Marco looked at the empty space that his sculpture was going to occupy. What the hell did he have to say that would be worth occupying this space with? His collection of found objects that were going to be used for the assemblage lay in boxes and sat in bags all around him. He had metal and wood and plastics of all sorts. No paper. He had given up on paper and on vocabulary because words had only ever gotten him into trouble in life. But even without words, his sculpture was supposed to mean something.
The empty space before him was more profound than anything he could fill it with. He could add pieces of his life: the slights, the insults, the bashings in the head he’d endured at the hands of so-called friends who’d only ever left landmines for him to be exploded by later. No, they did not deserve any acknowledgment in his work. He could talk about his great loves, the ones who sliced him open, threw him onto funeral pyres, and, even worse, ignored him when he needed them, especially when he’d dedicated entire weeks to their problems. It was always the same thing: I love you if you are helping me, but if you need anything in return, well, then you are just out of luck. Yep, that was it. He was out of luck. He was completely out of luck. And what can one do when one has no luck left at all? What is there left when all hope of anything ever going right again has completely gone?
That is what he needed to figure out. That was what the void before him needed from him. It was the artist’s job to stare into the gaping maw of nothingness and pull from it something. That was a profound obligation. But now that he stared into that gaping maw, all he found was nothing. His ability to pull anything out of nothing was gone.
He picked up the bags and boxes and carried them out to the dumpster. He had nothing left. Without the objects, perhaps the silence could finally overtake him. Perhaps the noises that kept hurting him would finally quit, quiet. Quite.
He had left nothing.
Eckhard Gerdes has published books of poetry, drama, and fourteen books of fiction, including the novels “Hugh Moore” (for which he was awarded an &Now Award) and “My Landlady the Lobotomist” (a top five finisher in the 2009 Preditors and Editors Readers Poll and nominated for the 2009 Wonderland Book Award for Best Novel of the Year). His most recent books are a tongue-in-cheek work of creative nonfiction, “How to Read” (Guide Dog Books); a novel, White Bungalows (Dirt Heart Pharmacy Press); and a collection, “Three Plays” (Black Scat Books). He lives near Chicago and has three sons and three grandsons.