He raps on the door of the loft, vociferating threats of expulsion until the deadbolt finally slides to the side. The moderately warped door springs open of its own accord.
“What the hell?” Rays from the dirty sunlight of winter shine on the far wall, revealing an electric mudslide of bright acrylic, launched and lobbed at a sheet of plywood, propped on the ceramic ledges of an unplumbed washbasin.
“I learned how to do this last quarter,” his son beams.
He inhales the scene. His boy is wearing a tattered frock (most certainly salvaged from one of the old boxes in the corner), covered in the same psychedelic velvet that adorns the painting and half the wall behind it.
“They teach this in engineering school?” he rubs his forearm, running his hand over some fresh, tribal ink, still red with irritation. His heartbeat is rapid, his neck bulges from the aerobics of morbid fascination.
“Modern Masters. It’s an art elective. You know, Jackson Pollen. You’ve heard of him, right?” his son asks.
“No, not really. I’ve heard of Jackson Pollock. And this ain’t him either. Just a bored kid on Christmas break.” He thinks back on all the holidays they didn’t share. He spent nearly half of them on the road, the other half on the run, a few in jail. His life isn’t a complete disappointment, just a mild one, like ethanol. It meanders, somewhere between irreversible disaster and unmet expectations, substituting rust for memories. He smiles and backs his tone off a notch. “This ain’t a goddam atelier”
“A what …”
“Never mind. Just clean this crap up, or you’ll have to find a different roof to sleep under.”
He laughs and rubs his shaved head as he closes the door behind him. The kid is thirty-three and he’s still reminding him to clean up his messes.