Blank Spaces

Feb 05  |  Foster Trecost

They spoke in low tones, hushed against a heavy din. “Have you seen him?”

“No, I think they put him on the first floor.”

“Of course they did, that’s where all the good ones go. We’re not first-floor material. Our days are numbered, I can feel it.”

“Why would you say that? Old-timers like us built this place, we’ve been here since the beginning.”

Curious faces passed, some hurried, some not. “They don’t stop like they used to, kids don’t even slow down.”

“You’re right about that, but the way kids dress these days, I prefer them to keep moving. Doesn’t bother me one bit.”

The new arrival generated a great deal of excitement. Hopes were placed upon his shoulders, hopes of renewal fueled by memories of days gone by, glory days. He was ushered in with great expectation.

The building became quiet. “I hate closing time. Remember last year? They shut the doors and cleaned house. We’re next. Business is slow, they’re making changes. We’re not famous, what will happen to us?”

“Just calm down.”

“I’m not ready for some second-rate room. Or even worse, a doctor’s office.”

“Will you relax?”

“How can I? Here he comes…”

Thunderous galumphs, perfectly timed and rhythmic, resonated through the great hall. A suit-clad metronome circled the room and stopped in front of the two who had been talking. “This one,” he said, pointing with an entitled flair, “and this one, too. Put them in storage and hang these new ones.” He snapped his fingers. “Quick! I want to go home.”

The paintings were removed from the wall, leaving blank spaces where they had hung, and stacked on a cart. No one could hear their cries.