Billy Enters the Pentakotic Gateway
After the ballet, people started pouring into Giovanni's restaurant. It was famous in the local area and a historical landmark that dated back to the time when Kansas City was known for its stockyard---and steaks. With the live jazz trio, the lounge was raucous.
"I'll have a 7-up," Billy told the bartender.
"A 7-up!' he repeated, this time louder.
Just then Giovanni walked up from behind and chummily patted Billy on the shoulder. He was carrying a glass of bourbon, and looked bleary-eyed and jolly. The lounge was filled with pretty dancers from the Company, also artists, and local businessmen.
Billy tried paying for the drink, but Giovanni stopped him.
"It's on the house," Gio said.
"Are you sure you don't want a beer?"
"No, 7-up is fine. Alcohol makes me sick, anymore. I don't know why."
Gio tipped his head back and emptied his glass. Afterwards he said: "I'm glad you came tonight. I have some important news to tell you. I found an art agent who wants to represent your work. Interested?"
"An art agent? Who?"
"Just this guy I know. He has connections with science fiction and horror magazines publications, like Strange Tales and Tales of the Crypt. Ever heard of them?"
Billy's face colored. "Comic book publications? You're kidding?"
"They're, you know, those weird magazines that adults buy, that have science fiction stories in them, or horror stories. They're not comic books; some of the literature is quit good. According to Harvey Lihman, they're always on the look out for talented artists like your self to paint their covers or to make illustrations that go with the stories. Harvey says your art would be perfect."
" Harvey is an agent?"
"Yes, I e-mailed your portfolio to him a few weeks ago."
"I wish you wouldn't have done that."
"Are you angry?"
"No, I'm not angry. It's just annoying. I specifically told Mom I did not want her to give my portfolio to anyone. I'm only interested in creating, not selling, right now. I can sell, but only to the right person."
"Somebody likes your art work, Billy, and wants to be your agent. Is that such a bad thing?"
The humiliation that the young man felt diminished his self esteem to the point where he became momentarily despondent, and stood there with his eyes closed though he was perfectly awake. Almost nobody took his art work seriously; and the one person who did, Giovanni, did not see the value extending anywhere beyond the level of comic book illustrations or cover art for horror magazines. The thought that he would never be an artist who could express his inner dimension produced a very deep wave of depression, then a surge of anger. His hair jet black in color, and his complexion chalky from lack of sun, his eyes burst open and his fist pounded the bar top.
Giovanni responded to the outburst: "I'm a conceited bastard, I know. And I'm sorry. Just know that this bastard is working for, and not against, you. Your family wants you to succeed."
"I know you do."
"Maybe your art work might be marketable in the publishing industry where the standards are less stringent. So, what do you say?"
Billy shrugged, "Oh, awl right."
Upstairs, in the restaurant offices, was a computer where Giovanni emailed a full, digital version of Billy's portfolio to the agent, Harvey Liehmann. The email included a short cover letter written by Giovanni that specified the terms of their agreement, and that all financial transactions should occur through Migliazzo Enterprises on 11th and Main . Giovanni did not wait for the files to upload. The JPEGs were still being uploaded five minutes later when Giovanni rejoined the crowd in the music-filled lounge. The jazz trio consisted in a string bass, an upright piano, a drum set, and was playing louder now that it was late in the evening. People were sloshed. Astril was on the bandstand showing off her singing abilities before the rooting crowd, performing fast tempoed Billy Holliday songs, sung in French.
Billy, meanwhile, meditated in a silence lasting hours. Down through the Abyss, as he dove through mental space, he drew closer to the Pentakotic Gateway spinning wickedly in the bowels of time. It looked like a black hole suspended in outer space, imbued by vast forces, with a luminous center shrouded in smoky white light. He had seen the Pentakotic Gateway in the past, but had always been too afraid to surrender himself to the tides of thought rushing into its vortex. Now he felt no such fear. Impelled by suicidal disgust, he totally abandoned himself to the psychic riptide pulling into the endless chasm of thought. At that moment he did not want to exist. He wanted death, the annihilation of all thought and the total destruction of his personal identity, in order that he may experience no separation with the universe; no thinking, no feeling, just being, pure being without beginning or end. Yet the more he immersed himself in this feeling of self-loathing the faster his spirit seemed to propel itself through voids of inner space. Inside the Pentakotic Gateway he was a vapor among vapors, a cloud among clouds, magically propelled into the future.
What resulted was a total of 35 paintings, all produced in the winters months immediately proceeding his having entered the Gateway and his having walked amid the people, the buildings, and upon the streets of a future civilization; after Kansas City had been devastated by terror attacks and natural disasters, and silenced by appalling depopulation; when hot dust-filled winds blew ceaselessly through the skeletal remains of once beautiful buildings; and as silent aircraft propelled themselves magnetically through the airspace high above the dry river beds where Brush Creek once flowed. First he painted the Titan Memorial water fountain on 48th and Main where the Pentakotic Gateway always, without exception, made contact with the year 2214. Whenever he entered the gateway it was this year and this fountain that the time continuum spewed him from its maw. Next he painted the decadent population centers in Kansas City where advanced civilizations lived among stupendous technological wonders, populated by a mixture of drones, posthumans, and natural biological humans. The city centers were places where the population entertained themselves with gruesome public executions, blood sports, and strange satanic rituals.
to be continued. . .