Saturday, September 17, 2005

Rule 9. People tell us it is cruel, but NO! it is art.

There they stand, in the window, with their placards. Carefully arranged letters baiting the public, bidding them to join the ranks of protest against us.

People tell us it is cruel, but NO!
it is art.

in the name of art we organised trips to the dump and scuffled through rot-ravaged wood to harvest. the newborn splinters to serve as a delicate backdrop to our exhibition.

now here he sits. painted in honey and licked by fire ants. (well, licked is what i call it, but from the growing tomato tinge in rolf's face, i rather suspect the ants are angry. and who wouldn't be, after having fiery sticks poked into their nest to rouse them and capture their entire fleet.)

but still. rolf sits. in the name of art. biting idly on a piece of rotten wood to dull the cries of pain.

just yesterday we found him, in the job centre, mumbling about a degree in post-modern painting and performance. and we knew. we had the right man for the job. there was only one thing to do.

we took him to tim's flat and filled up the bathtub. jane raced off to buy razors. now we knew we couldn't afford the fancy razors with two blades and pleasing colours in the plastic handles. we couldn't even afford shaving foam. but we figured, he was hairy, he was an artist, simple soap would be enough.

jane returned. grinning triumphantly. proud to have only spent 70p and procured 7 razors! there would be surplus. perfect for the turks.

hints of our next exhibition danced in our nimble minds.

rolf lay in the tub expectantly. we let him keep his pants on. not for modesty, only because none of us had eaten breakfast, and we wanted to avoid any flaccid sights on an empty stomach.

things got tense when tim turned the tap and only a few drips of hot water came out. further enquiry turned up tips from flatmates about rusty pipes, absentee landlords, and showers at the hostel down the block.

not to be daunted, we were artists. we had spent six hours trawling dumps and job centres to make our art happen. there would be a way.

mat's eyebrows raised jauntily as he stared out the window at rain, lost in thought. off he dashed without a word.

only to return, minutes later. with four plastic bottles filled to the brim. puddles! of course.

rolf lay quietly. looking nervous.

and so we started. tim took an ankle, jane took a wrist. matt and i started on the ears. everything must go. we had twenty minutes to make rolf follicle free.

we worked quickly, alternately rubbing discount soap across rolf's fur and swiping boldly with our Niestzermauer's finest single-blade specials.

the skin squeaked as we worked. perhaps it was rolf, in semi-silent protest to the sea of razor nicks blooming across his chest. but rolf, true to his word and true to his anticipation of the four pounds we promised to pay, never screamed once.

matt finished off our handiwork with an explosing of all the remaining rainwater. muddy road water washed rolfs hair along the tub to stuff the rusty drain.

while rolf towel dried, tim stomped off to procure the fire ants. jane gathered pots of honey, matt nipped off to pick up some pile cream, and i stuffed the remaining razors into her purse--lest rolf get goosebumps on the way to the gallery and grow stubble.

no stubble!

i suppose news leaked to the protesters from the ant people. maybe the tiller in lidl talked. maybe it was the ant farmer. or perhaps one of tim's german flatmates.

we didn't know yet, were so busy getting ready.

to give you the short version:
it was cold. rolf did indeed get goosebumps and accrued stubble in some sensitive regions. jane raked the stubble away as we walked, alternately prying the bleeding flannel from rolf's chin to scrape away the clots and get at the hair beneath.


there are still cobbles in the grassmarket to this day, and inevitably it produces more of a wobbly step in foot traffic. commuters trip on curbs, teens choke on their cell phones, and jane, misses rolf's chin and shaves off a piece of his ear.

rolf, being a love, merely emitted a sharp inhaled cry. our proud compatriot nibbled his lip so as not to betray the pain to the shocked shoppers in the window of the cashmere shop.

but they still stared. everyone stared. at the hairless man covered in blood. his shirt being tugged open by a small beared man whilst a tall hippie girl in a woolen hat with bunny ears flashes cheap german razors across his bare bloody flesh.

when we finally arrived at the gallery, there were at least twenty people following silently behind us. kebab shop owners. two traffic cops. several surly and underfed pregnant teens, two grassmarket tatoo artists, and the entire staff and waiting room from the colonic irrigation clinic on the corner. one of the patients was still absentmindedly clutching his souvenir hose, besmirched with last nite's psyllium husk stew....

rolf. rolf perhaps enjoyed these moments of fame? we will never know. for when we sat him in the gallery and let loose the ants, honey and pins, that was when it all went black.

the black panther protest party had gone wrong.


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