Weekend Fiction: Disposition
There were a dozen young women her age, dyed hair running the spectrum from apple green to ecstasy purple. Only she would distinguish herself.
Singler’s last great work lay on the ground of the gallery dedicated to new pieces. A flat rectangular base of black copper, five by ten foot, with one, two, three...twenty-seven twisted spikes each an inch thick sticking out at different angles.
He had labelled it “Disposition” before he had been carted away.
Above the gallery were the internal windows of the upper level Great Gallery where the permanent exhibits were, and it was the window right above Disposition that she flung herself through, smashing the panes, and landing with a sloppy thud on the spikes, dying almost instantly.
In the basement cafe the jazz band played on, a mediocre rendition of Monk’s “Straight, No Chaser” lifting upwards above the smell of macchiatos, oblivious to the screaming of the other green and purple women upstairs.
She hadn’t left a note. No one knew why she did it. Disposition's placement may have just been pure convenience.
Nevertheless, Singler had claimed yet another victim.
* * *
Singler had been working on the piece in the late afternoon, and he was almost complete. He had just added the twenty-sixth spike to the base, and was about add the twenty-seventh when Kessler stormed into his studio, shouting his head off.
Kessler was angry, as he had every right to be: Singler had stolen his idea, something he had told Singler in confidence, described over the phone in the dead of night. It was only through the fortune of a loose-lipped mutual acquaintance that Kessler had found out Singler’s little plot.
However, as far as Singler, a man not much concerned with humility, was concerned it was all fair game: he was just better than Kessler as an artist, and the better artist has the automatic right to take ideas that he is better suited to bring into being.
After Singler attempted to explain this, Kessler took up the twenty-seventh and final spike and began to strike Singler’s handiwork with it.
Singler did not take this attack upon his stolen baby on the chin and proceeded to wrench the spike out of Kessler’s hand and strike his former friend on the head until his protests stop.
Despite him and the work being covered in German blood, the Austrian sculptor got straight back to work in affixing the spike into its correct place on the base. Nothing was going to stop him!
He did not even stop when by chance the loudmouth acquaintance made his way in and immediately left to go get the police.
They arrived and promptly cuffed his bloody hands just as he put on the final finishing touches.
“What the shit is this?” said the youngest of the three officers, looking at the twisted field of spikes and scratching his brow.
“Disposition!” he yelled out as he was dragged along.
They put him in the van and he’s been locked up ever since.
* * *
Kessler’s sleep was pierced in the night by a feminine scream.
He looked out of his flat window and saw to his right below a small crowd gathering around something that seemed to have been tossed over the spiked fence in front of the building’s common area.
Sliding on his dressing gown and slippers, Kessler made his way down three flights of stairs and out of the heavy fire doors to where the crowd was.
It turned out not to be a bag of rubbish or drugs like he had surmised, but was in fact the body of the troubled young waiter who lived on the floor above him. The scream had been courtesy of his long-suffering girlfriend.
As the marketing consultant from Kessler’s floor comforted her and the bar manager from the ground floor flat called for an ambulance—a bit late one might say—Kessler studied the body.
The man was obviously dead, but life did not interest Kessler, objects did.
Spikes…upwards…a plate of black copper…
A new idea was forming in his head, something so simple to conceive and yet too obscure to have not been done before, at least to the best of his knowledge.
But what would he call it…?
Maybe Singler would know.
* * *
On the eastern bank of the Tigris, down from the sacked ruins of Nineveh, Nathan the Jew worked tirelessly in the blazing hear on his bizarre sculpture. Nader, a young Persian boy with seemingly little else to do, had spent the entire week watching him slowly twist twenty-seven copper spikes into a flat rectangular bed of alabaster.
When Nathan finished just as dusk was settling, he sat down on the edge of the alabaster base, taking a sip from his waterskin.
Nader came over from his observation spot on the edge of a rocky outcrop and stared more closely at Nathan’s design.
“What does it all mean?” the boy asked him.
Splashing a little water on his sunburnt face, the sculptor replied: “It’s about a state of mind…”
About the author
Harris Coverley writes the Tweet Checking column for Disclaimer and is constantly looking for readers to help him correct the worst of internet. No stupidity or falsehood is too great a challenge.
He lives in Manchester and holds an MA in Intellectual History from UCL. He also writes short fiction and poetry, the former of which only Disclaimer has had the good sense to publish.
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