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Coffee-can Assignment
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© Copyright 2008 0207 All rights reserved
by Andrew Alberti jr

     I slammed the door, hard. Then kicked it. "It always happens that way!" I raged.

     I kicked the door, hard. Then slammed it shut. “It always happens that way”, I raged.

     “It always happens that way”, I raged. I kicked the door, hard.. Then slammed it shut.

     It just doesn’t seem right. What reasonable human being goes around kicking their door.  I thought,  maybe I should change it. I’ll have to act this out and see how it works.

      I slammed the door shut. Then kicked Steve, my dog.

     “Yeah, that felt good. I can work with that."

     Steve, started acting like he didn’t like the kicking though. His teeth were suddenly very large, bigger than I remember, with some yellow tint to them. I could count all 27 teeth including the extra large canines. “Wait”, I thought, “shouldn’t there be an even number, like 28?”

     Wow, they sure did glisten in the pale blue light shining in to the room from the full moon. That snapping noise and soft ripping of cloth was not a good sign. The tug of war that ensued, the rapid leg shakes, growling and saliva droppings only lasted a few seconds. Seemed like an  eternity. The damage could easily be fixed with peroxide and iodine.
     During the repairs to Steve and me ,  I discovered there were now an even 26 teeth. I knew I hadn’t miscounted and yet ..; Oh, there it was.

     As I removed the fang from my ankle I mused about the tale I would tell. How a wolf attacked me. How I fought it off and during the attack managed to break off his canine in the fight. Oh yeah, great party conversation starter, especially if I wore it around my neck like an amulet. Hero talk always gets the Babes.
     Now back to the script. The Steve was out and kicking the door was out. Or was it. I came up with a new twist.

     I slammed the door, hard. Then kicked it. "It always happens that way!" I raged. Maybe if I changed things and used the cat. Maybe that could work. Cats are smaller and tend to run from a fight, unlike Steve, who struts around looking for the cat. OK! I went for it.

     I never thought about cats being able to jump that high and having hidden claws that could come to life at will. It was a full five minutes before I got the damn cat off my head. She really could dig in. She must have seen what happened to the dog and, catching me unaware, planned her strategy. I knew the cat always watched the octagon fights. I was, however, unaware that she had learned the concept about a good offense being the best defense. After this episode I decided I would  have to think this through. Time for a beer.

     As I went in to the kitchen I slammed the door which rebounded off the wall and bopped me in the nose. Then I kicked the door and it rebounded again, the door knob catching me in the delicate area.
     After I recovered, I thought,”it doesn’t always have to happen this way, does it?”

© Copyright 2008 0207 All rights reserved
by Laura Broadwater

Troubled, I walked back to the painting, “Nude to the Altar.” I shook my head. The name didn't seem to fit. Yes, there was an altar in the painting. However, both men standing before it were fully clothed. I leaned in closer to see if I'd missed a detail or two, and when I did I felt a slight tap on my shoulder.

“Yes,” I asked, turning around to find the museum's curator behind me.

“Sir, I notice that you keep returning to this painting.” he said. “Might I be of some assistance?”

I glanced back at the canvas. “Not unless you can tell me why the painter chose this title.”

“I'm sorry, Sir, I'm not allowed. You must find that answer for yourself.”

“Really,” I said, quite surprised by his answer.

“I do, though, have a few questions from the artist to aid you in the process.” He said. “Would you like to hear them?”

“Might as well since this title is going to drive me crazy until I know the artist's reason behind it.”

 “Okay, sir. Have you ever read, or heard of, the Bible story about the proud Pharisee. The one who stood at the altar thanking God because he wasn't like all the other people-murderers, adulterers, thieves?

“Several times,” I said, “There was even a tax collector in the story who was too ashamed to lift his eyes to heaven.”

“Look again at the painting,” he said.

How could I have missed it? I knew there was something familiar about the scene. The arrogance on the face of one man, compared to the shame on the others' was undeniable.

“Which man is nude?” The curator asked, interrupting my thoughts.

“What do you mean-

“Which gentleman in the portrait is nude?” He repeated.

“Is this a trick question? Did the artist really tell you to ask-

“Sir, appearances aren't everything. If they were, don't you think you'd have recognized this scene much sooner.”

He was right. I hadn't expected the painting to be anything more than what the title suggested-something, or someone, nude in front of an altar. Which meant maybe the artist wasn't thinking in terms of the physical? That's it! Since this was a portrait of a Biblical scene, the artist had to be referring to something else-possibly a bareness of the soul.

   “It's him, the tax collector,” I said with absolute certainty.

    “Are you sure?”

“Well, yes.” I said. It couldn't be the Pharisee, cloaked in his self-righteous pride. It had to be the humble tax collector, stripped of all guise and pretense.

   “Whose altar were they standing before?” The curator asked.


“In the story, whose altar were they standing before?”

“I'm assuming it was God's altar. They were praying to him.”

“This is your last question, Sir. Afterward, I will leave you to ponder the meaning of the title.”

“Whose eyes do you think the artist was looking through when he painted this scene?”