They say picture’s worth a thousand words. Don’t know ‘bout paintings. Both need an observer I suppose. Then you just observe what’s observed. I’ve never been one to study them because that means looking for myself in them and maybe I’m just afraid to do it maybe I just don’t care but I do know you can see love in them because of Charlie how he saw himself in them and how that could be me how he saw me if I but dared to look too if I believed the getting together wasn’t as important as the staying together the hurt even in happy endings the Yes I love you and you love me out of which there are things hoped for the day the hour when tomorrow I will be given for what I gave and though I know there’s that other truth though I know you can say ain’t nothin’ happens less someone is making money even in such violence as this the selfishness the cold brutality of you have taken from so I will take from you there is there must be a creative side a force which says even if tomorrow hurts there is this to look forward to—an answer. An answer to that question which brings love into being. And will I be loved back will I see the things I’ve hoped for will I hold them in my hands and even as this the desire of having you fades away I have waited and it did come. And he may destroy but he will also love the dying necessary for the protection and this we know as unerring as the linearity of time in what I know is but the small focus of my life with its transgressions and the simple joy of being around people who make me happy who say Yes there is tomorrow and all its answers but I am with you I am with you until your tomorrow and mine are but the investments we’ve made together which even death can’t take away from us… Ya Charlie could be awful nice when he wanted to be. He could also be a mean sonofabitch. That’s why I didn’t look at it really look at it to see what it meant to him and why I didn’t mind at all when he told me to cover it up. I knew he had his reasons. I don’t judge. I just observe. Funny what role you got to play to do that. I mean with a painting or anything else how you see yourself looking at it doesn’t depend on what you see it’s the other way around and who’s really making it—what you see—is it the picture the painting the creator’s observations or are you just following procedure taking from what you know beforehand as to the framework of the design. You see I saw what I saw because I know him. And so it was true in anything he created that he knew me too. And I wish I just wish sometimes there was nothing nothing before to make me see what I see now. I wish I was new. I wish everything could be like that. And you know what—sometimes it is…

Peggy Birger reached the toilet before she vomited. It was a cold morning still dark and they were in their new home in his new hideout just across the county line. Of course the cat came to watch though his curiosity never seemed to kill him. He merely sat licking his paw his paw then wiping his face. Peggy rose from where she knelt and did the same with a washcloth at the same time looking in the mirror seeing the only picture in which the observer is the observed and with her eyes she looked into her eyes maybe searching searching for that mysterious smile. She heard the cars coming. Charlie hadn’t come home last night. She slept alone but didn’t mind because she liked it. With the cat following she went to the front door and stood at the screen as the cars pulled into the drive.

Looks like you got yourself a new one, she said.

Charlie stepped out of the driver’s seat and looked back as if what she was talking about was behind him. Yep, I reckon I did. But who owns it will get it back.

I need to talk to you.

Bill Vinvanniti had been following. He was in Charlie’s car. If there was a second in command to Charlie’s crew he’d a been it. He was also the painter. The one who’d done the knockoff of a pair of shoes. The shoes had been old and so was the painting—Charlie had seen it in a magazine. But then everything was a creation of a creation. It had all been done before which is why we give nicknames to names. Bill just did what he’d been told to do. If you asked him other artists were driven by different demons and for the good ones money and fear weren’t the inspiration. He supposed they had their own peculiar pets. Seeing Peggy he didn’t follow Charlie inside.

and what words what will they form so he sees it so he sees the picture I’m about to show him so that in one simple frame all that I am in him can be me in what I saw a moment ago and words will reveal what I saw in my eyes as his eyes now see when they see when he sees me smile

The cat walks between her legs and they are alone inside facing each other the painting on the wall behind them and Charlie looks into her eyes and waits.

I’m pregnant, she says.