Forced  to  admit  that  his  art was going unnoticed in a
frivolous world, Jay Smith decided to get out  of  that  world.
The  four  dollars  and  ninety-eight cents he spent for a mail
order course entitled _Yoga--the  Path  to  Freedom_  did  not,
however,  help to free him. Rather, it served to accentuate his
humanity, in that it reduced his ability to  purchase  food  by
four dollars and ninety-eight cents.
     Seated  in  a padmasana, Smith contemplated little but the
fact that his navel drew slightly closer to his  backbone  with
each  day  that  passed. While nirvana is a reasonably esthetic
concept, suicide assuredly is not, particularly if you  haven't
the stomach for it. So he dismissed the fatalistic notion quite
     "How  simply  one  could  take  one's  own  life  in ideal
surroundings!" he sighed, (tossing his golden locks which,  for
obvious  reasons, had achieved classically impressive lengths).
"The fat stoic in his bath, fanned by slave girls  and  sipping
his  wine,  as  a  faithful  Greek  leech opens his veins, eyes
downcast! One delicate Circassian," he sighed  again,  "_there_
perhaps,  plucking  upon  a  lyre  as  he  dictates his funeral
oration--the latter to be read by a faithful  countryman,  eyes
all  a-blink.  How  easily  _he_  might  do  it! But the fallen
artist--say! Born yesterday and scorned today he goes, like the
elephant to his graveyard, alone and secret!"
     He rose to his full height of six feet,  one  and  a  half
inches,  and  swung  to  face  the  mirror. Regarding his skin,
pallid as marble, and his straight nose,  broad  forehead,  and
wide-spaced  eyes,  he  decided  that  if one could not live by
creating art, then one might do worse that turn the  thing  the
other way about, so to speak.
     He flexed those thews which had earned him half-tuition as
a halfback for the four years in which he had stoked the stithy
of his  soul  to  the  forging  out  of a movement all his own:
two-dimensional painted sculpture.
     "Viewed in the  round,"  one  crabbed  critic  had  noted,
"Mister  Smith's offerings are either frescoes without walls or
vertical lines. The  Etruscans  excelled  in  the  former  form
because  they knew where it belonged; kindergartens inculcate a
mastery of the latter in all five-year-olds."
     Cleverness! More cleverness! Bah! He  was  sick  of  those
Johnsons who laid down the law at someone else's dinner table!
     He  noted  with  satisfaction  that his month-long ascetic
regime had reduced his weight by thirty pounds to  a  mere  two
twenty-five.  He  decided  that  he  could  pass  as  a  Beaten
Gladiator, post-Hellenic.
     "It is settled," he pronounced. "I'll _be_ art."
Later that afternoon a lone figure entered the Museum of Art, a
bundle beneath his arm.
     Spiritually  haggard   (although   clean-shaven   to   the
armpits),  Smith  loitered  about the Greek Period until it was
emptied of all but himself and marble.
     He selected a dark corner and unwrapped his  pedestal.  He
secreted  the  various personal things necessary for a showcase
existence, including  most  of  his  clothing,  in  its  hollow
     "Good-bye,  world,"  he  renounced, "you should treat your
artists better," and mounted the pedestal.
     His food money had not been  completely  wasted,  for  the
techniques  he  had mastered for four ninety-eight while on the
Path to Freedom, had given  him  a  muscular  control  such  as
allowed  him  perfect,  motionless statuity whenever the wispy,
middle-aged woman followed by  forty-four  children  under  age
nine, left her chartered bus at the curb and passed through the
Greek  Period,  as  she  did every Tuesday and Thursday between
9:35 and 9:40 in the morning. Fortunately, he  had  selected  a
seated posture.
     Before  the  week  passed he had also timed the watchman's
movements to an alternate _tick_  of  the  huge  clock  in  the
adjacent  gallery (a delicate Eighteenth Century timepiece, all
of gold leaf, enamel, and small angels who chased  one  another
around  in circles). He should have hated being reported stolen
during the first week of his career, with nothing to face  then
but  the prospect of second-rate galleries or an uneasy role in
the cheerless private  collections  of  cheerless  and  private
collectors.   Therefore,  he  moved  judiciously  when  raiding
staples from the stores  in  the  downstairs  lunch  room,  and
strove  to  work out a sympathetic bond with the racing angels.
The directors had never seen fit to secure the refrigerator  or
pantry  from  depredations  by  the  exhibits, and he applauded
their lack  of  imagination.  He  nibbled  at  boiled  ham  and
pumpernickel  (light), and munched ice cream bars by the dozen.
After a month he was forced to take calisthenics (heavy) in the
Bronze Age.
