by Alex Azar
This was an interesting letter. I'm pretty sure I bent the subject matter a little but technically it's still mostly accurate. I really like the concept of this story, and feel it has room to grow from flash fiction into at least a short story, so keep your eyes out for a revisit here.
“Fuck my life.”
“Please refrain from cursing, the audience can hear every word you say.” The voice informs Kenny with a stern tone through the mesh circle of the speaker above his head.
Kenny looks up at the speaker, shrugs his shoulders, “Sorry, I'm not even the type to curse much, but I never expected my life to bring me here.” He motions up and down his body indicating his lack of clothing, save for his wedgie inducing speedo.
“I'm a struggling artist confined to a store front window, damn near naked, as a piece of living art.”
“Kinetic art.” the voice corrects.
“Whatever you call it, I say FML.” As he gently bangs against the glass.
“Its only been three hours, Mr. Anderson. You're companions have yet to begin to complain. Do you plan on continuing this everyday?”
Kenny gives the speaker the finger before contemplating the terms of his contract: 12 hours a day for 30 days to do whatever he likes, however he;s provided no electronics or contact with the outside world beyond the ever watching crowd opposite the window. He's to bring his own food and use the crudely built toilet in view of all. And for reasons he can't finger out, he must only wear a speedo at all times.
These companions that this voice referred to are three other individuals under a similar contract. All four subjects have supplies and resources to work their chosen craft. For Kenny that means an easel and canvas with a full arrangement of brushes and palate of colors. Supposedly the others each specify in a different medium, but he can't say for sure since he's never met any of them.
Additionally, he hasn't even met the coordinator of this 'kinetic art' display. All communications thus far have been via email. Kenny was concerned at first, but when he was offered ten grand for a month's worth of no-work, he couldn't pass it up.
“Come on, hasn't it been twelve hours yet?” frustrated Kenny asks the faceless voice box.
“It's only been five hours Mr. Anderson. The door will automatically open when the twelve hours have elapsed. This exhibit is not intended to be interactive with me, please cease all communications, unless it is directed to the audience.”
“Does this mean you won't answer any more of my questions?
During the following two weeks, Kenny develops a routine: reporting in at two, 'people watch' for a few hours, have dinner, work on his new piece, but since he doesn't know what it'll be, progress is slow. Also since this project has begun, he's done more reading than in any other period in his life.
Not once in these two weeks has he heard from the speaker, but Kenny has this unconfirmed feeling that the person behind the voice is still watching. He often entertains the thought that one of the spectators that passes by daily is him, but he doesn't even know how to narrow down the field of spectators to make a choice.
Most of the day there's at least several people that pass by in an hour, but the street is just off the beaten path enough that around midnight there isn't anyone. It's at this time that he saves for his business on the toilet. Most days he'll sleep till the door opens, or tries to paint something.
On day seventeen his daily defecation was interrupted by a high pitched scream. Kenny looks up just in time to see a woman being dragged into a van. Kenny yells for help, which prompts the abductor to turn to Kenny. Upon noticing him, the abductor gives Kenny a devious grin and the middle finger.
“Hey, stop! I'll call the cops.” Banging frantically on the glass window, Kenny warns the abductor while simultaneously pleading for the speaker box voice to intervene. “Hey buddy, do you see what's going on? Call the cops! Hello!”
Without a response, Kenny is left to watch as the van drives off with the helpless woman in the back. He tries to break the glass while continuing to call the anonymous voice. “What the hell are you doing? Did you not see what the fuck just happened? You're not even watching anymore, are you?”
The door release Kenny soon after. Without his cellphone on hand, he quickly runs to a nearby diner and calls the police. A few hours later and the police are off with their investigation. The lead detective advises Kenny to continue his day as normal and they'll be in touch with Kenny with any developments.
An unmarked police car was stationed halfway down the block for the next two days. With nothing to show and an unrelated murder in the neighborhood, the cops were called off and reassigned. Kenny felt assured that whatever had happened was an isolated incident, and after more days was comfortable enough to resume his routine with one adjustment.
The days passed as though nothing had happened, and Kenny was once again with his pants down on day twenty eight. A similar scream as he heard over ten days ago, he looks up to again see the same man grabbing a woman, and tossing her into a similar, if not the same, van as before.
Kenny panics and stumbles when pulling up his pants, “Stop damn it, or I'll shoot!”
The abductor turns and laughs at Kenny, “Oh really? And with what gun?” With the prompt Kenny produces a .44 magnum, like the one Dirty Harry used, from his lunch bag. “Woah man, don't do anything stupid! Listen Mr. ...”
Before the abductor can finish what he was trying to say Kenny fires the gun, sending a bullet through the window and hitting it's target square in the shoulder. Over the cries of pain from the abductor Kenny hears the woman yelling back at him, “Kenny, what did you do?”
Fighting past the pain the abductor says through gritted teeth, “Mr. Anderson, you don't understand. You weren't the art, you were the subject, and you reacted beautifully!”
“Do I still get paid?”
Unfortunately, at this point The Alphabet Project will be going on hiatus. I wanted to be able to consistently post these stories until it's completion, however this will not be the case. I've currently been working on other writings to actually be published, and have decided to focus my attention on those stories. I'm very happy with how this project has developed and will definitely revisit and complete the alphabet, so keep an eye out for 'L' in the near future.