Just Like Suicide pt. 12

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Battle of Gettysburgdetail 330
Mery Lynn McCorkle, detail of Battle of Gettysburg, 2015.

For your summer reading pleasure, BURNAWAY brings you Just Like Suicide, a novel by artist Mery Lynn McCorkle, set in the Los Angeles art world. She writes from experience, having lived for years in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, when it still was the art frontier, and then LA; she now resides in Rome, Georgia. She describes the book as “a compendium of interlocking tales cataloguing self demolition and success in the Los Angeles art scene, from the point of view of artists, dealers and family members.”
We’ll post sequential chapters from McCorkle’s book every Wednesday and Friday over the summer. Or click here to buy the book now.


Twenty Three
Maggie was in charge of the gallery when the call came in. It was a very quiet day so the ringing actually startled her.
“May I speak to Odessa?”
“She’s not available at the moment. May I take a message?”
“Maggie?”
“Yes?”
“It’s Alex. Remember me? You came to my studio in Bushwick with Barbara?”
“Of course, I remember you. I just didn’t recognize your voice.”
“How are you doing?”
“Fair to middlin’. How about yourself?”
“I’m fine. I’m sorry to bother you but Odessa has been calling me trying to find out where Tommy stored his unsold paintings. You know, for the retrospective she’s putting together of his work. We’ve been playing telephone tag for the last few days. She doesn’t get text messages, does she?”
“Actually she gets dozens and dozens every day. She just doesn’t look at them.”
“Begging artists?”
“You wouldn’t believe. She got fifteen from one artist in one day, all with really low quality photos attached. I mean if you’re going to send a photo, buy a phone with a decent camera app.”
“I bet email is even worse.”
“Everyone is desperate. You can’t fault anyone for trying but some efforts are smarter than others.”
“Well, please tell Odessa that his stuff is in my storage unit. It’s over in Van Nuys. I mailed her a copy of the key this morning but didn’t want to include the address in case it got pilfered. We had a huge sting at the local post office earlier this year. Apparently some of the workers considered helping themselves to valuables as part of their pay package.”
“It didn’t look like the safest neighborhood.”
He laughed. “The post office is in the nicest part of the neighborhood. Where I live is the cheap cheap dicey section or at least it was six months ago. Hipsters have started appearing at every corner so the dreaded gentrification is near. Did Barbara ever recover? She acted like she had entered a war zone.”
“She was terrified, although she’d never admit to it. She’s lived in a very white bubble all of her life.”
“Oh, do I hear the sound of dissension? I don’t know her well but it doesn’t take much time to realize she can’t be easy to live with.”
“Well, I don’t want to go into it.”
“I’m sorry. I’m notorious for prying. Do me a favor. Warn Odessa about the storage unit. I’m a bit of a magpie. It’s filled with odd, shiny bits and pieces that may one day make it into an art piece.”
“My great aunt used to call me Magpie.”
“How adorable. My sisters called me Mudpie.”
“Were you always dirty?”
“No, I was a clean freak from birth. You’ll see that all of my junk is in marked containers. There simply are tons and tons of them. And I do mean a ton literally.”
“So the nickname was ironic?”
“That would have been nicer. I was the darkest of them.”
“Oh my.”
“Yeah.”
“Magpie was definitely a term of endearment.”
“Lucky you to have a loving family.”