     "Oh, lost!" he reflected amidst the  Neos,  surveying  the
kingdom  he  had  once  staked out as his own. He wept over the
statue of Achilles Fallen as though it were his own. It was.
     As in a mirror, he regarded himself in a handy collage  of
bolts and nutshells. "If you had not sold out," he accused, "if
_you_  had hung on a little longer--like these, the simplest of
Art's creatures...But no! It could not be!
     "Could it?" he addressed a particularly symmetrical mobile
overhead. "_Could_ it?"
     "Perhaps," came an answer from  nowhere,  which  sent  him
flying back to his pedestal.
     But little came of it. The watchman had been taking guilty
delight in a buxom Rubens on the other side of the building and
had not  overheard  the  colloquy. Smith decided that the reply
signified his accidental nearing of Dharana. He returned to the
Path,  redoubling  his  efforts  toward  negation  and  looking
In the days that followed he heard occasional chuckling and
whispering, which he at first dismissed as the chortlings of the
children of Mara and Maya, intent upon his distractions.  Later, he
was less certain, but by then he had decided upon a classical attitude
of passive inquisitiveness.
     And one spring day, as green and golden as a poem by Dylan
Thomas,  a  girl  entered  the  Greek  Period and looked about,
furtively.  He  found  it  difficult  to  maintain  his  marbly
placidity, for lo! she began to disrobe!
     And  a  square parcel on the floor, in a plain wrapper. It
could only mean...
     He coughed politely, softly, classically...
     She jerked to an amazing attention,  reminding  him  of  a
women's  underwear  ad  having to do with Thermopylae. Her hair
was the correct color for the undertaking--that palest shade of
Parian  manageable--and  her  gray  eyes  glittered  with   the
icy-orbed intentness of Athene.
     She surveyed the room minutely, guiltily, attractively...
     "Surely stone is not susceptible to virus infections," she
decided.  "'Tis  but  my  guilty  conscience  that  cleared its
throat. Conscience, thus do I cast thee off!"
     And she proceeded to become Hecuba  Lamenting,  diagonally
across from the Beaten Gladiator and fortunately, not facing in
his  direction.  She handled it pretty well, too, he grudgingly
admitted. Soon she achieved an  esthetic  immobility.  After  a
period of appraisal he decided that Athens was indeed mother of
all  the  arts;  she  simply  could  not  have  carried  it  as
Renaissance nor Romanesque. This made him feel rather good.
     When the great doors finally swung shut and the alarms had
been set she heaved a sigh and sprang to the floor.
     "Not yet," he cautioned, "the watchman will  pass  through
in ninety-three seconds."
     She  had presence of mind sufficient to stifle her scream,
a delicate hand with which to do it, and  eighty-seven  seconds
in  which  to  become Hecuba Lamenting once more. This she did,
and he admired her delicate hand and her presence of  mind  for
the next eighty-seven seconds.
The watch man came, was nigh, was gone, flashlight and beard bobbing
in musty will o' the-wispfulness through the gloom.
     "Goodness!"  she expelled her breath. "I had thought I was
     "And correctly so," he replied. "'Naked and alone we  come
into  exile...Among  bright  stars  on this most weary unbright
cinder, lost...Oh, lost--'"
     "Thomas Wolfe," she stated.
     "Yes," he sulked. "Let's go have supper."
     "Supper?" she inquired, arching her  eyebrows.  "Where?  I
had  brought  some  K-Rations,  which  I  purchased  at an Army
Surplus Store--"
     "Obviously,"  he  retorted,  "you  have  a   short-timer's
attitude.  I  believe  that  chicken figured prominently on the
menu for today. Follow me!"
     They made their way  through  the  Tang  Dynasty,  to  the
     "Others  might  find  it  chilly  in here after hours," he
began,  "but  I  daresay  you  have  thoroughly  mastered   the
techniques of breath control?"
     "Indeed,"  she  replied,  "my  fiancee  was  no  mere  Zen
faddist. He followed the more rugged path  of  Lhasa.  Once  he
wrote  a  modern  version  of  the  Ramayana,  full  of topical
allusions and advice to modern society."
     "And what did modern society think of it?"
     "Alas! Modern society never saw it. My parents bought  him
a  one-way  ticket  to  Rome,  first-class, and several hundred
dollars worth of Travelers'  Checks.  He  has  been  gone  ever
since. That is why I have retired from the world."
     "I take it your parents do not approve of Art?"
     "No, and I believe they must have threatened him also."
     He nodded.
     "Such  is  the  way  of society with genius. I, too, in my
small way, have worked for  its  betterment  and  received  but
scorn for my labors."
     "Yes. If we stop in the Modern Period on the way back, you
can see my Achilles Fallen."
