A Small and Perfect Work of Art

Harold Fredrickson's apartment was an attic-like space above a tattoo and body piercing shop famous for their skill at inserting horns under the skin of people's foreheads. He turned on the overhead bulb. He looked down at the floor to protect his eyes from the light. On top of his desk was a Hermes 2000 typewriter and a coffee machine. Next to the desk was an easel holding a blank piece of white canvas stretched on a wooden rack. Leaning against the wall next to the easel was a rifle. The easel and the rifle were both new.

Harold had decided that his suicide would be an honest and courageous expression of his life, a small and perfect work of art. In his death he would finally be a true artist. The idea was that he would sit on the chair in front of the easel, his back turned toward it, and put the rifle in his mouth, and when he blew his brains out the blood and grey matter and white matter and all his consciousness and dreams and fear and sadness would splatter all over the white canvas, and there he would be.

He sat on the chair and put the rifle in his mouth. His left foot was stomping up and down on the wooden floor of the attic, his leg spasming uncontrollably, and a brief strangled shout came out of his throat before he pulled the trigger. But things didn't go as he had hoped. The bullet moved faster than the gore. It hit the canvas and knocked the easel down and to the side, so that his blood and brains missed the canvas entirely. The nearly bisected head of Harold Fredrickson was flopped tensionless on the backrest of the chair. The blood pooled on the floor next to the fallen canvas. The canvas was still blank all over, except for the single smoking bullet hole, and a penciled-in word at the bottom. Harold Fredrickson's name for the piece.