Friday, September 26, 2008

The Curious Winged Beast

oil on panel, 16" x 24", recently done on Geodone

This is ancient Greece. Or ancient Rome. Or ancient Babylon. It takes place long ago when monsters used to exist and women ran around in short robes. The button and the zipper had not been invented yet so everyone wore robes.

In all ancient civilizations there were many enormous statues. The people carved them because everyone likes to see a human in giant form. The bigger the statue the smaller we feel. Standing overshadowed by a giant piece of stone generates a great deal of awe. And awe is a lovely emotion to experience. Every important building in ancient times was decorated with several statues. In this painting there is a statue of a goddess holding an infant. Next to her is an old, dignified warrior holding his shield and spear. Next to him, barely visible, is a king.

This winged beast is not necessarily going to eat every girl he can catch. He is threatening and most of the girls are afraid and trying to run away. They fear for their lives. But luckily, at that moment, the beast is more curious than hungry. One girl does not run and instead plants her feet firmly. She tries to reason with the winged beast. She says to him, “Why don’t you eat a pig? They taste just as good if not better than a human.”

The winged beast answers, “It is so much trouble to go looking for a pig. Here there are a lot of humans in plain view.

The brave girl thinks a minute. She pats the head of her friend who crouches beside her. This girl is whispering gibberish, having lost her head completely. “There is one advantage to eating a pig instead of a human” the brave girl says. “A pig can’t hold a conversation with you. But you can talk to a human. Pigs are so dim witted that they only grunt. Grunts have little or no meaning. A pig would bore you in five minutes flat. But a human can entertain you with stimulating dialogue. Have you ever tried to make a friend with a human?”

“No, I only eat them” says the beast.

“Well then I can be your first friend. I’ve heard that most monsters live a very lonely existence. But you know that dragons will on occasion stop to talk to a human. Of course they won’t go as far as to share their gold with a human, but they do give very good advice. Kingdoms have risen or fallen based on the advice of a dragon. Everyone I know would love to be friends with a dragon.”

The beast’s voice is wistful. “I’ve always admired dragons.”

Cleverly the brave girl says, “You are just as smart and handsome as any dragon I’ve ever heard of.”

The beast is hesitant. He decides to confess a secret. “Dragons like to play chess. I’ve always been curious about chess.”

Suddenly the brave girl sees a glimmer of hope. “I can teach you chess! Chess is really good in developing the higher faculties of the mind. But you know, in order to play you need an opponent. Every human you don’t eat is a potential chess partner. If word gets out that you eat humans nobody is going to want to play chess with you.”

The beast weighs in his mind the chance to play chess against the chance to eat a human. Pigs start to look more and more appetizing. “Pigs have more fat on them then humans” he muses.

Relieved, the brave girl now knows she can win the argument. “And the fat in meat makes all the difference in flavor! I never trim the fat off my pork. And I love bacon, even though I know it is half fat. You know, if we were friends, I’d love to share a pig with you.”

“I take mine raw” says the beast.

“Then we simply cut it in half before we cook it. While we eat pig, I’ll teach you chess.” The brave girl is really quite intuitive. She has a sneaking suspicion that what has just occurred between her and the beast is a momentous thing. “I believe you’ve enjoyed having this conversation as much as I have.”

“It’s my first in fifty years” admits the beast.

“You poor thing!” says the girl, and she means it. “I promise, your life will change over night if you start talking to humans instead of eating them. With humans as friends you have an exciting future ahead of you. You will feel rejuvenated.”

“O.K.” says the beast.

“The first pig is on me” says the girl. “I’ll go buy one from a farmer.”

“Thank you” says the beast politely.

“My pleasure” say the girl, just as politely in return.

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