“Where’s the Beauty, Jimmy?”

So I’ve got that city tree trimmer Jimmy backed up against the door of my trailer and my hands are in his pants tickling his balls and his neck smells like moldy leaves. I brought him inside to show him my Andy Warhol poster collection, my 210 Coca-Cola Bottles (1962) on the fridge, Turquoise Marilyn(1964) in the living room above the divan, and my favorite,Gun (1981–82), over my bed, and then I told him all about Warhol, the greatest artist of the twentieth century, and I told him about the Factory and Ultra Violet and the others and how Andy lived through art, and then, right then and there, Jimmy ripped off my So-Fro uniform and went to kiss me, but instead, surprise, he licked all around my teeth with his tongue, top ones first, then the bottom ones, and I thought, this is it! A true art experience! So I went after him, pushed him up against the door, and now we are like a wild animal wanting to eat itself tail first, and how wonderful it is, and if we both die doing it, that would be okay because it would mean that we’d die having truly, truly lived.

But then, I think, the people who might find us dead would have no idea what it was all about unless we thought to film it beforehand, of course, so I say, “Jimmy, hold up, let me get my camcorder,” and I pull away from him, and he says, “Goddamn, Cheryl, I’m going to blow up!”

And I say, “Wait! We’ll get that on tape!” But when I get to the hallway and we are suddenly a few feet apart, I’m embarrassed about showing my body, my big boobs popping out over my posture bra and the red marks from my jean waist going all around my gut, even my aquarium fish looking at me like, Who do you think you are? And I think, No! I’ve lost it! Where is the performance? Where is the art?

–reprinted with permission from the author

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Holly Wilson

About Holly Wilson

Holly Wilson received an MFA from Wichita State University and a PhD from Florida State. Her story “Night Glow” won Third Place in Narrative’s First-Person Story Contest and was anthologized in 2009’s New Stories from the South. Wilson lives in Stoughton, Wisconsin, and teaches at the University of Wisconsin–Whitewater.