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Portrait of Todd Loewen, Pat Rehn, and Drew Barnes,
I met Todd, Drew, and Pat in the sickly yellow of the scum kissed MLA showers in the basement of the now-verboten Legislature. The shower is the only place to achieve that very special aesthetic of provincial conservatives where they always look ever so slightly damp. They wanted a portrait to commemorate their heroic rebellion from the socialist tyranny of the United Conservative Party.
We kicked the sitting off with a four-way make out session.
“Plandemic” Drew Barnes slobbered into my ear while Todd’s tongue went hog-wet in the cockles of my mouth. Hot.
It was difficult to get the disgraced MLAs to stand still long enough for me to adequately capture their hideous and terrifying likenesses. Todd insisted on smoking a cigarette, “the quintessential symbol of the free man” but couldn’t figure out how to make the lighter work. After twentyish minutes of making a noise I can only describe as frustrated purring while he pawed at it with a greasy hand, he finally turned to Drew Barnes, who was eating dry oats out of a hollowed out human skull. “You need to light this cigarette for me, Drew-baby” but Drew baby refused. Then, when I lit it for him, they both called me a lib cuck. Pat Rehn skipped out early because he had a flight to catch so I had to paint him from memory. Luckily he’s just a face scrawled onto a thumb.
While my brush soaked its tip, the two former UCP party members laid out their vision for Alberta’s newest party. “It’s not like we’re the nazi party per-se, it’s just that there isn’t a ton of wiggle room further to the right of the UCP” explained Todd. “But imagine it! Wildrose 2.0! Pushing the province into the deepest waters of freedom! Big government’s overreach delimbed! Anyone can cultivate and spread disease from the temple of their body.” “Unpaid sick leave! Sweatshops! Workhouses! The return of the lords!” As Todd proselytized Drew shoved increasingly large handfuls of oats into his mouth, his dead gaze fixed in my direction.
Their moist sheens were growing ever lustrous in the dull light. Excited flecks of spittle shot from Todd’s palisade teeth into my mouth, nose, and eyes. His ill-fitting suit rattled on his body as he quaked with excitement. “All crime is legal! The purge! The purge! Only the strong survive! No taxes! Barbers moonlighting as doctors! Doctors moonlighting as nothing! Trick question there are no doctors! Rivers of blood push dead bodies from cemeteries and flooding the streets! Roving gangs of stupid children! Rodeos! Bear baiting! Thunderdomes! A dizzying level of dysfunction so sublime it shakes the very angels of heaven from their cloudy perch and swallows them in the viscos slop of greed and selfishness! Depths only conceivable after the point of no return! Past the event horizon! Welcome to hell!”
“It’s the only way to encourage investment and get Alberta back on track!”
* * *
I awoke in a cold sweat. I wasn’t in the fabled legislature showers, I’m not even sure those exist. I was at home, snug and safe under my Phantom Menace duvet with matching pillows. I guess none of the above actually happened. My window was being pummeled by an unusual May snowstorm. Last night’s tater tot donair poutine smelled sickly sweet. I stepped out of my bedroom and there, at the end of the hallway, was this painting. Somehow, it was asserting itself in a way that implied it had been hanging there for years. Immediately familiar in its newness. Hideous, ghastly stuff. Just horrible. Ghoulish. Tragic.
3ft x 4ft
Acrylic on canvas