They announced our flight for the third time.
“Time to go, Suzie,” I suggested.
“Just now,” she answered. Which if you know a South African means in a second or a minute or an hour or a day. If ever. Suzie cared little for punctuality, that must be said, but somehow it only added to her charm.
“Keep your flaps down, dahling,” she added with a laugh. “Or you’ll take off without the plane!”
“I’m just excited, I guess,” I said.
Excited and a bit afraid. America was a hugely daunting idea. Would we succeed? Could we find work as artists?
Would we crack the big time?
(Whatever that was.)
Yes! We had talent and an innate belief in ourselves… and we knew how to work hard.
What else does one need?
Except of course the most important element of all;
Suzie was a haute couture clothing designer and, because designing clothing is sketchy income at best, she was also a travel agent.
I was a film animator. My income as an animator could also be described as sketchy, but that would be exaggerating my income considerably.
We’d been together a dozen years, through thick and thin as they say yet everything Suzie and I owned was packed into just three suitcases, and was stowed in the belly of a Boeing waiting at gate seven.
Proving, I suppose, that it really is Art for Art’s sake in this material world.
“Good luck, mate,” Nick said somberly as he gripped my hand.
Nick was one of our oldest friends. He was the last to see us off, the others having drifted off or left by way of setting an example when they heard the public address blare out;
“Would Mr and Mrs Rusty Pliers PLEASE REPORT to gate seven IMMEDIATELY!”
As he shook my hand Nick wore a serious expression, which gave his face an odd look. He wasn’t usually so grave. Looking at him, I was more than ever convinced he believed Suzie and I had made a horrible mistake and were doomed to failure in America.
America, the hard place where we’d end up like every artist that ever was or ever will be ends up… to lie upon a filthy mattress in some slummy hovel, too weak from hunger to rise, and stare with bitter irony at the unrecognized masterpieces painted in my own blood hanging on the damp walls all around— and with my last painful breath receive the cruel enlightenment to reflect back upon my life and wonder;
“Where did I go wrong?”
To be continued...