The New Duchamp

The New Duchamp comes over in a jacket made of curds, flecked with dark, running smears and smelling like an athlete's unwashed crotch. He calls it his "blue cheese" look.

When I say hello he slaps me in the face. When I say, "Try to be reasonable," he whips out a bassoon and commences "We are the Champions." He takes from my cabinets aspirin, socks, handkerchiefs and fifty dollar bills. The New Duchamp pontificates on the irrefutable value of stealing for artistic reasons.

"Come in and make yourself at home," I say. He leaves. Immediately, he knocks again. I open the door. "What do you want?" he asks me. When I stare at his face, he looks at the ceiling. When I look at the ceiling, he leans forward and kisses me. "Are you coming in or aren't you?" I ask. He runs around to the side of the building and jumps in through the window carrying a cellophane bag full of gerbils. "What are you doing here?" he demands. When I tell him there's German food for dinner, he puts his foot through the television. The New Duchamp pontificates on the irrefutable value of gerbils.

Using my pots, my stove, my noodles, my strainer -- the New Duchamp cooks a monstrous plate of spaghetti. As soon as it's finished he rushes out to the stairwell and throws it over the banister. He calls this piece: Food Descending A Staircase.

The New Duchamp's goal is to out-Duchamp the original. "I am more Duchamp than Duchamp," he claims. In a fit of zeal he makes a free-standing sculpture out of clothespins, a potato and a piece of lint. He dances Swan Lake on his hands. The New Duchamp says his favorite organ is the pancreas and shows me the one he keeps in his pocket for fondling. "The pancreas!" he cries, "Irrefutably valuable!"

The New Duchamp saunters to the store and buys fifty rivets. He lies in my bathtub and cries, "We're here! We're here!"

At dinner, the New Duchamp is not decorous. He pretends to snore loudly whenever I speak. He puts strudel down his pants, then blinds himself biting into a Brautwurst. It's okay, though. I understand that he's nervous because tonight is the big exhibition. He explains to me how he'll burst upon the scene, despite the fact that he is without talent, connection or reputation. In his new piece, he says, he'll outdo Duchamp's famous urinal installation by simply appearing at the exhibition as a total unknown and urinating on the gallery and the exhibition's visitors.

At the event, I am dressed in a jacket and tie and the New Duchamp is wearing his cheesecoat. As the New Duchamp is preparing his presentation, however, a group of security guards rush in and begin to pummel him with nightsticks.

"Perfect! Perfect!" he shouts between laughs.

"New Duchamp," I ask timidly, "why are you laughing?"

"Even as dark is our bridesmaid," he replies as the guards go on beating him and he goes on laughing.

About the author:

Anthony Tognazzini's work has appeared or will appear in Quarterly West, paragraph, Puerto del Sol, Quick Fiction, the Alaska Quarterly Review and Sudden Stories: A Mammoth Anthology of Miniscule Fiction. He's currently seeking publication for "I Carry A Hammer In My Pocket For Occasions Such As These," his first, full-length collection of hybrid pieces.