     A very dry chuckle halted them.
     "Who is there?" he inquired, cautiously.
     No  reply.  They stood in the Glory of Rome, and the stone
senators were still.
     "_Someone_ laughed," she observed.
     "We are not alone," he stated, shrugging.  "There've  been
other  indications  of  such,  but whoever they are, they're as
talkative as Trappists--which is good.
     Remember, though art but stone," he called gaily, and they
continued on to the cafeteria.
One night they sat together at dinner in the Modern Period.
     "Had you a name, in life?" he asked.
     "Gloria," she whispered. "And yours?"
     "Smith, Jay."
     "What prompted you to become a statue, Smith--if it is not
too bold of me to ask?"
     "Not at all," he smiled,  invisibly.  "Some  are  born  to
obscurity and others only achieve it through diligent effort. I
am  one  of the latter. Being an artistic failure, and broke, I
decided to become my own  monument.  It's  warm  in  here,  and
there's  food  below.  The  environment  is congenial, and I'll
never be found out  because  no  one  ever  looks  at  anything
standing around museums."
     "No one?"
     "Not  a soul, as you must have noticed. Children come here
against their wills,  young  people  come  to  flirt  with  one
another,  and  when one develops sufficient sensibility to look
at anything," he lectured bitterly, "he  is  either  myopic  or
subject  to  hallucinations.  In  the  former case he would not
notice, in the latter he would not talk. The parade passes."
     "Then what good are museums?"
     "My dear girl! That the former affianced of a true  artist
should  speak in such a manner indicates that your relationship
was but brief--"
     "Really!"   she   interrupted.   "The   proper   word   is
     "Very  well,"  he  amended,  "'companionship'. But museums
mirror the past,  which  is  dead,  the  present,  which  never
notices,  and  transmit  the  race's  cultural  heritage to the
future, which is not yet born. In this, they are near to  being
temples of religion."
     "I  never  thought  of  it that way," she mused. "Rather a
beautiful thought, too. You should really be a teacher."
     "It doesn't pay well enough, but the thought consoles  me.
Come, let us raid the icebox again."
     They  nibbled  their  final  ice  cream bars and discussed
Achilles  Fallen,  seated  beneath  the  great   mobile   which
resembled  a  starved  octopus.  He told her of his other great
projects and of the nasty reviewers, crabbed and bloodless, who
lurked in Sunday editions and hated life. She,  in  turn,  told
him  of  her  parents,  who  knew  Art  and  also  knew why she
shouldn't like him, and of her parents' vast fortunes,  equally
distributed in timber, real estate, and petroleum. He, in turn,
patted  her  arm  and  she, in turn, blinked heavily and smiled
     "You know," he said, finally, "as I sat upon my  pedestal,
day  after  day,  I  often  thought to myself: Perhaps I should
return and make one more effort to pierce the cataract  in  the
eye  of  the public--perhaps if I were as secure and at ease in
all  things  material--perhaps  if  I  could  find  the  proper
woman--but nay! There is no such a one!"
     "Continue!  Pray continue!" cried she. "I, too, have, over
the past days, thought  that,  perhaps,  another  artist  could
remove  the  sting.  Perhaps  the poison of loneliness could be
drawn by a creator of beauty--If we--"
At this point a small and ugly man in a toga cleared his throat.
     "It is as I feared," he announced.
     Lean, wrinkled, and grubby was he; a man of ulcerous bowel
and much spleen. He pointed an accusing finger.
     "It is as I feared," he repeated.
     "Wh-who are you?" asked Gloria.
     "Cassius," he replied,  "Cassius  Fitzmullen--art  critic,
retired, for the Dalton _Times_. You are planning to defect."
     "And  what  concern  is  it  of  yours if we leave?" asked
Smith, flexing his Beaten Gladiator halfback muscles.
     Cassius shook his head.
     "Concern? It would threaten a way of life for you to leave
now. If you go, you  will  doubtless  become  an  artist  or  a
teacher  of art--and sooner or later, by word or by gesture, by
sign of by unconscious indication, you  will  communicate  what
you   have  suspected  all  along.  I  have  listened  to  your
conversations over the past weeks. You know, for  certain  now,
that this is where all art critics finally come, to spend their
remaining  days mocking the things they have hated. It accounts
for the increase of Roman Senators in recent years."
     "I have often suspected it, but never was certain."
     "The suspicion is  enough.  It  is  lethal.  You  must  be
     He clapped his hands.
     "Judgment!" he called.
     Other  ancient Romans entered slowly, a procession of bent
candles. They encircled the two lovers. Smelling  of  dust  and
yellow newsprint and bile and time, the old reviewers hovered.
     "They  wish  to  return  to  humanity," announced Cassius.
