The Algerian at the Museum

He had a penchant for Italian girls. All Algerians do. Perhaps it is the antithetical nature of Catholicism to Islam. Who knows? Who can really pinpoint what determines attraction and what doesn’t? Well, except in the case of white men with Asians. The draw is relatively obvious there, so I’m not going to spell it out for you. Goldy, a name she was bitter about already without having to spell it with a “y” instead of an “ie,” was unaware of this. For she didn’t tend to think about her Italianness until someone occasionally brought up that she looked to be “of that descent.” And then she remembered that her father had won out in naming her Oro, which meant gold. This name was clearly not going to do her a service when she started having to deal with the kids at her Brentwood pre-school. So from “gold,” her mother, Cara, insisted upon Goldy. That was the “compromise”–though it seemed, ultimately, Cara was the only one who got what she wanted out of the name game. Then again, Goldy was the fruit of her labor, no? Labor fruit always usurps loin fruit, she would remind Giuseppe, her tempestuous husband who would flare up over Cara’s proneness toward controlling everything and immediately forget it all when she reminded him of this. He grew so accustomed to being worn down that eventually there came a point when he forgot to how to fight altogether. In any case, this was why Goldy was called Goldy. And as for the reason for her being at the Musée Matisse de Nice, well, it was something of a convoluted tale. But like all convoluted tales, it went back to having a broken heart. The need for escape that comes from running from your own feelings, which can never seem to be warded off no matter how far or how fast we run from them. Goldy was still too young to come to this realization, and figured that an indeterminate trip away from Los Angeles would be the way to cure her ills.

As she stared at Matisse’s “Two Negresses,” or the “couple sculpture,” as most dilettantes liked to call it, she became unaware that she was also staring at the security guard standing nearby. Or at least, to him, that’s how it came across. And he took it as his in to approach her. Mercifully, there was something of a language barrier as apparently the Musée Matisse didn’t see fit to make English a requirement for hiring its employees as it might have if it were based in Paris instead. But no, the art world of the Côte d’Azur could take or leave its security guards speaking multiple languages–“being international,” if you will. Still, Yanis did his best to stumble through the preliminaries of conversation, asking Goldy where she was from, what she was doing in France and how long she planned to stay. To all of these questions, her replies were, “L.A., escaping Trump and I don’t know.” She asked if he liked Macron and he admitted that he wasn’t very attuned to politics, being the outsider Algerian that he was.

Goldy had been imbued with a natural state of distrust by her father, who always told her to be wary of any stranger that struck up a conversation, especially men. Without officially saying it, Giuseppe had essentially indoctrinated her to believe that all men were possessed by the demon called their dick. And, for the most part, he was accurate in his spreading of this stereotype. Unfortunately for Goldy, it made it very difficult for her to lower her walls to any man who might not actually be a shithead. Though what were the odds of that, really, when you think about it? Except that Yanis did have this strange aura of goodness about him that Goldy had never remembered remarking upon internally during any dialogue exchange with the opposite sex. And as he continued to engage her as best as he could with his limited English vocabulary and her limited French vocabulary, she caught herself continuing to turn her back to him as they segued into the next room, where she feigned looking at the art as a means to avoid making eye contact. She did not want to be “seen,” “known.” The thought of it terrified her and she suddenly very much wished that he would just leave. Just forget about her as everyone else had.

Yet he continued on, not picking up on the intensity of her body language, which she sustained for the duration of their encounter. Then, all at once, he seemed to pick up on her closed off-ness. He toute de suite comprehended that she was not going to lower the drawbridge that would allow him into her psyche. She could bat him around with terse pleasantries for days, it appeared, but she would never genuinely tell him anything about herself. She had been well-trained in never conceding to anyone. Especially not after the last time. The fortress that was her heart had been decimated by that experiment in “opening up.” And if she risked the peril of one more attack, she would probably not be able to rebuild once more. The structure of her most valuable organ was already barely functioning from the most recent blow.

At the same time, she found her heart sinking a little when Yanis finally backed away, resumed his primary duty of simply standing there, hovering near “Two Negresses.” She would never be able to replicate the implications of that sculpture–the way in which the woman so effortlessly and trustingly throws her arm over the man’s shoulder, looking into his eyes with a sense of total and pure certitude. As though she has complete faith in the idea that he will never stab her repeatedly until her body becomes a pulpy and mutilated husk, its remains convulsing at the mere notice given by any other male creature as an automatic defense response. Which, is, in fact, what had been done to Goldy just three months prior. Or at least, that’s how it felt, this physical pain manifested from the emotional that she lived with.

Later that evening, she would go back to her hotel and masturbate with the thought of Yanis fucking her against the sculpture until it rent in two, dividing the man from the woman as it crashed to the floor.







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