Joe the Ugly Art Critic - Short Story

In hindsight it is essential to look back when traveling across the country without a destination.

Its dusk, my motorcycle is hot from the day’s drive. The two water bottles strapped to the back fender are warm but drinkable.

I sit next to my friend who has lost in the DNA game of chance. No redeeming qualities to this man. He lost before his life even began.

My friend’s name is Joe and Joe is ugly. Not in the typical sense of letting-himself-go type of ugly. He is ugly on a skull level and there is nothing you can do to fix that. He is not deformed or structurally damaged, it’s just that he has an odd shaped skull. Joe is a good argument for evolution stopping abruptly and skipping over the few remaining people standing in line.

Why did I ask Joe to travel with me? When you’re ugly people notice, when your job is to criticize people notice. He is an art critic who preaches about the end of modern society. “Nowhere left to go on the ladder of life when your job is to judge creation itself”, that’s his motto. Not a happy person. The essential humanness that ties us all together is void in Joe’s life. I find that interesting.

The song lyrics “I’ve been through the desert on a horse with no name” will not stop running through my head. I hate that song. Joe has insulted 32 of the last 35 people we have met. His motorcycle keeps breaking down.

“Twelve hundred touring sportsters for the traveling motorcyclist! it is the Porsche of the motorcycle world!”, he keeps yelling that at the top of his lungs every time the bike breaks down. That’s what the saleslady told him as he wrote a check of 15,000.00 dollars for this lemon on two wheels. My bike is a loaner from my cousin. I think he paid $750.00 for it eight years ago.

Joe gets off his bike and steps to the edge of the cliff that we have parked our bikes on. He looks at me and says “write this down: God used to live on this Earth. He got tried of everybody picketing outside his window. Observation is fundamental to making sense of this ever present moment of now”. Then he fell back off the cliff, ending his life.

“Hindsight is essential” is all I could to say….goodbye ugly art critic Joe.