Exclusive Excerpt from Finding Our Love
by Amy Tasukada
“Come on Detective Pom-Pom,” Iroha cheered.
The animated poodle had five minutes to solve the case of the missing mittens or else little Mew-Mew would be blamed. The poodle walked around a few seconds blowing bubbles through his pipe while the other anthropomorphic characters eagerly waited. After a few moments of recycled bubble blowing artwork Detective Pom-Pom’s large blue eyes grew wide, and he declared he’d solved the case.
Iroha popped the last octopus shaped hotdog in his mouth.
At first, the water-colored style of the characters intrigued Iroha, but the more his art gallery fail the more the Detective Pom-Pom’s mysteries mattered. All of Pom-Pom’s problems could be solved in under a half-hour while the very real problem of Iroha’s growing debt would take months to turn around. If it ever turned around.
Iroha scrapped off a bit of green paint stuck to his long black hair as the credits rolled.
Maybe if his parents allowed him to watch Detective Pom-Pom as a kid instead of shoving colored pencils and blank paper in his face he’d figure out how to solve the mystery of the gallery with no traffic.
The annoying high-pitched theme song for the next show played signaling Iroha need to open the gallery, even if it really didn’t matter. The ribbon cutting had some fanfare, but after people realized his sister, nor any of her art wasn’t there everyone left.
He slumped down the stairs separating his home from the gallery. Then through the rentable studio space no one booked and to the gallery in the front. The lights illumined each piece’s best feature.
He examined each work standing close, standing away, glancing over his shoulder. Each one still knocked him in the heart. Each one from a talented artist who deserved to have their work shown. Each one deserved to have a red sticker on their placard marking the piece as sold.
Three of them withdrew their works since Iroha couldn’t sell them. Soon word would get to the others that he was the only one admiring their art. No one would come by asking to be in show and when Iroha called some leads they’d rejected the offer.
Iroha stepped to a blank patch on the wall. Maybe he should put one of his own paintings there to fill up the space, but leaving it empty would look like someone had bought one.
Who was he trying to fool? No one came into the gallery all week, and the only person who came in the week before asked if she could use the bathroom and left without saying thank you.
Iroha booted opened the office door and clicked through his emails hoping between spam messages someone replied to his offer.
He had to fight. He couldn’t go crawling back to his parents to be his sister’s lacky.
No one came.
And none of Iroha’s emails to other artist received a replied. The only action through the front door was the mail delivery.
Iroha threw the bills on his desk and ripped open the protective plastic of the latest issue of Nihon Art Today came. The thick magazine was filled with art criticism more than glossy pictures and every serious artist bought the bi-annually tome. Even the smallest article people talked about for months.
A sculpture of a girl flying a kite glossed the over. He skimmed the headlines then stopped.
Ichigo Osumi’s Brother Opens Gallery
Iroha groaned low like a rumble of thunder. Always her bother. He almost couldn’t blame them since anything with her name on it sold. He didn’t remember being asked for an interview though.
He flipped to the two-page spread. He hadn’t even earned a picture by himself in the feature. Instead they chose one of him and his sister standing next to her record-breaking auctioned painting. She was thirty-four and he’s turn seventeen that day. His party turned into a double feature that she completely usurped. Still in high school, he was still eager to follow where his parents told him. So he’d followed Ichigo to every event like a dog on a leash.
He shook his head and read. They did it to sell more copies. It wasn’t about his sister but his gallery. It could be the turn he needed to really get it off the ground.
Iroha showed some promise in his youth.
His eyes narrowed. He skimmed down.
A gallery covered in the same mediocre art he creates.
A bolt burned a hole in his chest, but he couldn’t stop his gaze from skimming over the words.
Will always be the disappointment of the Osumi name.
Too bad the apple didn’t fall close to the tree.
Iroha threw the magazine. It knocked against one of the desktop sculptures he made of a popsicle brain.
With such a scathing review no one would come. He failed, again. He might as well crawl back to his parents before getting into more debt. He could hold off for a few months, but after that…
The door chimed. They probably came to mock him. Still, he rubbed his eyes and put on a smile.
“Welcome to ABC gallery,” the last word caught in Iroha’s throat.
The older gentleman before him might’ve looked like forty-something salaryman, but a dark aura floating around him. His smile stretched too large across his face like he never had to ask twice for anything. His swagger as he approached left no doubt in Iroha mind. The man was a yakuza.
Iroha cleared his throat. “Is there anything I can do for you?”
Somehow the smile on the man’s face grew larger. “I have a proposition for you.”