Thursday, October 15, 2009



Come look at this. Elena Said.
There was a big black smudge on the white wall. Finger prints?
The whole palm print is more like it. She said. A hint of fear in her voice. Look! Look over here!
More smudges along the wall. What the hell is going on?
It was mid December. A short, 'in-between shows' time for the gallery. Because the walls and floor were bare, it looked even more humongous than usual.

This second floor gallery in the heart of Soho was at least a hundred times bigger than the tiny studio apartment Jodi shared with her boyfriend in Washington Heights. Ever since she started interning here as an assistant to the curator, she'd been daydreaming about living in the gallery. She’d imagine how she’d decorate this gigantic space into her own liking; a sofa right here, a bed aaaaaall the way over there near the windows, a TV stand in the middle of that beautiful parquet floor, etc.

As a former ballet student, Jodi felt a strong urge to dance around upon seeing the empty gallery. The space could’ve made a handsome dance studio. This must be what dogs feel like when they see a spacious grassy meadow. She thought.
It was decided that they would install security cameras to monitor the gallery. It turned out that nothing was stolen. But the smudges jangled Elena(owner/curator)’s sense of security really hard.

Jodi was on the ladder getting a box of documents from a closet. The box was heavier than she expected. With a skirt and high heels on, she was having a hard time getting down the ladder with the heavy box.
Do you need help with that?
Jodi looked down.
Don’t worry, I’m not looking up your skirt.
Some of the workers giggled from the floor in the corner. Jodi felt her face getting red. It was Adam, the foreman of the workers prepping the wall, at the bottom of the ladder.
Adam walked up the ladder.
Here, let me help you.

So Elena’s really concerned about those smudges, eh? Adam asked.
I guess so. Jodi answered.
Well, we will paint over it. No problem.
The wall painters were taking a break. All the staff were gone. Jodi was sorting through old invoices alone. Adam looked at his crew and back.
Alejandro says he saw you the other day.
Excuse me?
You live in Washington Heights? He does too.
Alejandro, eating his sandwich in the corner across the room waved his hand.
You don’t hang out with the people here? I saw all of them going out together. Adam regretted asking this.
Don’t answer that. None of my business.

It dawned on Jodi that since she started working at the gallery, she’d never met a single person from it outside work. This question hung around in her head for days long after the conversation ended.
What a place, eh? So huge, you just want to run around. Makes you feel like a kid. He smiled.

There was a mechanical beeping sound. It took Jodi some time to figure out where it was coming from. It was the newly installed security camera recording system with the monitors in the office area. The red light on the recording machine was blinking and the tape was on eject position. As always, Jodi was the first one to get to work. She popped in the tape into the machine. The grainy green night vision footage from previous night came up on the screen split in four squares; the bird’s eye view of the gallery at night, and three other angles of different areas of the gallery. Nothing. She pushed the fast forward button. For a while there was no activity. Then there they were, Adam’s crew. The images were startling at first. Men gliding through the air with glowing eyes like ghosts. It took some time for Jodi to realize that they were rollerblading in the darkness around the huge gallery. They would bump into the walls and into each other, grabbing the wall with their dirty hands. They were all smiling, having the time of their lives.

This made her laugh. She quickly ejected the tape and put it in her bag while checking if anyone was looking. Then she put a blank tape in the machine.

She walked toward the windows. The soft morning sunlight was hitting her face. She looked back at the huge empty space. She took off her high heels and placed them neatly near her feet. Then she danced, twirled around the huge space all over. It felt great. Then she took a bow, directly toward the tiny camera on the ceiling. She thought she’d heard applauses coming from somewhere.

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