Long live the Goya.
By: Cody DiCavalcante
I had skin like a skyscraper and an empty bottle of mental fire. My hands were sweaty. My ass was resting on a 3,000 dollar chaise lounge, created by Parisian coaches of living room fashion. Why spend so much money on something you use for decoration. Luckily, I needed to sit down.It looked like a half-eaten bathtub, chewed on by the likenesses of Godzilla or some other giant creature. The walls were decorated with art that I was too tired to even think of its import process and babble to get it here. I was out of money, hungry for work and spending way too many nights in basement jazz bars. I was waiting for the Xanax to take effect. I stole it at gunpoint. The man in black had indicated that it would take the edge off. He told me to fake like I had a gun, it would make them give it to me. It made him smile. What kind of man is he? I needed some way of calming down and deep breathing wasn’t working. How would you feel after waking up in a world 183 years later?
It is summertime. The birds are at the highest pitch of their songs and the mothers are even more excited to be pregnant. The churches are full and the liquor is flowing. The Hampton’s are festive and the sky is timidly radiant. I am Francisco De Goya. My friends call me Franc, maybe as a shortening of my name or maybe because I was frequently venturing to France in the winter to make snow angels and drink booze under bridges. I spent one year’s pay on a rabbit race in Cote d’Azur. The locals didn’t appreciate it. I bare-knuckle-boxed some barista that night after drawing graffiti on someone’s car. He woke up the next morning giving me café free of charge. I gave him a reason to live. Yeah, it was the life of a rock star. You probably didn’t know that. You might know me by one of my paintings “Saturn Devouring his Son”. If you’d like to know why I drew that picture, you are out of luck and I am out of spare time to speak of it. There are matters much more close to my heart than that, matters that I must figure out. You might be asking yourself, why are you even here right now, why are you speaking of yourself when you obviously were put in the ground almost two centuries ago. The answer is simple, I wasn’t meant to die. There is a society, much like your Knights of Columbus, people who act as volunteers who collected donations for those who they mark as leaders in their day and age. The dressed in simple clothing and had moustaches and combed their hair or their lack of it. They were called the M.A.D., Men Aiding the Dead. Their abbreviation was very well fitting, they were smart but entirely too mad. They never actually tell the person who is on their list, what they are planning to do and they had a developed way of avoiding that. Men were always on the scene in alleyways and atop roofs, to be on the lookout if that certain person was coming around (They would have done a great job in the Black Hawk Down movie. I watched that just last week, disturbed by the amount of color and life-flashing-before-my-eyes previews at the beginning; I didn’t make it past the introduction credits due to vomiting).The donations would be turned to something like giving money to the poor and thus the problem would be solved. Now that I know of this, it pisses me off. A miracle number of $3,500,000 was collected in donations towards keeping me well-preserved for the next few decades, I know, a lot of money. You should have seen the cash crop raised for Caligula. The guy looked like money, must have been of that megalomania that made him look so wealthy as a half-dead guy. All they needed was some time before cryogenics were available. An alternative was used before it was designed but it was a spicy one. It was a goddamn disgrace. I had missed some pretty important parts of history. The ending of the Black War in Tasmania, The publication of Oliver Twist, Olympic Games in Athens, Jack the Ripper, The Mexican Revolution, The Wall Street Crash of 1929. All kinds of history! I’m glad I missed out on the world wars. Not like I would have noticed anyways, I drew paintings on the walls of my house for God sakes! I died of a stroke, nothing fancy. Although it hurt like hell because I didn’t fully die. I’ve recently seen the hard falls skateboarders taketh upon their crotch and cometh up with a comparable pain to my situation.
When I had my stroke, I was horrified. I thought to myself, why now? Now I ask myself, Why not, If I had known back then what I know now. I wouldn’t have even died that day I had that stroke, yes life wasn’t viewed but I wasn’t dead. I suffered from a comatose afterwards for two weeks. So, if you look at it, the M.A.D. society caught themselves a pre-mature death. I feel good knowing they made a mistake. They had to wait two weeks before they could do their black magic. They were there the whole time, hiding in my house, working in shifts, awaiting my death. Some collected money in buckets from the streets and then there were assholes that invaded people’s houses and ate their food. I always had wondered why I never had any dessert at night. As I lie there dying on the floor, I saw a tomato on the counter. Did I want to paint it? No, I wanted to eat it. I was hungry. For some reason, every time I see a BLT I get mad now but how am I to know there wasn’t someone before who had the same idea. That’s right people; my last thought was a BLT, read it and weep. As the light began to fade and my fingers began to go numb, the last sight I saw was a naked gentlemen trip onto my living room rug. It wasn’t of the society. It was some boy my daughter had invited over that afternoon. At least I felt a little laugh in my drifting off.
