Argento Magenta The Painter pulled out his tongue and slapped it against the side of his house. He smacked it until his taste buds fell to the ground, making these clink-clink-clink sounds. Argento Magenta The Painter swept up the taste buds and went inside his house, where he put them in a glass jar filled with distilled water. He filled up a second jar with hydrogen peroxide and put his tongue in it. He let his tongue sit in the jar for 14 days, and for those 14 days, he didn't speak or eat. On the last day, the artist took out his tongue from the jar and dried it with a washcloth before scrubbing it with a steel wool pad. He took out his tubes of acrylic paint--blues, yellows, oranges, greens, reds, blacks, grays, whites, and dabbed his tongue with each color, turning it into a palette. Argento Magenta The Painter fixed his canvas tightly to a 10-by-10 wooden frame. He painted. He stroked his tongue with his paint brush and worked on his canvas.
On the day of the showing, Argento Magenta The Painter didn't attend his own opening at the gallery. He sat in the living room looking at the jar full of his taste buds. At the gallery, the crowd hovered around his piece--their eyes and mouths were large and round and motionless. They weren't blinking. There wasn’t any talking until everyone nodded their heads in unison, and then the murmuring began, and the talking grew louder. In his living room, Argento Magenta The Painter saw his jar full of taste buds emitting colors; first the water was blue, then it was green, and then it turned to yellow, then it was black, orange, gray, white, and then all of the colors came about and swirled around each other. Argento Magenta The Painter smacked his lips together. He poured a glass of Crianza; he tucked a napkin into the collar of his shirt, and he sat there looking at the jar of colors with a knife and fork in hand. At the gallery, there was clapping and praising, and then the crowd left. Looking at the jar of his taste buds, Argento Magenta saw nothing. The colors absorbed the water and it all evaporated. Argento Magenta The Painter wiped his mouth. He put his fork and knife into the sink. He threw away the jar full of taste buds. He washed his tongue and put it back into the jar of hydrogen peroxide. He kept it there for four days before putting it back into his mouth.
Shome Dasgupta is the author of i am here And You Are Gone (Winner of the 2010 OW Press Fiction Chapbook Contest, forthcoming). His writing has appeared or will appear in H_NGM_N, Drunken Boat, Mad Hatters' Review, The Coachella Review, Stymie Magazine, and elsewhere. He lives in Lafayette, La and teaches at South Louisiana Community College.