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The Exquisite Corpse - A Journal of Letters and Life
Edited by Andrei Codrescu
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Anti-Anthropomorhism or: Animals Redeemed

Art of the Egg
by David Parker Jr.

Valerie shifted her sleek, well-oiled legs to the left for a slightly different exposure to the sun. She flipped through pictures in Vogue magazine. She said, "What are you doing with all those eggs, honey?"
      Thomas said, "I'm going to smash them."
      "We need those eggs for brunch tomorrow with the Joneses."
      "I've decided we're not having eggs."
      Thomas was a prominent real estate lawyer in New Orleans, and he was squinting in the early afternoon sunlight. Valerie was his wife. She said, "Well, don't make a mess, baby." She adjusted her sunglasses with the sculpted tip of one finger, and turned the page in Vogue magazine.
      Thomas began sticking golf tees into the back yard and testing the wind with a wetted finger. He was wearing flip flops and a bathrobe, and his hair was standing up all over. Two dozen golf tees. They were all over the place, little white polka dots in the closely shaven green grass. Thomas put his hands on his hips when he was done, and he surveyed his work: lined up nicely, plenty of room to maneuver in between -- practical yet elegant. "Very good. Perfect. Yes."
      He turned to the two dozen eggs in cartons on the patio by the door.
      Valerie turned the page in Vogue magazine with one hand, and with the other she wound her fingers through the eighteen-carat white gold chain that hung loosely around her sleek and well-oiled neck. Her new white gold pendant hung on the chain. Valerie said, "Tommy, you know it says right here that staying up late and drinking causes water retention and irreversible damage to the skin around the eyes."
      "Yeah, I just worry about you, baby."
      "Thank you, baby, that's very sweet." Thomas was crouched over, moving from tee to tee, his bathrobe flapping open as he scuttled to each polka dot and placed a shimmering white egg on it. Two dozen tees. He was careful to place the eggs small end up for good balance. He said, "Does it mention anything in there about manipulative wives who screw their husbands out of thousands of dollars to buy ridiculous jewelry?"
      Valerie wound her fingers through the gold chain, glinting in the sun. "No."
      Thomas stood up. He squinted at the eggs on tees. They shimmered white and brilliant in the early afternoon sunshine, stretching out before him like a winding trail through the dark velvety grass. "Lovely," Thomas said to himself. "That's beautiful."
      Beads of sweat were beginning to show on his lip and on his forehead.
      Valerie shifted her shining legs to the right for a slightly different exposure to the sun. "Tommy," she said. "That looks beautiful, all those eggs on the lawn. You could have taken a picture of this and put it in the auction last night."
      Thomas grimaced. It was a high-priced fundraiser last night for the Art Museum, and event called Art of the Egg. Artists from all over submitted works with the theme of "Egg" - paintings, jewelry, sculpture, performances -- it was an elaborate party. Thomas and Valerie went every year. "Ridiculous event anyway if you think about it," muttered Thomas.
     He walked gingerly through the rows of eggs to get to the little white out-building on the other side. He said over his shoulder, "Do you think I could have gotten five thousand dollars for a photo like that honey?"
      Valerie scrolled slowly through the pages of Vogue magazine. "I doubt it."
     She loved the new line of winter wear, "a return to the classics", said the article. "Winter wear," mused Valerie. "My god, we'll have to travel to somewhere cold just so I can wear it."
      Thomas emerged with a clatter from the white out-building. He was carrying a long shiny black bag of golf clubs. He wound a careful way back through the eggs on their delicate perches, back to the patio side of the lawn. He set the bag down next to the bed of pansies and selected a driver from the bag. "Hello darling," said Thomas to the golf club.
     He tested the weight in his hands, gripping the handle firmly. Then he stepped up to the first tee. He took a deep breath, gazed down at the shimmering white egg. His feet were shoulder width apart . . . knees bent . . . arms straight, firm yet supple. He cocked back, the golf club high in the air, glittering in the sunshine. Then . . . SWING . . . WHACK . . . THUMP.
     Valerie looked up from the Vogue magazine. Thomas was standing in his flip- flops and bathrobe which needed very much to be retied around his waist. He was still holding the golf club in his follow-through pose, examining his first shot. There was a messy trail of egg debris -- pieces of shell, gooey egg white -- all along green grass, and a yellow smattering of yolk right in the middle of the little white out-building. Valerie said, "That was a nice shot, baby. I didn't think egg yolk would fly like that if you hit it."
     "Thank you. It was a nice shot. I wasn't sure if it would fly either." He strolled over to the black shiny golf bag and considered his next shot while he wiped the egg goo off his driver with a dish towel from the kitchen.
     He considered how much he'd like to take a shot at Valerie's new 18-carat, white-gold pendant. He thought he would use the driver for certain in order to get the most distance. He imagined the pendant glinting in the sunshine as it flew north over the fence, toward Mississippi. Thomas pursed his lips and pulled the nine iron out of his bag.
     Valerie flipped through the pages of Vogue magazine. She wondered how old Calvin Klein was now, smiling from the glossy pages of the magazine. She wondered if he wouldn't have bought her the matching earrings to her new gold pendant. On purpose.
     "Oh Calvin . . ." she mused.
     "What?" said Thomas. He was poised in his black bathrobe with his butt in the air and a golf club suspended over his head.
     Valerie shifted her sleek well oiled legs. "Nothing. Tie your robe, baby."
     "I can't. I'm concentrating."
     Thomas gazed from the white wall to the egg.
     The sound reminded Valerie of the sound Thomas's head made last night at the auction when he passed out onto the table in front of him with a bourbon and water still in his hand. They were talking with the Joneses at the time; everyone smiled and pretended not to notice.
     Valerie had straightened the collar and smoothed the back of Thomas's tuxedo while he began to snore softly face down on the white table cloth, so at least he would look like a well-kept drunk, and she smiled gracefully and went to watch the bidding at the auction.
     "Art of the Egg," she mused, sitting in her chaise lounge in the early afternoon sunshine. She wound her fingers through the gold chain and flipped the pages in Vogue magazine. The yard was strewn with pieces of egg. Thomas was tilting his head and squinting at the little white out building splattered with bits of runny yolk. "It is sort of like art," he said. "Ronnie LeBlanc has a painting in his office that looks kind of like that."
     Valerie said, "He should have sold it at the auction."
     She didn't see Thomas cringe when she said that. She only heard the swing, whack, thump as the remainder of two dozen eggs were blown to bits in her lovely back yard.
     Swing, whack, thump, and Valerie set her Vogue magazine down on the short, green grass, shifting her legs and her sunglasses, just slightly, just sexy. She sighed and held up the gold chain that hung loosely around her neck
     Swing, whack, thump. She let the pendant spin slowly at the end of the chain, catching the sunshine. It was a lovely thing, a gold pendant of an egg, exactly the size of Valerie's well-tended, candy-apple-red middle fingernail, handmade by a famous local jeweler. The egg was shaped perfectly with a scrolling design etched in the smooth surface, and it was wonderfully heavy. But really: five thousand dollars?
     Valerie watched Thomas in his flip-flops and bathrobe in the early afternoon sunshine, leaning on a golf club, examining his handiwork. She thought with a sigh, "I always did lose my head during the bidding."




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