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A Picture to Remember


Harry Buschman

Mr. Livingston sat on one of the cold stone slabs that passed for benches here in the Parnassus Gallery. He wondered which of the paintings he should buy – if he had the money that is. Looking long and hard at each of them and carefully noting the price, he decided on the small one that had been hung above a larger one. It was a painting of three people standing in a village square.

Yes, that would do nicely. He knew just where he would hang it when he got it home. Just above his kitchen table, between the refrigerator and the gas stove. He could look at it in the evening when he ate his dinner. Many people would prefer to have their meals at the television set, but not Mr. Livingston. No. As he ate his dinner straight from the microwave he could look at this pleasant picture and imagine himself standing with the three people in the village square.

The square looked familiar to him. In Italy perhaps. He remembered being in a square like that in Siena, a mountain village in Northern Italy a long time ago. He was with the 14th Field Artillery then, working its way north after taking Rome without a shot being fired. His crew were with him that day and they were looking for a place to set up their 105. The square overlooked the valley below and they would have a commanding view of the Nazi Panzer Divisions trying to reach Milan.

He loved pictures that reminded him of places he’d been – happier days. His one room efficiency apartment was filled with pictures like this one. Each of them brought back a lifetime of memories. Without them he would be a poor man – poor in spirit, and forced to read his paper, listen to his radio or watch his television set.

The longer he looked at this picture here in the Parnassus Gallery, the more he liked it. It would bring him much joy ... why even here his mind was overflowing with memories of that day in Siena. Imagine how wonderful it would be to live with this picture and see it every day.

He rose stiffly from the cold hard bench and walked to the picture on the wall. The price was clearly marked in ink on a small white card. $1750 it said. What would happen, he thought, if he scraped together every penny he had in the world, all his worldly possessions, even his radio and television set and laid them on the desk of the curator of the Parnassus Gallery? Did people buy paintings that way? Probably not. They would write a check perhaps. A promissory note. A credit card. He had none of these things. All he had was his life.

But he would offer that for this one picture.

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