betty found a cafeteria and purchased a cup of coffee and an orange scone, for a price she considered exorbitant.
she wished she had a strawberry ice cream cone, stared into space, and …
suddenly she found herself in an installation in the museum, and people came and looked at her as she consumed endless cups of tea and coffee and slices of white cake with chocolate frosting.
a little girl in a blue dress with wide stiff skirts and with a yellow bow in her hair, whom betty recognized as her great-grandmother, approached her and told her she could take a break.
betty followed the little girl-great-grandmother to a little room. there were a few chairs and small tables and a small bookcase in it.
“this is the break room,” the little girl announced.
“how long is my break?” betty asked.
“my name is caroline,” the girl said, but betty already knew that. “there are some books over there if you would like to read them.”
“thank you,” betty replied.
“as you consume large quantities of white cake with chocolate frosting in the installation, you might not need any sustenance,” the little girl continued. “but if you suddenly crave some more solid fare, such as roast beef with mashed potatoes and summer squash, or a roast oxen, there is a button on the wall above the bookcase. press it, and a chef will appear.”
“thank you,” betty repeated.
the little girl-great-grandmother disappeared, without having answered betty’s question as to how long her break would be.
betty wondered if any other employees or people in the installations would join her.
but after a few minutes none did, and she went over to the bookcase.
there were only a few books in it.
most of them were catalogues of previous exhibits in the museum. the others had plain white covers with the museum’s name as publisher.
they were labelled novel #1, novel #2, novel #3, etc.
betty was disappointed. she would have much preferred novels by jodi picoult or jennifer weiner or wally lamb. but she took novel #1 and novel #2 with her over to the most comfortable looking chair.
there was a curious metal object beside the chair which betty had not really registered on betty’s consciousness before.
it had a heavy looking round base about five inches in diameter supporting a shaft about three feet tall which was topped by a half sphere which had what looked like a pair of flaps in its flat surface.
betty could not make out what it was for. would the flaps open to catch flying insects like wasps?
surely there were no wasps or other flying insects in the museum? unless, betty thought, they were part of an installation and might go astray?
betty decided not to touch the curious object and sat down and opened novel #1.
there was no author identified on the book, and no blurbs or other descriptive matter on the cover.
"the ultimate minimalism of nestor sakato” took up the next room betty entered.
nestor sakato’s canvases were each one solid color and were numbered “composition #1, composition #2,” etc.
composition #1 was red, #2 was pink, #3 was yellow, and so forth.
betty did not spend much time looking at them, although other people were staring at them intently.
but she had seen them. there was no way, except by closing her eyes, that she could not have seen them.
the next room betty went into had an exhibition of the paintings by john 53, otherwise not identified.
john’s paintings were simple cartoon like renditions of small humans who might or might not have been intended to represent children, most of them accompanied by small creatures who were probably intended to be cats or dogs? monkeys? chimpanzees? betty could not really tell.
there were no other visitors in the room, but there was a chair.
was the chair a work of art? there was no sign indicating that it was, so betty took a chance that it was not and took a break and sat down on it.
betty stared for a while at john 53’s paintings. suddenly she had a craving for an ice cream cone.
there was probably no place in the museum where she could buy an ice cream cone, though you never knew.
but there was surely a cafeteria where she could get a cup a coffee and a croissant or a scone, if not a cupcake or slice of chocolate torte.
betty consulted the little folder which she had picked up on entering the museum.
if she read the floor plan in it correctly, “the uncompromising feminist art of daphne edwards-soraya” was in a room just ahead and to her left.
she entered the room.
a young woman and a young man were just leaving the room.
there were no other people in the room.
the first thing betty saw was a canvas about four feet wide extending almost from floor to ceiling. the canvas was white with lettering of various bright colors.
the words on the canvas were:
alle mense is roes
bütün kişilər köpük var
gizon gaizto guztiak dira
svi muškarci su ološ
tots els homes són escòria
tanan nga mga tawo mao ang taya
anthu onse mukhale chopondapo
tutti omi sò ball
svi ljudi su šljam
všichni muži jsou spodina
lle mænd er udskud
alle mensen zijn uitschot
ĉiuj homoj estas sedimento
kõik mehed on saast
ahat ng tao ay mga hamak na tao
kaikki miehet ovat roskaväkeä
tous les hommes sont l'écume
alle minsken binne smoargens
todos os homes son desagradables
alle Männer sind Abschaum
tout moun yo kras
dukan mutane masu kumfa
na kanaka a pau, he pelapela
tag nrho cov txiv neej yog pom tej kev phem
minden férfi söpredék
Allir menn eru óhroða
mmadụ nile nādighi ọcha
semua orang adalah sampah
Tá gach fir olc
tutti gli uomini sono feccia
kabeh wong sing uwuh
todos los hombres son escoria
a small table and chair had been placed beside the canvas. an opened laptop was on the table, along with a little card.
betty picked up the card. it explained that the laptop was opened to google translate. betty had already noticed that herself.
the card encouraged the patron to translate the phrases on the canvas into other languages.
betty did not know any language except english, although she could recognize a few other languages, like french and spanish, as themselves, when she saw them.
she began translating the phrases on the canvas into english, and quickly got the message.
they were all translations of “all men are scum” into various languages.
betty found this mildly amusing but not particularly informative.
there were other canvases and a few etchings on the walls of the room, which betty supposed were also the “uncompromising feminist art of daphne edwards-soraya”. some were abstracts, others were writing in languages betty did not understand, and some were in scripts she could not read even phonetically.
betty decided not to try to translate any of the writing on the wall with google translate, but to leave the room and look at some other exhibits.
as she was leaving the room a severe looking young woman with thick glasses was entering it, carrying a spiral notebook with loose papers and what might have been drawings sticking out of it.
betty wondered if the young woman was daphne edwards-soraya.
betty was waiting for her friend janey but janey did not show up.
it started to rain.
betty decided to go indoors.
the nearest building was the museum, which betty had not visited for some time.
betty paid the reasonable entrance fee and went into the museum.
there were some posters on the wall describing some of the exhibits.
one said “the ultimate minimalism of nestor sakato”. betty did not think it sounded too promising, but then, she had only come into the museum to get out of the rain.
another, larger poster promised “the uncompromising feminist art of daphne edwards-soraya”. this was altogether more to betty’s taste. betty gloried in the name of feminist, and took every opportunity to proclaim herself one.
a third, smaller and barely legible poster that betty almost missed advertised “manuscriptism - new works of b b bashevski ”. this did not sound the least bit interesting.
picking up a little folder that contained a map of the museum, betty proceeded on her way.
This one was a rough ride. I don't want to get into the details but this time i had to deal with so many submissions that were inadequate to the magazine's concept I thought somebody was joking on me. That was downright discouraging. That's why this time I relied more on curated content than incoming submissions. It made a better issue.
I'm glad to present you the works of the following: