“Axle” A Short Story Of Love and Loss

This is a “portrait” of Axle, and a short story of (metaphorical?) love and loss. Axle used to sit by the side of the road between my small city and the town where my oldest daughter lives. With a peachy tan complexion, and wide eyes, Axle became a mile marker of sorts. One that my grandkids and I came to view as “our old car by the side of the road”. “There he is” they’d say, “there’s Axle”.

I had given him the name Axle due to the obvious fact that his front axle was broken, his tires askew. This just seemed to add to the charm of our roadside friend. It’s pretty accurate to say that we amorphized this charming old truck that, week after week, year after year sat vigilantly waiting for our passage.

The thing is that, Axle was not entirely forgotten by everyone other than us. Someone diligently repainted him every year. That is, for a few years anyway. Someone loved Axle as much as we did. He was never moved, or covered, but someone cared. He sat in a small patch of land between the road, a stream, and woods beyond.

Through the changing seasons, the glaring sun of summer, the fall of the leaves, the blowing snows of winter and when the wildflowers would bloom next to him, Axle was there.

But then something changed, some time passed since his last paint job, and the rust became more prominent. He was still charming, maybe even more so in his aged look, but something was definitely different.

And then came the day he was murdered! I drove by one spring day on my way to get the kids, and saw something that, well made me irrationally angry, and sad. Someone had shot Axle in his right eye! Our loyal mascot had become someone’s careless target.

I didn’t mention it to the kids, but they of course noticed. What could I say, there are just soulless people in this world. I just told them that ‘maybe someone would fix him, and he’d be back’, and we went by.

But that was not to be. Months went by and poor Axle sat forlornly with his fatal wound.

And then one day I drove by, and Axle was gone. I tried to console myself that someone was going to give him a new life. We were never to know. He was just gone.

Its funny how sometimes seemingly innocuous things can bring out feelings more than the things that are what most would consider really important. Maybe they’re a sort of surrogate emotional object. One that is easier, less dangerous to express our feelings about. I still miss him.

I think that right now, at this moment in history especially, we need to hold onto the little things that we may not be thinking about as much as usual. I’m glad that I had decided to paint the picture of Axle. It’ll always be a nice reminder of being with my grand kids and those sweet, silly moments that are really the most important moments.

Born Out Of Time

Is daydreaming a prerequisite of being an artist? So many I have known, and including myself tend to have this trait to one degree or another. For myself it is a necessary requirement of the job, letting my mind wander, and rest, gives me a clearer vision of what I want to do. As well as takes me on impossible flights of fancy, (which may not always be a good thing, ) but it is essential.

One thing I’ve always daydreamed about is being part of, what feels like to me, some of the more important times and births of genres in the history of art; The Renaissance, the time of the Impressionist, the Abstract painters of the 20th century, (I only missed that one by a few decades), as well as the coming of age of comic art. To have been included in one of these circles of great minds and talents would have been an incredible experience.

The era that I’ve always felt most drawn to, almost as if I had been there, was the time of the Impressionists. What an exciting, brave romantic time of a burgeoning artistic genre and group of artists to have been part of!

It was bold, and difficult. They were mocked, and bullied by fellow artists. The official royal salon did not accept them. It was most likely when the terrible lable of “starving artist” came to be, and most certainly was true in many cases. Because they were creating a new, often maligned artistic style, it was a constant struggle. Often even amongst themselves, the impressionist artist couldn’t always agree about what was “acceptable ” and what was just “too far”.

Yet, with all of that, how exciting it must have been! They were rebels, outsiders, but passionately believed in what they were doing. They fought for their art, sometimes living in drafty, damp quarters, with little food, (hence the “starving artist sobriquet “). Often in between sales, or the help of patrons, they lacked art supplies, making what they could and reusing canvases to paint new works.

This may all sound pretty rough, and I imagine it was. But there is that wistful charm about it. Somewhat like looking back on our own “glory days”, growing up. There was magic in the struggle. It makes us who we are. It made them who they were, and they were true to themselves.

I imagine, living in an attic studio in old Paris. Lead lined skylight covering most of the ceiling, pans catching the rain where it drips down from the old, cracked caulking. It’s chilly, but there is some warmth from the old stove in a corner. A large bank of lead lined windows, looking out over Paris. Easels, canvases, and brushes everywhere. And being too thin, but still young, strong and dreaming of people loving your work. Meeting up with other like minded painters, giddily talking about what you’re working on, and dreaming of what’s to come with this new way of painting. Complaining of the fools who don’t quite get it. Knowing, feeling to your bones that you’re on to something great. That all the hard times will be worth it. Maybe not knowing that these are the glory days, but maybe a little part of you hanging on for dear life to it, because it is “something “, something important. And it was.