FRIGHT WIG • by David Macpherson

When I finally was able to buy my Warhol, I didn’t know where to put it. I had plenty of wall space.  I sold most of my collection to get the painting. Of course it had to be a soft market, so I got soaked. My Chuck Close fingerprint lithograph went for half of what it should have. Let’s not even mention about what I saw for my suite of Rosenquists.

I always saw myself as a man who had a Warhol. I would often tell Michael that I am a man with a Warhol and Michael would roll his eyes and say, “I have lived here for nigh on four years and I have never seen a Warhol, dear.” So I would correct myself and tell him I am a man with a Warhol in absentia.  But now, I could be the man I always saw myself as.

A dealer let me know one of his collectors was moving and willing to let his Warhol Fright Wig go. Yes, the fright wigs. Later works, I know. I am also aware that many of them were actually screen printed by assistants and not by Warhol. And I know that the image of Warhol in that ridiculous bedhead wig is not attractive to say the least. But it is a Warhol.

Compared to all the work I gave up to get it, it was quite small, two by two feet. The piece had a weak green tint and the frame looked horrible. I told Michael not to judge until it was properly presented. I said, “How can you judge a handsome young man if he was dressed in flannel or corduroy?”

Michael said, “Take it out of the frame then. Everyone looks better naked.” I spent a second fortune to get a good frame. But it still didn’t work on any of the walls. It was swallowed in the living room. The dining room was just not hospitable. The kitchen? Please. Even I was disturbed when Warhol was hung in the bedroom. With his leering blankness and that exclamation mark of hair, no one could sleep.

Michael came to the wrong conclusion. “Hang it in the closet,” he said, “Show it to dinner guests and then cover it with their coats.” As if art is but a conversation piece or a prop.

I told him, “Michael, it isn’t the art that’s the problem. It’s the house. We need to get another house.”

All Michael said was that he wished I hadn’t sold the Pearlstein nude that used to be in the bedroom. He said, “I thought that was beautiful.”  This was his way of telling me that he would not participate in the house hunting.

I engaged a real estate agent. I’d bring the Warhol with me. I tried it on all the available spaces. None worked. I widened my search.

I stay in hotel rooms. I look at houses during the day. I even try the Warhol on the hotel room walls. I remove all the hideous seaside watercolors and try my prize.

I feel like the assistant to the Prince carrying the glass slipper searching for any foot that fits. I know when I find the right wall in the right room, I will be home.

I haven’t talked to Michael in weeks. I wonder if he’s still at the house. I can see him there, slouched in his robe, sitting on the sofa. Sipping coffee from his mug, reading the Week in Review, looking at ease and perfectly placed.

David Macpherson lives with his wife Heather and son George in Central Massachusetts. He is a writer of short things. His work has appeared in various publications. He is a former slam poet and is a fixture of the New England spoke word scene.

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