My son Connor and I came home one Saturday afternoon from a yard sale, where we bought a painting of a young boy for five dollars. Connor was an artist and was born mute. He would spend hours in his studio drawing pictures of imagined creatures. Some of them were winged, others were horned and some had elongated face and hydrocephalic heads.
Plenty of Connor’s drawings generally freaked out several of his teachers. I had been advised by a few of his teachers that he see a psychiatrist. On more than one occasion I had told several of his teachers to fuck off. Needless to say I’m not allowed at any future parent teacher conferences at Hillcrest Elementary School.
The picture I had been talking about previously was that of a boy standing on a sailboat. He had one leg hitched up like Captain Morgan and he was dressed in a sailor suit. Like I mentioned before, my son was born mute. He communicated by writing everything down. Wherever he went, Connor usually brought a small pad and a pen with him.
When we were in the car, Connor told me the picture was of him in a past life when he was a sailor in World War Two. He alleged that he drowned when a violent storm knocked him overboard and he drowned. Connor said he had been drinking heavily that night.
‘’That’s some story,’’ I said, chuckling uneasily.
He insisted it was true. We dropped the subject and returned home. What my son called his art studio was nothing more than a basement. To him it was much more than that. It had a chair and a desk and even a little sofa for him to sit on. He liked to wear turtlenecks. He said it made him feel like an artist. Connor would even wear them in the summer time, but I of course would never let him. The boy would relish it when the weather would cool down and he could bust out his beloved turtlenecks. I hung the picture on the wall of his studio right under the window. He stood admiring his painting.
‘’I’ll come and get you when lunch is ready in a little while. We’re having your favorite. Hot dogs. Sound good?’’ I said.
The boy ignored me. I shrugged and headed upstairs. I didn’t always care to answer people when they talked to me either. All he had to do was nod, but he was an artist, they aren’t always meant to be understood, just nurtured and loved.
When I came down to inform him lunch was ready, I saw Connor just gawking at the thing. I had to forcibly pick him up and carry him to lunch. He refused to eat. Connor began wasting away after a couple of days. All he would do was stare at that painting. I became increasingly concerned, trying to convince the boy to eat. I even resorted to bribery. ’’How’s five bucks sound?
When I tried taking away the painting, he charged me like some kind of wild animal. I placed it back on the wall and he became calm again, just staring at it. When I returned in the middle of the night, I found Connor dead on the floor. I gazed up at the painting and nearly froze. In the painting, I saw standing beside the man in the painting was my son.