I have a shameful weakness. I hide my dirty little secret in an old case that belonged to a man who traveled around Europe looking for work as a painter. My secret fits perfectly, its edges brushing against the sides of the case and blending with the paint splattered in colorful drops like blood dripping from a cut vein or dew pooling in morning tears. My secret fits the sadness that emanates from the case as failed dreams seep from a broken heart. The man, the original owner of the case, only achieved success as a painter of walls, dabbing false flowers to create false visions. His paintings languished in the darkness of the unknown and were buried in obscurity, unappreciated by the mouths he had to feed. Those mouths needed feeding and his soul needed feeding and there was never enough for both.
Potentates from the city clambered for his talent in creating gardens upon their walls, intricate petals and leaves twirling in perfect imitation of nature. He poured his being into their dining rooms and parlors, leaving himself imprinted on their walls, brushing his identity on their living spaces. Once he had demeaned himself for their pennies, he would fill up his empty spaces with beer and schnapps and go home to pour his venom into those gaping, needy holes; worms of worthlessness dropped into those bird-like mouths.
He’d stick around long enough to blanket them in their inherited worthlessness before fleeing to the mountains. He walked and hiked his anguish into those ancient rocks leaving behind that rotten core that spoiled the good things in his life. Once he was clean and fresh and he could breathe again, he would stand in the sunshine and paint. All things forgotten except his brush on canvas. As he covered the canvas, he became whole and he thought he could go on again.
And he did go on again. He created a legacy that repeated itself until his death and from beyond the grave in the behavior of his children who carried on his cycle of anonymous pain and brilliance and chaos and genius and fractured dreams. He created the case in which I lock the fire of my inspiration, hiding it from the air and my consciousness like a dirty little secret.