The understanding

A light casts a shadow on the wall, a man, bent over his desk, panting, working vigorously, his arms, like spider legs, moving at a fast pace. Sweat drips from his forehead, he exhales a cloud of smoke, takes another drag from his cigarette and crams it forcefully into the overflowing ashtray. The floor is littered with bits of metal, wires, scraps of paper, and a number of exotic looking tools, yet, except for the mess, the room is empty. The bare walls only house the shadow of the man at work. Suddenly, like a startled animal, he stops and takes a step back, gazing intently at the object on the table. “Yes…” he mumbles “yes…it is finished”. Slowly he stretches out his arm and gently strokes the object that lies still on the table. “Yes…my masterpiece”. As the first rays of the sun start slipping through the closed curtains he reaches in his pocket and pulls out a cellphone. Completly calm now as in a trance he slowly dials a number.

“Hello…yes…I know it is very early but I wanted to let you know that I have a new work to submit to the exhibition…yes…I know it opens today but I feel that this would be a very important addition…yes…could you come by today? As soon as you can…yes? Ok…see you then.”

A few hours later a buzzing sound breaks the silence of the room and a small, overweight man makes his way up the stairs. He is out of breath when he reaches the top floor and enters the smoke filled appartment. “Hello?…ah…there…you…are” He says while catching his breath and shakes the hand of a tall man standing in the middle of the room, he has greasy hair and an unkept beard, he looks tired but his eyes show an intense concentration.

“So…” the overweight man says, averting his eyes from the intense gaze of the tall man “what is this you wanted to show me…may I remind you that it is very unorthodox to submit a work of art this late”. “Yes…I know…but I feel that the exhibition would not be complete without this…wait…I will show you”. The tall man takes two steps towards the table which is now covered with a white piece of cloth. In a swift motion he draws back the blanket, revealing the object on the table. The overweight man shuffles closer and starts examining the piece, every now and then emmiting a “mh” or an “ah”.

“Yes” he says finally “I believe this is your best work yet…astounding…I will send somebody over to pick it up right away” “No…please…I will bring it over personally” “Alright…as you wish…then I will see you there…goodbye” The tall man doesn’t say anything as the overweight man stumbles down the stairs.

It is still very early as the tall man makes his way down to his car where he, very carefully, places the object on the backseat and climbs behind the wheel. He knows what will happen today…he has been in similar exhibitions. People will pass by his work and they will be puzzled by it, they will try to wrap their tiny little minds around it and maybe even have it explained to them by a guide. They might like it or maybe dislike it but they will never even begin to understand.

This feeling has grown in him from a voice nagging in the back of his brain to a soul consuming hatred that keeps him awake at night, quenching his need for food or company. But this time it will be different. A sinister grin comes over the man’s face as he starts the car and goes over his plan in his mind. He glances at the package in the backseat. The exhibition has already started when the car pulls into the museum parking lot and the tall man hurries to get his precious piece of art in place. Just as he had expected the same faces he has seen many times before stare at him as he slips past, in his mind they have transformed into grotesque horrors that haunt him, gaping at his soul. If they would only understand, only then would they bestow upon him the admiration and respect that he deserves. His mind recoils at this thought and he knows that there is only one way. A shiver runs down his spine as he places the package on its designated place, a thin 1 meter pillar, under which a name-plaque reads “the understanding”. Then he takes his place next to the object and waits. The murmur and footsteps of the crowd draw nearer and nearer…he takes a deep breath…still nearer…the sound echoes trough the museum until it swells to a steady drone…still nearer…his legs start to shake…they are in the room next to him…a drop of sweat slowly makes its way down his forehead…”soon…soon”…his gaze is fixed upon the entrance but his mind is far away…until finally the first faces flood into the hall and his eyes meet theirs and their eyes meet his. He slowly pushes the object off the pillar…in the seconds in which the object makes its way towards the ground a smile comes over the man’s face and his hate and love is fused to an understanding, a neutral feeling of bliss.

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