Two weeks passed. I awoke to the sound of doves and people cheering. It wasn’t actually that. Comas do weird things to a man, even weirder things to a painter. The sounds I had actually heard were of sloppy men, clanking beer glasses and clapping that I had awoken. They looked like elves and dressed like kindergartners without parents. I was in a damn zoo. I was strapped down. Their knots weren’t hard to get out of, but I knew there had to be some big guy around the corner who was there just for that type of situation. I laid there and watched balls of spit, glassy and corroded, pass over my surprisingly not-dead body. I had no idea what was going on and felt my blood rise like a flood. This was even weirder than the time when I walked into my parent’s house during Christmas and they were bathing in a tub of eggnog. I began to think of my self-portrait drawn upon my departure from Spain. I sat in a chair; my ass was so numb by the end of the painting. I tried to look as civil as possible. I observed my look in that portrait: brave, compassionate, patient, tired as fuck. The night before had been spent learning how to do a cart-wheel while sniffing monkey hair. Back then, this was the equivalent of doing a line of coke, and you were damn lucky if you found a vendor to sell you the stuff. It didn’t come from any normal monkey, only black-garter monkeys. They were found in caves of Luxembourg; usually they had to be hit with a rock four or five times, the size of my fist. Once their death came around, they’d pluck the furry animal and mail it off to different parts of the world in crates. The Spanish King was known to have at least two crates a week stashed behind his wife’s closet. He knew how to throw a party. I began to notice a huge dent underneath me; it had fit my ass like a glove. It was my own dining table. (One night, I had several colleagues over and we had gotten drunk. I decided to wear a knight’s underwear, made of thick steel. My friend pushed me towards the table, not having the balance or power to stand my ground; I fell flat on my table. I had to tell my children a giant albatross came through the skylight). Suddenly a man came towards me. The chatter began to sizzle to silence. I smelt everything in the world burning. In the corner of my eye, I saw a black mass come closer and closer. My heart was in my bowels. My brain was at sea. His hand reached out towards me. It spoke…
“I’m the reason you’re here. People have noticed you and found you a righteous man. Money has been raised in order to see you have a good, long life. I will give you the gift of immortality. How does that sound?” The man in black said.
“What?” I said choked up.
“I won’t say it again for I know you heard. Your ears have heard much and listened well.”
“Very true but I’m quite scared and it’s hard to understand all of this.”
“Don’t be silly. You have nothing to be scared of.”
“My pants are saying something completely different.” I said in an awkward manner.
The man in black signaled for a man. What was happening, nothing at this point. He had just asked the man to get me a clean pair of shorts.
“We have raised more money than any man can ever wish to have, just to keep you alive. We believe and others as well, that your life is precious and you can’t depart from this earth just yet.” The man in black happily announced.
“Wouldn’t that go against God? I believe God gave me a certain day to die. I will go away now. All of you can go back home eat a big pot roast enjoy some lavish games and get kinky with your wives. I’ve had a great life. Come to think of it, how am I still alive?” I questioned.
“We’ve given you an ointment, called Pypakel, it helps to slow down the process of death. It’s a mix of ox shit and our 65 year old queen’s used make-up. We are currently awaiting the completion of our freeze machine.”
“Freeze machine? You guys wanting to keep shit cold? What does that have to do with my life?”
“It has everything to do with your life. The pypakel is working well, boys,” The man in black said to his band of misfits. “He is quite direct in language and showing anger. He is a strong fella.”
“Hell yeah, I’m strong. Let’s say all of you let me loose and I’ll knock all your lights out. I once KO’d a 10 ft. alligator off the coast of Spain and ate a spider for breakfast.”
“We remember that morning Mr. Goya. We had a great laugh from that.” The man in black heartily said.
I could see them start to laugh, some tried to hide it.
“What’s so funny? You don’t believe me?”
“You must remember Mr. Goya, we were always there. On this particular morning were you excercising?”
