Monty Goode was a book-seller by trade but on weekends he dabbled in art. The garden he lovingly nurtured with his partner, Arthur, was full of his efforts.There were twenty-eight mini clay Buddhas he had created one Christmas, all nestled amongst the Frangipanis, a mosaic bird bath featuring pieces of a china plate he had hurled at Arthur one night, and a series of plaster of Paris marsupials that stood together, a little sadly, after having sagged in the rain.
Most recently, Monty had turned his hand to stone sculpture. With gentle taps, he would guide his chisel across the smooth stone surface to reveal striking renditions of the world around him. It was through this most challenging of sculptural mediums that Monty Goode had finally found his muse.
Arthur, for his part, was most content on the sidelines. As Monty created furiously in the garden, Arthur would quietly make dinner or do the accounts for their book shop. Still, over the past few months, he had found himself standing in the garden with nothing but a bed sheet draped over his shoulder while Monty chiselled away at a giant alabaster stone. Gradually, a life-size sculpture of Arthur had emerged, much in the style of Michelangelo’s David and by the spring, the imposing artwork was complete and Monty announced that he was ready for his first exhibition.
Posters went up around their bookshop in the High Street and invitations were sent far and wide. Each day, as Arthur attended to a smattering of customers, Monty would sit at the back of the shop writing catering plans and media releases. At closing time he would emerge exhilarated from his efforts and head out onto the street to push flyers into the hands of tired workers heading home.
Spring Sculpture Soiree!
A creative garden event featuring the works of emerging artist,
Pieces for sale – proceeds to the Lady Valerie Community Worm Farm.
For all enquiries please contact Arthur Knievel.
When the day of the exhibition finally arrived, Monty was beside himself. He rose at dawn to make puff pastry but by the time Arthur came down for their morning cup of tea, Monty was a weeping mess on the floor. Arthur cleaned him up and sent him back to bed with a Xanax, then turned his attention to the pastry and his growing sense of foreboding.
Rumours had emerged that amongst the sizeable crowd they were expecting that evening would be their arch rivals, Greta and Marta Dusseldorf. For years, the twin sisters had run a German book cafe in the same street as Monty and Arthur, competing fiercely for trade, until a brilliant marketing campaign by Monty and the Lady Valarie Worm Farm had forced the Dusseldorfs to finally close their doors. Greta, who had been the brains behind the cafe, had never forgiven them but Marta, who had only ever been responsible for the Apple Schnapps, would give the occasional covert smile to Arthur in the street.
By midday, Arthur’s mind had drifted away from the Dusseldors and when the guests finally began to arrive, all seemed well. Monty, who was still slightly tranquilised, stood in the centre of the garden acknowledging people with small, silent bows. Arthur was everywhere at once; greeting guests at the front gate, pointing them towards the enigmatic Monty and then racing into the kitchen to collect the platters of audearves he had spent all afternoon preparing.
As evening descended on the garden, the fairy lights came on and the party went into full swing. Monty, now loose with alcohol and amphetamines, stood by the lifesize statue of Arthur and waxed lyrical about art and love. Then at 7pm sharp, Arthur tapped his glass and announced that they would be auctioning the artworks but first, Monty wanted to say a few words.
“As a small boy, I would look up at the stars and dream of leaving the miserable, hell hole I was born into. Somehow I knew that there was beauty in the world and I was destined to capture it. After many years of struggle and with the love of my dear partner, Arthur Knievel, I have now realised that destiny. And it is with great pride that I welcome you to my first exhibition and the launch of my most daring work to date, Midnight!”
Monty, patted the smooth stone buttock of Arthur’s statue and continued.
“It was at midnight, fifteen years ago, that I gave myself to Arthur under the buffet table at the St John’s Hospital charity cabaret and I name this statue in honor of that sacrifice.”
Monty gave a wink and a bow and the garden erupted into cheers and applause. Then Arthur hopped up onto a milk crate and with one of the twenty eight clay Buddhas held high, called for bids.
A frenzy ensued. The twenty-eight Buddhas sold one after the other for ever increasing amounts and a furious five minute battle was waged for the bird bath. Then, just as the hammer was about to fall for one of the sagging marsupials, a shrill nasal voice cut across the proceedings, bringing bidding to a halt.
“Fifteen hundred dollars for Midnight!”
The crowd turned and gasped as a cadaverous figure draped in black netting shuffled forward. Greta Dusseldorf positioned herself directly in front of Monty and slowly raised a claw-like hand in which she held a large wad of cash.
“Surprised to see me Monty? Surely you didn’t think you could get rid of me by simply destroying my life’s work? Actually, I must thank you. Closing down Der Kleine Deutsche Buchladen was the best thing that ever happened to me and Greta. We were forced to go online and now we are rich beyond our wildest dreams.”
Monty stood clinging to the alabaster Arthur while the real version quietly stepped off the milk crate and took up a protective position in front of his lover.
“What do you want Greta?” he whispered.
“I want to make you an offer, darling. Your statue will look perfect out the front of Lady Valarie’s farm, which we picked up for a song by the way. There’s never been any money in worms and Valarie made the right decision, in the end. But German sausage is another matter and the Dusseldorf Bratwurst Emporium will be a worthy replacement on the site. And with Arthur as our mascot, we cannot fail!”
Greta’s parched, wrinkled lips stretched across her teeth in a mean excuse for a smile. Then she turned to look at her sister, Marta, who was standing sheepishly at the back of the garden nursing a giant glass of Apple Schnapps.
Greta turned back to the statue and was about to launch a new assault when a little cry came from behind her.
“Nein, Greta, halt!”
Marta Dusseldorf was as diminutive as her twin sister but far less menacing. With the warm urgings of Lady Valarie, she meekly stepped forward and addressed the crowd.
“It was not Monty’s fault the cafe closed. Greta drank all the Apple Schnapps and eventually we went broke!”
The crowd gasped, Greta Dusseldord collapsed to the ground in a shrivelled heap of netting, and someone pulled the plug on the fairy lights.
Monty Goode was a book-seller by trade but his innovative work with garden sculpture made him a local hero. His extraordinary art not only enriched the town in which he lived, but the generous proceeds from the sales it generated saved many a struggling family and helped to establish the country’s largest community-run worm farm. For generations after Monty’s death, people would tell the tale of the night in spring when it all began and love and art triumphed over evil. And if you ever needed any convincing, they said, all you had to do was go and find the majestic statue, Midnight in the garden of Goode and Knievel.