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No One Comes Here to Browse
The Night Curator is too lovestruck to elaborate.
By Yoga Arif Posted in Short Story on 2021-12-29 0 Comments 6 min read
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His engraved name pin on his white coat says “R. Dowell”. People he works with called him Slim Roy or Slim. It’s an apt nickname. He doesn’t mind the nickname albeit Roy rather considers himself as the Night Curator of the gallery he’s working at.

As his self-proclaimed status suggests, Roy works and lives his daily life under the blanched moon instead of the bright sun. But it’s alright; Roy liked the night shift better anyway.

The night shift pays more, which is nice, and at night there is less work here. On top of that, working at night means working alone. It’s not a big gallery and they can’t afford to pay for more people, which makes Roy’s the only one working the night shift. More pay for less work in a place he likes? The hell with sunshine, Roy would kill for the Night Curator job if he needs to.

Roy the Night Curator calls his favorite spot in the gallery “the Chamber”. It’s cold here and Roy likes the cold. The Chamber is a windowless room where the statues are being kept. Every night, as soon as his shift begins Roy plays his opera playlist into the speakers, brings in a cup of tea to the Chamber, and treats himself to an art feast of admiring the statues he displayed.

There are thirty statues in the gallery tonight. Roy’s second favorite is John. Brought to the gallery about three months ago, which Roy considered an old statue in the gallery since the collections tend to move out quickly. There were even some statues that stayed in the gallery for just two evenings. That is not the case for John.

John, despite losing an arm and a chunk of his abdomen, is emanating authority and leadership like a general in a war, ready with a pep talk to encourage. In good light, he looks like a very mature, experienced superhero. John looks 50. White beard, comfortingly bald, with distinct lines of muscles.

Roy thinks that if he ever reached that age John is, he would love to have such muscles. Not too thick, but not as slim as Roy’s is now. The beard isn’t bad, but it’s a strong no for Roy about the baldness and one arm. The look of authority? Wouldn’t mind getting that now. Maybe it’ll help Roy meet new people.

Roy, probably because people see him as this slim man who is disinterested in human interaction, does not emanate authority. His vibe is a loner who gives zero fucks and in return, the world gives him zero fuck. Roy chuckles when he thinks of that. He’s up when everyone’s asleep and vice versa; of course, there is zero exchange in fuck-giving department.

Besides, Roy has his statues to keep him company. And Roy’s number one favorite is Carolyn.

Now, Carolyn is art. Young, flaming red curly hair, bare, with plump and pale alabaster breasts — the woman looks like a young badass goddess kissed by fire in Roy’s eyes. Pure and beautiful. Being in her presence invokes a sense of longing in Roy. A sense of wanting, of possibilities. Roy’s gut can’t be clearer that Carolyn is his favorite.

Roy wouldn’t admit it, since it’d make him sound a lot weirder than people know him to be, but he tends to imagine that one day — or one night — he’d meet someone who looks like Carolyn. Early in her twenties, fiery, probably kind to him with a nice smile that isn’t so pale but just as pure. That probability sometimes aroused Roy. Weird, sure. But in his mind, his imagination; it’s a pleasant image.

A car horn is heard faintly from the outside. Roy recognizes the sound and looks at his watch. Almost three a.m. It’s rare, but it happens. New art could arrive at the gallery at any hour.

Roy came out of the Chamber and closed the door behind him. He placed his tea on a table, took off his black cotton gloves, and shoved it into his back pocket as he walked briskly to the front door.

Three men are at the door. Two wear blue uniforms — Eddie and Klaus — while the other, a lean tall man named Terrence, is wearing a brown long coat. Roy pulls out his keys from his front pocket.

“Gentlemen, come on in,” said Roy while unlocking the front door wide, “Please put it in front of the Chamber, I can take care of the rest.”

“It’s alright, Slim. Extra set of hands couldn’t hurt,” Klaus replied. He’s always been nicer than Eddie, “We’re taking it to the positive chambers anyway.”

Eddie and Klaus push the gurney in with the new statue covered in a white sheet. Roy refrains his urge to take a peek under the sheet. He can’t wait to see the new addition to the gallery’s collection. It might not replace Carolyn as his favorite, but who knows. For now, he has to deal with Terrence.

“Terrence, what brought you here?”

“It’s Detective Hicks to you, Mr. Dowell,” said Terrence, “It’s for a case. No one came here to browse. We need to see Carolyn Henson’s body again, there has been a development. Hey, Lambert! Come on.”

Roy instinctively looks to his right, to the person Terrence is calling. A woman in a black leather jacket and blue jeans, just about to finish a call.

That’s…Carolyn.

The woman is a spitting image of Carolyn — smooth alabaster skin, curly red hair, friendly face with a cold stare. Lambert approached the two men at the entrance. Her hand reaches out to Roy. Roy looks at her as if she’s the queen and about to knight him. Or a saint, ready to bless him.

The reality is she’s introducing herself to Roy, “Detective Jace Lambert, Homicide. I’m Detective Hick’s new partner.”

“Yes, Detective Lambert. Roy Dowell, um…” Roy shook her hand and paused. Jace’s eyes are piercing green, a freezing stare with a warming presence. The Night Curator is too lovestruck to elaborate. “I’m the…well, I work here.”

Terrence looks at Jace, “Whatchu got?”

“A possible family member is coming in the morning to identify the John Doe from…three months ago?”

“Yeah, that guy,” Terrence replied.

Jace’s eyebrows raised, “Is that…opera music in there? Die tote Stadt?”

“Yes, it is,” Roy tried his best to cover his euphoria and surprise, “Act Two, scene three. It’s kinda boring here alone every night.”

Jace shrugs and smirks, “Dead bodies tell no tales, right?”

“Not even a single banter,” Roy gave her his best smile in years, “Shall we?”


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