The art dealer called a week after I'd kicked him out of my studio. "Let me take you for a coffee," he said. "I want to apologise to you in person. Clear the air.""No." I told him. "It's too late."Another artist was sitting next to me at my kitchen counter, coffee cup in hand. "Is that the dealer?" he asked, whispering."Yeah." The dealer was still talking, trying to wheedle me into seeing him."You should go," the other artist urged me. "Don't burn bridges. You don't have to sign his contract but he's still a buyer – and you're broke."I didn't say anything to either of them.After a few weeks, the psychotropic drugs prescribed by the art dealer's psychiatrist had numbed me into complete apathy. Being pulled in different directions by people trying to manipulate me had also worn me down. No-one was trustworthy, I figured. Everyone had lied. I couldn't remember, then, how the artist had come to be there. Maybe I had reached out to him, thinking another artist would be supportive, some kind of comrade. I had a crush on him, too. Or I did, for a short while. Although I was more successful than him, he liked to tell me how experienced he was in the art world and sought to give me advice. I still don't know why I took it.I interrupted the art dealer's ceaseless spiel: "You want to apologise to me, take me for coffee? OK. Come over now." Defeated, I put down the receiver and let out a long sigh."You're doing the right thing," said the other artist. He patted me on my upper back like a coach giving a team player some encouragement.I shrugged his hand away, suddenly angry. I turned, grabbed his face and squeezed his mouth and jaw between my thumb and middle finger. Then I pushed him. We stood facing each other in silence for a few seconds. He opened his mouth to speak but I put my finger to my lips."Please don't say anything else," I said, quietly. "Don't tell me it's alright when it's not."Like a man condemned, his head dropped. "I better get going," he muttered.
"Yeah. You'd better."