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Sport 42: 2014

The Judge and the Artist

page 242

The Judge and the Artist

From the dock the artist watched. He’d admitted the assault charge. Now the judge was considering a sentence.

‘Previous form?’ he asked.

‘One other conviction—also biting female,’ said the artist’s lawyer. ‘He’s into hurting women?’ said the judge, eyes bulging.

‘Not at all—’ started the lawyer.

‘Not at all?’ said the judge, pausing to raise his hand and then ping ponging his eyes from his wedding ring to the artist and back again.

Years later, having disembarked a taxi, the judge tripped, staggered and regained himself.

Through the gallery’s doors he went into a tall room where young women with trays of champagne worked the crowd of suits and evening gowns.

They were after him. Who judges the—an online mob barracking him over his heavy sentences. It provided a useful excuse for his drinking.

A waiter passed carrying a platter of cut meat. The judge followed. His wife would commit to these events and then spy on him, lurking amongst the throng like that bespectacled fool in those children’s books

His hunt took him onto an elevator. Then he was on a mezzanine amongst the art. A centred paddling pool steamed. Suspended above, in an over-sized birdcage, a man—like a castaway he had a ratty beard and arms like pipe cleaners—crouched.

Wobbling on the spot the judge stared. A thought came: My teeth are floating, floating like little apples on a river. And in that moment some lethal thing crossed his blood–brain barrier and took bed. He was dead inside a month. Locked inside a crematorium’s furnace well before they’d closed the artist’s show, but for now the judge reached for a passing flute of champagne, shaped himself into the shape of the man he was and continued his search.