The Ecphorizer

The Agent: A Moral Tale
Warren Fogard

Issue #17 (January 1983)



Javot was sitting on the rail of Midtown Bridge eating a bagel with cream cheese when Mrs. Von Rensealler found him. "Oh dear boy!" she said, "We've been looking everywhere for you" Her limousine blocked two lanes of traffic while her chauffeur, Edmund, helped her out and across the curb like a tugboat docking a supertanker. She folded Javot in her billowy embrace and kissed him on both cheeks. "Pick me up at Socal and Main in half an hour." she called after the limousine, which was arguing right of way with a Mack truck. Mrs. Von Rensealler owned the company that made Mack trucks. Javot thought there was a certain family resemblance. Mrs. Von Rensealler took half of the bagel with cream cheese when Javot offered it and they started walking.

[quoteright'/>Mrs. Von Rensealler hung onto Javot's arm as though afraid he'd get away. He would have, too, if he'd known how. Likened to the water traffic passing under their feet Mrs. Von Rensealler was an ocean liner decked in mink and diamonds, and Javot was a garbage scow in ragged shirt and Levi's and worn out tennis shoes. He was smoking an Italian cheroot that smelled like a garbage scow on fire, and he was wearing a floppy-brimmed hat that he'd stole off the fish-monger's horse.

Mrs. Von Rensealler and Javot had met when they were both attending an Art Appreciation class at the junior college. As Javot seldom said anything, in class or out, she'd got the notion that he knew a lot about art. That's why she'd been looking for him, she said. She got word from one of her esthetic acquaintances that there was a freshly discovered painter in town who was going to be all the rage. He took photographs of things like old hats and bent garbage cans and weird people and transferred the images to oil on canvas, all in stark black and white. It was said that something spectacular was added to the images during the transfer. Mrs. Von Rensealler wanted Javot to go with her to look at the fellow's work.

"I trust your judgment, dear boy," she said, "and if you think this fellow is going somewhere price-wise I stand ready to invest a goodly sum, say one-hundred-thou, in his product. As my agent you collect ten percent." The limousine was waiting for them at the downtown end of the bridge. At W. Fullbrite Tojas' big studio-warehouse they looked at the paintings for an hour, Javot slipped Mrs. Von Rensealler the nod, she slipped him a check for a hundred-thou, and she went away.

Javot went back into the studio prepared to deal, but nobody wanted to talk to him. There were five apprentices there, Rojas himself, and Rojas' wife. Rojas was a big mean crocodile with a walrus moustache and a scar on his forehead. His wife was a beauty with a clear olive complexion and a move like ball bearings in oil. She was all over the studio, having posed for a goodly percentage of the paintings. In the nude. Now she wore a tobacco colored gown that slipped off of her shoulders at every opportunity to reveal her breasts. Javot couldn't keep his eyes off her. He watched her until she got nervous and came up to him to hold out her hand. "My name is Ciel." she said. Javot was stunned with her beauty. "I'll take that one ... and that one ...and that one..." he chattered, pointing out some paintings at random. No one made a move. Javot puffed on his cigar, overpowering the clean smell of oil paint. In a while Javot noticed that W. Fullbrite Rojas was casting hard glances his way.

W. Fullbrite Rojas came over where Javot was standing. He pushed his face within two inches of Javot's and said, "Get you ass outta here!"

I wanna buy pictoors!" Javot whined, wildly waving Mrs. Von Rensealler's check. "I dough wanna sell you no goddamn pictoors. Get you ass outta here!"

Javot left the studio and hurried to deposit Mrs. Von Rensealler's check in his account before the bank closed.

That night Javot borrowed a truck from his friend Henry Simms, broke into the Rojas studio, and stole 57 of the best paintings. He hauled them to Mrs. Von Rensealler's big temperature controlled storage vault under the Von Rensealler Bank and locked them away in the dark.

For himself, Javot kept a six inch long nude statue of Ciel embedded in a plastic ball. He made a little shrine for it on top of his television set where he could see it every day. 

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Warren Fogard




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