The nighttime is an especially good time for God or angels, or someone from another planet to visit, as it’s a good idea for the inherent fuzziness of things in the dark to play a part in the whole production. One’s visual acuity becomes suspect when such things occur in broad daylight, not to mention one’s sanity.
Unfortunately that is not what happened to me.
At about 3:30 in the afternoon on Friday March 18th a fairly pleasant looking man (mid 40s) lightly knocked on my door. The dog, Angel, failed to bark, but even though my hearing is very poor, I somehow heard the noise at the door and I opened it.
“I’m Spud,” he said.
“Can I help you?” I asked in a not very convincing manner.
“I came to talk about art,” he said.
If you’re from that art magazine down in Florida I think I can pay you soon” I said.
“No ….no nothing like that”, he went on.
“You see where I come from your artwork is very valuable.”
“Really?” I said “ I haven’t heard those two words together in quite some time….”
“What two words?” Spud asked.
“ ‘Artwork’ and ‘valuable’” I replied.
“ Hey! That will make a good quote,” Spud said.
“Are you a writer?“ I asked.
“ I’m your official biographer”
I didn’t know what to say. This was definitively out of the ordinary. However, I was intrigued and I invited Spud in and got him a drink.
We sat across from each other at the dining room table and I was wondering if this could be some kind of joke.
“ What do you mean you’re my biographer?” I asked, “Where are you from?’’
“I live in Boston, LA, London, and Singapore,” Spud said.
“I’m from the future.”
“I live in the year 2545.”
“ Impossible!” I responded.
“ No really…. I came from the future to discuss your artwork with you.”
“Why would you do that?” I asked.
“Your sculptures and prints are very popular in my time …in fact I would say your work is venerated.”
“ Yes,” he went on, “We all think your work is fun, happy, and whimsical”
“That makes no sense. I’m miserable, no one thinks I’m happy ….not even my wife.”
"Well, all the same your artwork has cheered up millions and millions of people. It’s made them happy and now it is only in the best museums.”
“Like MOMA and the Guggenheim?”
“Much better than those” Spud said.
“I can’t believe it! You mean I’m going to be get rich?”
“No” said Spud, “you die in wretched poverty.”
“ Poverty? You mean after all the time I’ve worked at this, I wont ever make a living?”
“No and also you will not be recognized for anything.”
“No museum shows? Nothing?”
“Let me check my notes….”
Spud reached down and opened his briefcase. He took out a small book and began leafing through it.
I took the opportunity to get some new drinks for us.
“Lets see… this is the year 2011 right? Yes, here it is. There is something ….in six years you will show some of your work at a small Italian Restaurant in Rio Rancho. A friend of your wife tries to do her a favor.”
Spud and I had been sitting at the table for quite a while and the afternoon sun was getting lower and lower.
“ It is a total disaster.” Spud finally said, “ or rather, It WAS a total disaster….I can never get the tense right when I’m time traveling.”
“What do you mean it was a disaster?” I asked.
“ Well that was the beginning of what we call your ‘Black Period’.”
Spud suddenly became more animated.
”People hated the work you showed at the restaurant and they hated you…. In fact they hated you for another 350 years or so…. They did like your wife though.”
“Yes, she is very nice. “ I said “ Unfortunately she has had to take a job at K Mart and she is working late. I really would like you two to meet. You know, the economy is not doing very well.”
“Yes, I know,” Spud said, “Have you gotten a job?”
“No one will hire me,” I said, “They say I am more trouble than I am worth.”
“Mmmmmm” said Spud,” “maybe the ‘Black Period’ starts earlier than we thought….
I’ll make a note of it,” and he scribbled into his book.
“ How can I make art if I go broke?” I asked.
“ Evidently you start making a lot of sculptures out of the trash that you find along the road. Once you lose your house, you walk aimlessly around the city. It seems you used mud and cigarette butts also.”
“ We have pictures of some of these sculptures that we got from computer files, however, no one has been able to find them. We think they were all destroyed.”
“People in our time spend their vacations searching for them. If they were to find one it will be worth a fortune.”
“Did your daughter have a computer?” he asked.
“Yes, my daughter has several computers.
So people really liked the sculptures I made? ”
“No, people of your time period hated them…. they thought they were garbage.”
“Today (I mean in the future) you could pay off the national debt if you could just find one of them. “ said Spud.
“Seriously? Then will my wife and daughter get rich after I die?”
“ Of course not,” replied Spud, “In fact you made such a mess of things, people in your family tried for years to make sure you were forgotten.”
“Your artwork was buried in an old shed in the desert for hundreds of years. Fortunately your daughter did not destroy her computer records. Not only did she keep images and titles of the work in her computer, she left a map that helped historians dig it up and re-discover it.”
“ Your daughter was also very smart and well loved by people. It’s too bad you left her in such dire straights.”
By this time I was beginning to get depressed.
The sun had gone down and I turned on the lights in the house.
“ I’m going to have to get back soon,” Spud said “ I am giving a lecture about your artwork to the world leaders tomorrow. They are thinking about using your artwork to replace gold and thus secure the world’s currencies.”
“Don’t leave yet!” I pleaded.” I want to hear more!”
“ I thought you would be very happy about all this,“ Spud said, “ You don’t look happy at all.”
‘”Its been a long day,“ I said, “So if my work is worthless now, how does it become so valuable in the future?”
“Well the people who discovered you all got rich…. and any time your work sold for a higher price they all got richer. Every one doubled and tripled their money and before long it was priceless. People just think the work is so whimsical!”
“You already said that,” I growled.
Spud seemed not to notice.
“ It’s a long story but if you want I will send you one of my books sometime. “ Spud said.
He went on,”I have written a lot about the people who collect your work such as Mr. and Mrs. Gates from the country of Gatesdom. They made a huge fortune with your work.”
“Right after he bought up most of your available work, it went through the roof!”
“He was a very smart man!”
“Can he lend me some money?” I asked.
“ You must be joking, “ Spud replied, ”He wont be born for another 4 hundred years.”
Spud stood up to leave.
“Well I plan to come back and visit with you right before you die but I must be leaving now.”
“When will I die?”I asked.
“ I can’t divulge that information,” Spud said, “Its illegal.”
“I see,” I said and we shook hands as he left.
“Thanks so much,” I said as he walked out into the night.
My dog wagged her tail.
“Wow! Did you hear that? I’m going to be a success!” I said to Angel.
By then it was very dark out and things were getting fuzzy.