chiaroscuro portraits – a story circle
Chiaroscuro portraits on her bedroom wall. She tunes the radio with a smooth glide of her wrist, but hears nothing but static. Beads of sweat emerge at her brow, and she goes over to her collection of records – a few dozen scuffed 45s stacked in milk crates. Her fingertips, dry skin flaking, flick through the records. The sound they make is like a skittering insect’s many legs.
She selects a post-fusion jazz trio featuring Etna St. Dames on synthesizer, spools it onto her record player, sets the needle.
No sound emerges from the dusty speaker.
She scribbles the needle across the grooves but hears only rhythmless static. She yanks the needle and it comes off in her hands with a soft click. The static goes with it. She touches the plastic portrait frames, their subjects silently staring.
He’s got a head like a jar but he’s not a marine. He works at the supermarket in the produce department. There are no jars there to deal with, only loose vegetables in waxy boxes. He used to work in the general grocery department – did so for years. Too often, though, he felt customers’ eyes bouncing back and forth between pickle jars and his head, between sauerkraut jars and his head, and so on. The similarities were undeniable. He used to wear a pork pie hat but it looked too much like a lid. He wears a thin layer of powdery foundation to cover his skin’s inherent shininess, which too closely reminds him of glass. An ex- once described him as lantern-jawed, and he liked that. He didn’t notice that she’d started to say “jar.”