PG-13 • flash fiction
It is delicious cake. You must try some. Or else.
He carried that slice of red velvet cake with him all night. He never took a bite, not even a little taste of the icing, but he never put it down either. Just walked and talked and drank the champagne they always had at openings. Didn’t touch the cake.
“Take this, if you know what’s good for you,” he told me, passing me a slice of my own. “You won’t like it. But they get suspicious if you pass it up.”
“They” were the swarm of minions that followed the artist around the gallery, making condescending sniffing noises when he shook a hand and commenting among themselves in snotty little chatters when they passed someone they deemed unworthy of the artist’s attention. They looked like they saw too little sun and too much heroin in an average day. But they ate the cake. They ate a lot of it.
A woman near Garden Of Hunger, acrylic on leather, 2007, took a bite of the cake and then tried to spit it into her napkin and put the napkin and the remaining cake in the trash without being noticed. She was noticed. A few of them swanned over to her, fawned over her jewelry, and struck up pleasant conversation. I looked away for a moment, and they were gone. So was she.
I took a bite of the cake. I didn’t blame the woman.
“You’d better swallow that,” he said to me.
I did. Where did they go? Did they take the woman somewhere? “What the hell is in this?” I asked him.
He led me to Tower VI, acrylic on leather, 2004. “Look close,” he said.
I looked close.
Acrylic on leather. Leather with pores, with fine hairs still attached, with a tiny scar, with a few millimeters of a tattoo peeking out from under the paint.
He gestured towards the painting with his untouched cake. “The rest of them.”
I looked at the artist. The artist grinned at me, nodded at me, and helped himself to another slice of cake. Behind him, they snorted and chattered.