“Well, you had fallen from exhaustion to the floor and lay there many minutes. When you had received a good, deep breath a slightly large spider had slipped down your throat.”
“Oh, screw that. You’re all a bunch of peeping toms is what you are.”
I began to curse violently. Shaking my head back and forth as the men laughed in the background. I wanted to get the hell out of here.
“Mr. Goya, you will be under our authority for the next two months until the machine is completed. I expect that you behave kindly among our kind. Don’t try to resist us, we’re trying to give you a gift no one else can give you.”
“I don’t want your fucking gift. I don’t want anything except to go home.”
“You can’t go home.”The man in black sternly said.
The fear came back. A thud began to play through the room. Another man was coming towards me.
“Oh, what the fuck do you want? A kiss goodnight?”
The man’s fist came at me like fireworks in July. I was out cold. With how hard he hit me, I’m surprised their little plan was able to continue.
The next time I awoke, I was in a room, this time lying on a bed. It didn’t have any sheets. Good thing because it was extremely hot in the room. I was sweating and flies hovered over my flesh, waiting to rub their hands together and miss my smack, therefore leaving myself with bruises. I was quite annoyed upon waking up. I didn’t know what to do. I finally stood up and felt an overpowering pain in my knees. The pains of my sleep rested in my walking devices. This was a sad morning, or afternoon, I don’t know. I saw a metal door at the opposite end of the room, with a tiny barred window. I heard a man’s voice, in mumbles from the hallway outside. I walked hurriedly towards the door. I wanted to be taken home immediately. I called out…
“Hello? Is anyone there? Look, I’ve got to get home. I’ve got a family and people who want me to paint shit for them, so could I get out of here, please? I’m feeling a lot better. Hello?” I yelled.
“Oh hello! How are you today? You hungry Mr. Goya?”
The man was dressed like a guard and had intentions like one as well but was happier than ever to see me.
“Son, I just want to get the fuck out of here. Can you help me?” I said annoyed.
“I have orders from Mr. Sage to not release you until the freeze machine is completed.” The young man said.
His smiling remark pissed me off. Who was Mr. Sage and what the hell was this freezing machine everyone was bringing up? I tried to calm myself down and talk further with the young man but his naïve personality was too abusive on my patience. I sat back on the bed. I was tired. I started to drift off to sleep when my nerves screamed with something hitting my leg. It was a granola ball, highly condensed by someone. I ate it and fell asleep.
When I woke up, the room was dark. A candle was placed on a mantelpiece by the door. I wished I had a cigarette. Nights like these, nicotine clears the conscious. After a few minutes of deep thinking, of what I will not tell, footsteps began to be heard once again, this time more appealing. Maybe it was someone coming to release me, hopefully. Maybe now they’d see they didn’t want to keep me alive. All I have been doing for the past 24 hours is staring at the wall and managing to do 20 push-ups. That was my day. The footsteps were close. Yes, yes, yes! A shadowy figure loomed over the door. I felt the pit of my stomach drop. It was the man in black.
“Mr. Goya, the freezing machine has been completed.”
I didn’t know what to think or do, so I stood there in the dark of the room, scratching my temple. My mouth was dry and I felt like I was going to get a tooth pulled. The man in black came closer, much more black than before, I mean with the nighttime aura, he looked damn non-existent. He was accompanied by two other men. The man in black had motioned towards me. The two men behind him approached me with ferocity. I could feel bathroom workings arising again.
“Where are you taking me? I demand you to let me go.”
“It’s too late for that Mr. Goya. I promise you, you will be fine. Trust me.”
I trusted this man as far as I could throw him. I take that back. This man was rather light in looks and could probably be thrown across this whole building.
“Hey, I don’t think this is even legal. Did you get permission from anyone to do this? I mean, taking a high-ranked painter from his home isn’t exactly done every day.” I echoed through the hallway.
“You’d be surprised Mr. Goya.” The man in black said.
I couldn’t see his face. He was wearing a cloak and it masked his whole head. His hands were covered in leather gloves and a red amulet was worn around his neck. I thought he looked a little bit on the feminine side, but I wasn’t about to be turned into a gerbil over this observation. I was being led through a stoned hallway, then down a winding staircase, past a couple of dogs, over a log, through a marijuana patch, into a laboratory and finally into a room with a white chamber. The men pushed me upon the floor. I could remember wanting to punch them in the face. The man in black kneeled down beside me looking towards the white chamber. I wanted to punch him too.
