by Kent Szlauderbach

Why am I pressing charges for getting slapped?


Because Bob, 49, married, still insisted the photos were art, even after he slapped
me, as we shrinkwrapped a palate of broken VCRs.

I couldn’t tell about the photos for sure, because neither of us had seen the prints.
Still, I didn’t think taking Bob’s wife’s side warranted the bare, flapping hand of
Bob. Judging by his story, though, I was pretty sure the photos weren’t art. Sure, I
stay in a lot—so much that most photos I see are on screens.

Normally though, I collect other peoples’ opinions on this kind of stuff when I
volunteer. Sure, sometimes get a quiet little wad, but I like volunteering on cold
Saturday mornings with the reams of doughnuts and coffee that comes in bags
(I also got stuck on this temporary employment agency’s mailing list, and I still
wasn’t getting out of the house, so I kept volunteering myself).

So far I do Drug Givebacks (because pollution) with cops and student pharmacists.
But this time I was doing E-Cycling (also because pollution) with Bob’s actually
pretty extremely necessary and under-represented cause. Between lifting with our
legs, not our backs, we watch each other’s breath. And sometimes you get a good
story, but apparently not without getting skinbreakingly slapped by the Bobs of the

Because sometimes you get their opinions on things like art.

Why was Bob so sure the photos he saw being taken were art? Because he
vividly remembers the lady he saw as groups of men took photos of her, he said
as we rounded the next corner of the palate, tucking in the corner of the ancient

Bob’s company boiled down consumer electronics brought to them in SUVs full of
just old players, and then sold the remaining copper, silica, tantalite to Iowa, who
did with it what they wanted.

He was so sure that when he came home from work that day, he insisted his
wife, too, that the photos he saw shot that day were art. He came home to her
apologetically, like saying, honey, just a few words before you hit me.

He said he finally wanted to tell her what he sees on a typical day when the
factory you own is also where they do art—one of those industrial districts that
smell like burst plumbing and river fish corpse, which definitely seems to inspire,
he said.

We get to the top of the stack of players, and the roll of cellophane dropped with
a frozen, plastic cry.

A circle of his girdled, jump-suited employees forms around Bob, when he starts

Yeah I see people taking art photos out there all the time. So I go outside to the
loading dock and I start to smoke, but then I see this ho-ho gorgeous lady in this
long robe step out of trailer across the dirt and broken brick alley. There’s a bike,
a Harley, on this platform at the deadend to my right, where there are these two
tall stands with those flashing reflector flowers. And up she goes, led there by
two guys in jeans. She’s almost gliding in heels, the way they carried her, and then
there she is. She drops the robe.

You know, I say to my wife, they’re entitled to their ar—

Slap. His wife slapped him, which for effect of the story his ashy, cold-storage
hand is slapping me now, breaking my skin. Why? One, because I’m right there
in his circle, smallish, and not one of his employees. Two, because I was saying I
agreed with your wif—

And slap.

You know, he said, I’m OK with the photos, because everyone is entitled to their
art. I don’t complain.

Categories: Fiction