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He shuffled through another sheaf of papers, and came upon one written in the form of an unidentified dialogue. As he went deeper and deeper into the pile, he found more and more of this type. John had gotten into the habit of mentally talking to himself.

"I always thought it would be interesting to paint, and one day I went out and bought these colors."

"Oh, let me see what you did. Is there anything good there?"

"No, not really, but some of them are rather interesting. I started off by seeing how the colors mixed."

"Yes, these are interesting." There was a long silence. During the silence on the paper, Dick paused in his reading. Somewhere, there was a notebook . He had remembered coming across a spiral binder of watercolors. Dick went into the other room and looked at the chests of drawers, wondering which one the book had been in. Then he turned and went to the bookcase, and there, among the ballet folios and the yearbooks and the old copies of Horizon, stood the book that he had glanced through earlier. The first was a simple mass of red, applied with different thickness of brush. The next was an inane mass of primary color. Dick thumbed quickly through the pages, seeing nothing to catch his attention. A ludicrous attempt at designing a costume, (the king of the fairies, thought Dick, wryly) was sandwiched between two sheets of red, white and yellow clumps of color; the first sheet was composed of bright reds and yellows and areas of light orange, the one after the costume design was a pastel version, not quite so cluttered, of the first. "They're nothing but baby's fingerpainting." Dick had a vision of John's bitten fingertips clotted with drying tempera colors. It would settle into the areas where the skin was scarred, and would not wash off easily. Dick could never look at those fingers without a queasy shudder. How could anyone continue to chew away, despite the bleeding, despite the scabs, despite the pain. Gnaw away at the fingertips, tear at the flesh? Dick clenched his teeth and paged through the book. A Christmas card type picture was done in white on a dark blue sheet of poster paper. A rushing white figure, flying, brushed the top edge. In the lower corner was a mountaintop, with a five-year-old's drawings of Christmas trees covered with snow, and a tiny house with a dot of red for a window. This was followed by more samples of mixing color, and by attempts at cataclysmic landscapes: fires, volcanoes, explosions, tidal waves. Each was done hastily, each was uninteresting. Somber washes of gray and dark red followed, and Dick thumbed past pages of which could have been representations of various sorts of vomit in muddy pools. A ballroom completely lacking in perspective came next, with an awkward stairway in the middle. Posed on the stairway, undoubtedly representing slender mannequins, were fat blobs of color, with pink and violet rays coming off the figures. Dick winced as he looked at them. Was this John's idea of grace and beauty? No wonder he ran after boys. The two sides of the stairway were vastly dissimilar, and a gawky palm tree attempted to balance off a hooded, capped figure in the right foreground. A splotch which might have been a fingerprint was the only attempt at featuring on the page.

Dick skipped a few pages which were stuck together where they had dried from too much coloring. A hideous fog of red and black scribbles was on the last page but one. Painting and repainting, then going over the paper with a wet brush had made it almost a monotone. "How could he have continued, when he must have known they had no worth at all?"

The last page had but one line of catenary form. It was done in a uniform color of violet brown. Nothing else followed, as if that solitary "U" was the signature to the works that had gone before. Dick flipped the book shut and replaced it between the ballet folios and the old yearbooks. He walked into the other room again and picked up the notebook he had been reading.

"This is a good one, it looks like fireworks."

"The colors are rather nice on that one. I like the way the red and the yellow mix. It's not really orange, it's a kind of pink. I think it's great to just mix up the colors and see what comes out. Who knows, I may find the lost chromatic."

"Now that's interesting." Dick saw that at least the viewer hadn't tried to use anything more than the perfectly safe description "interesting."

"What did you turn it upside down for?"

"I don't know, I just wanted to see how it would look that way. You never know when you're going to see something different upside down, hm??" So the viewer was gay, too. Dick felt almost relieved that John had never attempted to show his paintings to him. He might not have so easily stumbled onto the happy convention of "interesting." He would have nothing to say about the entire range of dabbling.

"This next one's interesting. I did it right after the one before. I had all these colors mixed, but when I finished, I had just a bit left, and I decided to get rid of them. So I did this one. It's mostly water, but I think the lines are nice." So he himself had turned over the page of the costume design. Even in front of his homosexual friends he was unwilling to show off his perversion. He was becoming more and more sure that no one else had ever seen his photographs. If he couldn't show a silly drawing he made of a nance in drag, how could he have showed photos of himself in such an obscene position? Dick jumped down through the conversation, verifying that he skipped the later one of the staircase. The "Cosmic Messenger on the Christmas card' got a laugh from them both, and the cataclysms were passed over briefly. Then, toward the end, he pulled up abruptly.

"This next one's really something. I just sat down one night and wanted to paint. I started off by trying the combination of red and white and black. But it got to the point where it was some sort of unconscious movement. I really didn't plan anything to come out" That was certainly obvious. The dim gray and dark red sheet was hardly more than an amorphous puddle. "I'll bet a psychoanalyst would really get a kick out of that. It'd show up all kinds of compulsions and perversions."

"Gosh, that's an odd one. Yeah, it certainly is."

"And that's the last. Kind of gloomy note to end on." Indeed it was. Here was an awful product of a few minutes of scrabbling with colored pigments and water turned into a soul-searching piece of mystic creation. What childish whims that the inartistic scrawlings would reveal an inner being that was monumentally tormented. As if John were the only homosexual in the world. As if he were the great misunderstood, unfound genius living by himself. That was the entire problem, Dick figured: living by himself. The dialogues summed up his loneliness, the loneliness of many homosexuals. But to try to make it a monument to their suffering, to palm off stupid blots of psychoanalytic gold! This was another sign of John's overwhelming immaturity. The child is proud of himself when he soils himself. He plays with the bits that he finds in his diapers, maybe even presenting them to his father or mother as a lovely creation. Part of growing up is to realize that fecal matter is possible to everyone. Everyone has hopeless waste. To try to pass this off as treasure is infantile. And this is what John was trying to do with his so-called "Paintings." The product of a hopelessly inept, woefully untrained hand touted as the clue to the soul of man. What stupendous pride, what overwhelming lack of maturity. Whata LAUGH!