“Mr. Goya, let me explain something to you…”
“Don’t explain, just let me go. I won’t tell anyone about this whole thing. I’ll go quietly and never reveal any of this crazy shit to anyone.” I said.
“…Mr. Goya, please. Time is quite delicate right now. My name is Mr. Sage, I’m here to give you immortality and keep you alive for a long time. You will be sent into the future and your legendary art will forever bloom through time. Isn’t that great?”
“I can think of a million things better than that. Let’s see, doing a handstand while watching my friend make funny faces, building a slide out of the firmament in my backyard, chasing ducks around the courtyard at Parliament. You should get out too. Looks like you could use the air.”
The man in black laughed.
“You’ve always been a funny man. I’ve kept an eye on you for some time. What I’m about to do is a process that has never been done before and it is finally possible. I am going to freeze your body and you will be brought back to life, able to live in a society much more different than our own. Unfortunately there is no turning back. I’m sorry but this is a decision made by the people. I can offer you my promise that you will be fine.”
I sat there blank on the ground. He gave me a look, well, I couldn’t see his face but I knew he was smiling through his calm and honest voice. I decided to go through with it. I would soon realize he was messing with me. He gave me a pat on the back and I felt a shiver go from the top of my head down to my feet. The two men behind me pulled me up.
“Now, remember when you open your eyes, however far in the future that may be, I will be there to guide you through your new point in time. I am not of human origins. I am of something else. Of the smoke and hail. I was made far on the edge of the universe. I will see you again, Mr. Goya. Safe journey.”
“Wait…wait a minute!” I shouted.
The men brought me closer to the white chamber. I was frantically trying to get loose. The chamber began to exhale smoke and pistons could be heard. I yelled at the top of my lungs and no one was there to save me from this moment. One man let me go while the other past by me. He opened up the door and I felt my body go numb. I was entering a state of panic. The freezing machine was there inside, I could tell because it was written next to it. I was brought within a couple inches of it. I could feel the future just waiting to tackle at me. I looked back, my neck straining. Mr. Sage stood there with a raised arm, waving me for liftoff. The door to the machine was opened. It all went black.
Chapter 5: The Last
Well, when I had awoken from my too-many-to-count sleeps since my stroke, I was in front of a large yellow beast, used for construction. Men with bulbous top wear looked down on me. The air smelt like sour wine. My lungs hurt from the chemicals. My eyes began to take shape and so did the world. It was 2011 and I was scared shitless, once again. Moving objects passed on a black path, trying not to cross over the yellow line, at first I thought it was a weapon used by wizards. I soon found out it was to keep cars in lanes. I was inside what would become a major bank in New York City. I must have been unburied by the construction vehicle. I screamed loud through the air, passing the heights of buildings. People seemed to not care or acknowledge me. Someone slipped change into my underwear. I began running, passing multitudes of people. It was a sea of people and they were all wearing clothes that were brighter than any fruit I had ever eaten. Up ahead, I saw a figure at the edge of a street. He looked familiar. He walked onto the street going near a red light. The cars screeched and put up their middle finger for him. I kept running even though I was not in any kind of shape for such activity. After several minutes, I caught him. People jeered at him, calling him a freak. He sat down on a bench at the edge of a park; I would come to know as Central Park. It was the man in black, Mr. Sage.
“Hey man, you remember me? What the hell is this? I’ve had about 4 panic attacks since I started chasing you. I can’t keep up with this? What year is this?” I said hastily.
“Mr. Goya, good to see you again. This happens to be 2011. You are in New York City and my machine seemed to work. I’ve waited 183 years for this day. Would you like to go for a walk, maybe grab some lunch?” Mr. Sage asked.
“What the fuck is lunch? Sure. I don’t think it could get any weirder than this.”
My blood was pounding and I couldn’t seem to calm down. I knew this was the only person who could help me; well at least a familiar face. We walked for several hours. He explained to me history of the world since I’d been asleep and a little information of good places to eat in the city. I wasn’t ready for this but, hey, life throws some pretty serious punches at you. You have to ready for the ride, even if you wake up and the computer takes over the canvas. Mr. Sage believed I could get by in this world and for some reason I trusted him. We were two freaks in a big city. Somehow it seemed like it would work out. Now, where can I get a BLT?