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Friday, February 1, 2013


oranges, by tj worthington, 30 x 30 inch oil on canvas, stolen

This Thursday morning a window opened to such satisfaction as I have seldom known. I don't even remember last time I felt complete satisfaction. It was the satisfaction of revenge, like Medea felt when her husband's young Medea-replacement bride went up in smoke at the altar. It's not quite that dramatic. It has to do with the theft of one of my paintings from the mid 1990s. The thief I'll not identify by name, so I'll call her LaRatera. Her name is not important for the public narrative. It's not important for any reason. Her name and face have become synonymous with theft and betrayal in my personal symbolism. We'd been friends probably close to fifteen years. I mean good friends, anyway from my side, which turned out to be the only side involved. She was niece to some people I knew here in the county, lived up north the other side of the Mason Dixon Line. We were not lovers. Friends of the heart. I believed we were friends for life. Not. We wrote back and forth often, talked on the phone, visited, were friends wide open, supportive of each other. Like a line in one of Lou Reed's songs, "Just goes to show how wrong you can be." She gave me a bitter pill for about fifteen years. I've been waiting for her to turn up on facebook or run across her email address, anything, an opening. I only needed an opening for one sentence. Didn't know what the sentence would be, but knew when the time was right it would happen.

I'd sent LaRatera a photograph of the painting of oranges in a glass bowl recently finished in a letter. I'd sent the painting to a gallery in New Orleans. La Ratera went ecstatic seeing it, had to have it, loved it, couldn't live without it, had to have it. I called the gallery in New Orleans and asked them to send it back to me. I told LaRatera she could have it for half what I was asking for it. I like my friends to have my paintings so I give them serious discounts. And I wouldn't have cared if she'd never paid me anything. I'd rather my friends have my paintings than me have some temporary money to pay bills with. I UPSed the painting to LaRatera. It was received. Never had a reply. Never heard from LaRatera about anything. I called. No answer. Turns out she packed everything up and vanished, not in touch with even family. Nobody knew where she was for ten or more years. She'd done this before, bottomed out, went dragging back to mom and dad to start over. I'd heard she had made contact with family over the last few years, though I had no interest in seeing her or hearing from her. She'd prairie-dogged in a corn state, associating with family and others, her whereabouts no longer secret. I never heard anything from her. No thank you, kiss my ass, up yours, nothing. The kinda thing that lets you know where you stand. The only thing I wanted to do was to let her know I do remember her, as LaRatera, not as my friend. Just to make it personal.

It was not a big deal, but it floated in the back of my mind all these years. Resentment. Regret. Then saying fuck it and getting on with it. No more feelings toward LaRatera, because she had died to me. In my heart, she's a corpse in a cemetery. I know, I'm not supposed to be like that. I don't give a shit. That's how I feel. There is really nothing I want to say to LaRatera but to remind her she's remembered not as a friend, but a traitor and a thief. I wanted to do it for my satisfaction, the satisfaction of doing it. I didn't care what affect it had on her end. She could laugh at it and I'd be fine. She could mourn for a month and I'd be fine. One would not satisfy me more than another. But I kept this part of my mind waiting for an opening, like a deer hunter in a tree stand. The deer walked into my sights. No wasting time to think about it. Pull the trigger. The resentments I've felt for her have turned to comedy a long time ago. It has become such that when I chanced upon the photograph of LaRatera this morning in winter weather, her face covered by a part of the coat's collar to keep the wind off the face, there it was. I knew before I did it I'd be unfriended for it. Collateral damage was the only way I could look at that. Shouldn't have been sunbathing on the roof with a known terrorist, anyway. Thanks for the assist, sorry you don't like it. But you know everything behind it, and though you may not like it, I know you understand my meaning.

I looked at the picture. All that was showing was her eyes. I looked into the eyes to see if I could see her in there. Her eyes looked dead to me. I wondered if that was me projecting onto them my feeling for her, LaRatera. I'd thought about forgiveness, but some shit gives me such a hard time I just have to allow not forgiving, then it drifts away of its own. Then it prairie-dogs again in a corn field in the snow. LOL I don't receive betrayal lightly. It's not like I'm going to get in my car with a stolen credit card and drive to wherever LaRatera may be and blow her brains out. Not even a remote consideration. Not even for imagination til I wrote that sentence. No. She has serious issues within herself. Duh. LaRatera. If she were to appear at my door, my heart would be overjoyed and I'd long to hug her and bring her inside and hug her some more. But not a particle of my mind that would allow it. I looked at my friend hiding her face who had betrayed our friendship to the umbilical cord in a knife-in-the-back sort of way. There's an awful lot of shit I don't go back to for seconds. In the picture it felt right that she had her face covered, held there by her hand. With sorrow I thought, I'd cover my face too, if I'd shit everybody that had ever known me. There it was. I wrote it in the comment box. I'm sure it's been deleted for many hours by now. I only wanted it to be seen once. LaRatera stepped into my range. Only to remind her I remember her --- out of the blue.

It was a powerful satisfaction. It said everything I had to say. There goes another attachment to somebody who posed as friend. I don't mind letting those kinds of people go. Must be something in my horoscope this month about shedding friendships that have turned out not to be real. I have no problem with that. It's painful to say good-bye to a friend after a betrayal of the heart, the betrayal being the same as saying fuck you, get out of my life, I got what I wanted. I'm so OK with that, I've been OK with it so long I don't remember when it became OK. Because LaRatera in my heart is a corpse in the ground, snow-covered ground. Thank you, LaRatera, for starting my day off with a good laugh and the satisfaction of just the scent of revenge. Sounds like a Latin perfume. A black label, a red rose embossed on it. The Midnight In Paris of tango ballrooms in Buenos Aires.



  1. Stunning, from the painting down. Inside out. Love to you TJ.

  2. Wow, TJ. I felt bad about recently being beaten out of a couple skeins yarn and the time it took me to knit a hat with said yarn. The painting is breathtaking. Betrayal is such a heartbreaking thing. I'm glad she's been reminded of her duplicity. The ball is now back in her court. -Katy Taylor

  3. Some may think the writer obviously still harbors something that resembles love and compassion for this woman. Then again, some should not think. The painting is beautiful and I hope, at the very least, she appreciates it's beauty. Sarah