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The deal

‘Do you know Ahiraz Getalong?’


He raised his brows with wonder. ‘No, I don’t…’ An embarrassd smile formed on his
lips. She has been roaming around in his apartment some twenty minutes at least;
checking his walls, coming to a halt before each painting, and now at last she opened
up her mouth.
‘He’s a painter of some renown I believe; he was one of the pupils of well… you
know that pamous one who was hospitallised and the whole country mourned him
already, while he got out of it, and he’s still alive and paints.’
Who doesn’t know him…? He thought frustrated. She means that amoeba no doubt,
which divided itself to tens or much more. He’s seen many a time paintings, which he
was convinced were of that certain amoeba, but learned to his surprise that they were
in fact of his many different pupils – the one and difference was the signature at the
bottom.
‘Oh yes I know him I believe and heard his name if I’m not wrong.’ He said with a
note of disappointment.
‘I’ve two of Ahiraz painitngs hanging in my living room, and half a dozen paintings
of some others, though less notorious than him – but they’re worth quite a sum.’ She
emphasized raising her chin with resoluteness.
He was on the verge of losing his temper, that rare name for truth sake never reached
his ears; and he could not have seen of course any of his works. He mumbled a word
of apology and turned to the table where his friend, who bothered to bring along that
acquaintance of hers, on that Saturday morning – sat smoking.
‘Give me a cigarette,’ he asked her trying his best to calm down, leaving his potential
buyer on her own. The latter abandoned his walls just as well, and hastened to join
them.
‘I haven’t told you yet about our last vacation in Eilat, have I?’ She turned to his
friend. ‘You’d better listen to it you two, it’s rather relevant to our matter.’ She
declared decisively, exchanging meaningful glances with her little audience.
The dam has toppled down all a sudden, she kept quiet too long it seems. He thought
disappointed, and poured his guests a drink, a home made lemonade; which he
prepared for this sale opportunity. His potential buyer did not drink and sat on
ignoring the full glass and the refreshments, prepared especially for that meeting. As
some symbolic act. For if she will drink she will have to thank him for his hospitality
and attention in some way…While if she doesn’t she may leave empty handed. What
a miserable idea, and there’re some who take it as a clever trick. He went on thinking
disappointed.
‘We spent our last vacation in Eilat, some two weeks Gadi and me, my husband…’
She added laying quite a stress on her last syllables, watching his face with a
meaningful gaze. Like some warning in advance, as if to say that she isn’t game at all,
but she is well aware to her force of attraction. As that was no doubt her own
judgement, she thought she’d better let him understand that flirting won’t promote
him anywhere. ‘Two weeks in Eilat with all the expected comfort, aren’t an ever
lasting pleasure it seems. We’ve reached that conclusion during our second week there
of course. So, we’ve decided to leave earlier that planned. We left on Saturday
morning, at day break. It was a great idea, the road was empty, and we reached the
town of Beer-Sheva at about a quarter to nine. At the cafe where we sat to have our
first morning coffee, Gadi saw some announcement advertising and exhibition of the
painter I’ve tellling you about.’ She smiled cheerfully to her host. ‘So Gadi said let’s
rest up to ten o’clock, which is the opening hour and hop to visit it. I objected of
course and that was our first dipute…’ She recalled with much exuberance. ‘To argue
with Gadi is impossible, I could convince him and had to visit that exhibition with
tight lips. But I made him pay quite dearly.’ She added with a short gay laugh. ‘As we
were the only visitors at that early hour, I’d a very long chat with the artist, made him
explain all the exhibits and made poor Gadi terribly jealous; and that wasn’t all, I’ve
bought the two most expensive paintings in that exhibition. That was first time I’ve
seen my Gadi on the verge of losing his temper.’
‘Wasn’t you supposed to pick up Gadi at eleven thirty?’ Asked her his close friend,
rising to her feet.
Despite his disappointment he followed his guests down to the parking lot, with some
relief.
‘Your paintings are, how should I define it? Impressive, yes that’s the right term,
absolutely impressive.’ She said opening her car’s door, far from the danger of any
commitment. ‘I’d like to have a second look at them, before reaching any decision.’
She added with a polite smile and understanding. ‘I’ll keep in touch.’ She went on
behind the steering wheel, and started the car’s engine.

