Tuesday, January 18, 2011
What We Hear
©2010 Rebecca Rhielle
Standing with her back against the doorframe, Sadie sipped absentmindedly at her wine. Artists mulled about, talking about this piece or that. She knew some of these people were important in the art community, and knew that many of the pieces displayed in her formal room were coveted by local galleries, but she just did not get art. The canvas that Gale was commenting on now, for instance – it was of a nude woman, lying in an arid desert, clutching a phallically shaped cactus. From what she could overhear, it was supposed to signify the plight of today’s woman, living in a harsh, exposed environment at the hands of men. But honestly it looked to Sadie like a really, really bad porn drawing gone wrong.
“Ah, that’s because you are only looking on the surface, love,” came a clipped British voice. “You must dig deeper to see the intent of the artist.”
Hello Philip, Sadie addressed the spirit. I should have known you’d show up here.
“But of course! I wouldn’t miss an art exhibit in my favorite medium’s house for all the world!”
“There you are!” William’s scolding voice sounded suddenly in Sadie’s head. “I don’t know why you think you can run off like that and hide from me!”
“A man can dream,” he said wistfully.
“Dream all you want, lover. You’re stuck with me for eternity. That should teach you to shoot first and ask questions later. Brute.”
His voice changed tone as he addressed her.
“Sadie, darling, how are you? It’s so good to see you again. This old windbag wasn’t bothering you, was he?”
No, no, William. He was just showing me how to see past the surface and look for the artist’s intent in that painting.
She inclined her head slightly toward the piece in question, and William snorted.
“Poppycock. That is pure garbage. The only intent of that artist was to shock his audience, or possibly because he just wanted to paint breasts. Honestly, Phillip. You cannot assign value to something just because an ‘artist’ created it!”
“And what do you know about art, exactly?”
“Virtually nothing. But I know what I saw you create, and it was full of beauty and light, not some woman clutching a penile cactus.”
“You think my work was better than this?”
William chuckled. “Love, one canvas from your collection would make all of these pretentious pricks green with envy.”
“Oh, William,” Phillip sighed.
Hey, lovebirds – if you’re going to have some sickly sweet lovers moment could you do it somewhere else? I’m trying to pretend to pay attention here.
“Oh, dear. Yes, of course,” William said apologetically. “Come on, old man. Let’s go see what mischief we can get up to on our own.”
“Right behind you, love.”
“You always were,” William chuckled suggestively.
And with that they were gone, leaving Sadie smiling at the fact that after all the bickering and sniping at each other, there was still love there.
I hope we can be the same way on the other side, she thought wistfully, watching Gale work the room in her manic manner. But maybe with just a little less bickering and sniping.
“I thought you were taking a night off,” Gale said as she breezed over to Sadie. “I know that face. You were talking to dead people again.”
Sadie had to laugh.
“You caught me. But don’t worry – I sent them on their merry way.”
“Good, because there’s some people I want to introduce you to.”
Before Sadie could protest, her partner had her by the elbow and was guiding her toward a terribly wealthy-looking couple in their mid-fifties.
“Martha, Edmund,” Gale said in her best please-indulge-me-Sadie voice. “This is my partner, Sadie Johnson. Sadie, these are the Delacroix’s.”
“Darling!” Exclaimed the impeccably coiffed woman as she took Sadie’s hand in her own. “What an honor to meet you! You know, you have a very special woman here. Her art is so…so…Edmund, what’s the word I’m looking for?”
“Yes, yes. Inspiring. Do you paint as well, Sadie?”
“Oh, no ma’am. I leave all the artistic creation to Gale. She has enough inspiration for both of us.”
The couple laughed good-naturedly, and Martha finally dropped Sadie’s hand.
“I can certainly believe that,” she said. “What is it that you do then, my dear?”
Sadie looked helplessly at Gale. This was a question she hated answering, especially to strangers. They always meant well, but when she told them the truth their responses were generally less than cordial.
Gale smiled wide. “It’s alright, love. This room is filled with people the ordinary world would consider crazy. Go ahead, tell them.”
Taking a deep breath, Sadie braced herself for the inevitable.
“I’m a medium.”
Silence greeted this disclosure, which was relatively common. Now she only had to wait for the strange looks, skepticism, and/or religious condemnation to appear. The reaction of the couple could not have been more unexpected.
Martha raised one eyebrow slowly, then looked to her husband. They shared some silent communication, and then both returned to studying her intently.
Sadie squirmed in place, wondering what exactly was happening, and then Martha spoke.
“My dear, first let me commend you on your bravery. Not many people would admit such a thing to complete strangers. Sadly, this world has closed their minds to so much that is all around them, and they tend to look upon those who do not as abnormal.” She glanced at Edmund once more, and he gave a slight nod – to what, Sadie could only imagine.
“And…” the woman paused, seeming to weigh her words carefully, “if you aren’t opposed to the idea, we would very much like to employ your services. At double your normal rate.”
Gale squeezed her hand when she did not respond immediately, but Sadie was honestly dumbfounded.
“Well, of course I’d love to help you,” she finally sputtered. “But I assure you it’s not necessary to double my fee.”
Again, the couple exchanged a meaningful glance.
“We think,” Edmund began, clearing his throat, “that when you learn what it is we need you to do, you may find that double your rate is actually rather cheap, considering.”
Sadie looked at Gale and – not for the first time – wished that she shared the capability to speak through thoughts alone.
Oh, dear, she thought, looking back and forth from the couple to Gale. What in the world have I gotten myself into now?