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Literary Issue: The Post Script

By Christopher Katis

The first summer Scott was back from Wharton, he had met Carlos, a strikingly handsome, Cuban-born artist. After they dated for several weeks, Scott decided it was time Carlos met his parents.  So he invited Jim and Nancy to a new exhibit opening of Carlos’ work at a well-known local gallery.

They really didn’t know what to expect. They knew very little about Carlos beyond his profession and place of birth.  Privately, the night before the opening, Jim and Nancy had let their worst fears be known to one another. Before they fell asleep, the parents had painted their youngest son’s boyfriend as a beret-wearing, Che Guevera-idolizing communist, who denounced American values and condemned the middle class as bourgeois imperialists.

Apparently, they had forgotten Scott’s retelling of how, at age 5, Carlos and his family crammed onto a small flotilla of rafts and cast themselves into the sea, drifting for days until they were rescued off the coast of Florida.  Nor did it occur to them that a communist was rather unlikely to become enamored of an investment banker – the capitalist’s capitalist.

During the exhibit, it became clear that the real Carlos greatly exceeded Jim and Nancy’s expectations. He was charming and amusing, and – oh! – he was so handsome in his gray Armani suit and cream-colored, tailored silk shirt. Perhaps more pleasing, he really was an artist; his paintings were breathtakingly beautiful.

The next day, Nancy sat down to write Carlos a thank you card. Technically, they had been Scott’s guests, but she still thought it was a nice gesture.

In her thank you notes, Nancy liked to cite a specific reason that she (or Jim) enjoyed the gift: “That shade of blue is Jim’s favorite color;” or “Those cream puffs were yummy! I’ll have to get the recipe.” She felt this showed the gift-giver that the card wasn’t a generic “thank you” but rather that she (or Jim) appreciated the specifics of the gift or kind gesture.

She sat staring at the blank card, the pen clenched gently between her teeth, pointing up towards the ceiling at an angle. It must have looked, she thought, like one of those old-fashioned cigarette holders favored by FDR or Cruella de Vil.

Really, Jim hadn’t given her much to work with. On the drive back from the gallery, he simply gushed his enthusiasm for Carlos. He was very impressed by the young man, particularly the asking prices of his paintings.

“Did you see how much he wanted for the one of the old lady dancing? Twelve grand,” he said before giving her a chance to answer. “And the guys fixing the fishing net was eight thou. Eight thousand,” he nodded at her. “The kid was getting those prices too, did you see all the red stickers? That means the picture was sold, right?”

Nancy enjoyed the gossipy tone of their conversation and she nodded enthusiastically.

“I couldn’t get over how perfect his English is,” she added. “I mean, my Nanna Hilda lived her for over 65 years and she always had an accent, but he spoke like you or I do.”

“You know,” Jim continued, “I really liked the one of roses in the blue vase. It was – what do you say? – avant garde?”

“I liked that one too, very much.”

She looked down at the card again and imagined writing a note that said:

Dear Carlos,

Thank you for inviting us to the exhibit opening. We had a lovely time. Jim was overwhelmed by how much your paintings sell for, and I am impressed by your command of the English language.

Best,

Jim and Nancy

P.S. Thanks for not being a communist.

She laughed at herself and instead wrote:

Dear Carlos,

Thank you for inviting us to the exhibit opening. Your work is simply beautiful! Jim and I both very much liked many of your pieces, but agreed the roses in the vase was our favorite.

We hope you’ll join us for dinner one day soon.

Best,

Jim and Nancy

What she did next was so out of character, so unlike her that it jolted her to the very core of her being. Nancy opened the card, and at the end of the note jotted:

P.S. Thanks for not being a communist.

“The Post Script” is taken from a larger piece currently in progress.

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