This story is now published as part of the anthology ‘Loyal and True’.
In his younger days he managed a band; Heavy Metal.
He didn’t mean to, it just happened that way.
The group needed someone to book gigs and deal with the venues.
Managing a band in those days meant being able to drive a van, think a long way ahead, and on the odd occasion, use your fists.
In this regard it helped that the drummer was huge and liked thumping people. He was a good ten years older than the rest of the band and he had seen it all, and probably caused quite a bit of it as well.
Being the bands manager was a lot of fun but after the band split up he put his old trade to good use and taught woodworking at the local Trade School.
But now that he was old, he took up the job of being a museum guard.
The museum was housed in a huge old building that was several hundred years old and dated back almost as far a white settlement.
He took up his place every Tuesday and Friday.
Lunch time came at 1 pm.
He enjoyed the irony of going from the cacophony of a Heavy Metal and whirring saw blades to the silence of the Art Museum.
His favourite assignments were the Brueghel Room, closely followed by the Rembrandt and Rubens rooms.
While standing guard in the Brueghel room he noticed a broken egg in one of the paintings. He spent a pleasant couple of hours looking for other egg related references.
Brueghel loved ordinary people and everyday things, so he populated his paintings with both.
The Museum was cavernous and the guides would sometimes play tricks on rude visitors who abruptly asked for directions to the toilets. These people got to visit the nether-regions of the ancient building.
Teenagers amused him, all trying to outdo each other to be the most bored, but every now and then there would be one shining face and he knew that this young one was taken by what they were seeing.
Little children would gaze at the sea of colourful shapes and sometimes fall asleep in strollers or parents arms.
His partner had left him some years earlier and he was lonely but at least two days a week he was surrounded by people.
A woman from a distant country came briefly into his life. He had the experience of introducing her to his city, with the added degree of difficulty of only being able to take her to places that did not cost too much.
She had come to his country to visit a gravely ill cousin and he became the translator, dealing with the medical bureaucracy.
After a couple of weeks her cousin took a turn for the worse and he got the call.
Telling a virtual stranger that her loved one had died was not the most pleasant duty.
She had limited funds so after the formalities were dealt with she left for her homeland.
He missed looking out for her and he missed rediscovering his city.
He went back to his quiet life.
He had his beloved paintings to keep him company.
Inspired by the movie MUSEUM HOURS