, “Yes.”
I've published a couple of short stories on Amazon and as I read GQ magazine I've started to read the short stories of Hugo Rifkind. I like his quirky style so I thought that I'd give it a go.
Pieces Inspired by this Image
'Ring or Crown'
'The Barbs of Hurt'