No Portraits

Author : Clint Wilson, Staff Writer

The normally white bulbous head of the spacer became yellow as he indulged in triple Rotten Roxathdons on the rocks over the hours. He had been watching the fat Boojardin make his way drunkenly around the bar engaging one patron or another with his riddles and anecdotes. Now he stumbled this way.

Zitenius wanted nothing of it, he had come here to drink and reflect. But it was too late. The fat pink rolls undulated toward him, a slimy two fingered paw extended in friendship. The interloper slurred, “Related to the Thacktizites eh? Had a few too to be sure.” The repulsive being licked his lips. “You look different than them though, stockier,” he eyed the stranger some more, “but you’ve got their trait all right. Yer head’s about as yellow as a Reigel 9 radish!”

Zitenius refused the paw and kept drinking.

The drunken Boojardin didn’t seem to slow at this. He snapped his pink flipper toward the automated bartender and shouted, “Another double Evil Eargrub and another of whatever my yellow headed friend here is having.”

Metal arms, accompanied by the whirring of electric motors, quickly served the drinks. Zitenius took his without thanks, just a barely imperceptible nod as he tipped back the fresh Rotten Roxthdon.

The fat Boojardin kept right on. “Say pal, now that you’ve accepted my hospitality, how about a little story?”

Zitenius neither accepted nor refused. The interloper plowed on.

“Buddy of mine… spacer from the inner donut hole, says he ran into a strange fellow at the Century 4000 Tavern who told him that he was of a kind that never had portraits of themselves ever until their recent intergalactic integration introduced them to other species. Can you believe it pal? How nutty is that?”

The thus far quiet stranger suddenly slammed his cup down and turned his stare toward the portly pink drunkard. “Yes, I can believe it, because that was one of my people!”

The Boojardin looked positively excited at this. “Excellent! Now you must tell me, why good spacer, why no portraits?”

“Don’t you understand? We had no portraits of anything. Not ourselves, not a landscape, not a single thing!”

For the first time the fat Boojardin looked concerned. “But no, how you could never want to represent anything in facsimile?”

The stranger downed the rest of his drink. “I don’t understand it either. Now that I see all these other intelligent races I wonder how we missed it all this time.”

“Missed what good sir?”

“Why, art of course!”

“Art? You never had art?”

“No! And that’s why we never had a single portrait you see. Where your people once represented relations and ones deeply cared for by way of smearing colored ingredients into shapes and likenesses, which in turn developed into capturing images through light sensitive chemicals, which then evolved into moving pictures…”

The Boojardin interrupted dreamily as the light of recognition came on in his huge red eyes. “…which developed into digital imaging which quickly became three dimensional digi imaging. I see… truly fascinating.”

“Fascinating? Perhaps. But we don’t find it all that humorous or exciting.” He went on. “We have achieved great things; artificial intelligence, interstellar travel, amazing wonderful things.” He sighed and drained the rest of his cup. “But our world is plain and gray, without artistic curve or the simplest decoration. I feel we have missed the meaning of it all.”

The suddenly sympathetic Boojardin patted him on slumped shoulder, and pointed around the garishly decorated establishment with its multitude of diverse patrons. “There’s still time friend!”

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