"They wish to leave and take their knowledge with them."
     "We would not tell," said Gloria, tearfully.
     "It is too  late,"  replied  one  dark  figure.  "You  are
already entered into the Catalog. See here!" He produced a copy
and  read: "'Number 28, Hecuba Lamenting. Number 32, The Beaten
Gladiator.'  No!  It  is  too   late.   There   would   be   an
     "Judgment!" repeated Cassius.
     Slowly, the Senators turned their thumbs down.
     "You _cannot_ leave."
     Smith  chuckled  and  seized  Cassius' tunic in a powerful
sculptor's grip.
     "Little man," he said, "how do you  propose  stopping  us?
One  scream by Gloria would bring the watchman, who would sound
an alarm. One blow by me would render  you  unconscious  for  a
     "We  shut off the guard's hearing aid as he slept," smiled
Cassius. "Critics are not without imagination,  I  assure  you.
Release me, or you will suffer."
     Smith tightened his grip.
     "Try _anything_."
     "Judgment," smiled Cassius.
     "He is modern," said one.
     "Therefore, his tastes are catholic," said another.
     "To  the  lions  with  the Christians!" announced a third,
clapping his hands.
     And Smith sprang back in panic at what he thought  he  saw
moving in the shadows. Cassius pulled free.
     "You cannot do this!" cried Gloria, covering her face. "We
are from the Greek Period!"
     "When in Greece, do as the Romans do," chuckled Cassius.
     The odor of cats came to their nostrils.
     "How could you--here...? A lion?" asked Smith.
     "A  form  of  hypnosis  privy to the profession," observed
Cassius. "We keep the beast paralyzed most of  the  time.  Have
you  not  wondered  why  there has never been a theft from this
museum? Oh, it has  been  tried,  all  right!  We  protect  our

The lean, albino lion which generally slept beside the main entrance
padded slowly from the shadows and growled--once, and loudly.
     Smith  pushed  Gloria  behind  him  as  the  cat began its
stalking. He glanced towards the  Forum,  which  proved  to  be
vacant.  A  sound,  like  the  flapping  of wings by a flock of
leather pigeons, diminished in the distance.
     "We are alone," noted Gloria.
     "Run," ordered Smith, "and I'll try to delay him. Get out,
if you can."
     "And desert  you?  Never,  my  dear!  Together!  Now,  and
     "Jay Smith!"
     At  that  moment  the beast conceived the notion to launch
into a spring, which it promptly did.
     "Good-bye, my lovely."
     "Farewell. One kiss before dying, pray."
     The lion was high in the  air,  uttering  healthy  coughs,
eyes greenly aglow.
     "Very well."
     They embraced.
     Moon  hacked  in  the  shape of cat, that palest of beasts
hung overhead--hung high, hung menacingly, hung long...
     It began to writhe and claw about wildly  in  that  middle
space   between   floor  and  ceiling  for  which  architecture
possesses no specific noun.
     "Mm! Another kiss?"
     "Why not? Life is sweet."
     A minute ran by on noiseless feet; another pursued it.
     "I say, what's holding up that lion?"
     "I am," answered the mobile. "You humans aren't  the  only
ones to seek umbrage amidst the relics of your dead past."
     The  voice  was thin, fragile, like that of a particularly
busy Aeolian Harp.
     "I do not wish to seem inquisitive," said Smith, "but  who
are you?"
     "I  am an alien life form," it tinkled back, digesting the
lion. "My ship suffered an accident on the way to  Arcturus.  I
soon  discovered  that  my  appearance  was  against me on your
planet, except in the museums,  where  I  am  greatly  admired.
Being  a  member  of  a  rather  delicate  and, if I do say it,
somewhat narcissistic race--" He paused to belch daintily,  and
continued,  "--I  rather  enjoy it here--'among bright stars on
this most weary unbright cinder [belch], lost'"
     "I see," said Smith. "Thanks for eating the lion."
     "Don't mention it--but it wasn't _wholly_  advisable.  You
see,  I'm going to have to divide now. Can the other me go with
     "Of course. You saved our lives, and we're going  to  need
something to hang in the living room, when we have one."
     He  divided,  in  a  flurry  of  hemidemisemiquavers,  and
dropped to the floor beside them.
     "Good-bye, me," he called upward.
     "Good-bye," from above.
     They walked proudly from the Modern,  through  the  Greek,
and past the Roman Period, with much hauteur and a wholly quiet
dignity.  Beaten  Gladiator,  Hecuba  Lamenting,  and  Xena  ex
Machina no longer, they lifted the sleeping watchman's key  and
walked  out  the  door, down the stairs, and into the night, on
youthful legs and drop-lines.

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