.my feeble attempt at expressionism.
(richard/angela/jimmy post-mortem reflection;
takes place btwn 2.11 and 2.12)
They were laughing as they did it. That was what got to him the most. They couldn't just burn it all silently, as a kind of funeral pyre, out of respect for the woman who had made it. No. They were drinking. Drunk, actually. They were drunk. And he was pretty sure the man who had been her husband had something else coursing through his veins; something that was not liquor. Something that would do a number on him even worse than the morphine which had done a number on Richard Harrow after he came home from the war, eternally clawing at his face and screaming in pain.
He approached the two men with the self-assured, confident gait of a soldier. Richard Harrow was neither of the former, but he guessed he would always be the latter. It seemed he had not come home from the War yet; sometimes at night when he was alone in bed and trying not to think of foxholes and blinds and grenades and zeppelins passing by overhead, he was convinced he would never come home. He would always be in France, but not in France, exactly - rather, he would always be in that place which they so obscurely referred to as "over there".
He lingered on the outskirts of the burning paintings. He could see watercolor seascapes and beautiful charcoal sketches of nude women and bright, vibrant oil paintings - and amid them all he saw one that he recognized very well. It was further away from the fire; hadn't yet been scorched around the edges by the hungry flames.
Mmm. Very bold.
My feeble attempt at expressionism.
She had been so modest. But the painting had been very good, at least in Richard's eyes. He had never seen anything so colorful. So vibrant. So full of life. And yet, the figure in it seemed so lonely. Cut off from the colors of the world. Their back facing the viewer, as if begging not to be seen. Richard saw a lot of himself in that painting. He had liked it very much. And now they were trying to burn it. These men who knew nothing of art and even less of the woman who had made it.
He went to the canvas and picked it up.
"Hey, Frankenstein!" Al Capone yelled boisterously over at him, his belly shaking with jovial laughter as he drank from a bottle of beer. "Come pull up a chair! Join the party! We're burnin' bridges. Maybe later we'll roast marshmallows over 'em too."
Richard ignored him; turned the painting around to look at it. Just seeing it made his face tense up; his eyebrows furrowing together until a double line formed between them and the right side of his mouth pulling down into a deep, deep frown. The painting was just as vibrant as he remembered; just as alive. Her signature was in the corner - A. Darmody - and he could not fathom that the brilliant woman who had made this was now cold and dead in the ground.
When he looked up, Jimmy was watching him. His eyes swam with liquor and whatever drug he had chosen to put up his nose today. But Richard could see something else there. Grief. Pain. And shame. No matter what airs he was putting on for Al Capone's benefit, he knew that burning Angela's art was wrong. Richard knew he knew that much, at least.
"May I. Hmm. Have this." he asked. He didn't turn the painting to face Jimmy. He wouldn't understand its value, and therefore, didn't deserve to look at it. But maybe he would understand, at least, why Richard wanted to keep it.
Jimmy looked at the fellow veteran for a very long moment. "Did she make that one for you, Richard?" he asked. His voice stiff; he was trying very hard not to show emotion. But it came through in his eyes all the same.
Richard looked down and away. She hadn't. By the time he came over and offered his opinion on it, Angela was already putting the finishing touches on it. She hadn't even signed it yet, when he saw it first. But the connection he had felt to the work was instantaneous and undeniable. He had felt, in that moment, as though it had been made for him.
"Mmm. Yes." he said quietly, and did not in any way feel it was a lie. He looked up at Jimmy again, hope standing out in his single olive eye. "May I. Hmm. Please keep it." He paused for a moment, and then added, by way of the only explanation he could give: "Something. Of hers, mmm. Should stay." He nodded, glumly. "Or else. Hmm. It's as though. She was never here. At all."
Al laughed. Laughed uproariously, in fact. But Jimmy didn't seem to see the humor in it. His eyes met his friend's gaze. His very best friend's gaze. And he saw no judgment in Richard's lone green eye. No disapproval. Only the loyal and honest need to keep something of Angela's alive. He looked down at the rest of the art. Burning on the pyre. It had been payback at first. Payback for her screwing some broad behind his back. And then, when they lit the fire, it had been catharsis. Wiping the slate clean. Getting rid of the heavy, pregnant feeling that the art gave the house; Angela's spirit still hanging around and asking him why, why, why. But now, as he looked down at all her art turning to ash in the soft sea breeze, he thought it just seemed spiteful. And selfish. And cruel.
He swallowed hard.
"Yeah," he said finally. "Yeah, you go on and keep that one, Richard. I think she'd have liked that."
Richard nodded. "Hmm. Thank you." he murmured, and hoisted the painting into his arms. Cradling it, because he had never had the opportunity to cradle her. And never would. He turned toward the house and walked up the stretch of beach that lead to it.
When Richard was gone, Jimmy turned to Al. Shook his head. "This was a dumb idea," he said, and went straight to the pyre, ripping out the latest painting they'd thrown on it and stomping out the flames with the sole of his shoe. He burned a hole in his pant leg and singed the skin beneath, but he found he didn't mind the pain.
It was better than feeling nothing at all.