As soon as I take the mobile phone out of my bag, the security guard is on to me. The sign had said “No photographs” when I entered the gallery and he’s smart enough to know that most phones these days have cameras built in. I flash him a smile, check the screen, and put it back. I don’t need it. I have other means at my disposal.
In front of me stands a couple viewing an abstract painting. He’s a big man. She’s wearing a sleeveless top and a short skirt. He’s holding the woman’s upper arm. With his other arm he gesticulates at the picture, frequently turning to look at her while he speaks. She nods occasionally. She never turns to look at him.
Lean into him, sweetheart. Peck him on the cheek. Show some fucking intimacy!
The painting comprises different coloured rectangles superimposed over each other. It’s called Perseverance. I’ve no idea why, unless it takes hours to figure it out.
Now he’s leading her to the next picture. Another abstract. Not so well-defined – all swirls and gradient shades. Inspiration. It doesn’t inspire me, but he’s at it again, stabbing his forefinger towards the canvas as if he’s shooting holes through it. “A remarkable synthesis,” I hear him say. She nods.
Things aren’t going as expected. I need at least one good photo of them, yet it’s clear she wants to stand apart from him.
His wife reckons he’s been unfaithful for months. I asked how she could be so sure. She said she’d overheard him talking on the phone, and a friend had seen him dining with a woman at Clegg’s: “They held hands across the table.”
I move in closer. I’m watching his hand and the way he’s gripping – yes, gripping – her upper arm. I can see bruises where he’s held her before. I trigger the camera hidden in the brooch pinned to my blouse.
I’ll be interested to hear what his wife has to say when I show her the picture.
She wasn’t without a few blemishes herself.