I have not even looked at the poster hung on the wall but I remeber it quite clearly. A black line for the mouth, two red slashes for the eyes, each turning upwards in the corners to further add to the sense of ongoing laughter, and a few jots in the middle symbolizing a nose readily submitting to the merry contorsions of the face. Certainly no more than 5 lines total. Such simplicity! And the effect is that of pure laughter. I never thought of it as a clown but as a composite of school children ready to descend upon the playground on the first day of spring.
Jorge has shifted the pillow under his head. He turns more on his back, allowing his legs to dangle off the edge of the white sofa, a white sofa with white cushions. The walls seem white, the carpet, white, though I think the floors have wooden tiles.
'It's very minimalist. Your parents had strange tastes in art.'
'You don't like it? You of all people should like it.'
He sits up slightly now. 'I didn't say that I didn't like it. I think it's great. I just can't imagine why your parent would like it.'
'Actually most of the stuff they had was pretty modern, prints by Miro and Picasso, but all very simple, abstract but not too cubist or bizarre.'
'What about Kandinsky? Did they like Kandinsky?'
'No. I was the one who found Kandinsky, an old book in the attic. I ripped out the pages and stuck them to my dresser then went over them with crayons. I thought it was an unfinished coloring book. I was only filling in the white spaces.'
'So they didn't like Kandinsky . . yup . . too busy for 'em.' He has pushed his glasses from the tip of his nose and leaned again on his side to stare more intently at the poster. ' . . and you ripped pages from a book to stick to your dresser? . .'
'Yes. Fortunately it wasn't an expensive book. It kept me happy for a few days.'
'A few days, wow. There's not much that can keep you happy for a few days . . '
I have leaned against the back of the sofa. I feel too lazy to answer his mild sarcasm. We're both looking at the picture. It's very big, at least four feet by six feet. It has a thin metallic frame. In the afternoon the glare from the sun will reflect off the glass obscuring the face. I wonder how it will appear in such a state. I look briefly at the ceiling then back to the picture. We're staring at a tarnished bronze string of balls, like the ones on a keychain but a little bigger. The chain leads from behind the poster to a metallic ring in the wall. Slowly, I see it slip and fall behind the painting. Jorge has seen it too. We should do something but we don't. In slow motion the entire frame falls forward. I expect it to hit the floor, sending glass shattering in every direction. Instead it stops as though caught on some mechanism. It sways a bit but remains fixed at a 30 degree angle from the wall. The fall forward has revealed a long stainless steel rod and small mallet that leads to another simple apparatus. Both of these appear related to the metallic ring.
'Dummy, you didn't even hang it up right . .'
'Whaddya mean dummy? You helped me.'
'Yeah, I guess I did. . Guess we better fix it.' Jorge gets up and walks over the the wall. He tugs on the frame so that it wiggles back and forth but he can't free it from it's position. I take a look from the other side. We lift the frame until it hits the small mallet, then we raise the mallet into the ring by pushing it underneath with the top edge of the frame. Once inside the ring it seems to lock the frame in place against the wall. We lazily return to the sofa.
'Yeah, you said that already . . '
The breeze though the windows feels nice. We'll fall asleep soon if we don't get up. I hear a low humming noise. It hums, and then the picture goes blank . . afternoon already? It must be the glare.
It is not the glare.
A small point appears just off center of the blank image. It enlarges speedily and splits into four screens. The screens shuffle back and forth, trapping white space until they align neatly like city blocks. Pictures appear on the screens.
'Whoa, this is way-cool.' Jorge's sitting on the edge of the couch. I sit up on my end.
'I don't know what this is.'
'See? We should have hung it properly to begin with.'
The pictures flicker and change rapidly. Sounds come in and out like far away doppler shifts.
'We need to slow it down.'
'Yeah .. how?'
'I dunno .. gotta remote control? . .'
We toss the pillows around looking for the remote control to the painting. Jorge finds a small black box between two seat cushions. I tell him it's to the T.V. He shrugs and points it at the painting, pressing a button. It slows the images.
'I guess this works.'
He tosses it to me. It is the remote control for the T. V. However, now we can understand the sound and watch the images. The frame in the upper left-hand corner changes colors, always a one-color greyscale. Most of the images are of matadors manuvering around bulls. I don't pay as much attention to the other frames. A woman's voice with an Australian accent gives descriptions of dishes and furniture made from coral reefs. Calls for exhibitions and pictures of symphonic ensembles appear in the other frames, interspersed with exotic looking places in the south pacific. For a while the lower right hand corner shows clips of films from the lunar landing. I lean over and stare at Jorge. He has a blankly intent expression on his face. He turns his face towards me
'You know, this could get to be addictive . . '
'Yeah, maybe we should switch the picture back . .'
'Yeah, we should. Where's the remote control?'
I had put it beside me, but the box has disappeared.
'Hmmm. I can't find it.'
'Too bad . . It's a good thing we figured how to hang this thing properly though . . '