9/23/09 Paranoia


—– Early [in the spring) I had had a painting stolen.  It was on striped material of the factory’s entrance with a portrait of the Bodyguard sitting in a chair.  Consequently, I don’t leave works on site anymore.  This painting I had left hidden to dry.  Someone stole the painting and even cut the cable it was locked to with bolt cutters.  They left the easel, as if they wanted me to make them more paintings, though. For a second I though that perhaps my Bodyguard or someone he knew took it because he was the only person to know where I hid it and he was in it.  Also, My Assistant’s son is friendly with several local gang members so I wondered if one of them had taken it.  New graffiti has been showing up on site so I know I am not the only person currently using the place.  In a way I was flattered someone liked my painting enough to steal it.  I knew they must have taken it because they liked it because they sure don’t sell easily. But today’s drama happened in the morning when I met my Bodyguard at the convenience store we’ve been meeting at for four years.

This morning was different.  Tension was in the air when I walked in.  Apparently the storeowner, Tom, caught my Assistant shoplifting a pack of gum read-handed.  Tom says he has had a lot of candy inventory missing lately and that when my Bodyguard worked in the store on Saturdays, the cash drawer was always short $20.  My bodyguard denies all of this of course.  I did point out that he is probably riding a stolen bicycle and that perhaps he forgot to pay for the candy first before taking it.  He does act overly familiar in the store.  He walks around behind the counter as if he works there and helps himself to coffee and candy.  He gets the merchandise himself.  I’ve watched him.  I guess I don’t understand why today it all turned into a shoplifting accusation when he has been consistently himself.   I wanted my Assistant to apologize and to make nice, but I’m a suburban-goody-two-shoes who always wants things to work out.  My Assistant is adamant he did nothing wrong but is now kicked out of the store permanently and it is the only store around.   I don’t think he understands what impact this could have on his life.

The store offers a safe haven especially in winter and is therefore indispensable.  Tom and Hank have been like family to my Bodyguard and have found him jobs and housing for years.  They have loaned him money and given him money.  Often my Bodyguard has been too broke to afford a phone, or is out of minutes and I’ve called the store to find him. Hank, who works for Tom, hooked me up originally with my Bodyguard.  Before I had an assistant to paint with I’d been painting in East Saint Louis by myself and Hank was worried about my safety.  Hank gave me walkie-talkies to paint with but I felt as though I were being a burden. Hank was working a job and I didn’t want to interrupt.  I asked Hank to hook me up with a bodyguard instead.  I am indebted to Hank and Tom for finding me an assistant.

My Bodyguard is speaking in anger right now.  I’ve hardly ever seen him angry.  He says Tom, the storeowner, is an asshole who only paid him $20 a day to work 8AM until 4PM in the warehouse on Saturdays lifting 50-pound bags.  He said he couldn’t even get into the cash drawer if he wanted to and he says Tom is a racist. (The next day my assistant had another story–that Tom only paid $20 because he owed Tom $125 and he was working off what he owed.  Then the story changed again, my bodyguard said Tom paid him $40/day, which is less than minimum wage and that is because he is a racist.)  I asked my Bodyguard if he felt exploited. He nodded his head and said he worked for Tom to help him out while Tom had surgery and is angry Tom turned on him when he had done him a good turn. Why do I care?  I want the whole thing to blow over.  I decided to go to an Alanon meeting after painting because I need to mind my own business.


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