Neil Whitworth

In a large, spacious church building there is a man in the very front pew on his knees with his head bent over and his hands folded neatly into a position of prayer. The man looks entirely hopeless with tears in his eyes. It’s apparent that at one point in time he had given up on his life. His clothes are dirty with holes in them, and his face is unshaven, unclean, and unkempt. Even with his eyes shut he has a look of despair and desperation, unmasked by an even more obvious look of guilt, fear, and terror.  

The man appears to be in his late thirties, but if you cleaned him up he could pass for twenty-seven. There is a bottle of whiskey half empty on his right side, and an open worn out bible on his left side. The bible is open to chapter sixteen in the book of Saint John. There are bookmarks in between the torn, worn out pages and the last verse of chapter sixteen, verse 33 is highlighted in dark red pencil.

The church is completely silent except for the whisper of the man’s voice softly resonating throughout the room. He opens his eyes from his silent prayer, pulls the book closer, and whispering to himself he reads verse 33:

“These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.”

He wipes away his tears and looks up to the heavens. In one loud explosive sound, the ceiling caves in and the walls come down. Within mere moments, the church crumbles to pieces.

The man is dead, but underneath all the debris he can still just barely be seen. Through the cracks in the walls and the fragments of the ceiling, you can just barely make out part of the man’s face. Covered in dust and dirt you can scarcely see his eyes still wide open, looking up to the heavens.

 

Neil Whitworth was a fourth generation, but you would never know it because he didn’t allow anyone to call him Junior. Nobody in his inner circle even knew his last name was Whitworth. The whole name was repugnant. It made him sound like a lawyer, a CEO, a doctor – it made him sound like the typical white suburban man his father and grandfather took so much pride in being. However, there was one good thing about his name. As long as he had it he could go on living a double life and nobody would think to question it.

He wasn’t a spy or anything, but he did lead two different identities – and nobody would believe that Neil Whitworth, son to the Whitworth fortune, was a junkie.

“Duchamp,” Neil said harmoniously, his eyes wandering in every direction, almost as if he were forming geometrical outlines in the air. He was laying flat on his back on the soft orange carpet of his friend Patrick’s bedroom, staring at the ceiling. His eyes were noticeably dilated and there were traces of white powder dusted underneath one of his nostrils.  

“That guy wasn’t a damn artist,” Patrick said as he was lifting his purple bong up to his mouth. He took a deep inhale and more smoke filled the room.

“Duchamp revolutionized art. He wanted to convey that art is more than just materials and commissions. It’s a way of thinking, a way of living, a way of being.”

“He stole a toilet and put his name on it. I get it, alright, it was an important movement in art, but anybody could have done it. I could go sit in front of the courthouse right now and light up, and claim that it’s all in the name of art, and because art is such a vague term anyway nobody would do anything. I just don’t understand why there’s all this damn fuss over a urinal,” Patrick said, his eyes glazed red.

“It’s not about the urinal; it’s about the principle. The artist no longer has to make art with their hands; the artist can now make art with their mind. Think about how astonishing that is. I could have an idea right now, post it on the internet, somebody on the internet could make it, and the art within my cranium would now become a real, tangible, earthly presence… it’s breathtaking,” Neil sighed, clearly blowing his own mind.

Patrick took another hit and exhaled.

“I think you’re thinking of Sol LeWitt man. That’s the guy who made the grids and lines, and actually made a profit selling them to idiots, who then made the art themselves.”

“Patrick, you just don’t understand the beauty that is art. There is such beauty in the idea that one single thought can miraculously come to life. Think about it. What if every notion we’ve ever had forms its own existence?  What if every belief mankind has ever known has its own universe? What if every time we wish for something, those wishes become colossal stars, and the stronger our desire, the more expansive those stars become in our galaxy?”

Patrick had reached the point in his high where he loved listening to the sound of Neil’s voice, but struggled to respond in complete sentences.

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