The Museum Guard.


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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

21 thoughts on “The Museum Guard.

  1. Love this – makes me long fir a museum that isn’t stocked only with U.S Civil War relics. Sennacherib one shredded flag ….. Ah for London or Amsterdam or Barcelona. Your writing is so evocative. It always leaves me wanting more. Where are your novels man?


    • Thank you very much for your excellent comments.
      I’m pleased that I got your memories and imagination going. Thank you also for the encouragement. I’m working up to the novels…… you have firmed my resolve.


    • Thank you. I really appreciate your comments.
      I’ve been in and out of the the city of Melbourne for the past few weeks for the film festival [day off today] and my son and I keep running into this same homeless guy. I carry extra money for just such an occasion. His name is Peter and he needs a certain amount each day so that he can get a bed for the night. He tries to give ‘good customer service’ by asking about whatever film we have seen that day and trying to remember what we said the last time we saw him.
      Everyone has a story, as you know, but I am reluctant to pry into this blokes past even though I know that there would be some excellent stories to tell.
      It’s the unsaid stuff that often fascinates us, doesn’t it?
      Be well, be happy and don’t forget to be awesome.


      • Funnily enough I was thinking about writing a piece about Melbourne (I worked there for a few months nearly ten years ago) and was going to use the Melbourne Gaol as a starting point.

        Why pry into the guy’s life? Use what you have and create someone else. You might be appropriating his life but he’ll become someone else and the appropriation won’t feel so bad


        • I agree. Dignity is just about all he has left…… I’ll pick on some finance dude in a suit instead!
          P.S. Write that story…. your starting point is an interesting one.


  2. Loneliness is a common theme in most of your stories, Terry. Is that a conscious thing on your part or is it something you absorb from being in a city, watching the world go by? This story could have gone anywhere of course-lots of potential in that guy`s life. And even though his earlier heavy metal days must surely be at odds with life inside the wall`s of an art museum, it is the latter that is sustaining him in heart, body and mind.
    Yep, your stories have a way of drawing the reader into the lives of your characters with just a few well chosen words.
    Nice one.


    • Thank you. Your comments are always insightful, and very welcome.
      You made me think about the loneliness thing.
      I don’t get lonely all that often. I guess I enjoy my own company and I have always had family around me….. and of course there are my dogs when the humans are off somewhere. But having said that I do understand loneliness and I do see a lot of it in my world. I think that to understand it you need to have had a lot of closeness, and then you have something to compare it to, and something to miss.
      It is also amazing to watch someone who lives a lonely life suddenly find someone to share their life with. I have watched this happen to someone just this year. It was completely unexpected by him and me and the reason I mention it is that I’ve been writing a biography of this person for the last eighteen months. It will make an excellent chapter but I’m having difficulty writing it. It seems so much more personal than the rest of the book. Because I’ve been close to this person due of the book I’ve been drawn into this personal story and my instincts tell me to keep my distance but I don’t want to hurt or disappoint this person. The book probably should be divided into BEFORE and AFTER the romance because the change in him has been dramatic! Actually, i think I might just do exactly that.
      Thanks for your comments and I’m glad you enjoyed the piece.


      • Maybe that`s what makes a good writer-the ability to imagine their way into someone else`s heart. The good stuff can only come from the heart, anyway.
        Nice story about your pal. I`m not a believer in someone else coming along to assuage our sadness but its nice to know that`s been his experience-and his partner`s too, hopefully!
        Keep writing, you`re good at it!


        • ” I`m not a believer in someone else coming along to assuage our sadness ”
          When you have a moment I’d like to know more? Does this mean that you don’t believe in the ‘muse’? Or the soul mate? Or do you mean that we should ultimately be responsible for our own happiness?


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