Some six weeks after that dreary meeting, on a Sunday, at noon time he had a phone
call from his reserve liaison officer. The issue was adrress verification, that had to
take place on that same evening.
‘You do remember that I’m about to reenlist from reserve service.’ He asked with a
hint of sarcasm. ‘Isn’t it a waste of resources, don’t you think?’
‘So it might be your last job, that’s all there is to it.’ She answered laughing at the
other side of the line, and asked him again not to leave his home between four pm and
midnight.
He had to tidy his apartment, to put some order in it; after it had been neglected, due
to his surge of creative energy during the last few days. Roaming around he collected
dispersed drawings, sketches, sheets of virginal papers that were dispersed all over the
place, which he prepared for some project and did not use yet; he collected some
items such as brushes and color tubes, which were hidden beneath some of the papers
and drawings, without his notice. Having done some order he lunched and rested,
waiting for them to come. A few moments after eight pm two youngsters attired in
uniforms appeared, carrying lists and forms in their hands. He let them in, gave them
the detailes they asked for, signed where he had to sign, and waited and hoped to see
them off. The more active among these two and a bit older noticed his paintings,
asked his permission and turned to have look at them. The young visitor stayed near
of the portraits some long moments, and when the artist walked over to his guest,
wishing to shorten the procedure; that latter turned to him extending his right hand:
‘Ahiraz Getalong is the name.’ He introduced himself rather pompously. ‘How come I
don’t know you yet?’ He asked and added right away: ‘You haven’t come out with an
exhibition yet?’
‘I don’t feel like it.’ The artist replied with a note of cynicism, wishing to put an end
to it, and them off. He had some other plans, which he had to postpone because of that
certain visit.
‘What is it then, hesitations of lack of self confidence that hinders you?’
‘No, not at all, I haven’t got enough material yet that’s all.’
‘I see here quite enough, well it might seem as if you have some hestations so typical
before the first exhibition, isn’t it?’
‘No not all,’ the artist protested but Ahiraz had no time to lose, his companion started
to fidget near the door ready to leave. ‘I’ve seven exhibitions already behind my eight
one opened up a week ago in Ashdod, and there three weeks up to its closure. Do you
know what’s a four weeks exhibition? Just think of it an exhibition of four long
weeks. Well, from what I see on walls’, he went enthusiastically, ‘you can do it, or
some others and show the public a few paintings.’
‘How is it going to you, are you doing well? The artist inquired rather curiously,
having changed his, thanks to the lecture of his young guest.
‘Am I doing well?’ Ahiraz laughed cheerfully. ‘Ritght at the beginning I’ve exhibited
only in Tel-Aviv and the central area. I wouldn’t say I’ve sold much, I’ve become
known, got the the leading people. Last year I’ve decided to move to the South, and
exhibited for the first time in Beer-Sheva. You won’t believe it, after a depressing first
week with a few visitors, on the first Saturday I’ve sold two paintings in one stroke.
Some young couple came quite early, just a few moment after the gates opening, I
don’t know from where; they seemed as if they were dying on my paintings, at a
quarter past ten were after the sale, and they’ve bought the two most expensive ones.
It turned on of course all the other visitors who have arrived during that time and later
on, and up to closure I’ve sold some fifteen paintings plus drawings and aquatints.
You know how it goes, in short it was the best exhibition I’ve ever had.’
‘Unusual, it’s really unsual,’ he artist remarked quite enthusiatically.
‘Listen, I’ve had even twu running at the same time, in two different cities – not far
off though. Thus I do recommend you to have your first one at some provincial town,
just like me; for these towns are neglected by most artists, and there’s a very extensive
field for action in those towns. Just before the closure of the current one, you sign a
contract with some other modest institute at the next town, and if you’re luckey
enough even at the side of the same town; you transfer there the exhibits of the closed
exhibition without any problems. If you’ve sold a few paitings you add new ones, and
at the time that your exhibition is running you sit in your studio, or whatever you call
a studio to prepare your next exhibition – as simple as that.’

About a year after that enlightening meeting, having completed his errands, the artist
while standing at a pedestrian crossing, waiting with a samll of pedestrians for the
green light; letters on the billboard on the other side of street, were perceived in his
mind, as if they were darting in his consciousness. Having crossed the street the artiset
went over to that billboard to check the curious announcement, and indeed: “Ahiraz
Getalong summing up an epoch”, maturity, daring and some more such pompous
words of praise. This pompous phrasing reminded the artist a certain figure. The great
priest of art, the great priest no doubt, who flocked a painter after a painter, and
crowned himself as the fine arts authority; and that stand was a short cut to become a
curator and a critic under the robe. He had already expressed his vague views on TV
programs and not just once, in the newspapers columns he swims through all the art
currents; as variable as they might be with astonishing harmony – no wonder he’s self
made grand master.
This opening I must attend! The artist decided, shaking off his flow of negative
thoughts. I’d rather take part in it though passive, as a preparative stage to what I’ll
have to confront meself in the near future. An additional reason was his wish to renew
his tie with Ahiraz, whom he has not seen since last year. After all the latter has so
close relations with leading figures in their mutual domain. Who knows he gain
something of that tie.
He prefared to arrive to the opening an hour later at least, to save himself the the
speeches dreariness. A phase that was unavoidable in each opening, a phase that he
found so loathesome. But getting closer to the entrance he already the high priest’s
fiery speech. A great the high priest to prattle, he could wear down words and to
masticate them endlessly, and thus speak more than anyone did before him. As soon
as the speech ended and the audience disperesed towards the hall’s walls, to watch the
exhibits, the artist went over to the one that opened his eyes, to greet him. They have
exchanged a few words, when the high priest raised his in a shouth from the other side
of the hall: “Ahirazzzzz!’ Demonstrating his flock of asherents, that what is forbidden
to them is allowed to him the high priest. Ahiraz pulled his right in haste from the
artist’s hold and rushed to his patron.